Occupying what was formerly the estate of a frozen foods magnate, Seabrook House was founded in 1974 by recovering alcoholic Jerry Diehl and his wife, Peg. Their mission was to bring a much-needed treatment center to Southern New Jersey. The Diehls, along with several close friends in recovery, had noticed that alcoholics who went to rehab, and then to AA, seemed to have a better chance of achieving long-term abstinence. Jerry passed away in 1989, but Peg and the couple’s son, Edward, continue to run the rehab. Today, Seabrook House has five other facilities, including one in Pennsylvania, that provide inpatient services, detox, extended care, and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) services for those struggling with addiction.
Accommodations and Food
Inpatient and detox treatments are provided on the main campus in Bridgeton, a small town just inland from Delaware Bay. The rehab has a 146-bed capacity, of which 37 beds are used for detox residents. The estate sprawls over 40 acres, with manicured grounds, woods, winding paths, quaint benches, a gazebo and a trickling water fountain. While walking down a trail, a resident might spot the Serenity Prayer etched on a rock.
Residents live in colonial-style houses with brick-red roofs. Gender-specific suites and private rooms are available for an additional fee. Rooms are spacious, yet cozy, with the type of décor usually found at a Cape Cod bed and breakfast. Rooms include dressers, closets and private bathrooms. Seabrook House has a gym with treadmills, a yoga room and a common room with dark wooden walls, a large-screen TV and pinball machines.
A former restaurant chef prepares gourmet meals such as steak, fish, and pasta. A fresh salad bar is stocked for lunch and dinner. Those with vegan or vegetarian diets are accommodated. Caffeine is taboo, so those who crave coffee have to settle for decaf. A pretty dining room has oblong tables covered with red tablecloths and adorned with fresh flower centerpieces.
Treatment and Staff
The rehab uses its own treatment philosophy, the Seabrook House Model, which employs detoxification (if necessary), followed by inpatient treatment including 12-step based counseling, transitional care and attendance at AA/NA meetings.
Upon admission, residents receive an intake evaluation with a nurse plus a urine drug screen. Twenty-four hours later, they obtain a complete medical examination and receive individualized treatment plans. Those requiring detox undergo medication-assisted treatment and 24-hour-a-day nursing care. Alternative therapies, including acupuncture and massage, are used to ease the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. Detox services cost $5,000 for the first five days.
Inpatient treatment, not including detox, is typically 30 to 35 days long. While the program focuses on the 12 steps, the rehab uses evidence-based practices, alternative therapies and exercise as part of treatment. They also provide dual diagnosis support, if needed. While this is a co-ed facility, women and men are divided into gender-specific groups. Group topics include relapse prevention and identifying triggers. Treatment includes two-hour group therapy (daily, except Sundays), individual therapy (a minimum of one hour-long session per week) and attendance at four NA/AA meetings a week that are held on the premises. EMDR is provided for those suffering from trauma issues.
A typical inpatient schedule may include wake up at 7 am, followed by a gym workout, breakfast, group therapy, break and lunch. After lunch is a Big Book study, followed by a lecture, NA/AA meeting, break, dinner, step study group, a recovery movie, a break, snacks and lights out at 11 pm.
After the first 30 to 35 days, Seabrook offers gender-specific transitional care programs. Female residents move to Changes for Women, a 37-bed facility located on the main campus. The men’s transitional care program is located on the equally luxurious estate known as Seabrook House West in Westfield, Pennsylvania.
Transitional care lasts a minimum of 90 days for those in early recovery, but a six-to-12-month stay is recommended. Length of stay is determined by each resident’s individual progress. The facilities feature both private and semi-private accommodations. Through daily groups, lectures and outside meetings, these programs are designed to immerse each person in a 12-step way of life, while providing the basic rehab support of counseling and sober housing.
Seabrook House’s IOP treatment, located at the main campus, includes three-hour group therapy sessions three times a week and hour-long individual therapy session.
Seabrook House’s inpatient treatment, IOP and detox services accept most major health insurance plans including Aetna, Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Cigna. Private pay for the 30-day residential treatment program is $26,200. The cost for both men’s and women’s transitional care programs is $27,500 for 90 days. The transitional living is private pay only.
Co-founder Margaret “Peg” Diehl is a CADC, while Edward Diehl is the president of Seabrook House and has 39 years of sobriety. Seabrook House also employs approximately 62 staff members, including CADCs, psychiatrists, primary therapists, nurse practitioners, drug and alcohol interns and specialty therapists. The majority of staff have a Bachelor’s- or Master’s-level degree of expertise.
Seabrook House offers a plethora of alternative therapies, including equine therapy, brainspotting (for trauma), acupuncture, yoga, meditation, massage therapy, sleep management, drumming, music therapy and art therapy. Residents exercise in a 4,000-square-foot gym. Some participate in adventure therapy, consisting of a ropes course designed to build self-esteem, create a sense of achievement and help to develop trust.
The recovery enhancement program is Seabrook House’s aftercare and includes 12 months of monitoring, drug screens and therapy. The cost is $2,000, private pay only.
Seabrook House offers the Family Matrix family program, a three-day event to help families learn how to heal while their loved one is struggling with or recovering from chemical dependency. The program is scheduled from 6 to 9 pm Thursdays, and from 9 am to 5 pm Fridays and Saturdays. Topics include enabling, family dynamics, relapse, guilt, co-addiction, boundaries, addiction as a brain disease and forgiveness. The cost for the event is $195.
The biggest complaint from former residents about Seabrook House is that the staff is full of “Big Book thumpers,” so those seeking a 12-step alternative should probably go elsewhere. However, for those desiring a strong foundation in the AA program, this rehab offers comfortable, intensive treatment in a beautiful setting.
133 Polk Lane
Seabrook, NJ 08302
Seabrook House Cost: $26,200 (30 days). Reach Seabrook House by phone at (856) 455-7575 or (800) 761-7575 (help line) or by email at [email protected]. Find Seabrook House on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+
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