Spencer Recovery Center Reviews, Cost, Complaints

Spencer Recovery Center


Spencer Recovery CenterSpencer Recovery Center Review

Located in laid-back Laguna Beach, Spencer Recovery Center has been treating addiction for over 20 years. In that time, it has blossomed into an umbrella organization that includes something for everyone. Those looking to save money can hit up the low-cost Palm Springs Recovery, while jet-setting VIPs can get a luxury “executive” treatment at Custom Care. Spencer also owns two age-specific Florida locations: a senior citizen’s rehab called Blue Lagoon, and a young adult treatment facility called Dr. Paul’s at the Bay. Their flagship center in Laguna caters right to the middle of the pack, though residents do tend to skew under-30.

Accommodations and Food

Accommodations at the Laguna facility are squarely middle-of-the-road. Although most residents have one or two roommates, the rooms are partitioned into nooks to create more privacy. Some bedrooms feature views of the Pacific, and full-sized beds are the standard. While there’s still something clinical about the center’s overall aesthetic despite its accumulation of grandmotherly furniture, it’s comfortable enough. Clients dine at long, wooden tables in the kitchen, where meals are prepared by a private chef and snacks are available throughout the day.


Spencer encourages residents to stay for 90 days, but shorter programs are available as well. The programming follows a typical regime of 12-step and psychotherapy, without much variation, though special accommodations can sometimes be made. For the first month, residents attend two 12-step meetings, two process groups and one educational group per day, along with individual counseling several times a week. Daily exercise—using the on-site gym or swimming pool—is built into the routine.

Prospective clients should note that while Spencer isn’t the priciest rehab out there, its base price doesn’t include the cost of “optional” treatments. Detox, which employs Suboxone for opiate addicts, costs an extra $3,700. Patients whose evaluations reveal underlying psychological disorders can cough up an additional $2,700 for the Psych Track, which adds more therapy sessions to treat their dual diagnosis, or the Trauma Track, which utilizes EMDR. Christian clients may wish to check out the Grace Track’s faith-based programming for an extra $1,700. None of these extra costs are too egregious, and one might argue that only the clients who need these services shoulder the costs. Still, the dollars can add up, so it’s fortunate that Spencer claims to accept any insurance plan that will cover it.

Aftercare is integral to recovery at Spencer. The extended care program includes continued one-on-one and group therapy as well as job training and relapse prevention workshops. After one month of extended care, clients become eligible for a year-long boarding program in which they can earn a certificate in addiction counseling while living and interning at Spencer—for an additional $3000 per month, of course.


If you like long walks on the beach, you’re in luck: the staff takes the residents for daily strolls on the shoreline Monday through Friday, often using the time for seaside meditation. Clients who stay on longer than 30 days earn more freedom and find some of their daily groups replaced with volunteering and community reintegration activities. They also see a drop in monthly tuition.

In Summary

Spencer Recovery Center doesn’t go above and beyond in any particular dimension, but it does have a track record to its name and a gorgeous view of the beach. Those looking for something either cheaper or more personalized can always explore Spencer’s lower- and higher-end facilities, respectively. Those seeking a compromise between the two could consider the Laguna destination a relatively happy medium.

Spencer Recovery Center Location

1316 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Spencer Recovery Center Cost

$21,700 (28 days). Reach Spencer Recovery Center by phone at (800) 334-0394. Find Spencer Recovery Center on Facebook and Yelp

Do you have a complaint or review of Spencer Recovery Center? Use the comments area below to add your Spencer Recovery Center review.



  1. I’m writing about the experience our son had at Spencer’s. I wish I had taken the time to do some simple research before we sent him there. There is a lot of false advertising so don’t be fooled. The building is old and rundown and only the cash paying patients can stay at the beachfront mansion, which isn’t all that nice anyway. The food is comparable to hospital food and not good at all. These are minor issues compared to the treatment and how this place is run. Our son was on his way to death from a 10 year heroin addiction and we were assured all of his needs would be met. We were promised 90 days of care but at 28 days, I got a call from Ashley that our benefits were out and any further treatment would have to be paid in cash or by our son entering their Intern Program, where he could stay and have his room and board and meals paid but all other treatment would require cash. We are not wealthy people but we were afraid for his life and believed he needed the extra stay. We asked her how much money was needed to continue and the cost was $13,000! He agreed to the internship (against our advice and his counselor’s advice). Well, a few days after this, our son relapsed with another patient there and I feel he relapsed due to this whole internship situation. He was not ready for the work load and responsibilities and relapsed. He was able to bring drugs into his room. How this happened I do not understand. Thankfully, his counselor was a godsend. She alerted us about the relapse and shared with us that in her professional opinion, our son was not ready to handle this internship so soon into his sobriety. I felt like she was always honest and genuinely cared about what was best for our son and our family. We ultimately decided to check him out of Spencer’s and get him into a smaller facility. And when this happened, we found out our insurance was not run out. He still had plenty of coverage. Spencer’s just wanted to get paid twice. They knew we were in a fearful situation and they tried to take advantage of us. When we say they, I’m talking about the director Will and Ashley as well as Chris Spencer. They don’t care about these patients. They care about the money and nothing more. Our son’s counselor was his guardian angel and we were blessed to have her. She helped our family heal some old wounds and gave our son some new coping skills that he did not have. He now has 3 months sober and I wish we would have done our homework. Mr. Spencer needs to be held accountable for how he treats these newly sober people and their lives. It’s all about money to him and not helping people with sobriety.

  2. John Traczewski on

    I think that 90 days is a good amount of time to get clean and sober. But 28 the numbers really go down on success. I went here in 2010 and I had a good experience in palm springs. But I didn’t have the money for more time, that hurt me. Anyways, there was some problems, but I didn’t see any bottles or stuff in hottub. Addiction is terrible, alcoholism sucks bad, I guess the answer is to not pick up, and that’s the crux of the problem. Anxiety is prevalent in us, and its hard to turn around for allot of us. Overall I just think 90 days clean is a miracle for all of us. I have 60 days, I lost everythg, but I feel the best I have in 12 years. Wish youall the best.

  3. I went to this rehab in 2013 and I could not have had a worse experience, some of the things that went on were not acceptable at all. They broke HIPPA laws every single day, and did things that were not morally right. I have put those things in the past and chose to move on with my life, but if you ask me I will tell you the truth. That being said, last night I was invited to like and review a page for spencer recovery on faceboook, so like i have before, and will now do many more times, I wrote to be aware of the scam that they run and to not send your loved ones there, witch I have every right to do. So about five minuets after I left my review I start getting messages from the admin of the page who I believe works at the front desk at their florida location, she is extremely rude to me. She said things like “you must have been kicked out because you relapsed and your mad now” (witch is not true I was sober for over a year after I left spencers) “shut the fuck up little girl” “if you were there and you knew it was a scam thats fucked up get the fuck out of here” “I heard you left because you got fucked over on money or something” “your an example of a lost little girl” and so on and so forth I told her my side of the story and she said “oh please” then when I told her I would be contacting spencers about this conversation she started apologizing over and over and swearing up and down that she was just upset because she thought i was just lying because i got kicked out and that she believes me now. Then she blocked me on Facebook after getting no response from me and reported my review for bullying and harassment and i got locked out of my Facebook for 24 hours…. makes sense right? I want to add into this that I have been sober for over two years and am doing very well in my career and personal life. I would have been willing to change my views on spencer if she had messaged and told me about all of the positive things that have happened and improvements that they have made, but instead THIS COMPANY (because she represents them) chose to harass me and make me uncomfortable. I would never gone out of my way to write a review like this, I actually have never used this site before, but after the way they treated me SO many years after I left, it just proves that they have not made any changes and i fear for anyone who goes here. Please be aware of the scam they run, it is not worth the heart ache and head ache this place will bring upon you.

  4. Former Client on

    Pls read this to the end.
    Let me give you the real story. Chris and his offspring that run the business don’t give 2 shits about providing a safe & therapeutic environment for the clients. I have seen drugs being used in both California facilities and the consequences are routine. They are sent to their room to sleep it off so the center doesn’t have an empty bed that insurance could be paying for. Chris is a low life who wanted his house on the hill with lots of admiring boys to include fellow clients !!!! That’s way over the line. I watched him treat his employees in Laguna and mostly at Palm Springs like minions that were to do whatever he said. They agreed for fear of being fired. His employee turnover ratio at PS is insane. I saw some come and go in the same month and they knew more about recovery than Chris, his offspring Cindy – better known as Satan by the clients, and most of the counselors combined. In PS, 4 out of 7 mornings, the hot tub would be littered with used condoms, liquor bottles and frequent syringes. This is fact. I saw it. I would sit outside my room after the staff would leave in the evening and watch the clients systemically leave the property because theres no supervision and the clients would go and get alcohol,meth, strange sex partners, you name it – and bring it and/or them back to the property and use them in the rooms and then just have a safe place to use drugs and enjoy their high and it made me furious.
    Thank God my recovery was strong. During my stay, a fellow client successfully hung himself from the bed in Mr Spencer’s private suite. This man should never have been allowed out of a psych unit bc he had just slit both arms from wrist to elbow the day before. When I asked the staff why is he here, I was told that Chris Spencer said he is to be admitted and is to stay in his private suite. It was obvious that there was more to the picture which I wasn’t priveledved to. By 9:40am the following morning, this guy was hanging from Mr Spencer’s wrought iron bed frame by a belt and had been alone only for 20 minutes. Chris never bothered to show his face and chaos began. A staff gave his report to the coroner & the state auditor and then told his coworker I’m out. I refuse to back date or change documents on behalf of these people.

    Folks this is only a few stories of what happened while I was a client there in Palm Springs and a brief time in Laguna but please please please take heed – DO NOT send your loved one there to get help because they won’t get any help. They won’t get any medical attention that they need and they’ll just continue to use in the facility, outside of the facility and nothing will have changed.
    There is absolutely zero regulation over the PS facility and I just feel so bad for the people that come here with so much hope trying to save their lives and they get absolutely nothing in return. So please go anywhere on the planet except for to Spencer Recovery Center because you will waste 30+ thousand $$ and you will get back exactly what you sent away. Whoever they are will come back in the same condition -they may look a little heavier and they will look a little cleaner but they’re still doing the same thing. Do some research, find a reputable place and send your loved one there. There is so many things I wanna tell you about this place and these greedy, compassionateless trash that prey on the families of the addicted loved one only to be making money and that’s really a shame. Go get help. ITS NOT HERE!!!

  5. Welcome to the Recovery Industry. These are Businesses, and if you think that money is not on their mind whatsoever you are either ignorant or naive or just out of touch with reality. Yes they are there to help, but every business has a bottom line and as someone who has been to treatment 10 times, i think i have ample experience in this field.

    • Ok, so… how is your comment supposed to help those seeking treatment? You have ample experience in the rehabilitation field… great. Have you been to this one? That’s what people want to know about when reading comments, just fyi. Thanks

  6. Lisa Gambardella on

    My son Louis Gambardella went to Spencer January 4, 2017. He went with a terrible Xanax, suboxone problem. He was mandated to return to New York because of a bench warrant, The whole time he was at Spencer my credit card was being banged out for suboxone, valium and seriquil, even though I provided my insurance information for Flagler Pharmacy. So I sent my son to detox and he was feed medications the whole time he was there. He came home with the same addition he went there with.
    He is now struggling once again. They did not help my son.

  7. That story above isn’t crap, Chris spencer is the biggest thief on the planet.. I was in Palm Springs with 2 guys who just were 90 days sober running the place.. Theirs a unlocked gate with a liquor store right across the street.. The only person who gave a shit was our counselor mrs. Donna, she truly did everything 4 Us while spencer sat in his mansion not giving 2 shits and then after I’m done wit treatment they send me more bills 6 months later.. I should be suing them for false advertisement cuz nothing was true that I was promised!!!! Chris do the world a favor and shut down and have some dignity in that money grubbing body of yours and that will help people more then u are now!!!!

  8. Kimberly Holdren on

    BEWARE!! Money insurance hungry!!!! I was picked up by the van and drove 3 hours to St Augustine FL location. I was there 2 days started on Suboxone and then was told sorry we dont participate with your insurance after they assured me they did! I got two doses of Suboxone and was cut cold turkey and sent home! They didnt even attempt to help me find another facility or offer to at least keep me through the detox period. They also kept the Suboxone that I paid $44 for! They have no heart and refused to let me speak to Jonathan Spencer! The building is very old dirty and institutional feeling. DO NOT GO!!!

  9. I wouldn’t trust any affiliates of SPENSERS or DR PAULS this whole business is hungry for insurance money and hiding the fact that hey are lock up mental hospitals!! I was promised accomidications that seemed too good to be true, drove 5 hours out of our way with my dog only to find a disturbing and terrifyingly uninviting building hat looked straight out of a horror movie, with a sign that read ” Spencer Behavioral Health Facility” which was not even the name advertised for the location I was going to (St Augestine/ “Dr. Paul By the Sea”) looked like a complete hellhole and my family decided not to even walk in. Also take a closer look at the Dr /staff credential , most are Extremely vague , buffed up with some nice grammar to sound appealing masking the truth that the doctors actually spent more time practicing in Africa/third world countries then in he US. Please do not be fooled, do you’re research before you go out of you’re way and drive 400 miles like I did. Thank god I didn’t get fooled into signing any papers with these hungry crooks.

      • Marnie Thompson on

        I am with Marisa and Kimberly. I went into that hellhole for 12 days and it was beyond disgusting, clearly a profit-driven facility that made all its money by gaming clients’ insurance and skimping badly on patient care. There are bugs in the bagels and cereal and all of the cleaning is done by clients and unpaid interns. Night nurses act offended if you ask them to come out of their office at night to enforce basic rules such as no smoking or screaming in the building. A terrible place. Whoever makes money off it should be in jail.

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