Gateway Steps to Recovery


"My journey to and through Treatment" - as told by a participant

A crisis can strike anyone at any time. It doesn’t discriminate against demographics, education or social status. These unplanned life events can easily turn catastrophic especially for those who suffer from substance abuse or addiction problems, such as myself. Facing foreclosure, divorce, and an unplanned pregnancy, life became unmanageable in the blink of an eye. I was soon overwhelmed with thoughts of being financially independent, raising two small children, and “doing” life alone. Embarrassingly enough, I turned to drugs to quiet my mind and numb my emotional pain. However, it was short lived, for my mind was flooded again with thoughts of hopelessness:
“I can’t do this alone.”
“How will I provide for my family?”
“My addiction is getting the best of me.”
“Who and where can I turn to for help?”

My cry for help was soon answered in the most unexpected way. I became involved with DCF (Department of Children and Families) upon delivering my son. Despite my guilt and shame my caseworker became my vessel to strength and a new found hope. She directed me to a place I will forever be grateful to: Gateway Community Services. It was here that my confidence, hope, and faith were slowly restored.

The PPW program at Gateway has given me more than I could have ever imagined. I have been given a top notch counselor who has tailored a treatment plan specifically for my needs and whose door is always open. I also have a fantastic fun-spirited recovery coach who continuously motivates and guides me through the 12-Step process and more. I also meet daily with other mothers with similar backgrounds who are quickly becoming a part of my extended family. It is in this therapeutic setting we share our struggles, strengths, and aspirations. We cover any and all topics from anger, anxiety, children, codependency, crisis survival skills, depression, domestic violence, educational goals, emotions, financial freedom, independence, recognizing and replacing self-defeating thoughts, self- worth, setting healthy boundaries, substance abuse, vulnerability, and a plethora of other important life topics. It is through this program that I have learned new coping skills to successfully overcome numerous life obstacles all while maintaining my sobriety!

Summary of Innovative Program

Special Populations

Gateway – Steps to Recovery (Gateway Community Services), located in Jacksonville, FL, is a comprehensive substance use disorder treatment provider that is continuously seeking to expand and renew its residential Pregnant and Postpartum Women’s Program to serve women of child bearing age who are pregnant or have been pregnant within the last 12 months. The PPW program’s focus has been and remains person- as well as family-centered and provides services for the women, the women’s minor children, the fathers, and extended family members. Providing comprehensive services to women during pregnancy significantly improves the lives of women, children, and their families. Creating systems of support during and after treatment becomes critical in sustaining the work done during treatment. Serving the women while promoting family reunification and natural support systems within the community impacts not just the identified patient, but her family as well as the community at large.

Program Replication Tips

All services the program provides are based on gender-specific, culturally appropriate, comprehensive, evidence-based practices, and are focused on both the individual and family needs. The women are encouraged to bring their infant children with them while residing in residential treatment. An onsite daycare is available for the women’s use while attending treatment groups and/or 12-Step Meetings. This program encourages family involvement in the treatment of the patient as well as works with other community agency providers already serving the women. The PPW Program has been at the forefront of agency changes including procedures and policies related to family involvement, peer support specialist training, and trauma-focused treatment. At this time the participants of this program receive individual recovery support from Florida board certified Recovery Peer Specialists utilizing the WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) program, and individual sessions with a Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) certified counselor. The goal of this program is to continue to be innovative and cutting edge in regard to family-centered approaches within the scope of addiction treatment. The staff members of this program will continue to engage in online trainings, webinars, seminars, and live teaching courses to continue to build their capacity to provide comprehensive treatment modalities to the women and those in their lives.

Policy & Financing Strategies

In the state of Florida pregnant and postpartum women are considered high priority patients. The state has instituted funding for this particular group of individuals seeking substance use disorder treatment. Currently, residential beds for the PPW patients to complete a 90-day treatment program are state- funded. The agency receives annual funding ($463,104) to provide services for pregnant and postpartum women as well as their affected family members. The addiction program is currently funded by a federal grant, which allows for overlay services to be added in conjunction with the PPW program already established at the agency. Due to the increased funding, the agency is able to service more women and affected family members. The funds received from the federal grant will also be utilized to match the services provided by the agency, allowing the agency to double the number of women served, and to explore alternative treatment options. The focus of the grant is to incorporate trauma-informed services into the program and to develop sustainability efforts. Currently, the grant program is utilizing and training peer specialists for the use of WRAP, which encompasses trauma-informed care and billing options for these employees to sustain them into the future. The program is also looking forward to exploring training utilizing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy as the primary therapeutic model for our clientele and potentially incorporating animal therapy.

Impact / Results

At this time, the efforts with the increased funding cannot be adequately evaluated. The hope is to have the following impact for the patients served currently and in the future:

  • Decrease the use of prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco, illicit and other harmful drugs (e.g., inhalants) among pregnant and postpartum women.
  • Increase safe and healthy pregnancies.
  • Improve birth outcomes.
  • Reduce perinatal and environmentally related effects of maternal and/or paternal drug use on infants and children.
  • Improve the mental and physical health of the women and children.
  • Prevent mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among the children.
  • Improve parenting skills, family functioning, economic stability, and quality of life.
  • Decrease involvement in and exposure to crime, violence, and neglect; and decrease physical, emotional, and sexual abuse for all family members.

Agency Contact Information

Agency Name:Gateway Community Services
City, StateJacksonville, FL
General Phone Number:904-387- 4661
Website URL: