Recovery Unplugged

By The Fix staff 04/29/17

This unique program uses music to help patients articulate their emotions and overcome psychological obstacles. In addition, they incorporate full psychiatric assessment and treatment of medical conditions related to substance use.

Location : Fort Lauderdale, FL and Austin, TX
Phone : (954) 703-1975
Price : $25,000/ 30 days at Ft. Lauderdale, FL; $30,000/ 30 days at Austin, TX
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : Yes
Detox : Yes

"Music calms the savage beast” and addiction can be some kind of beast. Recovery Unplugged, with its music-based treatment, offers a unique approach to recovery. Staff is comprised of addiction care professionals and professional songwriters and musicians. While they use a variety of treatment modalities and offer different levels of care at their two locations, there is one constant: learning to express oneself through writing songs and performance is beneficial to recovery and helps patients to articulate their emotions. You need not be a professional musician, or even a proficient amateur to get help here. All levels of musician, and even non-musicians, are welcome. The aim is to provide a well-rounded recovery experience incorporating a technique they developed called musical medicine.

According to our survey, the clientele is varied: there was a "good mix of men and women, age ranging from 18 to early 40s. Mix of gay and straight and all creeds," a recent graduate told us. And a "Very diverse group of mostly young, under 30, men and women." But all come for the same underlying reason: they want to get better. "I had relapsed for the hundredth time and needed help.”

Most alumni who took our survey chose treatment quality as the most important factor in choosing a facility. Others rated good accommodations as important and some prioritized going somewhere where smoking was allowed.

The Austin, Texas location is a full inpatient facility, with medically supervised detox available. There are fully appointed residences with semi-private rooms, flat screen TVs, a fitness center, landscaped grounds and a recording studio. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, location, which has resort-style residences close to the beach, has three levels of care: PHP (partial hospitalization), IOP (Intensive Outpatient) and Outpatient. Patients are chauffeured from the residence to treatment each day. Both locations incorporate music as a form of therapy, including songwriting, creating music, and recording. Music taps into a primitive part of the brain, often triggering otherwise hard-to-access emotions. The creative process has clinical benefits and Recovery Unplugged has found that when “people join in the creative process of making music, they tap into a very personal and emotional space. Tapping into this creates a therapeutic and emotional release that is unique to the creative process, and can often probe far deeper than traditional talk therapy.” Other evidence-based therapies are also used, including group and one-to-one therapy.

Our survey responses were mostly positive when it came to food. One resident said that the food was "healthy and well prepared. We had a chef at the Austin, TX location. There was a large selection of snacks that were available whenever we wanted." Another person commented: "It was all great."  

Most former residents gave high praise to the accommodations, remembering their experience fondly: “I had roommates. It was great to not be alone in my own mind. And shared chores. And the staff was great.” Regarding a typical day: "Typically days were spent at the center - classes, counseling, groups, etc. Later afternoon and evenings [were] spent at residence, including going to outside 12 step meetings. Some fun activities [were] available on weekends. Yes, I had roommates. Everyone got along well in the room I had. The main chore we had was to keep our areas neat and clean, which is good!" Another reported: "I did have roommates. We went to the center and did treatment groups, music groups, lunch, and therapy, and on the weekends we went on outings."

There are plenty of amenities at Recovery Unplugged: "We went to the gym a couple of times a week. We had a swimming pool where we lived so we could go whenever we weren't in groups or going to meetings." What other kind of amenities were available? "Gym, yoga, massage, pool, nutrition classes, movies, Everglades airboat rides, laser tag," said one client. “Yoga, meditation, art” were also mentioned, and Ft. Lauderdale residents said they went to the beach on weekends.

There's TV available during free time, but not internet. Also, "we could use a house phone in the late afternoons and evenings. No cell phones were permitted. We could watch TV at the residence." If you break a rule, however, you could experience "loss of privileges. Phone time, tv and such." Most people thought the staff handled infractions fairly and characterized the program as being fairly permissive: "It was not a strict environment at all.” Another client said "I wouldn't call it strict or permissive. Obviously there are rules, guidelines, and a schedule which needs to be followed in an addiction treatment setting.”

Doctors or nurses are either at the center or "available or on call at all times." They were described by several residents as “very helpful.” Others said they were “knowledgeable,” “great,” and “not very friendly but helpful.”

Most former patients rated the therapeutic, non-medical treatment at Recovery Unplugged positively: "The emphasis on music and how it can relate to treatment was very helpful, except for rap. I found the discussions we had in group sessions to be helpful. Twelve-step based programs outside of the treatment program I believe was encouraged." And, "The program was based on the…principles behind the twelve steps and broken down in a way that everyone could vibe" One told us the program was "primarily 12-step based, which was wonderful. I enjoyed the people I was in treatment with. The staff was wonderful." Religion is not emphasized: "It was encouraged to find a spiritual guidance of some sort if you will, but never, ever was religion pushed on anyone.” But in the end, what was the most memorable part of treatment? “Music,” “Music was a huge factor,” “music sessions were great,” “music therapy,” “Open Mic” and “music group Tuesday and Friday.”

When reflecting on their experience at Recovery Unplugged, there were a few suggestions such as "offer instrument lessons," which sounds like constructive criticism, but most were very grateful for their time there: "Best treatment center I've been to and I've been to over 10," said one client. "My experience at Recovery Unplugged saved my life and I am thankful for the whole team, from the owners to the techs that run day to day operations and put up with our early recovery mood swings," said another. Finally, heed this warning from a satisfied client: "Overall my experience at R.U. was extremely good! I would especially recommend it to someone who's been to treatment before and thinks the music approach might be helpful. If you're from the rock n roll generation, however, be prepared for [a lot of] of rap music for the kids." Peace out.

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