Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches 3 stars
This choose-your-own-adventure rehab provides a multi-site experience with an equally diverse range of treatments. Whether you find what you're looking for depends largely on the depth of your pockets.
In contrast to the one-stop shopping offered at most treatment centers, Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches (BHOPB) is all over the place—literally. Opened in 1997 as a 12-bed Florida drug rehab by Donald K. Mullaney, a recovering addict with a doctorate in psychology, BHOPB has since grown into a sprawling facility that can accommodate more than 200 clients at a time. The first stop for many incoming patients (even for those who aren’t detoxing) is an egalitarian, health clinic-like detox in Lake Worth, Florida. After leaving there, clients are transported, depending on their insurance and budget, to one of three very different facilities: Wealthier clients usually prefer the more luxurious seaside residences in West Palm Beach while those with solid insurance opt for BHOPB's single-gender residences in, respectively, West Palm and Singer Island. The final option is The Cottages in Palm Beach. All of Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches' facilities are located within 10 miles of one another.
While they're in detox (typically for five days), clients are lodged in spacious double rooms at night, and attend educational groups during the day; in the evenings. Those who are able to attend outside AA or NA meetings. (Cottage-dwellers and clients of BHOPB's men’s and women’s residences detox together. Residents of the pricier Seaside Resort are detoxed separately.)
The cottages feature efficiency condos with double bedrooms, 70s-style clunky wooden furniture, and kitchens and living rooms colored in peachy hues. While there’s maid service on weekdays, residents are expected to clean their floors and bedrooms themselves. They also cook their own meals from ingredients they purchase from a local Winn Dixie, where they get a weekly food allowance of $60. When they're not in groups, residents are allowed a considerable amount of freedom to watch TV or talk on the phone. “If I wanted to call my dealer while watching Intervention and eating ho-hos and gulping down Red Bull, it wouldn't be a problem,” jokes one alum.
Some cottagers gripe that they don’t have the private chef and amenities offered at the luxury seaside residence. But the real difference is that the counselors at the co-ed cottages aren’t licensed to diagnose co-occurring disorders (like depression or PTSD) so treatment consists solely of groups and 12-step meetings.
The Seaside Residence is BHOPB’s high-end residence, which has reportedly housed such celebrities as Miami Dolphins Ray Lucas and former NBA star Spencer Haywood. It boasts modern furniture, queen-sized beds, and marble kitchen countertops. Private chefs cook clients’ food by order. Drivers ferry the Seasiders to meetings in SUVs rather than the 15-person vans used to transport the rehab's less well-heeled patients, and a fleet of housekeepers keep the place spotless. But the street it’s on typifies the South Florida shanty hood where "clients could cop crack from neighbors" if they wanted to. While most patients describe the private chef, maid service and interior as quasi-luxe, others are less admiring. "it’s like paying for the Four Seasons and getting the Marriott," sniffs one former resident.
Clients at all three of the Palm Beaches facilities begin their day at 7am sharp with a hearty breakfast. The chef at the luxury seaside estates focuses on organic, balanced eating. He serves up locally grown fruit over granola or cage-free eggs for breakfast, quinoa and sprouts salad for lunch, and organic filet and grilled swordfish with a mango chutney for dinner. Clients at the cottages and residences, however, are left to cook up their own concoctions. After breakfast, residents sit through an hour of co-ed “community groups,” followed by a flurry of same-gender groups throughout the day. Grads complain that the quality of therapy varies wildly depending on their counselors. “Some therapists are fabulous, but mine only nodded and made creepy murmuring sounds,” reports a recent resident.
In the afternoon, after a brief siesta, clients attend “track” groups focusing on youth (25 and under), pain management, anger management, nutrition, HIV and Hep. C, anxiety, and grief and loss and trauma, among other topics. Twice a week, they’re offered acupuncture, Light and Sound Neurotherapy, and EMDR. After dinner, they attend outside AA meetings or have them in-house.
Residents of the seaside houses endure a similar routine but they also receive specialty treatments like chiropractic and Cranio Sacral Therapy (in which therapists ease anxious nerve passages by hand). In a departure from practices at many other rehabs, clients at the seaside houses are free to hang onto their cell phones and use the computers in their on-site “business center.” Cottage clientele adhere to a similar schedule—minus the specialty treatments and computer and cell phone privileges.
For dual-disordered addicts who have good insurance or unlimited funds, BHOPB offers a variety of diverse and far-flung treatments. All the van rides and location switching may be oddly comforting for restless addicts. But for clients who are both insurance and trauma-free but enjoy a small community atmosphere, BHOPB’s cottages may be the go-to place. Generally, Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches offers something of a “choose your own adventure” theme—though how fun your adventure turns out to be, like most things in life, is dependent on your resources.
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