Hope By The Sea

By The Fix staff 10/28/14

This family-run rehab boasts a location close to the ocean, multiple residences to accommodate a diverse population, and an optional Christian recovery component, "Celebrate Hope," for those seeking a more religious experience.

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Location : Laguna Niguel, CA
Phone : (800) 631-7753
Price : $20,000-$30,000
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : Yes
Detox : Yes

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Located in beautiful San Juan Capistrano, Hope by the Sea is a 57-bed, full service treatment facility that provides services from detox to transitional living in a supportive and peaceful environment. Since 2003, The Carlsen Family has been providing these services to clients seeking either a traditional 12-step approach or, for those who choose, a Christian-centric approach through their Celebrate Hope program.

Hope by the Sea residents consist of mostly Caucasian men and women from all over the country. There is a wide range of diversity when it comes to age, religion and economic background. In order to meet the needs of all residents, the campus includes a Young People’s House for patients in their twenties and also two Executive Residences. Executive clients live in more luxurious surroundings complete with maid and laundry service, and laptop and cellphone use is permitted in Executive houses during non-treatment hours. 

All forms of chemical dependency are treated at Hope by the Sea, but a significant number of patients who are recovering from opiate addiction have chosen this facility because it offers Suboxone detox (not maintenance) treatment.

The staff at the Center consists of an on-call MD, RN, Physician’s Assistant, Clinical Psychologist and an MFT, all of whom have been hired as much for their “ability to show love and compassion” as for their professional expertise. The detox facility is actually a residential home (with on-call MD) which provides an added level of comfort to those not wanting to detox in a hospital-type environment.

Accommodations are higher-end, consisting mostly of large homes located in upscale residential neighborhoods. Some of the houses feature swimming pools, basketball courts and large, private backyards. One house has a Koi pond as well. Most residents will have one or two roommates, but there are a small number of private rooms available. All residents (except those in the Executive Program) are expected to do chores consisting mostly of light housekeeping.

Meals consist of lunches served at the Center and breakfast and dinner served at individual houses. Lunches are cafeteria style and the chef receives mostly high marks from residents, most of whom attest to a variety of healthy choices. Coffee (the caffeinated kind) is not served at the Center, but is available at individual houses, so get your grind on at breakfast. House managers and residents have a great deal of freedom when it comes to the “home-cooked” meals, so residents with specific dietary needs get some say in what food is purchased for their house.

I really recommend this program. I've been to three others before over the last 30 years. This one was the best and is a super nice place to recover with great accommodations, a great staff, great program, nice location and many of the people I went through the program with are still clean after 18 months.  - Former Client 

The daily routine is structured to keep clients busy and engaged with meetings, counseling, group therapy sessions and exercise with most of these activities taking place at the Center. The majority of these activities are considered helpful by residents and although the gym has been described as pretty basic, there is a personal trainer on staff.

Following the rules is not difficult for those who are serious about recovery. After an initial blackout period of seven days with no phone or internet use, residents are permitted to make cellphone calls and access the internet during their lunch break. TV may be watched during free time in the evening before lights-out at 10pm. Violations of these rules as well as some more serious infractions are dealt with on a case-by-case basis with a combination of accountability and compassion. Multiple clients referred to the approach as “firm but fair.” Patients who truly want to overcome their addiction and participate in their own recovery will receive love and support while those who repeatedly show unwillingness will be asked to leave. In the words of one patient: “They were even helpful to some people who relapsed and made sure they had every opportunity to get on the right path until it became clear the person just wasn't going to make the effort.”

One of the defining aspects of this program is the relationship between patients and the Carlsen Family. The Carlsens founded and continue to play a major role in the day-to-day operation of the facility and patients describe their experience as being “part of a family.” One staff member and former resident put it this way: “My parents chose Hope by the Sea because they felt they could trust the Carlsen Family to ‘take care of their son.’” In fact, Penny Carlsen (RN and Administrator) is described on the facility’s website as the “Resident Mom,” a sentiment shared by many residents.

Another aspect of this program that stands out is the Christian track. For clients who wish to move beyond the spiritual aspect of the facility’s 12-step approach, Celebrate Hope offers a more deeply religious experience. Patients on the regular track and Christian track participate in many groups together, but each day there are separate groups for each. It is important to note that none of the regular track clients feel pressured or marginalized for not taking the Christian track. All viewpoints are respected, but if you are looking for a non-12-step or non-religious experience, Hope by the Sea is probably not a great choice for you.

For those who have completed treatment and wish to extend their stay in a therapeutic environment, Hope by the Sea offers programs in relapse prevention as well as a comprehensive, multi-phase college program in conjunction with a local community college. Counselors help students approved for the college program navigate the enrollment process and assist them in maintaining their sobriety while attending school.

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