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Stanford humanities course helps counteract the "powerlessness and shame" of addiction

More than a decade ago, two Stanford professors began teaching a humanities course to women at Hope House, a drug and alcohol treatment facility where a number of residents have recently been released from prison.

A story published earlier this week in the Stanford Report examines how the program has become an integral part of the addiction recovery process at the facility and how it benefits both residents and those teaching the course. Corrie Goldman writes:

A humanities education may not seem like an obvious component of addiction recovery, but Karen Marie Francone, the executive director of the Service League of San Mateo County, the nonprofit agency that runs Hope House, said there is a strong correlation between the two.

"Like the recovery process, the coursework seems insurmountable," she said, but trusting the process of the course shows students that "you can do anything if you keep an open mind and are willing."

Francone, who initiated the Hope House program with Stanford, also said that humanities subject matter, such as philosophical scenarios and ethical dilemmas, gives the students new perspectives "that help them make wise decisions that are actually good for them."

Importantly, Francone noted, exposure to the humanities helps the women "expand their horizons and see themselves not just as an addict or alcoholic but as a whole person."

Hundreds of women have completed the Hope House Scholars Program since it began. One recent student in the program commented, "For the first time in a long time I did something I was proud of."

Previously: Alcoholism: Not just a man’s problem and Examining how addiction in the U.S. has changed over the last decade

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