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Avita opening womens treatment program
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Jessi Emmett, Marisa Sullens and Debbie Mott are toured around Avita's new women's treatment and recovery support location in Gainesville by Cathy Ganter, the director of specialty services at Avita. Avita provides psychiatric treatment, counseling and other recovery support services for adults with mental illnesses, emotional disorders and addiction problems. - photo by Erin O. Smith

A group that offers multiple services in Hall County is opening a new residential addiction treatment program for women off Airport Road in Gainesville.

Avita held an open house Thursday to show its community partners where the program’s women will live with their children ages 12 and younger in Swann Villas townhomes on Swann Road. The group expects to open the housing in February after it is inspected.

Avita Community Partners CEO Cindy Levi said the women’s treatment and recovery support program’s initial funding is for 10 women. In addition to group and one-on-one treatment, the program provides parenting training.

“We all want to have healthy families in our community,” Levi said. “These women are members of the community, and they need help.”

Debbie Mott, director of treatment services for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, said three families here are ready to move in once the housing opens. Previously, Family Treatment Court, which seeks to keep mothers with their children during recovery, has had to send families to Athens or Atlanta because there was no such option in Hall County.

“We’ve been waiting on this for a long time,” Mott said.

Added Mott: “It won’t be long before they’re full.”

The townhomes feature artwork on the walls, plus colorful kitchen items and bedding.

Program Coordinator Lauren Kraemer said Avita works closely with accountability courts, and this housing is better suited for women and children in Hall than having to go out of town.

“If they live in this community, it’s more of a seamless transition” at the end of the program, Kraemer said.

Lynn Ansley, assistant court administrator for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, was glad to see this program starting.

“A facility like this is just a very important thing for the community because it’s a steppingstone for a lady with kids or without kids to get a leg up and get back their life,” Ansley said.

Kraemer said the admission requirements are a primary diagnosis of a substance abuse disorder and an open Department of Family and Children Services case or being a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipient. DFCS funds the program.

Women will start off with 25 hours per week of group treatment and one hour of one-on-one treatment per week before seeing their hours of treatment decrease as they make progress.

Kraemer said as fewer hours of treatment become necessary, the women have additional time for independence, vocational placement and housing placement. She said it’s a process that helps them get back on their feet and transition to living a realistic lifestyle before leaving the program.

Avita provides a wide range of services to residents of Hall, Lumpkin, White, Dawson, Forsyth, Banks, Stephens, Habersham, Towns, Union, Rabun, Hart and Franklin counties who experience mental illness, developmental disabilities and addictive diseases.

The organization’s administrative offices are in Flowery Branch, while it also has a clubhouse for adolescent substance abuse services on the downtown square in Gainesville, plus outpatient services on Interstate Ridge Drive in Gainesville and a peer support program, an intensive substance abuse outpatient program and developmental disability services on Mabry Road in Gainesville.