If you’re a woman and you want to get sober in a same-sex environment, check out the Costa Mesa, Calif., rehab Sure Haven, whose primary treatment residence is the new Green House, a handsome LEED Platinum–certified, seven-bedroom, 4,900-square-foot mini-mansion. Residents in early recovery like to hang out in its soaring Craftsman-style great room or in its spacious kitchen, with a jumbo marble-topped center island.
The “upper-middle-class, half straight, half lesbian,” alcohol- and drug-addicted women who check in here are anywhere from 18 to 65 years old, although the place tends more toward “young white women … mostly students or working retail,” according to one former resident. “The other clients were amazing,” gushed another woman, who added: “No relapses during my stay other than my own.” While most clients opt for a 30-day stint in treatment, 60- and 90-day programs also are available.
Each bedroom accommodates two women, so you’ll be getting sober with a max of 13 others at a time, making for a relatively small-scale rehab experience. Chores, said one alumni, “are part of the daily routine to encourage accountability, but are not unreasonable.” Over the course of a stay at Green House, you might find yourself taking out the trash or recycling, cleaning up one of the residence’s six-and-a-quarter bathrooms or straightening up the living room.
Treatment at Sure Haven has some surprises. You’ll primarily find a 12-step-based, non-religious program, but there also is a “Zen Recovery Path” for patients with Eastern curiosities. Daily calendars don’t allow for slacking, with groups starting at 9am and going straight through ‘til 5pm (with a couple of hours set aside for lunch and a workout, if you want). After that, clients have dinner and hit nightly off-site AA meetings, which you are encouraged—although not required—to attend.
Treatment proper consists mostly of the standard fare, from relapse-prevention groups to AA and NA “Big Book” study sessions, with a few more unique classes tossed into the the mix as well, including a body-image group, cooking class, “fun in recovery,” “healthy relationships” and more. “The art therapy groups were very helpful,” said one woman. You’ll also get one-on-one time with your therapist on a regular basis.
Sure Haven is a relatively permissive place—at least in the sense that, as one woman put it, “staff [are] very open, loving and willing to discuss everything with clients.” That may be true, but rule-breakers aren’t going to blithely get away with misdeeds, either. “No-tolerance policies definitely applied,” noted one rehab grad.
During free time and on the weekends, residents can work out at the gym, enjoy the on-site swimming pool and hot tub; do massage or Reiki, yoga or t’ai chi; or even optional equestrian therapy (for an additional cost). Off-site outings take place at least once a week, typically on Saturday afternoons from noon to 5pm.
Former residents report that the best thing about this rehab is its flexibility—which surely has something to do with its small size. “This is one of the greatest strengths of Sure Haven—[that] they are able to adapt any client’s program to her particular needs in treatment,” said one alumni. If you want to tell your family or friends how you are doing, they can visit on Sundays from noon to 4pm, or you can keep in touch via the house phone or Internet, pretty much whenever except during mealtimes or group sessions.
You wouldn’t want to skip a meal, anyway, as Sure Haven staff and residents work together to whip up healthy and gourmet menus, featuring faves like chicken fajitas and stir-fry with brown rice. “Definitely a welcome change from cafeteria-style food,” said one woman who’d previously been at a larger facility before coming here. You can drink coffee in the mornings, but sweets and snacks are restricted out of sensitivity to clients who struggle with eating disorders.