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Rehab Reviews

Morningside Recovery 3 stars

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

A bedroom in Morningside's men's house on Lido Island. Photo via

Location: Newport Beach, Calif.

Phone: (866) 930-3421

Web: morningsiderecovery.com

Price: $28,000 for 30 days or $54,000 for 90 days

Overall: 3 stars

Accommodations: 4 stars

Treatment: 2 stars

Food: N/A

Insurance: Yes

Detox: No

By The Fix staff

12/07/12

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Morningside Recovery specializes in treating drug and alcohol addiction, but has equally competent programs for process addictions such as gambling and sex—and it even boasts one of the few available programs for video-game addicts.

Inpatient clients most typically stay for three-and-a-half to four months (with a minimum stay of 30 days for rehab, or 14 days for psych cases), though some even live here for as long as two years. The facility has its own academic institute to help patients obtain their high school diploma or GED or college degree, and can also assist with job training and placement.

Residents at Morningside range in age from their late 20s to early 50s, although the spectrum skews a bit toward the younger and wealthier set. However, financial assistance is available, and a handful of people come here on scholarship. Morningside also has a gay and lesbian program that comprises “about 15%” of the patients. And you may come across some four-legged companions during your stay; this is one of the few treatment centers in the world where inpatient guests are permitted to bring their pets. Another plus is the affluent Newport Beach community itself, which one former patient said has a “plethora of varied support groups, unlike anywhere else I have ever seen.”

Having roommates is standard unless you opt to pay extra for a private room, but the luxury accommodations more than make up for it. Several of Morningside's houses and apartments (with a max of six people in each of the six houses, and three occupants in each of the six apartments) are within steps of the beach. “It’s like living in a sober living [house], just with a lot more monitoring,” said one former resident. And just like a sober-living facility, daily house chores are required, including the infamous “double scrub” on Sundays. You’re also on your own when it comes to food: Those in treatment are given a weekly $75 gift card to a local supermarket and are responsible for their own house meals. Rehab staff take clients shopping and monitor what they buy.

The day begins with mandatory morning meditation, followed by clinical and therapeutic process groups and activities at the main treatment center, where you’ll be from 9am to 4 or 5pm daily, with a break for lunch back home. Therapy sessions typically take place in the afternoons, and attendance is required at your choice of a variety of nightly support-group meetings, including AA, NA, a bipolar group, Rational Recovery and SMART Recovery. Despite the relatively packed schedule, one alumnus noted that “there was always an hour here and there for personal time.” Treatment is primarily 12-step-based—or, according to a top Morningside executive, “12-step-encouraged.”

Former residents unanimously praised the wide range of leisure activities and fun outings on offer. Gym use is required daily during the week (and is optional on the weekends), but there are a variety of other activities including weekly yoga, t’ai chi and massage. One grad said off-site teambuilding and self-esteem activities every Saturday—including hikes, whale-watching and rock-climbing—“felt more like recess, but with therapy and processing of the feelings and emotions afterwards.” Morningside also offers optional once-a-month, four-day adventure trips (for an additional fee) to natural wonders such as Big Bear Mountain and the Grand Canyon. 

Morningside’s staff is notoriously by-the-book when it comes to addressing those who break the rehab’s rules. Violence results in immediate expulsion, while losing the right to use electronics is more common for minor infractions. However, one unhappy alumnus said the staff was unreasonably heavy-handed and “assumed you are automatically guilty before they ask you about a situation.” Relapses lead to a removal from the community and a mandatory three-day detox before being allowed back on site. One former patient who relapsed felt that staff handled the situation fairly and that he “received the treatment I needed in order to correct my behavior and grow from the experience.”

Unfortunately, what seems to be most lacking is adequate medical staff. Morningside does not have an on-site nurse, and patients are taken to designated off-site contractors for psychiatry or primary medical care. One alum felt that doctors were “not that accessible,” while another former patient claimed that his “limited [medical] experience was mediocre.”

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