An Interview with Patricia Womack: Residential Counselor at Promises West Los Angeles
Pat was born in Texas but moved to California as a young girl with her family. As an adult, she and her husband were doing well—they had careers, a house, and a son. But when they got into the drug scene, Pat lost everything. “I finally realized that I had to go to treatment,” she said, “and that I had to do it for myself.”
Pat left an abusive relationship with her husband and entered treatment at Casa de las Amigas Recovery Home for Women in Pasadena, CA. After completing treatment and staying in Sober Living for nine months, she started working in the addiction field. She worked at a care unit behavioral center in Los Angeles as a Peer Counselor, and then worked as a Program Counselor at Casa de las Amigas. In 1990, Pat started working as an Activities and Operations Coordinator at Promises West Los Angeles, and has been here ever since.
“For the first time in my life I’m doing something that I love,” Pat said of working at Promises. “I don’t feel like this is a job—I’m not sitting around looking at the clock all day because I like what I do. I enjoy helping the clients realize that there is life after drugs. The first 30 days are the hardest, and I’m grateful to be here to help them through it.”
After receiving her certification as a Substance Abuse Counselor from Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science, Patricia became a Residential Counselor at Promises West Los Angeles. In this position, she manages caseloads for her clients, runs group meetings, and generally provides support and care. “From the time the clients walk in until they leave, I’m here for them, making sure they have everything they need,” Pat said. “I meet with my clients twice a week and check in with them every day, and I give them guidance and support throughout their time here.”
Pat is a recovering addict herself, and notes that Promises offers a wonderful environment to start the recovery process. “When I first went to treatment, it was in a hospital setting, which was very depressing,” Pat said. “But at Promises, you feel like you’re at home, and you can have fun getting clean. Many clients don’t realize that you can have a good time without being high, but Promises makes it easier by doing something different with clients every week, from visiting an amusement park to going bowling or to the beach.”
When asked what she appreciates most about Promises, Pat mentioned the staff. “There’s not one person here that I don’t get along with or that I can’t talk to. I have a wonderful boss, Dr. Jason Levine, who is here for us and listens to us. I really feel like the staff here is a team—I get support from my co-workers and my supervisor.”
Pat added that she believes the individualized, long-term residential care provided at Promises sets it apart from other treatment centers. “Residential clients are here 24/7, and the routines they go through help them get an idea of what to do when they leave treatment: Get a sponsor, go to meetings, and give back to your community,” she said.
“It’s hard on the outside,” she said. “I tried an outpatient program, and I would go straight to treatment after work and then get high afterward. You have to get out of your environment to get clean and to really work on yourself. I tell my clients, ‘You have to be selfish and take the time to work on you because you may not get this opportunity again.’”
“It’s nice to know that someone is always here for you. Somebody’s home when you walk in the door, which means a lot, especially in early recovery. It’s truly amazing to see the transformation in clients from when they first get here to the day the leave,” she continued.
Pat added that she thinks the level of care and respect that Promises gives it clients is unparalleled. “I’ve worked at other facilities and I love the work we do at Promises,” she said. “I know the clients feel that way too. They feel safe and comfortable here, and that’s huge. They know that we care, and that’s the bottom line…from admissions to housekeeping, we care.”