LEAD Recovery Center Sober Living Reviews, Cost, Complaints
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LEAD Recovery Center Sober Living


The Basics

In addition to a coed Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), LEAD Recovery Center offers a highly-structured four-phase sober living program for young men between the ages of 18 and 26 in Costa Mesa, California, a thriving coastal town with an active and supportive sober community. The acronym LEAD stands for “Landing, Exploration, Action and Discovery” and this program offers “a strong emphasis on clinical treatment, life skills mastery, and immersive experiential learning.” Founded over 25 years ago, the current clinical director is Rick Zumwalt, an MS and PhD candidate with an extensive background in athletic coaching and academia. In keeping with Zumwalt’s resume, LEAD focuses on  team-building, accountability and life-long learning.

Accommodations and Amenities

LEAD’s sober living homes are just a few miles away from beaches, hiking and several colleges, affording clients access to a variety of recreational and educational activities as they progress in their recovery. Residents are housed in pleasant suburban homes with four to six clients per home plus a live-in staff member. All bedrooms are double-occupancy with twin beds, bright linens and modern furnishings. The homes have soothing décor and feature outdoor spaces for enjoying the Southern California climate. Residents exercise daily with transportation to a local gym and/or outings to nearby hiking trails or beaches for surfing.

On Mondays, a chef visits each facility to educate the young men on meal preparation and food shopping. With her guidance, they plan the week’s meals—accommodating any special dietary needs—and then divide cooking and shopping responsibilities among themselves.

Rules and Regulations

LEAD sober living features a four-phase process that helps the men progress toward autonomy—“Landing” followed by “Exploration,”  “Action” and “Discovery.” Each phase typically lasts 30 days (depending upon individual progress) and helps the young men transition into self-sufficient individuals.

A typical day includes morning meditation and breakfast followed by exercise then chores and—depending on the phase of treatment—a trip to the LEAD Recovery IOP for group therapy, individual and/or family therapy, education, work or volunteering. Each resident is required to attend four outside 12-step meetings a week. On weekends, residents go on recreational outings such as hiking or surfing trips and participate in volunteer activities in the community. In the evenings, clients typically enjoy a group meal, depending upon their individual work and meeting schedules.

Residents are required to give up their phones for the first 45 days of treatment. After that, they work out a media plan with their counselor that accommodates their individual needs depending on their school and work obligations.

For sober living residents attending LEAD Recovery’s IOP, group sessions seldom exceed 20 participants and have two staff leaders. LEAD offers dual diagnosis support and uses a combination of techniques including CBT, DBT, Immersive Natural Learning, Social Cognitive Therapy and neurofeedback. The staff include MFTs, CSACs, LADCs and certified life coaches. There is an RN on staff and a visiting psychiatrist who is also on-call. There are several medical facilities in the area to which LEAD can refer clients for detox and other medical interventions.

LEAD emphasizes the importance of education and meaningful work. To those ends, it maintains relationships with several area learning institutions and pays special attention to helping each client craft a learning or employment plan.


LEAD believes that healing the family dynamic is central to recovery and hosts family groups on Monday and Tuesday nights. Families are also encouraged to attend a group Friday nights at a local hospital. After a client completes treatment, he and his family can attend family groups in the IOP as alumni.

LEAD is affiliated with Hired Power, a network of resources for addiction sufferers including interventionists, doctors and other professionals who can be called on to meet the needs of clients and their families at every stage of recovery.

In Summary

With nearly three decades of experience, LEAD Recovery Center’s methods are well-tested and incorporate the newest research in treatment and education. Their life skills training is at the heart of their program and founder Zumwalt has designed a 15-step life skills assessment and course that is implemented by the certified life coaches on LEAD’s staff. LEAD is dedicated to planting seeds of self-sufficiency and those who progress through its four phases of post-treatment recovery can be assured of a foundation for success.

LEAD Recovery Center
3151 Airway Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

LEAD Recovery Center Cost: $5,800 (30 days).  Reach LEAD Recovery Center by phone at (800) 380-0012 or by email here. Find LEAD Recovery Center on Facebook and Twitter

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