Malama Family Recovery Center
Malama Family Recovery Center provides caring, holistic substance abuse treatment to women and children so families can live safe, independent and healthy lives.
As Maui’s only women-specific addiction and substance abuse treatment center, we strive to provide a continuum of care with Therapeutic and Sober Living Programs, Intensive Outpatient, Outpatient, and Aftercare services. We are also the only place on the island where young children and infants can live with their mothers while they get the help needed.
Therapeutic and Sober Living Programs
Structured and supportive living environments where women in recovery from addiction and substance abuse can receive treatment and other critical services. Infants and young children can live with their mothers in these programs.
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Intensive Outpatient & Outpatient Treatment
Individual and group therapy as well as substance abuse/addiction treatment and counseling, education classes, relapse prevention, stress/trauma workshops and other case management services offered on an outpatient basis.
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BabySAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment)
Outreach and early intervention, including substance abuse/addiction treatment, case management and prenatal care for pregnant women and new mothers.
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Dr. Lisa Ponichtera, PhD, LMFT, CSAC
Lisa grew up on Molokai and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from the University of Hawaii, Manoa and her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Argosy University. She has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Saybrook University and is a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
Lisa has worked with women and families struggling with drug addiction since 2004 and conducted two qualitative studies comparing the lives of women struggling with methamphetamine dependence with women who were able to stop using methamphetamine. The studies also examined the role of spirituality in the process of addiction and recovery. Lisa has experience working with pregnant and parenting women, gender-specific substance abuse treatment, co-occurring disorders, cognitive behavioral therapy, humanistic therapy, strengths and evidenced-based practices as well as motivational interviewing.
Clinicians and Support Staff
The all-female Malama staff includes a dedicated and caring team of Certified Substance Abuse Counselors, Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, Program Assistants as well as a Childcare Provider, BabySAFE Program Coordinator and Office Manager.
All Program Assistants are trained in Managing Aggressive Behavior, Motivational Interviewing and Non-Violent Communication. There are currently two staff members, including the BabySAFE Program Coordinator, who are certified as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder educators. The Childcare Provider is trained in nicotine cessation and provides a class once a week for women who want to quit smoking.
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At Malama Family Recovery Center, we are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on our residents and our community. This update is in effect until further notice.
- We continue to offer all of our services with changes made to meet the needs or the current situation. These programs include Therapeutic Living, Clean and Sober Housing (residential services) along with Intensive Outpatient, Outpatient, and Aftercare Programs. We are also offering telehealth options for clients in the community who need support and who are not living in one of our residential programs.
- Precautions for New Clients
a) We have implemented additional screening precautions for new clients before entry and are following all State and Federal guidelines. Anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19, who has traveled off the island in the last 14 days, or with a temperature of over 100 degrees, will not be admitted to the facility.
- Precautions for Residents and Staff
a) Staff members remain dedicated to serving our clients and are using the CDC recommended health and safety precautions around sanitation and prevention of disease spread.
- External support meetings, such as AA and NA meetings, meetings with external providers, and visits of any kind have been cancelled or are being provided via telehealth or other technology at this time.
When women come to us we conduct a Substance Abuse Assessment (either in person or over the phone) and get their detailed history of substance use in order to determine the extent of services needed. Sometimes a mental status evaluation is also needed to determine if there are any co-existing mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. Taking clients’ mental stability into account is critical because substance abuse among women is closely linked to traumatic events, as opposed to men, where substance use is typically linked to dependency needs.
Many of our services, whether it’s therapy, skill-building classes, recovery education, relapse prevention, stress/trauma reduction workshops, etc., are provided in a group format. By working alongside each other, clients feel part of a larger group and less alone. Bonds are often created in our groups that help our clients build a new family one that belongs to a strong recovery community.
We also provide individual and family counseling. Families of women in recovery have often lost trust due to the individual’s history with substance abuse. We work to reestablish this trust and rebuild healthy and strong relationships in order to create strong support networks.
Malama Family Recovery Center is the only agency on Maui that provides a continuum of gender-specific treatment services specifically for women in recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Malama is a non-judgemental and comfortable place where women can privately and confidentially talk about their needs and concerns with caring professionals. Gender specificity in treatment is critical to successful outcomes because women who use/abuse substances share common life experiences and have needs distinct from their male counterparts.
Women typically represent a minority of the client population in mixed-gender substance abuse treatment programs, which means that their unique needs are not always addressed. In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that women enter the treatment system through different avenues than do men. Women’s point of entry to treatment tends to be linked to Child Protective Services, OB/GYN doctors, family intervention and referrals for treatment while in jail. We are able to offer enhanced programming related to mental health and medical care, victimization issues, parenting and family issues, child care, transportation, financial, employment and/or vocational needs.
We are also proud to integrate culturally competent strategies that incorporate Hawaiian and local culture in substance abuse healing, as a substantial percentage of our clients are of Native Hawaiian descent.
Since Malama opened its doors in 1990, we have served over 2,000 women. The community impact is tremendous, as studies indicate that every dollar invested in drug treatment can save $1-$12 in societal and medical costs and that drug treatment can cut crime by 80% In terms of fiscal sense, it costs approximately $32,000 to incarcerate one person for a year in Maui, compared to the estimated annual cost of $2,500 per person for Intensive Outpatient Treatment at Malama.
Pregnant and parenting women have priority in receiving substance abuse and addiction treatment services at Malama. The earlier we can intervene with these families, the more likely we can successfully break the generational cycle of drug abuse, victimization and incarceration that has become so costly to our community. The teens we help often begin receiving services when they’re pregnant. Sometimes these are the daughters of women currently in our programs, and we’re trying to make a difference in these young women’s lives so they can be free of the family patterns of abuse and addiction.
Because the women we serve are a high needs and difficult-to-reach population, we need to eliminate the most common barriers to treatment that women in recovery face. We eliminate these barriers by not requiring clients have insurance in order to get help, providing transportation (to and from our facility, medical appointments, AA/NA meetings, mother-child visitations as part of the reunification process, etc.) and offering free childcare. Women also gain access to community parenting resources and classes. In order to address the wide range of client needs, we provide case management services and collaborate with several community agencies.
Access to childcare is one of the most common barriers to treatment for women, and we address this issue through our Early Learning Center (ELC), located in our main treatment and residential facility. While women are in treatment sessions and classes they know that their children are safe and well-cared for. The ELC is a welcoming and friendly space that serves as a lounge for mothers and as a classroom for infants and children up to age five, in accordance with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards (exceptions can be made for older children as needed).
Staff members provide free developmental screenings for all children, make referrals to community agencies based on the screening scores and provide educational materials to mothers so they can help their children reach developmental milestones. The ELC also offers mothers parenting training and an opportunity to observe positive interaction and redirection techniques. Without the ELC, many, if not most, of the children served would not otherwise receive these critical screenings and early interventions.
Malama Family Recovery Center is the ONLY place on Maui where young children and infants can live with their mothers while they receive services through residential programs. Women do not have to choose between getting healthy and being with their children — they can do both. We believe strongly in the power of a healing family setting. While clients get help, their children are nurtured in an environment that allows them to heal from negative life experiences. Our main facility, located in a residential home, provides an atmosphere that is warm and safe. Our staff is committed to providing a safe, sober and healthy environment for women to do the challenging work of healing themselves so they can create positive change for their families.
Malama Family Recovery Center accepts most insurance plans. For women without insurance or who are unable to pay for services (or for programs in which insurance cannot be billed), we are proudly funded by the following:
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- Hawaii Department of Health — Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division (ADAD)
- Hawaii State Judiciary
- Maui County
- Maui United Way
- Private Foundations and Charities
- Corporate Donors
- Individual Donors