Ep. 35 – Community Housing Options for Recovering Female Addicts: Erin Helms, Woodrow Project

Greg interviews Erin Helms, the Executive Director of the Woodrow Project located in Parma, Ohio. The mission of the Woodrow Project is to provide a safe, stable and supportive environment for women in recovery. Gina and Andrea join Erin and Greg for the interview. Gina is a Recovery Support Specialist at The Woodrow Project, while Andrea is a current resident at the recovery house.

Erin explains that Ohio Recovery Housing has three different levels of recovery housing: level one, level two and level three. She then discusses the typical skill set seen at each level. Level three is considered a halfway house, for those in the full grip of addiction who are struggling to make it through the day. Level two is for those who are farther along the journey to recovery, typically holding down a part-time job and using good judgment with their finances. Level one housing is for those who have maintained a long period of sobriety, perhaps a part of a 12-step program or sponsorship program.

The group discusses important criteria to consider when selecting recovery housing. Erin suggests looking at the turnover rate of the house. She explains why a high amount of residents with short stays at the house is bad. “If there are always openings, it’s because people are always relapsing, or people are always breaking some type of rule,” she says. This could indicate a less-than-ideal recovery environment. Erin also suggests looking at how the staff treat the residents. Do the residents seem happy? “[Recovery housing] should look like a home,” she says. “It shouldn’t feel like an institution.”

Erin talks about the experiences of women who enter her community. She discusses the genuine laughter, bonding, and fellowship enjoyed by the women at The Woodrow Project. “Going to meetings together, doing things like carving pumpkins…those type of activities that sometimes people take for granted. There was a whole group of women that went camping one summer. They’ve done things like go to Cedar Point together…They would never have those opportunities if they weren’t in recovery.”


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Erin Helms is the Executive Director at The Woodrow Project, recovery housing for women in Lakewood, OH. She is an independently licensed chemical dependency counselor in the State of Ohio. Ms. Helms completed her undergraduate education at The Ohio State University and earned her master’s degree in Addiction Counseling at Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies. She has been employed in a variety of settings ranging from Franklin County Health Department to working as primary counselor in both the inpatient and outpatient settings at Glenbeigh Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. Erin is passionate about advocating for persons in recovery. She is a member of The National Alliance Recovery Residence advocacy committee, Faces and Voices of Recovery Public Policy Committee, Cuyahoga County Opiate Task Force, Ohio Recovery Housing Treasurer and Northeast Ohio Recovery Residence Network board member.

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2019-01-10T12:42:31+00:00 October 4th, 2016|Podcasts, Treatment/Programs|3 Comments


  1. Barbara October 4, 2016 at 9:26 pm - Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast, and glad I had the time to listen. I agree with everything you said: Vivitrol is also being used in Lorain County and has wonderful results – in my opinion, it’s a win-win situation. Yes, it’s expensive (approx.$1200 a shot), but as you know some insurance companies do pay for this. I live in Avon Lake, and of course the heroin and other drugs are here also. Avon Lake has held Drug Forums 4 times a year since 2013 and I do believe it has helped with the stigma issue, but not everyone will believe or want to accept the fact ever. I had the pleasure of meeting Greg at a function in Avon Lake last week, and I have great respect for what you are doing, not just in your area, but for society. I also feel Recovery Housing is a definite plus for Recovery – stopping our addiction isn’t enough to lead a clean and sober life. It’s starting our lives all over again the right way. I thank my higher power every day for my second chance.

  2. Greg McNeil October 6, 2016 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Barbara, thank you for your kind words. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the podcast. Since we completed our podcast interview, Erin has opened her second recovery house. Congratulations Erin!

  3. Jayne Darling January 29, 2017 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Great interview….questions were spot on…answers mirror many of mine as I am in recovery, taking the Peer Support Classes, and am part of a group of women in the Athens Ohio area who are starting a recovery house in our area. We will not be using suboxone or methadone in our house as both drugs contain opiates and defeat the purpose of abstinent recovery. Vivatrol is definitely a go for us….

    Blessings to you on your journey……

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