Nugen’s Ranch is located on 116 acres in Sarah Palin’s home town of Wasilla, Alaska. This unique rehab was founded in 1981 by the husband and wife team of recovering alcoholics Leonard and Henrietta Nugen, who met at an AA meeting. Their belief is work therapy, combined with a 12-step approach, helps clients stay sober and teaches new life skills.
Accommodations and Food
The enormous Nugen’s Ranch property is comprised of a large garden, main building, barn, sheds and a sizeable greenhouse. The barn houses pigs only and the 100′ by 40′ greenhouse includes vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, cabbage and lettuce. The ranch also grows hay and potatoes.
The main building includes offices, meeting rooms, a dining room, gym, laundry room and lodgings. The facility has a 26-bed capacity, including nine beds for women. Men and women reside on separate wings and are paired in dorm-style rooms furnished with beds, nightstands and lamps.
Residents are served three hot meals per day, cafeteria-style. A salad bar is available during lunch and dinner. A cook prepares a variety of entrees, such as pork chops and steak fajitas. Special diets, including vegetarian, are addressed on a case-by-case basis. Coffee is available during breakfast, lunch and at AA/NA meetings. Smoking is permissible in designated areas.
Treatment and Staff
Treatment length is typically between six and 24 months. Currently, there is a four to six month waiting list for program admittance. An application packet including a current psychiatric evaluation (for those with co-occurring disorders), physical examination and substance abuse assessment must be completed. A treatment team reviews applications and decisions are made in one to two weeks. Upon intake, accepted clients receive individualized treatment plans. Detox is not provided and residents must have 72 hours of abstinence prior to entry. Referrals can be made to a nearby detox facility, if needed.
With an emphasis on a 12-step based approach, treatment includes group therapy, individual therapy (once per week), work therapy, and frequent attendance at 12-step meetings off the premises. Group topics include life skills, dual diagnosis support, the 12-step philosophy, relapse prevention and spirituality. Residents must attend a minimum of five AA/NA meetings per week and complete all their steps prior to discharge. Work therapy includes animal care, gardening, planting, growing hay, farming, greenhouse maintenance, and housekeeping duties.
Staff psychiatrists monitor individuals requiring medications. A doctor provides primary care while a dietitian offers nutritional support. Staff psychiatrists and doctor are available on a weekly basis, Nugen’s Ranch employs a full-time nurse. There are also two CSACs on the premises every day.
On Sundays, the rehab has a family program that includes family group sessions for relatives and residents.
Prior to discharge, clients develop an aftercare strategy that incorporates a relapse prevention plan, vocational or educational goals, plans for sober living accommodations and continued therapy at an outpatient rehab.
Residents participate in Native American pow-wows, 12-step activities, social gatherings, and outings with their sponsors. The annual June Fun Day opens the Ranch to the local community for tours, games and activities.
While residents do not slaughter the pigs, the animals are eventually used for food, so PETA members and animal lovers might want to seek another rehab. But for those seeking a communal lifestyle in a 12 step-based farmstead environment, along with comprehensive substance abuse and addiction treatment services, this might be the right fit.
26731 Point MacKenzie Rd
Wasilla, AK 99654
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