Tallgrass Recovery

By The Fix staff 02/19/17

Staff at this 12-step program is made up of people in recovery and is supplemented by roughly 200 volunteers from the community who mentor clients and share their experience, strength and hope.

Location : Sioux Falls, SD
Phone : 877-737-6237
Price : $7,500 per month; Accepts Sanford Health Plans and limited Avera Health Plans
Overall :
Accommodations :
Treatment :
Food :
Insurance : Yes
Detox : No

Located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Tallgrass Recovery is a moderately-priced, 14-bed, 12-step based coed treatment center on a beautiful 10-acre property. The not-for-profit residential treatment program is approximately 30 days, but there are sober living home options for help with transitioning into the sober community after treatment.

The staff at Tallgrass is made up of people in recovery and is supplemented by roughly 150 volunteers from the community who help support those in early recovery by sharing their experience, strength and hope. The program is 12-step and mentor-focused, with specific sessions each day devoted to inventory, reflection and meditation, and outside AA meetings.

Tallgrass participates in an annual Recovery Art Show, which “strives to reduce stigma, educate the public, and provide an outlet for community members to express their experiences with addiction.” The art show ends with an auction to raise funds for Tallgrass scholarships.

Accommodations are more or less dorm style with roommates and assigned chores. Guests, as residents are called, are separated by gender, with males on one floor and females on another. So, if you want a luxury rehab with a private room, private masseuse, no chores…this isn’t the place for you. But the chores here aren't too demanding, and they serve a useful purpose: “We had some chores to do each day, but they were not hard nor time consuming. On Saturdays it took less than an hour for everybody to pitch in and do chores to maintain our living spaces and public space. It taught us to work together and to be responsible,” said one former guest.

People go to Tallgrass for all different addiction problems: “I got a second DUI, lost my job, and was facing eviction from my apartment,” a recent alumnus told us. Another said, “I’m an opiate addict,” and still another came because “my wife left me and took the kids.” All of them came for Tallgrass’ 30 day, 12-step immersion program.

Most former residents of Tallgrass told us that their main objective in choosing a rehab was treatment quality. Specifically, “I did not want a hospital-type atmosphere,” one told us, and another wanted “individual one-on-one ability to talk to staff, available whenever you needed to talk or needed something.” Almost everyone who took our survey rated their experience at Tallgrass as good to excellent.

Residents are as varied as they are in the outside world. “There was quite a diverse group of individuals there when I was there. I think it helped me to get outside myself and learn to co-exist with all kinds of people from different ways of life,” said one recent guest. Another described her experience this way, “I had no idea what to expect. Residents were of varying age, 21- 50ish. There were no more than 10-12 of us, male and female, with the males in the downstairs quarters and the females upstairs….Income was all over the board, from poverty level to fiscally secure folks….They were all welcoming and awesome.”

Many respondents to our survey were very happy with the quality, variety and availability of meals and snacks, giving high praise for the food at Tallgrass with comments like “Freaking awesome," and “Snacks available at all times. Food was high in calories, but salad and lighter options were available at every meal. They always had fresh fruit and veggies." One resident even noted: ”I was extremely impressed by the dedication, thought and love that went into making sure the guests were well-fed and comfortable." However, some guests were less than thrilled, describing the food as “cafeteria,” and stating that they “need more healthy choices. A lot of carbs, starch and sugar.”

Some of the favorites on the menu are the pizza and the “cloggers,” which are bacon-wrapped little smokies and presumably so-named because they clog your arteries upon consumption. The Sunday brunch was also praised: “My favorite is the Sunday brunch where we have a huge selection of breakfast food: egg bake, pancakes, toast, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, hashed browns, etc. to pick from….I always looked forward to it.” But one alumnus warned us about “something called a Cuban sandwich. It was horrendous."

Tallgrass is not big on amenities. As noted, this is a 10-acre property, so there is plenty of room and time for beautiful walks. However, if you are there in the winter, it may be rough. “I used to walk the grounds a lot. It was the dead of winter in South Dakota. Cold. Miserable. Matched my soul,” a reflective former resident stated. But another raved that “There is a fitness room, AA meetings off campus, basketball, bean bags, and walking on the beautiful campus!”

Access to phones, internet and TV is limited or non-existent, even for work: “No tv or internet or cell phones at all. I agree with this requirement because we spent all our time totally trying to learn about addiction recovery.” There are pay phones available for limited use during free time: “Phone calls with phone cards. No internet. No media. No work. Saddam Hussein died when I was there. Never would have known."

The program at Tallgrass is a mix of both strict and permissive, but fair, say guests. “Some tough love at times when they needed to get their point across but mostly it was gentle talking, lots of hugs and recognizing when somebody needed a “one on one” just to vent, talk, cry or address their fears and concerns.” Another added that “They were not easy on us, but we could always tell that the steps the counselors were taking to help us were taken out of love, never mean spirited or malicious.” And “The staff would set the rules up front so we knew what the expectation was going in." Residents might be reprimanded for breaking rules, or even sent home, depending on attitude and degree of rule infraction.

The daily schedule is full of recovery work, fellowship, recreation, and meetings: "On the weekdays we would have meetings throughout the day and have chores throughout the week to share with other guests. We all switched off and helped each other. In between meetings we would have down time to relax and work on step work, fellowship, go on a walk, other recreational activities, talk to staff, smoke, etc. It was very well-balanced and kept all the guests engaged...3 days a week the staff would escort us off campus to an AA meeting outside of treatment, which was a great way to get involved in the AA community and learn what recovery looked like outside of treatment."

Tallgrass is not a medical facility, so there are no doctors or nurses onsite. However, they will bring you to the doctor or hospital if needed, of course. The 12-step treatment program is loved and respected by former residents. In addition to the outside meetings, there are AA-type step studies and AA Book studies as part of the daily routine. Since it is 12-step based, naturally there is talk of God and religion. But AA does not demand you believe in any particular God or Religion, and neither does Tallgrass. As a former guest told us, “No religion was emphasized, religion was what you wanted it to be. You just had to believe in a ‘power greater than yourself’ and only you could define what that meant to you. No religion was forced on anybody.”

After the 30-day program, if one still wants to live in a recovery-based environment, Tallgrass offers the Norton women’s sober living home or the Doodler men’s sober living home.

When looking back on their experiences at Tallgrass, former guests we talked to had nothing but positive things to say about it. “My most memorable aspect of treatment was working one-on-one with the staff. They spent a lot of hours sharing their experience, strength and hope with me….Not only did Tallgrass save my life, but it gave me a second chance to recreate my life in a happy and healthy way…” one told us. Another put it this way, “The staff is amazing. From the head of Tallgrass, down to the cooks and the maintenance man and the bus drivers, they all played a part in the program to help us get sober. They all understood because they had been through it and were in recovery themselves. I didn’t have a problem talking to them like they were my best friends.” And finally, “I would take my experience at Tallgrass over any of the large volume rehabs any day. One on one care and compassion. All counselors available to residents at any time, none of them distracted by trying to "be perfect," or make it to the top of some list somewhere on the internet. Just good people doing good things."

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