Name of Innovative Program:
New Pathways for Women
Public Health Management Corporation
Name of Innovative Program Lead:
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
The New Pathways for Women Project (NPW), a program of Public Health Management Corporation, is a neighborhood-based recovery support program. NPW engages substance-involved African American women not currently in treatment but seeking help initiating and maintaining their recovery, to join a welcoming, non-judgmental community of their peers. NPW utilizes a model that partners with women and affirms that anyone can recover and that recovery is often an incremental process that can be effectively managed over time. NPW provides an integrated continuum of gender-specific, trauma-informed, strengths-based recovery services designed to facilitate women’s readiness for and access to behavioral health treatment and primary care. The project also functions as a post-engagement safety net for women who have completed treatment and wish to remain drug-free, or have relapsed and need additional support to regain their recovery focus. NPW has demonstrated enormous success facilitating the establishment of a self-sustaining recovery community of women.
Creativity and Innovation:
NPW’s highly creative programming is a unique model driven by the recovery support needs as defined by the women themselves. Most women seeking recovery support arrive at the project with an average two decade addiction history and histories of multiple and severe traumatic losses. Key to their sustained recovery is replacement of social activities associated with their drug use with positive recreational outlets that feel safe and are of their own making. Women have developed numerous on-site creative alternatives to days spent in active addiction and survival sex work - forming book groups, establishing knitting clubs, conducting volunteer work, participating in voter registration, among many other creative community building efforts. NPW conducts community-based assertive outreach by employing program staff and alumnae outreach teams. Wearing bright pink shirts, they take the project “to the streets” by engaging directly with women and inviting them to come to NPW for services.
NPW is a leader in behavioral health in that our program and results demonstrate that individuals can effectively drive their recovery efforts at their own pace and in their own way. This framework moves the source of control from the provider to the individual seeking recovery. This viewpoint is reinforced by NPW’s commitment to being a trauma-informed program emphasizing safety and choice. The City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities has identified NPW as a model program in alignment with the department’s transformation to recovery-oriented systems of care. NPW is on DBHIDA’s short list of study tours for national and international level addictions professionals visiting Philadelphia. DBHIDA highlights NPW’s success in: 1) conducting community based assertive outreach and engagement and 2) operating as a unique open-ended drop-in center, providing women with transitional support bridging their active addiction to enrollment in behavioral health treatment and recovery.
New Pathways for Women and New Pathways Project (its “brother” pretreatment program serving both men and women) originated with 5 year federal grant awards from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. The programs’ service orientation and demonstrated success were so aligned with DBHIDS’s system transformation that the department provided continuation support once the federal funding ended. They enjoy heightened visibility and are routinely showcased as a model projects in Philadelphia’s recovery-oriented systems of care. The two New Pathways Projects’ community-based pretreatment programs play a key role in the ongoing system transformation of the City’s addiction services serving as culturally responsive models that we expect to replicate across the behavioral health system.
NPW core components include assertive outreach and engagement, Motivational Interviewing case management, and psycho-educational groups. Five years of positive outcomes demonstrate that women’s recovery is best realized in a welcoming, non-judgmental, woman-centered setting. While abstinence from substances is the ultimate goal, critical to this pretreatment model’s success is a service orientation that builds resilience, expands periods of remission, and reduces the frequency and duration of relapse episodes. We have found that recovery services are most effectively implemented and received when anchored in neighborhoods where women live and conducted by staff who share their culture, norms and lived experiences. Finally, in light of the robust association between addiction and women’s lifetime exposure to trauma, all replication efforts must be informed by the recognition that many women’s lives have been marred by violence and victimization, and that their use of substances was their way to manage the distress associated with those experiences.
A 3½ year evaluation of NPW was conducted by the Research and Evaluation Group of the Public Health Management Corporation. Women (N=190) were interviewed using a quantitative and qualitative survey tool at program entry and again six months later. Data analysis revealed the program’s exceptional level of success on a range of factors that challenge NPW’s high risk population. Most importantly, there were “significant decreases in substance use at 6-month follow up”, with 65% of clients reporting that they had abstained from using any illegal drugs in the past 30 days and 54% reporting that they had abstained from both alcohol and drug use over the past 30 days. Forty percent of participants entered substance abuse treatment by 6-month follow up. Thirty-one individuals who reported that they had never been in a drug or alcohol treatment program at Intake reported at follow up that they had enrolled in a program.