Hope by the Sea Reviews, Cost, Complaints

Hope by the Sea


Hope By The SeaHope by the Sea Review

Orange County is growing into a bastion of Christian-flavored rehabs thanks to the influence of the nearby Saddleback Church. The family-run, Jesus-friendly Hope By the Sea opened in 2003 with just six beds and now supports 57. Executive Director Chad Carlsen is a recovering addict and fitness expert while his father and co-founder Ernest brings medical and scientific expertise to this San Juan Capistrano facility.

Hope By the Sea lets its clients choose between a standard 12-step program and a Christian treatment track based on Rick Warren’s Celebrate Recovery program. This path includes CR meetings and Sunday worship services at the Saddleback Church, daily Christian devotionals and faith-based counseling. Regardless of which track clients choose, Hope By The Sea emphasizes finding one’s own inner strength in addition to spiritual healing.

Accommodations and Food

Though Hope by the Sea is not actually as on the sea as it claims to be (it’s about five minutes on the freeway away from it), it’s still a good location. Men and women stay in separate large houses stocked with equally comfortable furnishings. The men’s house features tennis courts and outdoor grilling areas, while the women’s house has a grand piano and a pool table, among other amenities. Both residences also feature swimming pools and gorgeous kitchens. The downside is that most residents sleep two or three to a room. Those looking to take the luxury up a notch can pay for executive treatment in the three-story Cook House, which boasts larger beds, more private rooms, jacuzzi bathtubs and shaded gardens. Truth be told, though, aside from those who really need the privacy, the regular housing is plush enough for all but the most refined palates. As is common with a lot of upscale southern California rehabs, meals are health-conscious and client dietary needs are happily accommodated.

Treatment and Staff

Hope By the Sea provides intervention and detox services, and any dual diagnoses are taken into consideration when crafting treatment plans for individual residents. The solid clinical staff includes specialists in trauma, anger control and marriage and family therapy, and counselors offer special group sessions to cater to the needs of professionals and young adults.

Each day follows a rigorous schedule that begins with a 6:30 am breakfast followed by either morning reflection or Christian devotionals. The rest of the morning consists of a rotating docket of groups, including CBT, psycho-education, psychodrama, relapse prevention and process groups. After lunch come more groups, gender-segregated gym sessions and daily chores. The day ends with dinner and a 12-step meeting.


Along with regularly scheduled gym time, other fitness activities include yoga and softball games. Friday afternoons are devoted to house outings, which are typically trips to the beach or one of the OC’s many famous malls. On weekends, clients can entertain visitors all afternoon, and Sunday mornings offer the choice of church services or a 12-step meeting in a local park. Families can pay an extra $500 to attend a three-day multi-family program.

After 30-90 days in residence, Hope By the Sea provides the option of extended care and sober living houses. For young adults in sober living, the Hope Academy College Program helps keep students on track with their academics as well as their recovery, imparting study tactics and life skills amidst continued counseling and meetings.

In Summary

You don’t have to be a Christian to benefit from Hope By the Sea, though being a believer might give you reason to pick this facility over its many comparable peers. Whether its customers are seeking a specifically faith-based take on recovery or merely a pretty place to dry out in the SoCal sun, Hope By the Sea is relatively affordable for its level of comfort and care.

Hope By the Sea Location

27432 Calle Arroyo
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Hope by the Sea Cost

$19,000 (30 days). Reach Hope By the Sea by phone at (866) 930-4673. Find Hope By the Sea on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

Do you have a complaint or review of Hope By the Sea to add? Use the comments area below to add your Hope By the Sea review.



  1. In my experience, as I’ve spoken of in previous messages, the “medical” staff at Hope by the Sea knows next to nothing about benzodiazepine withdrawal and protracted withdrawal. I was barely tapered – given a small amount of valium for less than a week before being forced to go cold turkey — after being on klonopin for over ten years. I had been on 2 mg. a day for a long time prior to going to HBTS.

    I had gone into this program feeling confident that I should be safe, due to the ‘medically supervised’ aspect the place touts. Well, the medical staff was not understanding regarding my terrible difficulty with withdrawal and my awful post acute withdrawal symptoms (and I was coming off of suboxone as well…also, I am 45 years old….not a teenager as many of the clients are.) They did not seem to be informed regarding the recommended tapering process for quitting benzodiazepines nor for the severity and gamut of awful symptoms that can be experienced. I am probably still struggling so badly because I was yanked off so quickly – I was there mid July 2017-mid August 2017. It has truly been an awful, AWFUL experience. I likely wouldn’t be left with such terrible protracted withdrawal symptoms months after leaving HBTS had I been tapered properly.

    I felt I was expected to keep up with the young ones, and most of them seemed to be coming off of much less powerful drugs – no one seemed to be struggling nearly as badly as I was (and still am now – more than 4 months after stopping the benzos and suboxone.) I convulsed and jerked wildly with involuntary muscle spasms. My eyes stayed unnaturally dilated for a long period of time and things were horribly blurred…my vision was SO poor. I couldn’t sleep. The anxiety and the shaking / tremors were insane (still struggling with this.) I felt/feel dizzy , off balance , foggy, dazed, almost drunk at times. There is a ringing in my head that sometimes becomes rather deafening, like rocks clinking around up there. I struggle with depression, frustration, desperation. Through all of this, (while I was there) it was alluded to that I was over-amplifying my symptoms. The therapist I was assigned to said as much. The case manager I was assigned to wanted to teach me to knit as a way to curb anxiety – well, knitting wasn’t going to cut this anxiety! As she tried to get me to do it, she became annoyed when I didn’t have the will or coordination to do it….I said in misery that I couldn’t function and then she snapped, “Well, if you can’t function they’re going to take you away….there gonna take you away and they’re gonna drug you up!” Ugh, I can almost hear it in my head now – the nasty tone with which she said these mean words…so hurtful. I did NOT feel safe at Hope by the Sea.

    There are some good people at this rehab, but the medical staff is uninformed….the residential houses do NOT have medical staff as employees – the house staffers are equipped only with battery operated blood pressure monitors, and of course their cell phones. If there’s a dangerous issue, all they can do is call 911…..there were times I was terrified with the racing heart/pumping adrenaline/wild spasms, but I didn’t let anyone call as I feared the bill that would result. After getting home and looking up klonopin withdrawal issues, I now know that HBTS was grossly negligent and that I may well have been in danger…..it sure did feel that way, but I was made to feel I was being “bad.” Now I know that my pain and fears were due to real issues that are STILL negatively affecting me. I wanted to go back to work after leaving HBTS, but now months since coming home, I still have not been able to hack it due to severe protracted withdrawal symptoms, and my family is suffering due to having very little income; this is painful for me as I so want to help and contribute. I am angry about the way I was treated. The medical staff was incompetent, often not at all present, and most of the few there that I met were harsh and/or unfriendly and standoffish – even sharp and condescending. This place may be ok for much lesser detoxes and withdrawals, but for my situation, they were beyond inadequate – I felt like a bug under a microscope who was forced to due their bidding and be “compliant” NO MATTER WHAT….whipped and worn down into submission. That was HORRENDOUS and absolutely miserable.

    BEWARE and please be cautious! You will likely be told all manner of rosy tidbits about Hope by the Sea by the person you talk to on the phone prior to being admitted….many of those things may be far from the truth. There doesn’t seem to be a perceived problem there with recruiters telling half-truths and outright LIES in order to tell potential clients what they want to hear in order to draw them in.

    Don’t just jump in without researching like I did. I went in so trustingly, and I was bitten hard.

    Tracy W.

    • Robby Rutherford on

      Hi Tracy,

      I know someone currently going through the same horrendous ordeal you went through with Hope By the Sea.

      I would love to ask you a couple questions if its okay.
      I could be reached over text/call at 805-216-3025

      Thank You!
      – Robby

  2. Hope by the Sea is the worst rehab facility I’ve attended. I was sucked in by all the ridiculous talk of luxury and the beautiful Cook house. Lies, lies. The detox houses are rundown apartment buildings where 4 girls sleep in 2 bedrooms with 1 bath. The house managers are all in drug court or graduated only a few months ago. They are young and inexperienced. They leave the women sleeping in a house with no onsite supervision. If you are detoxing you need more care. It’s very dangerous. They do not self dispense medication to you. You must open the bottles and take the pills yourself while they wear rubber gloves. We sit in the living room together watching inappropriate drug movies on Netflix. I watched Blow several times. Not by choice. So uncomfortable. The first night I arrived my credit cards were confiscated and placed outside of my control. When I got home I found hundreds of dollars charged to my credit cards at various local gas stations. Unbelievable!! What a violation that is. They offer cheap junk food for meals. Pasta for dinner. When you’re hurting really bad, they offer coffee. Can you imagine? The staff have relationships with each other and inappropriate conversations about relationships and drug use. The detox houses are filthy. Moldy shower curtains, blood on the floors from other women having periods, stale, hard beds with no air conditioning or heat. You beg for heat. Maybe you’ll get it. It depends on the house manager. Roosters crow across the street every morning at 4 am. You’ll never get any sleep. High speed pursuits along the main Street all the time. The location of these flop houses are horrible, cheap locations. The barrio. I made it as far as 9 days before my detox from a 20 yr addiction from benzos was not tended to medically and I went psychotic. The Cook house manager didn’t know how to treat me. I was literally dying of untreated anxiety. Crying miserably. Shaking, ready for seizure with no medical supervision. The house manager just threw her phone down in the counter and screamed that she was done with me. She was sick and I was causing her to possibly lose her job. Unbelievable!! Then the rumors started flying around the house that I was there to spy on the other clients because my bed was next to the window. I could hear everything. What??? I couldn’t hear anything other than my brain and heart ready to explode. I begged to see a doctor. But was never tended to. After I truly lost it over and over with no idea of what was happening to me, I told them I needed to leave. Everyone was upset with me. Threw their hands up. I packed my belongings and ordered an Uber ride home to sanity. Don’t be fooled. I paid $24,600 cash to be treated so miserably. My HIPAA rights were violated by communications with my family that I specifically told Hope not to contact. My stay was to remain confidential. I demanded it. Now I’m forced to seek legal counsel to sue them for HIPAA violations per the request of Ms. Penny. Not a single phone call. They want to keep my money. I overheard so much during my stay. Took lots of notes. I’m not a crazy woman. Today I’m clean and sober and enrolled in a treatment center near my home. Im going to do everything I can to warn people about this place so they won’t be put through the terror I was.

    • Diane, wow, I hear you! I was at HBTS for 40 days this past summer. I cannot recommend this place to anyone that will be going through an intense detox/recovery. I was treated CRUELLY – I didn’t completely realize how cruelly until I got home and began looking into what is to be expected when getting off of the prescription drugs I was there to come off of. While at HBTS, they made me feel very much less than – like I was the exception with my pain and struggles. I felt demeaned and belittled by “professional” staff. The therapist and case manager they stuck me with both treated me as though I was being overly dramatic and making things up – it was communicated to me that the symptoms I tried to explain were all in my head and were being over-amplified by my hypochondriac self. I was treated rudely by ‘medical’ staff. I came off of klonopin and suboxone — I went to this place feeling excited and confident that I’d get off safely and that they’d know what they were doing. I was fooled into thinking my insurance covered nearly everything as well. Not so….not at all.

      The staff who were supposed to be ‘medically monitoring’ me were armed only with a battery operated blood pressure monitor and the ability to call 911. I spent nights in violent spasms, moaning in misery – thankfully during my most painful nights, the one staff member who seemed to really care was there and let me stay with her. I was scared, so was thankful that she allowed me to stay up instead of having to suffer alone in my uncomfortable bed – other staff members would never allow such. Sadly, this kind staff member was reprimanded for showing me compassion when I was so scared.

      I have lots more I could say but need to stop for now. Scary, painful experience at HBTS….a few good people, but the medical staff and ‘so called’ medical staff are pretty clueless about some things, at least when it comes to a case like mine….and I’m sure there are others out there trying to get free of the same things I went off of. I had to get out of there much sooner than they wanted me to – I could not have kept up with the mandatory activities in the state I’ve been in…..I am still barely sleeping and struggling a lot 2 months later, but thankfully I am home and don’t feel like I’m under a critical microscope while being whipped into submission and forced to be “compliant” no matter what. Now to figure out how to pay this massive unexpected bill for my miserable experience. I went under false pretenses and am troubled by the suffering this facility allows and the lack of compassion and care provided.

      • I just read that the cost is supposedly $19,000 for 30 days. I was told before agreeing to go that my insurance would pay for over $20,000 and that, since finances are a difficulty for me, that I’d be awarded a $3,000 scholarship….leaving $1,000 for me to pay (this was generously donated to me by a family member – and this is not a wealthy family member by any means…$1,000 was so much to accept as I knew how much it meant.)

        I have recently been notified that I will have a bill of about $19,000. I was there for forty days (they don’t want to let you leave!) This causes severe financial strain and hardship for my family and me, and it was not expected. The recruiter who sweet talked me into heading down to Hope by the Sea tells LIES. From what I heard while there, I am most definitely not the only person he has blatantly lied to. Potential clients are basically told whatever they want to hear, just to get them hooked in. Sad.
        There are a few genuine people involved at HBTS, but I do not think that they are involved with the finances or the ‘medical’ care.

        • I can vouch for what my daughter went through. I believe she was in severe danger from brain trauma because she was not properly cared for! Now her family of five, struggling financially, is faced with a massive bill, even though she was led to believe it would pretty much all be covered.
          She was falsely accused of “sniffing cleaning products” in the bathroom; this was completely false; she was treated with a deplorable lack of compassion by much of the staff; her withdrawal was not monitored by medical professionals; she was forced to go to every meeting when she was in agony and could barely see or function. She had thought she would receive caring and professional help, and instead is facing a huge unaffordable bill and is unable to sleep at night.
          I was so happy when I believed she was getting help, but after hearing of her experience I would never recommend Hope by the Sea to anyone.

          • The people at Hope by the Sea need to research benzodiazepine withdrawal – both acute and protracted. I was on benzos for a decade and was jerked off immediately when I got there. The ‘taper’ was less than a week, using a bit of valium…then it was cold turkey. I convulsed and spasmed dramatically and it was so scary at times. I was made to feel that I was being ‘bad’ when I felt unable to be compliant with the program and schedule. I stopped sleeping and no one seemed to understand why I would be struggling so much.
            Well, now that I’ve been home a couple of months and am still struggling with overwhelming symptoms, I’ve looked into this. It is NORMAL to struggle with benzo withdrawal – esp. when it was something that had been used for a prolonged period of time. I feel that it was dangerous to go through what they forced me through – I was truly terrified at times, yet I felt embarrassed due to the lack of understanding and the critical vibes I faced. From researching, I’ve learned that the quick cold turkey I was forced into may be a cause for my prolonged struggles still going on now.
            This is ridiculous – I thought that these people would know what they are doing… they seem to be in the dark regarding the potential for pain in a case such as mine.
            I have no clue how I will pay for the insane bill that is coming – I had gone on the premise that everything was taken care of…..I jumped in thinking that I was being given a golden, once in a lifetime opportunity. Please, know that you cannot believe everything the recruiter tells you when you are inquiring about this place.

  3. Very disappointed with the facility specifically the therapist and the proper assessment of the underlying issues. The administrative staff was very helpful however. Was told this was one of the top 3 facility in the U.S. Location was great but did not feel like my wife got the propoer assessment and treatment she needed. Did not feel like there was a robust program for recovery at all. Had to pull my wife out after several weeks as she was getting worse while in the program. They did not help her deal with the underlying issues. Staff was leaving and having inappropriate relationships with the patients. Patients were leaving left and right once they got there and realized it was not a place that is helpful. Would not recommend.

  4. Emmanuel C. on

    Much has changed about HBTS since this review. With a new “Alternative” track that incorporates SMART Recovery, and new classes, HBTS is an attractive option for new clients. Be warned that there are now many houses and not all of them are posh. For the standard public though, they suffice. I had a great experience here, and am confident in my recovery.

    • Mike, Taylor's Dad on

      Hi Emanuel,

      I have a 22 year old son that has had quite a bit of trauma in his life, some of which I am not certain of as he appears to be suppressing things, and currently he is in detox in that area. He is really wanting a facility/program that will have quite a bit of individual counseling and therapy and forms of treatment other than typical 12 step that he has had in a couple other rehabs. He truly needs to deal with his mental health as it relates to his trauma and how he is struggling tremendously with depression and anxiety so that he can feel like he can cope without having to self medicate. I think he realizes that he has substance issues, though needs to focus mainly on the mental health depression, anxiety, porn, shame and guilt from sexual experiences etc.
      I really need to find a facility and program that will help him focus on what he is dealing with and take the substance issues into play secondary.
      He will only feel convertible if he has a fair amount of face to face 1 on 1 and small group instead of mostly larger AA/NA 12 step group meetings.
      He really wants a nice facility with great accommodations and food, but mainly counselors and therapists etc. that are genuine and sincere in helping him with his issues.
      We are needing to make a decision on where to move him ASAP, so a prompt reply would be greatly appreciated.

Leave A Reply

About Author

The largest and most trusted rehab review site in the world.