Lakeview Health

By The Fix staff 06/25/17

Alumni come away from Lakeview's individualized and gender responsive treatment with new skills, a strong sense of camaraderie, and the ability to "laugh and socialize sober again."

Location : Jacksonville, FL
Phone : (866) 265-2778
Price : $1,000 per day including detox; stays are usually 30-45 days
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
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Insurance : Yes
Detox : Yes

Located in Jacksonville, Florida just 20 minutes from the beach, Lakeview Health is an expansive residential treatment program with flexible plans for people seeking recovery from addiction and co-occurring disorders. The facility is state-licensed and Joint Commission-accredited with a full medical and psychiatric team on-site to provide comprehensive support. Separate programs are available for men and women, and Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs are offered as part of Lakeview's continuum of care for patients who go through detox and/or residential treatment.

While a few who attended Lakeview Health reported a “wide range of ethnic backgrounds of various ages,” others commented on what was mostly a younger crowd. Though many different jobs and professional careers were represented, the general consensus was that clients were generally upper-middle class, 20 to 30 years old and probably straight (though there were a few LGBTQ residents as well). Regardless of diversity levels, alums were quick to note that “everyone grabbed ahold of each other no matter the differences,” and that a warm, communal vibe underscored the entire treatment process.

The Lakeview campus has separate residences for men and women, clinical buildings, a cafeteria and a wellness center all together on the same plot of land. Clients are housed in semi-private rooms with one roommate. Each room has ample room to walk around and comfortable beds. Alums were mostly satisfied with the living arrangements and reported only light chores requirements. “The staff did most of the cleaning, which was nice,” one alum said. “It was a good balance.”

Aside from the rooms, the alums also had good things to say about the food at Lakeview Health. “The meals definitely helped me put on much-needed weight,” one client said. Those polled all sung the praises of the buffet-style meals served in the cafeteria, with special shout-outs to the chicken cordon bleu, jerk chicken and the pork and asparagus—there are even special meal plans available for vegans in treatment or for people with health issues such as hypertension. Though the complaints were few, one alum mentioned the “cold eggs” at breakfast. Although the buffet provides plenty of healthy options including fresh fruit and a salad bar, some residents also were a little wary of how heavy the portions were. Still, this may only be a matter of self-control, in some cases.

Clients’ daily lives while in treatment are reportedly quite busy. Each day begins with breakfast, a series of morning groups before lunch, more afternoon groups and dinner to cap off the day. Though clients mentioned a lot of group therapy and 12-step meetings, individual medical and psychiatric appointments for physical health monitoring, stabilization, and med management is also included, as well as individual therapy for dual diagnosis support. “I found the daily routine to be somewhat repetitive,” one alum said, “but [necessary] to learn.” Although the emphasis at Lakeview Health is placed squarely on recovery over fun and games, residents still get some flexibility in the afternoons to go to the gym, meditate or do homework. On special occasions, clients may also go on off-site excursions for “recreational activities like bowling or [trips] to the zoo.”

Physicians see patients every day during detox, and then less frequently afterwards. The doctors are "very helpful," "knowledgeable," and "accommodating." There are also "awesome" nurses on staff who are "always ready to talk to one of us" if needed. 

Lakeview Health really seems to shine in its additional amenities and activities which fill out the schedule. The facility boasts an on-site gym, a pool, fitness classes, periodic equine therapy and even surf lessons down at the beach. Others mentioned “great instructors and trainers who were engaged and provided a lot of motivation.” Still, one caveat is that some of the more in-demand activities might not be accessible to all clients. “Only those with ‘green’ status could surf or go to equestrian therapy,” one client reported. "Green" status is given to patients who participate in Lakeview's IOP, the lowest level of care that includes individuals toward the end of treatment. These patients are in the process of transitioning to living life outside of treatment and are able to participate in the more experiential activities such as surf therapy and equine-assisted therapy.

One thing that sets Lakeview apart from other treatment programs is its commitment to "Gender Responsive Treatment." Unlike traditional treatment programs which assume that women and men respond in the same way to therapeutic modalities, Lakeview's individual treatment plans are "tailored to address addiction in a way that takes gender differences into account." Most women who enter treatment for substance use issues have experienced trauma; in these cases, specialized gender-specific treatment is especially important. 

The overall vibe at the facility was described as “professional.” “They were very serious about enforcing consequences,” an alum said. Though others backed up this sentiment, the consensus was that discipline was doled out fairly and with good reason. “I didn’t like the rules too much,” someone said, ”but got used to them and realized why they were in place.” Behavioral infractions mostly meant losing out on gym time or some of the more fun therapies, though one client who hid a cell phone in his room to talk to a secret girlfriend was reportedly released from Lakeview Health as a result.

Fitting in with the organization’s single-minded focus on recovery, access to cell phones and Internet is regulated and subject to therapist approval. TV time was also relatively limited, with a little bit of time here and there to watch in the evenings or between groups. Though this approach may be stricter than at some other places, no one polled seemed particularly upset about the rules—one alum even called the restrictions “a blessing.”

Above all, the clients mostly remembered the bonds they formed with their fellow residents and their therapy sessions. “[I] never met a group of guys who carried one another with such care and I will never forget that,” one alum said. As mentioned, others praised the “small primary groups that allowed [them] to build trust, become emotionally vulnerable and share deeply.” Almost everyone mentioned the focus on 12-step recovery as well, a point which may be worth stressing for those considering the facility. Religion was “not emphasized, but offered.”

Though the details varied, those polled overwhelmingly reported staying sober without too many bumps in the road—some for as long as four years at the time of this writing. “The fact that so many staff members are in recovery themselves is, in my opinion, a huge asset,” one alum said. While there were some minor criticisms—having more time for off-site meetings, for example—most clients seemed only to sing Lakeview Health’s praises. “Give the therapists a raise,” one alum said. “They deserve it for saving people’s lives!”

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