Iowa State student's research leads to creation of women's center

AMES, Iowa -- Research by an Iowa State University sophomore is leading to the creation of a rehabilitation center for chemically dependent professional women in Rochester, Minn.

Tom Mazula, an accounting and psychology major from Lakeville, Minn., undertook the project as part of his Freshman Honors Program. He sent hundreds of surveys nationwide to chemical dependency treatment providers, employee assistance program organizations and state agencies to gauge the need for a new treatment facility designed for professional women.

The results showed that there is need for a facility that would cater to this group.

"Based on who we talked to, we found that this group [professional women] was neglected," said Mazula. "The treatment providers, employee assistance program professionals and state agencies we talked to around the nation agreed that existing programs weren't set up in the women's interest."

The treatment facility will be called Drifens -- an anagram of the words friends and finders -- and will be located on land once owned by the Mayo family in Rochester.

Because women face different societal expectations than men, programs designed for men don't work as well with women, said Mazula. Drifens will focus on the challenges facing professional women. Mazula's research shows that a third of employee assistance program professionals are not satisfied with existing programs for professional women.

"We want to treat the whole person through time," said Mazula.

Mazula said that according to his research, current treatment options sometimes fail because the treatment ends too quickly.

"We will treat them for 30 to 60 days," he said. "And after that, we will have them keep coming back."

Respondents to Mazula's survey estimated that the success rate for professional women in traditional treatment programs after 10 years is just over 20 percent.

Drifens isn't yet operating due to zoning and neighborhood issues, but Mazula says early signs indicate a real need for this type of facility.

"Just as a result of sending out the survey, people are already calling us to send women here. We've already had to turn people away," he said.

The idea for the center came from Mazula's father, Derek, an entrepreneur who has purchased the land and an existing building for the new treatment facility. Derek Mazula is studying psychology and Tom hopes one day to become a clinical psychologist.