Journey at Willowcreek

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Journey at Willowcreek

By The Fix staff 04/12/13

Although some feel it’s not adequately staffed, this Utah rehab keeps clients active and fosters strong bonds (during kitchen-clean-up time) among its 16 max residents.

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SIZED Journey Utah.jpg
Utah's Journey at Willowcreek. Photo via
Location : Cottonwood Heights, Utah
Phone : (866) 677-7212
Price : $15,000 for 28 days
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : Yes
Detox : No

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The Journey at Willowcreek is a small, private facility to which many clients are drawn by its promise of peace and quiet. “I knew I needed a place where I would feel ‘at home’ [with] a small group of people like myself,” one alumnus explained. But some residents left feeling more irritated than comfortable. “It was a bit stressful,” another former patient declared. “You need more staff!”

The client group at Journey is “not very racially diverse,” and many patients come from high-income families. Even so, most are “down-to-earth regular people,” one alumnus reported. Occupations range from “cops to firefighters to EMTs to sales guys and girls to students,” with a fairly even male-to-female ratio.

Unfortunately, some patients felt they didn't get as much individual attention as they would have liked, despite having “a few extraordinary counselors,” as one alumnus cited. “The staff was always too busy and didn't always seem to have time for people's concerns or feelings,” one former resident explained.

It also means that some infractions are going to go unnoticed. “When you get a bunch of addicts together there's potential for rule-breaking ... and of course it happened when I was in house,” an alumnus said. “Guys getting too close with girls, inappropriate touching or conversations, chewing tobacco in the house and not cleaning your room.” Many, though, felt that staff did the best they could to “minimize the drama” by giving warnings and holding group and individual meetings before kicking someone out.

If you need medical attention, Journey’s doctors, who visit every Tuesday, are described as “caring” and “responsive”—but only if you actually get to see one. “What doctors?” a former patient asked, explaining that she only met with a physician’s assistant. Another chimed in: “I only saw the doctor once in six weeks.”

Journey’s treatment program is 12-step-based, although “they don’t cram it down your throat,” one alum explained. “You can take it or leave it.” But another disagreed, saying, “Daily life consisted of strict adherence to AA principles whether they worked for you or not.” There is no focus on one specific religion, instead “just the concept of a ‘Higher Power,’ whatever that is for each person,” an alumnus explained. For people open to this concept, the spiritual sessions and holistic activities often proved “life-changing.”

Clients who come for privacy should be satisfied with the room options. While some patients do have roommates, many get their own rooms. Because of this, residents tend to socialize during meal and chore times. “I made most of my friends in the kitchen,” one alumnus said. And you’ll be spending a lot of time there, as residents are expected to help clean up. “We had to do dishes after lunch and dinner, but we had the music playing which made it fun,” a former resident explained. Another agreed: “The kitchen clean-up assignments were actually a great bonding exercise as well as team-building and accountability component.” Everyone also is expected to keep his or her room clean. To help with this, individuals are nominated each week to be house and kitchen managers.

Food here earns generally positive reviews. Some declared the meals “fantastic,” like one former resident who said they were “the highlight of every day” and described them as “comfort food, which is just what I needed.” Popular options include make-your-own tacos and the “amazing” meatloaf, while Sunday brunch is a big hit. That said, the plain cereal options at breakfast “leave something to be desired,” according to a past resident. Coffee is always available, and there are usually snacks and fruit to munch on.

When you aren’t hanging out in the kitchen or cafeteria, there is plenty to do—so much so that you might feel a little overbooked. “Life was very organized. Be here at this time, there at another time,” one alumnus explained. “There was not much downtime to study, read, reflect.” Many activities take place off-campus, like gym trips and AA meetings. Other favorites include weekly trips to Target, in-house yoga, Deeksha meditation, art and equine therapy, community service and Friday diversions like bowling or movies. 

The center has just one pay phone and one computer, making it “very difficult” to communicate with the outside world. Patients are allowed to use the phone during free time, but you must purchase a phone card, which some felt was “a rip-off.” And there are often lines of people waiting to use the computer. Thankfully, it’s a little easier to watch TV, which is allowed on some mornings and on weekends.

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