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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 residents 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 toward the wealthier (family money, at least) twentysomething set. 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 just a few treatment centers where residents are permitted to bring pets. Another plus is the Newport Beach community itself, which one former patient says has a “plethora of varied support groups, unlike anywhere else I’ve 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 townhouses 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,” says 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. “The grief and loss groups were really helpful to me,” says one graduate. “I had a sister who passed away a few years back and I really needed to deal with that.” Evidence-based group therapy sessions take place in the afternoons, and attendance is required at your choice of a variety of nightly support-group meetings, including AA, NA, Rational Recovery and SMART Recovery. “It was nice to not have 12-step forced on me,” reports one alumni. Each client also is assigned a primary therapist—with degrees ranging from LCSW to LMFT—that he or she meets with one-on-one weekly. Says one satisfied customer, “My therapist was amazing and helped me tremendously.”
Former residents unanimously praise the wide range of leisure activities and fun outings on offer. Gym use is required daily during the week, but there are a variety of other wellness opportunities including weekly yoga, t’ai chi and massage. One grad says “amazing” off-site Saturday activities—indoor trampolining, attending L.A. Clippers games, playing paintball and visits to area amusement parks including Disney Land and Knott’s Berry Farm—“helped us learn how to do things sober.” 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 are “stern” when it comes to rule-breakers. Violence results in immediate expulsion, while minor issues lead to loss of privileges, such as access to your cell phone. Thankfully, though, “Staff are relatively consistent with rule infractions,” says one alumnus. “If we didn’t do chores there were clear-cut rules of punishment.” Those who relapse are removed from the community and must undergo a three-day detox before being allowed back on site. One former patient who relapsed feels 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, medical personnel aren’t given quite so high marks as other aspects of treatment. Morningside does have a psychiatrist and a nurse practitioner on staff, yet one graduate reports that “for any real medical treatment we had to go off site.” Owing to this, although Morningside received positive comments about its therapy, its overall treatment rating comes in mid-range.