Blog & News

Outpatient Program Closed 1/29-1/31 Due To Extreme Weather

Due to the dangerously cold temperatures forecasted this week, Meta House’s outpatient program will be closed Tuesday 1/29 through Thursday 1/31.

Dial 2-1-1 for help with emergency shelter and/or food. More information is available by clicking here.

To speak with your therapist during the closure, you may call us at (414) 962-1200 between 8:00am-4:30pm. 

President and CEO Valerie Vidal on EIG Milwaukee’s Philanthropic Community Podcast

Approximately 27,000 women in Milwaukee are struggling with Substance Use Disorder and and 88% of them aren’t getting the help they need. We are grateful to Ellenbecker Investment Group and WISN News/Talk 1130 iHeartRadio for giving us the opportunity to talk about the incredible need for Substance Use Disorder services in our area and the great work happening at Meta House to help women and their families break the generational cycle of addiction. Check out Ellenbecker Investment Group’s  Philanthropic Community podcast featuring Meta House and Safe & Sound, Inc.  here

A Day for Meta House 2018 Recap

This year’s A Day for Meta House events attracted over 1,000 community members and raised over $238,000 in support of the therapeutic services that help families at Meta House thrive. Thank you to everyone who attended, who donated, who volunteered and who helped spread the word. Without you, the live-saving work happening across our three treatment settings simply couldn’t continue.

This year, we celebrated Women of Strength… women who have battled back from the depths of their disease to establish a life in recovery from a substance use disorder. In order to acknowledge the strength of anyone’s story, though, we first have to understand their journey. This year, we heard from Naomi and her support network in a documentary-style film (watch it here). We gained valuable insight into what treatment is really like at Meta House from a panel of our staff. Meta House’s Program Managers, the Director of Child and Family Services, a Peer Specialist and a Case Manager detailed how their efforts help us achieve our mission to strengthen women and heal families. The keynote was delivered by Kamisha, an absolute powerhouse of a woman and a graduate of our program. 

Captured below are some of our favorite quotes from this year’s events.
• “For women who have been pushed into the shadows for so long, shamed for a disease and life circumstances often completely beyond their control, to be celebrated is to be seen… and every person deserves the dignity of being seen.” –Valerie P. Vidal, Meta House President and CEO
• “I want to know what it is that’s taking you away from your family. What is that feeling that you get that’s so powerful that we didn’t matter? …at that moment, he taught me how to use heroin.” –Naomi
• “You were able to battle something that not many people even live through… let alone become the parent they were supposed to be.” –Veronica, on her sister Naomi’s strength in recovery
• “If you don’t know Naomi as a woman of strength, you don’t know Naomi.” –Katie Martin, Meta House Therapist
• “Meta House saved her life. They didn’t just save my daughter, they saved my grandchildren.” –Jimmy, Naomi’s father
• “Thankfully at Meta House, we have the luxury of saying – you need treatment? Bring your kids with you.” –Julie Reichert, Meta House Residential Program Manager
• “I consider myself a systems navigator – I help women work through really confusing, complex systems so they’re empowered to heal and become self-sufficient.” –Carolyn Martin, Meta House Case Manager
• “We are [a woman’s] champion while she heals.” –Eileen Sperl, Meta House Director of Child and Family Services
• “You have to change your people, places and things. Let’s go meet some people in recovery and try out some new hobbies.” –Nicole Lindemann, sharing her unique lived experience in recovery as a Peer Specialist at Meta House
• “Sometimes the hardest choice is to stay in treatment and face what’s ahead.” –Julie Reichert, Meta House Residential Program Manager
• “I asked my mom (who was in active addiction) – ‘why can’t you just stop?’ I didn’t understand why my mom was making the choices she was making… I learned later on – she couldn’t stop because she didn’t know how.” –Kamisha, Meta House graduate
• “Today, I’m not a problem. I’m a problem solver. I’m my own Olivia Pope.” -Kamisha
• “Naomi and Kamisha, thank you for being determined. Thank you for being conquerors. I have two new sheroes.” –Denise Thomas of The Effective Communication Coach, making the appeal at ADFMH – West
• “The time is now for us to understand the power within us.” –Thelma Sias, on our individual ability to make a difference in the lives of those in our community facing adversity
• “If we can rally behind the Milwaukee Bucks, we can rally behind the women at Meta House.” –Thelma Sias, making the appeal at the lunch session of ADFMH.

Thank you, friends, for helping to make these success stories possible! Your support helps families at Meta House heal. We look forward to seeing you next year for A Day for Meta House on Friday, May 3!

A guide to coping skills

When it comes to recovery, there’s no one-size-fits-all program. We each have a unique set of coping skills that works for us, so it’s important, especially in early recovery, to expose ourselves to lots of different mantras and techniques until we know what resonates with us. Seeing this, we recently asked a number of clients and therapists in our program to share what coping mechanisms works best for them. Here’s what they said:

  • Be honest. Using caused me to be dishonest about a lot of things… I didn’t want to hurt my family by telling them what was really going on and I wasn’t ready to be honest with myself. What saves me now is honesty, and this program taught me how to be honest.
  • If nothing changes, nothing changes. In treatment, I’m re-learning a lot of things I learned years ago. Habits aren’t easy to break, but it’s necessary for me to get well. Branching off of that is another great coping skill: Expect change to feel uncomfortable. And it is, but it’s worth it.
  • Never give up. Nothing in recovery is easy, but it’s worth it. There are days I just wanted to give up and to use, but working through those difficult moments is really what shows me I’m strong enough to stay clean.
  • Be open to new ways of doing things. I decided to open myself up to new ideas and new suggestions. I was willing to do whatever I had to, even when I didn’t want to, and that’s made me stronger. I know in my heart I can do this now.
  • Put pride to the side. Recovery is a whole new lifestyle, so I have to put what I think I know to be fact and try out things other people suggest.
  • Set boundaries. In recovery, I’ve learned that, “no” can be a complete sentence. I learned I don’t have to explain it. I can just say “no.”
  • Pain shared is pain lessened. When I first started coming to treatment, I didn’t want to open up. I’d been through some really bad stuff that I was ashamed of and I didn’t want my peers to judge me. But through sharing my story, I’ve found healing.
  • HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Anytime I’m finding myself in a difficult situation, I ask myself first if I’m in a good state of mind to be making a decision. I’ve learned it’s okay to take some time to weigh my options, especially if I’m hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
  • Taking a bath. Especially for mothers, it calms me like nothing else to (ensure your child is in a safe place) close the door, light a candle and just breathe.
  • Meditation is what clears my mind the best. Repeating a mantra is especially helpful if I can’t get to a place where distracting thoughts stop entering my mind. I’ve been doing it for so long that I feel calmer just saying, ‘meditation.’
  • The process of reading helps distract my mind enough to get me to a place beyond the situation that was causing so much stress. Sometimes it takes a while to get there, but it works for me.
  • Using a stress ball. I don’t know what it is about the squishy-ness of stress balls, but it’s such a grounding and soothing activity. I keep a few around the house, one in my purse and one in my office.

Don’t be discouraged if you haven’t quite figured out what works for you. Recovery is a process and it frequently involves adjusting things when we’re not feeling our strongest. If you find that you can’t find something that works for you and you think you’d benefit from treatment, don’t hesitate to call the team at Meta House to learn what options are available to you.

Practicing gratitude: 4 easy ways to strengthen your recovery

Spring is the season for rebirth, renewal and growth. With so much blossoming around us, we enjoy also looking inward to acknowledge our own growth and the blessings that surround us – the people or things that enrich our lives. A vast and growing body of research suggests that acknowledging the things for which we’re grateful increases happiness and improves our overall wellbeing. Here are four easy ways to strengthen recovery and foster gratitude in our lives:

1. Journal. Jotting down a short (or long!) list of things we’re grateful for each day can be a great tool to remind us of all the wonderful things and people in our lives when we’re having an off day. Helpful hint: be as specific as possible so your list doesn’t get stale. Daily journaling also gets us into the practice of thinking positively and identifying the good in our lives.

2. Meditate
. We love the Metta meditation and practice it often. The word metta comes from Pali, an ancient Indian language. The word loosely translates to loving-kindness or friendliness and is thus frequently referred to as the Loving-Kindness meditation in English. Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an expert at calming and focusing your mind, this brief guided meditation is scientifically proven to :

  • increase positive emotions
  • decrease negative emotions
  • support feelings of connection
  • increase mental health
  • activate empathy
  • decrease stress

In recovery, it’s common for us to feel guilty about our past and blame ourselves for broken relationships. While this meditation is often thought of as forgiving those around us who have caused us pain, it’s equally focused inward and encourages us to forgive ourselves for the pain we have caused. Click here for a guided loving-kindness meditation video.

3. Practice yoga. It’s easier to center ourselves, find balance and calm our minds while placing a focus on one specific activity. For some of us, that’s holding a yoga pose – or passing through a series of poses.

  • Before we even begin our practice, we try to set an intention to be mindful of the positive forces around us and let the negative thoughts or judgments melt away. With each breath in, we acknowledge just one thing we’re thankful for – even if it’s the current moment or our current breath. With each breath out, we allow toxic thoughts to escape our minds.
  • Both Anjali Mudra – commonly referred to as ‘prayer pose,’ in which your hands press together in front of your chest (or ‘heart’s center) – and Savasana – commonly referred to as ‘corpse pose,’ in which you lay flat on your back with your eyes gently closed – can be meditative poses that allow the time and space needed for reflection and gratitude.
  • Supported chest / heart opener. In a seated position with legs straight in front, place one or two blocks (or a chunky blanket) underneath the middle part of your back and one or two behind the back of your head. Slowly roll down until you’re fully resting face up, palms up. Breathe.
  • Bridge or supported bridge pose. Lying flat on your back with your knees bent and arms straightened towards your feet with palms facing upward, lift your lower torso off the floor. If you’re looking for a more restorative pose, place a block beneath your lower back. Breathe

    4. Share a thoughtful ‘thank you,’
     rather than a quick ‘thanks.’ Taking a momentary pause to acknowledge the kindness and compassion around us can be therapeutic and improve happiness for both the person (or people) we’re acknowledging as well as ourselves. Show your appreciation for even the small things!

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:
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 or call 1-800-448-5148.