Spring Break: Rehab Southern California Style

As a public service to our readers at this time of year, when spring is in the air and we are all ready to sweep those cob webs out of our habitats, and emerge from semi-hibernation, needing to refresh and rejuvenate ourselves, BFD is pleased to present you with this virtual tour of Southern California rest & rehabilitation facilities.  These are the same facilities endorsed and used by captains of industry & finance, professional CEO’s, incumbent and fallen government officials, professional athletes, Rock & Roll gods, party hearty heiresses, and by Hollywood’s elite, but possibly unknown to the general public, they are also available to any John or Jane Doe who has the requisite dough.

We begin our tour near the intersection of Mulholland Drive and Laurel Canyon, stradling the Santa Monica montains with Hollywood, Beverly Hills and greater L.A. stretching to the south, and the San Fernando Valley stretching to the north, up the drive, behind the tree shaded gates of the Wonderland Center.  According to their online brochure, Wonderland is,

“…providing services for alcohol and drug rehabilitation including treatment for prescription pills, opiates, cocaine, heroin, crack, crystal meth, marijuana and more. Our clinical team has led some of the premiere treatment centers in the nation. From that experience, Wonderland Center is designed to provide state of the art treatment services in a small intimate setting. Each person receives individualized attention. Wonderland’s doctors, psychiatrists and therapists specialize in the treatment of alcoholism and addiction. We encourage our clients to exercise, eat well and use their time at Wonderland to get healthy.”

The Wonderland brochure goes on to say,

“In our residential programs our clients live in beautiful homes on a 3 acre private gated estate and enjoy the services of a gourmet chef, nutritionist, fitness trainers, yoga instructors and spiritual guides.”

Oh, but the brochure is remiss in not also reminding us that we can work on our backstroke in one of the two pools,

or take an afternoon nap, maybe preceeded by massage in one of the austere but suitably functional bedrooms,

and work on our tan on the sundeck overlooking a rare, smog free, San Fernando Valley. 

The very best feature at Wonderland is also not advertised, but Wonderland is conveniently adjacent to all in-town shopping venues.

Time now to move on, so we move west and then north, up the coast to Malibu, where our first stop is Promises Malibu, on a hill overlooking the Pacific ocean.

As touted in their brochure, Promises Malibu is,

“Tucked into the Santa Monica Mountains with a gorgeous panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, Promises Malibu offers an unparalleled recovery experience. Our Malibu facility offers uncommon luxury and is the rehab facility of choice for business executives, professionals, celebrities, government officials and anyone wanting the finest rehab program in the world.”

The bedrooms at Promises Malibu are a cut above those we saw at Wonderland, furnished with more substantial furniture, featuring shuttered windows so that guests may shutter out those pesky paparazi, and even a writing desk, where one may pen an apologia for the behavior that landed one here in the first place.

But Promises has more to offer, so we climb back in to our virtual tour bus and head down the hill where Promises has Pacific House waiting for our respite,

“Pacific House offers unrivaled luxury in a sober living setting. Located right on Big Rock Beach in Malibu, Pacific House is a separate residence for individuals who cannot or should not return to their former residence. Fall asleep and wake up to the sound of waves and sights of the Pacific Ocean.”


After a restful night snoozing to the sound of breaking waves, and a morning walk along the beach, we decide it is getting too crowded on the beach, what with all the riff raff (members of the general public) that have been granted access to the beach due to California’s draconian public access laws, we bid the Pacific House adieu.

Then a short drive south on Pacific Coast Highway and then back up in to the Santa Monica mountains we come upon Passages Malibu.

The facility is described in their brocuhure as,

“The house and guest house is spacious (15,500 square feet), exquisitely detailed and finished with exotic woods and marble, several fireplaces, two juice bars, a library, chef’s kitchen, a dining room to seat thirty people, 12 bedrooms, each with its own private marble bath, treatment rooms for massage, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, and the other modalities, a large family room for informal meetings, a fully equipped gymnasium, an arts and crafts room, a media room with a flat screen 65 inch television screen, an auditorium with stage for the production of plays and readings that seats approximately 80 persons, and a large living room for informal meetings and relaxation by a fire. The grounds are spacious (just over 3 acres), with a beautiful, peaceful view overlooking the Pacific Ocean.”

First thing we did was check in to our private room, with ocean view, kick off our shoes and opened a good inspirational article in O, the gospell according to Oprah.

After taxing our brain on the O prose for a hot minute, we headed down to the gym to work on our abs, and check out the scenery.

The workout really made us hungry, so next stop was the commissary, where we were greeted by the clean and sober, happy staff.

After lunch we headed for the beach, heeding the wisdom of the Passages brochure,

“The contemplative power of the ocean makes it a powerful tool in healing. With the Pacific Ocean a few hundred feet away, Passages harnesses this power to assist clients on the road to recovery. Whether it’s a private therapy session in the sand, an invigorating kayak ride or simply some free time in the surf, many clients experience the wonderful power of our location. “

After an afternoon of ocean kayaking, we repaired to the Passages library, where in the words of that ever useful brochure,

The work we do at Passages is intense, demanding, and sometimes exhausting. We like to provide clients with the opportunity to unwind in our library and/or entertainment room. Our library is quite extensive and features something for every taste – a good book is a relaxing yet mentally stimulating way to ease the tension away. For those so inclined, we also feature an entertainment room/home theater with 65 inch projection TV, satellite and a full library of films on DVD and video.


We had a light supper then headed up to our room for more reflection and a delightful nights sleep under the covers.  We will return to Passages in the future, as a month’s stay is only a mere $39,500, $67,550, literally chump change.  The next morning we departed Passages, headed down the road, and checked in at Cliffside Malibu where the living room, below, as do all of the bedrooms, has magnificent ocean views.

As stated in their brochure,

“Cliffside Malibu is a residential drug rehab, alcohol rehab center and extended care facility for adults suffering from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, depression, and other co-occurring disorders. Our drug treatment philosophy incorporates a variety of clinical components to create a comprehensive and effective treatment program. The components of alcohol and drug rehab include detox, individual therapy, group therapy, depression treatment, and alternative medicine. Our drug rehab program values and utilizes many philosophies to individualize our treatment plans and improve individual outcomes.

Because some aspects of drug rehab and alcohol rehab can be distinctly uncomfortable, Cliffside drug treatment center makes a special effort to make everything else as comfortable as possible. Residents are not being punished for their addictions, and are treated with the respect and luxury that they deserve. We offer many recreational activities such as hiking and beach walks. Spa treatments such as facials and manicure/pedicures are made available. We know a little comfort goes a long way on the path to recovery.”

We were very comfortable, indeed, in our private room,

and adjoining private bath.

So after luxuriating in a calming bubble bath, we headed down to the Cliffside gym, but alas the only scenery was that which was reflected in the big mirrors, which was quite disconcerting, as the reason we were in the gym for a workout was because we always get ill when we see the condition of our own body.

After our semi-strenuous workout, for about five minutes, we headed to the dining area, adjacent to the living room for some healthy sustenance.  (No that is not booze on the butcher block, it is olive oil and balsamic vinegar, imported from Tuscanny.

Lunch was a bit filling, so we repaired to the deck overlooking the lap pool/spa and the Pacific, until time for dinner, then it was time for beddy-bye, with the perfume of the garden wafted in our open window via the ocean breeze.

The next morning we decided that while we enjoyed our stay at Cliffside, it was just a bit too close to the Pacific Coast Highway, and all that, you know, riff raff, that travels the road.  So we headed further up in to the Santa Monica Mountains for some real peace, quiet and privacy at Summit Centers Malibu.

As they describe themselves in their brochure, 

“Summit Centers Malibu is a unique residential treatment program for chemically dependent and dually diagnosed adults.  What distinguishes the program is a community partnership with both UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Program and The Matrix Institute on Addictions.  Experts in the treatment community have guided the development of the Summit Centers Malibu program, ensuring that the clinical and medical services provided have been proven through scientific research to be safe and effective.  This program, combined with a nurturing, luxurious and private environment, is the hallmark of treatment at Summit Centers.  Our integrated approach is a major step forward in the philosophy and practice of drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment, providing the solid foundation for an effective outcome for you or your loved one.

Summit Centers Malibu provides a supportive, caring, non-judgmental atmosphere for Rapid Drug Addiction Detox and Alcohol Addiction Detox that is medically supervised. If you, a loved one, or someone you care about are suffering due to Cocaine Addiction, Heroin Addiction, Alcohol Addiction, Methamphetamine Addiction, or are in need of Drug Addiction Treatment, Summit Centers provides individual Drug Rehabilitation Treatment in a comfortable, private setting.”

That all sounded good to us, so we booked a single room,

that of course, came equipped with a private bath.

 Feeling energetic, we headed over to the tennis court and took an hour lesson from the tennis pro.

After working up a bit of a sweat, hitting those soft lobs from the pro, and practicing our service with the assistance of a couple of ball boys, we headed over to the pool for some sun bathing and a cooling dip.

That evening we dined in the center’s commissary, enoying a gussied up piece of broiled Chilean Sea Bass as our entree.

After dinner, we lounged on the deck and contemplated another perfect, Pacific sunset.  We could not express in words any better than the words of the Summit Centers brochure how we enjoyed this experience,

“Summit Centers Malibu sits at the end of a private road nestled in the Santa Monica mountains, and overlooks the Malibu beaches. With surrounding mountain parklands and panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean, our facility offers a private environment for recovery, yet is just a short distance from Los Angeles. Extra care has gone into creating a luxurious, relaxing atmosphere that fully supports the healing process.

Summit Centers only accepts 12 clients at a time allowing us to offer a 4:1 staff-to-client ratio. This ratio is among the highest of all treatment centers and allows us to offer an unprecedented amount of personal attention to each client.  At Summit Centers, we want treatment to be as comfortable as possible. To that end we offer private and semi-private rooms that are both unique and spacious.  Summit Centers serves gourmet meals and nutritious snacks each day. Our kitchen accommodates special dietary requests such as vegetarian, vegan and kosher meals. Meal requests are gladly considered.  Summit Centers’ clients have full access to our heated lap pools and spas. Perfect for relaxation or contemplative meditation, our swimming pools offers a quick getaway from the focus of primary therapy.  In addition to our lap pools, Summit Centers makes use of our rugged environment to encourage clients to accept the challenge of local walking trails. Clients will find a wide variety of hiking opportunities in the most beautiful of settings.  The beauty of the Pacific Ocean lends support to our many outdoor meditation areas. A simple wicker chair becomes a thought provoking space; a private sitting area becomes a place where clients find peace and inner strength.”

After a few days of therapeutic isolation we got a touch of cabin fever, so we checked out of the Summit Centers facility and headed back down to the coast and checked in to Rennaisance Malibu, after being intrigued by the words of their brochure.

“Renaissance Malibu’s™ unique integrative approach to treatment is quickly earning a reputation as the best and most advanced available. Founded by Dr. Salvatore Petrucci and developed by the widely respected treatment authority Dr. Daniel Gatlin, The Renaissance Experience™ grants each client access to an unprecedented range of both traditional and innovative treatment options while respecting each client’s need for maximum individual attention.

Starting even before a client arrives at Renaissance Malibu’s facility, the clinical staff works with the client’s family and friends to develop an understanding of significant concerns and issues. Upon arrival, each person receives a series of personal evaluations to assess the client’s status in each of the program’s four main healing components; Mind, Body, Spirit and Relationships. After coordination with all clinical and medical team members, the client moves to a luxurious suite, ready to focus on their individually tailored treatment plan.

The distinguishing feature of The Renaissance Experience™ is not just the wide variety of program tracks and treatment approaches, but how the clinical team blends these elements together in an environment crafted to produce the best solutions for long term success. We blend traditional western approaches including individual and group therapy, psychopharmacology such as PROMETA ®, twelve-step meetings, and family programs, with innovative approaches like music and art therapy, corporate team building exercises, adventure therapy experiences, equine experiences and EMDR with techniques proven successful in other cultures such as acupuncture, sweat lodges, and labyrinths. The entire program is presented in an environment supportive of each individual’s unique needs and lifestyle including nutritional counseling, meditation, yoga, a physical trainer and massages.

When a client moves on from Renaissance Malibu, they do so with a renewed outlook on life, secure with the knowledge that they received the finest and most comprehensive treatment available anywhere.”

The view below is from the front porch of the Primary Residence at Rennaissance Malibu.

We learned that Rennaissance, like some of the other, more well-heeled rehabilitation establishments maintains both on beach and off beach facilities, as described in the online brochure,

“Renaissance Malibu has two facilities, each providing a beautiful, serene location for our clients. Although there are multiple residences, each day the entire population is brought together for meals and treatment activities.

Primary Residence

Our Main Residence is a 20,000 square foot home with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean set in the Malibu Hills. This palatial estate is magnificently landscaped with trees and vegetation from all over the world. Our 30-yard lap pool, outdoor Jacuzzi and tennis court allow stunning views of the breathtaking Pacific sunrise and sunset. Community rooms include the library, clad in oak, a gourmet kitchen, and a gymnasium. Most bedrooms have ocean views with beveled glass French doors opening onto marble balconies.

Extended Care Residence

Situated on its own private beach, our extended care residence boasts magnificent views and the gentle sound of the surf. This 5000 sq. ft home offers a beachside paradise with its own gourmet kitchen, beautifully landscaped yard including a swimming pool and jacuzzi overlooking the ocean.”

Since we did not plan an extended stay, this time, and we were considerate of the fact that our previous stays in rehab this month had somewhate depleted our cash on hand, and we would not be receiving another trust fund distribution for at least two weeks, we booked ourselves in to an economical semi-private room at the Primary Residence.

We did spend an enjoyable afternoon at the champsionship (and please take note, Summit Centers management) night lighted tennis court.

After tennis we chilled in the Michaelangelo room before dinner,

and then it was a brisk walk outside the front porch to take in some air, followed by a delightful snooze between our 500 thread count sheets.

Alas, it was finally time to declare our rehabilitation a resounding success and to head home.  So head home we did, south on Pacific Coast Highway, to Interstate 10, east, to Interstate 405, north, where we exited at Wilshire Boulevard, so that we could swing by the Veterans’ Administation campus in West Los Angeles.

Although the facilities were a bit more spartan than those we had become accustomed to in Malibu, we were impressed by the range of services offered at the VA center, some of which are described in the VA’s online brochure:

  • Positron Emission Tomography Service 
  • Computer Tomography Service
  • Resonance Imaging Service
  • Nuclear Medicine Scanning and Imaging Service
  • Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center
  • Osteoporosis Center
  • Gait Assessment and Falls Prevention Program
  • Southwestern Regional Epilepsy Center
  • Spinal Cord Injury Program
  • Comprehensive Women Veterans Health Center
  • Gynecology Care including Oncology and Pre-natal
  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Electrophysiology
  • Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Center
  • Immunodeficiency Clinical Center
  • Dialysis and Plasmapheresis Center
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Neurosurgery
  • Hospice Care
  • Prosthetics
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Program
  • Geropsychiatry
  • Crisis Oriented Program Evaluation Service
  • Behavioral Improvement Program
  • Dual Diagnosis Program for cocaine-abusing schizophrenics
  • Unfortunately, unlike the Malibu rehabilitation facilities which are open to anyone, inclusion in to a VA program is very exclusive, only American military veterans will be admitted, (provided they can slog through the paperwork and waiting time) no matter how much celebrity, power or money you might have, if you are not a vet, you are not set.  Unlike the Malibu programs, beds at the VA are scarce and there are no private rooms, no gourmet meals, but three squares a day from the hospital commissary, there is no adjacent beach, but the VA is readilly accessible via regularly scheduled, low cost, public transportation, with stops nearby.

    Not a veteran?  Strapped for cash?   Not to worry, we have one more stop on our Southern California rehabilitation facilities tour.  We end our tour at 315 East Fifth Street in a commerical and light industrial area of downtown Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Mission.  You don’t have to be a  captain of industry or finance, you don’t have to be a professional CEO, you don’t have to be an incumbent or fallen government official, you don’t have to be a professional athlete, you don’t have to be a Rock & Roll god, you don’t have to be a party hearty heiress, you don’t have to be a member of Hollywood’s elite, you don’t need to have a nickle in your pocket, you don’t need a credit history and your primary residence need be nothing more than a card board box on the sidewalk.  You will be welcomed at the Los Angeles Mission where you may receive a plethora of free services designed to help you get on your feet.

    It is not adjacent to, hell, it isn’t even near the beach, there is little vegetation, it is surrounded by asphalt, and automobiles with all of their emissions, there are no tennis courts or spas, no gourmet chefs, no yoga instructors, no masseurs, no acupuncturists, no security to keep the paparazi at bay but it just may well have as good as or maybe even a better record of long term rehabilitation success with it’s clients than any of the Malibu resorts.

    This entry was posted in Celibritydom, Humor, Modern Life. Bookmark the permalink.

    9 Responses to Spring Break: Rehab Southern California Style

    1. A nice site. Passages’ cost for a one-month stay is $67,550. What sets Passages apart from all other treatment programs is our one-on-one treatment program, more than 65 individual sessions a month, and we are not a twelve-step program. We are also about the only ones who believe in a cure. All twelve-step programs use the slogan, “Once an alcoholic or addict, always an alcoholic or addict.” No cure possible.

      I hope this is helpful. Have a nice day.

      Chris Prtentiss

    2. Big Fella says:

      Thanks for the correction, it has been duly noted. Striving for lasting changes for the better in your clients is admirable and if you are quantifiably successful at that, we salute you.

      We are intrigued by the job title of one of your staff members, “Life Purpose”, would you mind sharing with us a bit about what that staff member would help a client with?

    3. lynette says:

      It’s all about hitting bottom, Wayne. Good grief. Beautiful places, but it looks like somewhere I’d go for vacation. Oh yeah, that’s primarily what all of these public addicts and alcoholics are going for. Silly me. I thought it was about giving up and getting better.

    4. lynette says:

      wow! i just reread chris prentiss’s post . . . i’d love to hear about this cure. how do you all do that? how do you define cure?

    5. Stanley says:

      I have a feeling that my plan to become a purported “substance abuser” and book a stay…er cure at Passages may be done in when Blue Shield gets a gander at the rates for my “Passage” vacatio…err in patient treatment. Probably the only medical plan that would cover this place would be the one enjoyed by our very own US Congress. And beint that they are probably most in need of a place such as Passages there is a fairly neat symmetry here after all.

    6. Jess Jones says:

      My biological mother is one of those drunken rich drug addicts who has bounced from rehab to rehab. In between, she’s beaten her children and had us forced into foster care as well as separated between our fathers. My little brother is forced to live with his father, who molested me, because she’s too “disabled” to have custody. Drunks & drug addicts don’t deserve the posh rehab centers because they always make everyone else’s lives pure hell.

    7. Pingback: BFD Blog! » Rehab Southern California Style: Trouble In Paradise

    8. This is a little beside the point, but you might be interested in the dialogue about sober living on my blog at sfvrealestate.blogspot.com. The house in question is certainly nothing like these. The ire of the Burbank community is a little hard to swallow.

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