The Meadows Reviews, Cost, Complaints

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The Meadows

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The Basics

It’s difficult to say much about Arizona-based clinic The Meadows that hasn’t already been said. It’s a prominent pillar in the country’s recovery community. The main points are that it’s in the recovery central area of the Sonoran Desert, and it offers a range of cutting-edge treatment options handled by a cavalcade of recovery celebrities. Any childhood issues residents may be harboring (and in some cases, some they aren’t) will be deeply explored. Although The Meadows has a lot to offer, not all of their methods are uniformly accepted as effective.

Accommodations and Food

The core philosophy of The Meadows—which is located in the desert town of Wickenburg and offers basic living conditions for residents—is tough love, and the arid environment certainly reflects that: rooms are designed for functionality, each akin to a college dorm, and residents are required to have a roommate. On the bright side, the facility offers daily maid service, air conditioning, a modest gym, and a swimming pool. Still, there’s a strict dress code prohibiting tank tops and shorts (so as not to trigger sex addicts who can also get treatment there).

Meal times are used as time to further enhance treatment. A well-balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner are all on the menu here. At dinner time especially, clients are encouraged to learn and inquire about good eating habits with their counselors and peers.

Treatment and Staff

Perhaps the most idiosyncratic aspect of Meadows is Survivors, the full week of treatment dedicated to battling clients childhood issues—present or not—where residents mix with daytime clients who are just coming in for that week. Some of the activities during this five day stint include carrying around a teddy bear as a way to help residents access what Meadows calls the “inner child,” and striking stuffed animals or chairs with a Nerf bat as a way to release buried tensions. While inner child work is important and can be extremely beneficial, it has to be done right; so potential residents should do their research to make sure the Meadows’ approach is palatable to them.

While 12-step programs suggest that addicts call on a higher power to bear some weight for them during recovery, Meadows favors a different approach: essentially, projecting it onto its clients’ parents. There’s no doubt this could be effective for those who haven’t been willing to face childhood abuse and other traumas, but it’s again important for potential clients to properly assess whether this methodology will best suite them. Still, The Meadows offers a tightly calibrated attack on addiction that will serve a certain set. And, along with on-site detox and ample aftercare, Meadows offers an excellent balance of 12-step traditionalism, new-age alternatives and CBT options.

Additionally, though Meadows offers an impressive variety of treatment programs (for PTSD, eating disorders, and addiction in all its forms), all residents are mixed together in treatment. Clients wear color-coded nametags so residents can tell one another’s ailments apart, with sex addicts wearing gendered “Men/Women Only” signs in an effort to best control proper interactions.

Meadows also stresses extreme isolation: there’s no outside contact allowed during treatment except for during “Family Week,” when addicts and their families are encouraged to be extremely honest with one another in a series of therapy sessions.

Where Meadows really shines is through its all-star staff. There’s Pia Mellody, who essentially wrote the definitive book on co-dependence; Peter Levine, previously a stress consultant for NASA during the space shuttle’s development; and John Bradshaw, well known for his many self-help books on shame—and for coining much of the “inner child” terminology those in the recovery community are likely familiar with.

Extras

There is time blocked off every day for pool activities and/or yoga. Nightly meditation also occurs in conjunction with 12-step meetings. It also offers expressive therapy, equine therapy, Tai Chi and acupuncture, at no additional cost. So holistic treatment options are definitely available if one choose treatment at The Meadows.

In Summary

Perhaps somewhat troubling is that Meadows has had some legal controversy surrounding several inpatient suicides, something definitely worth researching before deciding to check in. Reactions are predictably split over all these issues. Though many are still positive, recovery here has the potential to be polarizing.

For clients at The Meadows, recovery is sure to be gritty and confrontational; still, it also just might get them sober.

The Meadows
1655 N Tegner St
Wickenberg, AZ 85390

The Meadows Cost: $37,710 (30 days). Reach The Meadows by phone at (800) 244-4949. Find The Meadows on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

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

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17 Comments

  1. Not a good place anyone should seek rehabilitation. They use course language, they are unethical in many ways. Most professionals there do not know what they are doing. They mechanically treat you without any idea about what really happens to one’s mind as they are going thorugh the process. I saw a great deal of people going AWALL right in the middle of treatment because of the lack of professionalism. Please stay away.
    Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for the information about The meadows and Gentle Path. I have a family relative who went to be treated at Gentle Path and came back worse. What you stated confirms all the issues he told us when he came back from treatment at Gentle Path. He said one of their Psychologists does not even speak English well and most of their therapists are veru unethical, using course language, disrespecting patients and being negative about everything.
      Thanks Again!
      Katherine

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  9. I had to break up my review of Gentle Path at the Meadows into three parts due to character limits. Please start reading the lowest one first then the next higher and so on.

  10. It seems a bit sneaky that most people aren’t told to plan on aftercare when they arrive at GP, yet most people get told that one of the above three aftercare programs is strongly needed, causing some chaos as their plans for returning to work or whatever get disrupted. I was later able to do enough research to realize that these three programs probably are the best ones out there for sex addicts if you can afford them, but it still is frustrating that the GP aftercare office will provide no assistance in finding something that your insurance will cover if it won’t cover those, and will actively discourage anything other than blind acceptance of their suggestions. For people like myself who need to consider options before making a decision on the largest expenditure of their lives, this can cause lots of stress that in my mind would be avoidable. But I understand the therapeutic value of limiting options for some people.
    The Patrick Carnes treatment model is very well developed, having been refined over many decades while the program was located at the Meadows main campus, Keystone Extended Care Unit, then Pine Grove, before Carnes moved back to the Meadows and started the Gentle Path standalone facility in 2015 under the Meadows umbrella. One concern that I have is that the Carnes model is very much focused on married couples, implying that a single long term monogamous binary relationship is the main healthy goal for sex addicts to aspire to. In particular the disclosure process that Stephanie Carnes developed and presented has absolutely no provision for telling people other than a married partner about ones sex addiction. Going to Gentle Path will tend to lock you into dealing with CSATs, who are sex therapists trained in the Carnes model. My CSAT seemed perplexed that I would want to disclose to anyone other than a spouse and didn’t seem to have any training in how to deal with that. The main thing I learned about dating at GP is to avoid it for a long time and take it very slowly. Maybe this will change as Alexandra Katehakis, author of “Erotic Intelligence” which includes some dating guidelines, has become a senior fellow at GP. I have heard from sex therapists who are not CSATs that Rob Weiss, who heads the sex addiction program at the Ranch, is more geared towards the needs of gay and other less monogamous/binary cultures.

    One surprise was how little explicit treatment was given for substance abuse issues, which the majority of clients had. None of the homework, lectures, or therapy focused on substance abuse although many clients got permission to include it in as an adjunct to their homework assignments. There were some peer led twelve step meetings, but I only was able to attend two AA meetings and that was the extent of my explicit work on substances. In my case, and for many clients, this made sense as we had been to substance abuse programs in the past so we were at GP to fill in the missing piece, which was our sex addiction. It seemed incongruous but strangely functional that they had 24 hour nursing staff to handle fairly extreme detox situations which happened every now and then, but just the controlled environment seemed to be enough to keep people sober after that. Now that I’m three months sober after GP, I do find myself craving alcohol much more than the drugs of choice when I entered GP: Porn and Pot. So maybe more treatment for alcoholism is needed.
    I was very happy with the level of accommodation at Gentle Path. The rooms are nice, new, and clean enough that people who can pay for the program won’t run screaming for the hills. But they aren’t luxurious enough that I was feeling like my money was being wasted on unnecessary luxury. One creepy thing was that all the fixtures are anti-suicide, designed so there is nothing to hang yourself from. We have to check our razors and even suntan lotion out and return them after use, apparently to avoid people committing suicide with them. After leaving the program I heard that a client who went through with me died driving his car into a tree. I now appreciate how sex addiction can ruin lives and how important good help is.
    The food was prepared to a high level of quality, freshness, and tastiness, on par with what would cost about $50-80 total per day in big city restaurants. They always had leftovers of everything for seconds, so much that I was concerned about how much food they were throwing out. However the food was not particularly healthy, with most of the vegetables overcooked and everything having a lot of fat or carbs. There was ice cream available at every lunch and dinner, and sweet bakery items at breakfast. This made me and others think there was a disconnect between the chef and the nutritional therapy program that doesn’t allow clients to receive or possess personal snacks, and locks up the healthy snacks at certain times. I gained nearly 20 pounds while I was there because I was not able to eat like I am used to: having only nutritionally dense food available to me, eating often and intuitively until I’m just full. Instead it was like eating all my meals at restaurants where I’m used to overeating for taste at the expense of health.
    The population who attended Gentle Path changed dramatically while I was there. When I first arrived it was mostly high powered middle aged extroverted professional married men: doctors, lawyers, salespeople. They tended to have issues with affairs and inappropriate work conduct. I got the sense that many of them had breakdowns due to the stress of the holidays which led them to GP. But by the time I left, many of the clients were younger people who were supported by their parents and tended towards porn and being single.
    Again, I focused on the negatives in this review because I think people like myself will feel more comfortable knowing what they are getting into and be able to work with the limitations if they know what they are. And I think that feedback helps the program get even better.
    This program was by far the best thing I’ve done for my sobriety. It is likely the best in the world for sex addicts. I’m very glad I did it and I’m thankful that most of the staff genuinely seemed to care and have the skills to be seriously helpful.

  11. Sorry this is out of order… please start reading my comments upwards. This is a continuation of the below comment.

    The only one on one time I had with my group therapist was when we were discussing requests I would make for things like internet access or telephone calls (which all have to be approved in advance and conducted with oversight). There was a dysfunctional dynamic where he tried to do therapy by denying requests, and generally said no by default. Because I came in acknowledging that I had an issue getting distracted with nonfunctional internet use, he seemed to think that I would somehow benefit from restricting functional internet use. I would have much preferred if he could have used that individual time for helping me with my issues instead of figuring out reasons to deny my requests for functional internet/phone time.
    Requests I was refused included:
    -making a social media post saying I am away and will return mid March, so that people wouldn’t worry about my sudden unexplained departure (GP won’t approve any social media access at all for any reason, even if a GP employee makes the post),
    -web researching aftercare programs and SLEs other than the ones recommended by GP,
    -calling other inpatient sex addiction programs to ask what aftercare they referred people to
    -accessing my walgreens website to check on the status of a prescription that never arrived in the mail, or to order a prescription that was not available locally.
    To be fair, most people who had gone to other inpatient programs commented about how functional GP was in terms of serving the clients rather than the staff, and I generally agree, which is why the exceptions stand out so much for me.
    Because GP controls access to information about aftercare alternatives while you are there, you might want to research or even inquire with these programs beforehand because you won’t have the ability look for alternatives when you are at GP:
    – Prescott House is a residential extended treatment house in Arizona which the vast majority of people at GP get referred to, especially those with more severe substance abuse issues. They say the program is 3-6 months, but several people I have talked to say it’s really a 6 month minimum program and that leaving before then will be almost always considered against medical advice. Many stay for 9 months or even a year. It starts at about $10.5k per month and gets less expensive as you go on. It is very structured where you can’t go anywhere off campus without a peer buddy. Approximately half the clients are sex addicts, but they also provide enough structure to treat people with “severe entitlement issues”
    – The Meadows Intensive Outpatient Program (also called GP IOP at GP but nowhere else) in Scottsdale, AZ has a sex addiction only group which I am currently in. The IOP is new, started in 2015. The therapist who runs this group is literally the best therapist I have seen anywhere, very intelligent, knowledgeable, and relatable. It costs almost $7k per month for two months including residence in the Casa Milagra Sober Living Environment (halfway house) which is only for sex addicts in the Meadows IOP. You will also need transportation (having a car is almost required). The sober house can be very cramped and chaotic with six people plus house manager in a 4-5 bedroom home sharing one common living room, one shower and two toilets, but is the only sex addict sober living home I have ever heard of anywhere, and really beats living with a bunch of junkie kids in a traditional SLE.
    – Pine Grove Professional Enhancement Program is a higher end aftercare program geared towards doctors and lawyers, especially those who have issues with accountability for boundary violations. I haven’t gone but have heard from graduates that it is well run and involves peers giving each other a lot of pointed feedback.

  12. Gentle Path (Sex Addiction house at Meadows) February 2017: Overall I was very happy about my treatment here and I’m still abstinent from my bottom line behaviors three months after leaving.  There are many great things about this program, including most importantly world class therapists and therapy led by Dr. Patrick Carnes, who seems to visit every month or two.  You may very well meet him if you attend.  We also had visits from his daughter Stephanie Carnes. Peter Levine, who is the world’s expert on Somatic Experiencing came, and Kevin McCauley who made the “Pleasure Unwoven” video shown in many rehabs came twice.  In this review I will tend to focus more on the negatives because I find that knowing the downsides allows me to move forward and commit to positive change.  I hope that is what you will do after reading this review if you are looking for and can afford what is quite likely the best sex therapy inpatient program in the world for most people.
    One unexpected bonus was the most complete blood test I have ever gotten, 3 pages of results, including all STDs and many other health conditions. The intake process is amazingly efficient as you are seen by lots of professionals one after another, all gathering detailed information.

    The biggest downside for me personally was that Gentle Path uses group and peer therapy exclusively.  I vigorously advocated for individual therapy while I attended and was not able to get any, except for the exceptions I will list later.  There is no individual psychotherapy at all; the exceptions are that there is an individual psychiatrist who focuses on prescribing drugs (but was able to give me about 20 minutes of talk therapy during my 45 day stay), an individual psychologist who focuses on interpreting psychological testing results such as the SDI and giving many people personality disorder diagnoses (but who gave me about 20 minutes talk therapy in the 45 days), and an individual trauma therapist who does either Somatic Experiencing or EMDR, (who did about 20 minutes talk therapy with me in the 45 days).

    The main way that people are supposed to process their personal issues is by consulting with peers, either one on one or in the daily SAA meeting.  As an introvert, I found this to not be so effective.  I didn’t start really bonding or relating to my peers until intoxicants had left my system and I had only about 2 weeks of time left with my peers.  I do believe GP’s claims that research backs up that peer therapy works best overall; there are more extroverts than introverts in the world so it is natural that their needs get handled better by one-size-fits-all therapy approaches.

    There is group therapy five days a week, where the 20 or less clients are divided up into four small groups, each with typically 5 or less clients and one therapist.  The vast majority of this small group time was taken up with presenting homework projects.  There were very rarely structured checkins or any other structured opportunities for people to bring their own non-homework issues to the group.  It was expected that clients would commandeer the group before things got started if they had something they needed to process.  This seemed to work okay for the extroverts, but not so well for me as an introvert.  I typically got only 10-15 minutes of group time per week for my own non-homework issues, so only about an hour and a half max total over the whole 45 days).

    Another serious problem was that about halfway through my time there, the experienced and talented therapist running the group was replaced by a therapist who was brand new and brand new to the Meadows/Gentle Path.  He was overworked trying to get up to speed.  The Meadows Willows house for Female sex/love addicts was opening up literally next door, so it seemed that the best staff was leaving to go there.  I’m sure they will stabilize over time, but while I was there the experienced staff shortage had a big effect on my experience.

    In retrospect I would have probably chosen to go to the Ranch sex addiction house (Center for Relationship and Sexual Recovery) in Nunnelly, TN instead of GP if I had stopped to consider how much I valued individual therapy as an introvert. The Ranch gives much more individual therapy according to at least three people I have spoken to.

  13. I was discharged from The Meadows in early January and I must say they did a remarkable job treating me. There were a few patients there that were always angry, no matter what. I attributed this to them not really wanting to change who they were. You have to want it before anything is going to work for you. The staff was awesome, from the nursing staff to the dining hall workers. As far as I know, there is nobody in a significant treatment role there that is not licensed or “under-licensed”. Even if there were, I’m not sure I even would care as they were all helpful for my recovery for sure! The other thing that’s not mentioned is how great the staff communication is – every member of my treatment team was always well informed of my progress at the Meadows. I never once had to repeat anything to anyone, cause we all know how annoying that can be. I would HIGHLY recommend the Meadows, no question about it. I spent 17 years in active addiction, which is nearly half my life, and I can honestly say, I have never once felt this good in any of those years. Thank you Meadows!

  14. I found the Meadows intake staff to be highly neglectful, failing to contact me when promised, failing to keep a phone appointment with my therapist, and failing to treat me and my concerns with respect. I made it clear when I first contacted them that I was in urgent need of help. I signed the releases they required and they said they needed further releases, releases I had already provided. They refused to let me know If they could address my primary concern, namely that I am transgendered and needed my own room or to room with a person of my identified gender. They kept promising me an answer, and never delivered. Given that I was in a great deal of need when I contacted them, and let them know my situation was urgent, their actions were abusive. If their treatment of patients is similar to the intake process, care should be taken when choosing them.

  15. There have been at least two suicides at The Meadows. Both were inpatients in treatment there when they both were able to hang themselves: one hung herself in her Meadows’ bathroom. The other eloped from the property (undetected) and hung himself on a tree on an adjacent horse farm. A third patient was discharged early from his program and taken to the Sky Harbor Airport, where he was literally dropped off by staff and left unattended. He never flew home. Instead, he rented a car and drove into the desert until the car ran out of gas. He died there, alone in the desert.

    The staff has been know to be unlicensed, under-licensed, and lacking relevant experience and/or training.

    For more information, go to YOUTUBE and watch the numerous videos uploaded by Denise Fein. They are factual and self-explanatory.

  16. The Meadows help my husband However I was very concerned about my 18 yo sons participation in family week and the Meadows STRONGLY encouraged his participation – only 1 month before he left home for college. This was a big mistake! Although he seemed to be benefitting from the program while in Wickenburg, he went to college and cut off his family in order to “deal with his childhood issues.” Yes he may have issues but nothing that he identified prior to that and now he has cut off all ties with our family. Calls to the Meadows have not been returned. I am not impressed.

  17. I just attended family week at The Meadows and before I mention my thoughts about that program, I wanted to clarify a few things: I don’t know if something changed in the meantime (since this article was written), but now the program at the Meadows is 45 days and costs $55,000 or thereabouts. Yes, patients check their phone on entry and do not have access to it during their stay, but there are 3 hours during the day when public (free) phones can be used. Shorts are not banned but they ask that the shorts be long (not the cheek exposing excuses for shorts so many young women are wearing these days). There are visiting hours on Sundays throughout the program from 11 – 3. If you live close enough to visit your family member, you can do it any Sunday.

    Family Week: Runs Monday through Friday and consists of a morning lecture, a small group therapy session, lunch, then an afternoon lecture and an afternoon small group therapy session. Family members and their loved one are encouraged to discuss only News-Weather-Sports, and not to dig in to issues during down time (breakfast, lunch and dinner and additional breaks). The lectures were excellent and gave me lots of insight on topics from addiction to how to run a family meeting. I thought the quality of the therapists was very high. We did have a couple of sessions where we were able to communicate on hard issues. This was extremely limited. Just know going in, this 45 days of rehab and especially this 5 days of family week is not the cure all – it is dipping your toe in the water and learning the tools to use going forward. The Meadows highly recommends continuing therapy, 12 Step work and stress reduction techniques once you get home.

    What I see in my loved one: My husband is at about day 40 now (of 45). He has explored the connections between childhood abuse and his current anxiety level in ways he never had the chance to before. He went in with the attitude that The Meadows knows more about recovery than he does and he took advantage of every option there. His anxiety level is lower than it has been probably at any time in his life and he understands his responsibility in making that happen on a daily basis (through continued mediation, acupuncture, and other techniques used at The Meadows). I see a bright future for him and for us. It will take loads more work, but I am tremendously optimistic.

  18. Jennifer, no, cell phones are not allowed. It is taken from you when you arrive and you are not allowed access to it until you have been discharged after completing 5 weeks of treatment. I have been to several very nice rehabs and researched literally hundreds and have yet to find a rehab facilities that allows cell phones. It’s too distracting and also a trigger for many people. Not to mention they don’t want you to have access to the negative people in your life.

    Every once in a while a facility will claim they allow cell phones for people in “executive programs” (which of course cost far more) but even those ones fail to mention that you only get your phone during designated times and for brief intervals. I checked into an amazing place in Scottsdale that said I could use my phone and they still confiscated it and only let me see it for about 10 min before dinner and then I had to give it back. It was horrible (although a great rehab. I stayed sober for 18 months after that).
    Anywho. Hope that helps.

    • Amanda, thank you for your comments here. I’ve just had a disaster simply via the intake process of the Meadows. Doesn’t feel honest, actually quite the opposite, and feels quite authoritarian to boot! And upon noting “not licensed therapists” below in the midst of the cost and extraordinary controls, etc., I don’t want to touch it and SO glad I backed off.

      Tell me if you would … you mention having been to several very nice rehabs and researching literally 100’s. Can you tell me the very best you found? And since I’m in Hawaii, any out here or nearby (like the west coast)? Would sure appreciate hearing back from you and gaining that help.

      Keolalani.koaloha@hawaii.rr.com

  19. several of the psychotherapists were not licensed. the fee is quite high and i think for that much money, the therapist should have not only been licensed, but also have had more than a year or two of experience. at the very least, there should be informed consent where the patient and family members are told that the majority (if not all) of their psychotherapy will be conducted by a pre-licensed intern.

  20. Kristen Johnston
    Kristen Johnston on

    I went to the Meadows. It saved my life. But then…I wanted to be saved. It’s a fantastic place, and one I hope never to see again.

    • Beautifully said Kristen. It really is true: we have to want healing in order to receive healing, and the healing path is certainly not for the faint of heart. We have to be willing to open our eyes and hearts to feel the pain, shame, fear with all of its trauma in order to be rid of it forever. At varying times, it can be lonely and isolating when our family of origin is not interested in healing, too. Sometimes, loving them from a distance is best. Glad to hear of your success. Good luck on your journey 🙂

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