The front door of a white house on First Street opens from a green yard in a quiet neighborhood into a small space charged with a large mission: To provide residential treatment for substance abuse, at no cost, to Galveston and Brazoria County women without financial resources.

Soon after they walk through that front door, the women of ADA (Alcohol and Drug Abuse) House complete individualized treatment plans that move them toward recovery. They engage in 30 hours of group sessions a week, along with individual counseling, occupational therapy, and daily 12-Step meetings. After treatment, seventy-five percent of the graduates of ADA House report that their lives are good or better. Many return to share words of encouragement and stories of success.

Wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, some are challenged by co-existing mental illnesses, HIV positive status, or Hepatitis C. Most have experienced domestic violence. Over the past 20 years, more than 2000 women have received treatment through ADA.

Two counselors recently spoke to me during a rare quiet moment. I asked what they would want people to know about ADA House. Both said that, foremost, ADA is “a caring place for women.” Although each counselor is familiar with other treatment facilities, both see “extraordinary work” happening at ADA. There, the belief is that “no one is without hope.”

Clients are not turned away from ADA. Even women with advanced cirrhosis of the liver have benefited from the program. “We are small enough,” the counselors said, “to offer hope to each woman.”  While some women may stay as long as 3 months, the typical length of stay will be 30-45 days. They work hard at their recovery, seven days a week. They receive support in all aspects of their lives, from reestablishing family ties, to restoring healthy living patterns, to making connections with community support networks, to learning new life skills, to landing good jobs and making meaningful lives.

The counselors spoke animatedly of the changes that occur in women’s lives. They noted the huge effect on a much larger community that even one woman’s success can have. They shared stories of women who “mended relationships” and reunited with parents and children, of ADA women who now hold responsible positions in the community, of women, successful in their recovery, filling vital roles. Because many of these stories are private, the public may not fully appreciate ADA’s reach. The counselors’ own stories of recovery are powerful.

If ADA is a house of hope for the women who receive treatment there, it is largely because the counselors who staff ADA have a fierce belief that there is every reason to hope. They believe in the capacity of women in recovery, and they believe in a higher power that helps them. Each day, that faith presses them to care about their clients deeply and serve them effectively. Let’s be good neighbors to the women of ADA House and reward that faith financially!

Suzanne M. Peloquin
Professor Emeritus and occupational therapist
School of Allied Health Sciences, UTMB