The Hickey House Reviews, Cost, Complaints

The Hickey House


Helen GeorgiaThe Hickey House Review

The Hickey House was established in 1986 in the picturesque Bavarian town of Helen, Georgia, which is in the mountains about 90 miles north of Atlanta. Founded by husband and wife team Tom and Elaine Hickey, The Hickey House is a long-term residential treatment facility for men dealing with substance abuse issues. While they have many components of a sober living facility, they offer individual and group therapy on the premises. The Hickey House began as a co-ed facility, but the rehab became male-only in 2003 due to the Hickeys experiencing deteriorating health. Tom Hickey died from cancer in 2006, with over 38 years of sobriety. Elaine remains on staff, and is active today as The Hickey House director.

Accommodations and Food

The Hickey House accommodates 50 men in five houses in the Robertstown Valley mountain area, which is north of the town of Helen. The family-style homes include fully equipped kitchens, fitness rooms, and spacious living rooms with flat screen TV’s. All the properties are located in rural areas that have fishing lakes, hiking trails and outdoor decks. Amenities include free Wi-Fi and laundry facilities. Clients are allowed to use their cell phones, as Hickey House is not a lock down facility, and believes that for treatment to be successful, clients must learn independent living skills.

Clients are paired in double-occupancy rooms that include twin beds, Cable TV access, dressers and ample storage space. At Hickey House, residents participate in making food choices and designing menus at the weekly house meeting. After they compose a shopping list, staff purchases groceries utilizing $25 taken from each resident’s weekly $200 housing fee. Residents are responsible for preparing their own meals, and staff provides assistance. House managers live on the premises, and oversee day-to-day operations.

Treatment and Staff

Prior to admission, clients undergo a comprehensive assessment to ensure that Hickey House is a good fit. Those in need of detox are provided with appropriate medical referrals. Dual diagnosis support for those with severe co-occurring disorders is not provided. Prior to admission, clients must be mentally and physically stable and know how to live in a community setting. Clients receive individualized treatment plans. Treatment length is typically between six and 18 months.

The program includes two daily group sessions, individual therapy (per client’s needs) and attendance at daily on-site 12-step meetings (for the first 30 days). After that time, the meeting quota varies per client. Group therapy is conducted in a specific therapy room, which was built into one of the houses. At Hickey House, evidence-based modalities are used, including a blend of three types of therapies. Besides CBT, staff utilizes reality therapy and person-centered therapy. Reality therapy allows clients an opportunity to work through unusual thought processes, including delusional beliefs about their addictions. Person-centered therapy, which was developed by Carl Rogers, encourages clients to develop an empathetic rapport with counselors. Additionally, 12-step principles and concepts are incorporated during treatment.

During the first month, staff must accompany clients off the premises. After the first 30 days, unemployed clients are assisted in finding full time work in the local community. Participation in community service is permitted for those who have an alternate source of income. Additionally, therapy requirements lessen, on a case-by-case basis. Clients seeking an academic protocol are encouraged to enroll in school after 90 days. Other requirements include continued involvement in AA/NA, performance of household chores and attendance at weekly house meetings.

At Hickey House, there is a zero tolerance policy. Clients are subject to random drug and alcohol screenings. Residents who relapse are immediately evicted from the premises. Other forbidden behaviors, which warrant immediate eviction, include smoking inside the houses, engaging in vandalism, entertaining female guests and having weapons on the premises. Smoking is allowed outside in designated areas. Females are allowed to participate in the open AA meeting at the Blue House on Wednesday nights.

The treatment team is led by co-founder Elaine Hickey who holds a Master’s of Education degree and serves as the director.  the program director is a former resident who was personally mentored by Tom Hickey. He is a Bachelor’s-level certified clinical supervisor/certified addictions counselor level II/certified anger management specialist. Also on board is a counselor in training, who has extensive experience working with criminal justice clients. He leads the Outdoor Experience Therapy groups.


The Outdoor Experience Therapy program allows residents opportunities to integrate nature-oriented activities in their treatment. Activities include mountain biking, fishing, camping, hiking and kayaking. The outdoor program has elements of wilderness therapy, and focuses on helping clients learn how to have fun in sobriety while overcoming challenges that occur in outdoor activities, thus promoting a sense of wellness and accomplishment.

In Summary

In its 30 year history, The Hickey House has established a good reputation in the local recovery community. The staff works hard to help their clients stay clean and sober, while rebuilding new lives. The program is very affordable and encourages men to stay long enough to build a solid foundation for sobriety. The initial admission cost is $5,300, which includes the 30-day cost of $800 plus a $4,500 entry fee. After the first month, the 30-day cost is $800, which covers therapy, housing and food. For those seeking a gorgeous mountain setting that looks like it’s straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, The Hickey House might be the perfect match.

The Hickey House Location

130 Taylor Rd
Helen, GA 30545

The Hickey House Cost

$800 (30 days, not including an initial $4,500 entry fee). Reach The Hickey House by phone at (706) 878-1463 or by email at [email protected]. Find The Hickey House at Facebook and Google+

Do you have a complaint or review of The Hickey House to add? Use the comments area below to add your Hickey House review.



  1. Star Bridges MS CACII CCS on

    Unfortunately Mrs. Van Guesen’s son was suffering from multiple mental health issues that were not fully disclosed before admission and we were not equipped to help him. He was referred to a mental health hospital in his home state and a full refund was given to the family. We regret Mrs. Van Giesen’s annomosity toward us and always conduct ourselves in all areas with the highest ethical standards of the industry. We do have Master’s degrees in Professional Counseling, certifications as Addiction counselors and maintain a safe, clean sober living environment. Our program has helped thousands in its 34 year history. We welcome anyone interested in our program to come first take a tour, meet our staff and talk privately with our residents to insure we a good choice for them or their family member.

    • Cindy Miller on

      Thank YOU for responding to this negative review. After talking to Star Bridges, I feel confident is the place my son needs to go.

  2. Viviane Van Giesen on

    This is just an email from a mother of a son that was there at the Hickey House. My son has received treatment in many places, so I know what I’m talking about when I say this place is a total scam.

    I went there because my son was ordered by court to go to a treatment center and my therapist unknowingly of how bad this place was sent me there. I will give him the benefit of the doubt, it seems that when Hickey House was founded it started with the best of intentions and it was good. But when the founder died, the business was passed on to other people that have no interest in helping drug addicts to get better.

    First of all, they don’t accept insurance, they don’t accept credit card or check, only cash. Which is really kind of disreputable, but I am sure the reason is that they do not want the money to be traced. They charge you a fortune, $5,300 for one month in a dirty, nasty place. The paint is peeling from the walls, there’s mildew on the walls. The room where my son was didn’t even have a proper window, there was no light. It was like a closet converted into a room. I asked what kind of degrees the staff had , the answer was almost naive: “None”. Shameless! A bunch of ex addicts with no education treating drug addicts. When you see the staff, it is scary.

    Now that I have experience with drug rehabs I know what you can expect if you pay advance in cash $5,300.00 for one month: You get a really super de luxe nice place, with real therapists, real nice food, real psychologists, and all kinds of treatments and therapies. Not a piece of old, nasty, dirty old house, smelling bad, with no treatments.

    If you don’t believe me, just go there and see it with your own eyes.

    Okay, it might be a place to treat addiction, but it should be free, for homeless people that don’t have any place to go to. You shouldn’t charge $5,300.00 cash for this piece of junk. They say they help the kids get jobs. Ask what kind of jobs they arrange for the kids? Late night jobs at venues selling alcohol. All the jobs are in bars and restaurants selling alcohol. The rent is expensive, they have to pay cash.

    And there’s no way to get anywhere, there’s no public transportation.

    The biggest joke is the website showing pictures with bikes in front of the house as if you were able to ride your bike to a nice job in some wholesome healthy mountain village. NOBODY rides those bikes. First of all the road that connects the Hickey House to Helen is so narrow that if your car breaks down, there is no side road to park. It is scary to walk, because you are inches of fast cars. Absolutely dangerous to ride bikes. The new kids are not allowed to get rides to go to work.

    There is no individual therapy (of course there is no therapist!). The website mentions “fitness rooms” in the plural. Go there and see if you can find one fitness room. Maybe there’s an old broken bike outside. Spacious living rooms, oh my Gosh!, you read this and you have an image in your mind of some clean nice place and it is actually a hideous dungeon. Designing menus? I tell you what designing menus consists of: two old fridges stuffed with junk food.

    Elaine Hickey is so old, she is never there, nobody can talk to her. I really wonder if she really exists. Nobody ever saw her, she never visits the place.

    Hickey House is right at the footsteps of Unicoi Park, a beautiful state park. But guess what? My son was there for about two months and they NEVER went to the park hiking, fishing, camping or kayaking as they announce on the website.

    If you don’t believe me, go there. See this place with your eyes. You will be shocked.

    If you are really interested in the well being of addicted people, please remove Hickey House from your website.

    Viviane Van Giesen

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