6 considerations to make when searching for an addiction treatment program

So you’ve had the tough conversation about your or your loved one’s addiction  and you’re starting to think about rehab. Where to begin? The addiction treatment industry is buzzing with edgy and attention-grabbing lingo and, especially if you’re new to treatment, it’s difficult to distinguish what the right fit is for you or your loved one. There are seven key components to consider when determining what the right fit might look like.

Level of care: Inpatient – commonly referred to as “residential” – is an intensive treatment setting in which you or your loved one will live in the treatment facility. Outpatient, intensive outpatient – often abbreviated as “IOP,” and day treatment is encouraged for those who are able to maintain sobriety while living in her own home while attending a treatment program during the day. Outpatient is usually recommended for individuals who have already begun their recovery journey and need the support of ongoing care.

Detox / Withdrawal Management. Detoxification and/or Withdrawal Management is a vital part of the treatment process, especially if you or your loved one is addicted to alcohol, opiates, heroin, benzodiazepines, methamphetamine or methadone. Detoxing without proper medical supervision can be dangerous, even fatal; please contact us should you need a referral. Some inpatient programs have the ability to detox new clients onsite. For most, individuals will coordinate with the treatment program to first detox at a medical clinic and then be transported directly to treatment.

• Ability to address co-occurring mental health disorders: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found in its 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health that 39% of adults with a substance use disorder also had a co-occurring mental health disorder. These disorders often include depression, anxiety, Bipolar Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), among other diagnoses. For this reason, it’s critical to have therapists who can address these concerns and treat them accordingly.

Evidence-based practices: The most effective treatment programs incorporate evidence-based practices into their approach. These protocols have been tested and tracked for long-term effectiveness.

Individualized treatment: Treatment is a deeply-personal experience. Because each person’s experiences are unique, causes of addiction vary; thus, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to overcoming addiction. When entering a treatment program, the plan should be centered on your own goals for recovery so that it’s sustainable in the long term and adaptable to your life.

Medication-assisted treatment. You’ll see this also referred to as MAT in a lot of addiction treatment literature. For those addicted to opioids/heroin, medications such as Buprenorphine (Suboxone – buprenorphine and naloxone), Methadone (a highly-regulated prescription administered and supervised daily in a clinic) and Naltrexone can be helpful in recovery. Buprenorphine and Methadone activate opioid receptors that helps suppress cravings. Naltrexone, according to SAMHSA, actually, “blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of drugs such as heroin, morphine and codeine” by binding and blocking opioid receptors in the brain. It’s commonly administered as an intermuscular injection called Vivitrol.

Ready to take the next step toward recovery? The compassionate team at Meta House is dedicated to helping you or your loved one address the root cause(s) of her addiction and begin healing. 

Women-only treatment: why it matters

In a time of advertisements featuring catchy taglines and flashy locales, finding a treatment program that’s actually going to be effective for our unique situation and lifestyle can be difficult.

So, what matters to us? Our health? Kids? Marriage/Signficant Other? Job? Home? ? As women, we balance a lot of important responsibilities. It’s tough to keep it all together as it is, but when we’re battling an addiction, it can simply just become too much. At Meta House, recovery programs are designed with these concerns in mind – the things that matter most to you.

Meta House is the one of the only addiction treatment programs in our area designed exclusively for women. Why do we only offer treatment to women? Because decades of research tells us that women experience better results in treatment when we’re surrounded by a coalition of women working toward the same goal: wellness.

Our holistic approach to addiction treatment works to address the root causes of each woman’s addiction while offering resources for real recovery designed for your real life. Our program cultivates the healing and a long-lasting health that you deserve.

From the day you begin your journey at Meta House, we’ll empower you to start building on your strengths to help overcome the root cause(s) of your addiction. We’ll help you identify coping skills that resonate with you and that will continue to help you long after you complete treatment.

In more than 50 years of helping women get well, our program outcomes show consistently high rates of success. In fact, our most recent data shows that 71 percent of clients successfully completed residential treatment on our main campus and 84 percent of women who participated in that residential treatment program remained sober and/or drug-free six months after admission.

Our team at Meta House focuses on personalized treatment, meeting your specific and unique needs and motivating you to set realistic but meaningful goals.  Recovery is possible — and you’re worth it. When you’re ready to get well, start here; our team is ready to help.

Meta House Names New President & CEO

Meta House Names Valerie Vidal New President & CEO
Quarles and Brady Attorney Takes Helm March 5

Milwaukee, Wis. – February 6, 2018 – Meta House, Inc. today announced the appointment of Valerie Vidal as President and CEO of the organization, effective March 5, 2018.

Vidal currently serves as a Partner in the Quarles and Brady Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution group. She has been recognized for her pro bono work, where she regularly represents victims of domestic violence and served as the Quarles and Brady’s point person for a national pro bono project that assisted non-violent drug offenders draft petitions to appeal for reductions in their sentences.

Vidal’s community involvement has earned her numerous accolades, including a 2018 Milwaukee Business Journal 40 Under 40 award, a United Way of Greater Milwaukee Philanthropic 5 award and a “Match of the Year” award from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee. She is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin Pro Bono Honor Society and has been named a Rising Star by the Wisconsin Super Lawyers magazine annually since 2012.

Meta House Board Chair Molly Schweiger noted, “Valerie was a standout throughout the rigorous search process. We’re confident in Valerie’s ability to lead the strong team at Meta House.  As a past volunteer and advocate for the organization, she brings passion and commitment to this important role and will work in tandem with our colleagues and community partners to provide our clients with the best care possible so they may lead healthy, prosperous lives.”   

“Meta House has a strong history of empowering women and helping families heal,” said Vidal. “In a time that an unprecedented number of families in our community are losing loved ones to drug overdoses, I’m honored to take part in the important work that Meta House is doing to help women not only overcome addiction, but thrive in recovery.”

Vidal will officially take the helm March 5.


Christine Ullstrup, Meta House VP of Clinical Services, Named a Champion of Women’s Health

Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation Selects Six 2018 Champions in Women’s Health
Champions to be awarded by Sue Ann Thompson at the Champions in Women’s Health Awards Ceremony & Reception

Tuesday, January 16, 2018- (MADISON, WI) – The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation (WWHF) is excited to announce the six recipients of the ‘2018 Champions in Women’s Health Award’. The award is a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the remarkable work of talented health leaders in Wisconsin and recognize individuals who have devoted themselves to improving the lives of Wisconsin women and their families.
Over 20 applications were received from statewide nominations and reviewed by representatives of the WWHF including community members and local health representatives. The awardees have demonstrated their dedication to women’s health through exemplary achievement in their specific area of expertise. The following individuals are the recipients of the

‘2018 Champions in Women’s Health Award’.

Deborah Ehrenthal, MD, MPH
Associate Professor, Director, Division of Reproductive and Population Health
Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, UW School of Medicine and Public Health
Madison, WI Area of Health: Cardiovascular Disease/General Women’s Health

Jennifer Froh, BS
Community Health Educator
Juneau County Health Department
Mauston, WI
Area of Health: Cancer/Rural Women’s Health/General Women’s Health

Jan Penn, NP-C
Nurse Practitioner
Essentia Health (Retired)
Ashland, WI
Area of Health: Rural Women’s Health

Lucinda Prue, BA, RT (R) (M) (ARRT) (WI)
Mammography QA/QC Technologist
UnityPoint Health- Meriter
Fitchburg, WI
Area of Health: Mammography/Breast Cancer

“Mickey” Helen Baetke Rizzi
Teacher, Friend and Advocate to the Deaf & Hearing Impaired
Champion of the Americans With Disabilities Act
Innovator and Role Model to the Deaf Community
Eau Claire, WI
Area of Health: Deaf Community

Christine Ullstrup, LCSW, CSAC, ICS
Vice President of Clinical Services
Meta House, Inc.
Milwaukee, WI
Area of Health: Addictions/Mental Illness

Champions are honored by WWHF Founder & President, Sue Ann Thompson, at the Champions in Women’s Health Awards Ceremony & Reception on Saturday April 14th, 2018.

“We received many nominations from all over the state,” says Sue Ann Thompson. “After the difficult task of narrowing them down, we chose six individuals who are instrumental in raising awareness of women’s health issues, expanding the base of knowledge about women’s health through their work, and impacting the quality of health care that Wisconsin women receive.”

For more information on the 2018 Champions in Women’s Health, please visit the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation’s website: www.wwhf.org
The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation (WWHF) is a statewide non-profit organization whose mission is to help Wisconsin women and their families reach their healthiest potential. WWHF provides programs and conducts forums that focus on education, prevention, and early detection; connects individuals to health resources; produces and distributes the most up-to-date health education and resource materials; and, awards grants and scholarships to women health researchers and related community non-profits. To learn more, visit wwhf.org or call 1-800-448-5148.

5 things to expect in your first 2 weeks of addiction treatment

When you come to Meta House for addiction treatment, you will engage in a recovery program designed to heal the whole person rather than addressing only the symptoms of addiction. With our focus on creating a positive, addiction-free life, your days will be filled with activities that are designed to help meet your individual recovery goals.

But you might be wondering what, exactly, to expect from addiction treatment during your first weeks at Meta House. Here is how we’ll start.


We have designed a structured treatment setting at Meta House. Each day consists of a balance of treatment services with time built in for self-reflection. From the time you wake up until the moment you settle in for a good night’s sleep, you will have access to a wide range of effective therapies.

As part of our structured treatment, you’ll dine together with your peers, wake up and retire to sleep at set times during the week. Weekends provide a little more flexibility, while still within the confines of our safe, evidence-based structure.

Personalized treatment plans 

At Meta House, you can expect a you-centered approach to the recovery journey. We collaborate with you, determine what you want to accomplish and, together, build a plan to help you meet those goals. For nearly all of our clients, personalized treatment plans include individual therapy and a healthy mix of group therapies.

Our main focus is to help you heal psychologically, physically and spiritually from your addiction in a way that best fits you. 

Variety of therapies

Led by our experienced and dedicated staff, our programming features an array of therapeutic activities to ensure you have a well-rounded treatment experience.

On a regular weekday, you’ll engage in a combination of individual therapy, group therapy and experiential therapy like art therapy or yoga. We also set aside time for quiet reflection or meditation to help process your recovery experiences.

Compassionate, experienced team

Your care is entrusted to a team of passionate, licensed and credentialed treatment professionals using research-based best practices. Each member of our team has been specially-trained to address addiction, mental health concerns and trauma.

Hard work

Last but not least, you should expect that your journey to recovery includes some hard work. You will likely experience emotions you may have kept inside for a long time. There is no direct line in recovery from point A to point B.

But, as you begin building this strong foundation for lifelong health, wellness and recovery, you can also rest assured that you won’t be in this alone. 

“Have more confidence:” New billboard campaign reaches out to support struggling women (5/27/17)

By Derica Williams

WITI-TV (Milwaukee)

www.fox6now.com – May 27, 2017

Kicking a habit is hard but a local woman and organization shows you with the help, resources and support it can be done. You see the determination and strength in her eyes; Kamisha Wells is depicted on the Meta House‘s public information campaign.



A lifeline to women, Meta House gets lifeline of its own (MJS 12/12/16)

Taken from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 12/12/16


You remember Laurie Hastings don’t you? The girl next door? Honor student? Sang in the choir? Ever wonder what happened to Laurie?

Well, after high school, she met the wrong guy, had a baby and became a heroin addict.

That’s not her entire story, thanks to Meta House, an agency that, since 1963, has been providing alcohol and drug abuse services specifically designed for women and their families.

Originally a single house (it had belonged to a woman named Meta Orth, hence its name) with enough room to treat seven women recovering from alcoholism, Meta House provided services to 424 women and 242 children in 2015.

Besides its Riverwest campus at the old St. Casimir school, rectory and convent, Meta House also manages 27 apartments for transitional housing and Shorewood House.

Meta House’s mission has perhaps never been so critical.

The organization estimates that more than 18,000 women struggle with addiction in Milwaukee.

According to the Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office, a record 262 people have died from drug overdoses by the end of November 2016, outstripping the 254 total deaths in 2015, which was itself a record.

But finances are tight. The agency learned earlier this year that several federal grants it relies on have been eliminated, including a key grant that supported transitional services for its residential treatment program.

“Meta House is one of many nonprofit organizations faced with the challenging reality of providing services with dwindling financial resources,” said Amy Linder, Meta House’s president and CEO.

Dwindling finances even as loans, taken out to expand its Riverwest campus, came due.

In response, Bader Philanthropies has awarded Meta House a $500,000 low-interest loan. The agency will use the money to pay down its market-rate debt and use the savings for programming.

“This loan will ensure Meta House can remain focused on empowering women who are making the courageous choice to break the cycle of addiction,” Linder said.

Daniel Bader, president and CEO of Bader Philanthropies, said his organization is all about working with strong agencies that are having a large impact in critical areas — agencies exactly like Meta House. Milwaukee is drowning under a Tsunami of drug abuse.

“We are in an epidemic in Milwaukee right now,” he said.

Laurie Hastings was swept into the flood and, through Meta House, pulled from the water.

Laurie graduated from Oak Creek High School in 2008 planning to start college in the fall. Instead, she found herself drifting in and out of a dead-end relationship. Their son was born in 2011.

“We were going to be one happy family,” she said recently. “That didn’t happen.”

Laurie and her boyfriend became addicted to prescription opiates — an expensive habit. Pills, she said, were $20 apiece. Together, they consumed 10 or 12 a day.

Heroin was cheaper.

She lost custody of her son. Lost her apartment. Hit what she thought was the bottom and just sank lower.

In 2014, two weeks after overdosing in the backseat of her boyfriend’s car, Laurie enrolled in Meta House’s residential treatment program.

“I was done,” she said.

“I had reached that point of desperation and hopelessness, and I was willing to do whatever it took to stay clean.”

She’s been clean ever since.

So, actually, that’s what happened to Laurie Hastings.

She faced down a lethal monster. With the help of Meta House, she found a way back into her life. She’s sober, in college and works downtown. She has re-established her relationship with her son. She is moving forward.

She’s alive.

Read the story on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website here.

Blog | Pregnant women should never drink alcohol

Pregnant women should never drink alcohol.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a clear warning: Don’t do it. Ever. Not even a tiny bit. The group recently released a report identifying prenatal exposure to alcohol as the leading preventable cause of birth defects, as well as cognitive problems later in life.

Which is why it’s so alarming that more than 10% of pregnant women in the US said they drank alcohol in the past month, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The researchers also found that:

  • About 30% reported binge drinking, meaning they consumed at least four alcoholic beverages on one occasion.
  • Although binge drinking was more common among non-pregnant women than among pregnant women, of all the binge drinkers, those who were pregnant reported more episodes of binge drinking in the past month than those who were not pregnant (4.6 episodes for pregnant women versus 3.1 episodes for non-pregnant women).
  • Among pregnant women who reported drinking, alcohol use was highest among those aged 35 to 44 (19%), college graduates (13%) and unmarried women (13%), the investigators found.

As NBC News pointed out, the report may underestimate how many women drink while pregnant. The researchers noted women may not want to admit to behavior they know is harmful, and women often do not realize they are pregnant for the first four weeks or sometimes longer.

Because alcohol passes from mother to fetus, experts advise women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant to just keep away from alcohol. “There is no safe amount, no safe time, and no safe type of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. It’s just not worth the risk,” says the study’s lead author Cheryl Tan, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

A mother’s drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and a range of physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities (known as FASDs) for the baby that can last a lifetime. Some of the behavioral and intellectual issues of people with FASDs include:

  • learning disabilities
  • hyperactivity
  • difficulty with attention
  • speech and language delays
  • low IQ
  • poor reasoning and judgment skills

But remember: FASDs are completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy. Why take the risk? If you know a soon-to-be mom or a woman who is trying to conceive who needs to quit drinking, help is just a phone call away. The highly-trained clinical staff at Shorewood House can give you the guidance and advice you need to help you help your loved one.

A special note from our President/CEO


Hi Friends,

As you may have noticed, we have a fresh look! Meta House is thrilled to reveal our new logo. While we remain dedicated to our mission of breaking the cycle of addiction, we want our appearance to be visually inclusive of all of the women who pass through our doors.

The solid roofline in this logo represents safety, security and stability for every family – no matter how a woman defines her family circle.  And, of course, the beautiful sunrise is representative of the hope and potential in a new day.

I hope you love the new logo as much as I do!

Amy Lindner
President & CEO