Solace Sabah

By The Fix staff 10/28/15

Solace Sabah has created what they call the Solace Flower Model, using Fusion Behavioral Therapies (CBT and REBT) along with other alternative therapies which encompass the Biological, Social, Spiritual and Psychological aspects of treatment.

Solace Sabah
Location : Malaysia
Phone : 800-886-147
Price : $13,900 per month for a single room; $9,900 shared room; $5,900 for a quad room; $2,000 - $3,000 for withdrawal management
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : Yes
Detox : Yes

Located in the beautiful city of Kota Kinabalu, on the tropical island of Borneo, the capital of the state of Salah, Malaysia, Solace Sabah is a rehab that offers luxury accommodations, a holistic approach to treatment and plenty of activities to help rehabilitate addicts, all in a beautiful, tropical setting. They specialize in helping those with alcohol, drug, food, gambling and sex disorders.

At Solace Sabah, they don’t believe in harsh treatment, or “humiliating patients with punitive treatment.” “This is a shame and pain-based disease,” their website informs, “bringing more shame and pain to the situation will not help.” For this reason, a big part of recovery at Solace Sabah is fun physical activity, such as zip lining, rock climbing, paragliding, jungle trekking, parasailing, horse riding, jet skiing, fishing and trips to local places like the Butterfly Sanctuary or Kinabalu Park in an attempt to return to normal a patient’s pleasure system. They believe that the addict has an inability to correctly perceive pleasure, so rehab should include pleasure rehab – learning to derive normal pleasure from normal things.

But there’s therapy and program at Solace Sabah as well. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty much all day, every day. Solace Sabah uses the Biopsychosocialspiritual model of treatment, which is pretty much what it sounds like. They have created what they call the Solace Flower Model, using Fusion Behavioral Therapies (CBT and REBT) along with other alternative therapies which encompass the Biological, Social, Spiritual and Psychological aspects of treatment.

Most respondents to our survey of alumni said the things that mattered most to them were accommodations quality, privacy and treatment quality. As far as the non-medical treatment (therapy, 12-step program, therapeutic exercises), most former clients rated it as excellent. Seems different patients got the most out of different types of treatment. “The group sessions are the best even though I dread it. It brings out the true colors of a person,” said one patient. Another felt “12 step program really had a big impact on my recovery.” One former resident felt that “[t]he programme was well mixed with scientific approaches and the spiritual concepts with the 12 step model. There were alternative therapies as well to make the experience all holistic.”

Religion is not required, though it is available as part of a program: “Religion wasn’t emphasized, but spirituality was,” one former resident reported. Another alum said that “Counselors are spiritual and religion doesn’t play up, although there is a program for the Muslim folks.” One former client did tell us that his “counselor did instill religion to be part of my recovery process.” So, it seems, as with most therapy, this area is individually tailored to a client’s needs and desires.

There is non-medical treatment at this rehab as well, of course. There is an MD on staff and addiction certified nurses on call 24/7. The non-medical treatment was rated as average to excellent by all of the alumni we surveyed. “Doctors were consultants and were excellent. Qualified and trained in addiction treatment,” one said. Their counselors are certified substance abuse therapists, level II. Peer support staff are level I certified. They are all certified by the Asian Pacific Certification Board.

The average stay is 28-90 days and there is also an outpatient option as well, if circumstances warrant. While there you can stay in one of three residences. There is the Solace Prime, with single rooms; the Solace Sharing, which is a two-person room; or Solace Quad, which is up to a four person room, with or without bunk beds. Pricing varies depending on which program is chosen. All come with Family Education and post-discharge 18 month aftercare programs. Staff to patient ratio ranges from 1:3 to 1:1, depending, again, on which residence you are in. There are generally 18-20 residents at a time, a mix of ages, backgrounds and gender, summed up by this alumnus who said that while he was there his co-residents were “mixed, between 25-40, one lesbian. I don’t know their income, but there was a lawyer, a pilot, business owners and politicians. German, Aussies, Malaysians and Singaporeans were here. I am an American.”

Daily life at Solace Sabah is pretty full for residents, but there is also plenty of fun and fulfillment on the weekends. There are no chores or jobs to take away from the positive experience here. A recent resident who had a solo room described his day thusly, “No roommates. Program schedule for most of the day. Massages, island trips, hiking, badminton, futsal, step work, interpersonal groups and laptop time were all things that stood out.” Another said, “No chores or jobs – we were told only to focus on ourselves in the time we had here.” Daily life is “very structured, revolving around activities related to recovery and the program,” said another.

Most residents surveyed gave high ratings to the accommodations at Solace Sabah. Same goes for the food. Meals are served buffet style, and they are “a good blend from local to international food selections,” one former resident said, but warned, “Snacks I bought were being kept as a precaution not to switch addiction to eating.” Some of the favorites on the menu were black pepper lamb, chicken satay and “Gordon Blue Chicken.” But, look out because you might not like the vegetable lasagna or the Oxtail soup, one resident warned. Additionally, "They have a nice buffet for each meal, but sometimes it runs out." Also, if you plan on eating your way through treatment, you might want to go somewhere else as former patients all reported that “the trainers, support coaches and chefs had meetings to discuss nutrition and diet for each one of us,” and “We were watched over as to not over eat.”

Former residents did complain about not being able to use their personal laptops or cell phones for the first week or two. This made doing any work impossible for some of them. Also, your mobile or laptop might be taken away if misused. Generally any rule infractions were discussed, “and the group was asked to decide on the consequences of the action,” a former client said. This might include being prohibited from participating in an outing. Also, "Clients were invited, but not forced to take part in all activities. One client was not interested in treatment and was moved into a hotel for his last few days." One suggestion for improvement was that residents be given more time to do the workbook.

Former patients surveyed by us seem to be doing well back at home and in their new-found recovery lives. As one put it, “I have been able to cope and also use the techniques taught at Solace as without the techniques, I would have over and over again relapsed and lost my focus in life.”

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