Frequently Asked Questions

The Philosophy of Meta House

I’ve never been to treatment before. What should I expect?

While recovery is never easy, it is possible. At Meta House, you should expect a client-centered approach. What that means is we won’t lecture you on what your goals should be. We will collaborate with you to determine what you want to accomplish and, together, we will build a plan to help you accomplish those goals. That plan will almost certainly include individual therapy and a mix of group therapies.

You should expect a set of rules and guidelines designed to help you and to help the whole program function well.

Finally, you should expect that this will be hard work—you may find you will experience emotions you’ve held at bay for a long time. But you should also expect that you won’t be alone in this. We’ve helped many thousands of women over the last 50 years. We hope to be able to help you, too.

How long have you offered treatment? How do you know it works?

Meta House has been offering exclusively women’s treatment since 1963. In our 50+ years of helping women get well, our outcomes have consistently outpaced national averages in helping women recover. In most years, between 70% and 80% of our clients who have completed our program have been able to achieve and maintain their sobriety with our help. While we unfortunately cannot promise success for you, we can promise we’ll be doing everything we can to help you become part of that very successful group of alumni.

What’s special about a women-only program?

Research continues to support our experience that women tend to do better in treatment when they are engaged in gender-specific treatment. When we say gender-specific treatment, we mean two main things.

First, only women will be receiving treatment at Meta House. Our experience and numerous studies have shown that women perceive female-only groups as more beneficial than mixed-gender groups because they provide women more freedom to talk about difficult topics such as abuse and relationship issues and to focus on themselves rather than on the men in the group.

Second, we’ve designed Meta House the same way that experts suggest women’s treatment should be designed. To focus on strengths and support—not punishment or shame. Over the decades, we’ve been privileged to work with thousands and thousands of women—to learn from them and to be inspired by them. We bring this knowledge to our ever-evolving program.

I’ve tried treatment and it didn’t work. Why would Meta House be different?

First things first: please don’t blame yourself. Although every year we see clients who succeed with us their first time in treatment, we also know clients who have been to treatment 2 or 4 or 10 times before they are able to get well.

We do think there are some things about our program which may be different than other treatment programs you may have experienced.

First, we are a women-only program. Both research and our own 50 years of experience have shown us how important this can be for women early in recovery.

Second, unlike some programs, we don’t pretend that one size fits all. We can’t build a treatment plan until we meet you and know what your goals are. Once we’ve learned what you want to accomplish, we’ll work with you to build a plan that meets your needs. While we won’t promise you’ll love everything we suggest, we can say we won’t waste your time in activities that aren’t meaningful to your recovery.


How long is your program?

Meta House does not have a single “28-day” or “30-day” program that it offers for clients. Instead, we’ll be building an individualized program designed to meet your own recovery goals. The average length of stay for our residential treatment program is usually around 90 days, but most clients who succeed in maintaining long-term recovery ultimately spend a year or more heavily engaged in some form of treatment. No two people are identical, though and we’ll work with you to find the right length of stay that works for you.

Do you require use of the “12 steps?”

No. We know the 12 steps can be helpful for many in their recovery, but we also know it doesn’t work for everyone. We’ll be working with you to build a treatment plan and a long-term plan that works best for you.

What’s “residential treatment?”

Residential treatment means that you live with us for a time period while receiving your treatment onsite. Our experience is that residential treatment can be a vital part of the recovery process for women who have not been able to achieve their goals in an outpatient program or women whose lives feel so out of control that they want the safety and support of residential program.

What kind of training has the Meta House staff had?

Our program is headed by our medical director who is a licensed psychiatrist and also certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine—meaning she’s had specialized training in addiction and its effects on the women she sees. Our counseling team is also made up of masters-level counselors who have reached the highest level of credentialing in their field—either as a Licensed Professional Counselor (“LPC”) or as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (“LCSW”). Our counselors also have Wisconsin’s highest credential for substance abuse counseling, called a CSAC (certified substance abuse counselor). Finally, we always have other caring staff on-site. In addition to state-required training, these staff receive on-going training in issues like trauma, women’s health and helping women recover.

What happens when I’m getting ready to leave Meta House?

We know for most clients, residential treatment is a necessary first step to a healthy recovery, but many clients benefit from continued treatment when they are ready to leave residential. We’ll work with you, your family (if appropriate), and our team of licensed professionals in the Meta House Outpatient Treatment Program to help make the transition as seamless as possible.

Our outpatient treatment program is set up similarly to the residential program in that it offers strength-based, trauma-informed substance abuse treatment for women in addition to a wide array of comprehensive supportive services including vocational and educational training, parenting classes and case management.



Your life at Meta House

Is there always staff present at Meta House?

Yes. Warm, supportive staff members are on-site at Meta House at all times.

How big is Meta House?

Meta House is a warm, family-friendly, non-hospital program—we can accommodate up to 35 women and 15 children at a time between the two houses that comprise our residential program and many more in our outpatient program.


What’s the neighborhood like?

Riverwest is an eclectic neighborhood just north of Downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The neighborhood has retained the beautiful trees of an old neighborhood and is filled with lovely small businesses and a diverse mix of community-minded professionals, students, families and single residents. You can see our campus on Google Maps here and see pictures of our building on this website.

I’m researching Meta House for someone I care about. If she gets admitted at Meta House, what will I get to know about how she’s doing?

We know that a strong support system is an enormous benefit to women who want to stay healthy for the long-term. Because of this, we encourage clients to consider authorizing us to speak with the most important people in their lives about their recovery. Ultimately, this is each client’s decision to make, and we will communicate or not consistent with her wishes.


Can I bring my kids? Can my children, friends and family visit me?

Yes. We are licensed to welcome up to 15 children at a time in our residential program. We have a Child & Family team of clinicians that are highly-trained in treating children alongside their mothers. Additionally, we know safe family and loved ones can be a very important piece of you staying well for the long-term. You and your team will collaborate on when these visits are appropriate and work well.

What’s your policy on passes / outside meetings?

We encourage everyone to get and stay connected outside of Meta House because we know that a healthy support network can be a huge help for women healing and staying healthy long-term. We find it can be helpful to most clients to limit external appointments when first arriving at Meta House, but this is something you and your counselor can decide together.


What happens in a typical day?

On a typical weekday, you’ll experience a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and other activities designed to meet your needs. We ask clients to dine together and to wake and retire at set times during the week. The weekends provide a little more downtime, but still in our safe structure.

Who will be part of my treatment team?

You as our client are the center of the team. In addition to our psychiatrist, counselors and child and family team, we will include anyone you identify as healthy and important to you on the team to the degree that makes sense for you and that you’re comfortable with.

What kind of help is available to family members?

Meta House is uniquely qualified to treat a woman’s children while she is going through treatment. Please click here to read about our Child & Family services.

We want to work with the families of our clients (however she defines family) because we know that families can be very important to the recovery process. We will provide some support to all families (unless our client directs otherwise) including education about the disease of addiction. A more intensive program, Celebrating Families! is available for women and their families who elect to participate.

What kind of rules should I expect?

We’ve learned that virtually all of our clients benefit from a healthy environment with a relatively strong and consistent structure. But we’re not setting rules just to set them – our goal is your long-term recovery, and the rules support your safety and help foster the development of healthy habits.


Will I have my own bedroom?

Most clients will share a bedroom during their stay at Meta House. In the case that a woman’s child(ren) are coming with her to treatment, the family will share a bedroom.

What’s the food like? I have dietary limitations – can Meta House accommodate my needs?

We see healthy nutrition and eating habits as integral to the recovery process. All of the food we provide at Meta House is designed to help you build or maintain a healthy lifestyle. While we know an occasional treat works in a balanced diet, most of what you’ll enjoy at Meta House will be non-processed, healthy options. We’d be happy to work with you to accommodate any dietary restrictions.

What’s your smoking policy? What about sugar and caffeine?

Meta House is a non-smoking program. We likewise discourage caffeine and high-sugar foods.

We encourage our clients to treat tobacco like any addictive substance and to build into a treatment plan a goal of eliminating (or at least reducing) tobacco use. We know this is difficult, but research is disproving the old adage that women in recovery should “get a break” and be allowed to smoke. Research instead is demonstrating that clients who successfully quit smoking while in treatment see significant increases in their odds of long-term success in recovery.

Similarly, we don’t serve caffeinated, highly processed, or high sugar foods or beverages at Meta House because of their potential for cross-addiction.

Will I have opportunities for exercise?

Yes. We know exercise and being healthy overall can help you attain and maintain a long-term recovery. We’ll have opportunities for exercise built into your schedule throughout the week.

What should I bring with me?

Please plan to bring with you no more than three weeks of clothing (we have laundry facilities) and any personal toiletries or care items that are important. Please include clothes you can comfortably exercise in. Please do not bring with you a large amount of cash, credit cards, or other valuable items.


Can I bring my cell phone?

You may bring your cell phone with you. You and your therapist will work out when you will be able to use your personal device.

What’s your policy on pets?

Unfortunately, we cannot accept pets at Meta House. However, in compliance with state and federal laws, we will welcome any appropriately registered service animal.


Am I eligible for Meta House?

Who is eligible for Meta House?

Meta House treats those who identify as women and who are suffering the effects of substance use disorder and who want to get well. You must be at least 18 and ambulatory for this program. Meta House is not a medical-detox facility, so depending on your medical needs, you may need to go to a detox facility prior to admission. If you call us, we can help you determine if that’s necessary in your case.

What’s trauma? How does it impact treatment at Meta House?

Many (though not all) women who are struggling with their drug or alcohol use have also lived through some awful things. Many of the clients we’ve worked with have survived childhood sexual or physical abuse, similarly violent events as adults, or have witnessed violence against others. For some women, experiencing events like these can contribute to their substance abuse problems. We have decades of experience building a trauma-informed program to help you heal.

Can you help someone who knows or suspects she might have a co-occurring mental health issue?

Yes. The team at Meta House IS experienced at working through how both your substance abuse and any mental health concerns are impacting each other and how to help you build a treatment plan that addresses all of your needs.

What’s your philosophy on medication-assisted treatment? Do you accept clients already on methadone, Suboxone or other medications as part of treatment?

At Meta House, we believe that medication-assisted treatment can play a vital role in helping some clients get well. While every client is different, the appropriate use of methadone, Suboxone, Subutex, Vivitrol, or many other drugs will never prevent a client from receiving treatment at Meta House. Our Medical Director will do a medication evaluation with you and work with your provider to ensure you are on a therapeutic level.

Will I be allowed to take other medications while I’m at Meta House?

Yes. Under the supervision of our staff, we’ll encourage you to take any approved medications. As part of that approval process, our medical director will conduct a review of any prescription medications you are taking to make sure we’ve got a good plan for you and your needs.

Do you accept pregnant women into Meta House?

Yes – in fact, pregnant women are given priority admission at Meta House. In our decades of working with expectant moms, we’ve seen how important treatment can be to helping you deliver a healthy baby and take the right steps for your own health. Please contact us to talk about your circumstances—if we can meet your needs, we’ll be so glad to welcome you.


I identify as part of the LGBTQ community. Will I feel welcome at Meta House?

Yes; we sure hope so! The cornerstone of our philosophy is respect for each individual who we serve. We know no two people are alike and that our differences can be some of our greatest strengths. We pride ourselves on being a woman’s program, but we know gender isn’t binary. If you identify as a woman, we believe our program will be a good fit for you.


I’m currently employed or in school – will I be able to continue with those activities while at Meta House?

We’ll be happy to talk with you about your individual circumstances, but generally we recommend not working while you’re in residential treatment, especially in your first weeks with us. We’re going to be working with you to accomplish a lot, and the hours that you are away at work can make it harder to accomplish those goals. As for school, we’d be happy to work with you to talk with your school about options to get well now and still keep you on track with your educational goals.

Is this a faith-based program? What if I’m religious? What if I’m not religious?

Meta House is not a faith-based program, but we value and respect the belief systems of all that we serve. We know that spirituality or organized religion can be a vital part of recovery for some women, and for these women we’ll work collaboratively with you to incorporate those elements into your treatment plan. For women who do not consider religion, faith, or spirituality as important to them, we will likewise honor and respect your beliefs and build your treatment plan with you accordingly.



Getting Started at Meta House

How soon could someone be admitted?

We generally try to admit clients Monday-Thursday and before 11:00 a.m. We find this tends to lead to the smoothest experience for new clients and for us. But we also know that special circumstances come up, and we will do our best to meet your needs. Finally, how soon we can admit you also depends on how many clients are currently with us. Please call and we’ll be able to let you know the first possible admission appointment.

What needs to happen before someone gets admitted to Meta House?

Before your first day at Meta House, you’ll talk with a member of our staff so we can get a brief history of your use and help you determine whether you would benefit from a medical detox before your admission at Meta House. We’ll likewise ask you to visit a physician for a physical that confirms you are free of tuberculosis (“TB”) or other communicable diseases. We’ll also discuss with you signing releases to permit us to speak with your primary care doctor, or your psychiatrist or therapist (if you have one). Finally, we’ll need to make payment arrangements and to have you sign our admission agreement. Please contact us at (414) 962-1200 for a copy of our admission agreement.


Paying for treatment at Meta House

How much does residential treatment at Meta House cost?

Many if not most of the clients accessing residential treatment will qualify for public funding that does not require any out-of-pocket cost for you. For other clients, we have a sliding-scale structure we hope will work for many families. Please call us at (414) 962-1200 for more information. 

What about outpatient costs?

Many of our clients in our outpatient program qualify for Medicaid, which we gladly accept. We likewise are happy to work with other insurers. If you don’t currently have insurance, please call—we’d love to help you get enrolled if we can. Finally, if you’re responsible for any co-pays, we’ll be up front about that and talk through how to make that work for you.