Reunion San Diego 4 stars
If you’re not sold on the 12 Steps, this upscale six-person rehab, opened in July 2011, might be the one for you.
There’s a lot to recommend Reunion San Diego, including its compassionate staff, delicious meals and lush green setting. But let’s be honest: According to former alumni, these aren’t the main reasons why people come here. Rather, what attracts people to the place is its customizable, non-12-step program, with an emphasis on one-on-one therapy and alternative treatments.
Most residents are in their 30s, 40s or 50s, and hail from a range of backgrounds and occupations—with their one commonality being that most come from affluent families. People live here for 21–28 days on average. If you can’t afford Reunion, but are looking for a non-12-step program, the rehab’s parent company, Practical Recovery, also runs a few other treatment options, including a more affordable residential rehab just for men, an outpatient program and a sober-living house.
Unlike many rehabs, choice is the order of the day here. Clients can pick from a variety of individualized treatments, including SMART Recovery and EMDR (eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing), which uses rapid-eye movements to “reprocess” negative memories. “[EDMR] was amazing and enabled me to break through many barriers in a short period of time,” said one alumnus. Another added, “There were about seven different therapists who all had different personalities and styles, which I really enjoyed.” While medical doctors are not in residence at the facility—Reunion San Diego uses outside contractors—staff are efficient at getting the necessary treatment and meds for their charges. Clinical staff include five clinical psychologists, one master’s-level marriage and family therapist, and one drug and alcohol counselor who specializes in relapse prevention.
Speaking of the staff, Reunion alumni are full of praise for them, for the most part: “Resident assistants were all amazing, genuine people who were great to talk to and spend time with,” said one. Another noted that the highlight of her experience was “the quality of the people, from the kitchen staff to clinicians.” But nothing’s perfect. “Some of the resident assistants were unprofessional and into gossiping,” one former resident complained. Another said, “A couple of the youthful male staff tended to have mild power issues that were irritating.”
Most former residents reported few instances of rule-breaking—although that may simply be because there are so few rules to begin with. When an infraction does occur, it is handled “quietly and professionally” and “with respect and privacy.” “Concerns of staff members were discussed with individuals after regular staff meetings,” said an alumnus. The idea is to be therapeutic rather than punishing, though, so treatment focuses more on positive reinforcement. “All staff members including resident assistants remained positive and encouraging during times of personal difficulty or struggle,” said one man. Ultimately, staff are “appropriately strict when necessary, [and] easy-going and fun-loving when the situation called for it.”
Life at Reunion San Diego is pretty luxurious. Clients have no roommates or chores, and each bedroom sports a queen-sized Sleep Number bed with high-thread-count sheets. Residents can choose whether or not they want to attend the three to four therapy sessions each day, including two hours of group therapy and a minimum of two one-on-one sessions.
If you can convince yourself to get out of bed—and most people do, according to a Reunion representative, who said “everyone is pretty motivated and high-functioning”—there are plenty of activities to fill your day. These include working out at the gym, hiking, bowling, going to the movies, yoga classes, working with a personal trainer, massages, Reiki, kayaking and trips to the mall.
You can use your phone or the Internet at any time when treatment sessions are not happening, and TV is allowed at night. “Any time not in a meeting, you were free to do as you pleased,” one former resident explained. “The pleasant outdoor patios for relaxing with fellow patients were a huge plus,” said another past client. Given that this is not a 12-step-based program, reliance upon a higher power is not mentioned, although residents who want to attend services can do so.
One thing you won’t want to miss is a meal of “five-star quality” selections, home-cooked by Chef Dora, from Brazil. When you arrive at Reunion, you fill out a questionnaire about your likes and dislikes, and staff work to accommodate those wishes. “Unbelievable meals, every day,” praised one former resident. “The care and foresight given to individuals with food preferences or requirements is impressive.” Favorite dishes include Chef Dora’s homemade soups—especially for detoxing clients—as well as the raspberry-chipotle rack of lamb, tilapia with fresh basil pesto, assorted lunchtime quinoa salads and the gluten-free coconut flan. The only real complaint was that the delicious meals can make it “hard to maintain portion control.”
Have you been to rehab? The Fix wants to know how it went. Click here to complete a Rehab Review survey for the treatment center you attended.