The Refuge Review, Cost, Complaints

The Refuge


The RefugeThe Refuge Review

The Refuge, a Florida recovery facility on 94 acres in the middle of Ocala National Forest, might be worth consideration. It’s been in business since 2004, and the variety of treatment programs it offers is impressive. While it specializes in PTSD and trauma, it also treats depression, eating disorders, drug/alcohol addiction and even process addictions like gambling, sex and shopping.


Housing at the Refuge consists of small cabins throughout the property, with a total of 36 female beds and 25 male ones between them; the only difference is that female cabins have three beds apiece with a loft whereas male cabins have two beds and no loft (but everyone gets a roommate).  The self-described focus here is on getting in touch with the “purity of nature,” so residents shouldn’t expect much TV or Internet time.

Treatment and Staff

One of the credos at the Refuge is “there is no one specific way to do trauma work,” so each program track addresses physical, spiritual and emotional healing with a focus on the individual. Basic offerings include CBT and 12-step work (along with off-site AA/NA meetings), though they largely favor experiential treatment. Their list of treatment modalities is extensive, and includes psychodrama, hypnosis, yoga, art and music therapy, adventure therapy, Reiki, acupuncture, EMDR, equine therapy and somatic experiencing.

An average day generally begins with a morning meditation, breakfast, a community meeting and a morning caseload with six to nine other clients that lasts about two hours. After that, residents have an hour to attend step-work groups or to work on therapeutic assignments (including creating a timeline of their lives, a body map for locating trauma or letter writing). After that comes lunch and the afternoon caseload with a different group of clients. Free time, where residents can meet with therapists, take in the sights, contact family and friends or just relax, follows.

There’s also a four-day family week that happens every six weeks (depending on client and counselor approval) where families are invited to educational sessions (both group and one-on-one) about how to communicate, set boundaries and listen to one another.

Their staff includes two doctors and a nurse director, as well as a 13-person clinical staff of therapists, counselors and psychologists, two of which are PhD level, though most have Masters degrees; they also have eight outpatient-only staff members with similar qualifications. Residential stays range from 30 days to an entire year, while on-site detox (if necessary) lasts seven to 10 days.


Besides the aforementioned experimental treatment methods that are considered a core part of the program, the pine-covered campus also has a swimming pool, volleyball court, basketball court and fishing dock for residents to use during down time. There’s also a labyrinth and many trails throughout the property for biking, hiking and horseback riding—there’s even high and low ropes courses, as well.

In Summary

Overall, the Refuge is truly that—clients can expect to be alone with their thoughts and the healing power of nature, even if the actual daily structure is loose enough to provide ample freedom. Those with wanderlust will click with this approach better than techies, but cabin-cravers wanting East coast treatment could certainly find themselves getting on the road to recovery here.

The Refuge Location

14835 SE 85th St
Ocklawaha, FL 32179

The Refuge Cost

 $24,800 (30 days). Reach The Refuge by phone at (877) 910-5759. Find the Refuge on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

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



  1. Louise Burton on

    The Refuge is a terrible and cruel group place to go. I would not want anyone to experience the pain and anxiety that I did when I was there. These people are tantamount to a Nazi organization–literally. They are consistently mean, abusive, and angry. Besides the long distances I had to walk the worst part was the systematic dosing with psychadelic chemicals that the staff performed. The doctor periodically would give lectures to the group asking for yet another handout. The constant requests for donations were disgusting. The sense of fear and anxiety these people held over the group has finally gone away after seven years. After another treatment center and a current psychologist to deal with their toxic fallout I am finally finally over it. I spent the same amount of money on another center that I spent on them, and to merely clean up their Nazi brainwashing! This is very sad place indeed. My parents worked with a supposedly top interventionist to get me there, but I only blame these people, not the interventionist. Every day I paint a picture to express my sadness at the whole place. The Refuge is a criminal organization comprised of hijackers, robbers, nazis, pimps and kidnappers.

  2. Our family also had the misfortune of experiencing the Refuge a few years ago. I appreciate the honest reviews here. I don’t want to get into details, but I think it was one of the most painful and lasting lessons of my family’s life. Those of us who stretched financially to pay for this treatment have deeply regretted it. They were unprofessional in many ways and made choices that were harmful to the health of my loved one and extremely hurtful in a lasting way to our family. Don’t be conned.

  3. Elizabeth G. on

    I spent a total of 3 months at The Refuge back in 2014 and I will never recommend that place to anyone who needs help! My family did a lot of research before they decided to send me there and we had heard rumors about the place in the past, but I really needed the help at the time and since there’s not a lot of option in Marion County, we reluctatly agreed to give the place a try. Worst mistake ever! I got there and immediately wanted to go home. I felt violated from the second I arrived and even though some of the staff tried to by nice, a lot of the girls that were in rehab there were mean. I had several of my personal items stolen twice and when I caught the person doing it, the staff yelled at me and said nothing to the person who was holding my item in her hands!!! What bothered me a lot about the place is the memorial wall that patients are allowed to visit. The staff told us that the wall was in remembrance of those who died from addiction, but what my family later found out was that most of the victims on the wall died while at The Refuge! Had I known that prior, I would have NEVER agreed to go there for care. I guess there are coverup stories circulating around Ocala about the insane amount of people who have died on the property due to negligence by the Refuge, but the owner and CEO has done her best to cover up these incidents. Also, if you read more reviews about the place you will find that they have a high incidence of rape and sexual assault there and to me, that is 100% believable, as I witnessed a lot of inappropriate behaviors from both the male clients and the male staff to females. This place really should be shut down and I’m not saying that to be mean, just more out of concern for all the people who entrust this place with their loved ones only to have smething awful happen to them. Please just do very thorough research before you send someone you know or care about to the Refuge.

  4. My experience there was life changing for the better. This place literally saved my life. It is trauma focused. Yes, many people are addicts, but it comes with the territory of trauma victims. I made lifetime friends and the staff was great. The therapist, Sarah and the HM’s Kelly and Donna, were the most life changing people I’ve ever met. I was very rough around the edges, but they saw through my exterior to who I really was. They cared about me and made me want to keep fighting. I went from the psych ward for suicide to enjoying everyday of my life. It’s hard work, but the people here really care and can teach you a better way.

  5. First, let me say I am very sorry for your loss. I am confused though because you state that the relationship was with an underage girl and The Refuge only treats people 18 and older. I am not saying that a relationship while in treatment should ever be condoned, however while doing my due diligence in trying to find a suitable place for my daughter I want to be sure the negative reviews I am reading are accurate. The Refuge has been highly recommended by several people within the industry and this is extremely concerning for me. Again, so sorry for your loss.

  6. Michele Mardis on

    Wow it saddens me to read this.
    I went for depression anxiety PTSD childhood truma sex abuse lots day at a time
    Self pity. They helped me. It’s lasted.
    Steve Levine is the best at his job!!!!
    Put me on the road to Healing. Very grateful. It was hard work not fun.
    Sorry for the bad things that have happened ????

  7. I found myself at the refuge specifically because of how well put together the program works. In other words they talk a good “game” however as an ex client I didn’t see a great deal of those modalities you can utilized. I feel their focus is no longer on healing but more for profit. There’s a great deal of navigate of reinforcement favoritism enabling a lack of communication and the medical assistance is enough and negligent. There is no communication between staff as well as with the clients. The clinical assistant director Dirk H is one of the best representations I have of everything that is flawed with the recovery system. I truly believe that his main goal is to promote his parents would she works incredibly hard to maintain even at the risk of putting down and endangering clients. I would not recommend this place. I do not feel it is safe in any capacity

  8. Yes the Refuge was shady when I went there in 2008. Since then I have heard legit scary stories of suicide and rape. Rape in a trauma treatment center?!?! You have to be kidding me. How is this acceptable. I can only pray this place gets shut down ASAP. That’s really disgusting. Check out onsite. They are the best for trauma. The Ranch double bills clients ( they are under criminal investigation) and go to the Refuge and you will get raped. Awesome.

  9. The Refuge is a corporate scam. Do not go there. They do not practice the principals of the 12 steps to guide you to sobriety. From the moment you call the, they are seeing how much money they ca get from you. Dicker with them. I did, and ended up paying much less than many of the other clients who were there. The place is also working on a cookie cutter plan of therapy. If you are a female or suffered childhood trauma then you are in their wheel house. However, if you are military or law enforcement they have no idea how to deal with your type of trauma. That said, therapist Steve Levine, can reach law enforcement and military. He may be a screaming liberal, but he knows how to get you out of the victim mentality. For that I’m grateful.

    The Refuge specializes in making women feel like they are perpetual victims and men are evil. As long as they can keep women in the victim mode they can make money off of them.

    Also though it supposedly isn’t allowed, sex and hook ups abound. Some of those acts are ignored by staff, but if you are on their bad side, then any cross-sex contact will be dealt with harshly.

    There are better options than the Refuge. Explore them before you waste your time, money and sobriety.

  10. Holly Gordon on

    I went to “The Refuge” for Complex PTSD. Their website presented this compound as specializing in PTSD.

    I spoke at length with one of their sales people, Kelly, in order to make sure that this was the right facility for me. I felt like going into residential treatment for my severe symptoms of Complex PTSD, including chronic suicidal ideation, was my last chance.

    To be brief, The Refuge is a drug treatment facility. It is too noisy, too crowded and does not offer enough one-on-one therapy for someone with the severity of my symptoms.

    Other notes:

    – a follow client, who had been physically and verbally abusive to two other clients, verbally abused me and tried to attack me in the dining hall while we were talking after a meal. Everyone else had left. There were two women cleaning who I didn’t notice, but, they saw the entire interaction. I got away from him and was in shock after the event, so much so that I went into denial, but, immediately afterward, the two women who were cleaning reported it. The client stayed on the property, was verbally required to stay in his cabin, just 100 yards from mine, waiting for his parents to pick him up.

    – my loft was dirty, old, had very sparse furniture, only one outlet, etc.
    – I was promised a bike, but I didn’t get one until I got very upset about it.
    – no “health food” as had been promised
    – and so many other problems.

    It was a waste of money.

Leave A Reply

About Author

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