Sunshine Coast Health Centre

By The Fix staff 07/23/17

This non-12-step men's facility in Canada offers individualized and comprehensive addiction treatment which leads to personal transformation. The goal is men "who are inspired to live with a renewed sense of vitality and purpose."

Sunshine Coast Health Centre
Location : Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
Phone : (866) 487-9010
Price : $885 per day; $26,550 per 30 days. Price is in Canadian dollars. See website for other pricing.
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : No
Detox : Yes

"We help you to uncover your passion for living again" claims the website for Sunshine Coast Health Centre, a private alcohol and drug treatment facility for men located near Vancouver, Canada (Powell River). This non-12-step program offers several levels of care: long-term inpatient and outpatient treatment, onsite withdrawal management (detox), extended care after primary treatment, and alumni services. There is an occupational trauma program offered as well.

When Sunshine Coast opened in 2004, they were a 12-step facility. But the owners started noticing "too many clients were not being treated with the respect they deserved and that 12-step treatment was not backed by psychological or evidence-based research." So, in 2008 they replaced the 12-step focus with Meaning Centered Therapy (MCT). At the core of MCT is the idea that "individuals need to make sense of their lives and pursue a personally meaningful existence." Sunshine Coast provides a combination of both group and individual counseling to its clients, with a guaranteed 1-on-1 session with a clinical practitioner.

Other modalities, including art, EMDR, hypnotherapy, and relaxation therapy are offered, as well as amenities such as a fully-equipped fitness center, and off-site recreation like beach trips, hiking and trail walks, bowling, biking, and kayaking. When asked about these amenities, one former resident said, "There was a great assortment of different activities for both physical and mental health. A good gym, pool, massage, yoga, and a different daily activity for an outing....All the activity staff are well-trained and help with everyone's different level of fitness and age as well as strive to assist in making your own personal gains." However, "Would have been nice to have equestrian therapy there." 

A Family and Couples Weekend is offered once a month and counseling just for partners or spouses takes place during that time. While the residents are all male, there is variety in other areas: "My fellow residents ranged in ages from 19 to 60-plus, a great number military (and ex) members seeking co-treatment for PTSD," a former client told us. Another said, "A diverse group of clients that all share a common goal to become healthy and sober." Most of the men we surveyed said they came to Sunshine Coast due to an alcohol problem, and when choosing a treatment facility, the quality of treatment and the fact that it was men only were the biggest influencing factors. And some came here because they did not want a 12-step-based program.

Overall most former clients surveyed liked the accommodations at Sunshine Coast. This is a 36-bed facility with an 8-bed medical unit. Residents have private rooms. There are no rough chores, other than cleaning up after yourself and being respectful of others around you. "For jobs and chores it was on a respect-your-fellow-clients basis, so clean up after yourself. Help when something needed to be done. The biggest job and chore that they wanted to see was [for you] to focus on finding yourself and working on the positive choices and changes I wanted to make in my new life and future," one alum said.

The food at Sunshine Coast was a big hit. Typical comments from former patients were: "The meals were very healthy with a great selection and different choices day to day. The cooking staff was accommodating and helpful with any suggestions and needs. Coffee and snacks were readily available all the time," and "It felt like I was treated to a buffet everyday, with food available 24/7." "[There was] always a healthy option if you had the discipline to load up on good veggies, salads and meats. You could always eat poorly if that was your choice."

When asked about rule infractions, former clients told us "disrespect for fellow clients and staff was not tolerated. There were verbal warnings to immediate removal off the premises." Another said they "seemed to have a progressive discipline style when dealing with major infractions up to and including expulsion, which did occur to residents during my stay." Someone else recalled that "They kicked someone out for poor attitude."

Sunshine Coast is very permissive with phone and internet and TV use: "You were allowed all the time you need. It was up to the resident to set personal schedule." The clinical and medical teams at Sunshine Coast will meet with a client if they notice an unusually high level of internet and TV use.

Medical and psychiatric services are offered in addition to therapy. "There were doctors and nurses and they all worked to assist in every way to help. They were all incredibly helpful in every aspect you could ask for," said one former resident. Another alum found an unexpected benefit: "Having access to a doctor allowed discreet conversations, and issues I may not have discussed with my personal doctor were brought forth."

The treatment at Sunshine Coast was rated highly. "It was not 12-step based. It focused on your new meaning and purpose in life and helping find what led to being there and how to change thought patterns to a positive approach." "Having seen failure with the religious 12-step program myself, SCHC offered fresh and realistic perspective and un-generic outlook for my recovery.” Alumni appreciated that the treatment "focus[ed] on underlying psychological issues that lead to addiction."

Do they practice tough love or adopt a more permissive approach here? "The treatment wasn't strict or forceful," one man told us. "You were treated like a responsible adult and encouraged to take advantage of all therapy available." "There were times when tough love was needed to bring you back to reality, but mostly permissive to help you find out who you are and how do you fit in this world. Letting you be the driver of your own bus," another ex-resident said.

Religion was not emphasized. "It was available, but not forced," a former client said. "Everyone had their own choice in what they believed and didn't believe. There was no forcing or trying to convert people." However, another alum had a different experience: "My counselor was definitely religious and talked too much about it. There were a couple of born-again types as counselors and I would prefer them keep it to themselves."

Most of the people we surveyed report staying sober since leaving Sunshine Coast: "I feel I am finding my new way of life one day at a time and starting to focus on the little positive steps and choices as well as seeing my successes that I have been making, big and small." And almost everyone had fond memories of their experience and the program at Sunshine Coast. "It was a great place to find yourself. Lots of camaraderie, good life skills taught, good friends made. The all-male environment took away any possible relationship pressure," one said. And another expressed gratitude: "I can't thank the staff enough for their commitment to helping and assisting in changing my perspective on life. From the owner to the doctors, nurses, counselors, cooks, day and night staff and all the great-hearted people there. Thank you!"

This review was updated in January 2020 to include current program descriptions and other details provided by the facility. 
Updated October 2021 for pricing and accommodations.

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