AToN Center

By The Fix staff 06/26/13

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious San Diego rehab has a program for you—if you can tear yourself away from “the most amazing massages ever."

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AToN Center. Photo via
Location : San Diego
Phone : (888) 982-4155
Price : $45,000 - $149,900 per month (Plus $200/day for detox, most insurance accepted)
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Insurance : Yes
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California Drug Rehab Center Review

The luxury and notable San Diego rehab, AToN Center (whose name stands for "aid to navigation"), offers a variety of treatment options, including 12 Step, SMART Recovery, cognitive behavioral therapy, and holistic therapies. Residents are required to attend one of two evening meetings, AA or SMART, each week—and are encouraged to attend both. The breadth and quality of treatment programs is, in fact, AToN’s strongest suit.

The “high-class” staff and clinicians at AToN are “very professional,” “personable” and “current on recovery methodology,” former residents agree. “They do an expert job at letting you do your recovery work, and they take care of everything else,” one alum says. This supportive atmosphere is invaluable to many residents. “I feel like they really listened to what I needed and they pushed me hard,” says one person. Another adds, “It was no walk in the park, but I felt it hit the right balance.” 

There are four psychologists on staff and a medical doctor in town who evaluates you upon arrival and is “readily available” afterward. Overall, the team earned an average 4.5 rating from alum.

Yet, one alum reports, “The holistic side makes the difference.” This includes AToN’s indulgent accommodations, salt-water swimming pools, and lush four-acre campus with tropical flowering trees. “It was hard to leave,” says one grad. “Thank goodness we can come back once a week for aftercare.”

Religion takes a backseat at AToN. “They spoke a lot about spirituality and mindfulness, but no sort of religion was ever pushed,” one alum says. In fact, many residents find spiritual comfort in their quiet surroundings. “AToN's atmosphere is a meditative marvel,” a former client says. “The gardens and patios are the most calming places I have been. The peace and quiet made reflection and prayer almost automatic.” Still, more loftily inclined individuals might feel neglected: “[The staff] needs to do more work in getting residents to church or places of worship if they so desire,” one person comments.

Major rule infractions are rare, but when they do happen, they are handled “very well and privately,” says one alumni. “This is a residence, not an institution,” one former resident explains. “[Staff] are very diplomatic and never spoke down to patients.” Anything that threatens collective safety or shows a lack of respect for others is dealt with in group. However, some younger staff can be lax about cell phone and computer use rules. “It was a little irritating because I tried hard to follow the rules,” one resident complains.

AToN attracts a variety of individuals in their mid-20s to mid-50s, from teachers and stay-at-home moms to doctors and attorneys. Despite different backgrounds, “Everyone there was serious about recovery and willing to work hard,” a former resident says. With a maximum capacity of 12 people in two houses, you will get to know each other well. “Since there are so few residents, I formed lasting relationships and we really learned to trust each other,” she adds. 

There are many extracurricular activities to keep you busy. Residents can visit the gym, Frog’s Fitness, daily; play volleyball on the sand court; swim in the aforementioned pools; or just chill out around the fire pit. There is also acupuncture, yoga (on a new, western-facing deck), massages (“the most amazing ever,” one alum said),  hypnotherapy, meditation, hiking, shopping, and outings to various local attractions, such as the zoo, wild animal park, museum, and the beach. Every Sunday, residents pile into AToN’s 14-passenger Sprinter van (with 40-inch flatscreen TV) for off-site dinners. Held at “really nice” area restaurants with lively bar scenes, these meals are treated as “exposure sessions.”

Passes to leave for the afternoon with a spouse or friend are available to low-risk residents after 20 days—although you aren’t totally on your own recognizance, as you will be breathalyzed and drug-tested upon your return. Phones are permitted at any time except for during therapy sessions, and only outside or in your own bedroom—not in the rehab’s common areas. You can use the Internet, and residents are allowed to watch TV from 7–9am and 7–10pm daily. There are also two movie nights each week.

AToN’s bedrooms are “huge,” with elegant furnishings and high thread-count sheets. Some residents have roommates, but private rooms are available for an extra charge. The only chores you’ll have are making sure your bed is made daily and completing homework assignments from therapists and doctors.  Alum gave high ratings to the accommodations.

Meals are “top notch,” according to one alum. The organic and “beautifully prepared” dishes are often nutritious, but not to a fault. “I wouldn’t say the food was super healthy,” one alum concedes. “It was maybe a little indulgent.” Favorite meals include mahi mahi, pork roast, the “amazing” steak, pizza from the grill, and “yummy veggies.” The chef will prepare food based on your specifications, and, within reason, will add what you request to the grocery list. Sodas, snacks, and coffee are available all the time, although staff limit residents to two caffeinated drinks per day. There are also home-baked cookies and chocolate for anyone with a sweet tooth.

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