Advanced Health & Education

By The Fix staff 12/29/14

In addition to providing daily therapeutic groups, fun activities, and 12-step groups, New Jersey's Advanced Health Education provides residents with a real world environment and schedule so that they may better adapt to their regular lives when they complete treatment.

Location : Eatontown, NJ
Phone : (888) 687-6977
Price : $16,000 for 30 days
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : Yes
Detox : No

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Just north of Asbury Park and about fifteen minutes from the childhood home of rocker Bruce Springsteen is where you will find Eatontown, NJ. And that is where you will find Advanced Health Education, a counseling center specializing in the treatment of alcoholism and addiction. AHE offers both residential and outpatient treatment to adults of all ages who are seeking treatment.

Their intensive outpatient service (or IOP) is an evening program catering to those who live in the area and are not in need of detox or inpatient treatment. Clients who graduate from Advanced Health’s residential program often continue with outpatient treatment there. One such alum says Advanced Health’s IOP was “...a great follow up treatment and it enhanced my chances of recovering greatly.” There are currently around 40 outpatient clients at Advanced Health.

For those seeking inpatient treatment, AHE offers a residential program. Most clients come for 30 days, but many stay longer. Advanced Health does not have on-site housing; clients instead stay, two to a room, in apartments at a local Residence Inn by Marriott and are taken by van each day to and from the center for groups and outside 12-step meetings at night. At present there are about 65 participants in the residential program.

While many clients tend to be young, white men and women, one graduate did say, “There were people of all ages, race & creed...many professionals there such as doctors, nurses, attorneys, pharmacists etc.” Rehab often brings people together who ordinarily would not mix and AHE is no exception. However, in the words of one former resident, “regardless of the client's background the facility seemed to bring residents together.”

There are few complaints about the food by those enrolled in Advanced Health’s residential program, because they prepare it themselves. Groceries are delivered and clients prepare their own meals (all apartments are equipped with kitchens). One young resident says, “I got to cook my own food and grow up and learn to not depend on a parental figure for a meal.” Free continental breakfast is served at the Residence Inn daily and, once clients arrive at The Center, there is plenty of coffee and snacks (healthy and otherwise) available.

After 8am breakfast, clients are shuttled to The Center for group. Since many AHE clients are young adults, the program is divided into two age groups, “25 and under” and “over 25.” Most groups are large, with some set up like an open AA meeting with group sharing, and others run in a more presentation style like a college lecture. Individuals meet one on one with their counselor once a week and in small groups with others who share the same counselor, several times per week. There is also Family Group which takes place in the evening. If you have never experienced one of these sessions, they can be both cathartic and intense.

At 3pm, clients are shuttled back to the residence (several times a week, there is the option of going to the gym after group). Clients have time to relax and make dinner or watch some TV in their apartment before heading out to outside 12-step meetings. Life at the residence is not overly strict or overly permissive. In the words of one resident, “It’s not a TC (therapeutic community) so it was more lax then maybe some other facilities I've been to.” Advanced Health staff members are on hand at the residence 24 hours a day. They do room checks to ensure clients are all accounted for and that apartments are kept tidy (the only chore at Advanced Health) and are available to resolve any conflicts that may arise. One client remarked, “The staff there always made sure we were going by the rules. They didn't make us feel like they were above us though.”  

Disciplinary issues are handled, case by case, by staff at the center. Residential clients who have a problem working and playing with others used to be temporarily transferred to a different residence until the conflict was resolved, but that is no longer policy. Most alumni report that rule violations were treated fairly, for example, “If you were smoking in your room, cigarettes would have to be held by a staff member rather than on your person.”

Residential clients have no internet access and phone use is restricted to 2-3 times per week. One client felt there were, “...not enough phones to be used by clients.” However, most did not find this problematic and if you needed to use the phone outside allotted times for a valid reason, this was usually condoned so long as a counselor was present.

Weekends for residents are full of fun activities. There is a basketball court and (in summer) an outdoor pool (days are rotated between men and women) and plenty of year-round activities as well, including yoga classes and massage and more, “On Saturdays we would be taken to an activity of our choice (either movies, bowling, rock climbing)...It was really awesome.” There are also barbecues, trips to nail salons, barbershop...lots to do.

Advanced Health is a counseling service and is not a licensed medical facility. (Ill clients are taken to a local Urgent Care facility at their own expense.) As a result, alumni opinions about “medical treatment” available at AHE vary widely depending on expectations, reasonable and otherwise. One says, “[Nurses] were helpful offering information to the best of their ability and if they didn’t have the answer they found it promptly.” But another writes, “The nurses were pretty helpful...but there was a lot of residents so it was hard to help everyone quickly.” Another alum added, “...getting on the list to see the nurse took a minor miracle.” Counseling was looked on more favorably, “there were psychologists on site and [they] were very helpful.” Clients are responsible for taking their own medication which is kept locked up until they need it, at which time staff provides access. 

AHE’s philosophy of helping clients return to “normal” life is time and again mentioned by clients; here is a typical comment: “Groups were 8am-3pm which would symbolize working a job in the outside world...then coming home, cooking food, hanging out, and going to an outside it wasn't that hard to adjust to that schedule once I was released.” Her thoughts were echoed by others: “AHE is a special place... It helps integrate real life daily activities into sobriety...a key component to creating a solid foundation.”

Most Advanced Health alumni surveyed reported that they have remained sober or have had experiences like this young man who relapsed briefly: “I unfortunately slipped up a few times but Advanced Health taught me the tools I needed to get back on my feet and do the right thing...”

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