New Directions for Women would like to share the first in a five part series of an interview our CEO Becky Flood participated in with Dr. Joe Terhaar on April 9, 2014.
Terhaar’s national radio show called Overcoming Addiction: Hope with Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment is broadcast all across the country on Voice America Radio. Dr. Terhaar has over 35 years experience in the addiction treatment field working with addictions and mental health issues.
In the interview Dr. Terhaar and Ms. Flood discuss the importance of treatment for women suffering from chemical dependency. In this excerpt from the interview Ms. Flood discusses the assessment process at New Directions for Women and the importance of keeping your children with you while in treatment.
Please take a moment to listen to this compelling and informative interview entitled: More Responsive Care for Women with Addiction .
Dr. Joe Terhaar – So today’s topic, we’re gonna talk about women and addiction and recovery. Now in the 1960’s when many addiction treatment centers were being established they were organized by most often those people who had money and power which in the 60’s was a lot of men, principally. Now my view is that these well meaning men were gracious and very thoughtful. But they were also limited by their own world view, their own perspectives, and their own experience. Some of our audience may assume that since a drug, is a drug, is a drug that we really don’t need to go through the trouble of fine tuning addiction treatment for women. Well, there’s good research and certainly a lot of experience that guides us to understand differently today. So our very special guest today is Becky Flood, she is the CEO of New Directions for Women in California. She has worked for four decades in the healthcare industry; she’s demonstrated expertise in program development, implementation, and evaluation for 25 years at Seabrook House in Seabrook, New Jersey. She oversaw the organizations residential programs and the planning of specialized treatment for women, and adolescents, and individuals with co-occurring disorders and distinguished herself in the area of marketing, fundraising, technical assistance, and board development. See, these are areas of addiction treatment that are absolutely necessary but very, very, few people have the expertise. Now she is the CEO of New Directions for Women in California and has been since 2004 and they focus exclusively on serving women of all ages, and pregnant, and post-partum women, women with dependent children affected by addiction. She has a Master’s Degree in Human Services, she’s multiply licensed as a chemical dependency counselor, interventionist, including at the national level – many of her credentials are at the national level. She knows so much from the organizational point of view that she serves on a number of boards including CARF, the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, she’s a member of the board of Seabrook House, she’s the President of the Association of Intervention Specialists, that’s the group that when you want to hire an interventionist you should look up AIS on your search engine and make sure that he or she is a member of that organization. So welcome Becky Flood – it’s just a joy to have you here with us today.
Becky Flood: Thanks Dr. Joe, I’m excited and honored to be a part of the show.
Terhaar: Well it’s just great to have you. So we’re gonna focus on women and addiction and recovery and what I’d like to do is, I’d like to take kind of a progressive approach here looking first at assessments and then the primary care program, treatment, needs, and then aftercare so we can kind of be organized as we guide our listeners through a better understanding of the particular needs of women and especially how New Directions works to meet those needs. What’s different or what is important initially when you’re helping assess a woman for treatment?
Flood: Well, I don’t know if it’s different but I think that when we are assessing a woman for treatment services and what care is in her best interest and the best interest of her family, it’s not only collecting information about her but collecting information about her children, the number of pregnancies she’s had (especially if she’s currently pregnant), what medical care that she’s had, and what other roles and family systems are at play in her life that need to be addressed or included and totally get our arms around all of who she is. Women are so relationship driven that if those relationships are not included and taken into consideration from the very beginning it will create barriers and gaps in service over time and so it’s better for us to get as much information as possible so that those gaps and barriers are dealt with at each level of care and throughout the duration of her treatment process.
Terhaar: That makes such sense to me, especially when still today in our society women are the primary caregivers of children in the home and so it’s easy for you and I with our experience to think of the thousands of cases of where an addiction may be compromising a woman’s capacity to provide that care, but just taking her out of the home is very difficult because then they’re the primary care provider of those children has been interrupted. So it’s a very serious dilemma isn’t it?
Flood: I think that it is and I think sometimes programs don’t even begin to ask those questions, and they don’t begin to offer the services to the children or encompass all of that so sometimes they lose the woman and she doesn’t come into treatment simply because they haven’t asked the right questions and the right gaps have not been filled that open the doorways for her to walk through, So, women sometimes are faced with the choice of custody versus treatment and they have a lot of shame and guilt around that. If she is seeking help and the treatment providers don’t provide the right questions from the beginning that person is lost again, and who knows when or if they’ll resurface or ask for help.
Terhaar: Yeah, I love how you said that, “provided”, you used the word “provided”, because it is not a simple matter of the treatment center doing an assessment and saying, “oh gee by golly, you have an addiction and its serious you need residential care, the treatment center has to help her problem by solving what’s gonna happen to those kids, otherwise there’s just that natural dilemma that she’s already struggling in dealing with and it’s an added burden for her to try and solve.
Flood: Well and many times whether it’s even residential or outpatient, or evening intensive outpatient program, if mom’s the primary caretaker, and there either is no one at home either during the day or the evening or if they are there working as well and there are not support systems for child care, sometimes women can’t even access outpatient treatment. Maybe they can go to short term detoxification or short term residential but if you’re suggesting extended care or sober living environments or even stepping down from residential to outpatient, there ends up being gaps in her care because she actually can’t make each one of those different levels of care throughout the continuum of her treatment needs.
Terhaar: Wow, yeah, so it’s an ongoing problem. We’re going to pick that up and take a closer look right after the break. It has been my pleasure to have Becky Flood, CEO of New Directions and we’ll have more conversation with her right after the breaks.