Phoenix House is an institution of 123 facilities in 11 states, including residential academies for teens that provide a full high school curriculum. Since 1979, founder Mitch Rosenthal has helped some of the most desperate and destitute of addicts get back into the world through Phoenix House. Though it receives support from high profile figures like Beyonce and Shaq, it’s nothing like the luxury, celebrity-strewn treatment centers up the road in Malibu. But for many residents, who are straight out of the criminal justice system, it’s the only option for recovery.
Accommodations and Food
The Venice branch of Phoenix House is an all-male inpatient program, though the outpatient program is co-ed. While its beachfront setting helps lighten up its stark brick façade, accommodations aren’t plush for the 53 residents; however, many of the rooms, which are shared by two or three clients, have unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean. The patio garden has undergone a bit of a makeover in the last few years thanks to help from local businesses and volunteers. Clients are served healthy meals three times a day and have access to healthy snacks throughout the day as well.
Phoenix House has acquired and maintained strong ties to the Venice Beach community, which have proven to be a real asset for the treatment center. For example, local yoga teacher Angela Laner volunteers her time to lead groups of clients in beachside meditation.
Treatment and Staff
The love that Phoenix House attracts from its local community trickles down to its residents, though it’s often turned into tough love. There are four phases in their treatment plan—orientation, motivation and enforcement, primary treatment, community reentry and aftercare. Residents are assigned regular duties based on skill level and career aspirations, and protocols are strictly enforced. While there’s some room for fun (including fitness classes at Muscle Beach), schedules during treatment are as tight.
Phoenix House subscribes to the model of addiction as a chronic disease and uses the evidence-based SAMHSA Curriculum as its therapeutic foundation. Clients with co-occurring disorders are welcome but must undergo 72 hours of initial observation to ensure they don’t hurt themselves or others. Group sessions integrate structured 12-step components, while individual counseling is grounded in CBT. Clients may stay up to a year as residents and receive tailored treatment plans based on their backgrounds and needs.
There are two full-time staff members at Phoenix House on a daily basis but the entire California team is comprised of several more people. Clients have access to doctors, therapists and mental health specialists.
Since Phoenix House is often an alternative to prison, getting people sober is just one part of reintegrating them into society. Treatment teams help residents with broader life skills—everything from improving social and family functioning to basic literacy. One of the center’s goals is that clients leave Phoenix House not only sober but also economically independent. The Venice facility includes its own Vocational Center that offers remedial classes, GED training and job-hunting resources in partnership with Chrysalis. Other special programs include a computer-training course by Crossing the Digital Divide and a creative writing program featuring classes, workshops and presentations by field professionals. The house has even begun a tradition of annual poetry slams for Black History Month.
Phoenix House also helps clients reunite with their families as well as find jobs and housing after treatment. It accepts most private insurance as well as Medicaid and Access to Recovery (CARE).
Phoenix House Venice is a community-supported rehab where addicts looking to turn their lives around can learn to function and even help each other thrive. For men at the end of their rope, the combination of old-school disciplinary rigor and the loving philosophy of Venice Beach may be a winning combination.
Phoenix House – Venice
503 Oceanfront Walk
Venice, CA 90291
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