New Method Wellness

By The Fix staff 11/06/12

With its beach-town comfort and flexible fusion of 12-step traditions and holistic therapies, this gender-segregated rehab has a lot to offer.

A wolf on a leash and a man touching faces.
Wolf Therapy is offered at New Method Wellness
Location : San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Phone : (866) 951-1824
Price : $35,500 for 30 days (plus $5,700 for detox, if needed) Accept most PPO's for full payment
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : Yes
Detox : Yes

The Orange County community of San Juan Capistrano is famous for its colonial Spanish mission. Now the town is home to New Method Wellness, which has a mission of its own: providing comfortable, individualized, gender-segregated addiction treatment at a reasonable price.

People come to New Method Wellness seeking help for addictions from alcohol to heroin, and eating disorders are treated on a separate program track. They primarily treat executives, and clients range in age from 19 to 55, with an average age of 35 and a diversity of backgrounds represented. Most clients stay longer than 30 days, with 90 days clocking in as typical. Intensive outpatient treatment is also available.

For the price, accommodations are very pleasant. Men and women are housed in separate buildings. The La Jolla House, nestled within a gated community in San Juan Capistrano, houses 6 male residents at a time. The setting is homey, well lit and comfortable. Rooms boast plasma TVs, individual desks, and a wi-fi connection for residents’ laptops. There is also an air hockey table and a private yard with a fire pit and a view of the Pacific. Meanwhile, 6 women reside at Capo Beach House in nearby Dana Point. Beds are large and high, and the expansive living area features several fireplaces and leather couches. Both houses are equipped with full kitchens. Private bedrooms can be requested for an extra charge, but most opt to share a room and it’s not unusual for roommates to form strong bonds. Treatment itself takes place a short shuttle ride away in a third facility, the Center, which has a pleasant but more clinical vibe that suits its function.  

Clients report that food quality ranges from good to excellent and takes different dietary needs into account. For lunch, New Method provides meals individually crafted by their in-house dietitian. For breakfast and dinner, residents must buy their own groceries using prepaid cards provided by house staff. Most alumni founded the cooking to be an enjoyable part of their stay, and sometimes residents even team up to cook meals for the group. Occasionally the group goes out to restaurants such as local ribs joint Bad to the Bone to practice ordering dinner without a side of booze. Unlimited coffee, juice, soda and snacks are available throughout the day at both residences and the Center.

In true 12-step fashion, New Method does promote spirituality, but don’t worry about getting religion shoved down your throat. Clients can decide how to define a spirituality and higher power that works for them. Residents who want to attend church may do so, and there is even a special program track with a heavier Christian focus, but no particular religions are promoted and all faiths are welcomed. 

Treatment gets solid marks from alumni. The well-qualified staff members are described by alums as “caring and hardworking.” Some praise the hour-long sessions with their staff therapists as the highlight of their treatment, while others say group therapy was the most eye opening and helpful. Clients tend to meet with psychiatrists once per week to assess everyone’s pharmaceutical needs. While there are no live-in doctors, physicians do come by regularly and patients requiring special care can make arrangements to receive it offsite. Onsite, a variety of non-medical treatment options abound. Equine therapy is offered weekly and is universally praised. Additionally, Wolf Therapy, massage, yoga, Tai-Chi, and Surf Therapy have been added on a weekly basis. Wilderness therapy and sand play therapy allow for a variety of avenues toward self-healing. 

From Monday through Friday, the daily treatment schedule is loaded with group therapy sessions, individual counseling and daily AA meetings. Residents rotate through chores assignments, but clients say they weren’t much of a burden. On weekends, house managers take clients grocery shopping, and there’s plenty of time to exercise or even just relax. Trips to the beach are common, as are movies and shopping trips. Other activities include AA-sponsored parties, swimming, hiking, yoga, massages and even amusement parks. NWM also provides clients with membership to a local gym. Internet, TV and phone use are permitted up to 11 p.m. daily after the first two weeks of treatment.

The overall environment at New Method is loving, open and more permissive than some. But as relaxing as New Method sounds, it is not too lax. Alumni report that rule violations were punished “quickly, firmly, and graciously” with what one called a “zero-tolerance” policy. Another former resident reported being kicked out for repeated tardiness, but a more typical punishment for transgressions involves the loss of cell phone privileges for a week. Most concurred that the disciplinary style was “considerate and not over the top.”  

Most importantly of all, the majority of clients who complete treatment at New Method Wellness seem to stay sober. “New Method not only helped me with my drug addiction but with all aspects of my life,” one attested. Others report that the center was “full of amazing people,” which one respondent simply summed it up by saying, “I felt loved.” All in all, those seeking a flexible, comfortable, 12-step-oriented residential rehab should strongly consider making like a swallow and migrating to San Juan Capistrano. 

10/2017: This review was updated with added treatment modalities and some changes to program details.

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