New Directions: Putting Ladies First
Note: This is Part 2 in a two-part series. You can read Part 1 here.
In a modern society sometimes frayed by divisiveness, distain and dogma – connection is ripe for a comeback, and totally crucial. When we step out from behind the keyboard, and really meet the humans that are the heartbeat of Costa Mesa – the rich tapestry of talents and perspectives weaves a tie that binds.
But what of the lost souls whose disconnection or disease sends them drifting into the arms of addiction? How are the healers among us tackling this tricky issue that – in one way or another, whether we like it or not – touches us all?
If you ask New Directions For Women – a high-end, addiction treatment facility that’s been helping women in Costa Mesa for over 30 years – the first step is to check your judgement at the door.
“In my view, substance-use disorder is a chronic disease like diabetes,” said CEO Rebecca J. Flood. “‘Living healthy lifestyles, having health behaviors, can improve the quality of life – but it doesn’t take away the disease.
“Just like with diabetes, you may do everything you’re suppose to do, and your diabetes still worsens. Or something triggers it. If a diabetic has a death in the family and they don’t take their insulin correctly for a few days, or they eat a pound cake, we say, ‘Oh that’s okay. I understand.’ We treat it very lovingly, very differently.
“But we attach such a stigma to substance disorders, that if somebody has a serious life event – the death of a spouse, the loss of a job, the onset of menopause or any of those things – and they pick up a drink or a drug over it, we see them as bad, weak or failing. That judgement is a heavy burden to bear.”
Flood doesn’t just speak from professional experience; for her, the fight for sobriety is personal.
“In most rooms, I would first introduce myself by saying, ‘My name is Becky, and I’m a recovering addict and alcoholic,'” said Flood. “I am exceptionally motivated by the fact that I, too, have this disease; I have the honor and privilege of being in recovery. That’s the blessing. I haven’t, but for the grace of God, had a drink or a drug in 39 years.
“I’ve always known I wanted to help others. I have a heart for helping and giving, because that’s what brings me joy. My own recovery, mixed with my innate desire to be of service, led me here.
“When I got to New Directions, it was a little tattered and torn, and had been through some tumultuous times. We’ve been able to nurture the roots back to the original vision of the founders, and build it into something greater than they might ever imagined it could be.”
If it was a little tattered, it’s not anymore. The entire environment – from the recovery homes to the meeting rooms to the headquarters – is luxurious, inspiring and tranquil, with a markedly spa-like, sanctuary feel. Meditative decor and soothing water fountains burble of a safe place where patients learn holistic, multifaceted methods to heal their bodies, minds and spirits; free to pursue recovery with dignity and respect.
These touches are intentional, and specially-designed to speak to women. That’s because New Directions is exclusively for the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters among us who suffer in silence, steeped in shame. According to Flood and her team, recovery for women requires uniquely female solutions; not the least of which revolve around issues of motherhood and pregnancy. Many women will choose not to receive treatment for the mere fact they have no one to watch their children, or they can’t stand the thought of being apart.
“Children ages 0-13 can come here with their mothers, which is huge,” said Flood. “We wrap our arms around them, give them what they need as best we can – things like onsite, developmental childcare services and socially-appropriate, extra-curricular activities, while Mom is in treatment – all in the sincerest hope for the best outcomes for mother and child.
“We are also nationally unique because we take pregnant women in any trimester. So if a woman is at a place where, late in her pregnancy, she’s deciding to make some extraordinarily healthy choices for herself and her unborn child, we embrace them. We get them OB/GYN services, and the ability to get clean and sober and give birth to a child that is no longer under the influence.”
But even with every possible resource on hand, recovery is not guaranteed.
“You can offer the very best treatment in the world, and your patients are still going to die,” said Flood. “Just like diabetics die, people die of this disease every single day. Some just don’t make it.
“One of my mentors, a naval chaplain named Father Martin, gave me the strength to keep going in the face of death when he said, ‘I never look at those that don’t make it, except with a prayer. Because I wouldn’t be able to keep going if it was any other way. I celebrate those who make it, and pray for those who don’t. Then I get up and just keep doing the next right thing.’ So that’s what we do.
“And we have plenty to celebrate! For those that make it, recovery creates a life beyond their wildest expectations. You cannot even begin to fathom or dream the world that comes from practicing a healthy lifestyle, day after day. Putting weeks together, months together, and then years together. It’s a life that addresses not only your physical well-being, but emotional and spiritual, too.
“There is a joy that we get from this disease that other people don’t get; a deep gratitude for the everyday beauty of a healthy life that most people take for granted.”
We’d like to thank Rebecca Flood and New Directions For Women – for opening their hearts to women struggling with addiction, and opening their doors to allow us a glimpse into the work they are doing. If a wife, mother, sister or daughter in your life is struggling with addiction, call: 1-800-939-6636, because to love her is to help her. ♥
To see more photos from our visit to New Directions For Women, check out the I Heart Costa Mesa Photo Gallery.
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