Las Vegas Recovery Center
Las Vegas Recovery Center
Las Vegas Recovery Center Review
On the edge of a quiet middle-class neighborhood about 20 miles northwest of what’s maybe the least sober place on Earth—the Las Vegas Strip—is the manicured, 1.65-acre campus of Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC), dotted with ash, sumac, pine and willow trees, and with great views of Nevada’s Spring Mountains from its tranquil backyard gardens. Beyond the usual rehab thing, LVRC specializes in helping people who struggle with chronic pain do so without resorting to habit-forming drugs.
For the most part, those who fill the 41 beds at this Las Vegas rehab treatment center reflect the wider American population: middle-income, mostly straight and white, and about equally split between men and women, with a handful of other races, gay men and lesbians thrown into the mix as well. The age range includes everyone from kids in their late teens who still live with their parents to, well, their parents—Baby Boomers in their mid-60s. Perhaps this healthy mix of backgrounds—recent clients have included airline pilots, doctors, lawyers, construction-workers, small-business-owners, landscapers and more—is one reason why human resources departments and union drug and alcohol directors love to recommend this place to bottoming-out employees and union members.
Opened in 2003, LVRC receives high praise for its treatment program, run by Medical Director Dr. Mel Pohl and his compassionate, wise and available staff. “I was very comfortable during something”—detox—“that was meant to be horrible,” said one alumni.
Both the rehab and pain programs at Las Vegas Recovery Center are primarily 12-step-based, with a dash of cognitive behavioral therapy—a systematic and goal-oriented “talking therapy”—tossed in for good measure. Residents report really bonding with their counselors, who are particularly skilled at empathizing with what their clients are going through—or withdrawing from, as the case may be. This is true even when the staff has to practice some tough love in order to keep their structured—yet not strict—program on track. “The counselors didn’t pull any punches or become hostile,” said one resident. “They seemed direct about my situation and [that of] others I was in treatment with.”
Most of those who check into LVRC will be paired with a roommate, but not all, depending on how busy the rehab center is at the time. There aren’t really any chores to speak of—residents just have to keep their rooms neat, while everything else is taken care of. Daily life is pretty tightly scheduled, so there wouldn’t really be any time for make-work cleaning projects anyway: It’s up in the morning for breakfast and group sessions—which start at 9 am and take place three times a day—in addition to other 12-step “homework” and therapeutic writing assignments, plus 12-step AA and NA meetings both on- and off-property.
All this intensive recovery practice can work up an appetite, which residents satisfy on an above-average, chef-prepared buffet—served cafeteria-style—of rib-eye steaks, crab legs, meatloaf, shrimp and other somewhat healthy, “easy-type meals,” including a salad bar. Fruit and other nutritious snacks such as granola bars and peanuts are always available, and sweets less so, although there is always at least one dessert-type option at mealtimes, including particularly delicious cookies. Coffee- and soda-drinkers can have their fill until noon, when the caffeine tap is shut off for the day; filtered water and juices can be quaffed around the clock.
If it sounds like there’s not much time to chill out in front of the TV, or to chat on the phone with friends and family, you’re right—and Internet access also is very limited at Las Vegas Recovery Center, with personal laptops and smartphones totally disallowed. The TV is switched on only in the evenings, and time on the house phone must be scheduled through your counselor. Pop-culture junkies don’t have to fear, though, as staff organize a fair number of outings to movie theaters on the weekend—in one resident’s five-week program, she saw five flicks.
In their free time, residents can work out or do yoga or Pilates at an off-site gym, or (on the LVRC campus itself) practice chi kung, a meditative yet physical Chinese rhythmic-breathing and movement discipline similar to t’ai chi. Weekly reiki, acupuncture and massage therapy also are available, as are daily exercise and stretching groups. Unfortunately, there’s not much opportunity—other than shooting hoops, and the odd weekend hike—to breathe much fresh air. The rehab “needs more to do outside, period,” said one resident. “There was too much [just] sitting [around] outside with smokers.”
Another sour note sounded is that pain-management and drug-rehab residents are reportedly assumed to need more or less similar things in terms of treatment, meaning that clients are sometimes required to take part in recovery activities that they don’t feel are relevant to their individual issues. One thing residents aren’t required to participate in, however, is any specific religious belief or practice, which is downplayed in favor of general spirituality and getting in touch with a higher power. Despite that lack of emphasis, there is at least one Christian counselor on staff, who one Bible-believing resident thought was fantastic.