Hills House

     Victims of the disease of addiction and/or mental health disorders are often the unborn fetus, newborns, and children. This disease commonly has a generational component, which can lead to dysfunctional and destructive cycles of behavior from one generation to the next.  Whether it is a pregnancy, newborn, or child these young vulnerable little ones become victims of the disease along with the parent/s. There are many complications that arise when a baby is separated from its birth mother such as attachment disorder and separation anxiety. At Open Door Recovery Center (ODRC) and Hills House one of our main goals is to treat the disease with the parent/s while keeping them unified and/or reunified with their babies. 

     We work to include the baby’s father into the process with the condition that he is willing to receive treatment, drug screen and comply with the requirements of the program. We provide education throughout the treatment process at ODRC/Hills House that creates awareness and capacity of clients to change and improve their self care, care of their baby/children, their environment, community and future. Hill House has 24 hour/365 days staff, child care, and transportation which removes barriers that typically prohibit attendance in treatment and AA/NA.  Our hope is that the parents and their children will be free of a life of active addiction in the present and for the future to come.

     Although each case is different, it is not uncommon for there to be similarities. Usually Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) is involved and have had to remove the baby from the care of the parents. At that point the parents are given an opportunity to choose recovery and work towards reunification with their baby. Many of them have burned bridges with family, friends, and employers.  They are often homeless and desperate with little to no idea as to how to navigate the systems necessary for them to get their lives back on track. Moving into Hills House allows them to reunify at a much faster pace with DHHS knowing that the mother and infant will be in a supervised, healthy environment. We have actually had mothers and newborns transferred from the OB floor of Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) directly to Hills House with their newborn to prevent the need to separate them from the start. 

     Services at Hill House include case management, applying for housing, jobs, GED, classes at University of Maine in the Mill Mall location, applying for MaineCare and TANF, WIC, parenting classes, budgeting classes, and activities such as YMCA (which provides an in-kind donation for clients who want a membership during treatment at ODRC), gardening on the two-acre property, and collaboration with DHHS in Ellsworth. 

     We also help these women set up their apartments with the essentials as they and their child prepare for the transition to their own home.

 Hills House Admission Criteria

Level I


     Primary focus is on facilitating stable abstinence, basic recovery tools, learning and understanding the disease concept.

     Individuals must be abstinent for a minimum of one week prior to admission. When necessary receive the assistance of a safe medically monitored detox to alleviate risk of withdrawal or seizures upon admission. 

     The individual will be tobacco free and if currently using tobacco, be willing and able to utilize treatment to abstain from tobacco throughout the duration of treatment.

      Individuals must receive a physical exam prior to admission, to determine whether any health factors exist, which could compromise their capacity to safely participate in treatment.

     Each individual will be assessed for psychological, behavioral, emotional or cognitive problems to determine readiness for residential treatment and/or the need for co-occurring or mental health treatment appropriate and sufficient for the individuals current needs.

     Individuals will have the ability to cope with daily routines relating to the treatment environment in the mother-child residential setting.

     The individual will have capacity and willingness to share the mother child treatment environment with other clients and their baby/child in a constructive, productive demeanor. They will understand and be willing to follow all policy and procedure requirements.

     Individual must be in the readiness to change stage and be prepared to commit to the compliance contract for Hills House. They will be ready and able to participate in all aspects of the treatment program.

     Individuals must be able to recognize their need for skill building in the areas of understanding the disease of addiction, mental health disorders, relapse triggers, and the relationship between these needs and their history with substance abuse.

     The individual will be free of suicidal ideation and have sufficient impulse control for the mother child residential treatment setting.

     The individual cannot have a history of violence, or impulse issues that potentially puts either themselves, babies/children, or others in the mother child residential treatment setting at risk of harm.

     The individual will be screened for domestic violence, family disputes, custody disputes, and legal issues to determine whether there is risk of harm to either the individual or their baby/child.

     The individual will be screened to determine level and which types of supports, including family and friends, are currently in place, and the potential of building those supports to increase chances of success throughout treatment and post treatment. Clients transitioning to Level II will receive and be involved in intensive family system counseling.

     The individual will be screened to determine whether there are current mandates that may assist in motivating them to engage in treatment and recovery (legal, DHHS, Probation, etc.).




     Hills House Level II Program provides a structured residential milieu, designed to help clients cultivate skills necessary for living a functional healthy lifestyle for creating a solid recovery environment for themselves and their babies.  Clients initially receive a treatment focus in the Level I program, but will transition to a treatment focus that addresses the cultural, social, educational, and vocational needs of the client. 


     Client has completed and is stabilized in their abstinence and understanding of the Disease of Addiction in Level I Treatment.  Client has been introduced to and educated regarding the Disease of Addiction, and comprehend recovery begins with abstinence, and are ready and committed to developing knowledge and skills necessary for a functional healthy lifestyle.

     At this point an intense focus has been on abstinence and basic recovery tools.


Length of Stay

     Determined by need and successful completion of Treatment Goals, up to 180 days. 



     Family work in individual and group sessions begins and will include education regarding “The Family Disease” and the essential need for healthy, stable, functional family support. When safe and appropriate, significant other (the father of the baby/child) is included in sessions with the client and baby. When safe and appropriate, the significant other will be involved in Parenting Class Program with client and baby. All individuals involved in this process with be chemical-free. If the individual has a history of addiction, they will be required to screen for services and be drug screened prior to each visit.


Life Skills Training

     Life skills include, nutrition, physical fitness, growing/harvesting/cooking with herbs, veg, fruit, financial planning, budgets, checking accounts, savings accounts, hygiene for mom and baby, utilizing self/baby techniques for self-care and parenting, building/simple carpentry and repair, sewing/knitting/weaving, menu planning combined with shopping lists, “shopping on a budget”, integrating recovery tools in everyday life, mock interviews, how to study, creating routines for bedtime, cleaning, preparing for the unexpected events in life, managing time, car care, recycling,  etc.

     Schedules will be adjusted for counseling, sponsorship, work, school, and outside appointments, as needed.

     Clients will be able to seek employment, interview for jobs, and when appropriate work (mock interviews will be part of the preparation).

     Chores will be equally distributed and assigned to clients.  Clients will rotate week to week to develop skills relating to each task.

     All aspects of the Program will include integrating recovery tools in everyday life.

     Medical appointments will be accommodated, transportation and staff supervision provided as required.

     All clients will receive case management and one on one counseling/therapy designed to facilitate process of transitioning to community.

     Exercise will be required in some form daily.  Group walks with babies will be supervised by staff on the walking trail.

     All clients will have a sponsor in the recovering community and will be able to spend time with their sponsor to work on recovery.


Vocational Assessment & Preparation

     The individual will be screened to determine which areas involving education & vocational resources are accomplished and which of those are current needs.

     All clients will be assessed for interests and goals.

     All clients will be provided with resources and arrangements necessary for fulfilling educational goals, including GED, Adult Ed, College Level Classes, Vocational School, etc.



     Housing needs for post treatment will be facilitated with the assistance of case management, i.e. housing applications, rentals, and safe family residence, etc.


Serving Hancock, Washington & Penobscot Counties & BEYOND