What is the best treatment for alcohol addiction?

The Most Important Question for Alcohol Addiction

The most important question when you are dealing with alcohol addiction is: What is the best treatment for alcohol addiction?

The oldest treatment for alcoholism came in the way of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA, as is usually known, is a fellowship of alcoholics dedicated to the mission of helping other alcoholics to regain their lives through sobriety. People who suffer from alcoholism are welcomed to these fellowship meetings, where they are given support by people that have attained sobriety and will guide them through a system composed of attending meetings and working on tasks, like reading, writing about oneself, and mastering the 12 principles of AA, which are listed in a numbered list known as the “12 Steps”. This is offered for free since AA is not composed of professionals, but of sober alcoholics that offer their time and help voluntarily.

After AA, treatment for alcoholism began to be offered by professional treatment centers. Today there are over 14,000 of these centers in the U.S. This is both fortunate and unfortunate. It’s fortunate because, in theory, they offer many sources of help to people suffering from alcohol addiction and all chemical dependency problems. On the other hand, it is unfortunate because many addiction treatment centers, or “rehabs” as they are popularly called, have been created for the sole purpose of making profits by exploiting people who suffer from alcoholism and drugs addiction when they are the most vulnerable, and offering them mediocre treatment, or no treatment at all.

Instead of delivering the best-proven care, many addiction treatment centers attract people suffering from alcohol addiction, and drug addiction, with amenities and marketing, and fail to deliver the care that they need. So, how would someone know what the best care for alcohol addiction (alcoholism) and drug addiction is?

The best care for alcohol addiction.

  1. An addiction treatment center that is owned and operated by healthcare professionals with experience in addictions—not a business entity, business people, and least of all treatment hustlers who profit from human suffering.
  2. An addiction treatment center that has a designed and focused program of treatment that Incorporates medicine, psychology, physical fitness, mental fitness, emotional fitness, and spirituality, in one comprehensive and focused approach—not an erratic collection of interventions and attractions patched together without rhyme or reason, because they are fashionable or fun.
  3. An addiction treatment center that has a treatment system that develops living skills that lead to self-sufficiency, independence, and self-reliance. Treatment that results in a successful return to work, careers, education, and family life.
  4. An addiction treatment center that gives people the opportunity to learn and experience the skills that they need to stay sober in the middle of real life, not isolated and separated from the reality that they will have to live in after treatment.
  5. An addiction treatment center that is designed to get sober while you continue to be engaged in your life. In real life, people need to be able to continue to work while in treatment to protect their employment and professions.
  6. An addiction treatment center that understands that people that need treatment still have demands and responsibilities to their work and their families.
  7. An addiction treatment center that offers tailored treatment programs that combine intensive outpatient treatment, with or without housing, during day or night, continues to offer the opportunity to come to groups for support after the initial treatment is over—forever.
  8. An addiction treatment center that has developed a system of treatment that can break down the barriers that keep people from getting the treatment that they need, even when they have received mediocre previous treatment that didn’t work.
  9. Finally, and most importantly, the best alcohol and drug treatment addiction center has to have a treatment system that goes beyond drug treatment, and unleashes the human potential of the person treated, freeing them to attain strength, power, and vitality, not just be sober “dry drunk”.
Heroes of Outpatient Rehab

Heroes of Outpatient Rehab

Five years ago I founded a treatment center named Adaptive Center. Actually, it’s not a “rehab”, it’s a Human Potential Center that specializes in treating addiction. However, that’s not the subject of this post. The subject of this post is that working in all kinds outpatient rehab centers for the past 25 years I have met cowards and sheep; Heroes and Eagles. Today I want to say something about the Heroes.

I have met Cowards and Sheep; Heroes and Eagles.

In the addiction rehab world, there are different kinds of programs. “Residential” (where people live and go to treatment), Partial Hospitalization (where people come to treatment all day), Intensive Outpatient (where people come to treatment several times per week), and Outpatient (where people usually come 1 to 3 times per week for treatment). In this writing, “Outpatient” means any treatment that is not Residential.

People who come to Outpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment are facing struggles that the average person cannot even imagine, so I will try to put it in perspective. Imagine that you have not eaten for 3 days. Also, imagine that you have to manage your hunger as you work, take care of all of your daily chores and responsibilities, study, attend to family and friends, etc. Imagine that you have to abstain from eating, and fight the urgings of your own body and mind, in a world that is filled with delicious food that is being advertised in attractive ways all around you, that wherever you go you are surrounded by restaurants of all kinds. Also imagine that, if you yield to your hunger and eat, you will loose your loved one’s, family, work, career, your freedom, and possibly your life. Now imagine that, for the sake of protecting these beloved things, you put yourself through the battle of making it through the day, one day at a time, without giving in to your hunger. How would you describe yourself? Would the word Hero apply?

The people that I work with in my center are facing a challenge like this. They are not protected by the walls of an institution that keep them sheltered from the reality of a culture where alcohol is everywhere, glamorized and part of most social interactions. Neither are they protected by the isolation and pampering of a rich Spa, disguised as a residential alcohol addiction rehab. No, the people that I work with fight to preserve their work, their families, their careers and their freedom by facing themselves and their addiction in an act of defiance and heroism that transforms them every day into the people that they have the potential to become. Again, what would you call them?

Adaptive Center, the “David” in the Addiction Treatment Field, Goes up Against the Giants

MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Adaptive Center, a Miami-based addiction treatment center, was notified that it has earned the Gold Seal of Approval®for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation by The Joint Commission, the agency that accredits the best hospitals in the world. The Gold Seal of Approval® is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s capacity to provide safe and effective care.

“We commend Adaptive Center for its efforts to elevate the standard of care it provides and to instill confidence in the community it serves.”
– Tracy Griffin Collander
LCSW Joint Commission representative

“We see this recognition of excellence as a reward and a weapon,” says Juan Lesende, Adaptive Center’s founder. “We want people looking for treatment to have a clear sign that can guide them to good treatment, and away from the scam artists that have populated our field. The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal is such a sign.”

Adaptive Center is probably one of the smallest treatment centers in the healthcare field: it services only 12 clients at a time. And yet is going against big treatment centers, fueled by money, from big business and individuals attracted to possible big profits.

“Almost any other treatment center in the field has more capital and a lot more beds than us,” says Lesende. “This provides them the opportunity to invest fortunes in advertising, and buy control of internet searches, to attract people into centers that deliver mediocre treatment. All we have to fight against this hijacking of information is excellence in treatment. That is why the accreditation from the Joint Commission is so significant to us.” Further proving this point is the comment by the Joint Commission representative, Tracy Griffin Collander, LCSW, who wrote in her report, “We commend Adaptive Center for its efforts to elevate the standard of care it provides and to instill confidence in the community it serves.” Lesende continues, “Ms. Griffin stated our mission perfectly. We will continue to fight for standards of care with the Giants in the industry, no matter the odds.”

About Adaptive Center: Adaptive Center is a JCAHO Accredited addiction treatment center in Miami, Florida. It is one of the smallest, yet most effective centers of its kind, treating less than 12 clients at a time. Adaptive Center is small by design – to provide the most intimate and effective treatment experience.

To learn more about Adaptive Center, call: (888) 925-0782.

Painkillers are not heroin but they lead to It

In Adaptive Center we treat a lot of opiate addiction. Painkillers and heroin belong to a family of drugs called opiates. Many of the painkillers that are prescribed for back pain, post surgery, and dental procedures are opiates, and close relatives of heroin.

In the last few years two factors have contributed to an epidemic of heroin addiction:

  • The cracking down of “Pill Mills” or “Pain Clinics”
  • The low price of heroin

Here’s what happened.

Opiates are very addictive. Many people that were prescribed opiates for chronic pain became addicted to them, and when doctors refused to continue to prescribe them, they found “Pain Clinics” in which by simply reporting symptoms of pain, and paying a fee, they could get prescriptions for any amount of opiate pills they wanted. These “Pain Clinics” became known as “Pill Mills”.

These Pill Mills spread like fire. In Florida, for example, they were so available, that drug dealers from other states would bring bus loads of people, line them up in front of these “Clinics,” and have each individual person get prescriptions that amounted to thousands of pills that the drug dealers would sell—illegally—back home.

As a result, many young people—and people medicating chronic pain—began buying these pills from the same drug dealers that had previously sold them marijuana and other “party drugs,” and became addicted to opiates very quickly.

The Cracking Down of Pill Mills

The existence of Pill Mills became so scandalous that law enforcement cracked down on their operators very hard. The majority of the Pill Mills were closed, and many of their operators faced legal consequences. However, these effective law enforcement measures cut the supply of pills to the drug dealers, and following the laws of supply and demand, as the supply of pills ran out, caused the price of pills to go up.

So, people addicted to opiates in pill form experienced the pain of withdrawing from them, and the pills harder to find. The drug dealers, however, had plenty of heroin.

The Low Price of Heroin

As the availability of opiate pills was going down, and their price kept going up, heroin was becoming cheaper. More and more heroin began to be manufactured in Mexico, instead of the old—and more distant—sources in the East and Europe. Mexican heroin was cheaper to make and easier to smuggle into the U.S. As a result, the supply of heroin sky-rocketed, and—again—according to the laws of supply and demand, the increasing amount of heroin made it cheaper.

The low price of heroin made it possible for people who were addicted to opiate pills to escape the pain of withdrawal by medicating them with heroin: it was cheap, and the drug dealers had a lot of it. Unfortunately, by reaching out to heroin as medication for opiate withdrawals, opiate addicts discovered what one of my clients described as “the King of the Opiates.” And the story that followed is tragic.

Here is the tragic story of the descent into Heroin addiction, as told to me by the majority of heroin addicts that I have known: First they began using heroin as a substitute for opiate pills that had become too expensive and too hard to find. Usually, they started by snorting it, in the same way that cocaine is used. However, soon they found that they needed to constantly buy more in order to escape “getting sick”: the withdrawal symptoms that follow the drug use. During their use, they met a more experienced user who taught them that if they injected the heroin it would be more potent and the effect would last longer—and eventually—even those that had been “horrified,” “disgusted,” and had looked down on people that injected heroin as “junkies,” tried it. And when they did, they report, that life as they had known it ended.

They report that life became an endless seeking of heroin—using—and seeking again. They became unstoppable and ruthless in their seeking—and they were stopped only by profound despair, death, or treatment.

Today this story is being lived by millions of people from all races, ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic status. While you were reading this article many died, and many want to stop because they can’t stand the despair of living for the sake of a drug, and many of those are looking for treatment to be able to stop and stay stopped. And it all began with Pills. They are not Heroin, but they led to it.

It’s our hope that this information may be of help to you and your loved ones, and that it may empower you and those you care about to avoid the trap of Opiate/Heroin addiction. If you think that we may be of even further help, call us.

4 Reasons to go to Treatment during the Holidays


The Holidays are a time of great personal expectations. Your family has high hopes of having the stereotypical happy and joyful Holiday events. Family members that otherwise live separate lives come to visit. The stage is set for your addiction to do great damage to the relationships with your family. What could be forgiven by your family in private, and in the course of everyday life, may be too much to bear in front of others. The damage that you cause may be irreparable.


The Holidays are a time in which many people feel lonely and depressed. These emotional states can cause you to seek the relief of drugs and alcohol, and since they are so plentiful during this time, they can take you to dangerous extremes.


Drugs and alcohol are plentiful, and are all around you. Even people who don’t abuse them regularly do so during this season. You will be surrounded by frequent use and abuse, and you will be encouraged to participate. It will be impossible to resist such an attack for long.


The environment of a good treatment center is not for the sick. It is an environment of support, and of loving embracing of yourself, away from the pressures and expectations that drive you to stress and pressure during this season.

When You Use Adderall…

If you are thinking of using Adderall, maybe it is because you feel pressured by parents, teachers, or peers to do better in school. Maybe you are planning to use it to help give you a boost of energy so that you can stay up all night and study. If you are hoping that Adderall will help you focus and concentrate, you might actually get what you ask for and more—and you won’t like it. You will concentrate and focus for sure. But the problem is that you will concentrate and focus on porn, masturbating, your accelerated heart rate, and obsessing over ideas and people. As a result, all of this hyper-concentrated-focus will make it impossible for you to finish the work that you are supposed to do.

According to SAMHSA, full-time college students were twice as likely to have used Adderall non-medically as their counterparts who were not full-time students, according to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health report released in 2009 (1).

Adderall is a drug designed to stimulate the area of the brain responsible for concentration—in brains where this area works slowly. This is the condition that causes ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder. So, if you have this kind of brain dysfunction, Adderall will boost your brain into normal speed. But if your brain is already working at normal speed, Adderall will throw it into over-drive: instead of concentration and focus, you will go into Obsession and Compulsion. Instead of becoming a focused person, you will become an obsessed and compulsive one.

And then it gets worse.

After sustained use, you will discover that even when the effects of Adderall become negative, and your compulsive porn watching, masturbating, and obsessing screw up your work, relationships, and school—you will have a hard time stopping it. Instead, you will actually begin to seek more, become preoccupied with having enough, and tell yourself and others outrageous explanations about why you really need it. Examples of these completely ridiculous reasons are:

  1. It’s a prescribed medication.
  2. It’s legal.
  3. You need it to function.

The problem with these explanations.

  1. You can always find a doctor that prescribes you anything if you lie to them about your symptoms, and hide from them the truth about how the medication affects you. If you are prescribed Adderall ask yourself if you really do suffer from ADD or if you have been exaggerating to get a prescription. Are you kidding yourself into believing you really need this medication when you know you have not been honest?
  2. Legality has nothing to do with drug abuse. The most addictive and deadliest drugs in the world are nicotine, alcohol, and legal drugs made by pharmaceutical companies. More people die from abusing them than from abusing illegal drugs. Many people feel that overusing their prescribed medications is inconsequential in fact, according to one study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, many Ivy League students asked don’t view ADHD medication misuse as cheating (2).
  3. If you really needed it, it would not be turning you into an obsessive-compulsive person that is experiencing negative life consequences.
Try this:

Do not use any drugs to study for your next round of tests. But don’t just not use Adderall – try a different approach.

  • Set a regular sleep and wake schedule
  • Eat three meals a day at the same time
  • Plan daily study blocks well ahead of the stressful last minute study week

If you end up using Adderall then you may have a drug problem and you will need to address it.

At some point one of two things will happen

You will continue to use Adderall until you lose your job and your relationships and get kicked out/or fail out of school. Then you will have to get help stopping.

You stop bullshitting yourself and pay attention to the reality that with Adderall you are engaging in compulsive behaviors that are not normal, that you are obsessing, and that you are failing at the very tasks that the Adderall was supposed to help you with. Then you act like a smart human being, and you seek help to stop—and protect the most important things in your life.

In order to stop using Adderall, look for a treatment center that is not a “rehab.” Look for a center that is interested in solutions to human problems, and that doesn’t label everyone walking through their doors as an “addict.” You need professional, rational, and scientifically validated treatment.

The first step of this treatment is detox. You have to stop the use in a protected environment, away from the places that you use. In a detox you will also receive medical help to deal with the anxiety and confusion that you will initially feel—don’t worry, it won’t last long.

Then you engage in an effective process of therapy, exercise, and self-discovery to identify what the deal was: How did you get into the Adderall? What were you after? What did you think it was going to do for you? Through the exploration caused by these questions you will clarify your crazy thinking, and will substitute it with rational-realistic-non-bullshit beliefs that will move you to meet your goals and reach success for real.


(1) SAMHSA – Nonmedical Use of Adderall® among Full-Time College Students

(2) AAP Article – Many Ivy League Students Don’t View ADHD Medication Misuse as Cheating

How Does Narrative Therapy Work?

If I ask you who you are, and what you are, and what you do, you would tell me a story. The Story of You.

Let’s start at the beginning.

We all have a story, but how did we get that story? Where did it come from? How did we develop it? And, aren’t we still creating it? If we go about answering these questions, you and I would be engaging in Narrative Therapy.

From the moment that we are born we are collecting information.
In the first years of our lives we had to find the answers to two important questions.

  • How are the people in this place?
    • Friendly?
    • Hostile?
    • Can they be trusted?
  • What is this place that I was born into?
    • A friendly place?
    • A safe place?
    • A dangerous place?

According to our experiences, where we were born, and who raised us—or didn’t raise us—we started coming up with answers to these questions, and the answers became conclusions, and the conclusions became a story. This story became our story. And our story is a very powerful one, because it is a story that guides us through life and determines how we see the world, how we think, and how we feel.

In psychological language, the story that we have created about who we are, how we are, and how we respond to people, situations, and circumstances, is called our “self-narrative.” This self-narrative serves as a filter through which we interpret everything. For example, if the significant people in your life gave you the message that you are incompetent, you would approach new situations and challenges with fear and anxiety.

You would experience fear and anxiety because you would feel that you were not competent to succeed, and would be afraid of failing. Consequently, the more anxious and afraid you would feel, the less you would try new things. Eventually, you would avoid facing the challenges that lead to living, loving, and working in a meaningful way; and this avoidance would guarantee the failure that you feared.

In order to escape this desperate vicious cycle of fear-avoidance-failure-feeling incompetent-and more fear, you may reach for many of the Band-Aid solutions that the world offers: like alcohol, drugs, gambling and other addictions. You would reach for them in an attempt to escape the anxiety, depression, and hopelessness that you feel. Or, hopefully, you may choose to seek a lasting and healthy solution, and seek therapy.

If you chose to seek therapy, and particularly Narrative Therapy, you would embark in the process of exploring your story. If you find a good therapist, he or she would have skills to build trust and create a safe space where you could disclose the details of your self-story. Together, you would analyze the details of the story that you have accepted as true and factual, and you would analyze it in the light of reality. When you discover parts of your story that cannot be proven to be true, or rational, or are incomplete, you would change the false conclusions or misguided ways in which you have interpreted events in your life, and correct them.

Let’s illustrate how this process works, by using the example that we used before: If you would have accepted that you were incompetent, and began to avoid life because of it, while in therapy, you and your therapist would look for evidence in your story that would support that you are, in fact, incompetent. You would explore questions like: Have you ever succeeded at anything? Is there something that you are good at: building something, video games, Ping-Pong…anything? The answer to these questions would provide information that can be used to verify the truth of the story of your life, and make it more complete and realistic. In other words, correcting wrong information could change the narrative of your life, and the beliefs, thoughts, and emotions that the narrative produces.

Like an author writing a novel, you would become the author of the story of your existence, and with a good therapist as editor, you could correct the story of your life, and prepare to write the next chapters with clarity and truth. In these chapters, you will find that you can cast yourself as capable to overcome adversity, conquer challenges, or experience redemption. That is how Narrative Therapy works.

Narrative Therapy is just one of the therapies used in drug rehab at Adaptive Center. For studies showing the effectiveness of this type of drug treatment therapy, see also:



Engaging Clients in Treatment

People come to substance abuse treatment centers for many reasons: to satisfy court orders, save their jobs, or pacify family members—as well as overcome the negative effects of addiction. The ones that come with the intention of resolving a problem—other than their addiction—usually abandon treatment after having resolved their legal issues, meeting the requirement of their job, or having convinced their family to take them back. It is not hard to motivate them to come to treatment—they were already motivated by their own agenda. It is much harder to motivate them to engage in treatment.

Motivating people to engage in treatment demands a high level of skill from therapists and a holistic rehab approach that goes beyond just preaching to them about the benefits of not drinking and drugging. This holistic approach can only be practiced in a holistic drug rehab center environment. So, what are the distinctive features of a holistic rehab approach, and a holistic rehab center environment?

First, a holistic drug rehab approach faces addiction as a disease that has developed in response to a person’s inability to meet their core needs: to have the ability to provide food, shelter, and safety by their own resources and not be dependent on someone else; to be emotionally mature and able to manage their emotions; to attract romantic partners; to have status and be respected; to reach their human potential and become the best human being that they are capable of being.

When people are deficient in their abilities to meet their needs, they suffer from a sense of failure that leads to anxiety, depression and many other dysfunctions. In order to overcome the emotional pain that comes with these dysfunctions, these individuals turn to outside ineffective coping mechanisms, like dependency on others to soothe them and addictions. This is why only removing the ineffective coping mechanism, like addiction, leaves the person facing the original dysfunction—with its original pain—only now without the temporary relief that they found in the dependency, addiction, etc.

An optimal holistic rehab center would present to people the proposition that treatment is not only concerned with the use of drugs and alcohol, but with the whole person (therefore the term holistic). The person in treatment is then invited to explore the whole of their lives: to explore the problems for which the dependency and addiction were the perceived solution; to understand in how many ways this apparent solution backfired on them; and to explore new permanent solutions to truly meet their human core needs.

This approach can truly engage clients in treatment. Then, regardless of the reasons of why they came, they see an opportunity to discover themselves, heal their pain, and become the optimal person that they can become.

What is Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive Therapy is founded on 3 scientifically proven propositions

The “Access Hypothesis”

The belief that with enough dedication, effort, and help we can become aware of the content of our thinking.

The “Meditation Hypothesis”

The belief that the way we see, think about, and interpret the events around us influences the way we feel and the way we act.

The “Change Hypothesis”

The belief that we can become more effective, functional, and better equipped to adapt to the challenges of life by changing the ways in which we think and interpret reality.

(The Beck, Aaron T.; Dozois, David J.A. (2012-12-13). Cognitive Therapy: Current Status and Future Directions (Annual Review of Medicine).

Hypothesis 1

Hypothesis 1 proves that we don’t have to be a victim of the false and negative beliefs that we picked up during our lives. These toxic beliefs like: “I’m weak” “I’m unlovable”, or “I won’t amount to anything” produce negative feelings.

Hypothesis 2

Hypothesis 2 confirms that our interpretation of events—not the events themselves—influence the way that we think, feel, and act. This is important: it is not saying that any of us are immune to the challenges, problems, and suffering of life. It is, however, saying that our reaction to these trying and painful events will depend on our interpretation of them. For example, when we face the death of a loved one—which we will all face—how will we respond? We can either grieve them with gratefulness that we had them, or we can grieve with anger, desperation, and depression over losing them. In both instances we will all grieve, but how we grieve will be determined by how we interpret the event of death.

But what if we were programmed to respond to life’s challenges in a negative way? What if we internalized these beliefs and ways of responding to events when we were so young that we don’t even remember? Hypothesis 3 gives us hope.

Hypothesis 3

Hypothesis 3 verifies that we can make permanent changes to our understanding of the ways in which we view the world, people, and events. It confirms that reality-based and rational ways of interpreting reality lead to mental and emotional skills like adaptability, confidence, and resiliency. These things make us equipped to face the challenges of life without being overcome by them—to instead overcome our obstacles—and succeed.

The Process of Cognitive Therapy

The benefits of Cognitive Therapy are gained through the collaboration between a skilled therapist and the person seeking change and health. They first explore the beliefs that are at the surface of our consciousness, and then the beliefs that we picked up when we were younger and trying to learn what the world was like. In order to discover these deeper beliefs, we have to look at our automatic thoughts, emotions, and patterns of behaviors, such as when we find ourselves doing things over and over again, without understanding why.

The real progress is made when we discover the beliefs that trigger our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and put them to the test of reality and rationality. For example, If you were given the message—and have come to believe— that you are unlovable, how do you explain that some people seek your company sometimes? Like a team of scientist-philosopher-detectives, therapist and client uncover, test, and question irrational beliefs like these.

During Cognitive Therapy, irrational beliefs are discovered, challenged, and invalidated, and they are substituted by rational beliefs that can be tested in reality and proven by evidence. When the new beliefs substitute the old ones, everything changes; because real and rational beliefs produce real and rational thoughts, emotions, and actions. And the result of rational thoughts, emotions and actions is a balanced and realistic view of life and people that leads to hope in the middle of loss, new effort in response to failure, and perseverance as a response to discouragement. These capacities to respond to life’s challenges are proven to lead to contentment, joy, and success, regardless of hardship. So we no longer live as victims of circumstances, afraid of what life may bring. This is how Cognitive Therapy works.

Questions and Answers with Juan Lesende

Can you start by giving us a short history and summary of the philosophy of the Adaptive Center?

Juan: The Adaptive Center’s history actually started when I began working in the field of addiction treatment over 20 years ago. One of the first things I noticed when I got into this field is that what many treatment centers were doing was not very effective, and many people were relapsing. After observing for many years what worked and what didn’t work, I decided to open up my own center, and incorporate everything I had learned in my years in this field. On Oct. 27th of this year, we will celebrate our two year anniversary.

Our philosophy at the Adaptive Center is grounded in the Human Potential Movement

Our philosophy at the Adaptive Center is grounded in the Human Potential Movement, which started in the late 1960s in California. The philosophy behind this movement is that we as human beings are born with the potential to be something. Just as a sapling which has the potential to grow into a tree can be bound in its growth by circumstances, so humans can be kept from reaching their potential. Circumstances like trauma, addiction, and mental illness tend to stunt growth and keep people from becoming what they were capable of being.

We use psychology and scientifically validated spiritual practices to liberate people from bindings such as addiction, depression, and anxiety, so that the person can reach their potential. Our goal is not just to help the person stop drinking and using drugs. We want to remove those things so that the person can learn and develop the skills they need in order to reach their full potential in life.

What makes the Adaptive Center unique from other treatment programs?

Juan: The environment we provide for clients resembles real life very closely. We are located in the middle of a city, not a remote, vacation-like location or a campus. Studies have shown that people internalize skills best when they are learning them in the environment in which they are going to use them. We have found that because of this our clients are able to learn skills better and put them into practice more effectively after treatment.

Another thing that makes us unique is that we have a proprietary model. After years of research, we created   a very individualized treatment model. It was created through academic research and real life observations, and is not borrowed from someone else.

We have an entire population of only 12 residents. What this means is we have a lot of time and resources to provide an extremely personalized treatment experience. These people are not just our clients; they get really close to our staff, and we have time and resources to devote to each one’s recovery.

We invest the majority of our resources in excellent treatment, not in window dressing to attract people to a grown-up version of Disney World, disguised as treatment. We are dedicated to the quality of therapists, whom we select very carefully, in their training, and in the research needed to find the tools that will best help our clients.

What specific types of therapies are used during treatment at the Adaptive Center?

Juan: Mindful cognitive therapy: This is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is the most tested and effective system of psychotherapy used in the past 30 years.  In this form of CBT, the added focus is on mindfulness—or increasing awareness. We train our clients in mindfulness through Zen meditation and yoga to the techniques of CBT. Very strong research shows that the increasing mindfulness helps people become aware of themselves, and their environment, in the here and now, and adds great benefits to the actual therapy.

System-based family therapy: We have found that this therapy is essential to recovery. The family can bring background information into treatment, which helps us better understand and reach clients. During this therapy we also work to repair the broken relationships that our clients have experienced with their families, so that when they return home they can have a more peaceful and welcoming environment, which will give them a better chance to stay clean.

Morita therapy: This is a Japanese form of therapy that is based on focusing on the task at hand. What this means is that we teach our clients to abandon themselves to whatever activity they are doing in the moment. For example, while hanging clothes in a closet, clients should pay attention to the details involved in order to do it right, not to other things that are concerning them at the time. This focused attention provides them with relief from obsession, cravings, and anxiety. Because we provide clients with a real-life, supportive environment, we are able to help them put this therapy into practice while carrying out their everyday tasks.

Social rhythm therapy: Through this type of therapy, we help clients create and keep a rhythm of their normal activities throughout the day. We have clients wake up, eat meals, and go to bed at the same times every day, in order to set their internal rhythm. This helps the brain become calm, and instead of having to guess what will happen next, the brain falls into a rhythm and provides relief from anxiety, depression, and cravings for drugs and alcohol.

Physical Fitness: Research in neurology—the science of the brain—proves that 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily promotes benefits to the working of the human brain.

You are located in a “real life” environment. What does this mean?

Everything at our facility takes place in a normal living situation. Residents live in a regular apartment building, in a block of apartments reserved for our clients. The apartments are well-equipped, and residents can cook meals, do laundry, and perform normal every day activities.

For therapy, residents walk two blocks to our treatment center, which is housed in a discrete building. They participate in therapy during normal work hours, and when they finish here every day, they go to the gym across the street to exercise. Next to the gym is a chain grocery store where our clients can buy everything they need. We give them money in the form of a card for food each week. The center is surrounded by stores, restaurants and a mall where clients can go shop, with an approved itinerary from the staff. In the evening, residents do homework and can participate in activities like AA in-house meetings or other therapies.

Our clients live a normal life like you and I, but they do everything within a small radius of their apartment

Our clients live a normal life like you and I, but they do everything within a small radius of their apartment—and with the supervision of our staff. We are always here to support and monitor them. The whole system is simple, protective, and non-constrictive.

Given this freedom for your clients, how do you ensure that active addicts or alcoholics are not using substances or engaging in other behaviors that may negatively affect their treatment?

Juan: Clients live in a real-life setting at our facility, but it is monitored closely. When a client wants to go on an outing, they must fill out an itinerary which tells us where they want to go and what time they will be back. If the person has shown that they are doing well in treatment, we authorize that trip. When clients return from an outing, such as a trip to the mall or to the grocery store, the first thing we do is give them a breathalyzer test to make sure they haven’t been drinking. We also conduct a urine test after each outing

If we do detect that a client used drugs or alcohol, they go into a more stringent form of supervision for one week: they have to be accompanied by counselors at all times. After completing this intense supervision period clients resume normal treatment.

Our system helps clients think ahead and avoid impulses. We have found that by allowing clients this type of freedom, and responsibility, individuals work harder at staying sober and have fewer relapses.

How long is a typical stay at your facility and what types of aftercare do you recommend for clients?

Juan: We ask for a 30 day commitment, because we have seen that this is the length of time that offers the best success. The average stay at our center is 6 weeks. Some clients stay for 30 days, or 3 months, or even a year. We work with each client to establish a program that meets their own needs.

We do believe in the importance of aftercare. Our local clients can come back to our facility for unlimited support from our therapists. For clients that are farther away, we help connect them with professionals in their area before they leave our facility.  In the future, we will establish workshops throughout the country, so that our clients that come from far away can attend these as aftercare as well.