New Jersey Program Integrates Child Care into Drug Treatment

By Murdock, Russell | The Nation's Health, November 2006 | Go to article overview

New Jersey Program Integrates Child Care into Drug Treatment


Murdock, Russell, The Nation's Health


Michelle had been a drug user off and on for 12 years. She tried to hide her addiction from her husband, from her friends and from her children. Michelle did not want help and she did not think she needed it.

"As an addict, you think you can do it on your own," said Michelle, who asked that her last name not be used.

Eventually, however, her addiction progressed to the point that Michelle knew she had to do something, so she packed up and drove to Seabrook House in Bridgeton, N.J., a treatment center for people suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction. She left behind her husband, her 13-year-old son and her 7year-old daughter.

After she arrived on a Saturday, she found out the representative from her insurance company would not be in the office to approve her entrance into treatment until Monday. Michelle spent the next two nights in the parking lot until her insurance company cleared her to enroll at the center.

Once her paperwork was filed, Michelle said the transition went smoothly. Seabrook House gave her structure, something she said she never had while she used drugs. Still, Michelle said she missed her children and it was hard not to see them.

"It's hard every night not knowing if they're okay, or not being able to read them a book or go for a walk with them," she said. "I know they're being taken care of, but there are women who don't know."

Michelle said she doubted she would be able to finish her treatment if it weren't for her husband, who she knows will watch after her kids.

A new program at Seabrook House called MaterLiber, which began in September, was developed to solve the problem of single mothers who do not have someone to take care of their children while they are receiving treatment for their addiction. Edward Diehl, president of Seabrook House, told The Nation's Health that the new MaterLiber program would allow mothers to bring children younger than 4 to Seabrook House with them when they move in. While mothers attend treatment during the day, children attend an on-site day care, allowing mothers to know their children are being cared for. Before dinner, the mother would pick up her children from day care and be able to spend the rest of her night with her children. …

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