March 8, 2008

The wonderful women of HERS @ ASC.

An exciting new support program at ASC is helping women of color stay strong as they recover from substance abuse. Honoring Everywoman's Right to Safety (HERS @ ASC) offers peer coaching, support services, and skills trainings to improve health and promote long-term stability.

Through specially designed programs that address the effects of gender roles, childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence, and parenting responsibilities, HERS @ ASC provides women with much-needed emotional support. The program also provides enhanced access to medical care, mental health services, and housing.

"We take women out of their isolation and into the larger community of the HERS program," says ASC Co-Director of Prevention Services Ramona Cummings. "It's phenomenal to see them really thrive together, with support from each other."

The program includes one-to-one peer coaching by peer leaders whose recovery is solid. They encourage and support other women struggling to stay clean. "We see every interaction as an opportunity to reach women who need help," says ASC's Women's Services Advocate Vanessa Sullivan. "The peer coaching happens in drug treatment programs, SROs, health clinics—everywhere HERS @ ASC participants have a presence."

HERS @ ASC also links to ASC's case management services and mental health counseling—critical services for women facing overwhelming hurdles to overcoming addiction. "We're seeing women who have been through every traumatic event you can imagine," says Dr. Genata Carol, who provides onsite mental health counseling at ASC. "Most grew up in tremendous poverty and neglect. They've lived through molestation, violence, prison, prostitution, and domestic abuse. For many, their response to trauma was not, ‘I'm going to get help,' but ‘I'm going to get high,' because in the environments they grew up in, substance abuse was the only ‘solution' and no other form of help was available."

With services that confront the realities of their lives and a social support network that promotes lasting recovery, these women are finally getting the help they need through HERS @ ASC. "We're bringing women together and creating sisterhood, safety, and respect for each other," says Ramona Cummings. "HERS @ ASC says: ‘You can experience safety. You can experience respect. And together, we can build a community that really addresses the problems that put women of color at risk.'"

ASC is proud to be one of only eight organizations nationwide to receive a recovery community support program grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). HERS @ ASC is also supported by the NYS AIDS Institute.

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