Program Spotlight: Girls Recovery Lodge

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

The Girls Recovery Lodge is now located in a residential neighborhood that provides easy access to a local recreation facility as well as area 12-step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Beginning as Deer Run Lodge in 1990, teens were in treatment together in a wooded location distant from other Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic programs. Following re-evaluation of the effectiveness of this location and treatment model, the Girls Recovery Lodge (ages 13-18) and Boys Recovery Lodge (ages 14-17) were developed to house separated, gender-specific treatment programs with evidence-based modalities.

Girls Recovery Lodge Living Space

Girls Recovery Lodge Living Space

Effective treatment starts with consistent structure. A routine provides those participating in treatment the opportunity to see how appropriate use of time can assist in better decision making and, ultimately, not using substances. The Girls Recovery Lodge follows a regular schedule that rotates on a 4 week cycle. With an average length of stay of 45 days, the rotating schedule allows clients to cover a breadth of topics within their groups and individual sessions. The majority of the day is spent in the classroom supervised by teacher, Jennifer Harris, who coordinates with each girl’s school to ensure a smooth transition from treatment. The Girls Recovery Lodge also offers an online school coupled with individual lessons with Harris where needed. Mindfulness, daily recreation, expressive, or art, therapy, and clinical groups round out the schedule. Seeking Safety is the first evidence based treatment approach developed specifically for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance use disorders which is integrated into treatment on a weekly basis.

“As the program is in a residential home, a unique component of treatment at the Girls Recovery Lodge is a full kitchen available for clients to make their own meals,” shared Dr. Kristen Jackson, Program Director for the Girls Recovery Lodge and the Boys Recovery Lodge. There is often a positive response from those who have not previously had the chance to cook or prepare a meal for others. This simple practice instills a sense of accomplishment and care for others that increase self-esteem and self-worth.

Dr. Kristen Jackson, Program Director, Girls Recovery Lodge and Boys Recovery Lodge

Dr. Kristen Jackson, Program Director, Girls Recovery Lodge and Boys Recovery Lodge

Essential components of treatment include medication management and family involvement. It is common for girls in the program to have a substance use disorder that is co-occurring with a mental illness. To accommodate the medical needs of those individuals, our staff psychiatrist visits the program every Tuesday to evaluate medication effectiveness. Once settled, after approximately one week of treatment, staff will coordinate a family session to discuss the treatment planning and progress of the client. Addiction is a family disease, and for sustained recovery, there must be a strong foundation of family involvement and understanding of the process.

Another goal of treatment is to empower the girls to adopt the skills necessary to return to their community and resist substance use. To simulate these tempting environments, the program plans outings every Friday. Examples of recent outings include hiking Great Falls, visiting the famous historical museums in Washington, D.C., making pottery, and other fun activities. The girls are supervised by Phoenix House staff and confidentiality is strictly protected.

During a recent visit to the program, the girls were tasked to depict a healthy brain, identifying the functions of various parts of the brain, and compare it to the effects their drug of choice has on the brain. A current client shared that her interest was sparked by this assignment because she learned how the substances she has used have specifically impacted her brain function. On a positive note, she shared that, moving forward, she feels that she will be more aware in her decision making now that she knows the direct impact substances have on the brain.

The Girls Recovery Lodge is a nationally-accredited 12-bed treatment program that has served the Northern Virginia and surrounding areas since 2007. For questions or to make a referral, call 1 888 671 9392.


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