Discovery Place

By The Fix staff 02/24/15

This 12-step based non-profit Tennessee facility for men offers meetings, groups and camaraderie.

Discovery Place
Location : Burns, TN
Phone : 800-725-0922
Price : 30-day program: $6500; LTR Program / Extended Care: $5500 (monthly); step-down program (outpatient): $1500
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : No
Detox : Yes

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Just outside of Nashville, in Burns, Tennessee, sits Discovery Place, a drug and alcohol treatment facility on 17 lush acres of farmland. Discovery Place's stated sole focus and end goal is to help its all-male clientele to achieve sustained sobriety. 

The non-profit Discovery Place boasts its uniqueness in many areas. Unlike many treatment centers, Discovery Place wants people to do their research and weigh their options because they believe that their program, which is 12-step based and includes meditation, groups, and family workshops, is the best out there. Discovery Place is also committed to being affordable to the uninsured. The program offers partial scholarships, and the aftercare and “renewal program” are free.

The main campus, which is for short-term stays, has a maximum capacity of 24 residents. On the second campus, just 12 are allowed at any given time. These small numbers create a sense of community throughout the Place that allows the residents to establish trust and camaraderie while working towards sobriety. For many Tennessee men, Discovery Place is the first place they go to after “hitting rock bottom” while dealing with addictions to methamphetamine, opiates, alcohol, and other drugs. What drew past clients to DP was the location, the men-only environment, and the focus on spirituality rather than a particular religion.

Residents are male and mostly Caucasian, and vary in age from 18 to some in their 70s. However, the majority of residents are between 20 and 40 years old. As a whole, the men are welcoming and accepting of one another whether gay or straight, single or married with children, religiously affiliated, or not. The men also come from varying backgrounds – some are wealthy businessmen and others unemployed or students.

Before transitioning back into the real world, DP residents live their lives as normally as possible. At the facility, each man is given a roommate or two, but this can change throughout his stay. For the most part, alumni reported positive experiences with roommates with some preferring it to living alone. Living in close quarters with other men going through the rehabilitation process can be trying at times. Because of that, structure and rules are important. Although the alumni reported relatively harmonious living spaces, there were infractions and consequences that followed. At Discovery Place, if any rules are broken or a resident is acting out of order, the 3-strike rule is implemented. For recurring infractions, privileges—such as TV time—are taken away. However, staff is always fair and clear about consequences.

Every day at the Place starts with morning roll call, followed by breakfast and morning meditation or group meetings. After lunch there are guided groups or meetings and after dinner, residents go to an outside meeting or engage in another activity to end the day. Between meals and meetings, days are filled with light chores or jobs. Despite busy schedules, free time is allotted to the men throughout each week. For this time, a gym, volleyball and basketball court, fishing, golfing, off-campus outing to hockey games, as well as volunteer work was available to the long and short-term residents. Thanks to the 17-acre property that Discovery Place sits on, some residents also enjoy going for runs. Additionally, residents can use the phone once a week, or as needed, and the TV a few times a week, but no Internet is allowed.

For the most part, alumni were relatively pleased with the food quality during their stay. The cafeteria-style dining room offers a wide range of healthy and not-so-healthy foods. Residents have access to coffee and sweets, and meals consist of steaks and potatoes, salads, and other options that cover all food groups and styles of eating (vegetarian and vegan). Among the favorites are pork loins with potatoes and vegetables, low-calorie breakfast sandwiches, steak, and barbeque. Less favorably reviewed was shrimp and grits. One alumnus enjoyed the leftovers: "I also really appreciated that leftovers from lunch and dinner were in the refrigerator at night. This made it feel like home."

As for medical treatment, not every resident requires it. When coming into Discovery Place, residents are often taken off of any medications that are not directly related to a medical issue such as high blood pressure or diabetes. This way, the health care professionals—always private practice doctors, psychotherapists and cognitive-behavioral therapists—can adequately assess where addiction is coming from and how best to treat it. Discovery Place believes that there is a big difference between mental disorders and drug addiction and taking residents off of certain drugs can help to better identify this distinction. Psych evaluations are also not mandatory for this reason. If possible, the Place wants to help their residents to be as independent from medications as possible. While the private practice medical professionals are all on call, a nurse is available on-site to monitor any medications. When doctor visits and other appointments are necessary, transportation is offered to and from offices. Overall, alumni rated the medical treatment as good.

Discovery Place is committed to having knowledgeable staff, with a ratio of one staff member for every three clients. And every employee, with the exception of the accountant, is a DP alumnus or has successfully been through the rehabilitation and recovery process. Typically, the guides (counselors) that serve the residents are alumni that have achieved a few years of sobriety, thus giving them insight and the necessary experience to help others through the process. Experiences with the staff are one of the most praised aspects of the program. Additionally, past and present residents enjoyed the spiritual approach to recovery that Discovery Place emphasizes (no religion is encouraged or discouraged), the 12-step based program, mindfulness-based groups, and fellowship time with the other men there. Sometimes, building relationships can be more effective than traditional methods of therapy. According to some alumni, this was the most memorable and strongest means of treatment. Residents were able to learn from their guides who had gone through the same things before them and find strength in the other’s struggles. Throughout treatment, both permissive and tough-love approaches are taken depending on each resident’s situation.

Discovery Place believes it is important to integrate their alumni into the local 12-step community and makes sure to keep in touch with clients as part of their aftercare program. Because of this, they report that 61% of alumni are successful in their sobriety after their first year out of treatment. In instances where temptations arise, DP is always willing to help their alumni. So long as the former client contacts Discovery Place before picking up the drug or drink, he can come back for a free week-long renewal program.

Overall, alumni were full of praise for this Tennessee treasure, and recommend it without reservation: “I would recommend Discovery Place to any male seeking help. It truly saved my marriage, but more importantly, my life. For that I am forever grateful.”

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