Lifeskills South Florida

By The Fix staff 02/27/13

Amid beautiful facilities and nearby beaches, this condo-campus Deerfield Beach treatment center makes sure patients are staying on track and developing good habits.

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Lifeskills South Florida's swimming pool. Photo via
Location : Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Phone : (800) 749-7149
Price : $18,100 for the first month ($15,000 each additional month)
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : No
Detox : No

Swaying palm trees and nearby beaches provide a scenic setting to get sober at Lifeskills South Florida. Open since 1991, Lifeskills offers residential and outpatient treatment for addicts and their families, and also can address psychiatric and trauma-based disorders. The rehab is licensed by the Florida Dept. of Children & Families and accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehab Facilities (CARF).

Those who check into Lifeskills tend to be on the younger side. Clients stay here for a minimum of 60 days, but longer-term residential and outpatient plans are also available. The facility treats both men and women, although one former patient claimed that “men and women are not separated enough.”

In addition to offering evidence-based treatments including Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behaviorial Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI), Lifeskills also provides its clients with nutritional assessments, body and self groups, and anger-management classes. As residents prepare to leave treatment, relapse prevention programs and school or job assistance also are made available. 

The day starts at 7am with a morning walk, which one former resident described as “walking around in circles for 20 minutes.” Residents are kept occupied until 6 or 7pm with two groups per day and individual treatment sessions, plus a weekly therapist meeting (clients get 1.5 hours of one-on-one time per week). One former male resident found the stress, trauma and grief groups to be particularly helpful.

There are also male- and female-only therapeutic sessions throughout the week, and clients can access nightly off-site meetings—including AA, EA (Emotions Anonymous), Recovery International and other mental-health/psychotherapy groups—by catching a ride in the rehab’s unmarked van. Despite the packed schedule, there are opportunities for downtime throughout the day. On weekends, Lifeskills keeps things fresh with day trips to the beach and popular divsersions such as the movies, bowling and mini-golf.

Lifeskills places emphasis on healthy lifestyles and sound thinking, which manifests itself in integrative therapies like yoga and meditation/relaxation. Residents also have on-site access to a swimming pool and basketball courts, and an LA Fitness gym located three miles away, which they can visit three times a week by van.

Housing at the combo clinical and residential campus, built in May 2008, is in the form of eight two-bedroom/two-bath condos, which are shared by four men or women. (There is a max of 32 residents at any one time.) Residents are responsible for their own household chores and cooking their own meals. Lifeskills provides a weekly $60 gift card to spend on food at a local supermarket, as well as an also-weekly $75 gift card to spend on sundries like toiletries or cigarettes.

The home-like setting is designed to help residents develop coping skills and daily routines. This may seem hands-off, but a tech office that’s staffed 24/7 sits in the middle of the “U” formed by the condos. A former client said, “They try to sell the place like it’s a sober-living or extended-care facility, but it’s definitely treatment and primary rehab.”

In that vein, Internet access is allowed only on a case-by-case basis, with a special pass needed to use the client computer, while phone use is capped at 20 minutes a day. TV hours are limited during the week, although this is loosened on the weekends. If anyone breaks a rule, staff members will commonly take away TV or phone privileges.

Former Lifeskills clients had strong opinions about the staff, both positive and negative. The on-site psychiatrist and doctors were praised for being “very helpful,” while the same can't be said about the nurse or, in the case of one alumnus, her therapist: “My therapist was ignorant and had a huge ego,” she noted. And while Lifeskills' website boasts about the credentials and degrees of its medical staff, the same resident grumbled that “none of the techs have college degrees.”

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