SOBA College Recovery

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By The Fix staff 03/13/18

Alumni have high praise for this this New Jersey program which offers customized treatment plans and holistic care to its college-aged clientele. Residents leave with a commitment to their recovery and the skills to maintain it.

Young people relaxing on the front steps of SOBA
Location : New Brunswick, NJ
Phone : 866-713-0213
Price : $10,500/month Most insurance accepted.
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : Yes
Detox : No

Located just steps from the Rutgers University campus, SOBA College Recovery in New Jersey is a unique residential treatment facility geared toward college-aged students. Founded by real-estate mogul Philip Chasin and Recovery Today publisher Greg Hannley, the program offers a comfortable, 80-bed sober living environment along with an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Treatment isn’t one-size-fits-all at SOBA, as specialists work with each client to develop an individualized treatment plan that fits their specific needs.

SOBA College Recovery features an innovative three-phase program that helps guide its clients to successful long-term sobriety. In the first phase, clients attend group and individual therapy sessions, which employ such evidence-based approaches as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy). SOBA’s second phase is focused on life planning and one-on-one coaching. The final phase is dedicated to transitioning to the “real world,” through clinical therapy and employment training, which means adjusting to the responsibilities and realities of life outside the walls of the facility.

Residents are all young adults (18-30), with each person sharing a room with someone else at the exact same point in their recovery program. “The majority of residents are seeking to start, repair or further their education and/or work experience,” one client noted. “[The program] is a tight-knit, supportive community of young individuals seeking a better way of life.” Other former clients described their peers as “diverse,” “friendly,” “respectful” and “serious about recovery and getting well.” One person simply referred to SOBA’s population as “young people that want to get their lives back on track.”

SOBA has a full-service, cafeteria-style dining hall (open 24 hours), complete with many “healthy home-cooked meals.” Alumni praised Soba’s sensitivity to “health and dietary needs” and described the selection as “Equivalent to a good college dining hall.” One client described most of the options as “comfort food,” with the facility’s “Taco Tuesday” being a particular favorite among the residents. Additionally, every room is equipped with its own kitchen, allowing clients to do their own grocery shopping and meal preparation. Snacks are “always available,” along with “unlimited” coffee and tea for residents.

The accommodations at SOBA College Recovery were highly rated, with residents sharing “high-end” two-room apartments. Unlike many treatment facilities, there are no required daily chores at SOBA. That said, many of the alumni commented on how this allowed them to take on part-time jobs or focus on other endeavors outside of the facility. “Daily life is what you make of it,” one former resident said. “You have the freedom to pursue just about anything you want—whether it be school, work, volunteering, etc.” Another alum noted that as the three-part program progresses, more time becomes available to residents. “Groups take up a lot of time but as you step down there’s time for work and school,” they said. In all, residents were generally pleased with the daily routines at the facility, which involve three scheduled meal times interspersed with group and individual meetings.

Alumni reported that the facility’s rules were easily understood by its clients as well as fairly enforced by its staff. Whenever rules were broken, the staff would “get us to focus on big picture successes and not dwell on daily small infractions,” one client said. Another alum claimed that the staff “gave second chances and really tried to figure out why people were acting out and try to help them.” Good behavior is rewarded at SOBA College Recovery through “levels” of privileges. On the other hand, the staff is quick to take action if rules are broken by systematically taking away certain freedoms (“Your level was dropped and you lose privileges [which makes] your curfew earlier”). While most felt the rules were consistent and appropriate, one former client felt that “a stricter model would have helped me” and “They need stricter housing rules with fraternization. More tough love treatment is needed there.”

SOBA College Recovery offers a fair number of amenities and extra resources. Virtually all of the alumni who took our survey praised the quality of the facility’s gym and pool. “We had a lot available to us,” one former client said, noting a large fitness center that included a steam room, hot tub, sauna, and a wide variety of exercise machines. The program also offers personal trainers and nutritionists to its clients. Yoga and meditation classes are available, which are “designed to work with the addict lifestyle and repair the nervous system,” according to one former resident. Weekend outings are also offered through the program, ranging from outdoor hikes to beach trips to city visits. There are no restrictions on phone use at SOBA “after the first week or so,” though one client cautioned that you can use your phone “as much as you want unless it becomes an issue and gets in the way of your recovery.”

Alumni were generally positive about the medical attention they received, noting that there is only one in-house psychiatrist: “He was well-equipped to handle myriad medical issues and prescribed any needed medications.” Clients, however, mostly see outside doctors and counselors who “are great if you’re honest with them.” Another alum said that “whenever I needed advice, the staff was always there for me, helping me out with whatever I needed.” In fact, between the psychiatrist and the doctors they interacted with, one person summed up their gratitude: “They saved me.”

The facility’s non-medical aspects were also praised by alumni, with the program primarily based on the 12-step recovery model. More than anything, former clients appreciated the “amazing friends” they met and the sober connections they all forged inside the program. According to former residents, the staff tended to be permissive in their treatment, though many indicated that the approach depends on the individual. “For me it was permissive but I was always respectful and followed the rules,” one person said, although another said “I imagine for others there was more tough love involved.”

Perhaps the best evidence of the facility’s efficacy is the fact that everyone who took our survey has remained sober since leaving treatment. Some residents reported several months while others said they’ve been sober well over a year. “SOBA gave me ALL the tools!” one alumnus said. “I have stayed away from my addictions and have come to develop a great life full of responsibility and adventure,” another said. Overall, many former residents echoed one another, describing the program as life-saving, “great,” “the best” and an “amazing experience.” If nothing else, it’s clear that people don’t simply graduate from SOBA College Recovery, they graduate to the next chapter of their life.

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