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Pasadena Recovery Center 3.5 stars

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The home of Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab doesn't let the cameras in everywhere. While the counselors deliver, the chefs don't—and black-market meds abound.

Pasadena Recovery Center. Photo via

Location: Pasadena, Calif.

Phone: (866) 663-3030

Web: pasadenarecoverycenter.com

Price: Unit 1: $8,200; Unit 2: $11,000

Overall: 3.5 stars

Accommodations: 2 stars

Treatment: 4 stars

Food: 1 stars

Insurance: Yes

Detox: Yes

By The Fix staff

03/28/11

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As the media archetype for all treatment centers, Pasadena Recovery Center, or PRC, is best known as the home of Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab. And yet, as with most things Hollywood, the real place looks little like it does on TV. Aside from the camera-laden wing—separated from the rest of the facility—PRC is broken into two units according to price. Both wings house two people per room and there’s a bathroom for every two rooms; singles are available for an extra fee. The main difference between the two units, says one resident, “is a slightly better mattress and some dollar store artwork.” Both follow the same treatment program and hold groups and meetings together.

Generally described as "quite crowded but insightful and interesting," process groups are held in a huge room that doubles as the cafeteria. Men and women are in groups together and are allowed to freely interact. While overt or “absurd” flirting is forbidden, hook-ups nevertheless supposedly abound, usually around med time when the techs are safely distracted from the on-site cameras. “While trysts are discouraged and grounds for dismissal, I have no doubt there are PRC babies out there,” laughs a recent grad.

Counseling is universally described as “superb” and residents rave about the “dedicated” counselors and therapists onsite. Many still talk to them years later. The staff is undoubtedly PRC’s bread and butter—which is a good thing, since the same can’t be said for the food ("gross" seems to be the overall impression). One former client describes the overall cuisine as "fatty and tasteless " though another concedes that the chicken curry was “pretty good.”

Fridays are designated as Double Scrub Day, when residents are asked to clean their rooms thoroughly. Still, PRC is relatively chore-free, a situation that clearly contributes to the rehab's relaxed atmosphere. Cranky clients who elect not to participate in cleaning or go to groups are left to sulk in their rooms. Rule breakers are often put on “room restriction,” which means that they’re confined to their bedrooms for a day (which is fitting considering the relative youth of most of the residents).

There have been many reports of a PRC medication swapping black market amongst residents where residents "lip"—or save up—medication that they then trade or misuse (because PRC serves as a detox, narcotic meds like Xanax and Suboxone are common.

Nevertheless, clients feel that there is ample support and recovery for those who seek it out. One former resident perhaps summed it up best: "If someone really wants help, they’ll have an awesome experience."

Still not everything  goes at PRC; phones and computers are outlawed and clients are in meetings during the bulk of the allotted TV time (6–10pm on weeknights and anytime during the weekend). A healthy schedule of groups, acupuncture, yoga and music therapy serve to distract residents from this hardship. The facility is praised for “doing a great job of acclimating you to the 12-step community”: residents are taken to two outside meetings a week and counselors push the idea of sponsorship. Overall, those who are serious about getting sober will do well at PRC. But people lacking rigor or commitment may struggle and eventually end up at another rehab—perhaps with a newborn on the way.

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