Reflections 4 stars
This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.
Location: Novato, Calif.
Phone: (800) 611-7316
Overall: 4 stars
Accommodations: 5 stars
Treatment: 4 stars
Food: 5 stars
Thirty miles north of San Francisco, in idyllic Marin County, is Reflections, a high-end drug and alcohol rehab that prides itself on its “spa-like setting,” close by such natural-environment knockouts as the Muir Woods Redwood Forest and Point Reyes National Seashore.
The enchanting surroundings extend to the house itself, a gated, Mediterranean-style, Italian-stone-and-tile manse on two acres, with a Roman-style courtyard pool, burbling fountains and an outdoor fireplace. Said one former resident, whose own room overlooked the pool and hot tub, “It is a gorgeous setting.”
As you might imagine for the price, none of the six max residents will be forced to put up with a roommate’s snoring; everyone has their own private bedroom and bathroom (with one option for a semi-private bedroom, if for some reason you’d want that). And, other than the occasional “therapeutic assignment,” you’re not going to be doing any chores, either.
Unlike a lot of rehabs, you can bring your cell phone and laptop, and ample opportunity is provided (pending approval from your primary therapist) during non-activity times to catch up with family and friends, or to stay abreast of business matters. There is a big-screen TV in the house’s great room, which residents can switch on prior to 8am in the mornings (mainly for the news), nightly after 8pm and on the weekends.
Days at Reflections begin with varied forms of meditation, followed by a series of group and individual therapy sessions. Treatment is 12-step-friendly, but participation in a 12-step program isn’t required. “I was against the 12-step process when I arrived ... and was given other support options like LifeRing and SMART Recovery,” said one grad—who actually ended up joining AA, after she saw how quickly the people working an AA program seemed to be progressing. Nevertheless, she said, “I appreciate not being pushed into the 12 steps like I had been at previous treatment programs.”
Religion isn’t pushed on residents, either—rather just an emphasis on enhancing one’s own spiritual life, including Monday-night visits to a nearby Buddhist retreat called the Spirit Rock Meditation Center.
Outside of session time, there’s plenty to keep guests occupied. The game room sports a pool table, as well as chess, cards and board games. Interestingly, “It even has a wet bar and is stocked with healthy beverages,” reported one resident. The small swimming pool is always open, and there is a fairly well-equipped on-site gym, too. “We had weekend outings every Saturday with ‘Adventure Bob,’ who is a magnificent therapist and outdoorsman,” added one grad, who also noted that he was able to get out on the golf course a number of times during his stay.
So who will you be hanging out by the pool, hiking and hitting those golf balls with? A co-ed and ethnically diverse (yet mostly straight) collection of “high-achieving business or entertainment-industry professionals,” said one alum. “Educated professionals, business owners, doctors [and] a couple of younger people,” reported another. The average age is about 40, although it ranges from 19 or 20 years old to 60-plus, while the average wealth level—surprise, surprise—is quite high.
Meals by Executive Chef Brenda are one reason for the price tag. “Healthy, plenty, gluten-free, locally grown organic ingredients” is how one client described the food here. Fruits and nuts are on hand for snacks, and even some ready-made plates, which younger residents like to heat up when they get hungry outside of mealtimes. Favorite dishes include the halibut fish tacos and Friday-night steak barbecues, as well as from-scratch egg rolls with sweet tomato chutney. You might want to skip the no-gluten empanadas, though, which evidently are a thing that exists. Coffee and tea flow freely.
This being rehab, rules are going to get broken from time to time. Given that people who check into Reflections aren’t expecting (or paying for) boot camp, it makes sense that “the staff is pretty easy-going,” as one former resident put it. One person who was using his cell phone too much, and distracting himself from treatment, said that “I was not scolded, but rather offered different options to help me ... get my needs met.”
But not everything slides: Another person lied about his passes and got his privileges revoked for two weeks, while yet another ran afoul of staff for staying up way too late and “ended up with a writing assignment.” (So it’s not exactly lockdown, but still.)
In terms of medical attention, Reflections does not have on-site doctors—but staff will drive you to a doctor’s appointment as needed. And, upon arrival at the rehab, all patients are evaluated by Clinical Director Dr. William Hanna for their initial assessment.