In 2009, Sky Forest local Kory Avarell purchased the quaint Storybrook Inn, a serene woodland getaway on the shores of Lake Arrowhead, and began renovations to create a new alpine recovery retreat. Though the exterior still resembles a Swiss ski chalet, in 2012 the place was re-born as a full-service, medically-supervised inpatient program specializing in dual diagnosis as well as partial hospitalization, outpatient programs, sober living, transitional aftercare and relapse treatment. The newness of this program is both a benefit and a drawback. Recent grads laud the spectacular grounds and unsullied facilities; still, since the program here is still in its infancy, it has yet to build a lengthy track record of sober success stories.
The campus consists of multiple housing facilities, some gender-specific or designated aftercare, but all are similar A-frame cabins complete with large stone fireplaces, leather couches and wood carvings of various woodland creatures (squirrels seem a popular choice here). Depending on overall occupancy, there are six-to-eight people of the same gender in each chalet and a good three-to-four per room (no private rooms, alas). The common areas are generally spacious and comfortable, with high ceilings, wide windows and sliding glass doors that open onto balconies or wrap-around decks that feature the facility’s primary amenity: the wilderness of Lake Arrowhead.
Treatment and Staff
As with many newer programs, the approach at Above It All is holistic treatment: they aim to heal the mind, body and spirit. To this end, the center takes full advantage of their nature-rich setting. To strengthen the bond between body and mind, they encourage clients to find renewal in the crisp mountain air and tranquil lakefront grounds. In addition to walks and nature hikes, Above It All also offers meditation, yoga, nutritional healing and equine therapy. So if you are a Lake Arrowhead lover, you’ll be mighty comfortable here.
While some of the activities are new age, the core of the program is a recovery classic—the 12 steps. They employ a host of counselors who may not have a lot of scholastic initials after their names, but do have more than a few decades of sobriety under their belts. Despite criticism about the lack of credentials for group leaders, it should be noted that the small staff also has a licensed nurse as well as CADC II/ ICADC certified therapists and psychologists. Also, a doctor is present during the initial detox period and available once a week after. But the presence of clinical professionals and medication during detox are ancillary to the primary means of recovery here, which is talk therapy in the form of groups, classes and meetings.
The daily schedule brings all these activities together. The morning starts at 6:30 am with breakfast and meditation. After that, days are filled hourly with 12-step meetings, EMDR sessions, CBT, gym time and various life skills workshops.
The first 10 days here are a lot like the 10 days before rehab—a blackout period. In this case, it’s a communications blackout since there are no calls or visitation privileges until clients get through detox. After that, calls are allowed from the house phones after 8 pm and loved ones can visit on Sundays from 12pm-6pm.
And those house phones come in handy as no cell phones are permitted during the entire stay. Carrying cash is also discouraged. House phones are free of charge and any extra expense can be paid through a petty cash account set up upon arrival. While all housing, meals and therapy sessions are included in the price of admission, extras like massage appointments are paid through petty cash. With the exceptions of liquor, drugs and energy drinks, visitors can get pretty much any grocery item they need.
Former clients give high marks to the staff and there’s an intimate Mom-and-Pop feel at this young mountaintop center. With only five-to-10 regular staffers on hand, several new to counseling, they are eager to help and dedicated to the cause. But a small staff also has clear disadvantages: each counselor is stretched thin, teaching classes, handling administrative duties and simultaneously caring for multiple clients both on-site and in aftercare. Despite good intentions, details can fall through the cracks.
In addition to massage, yoga, equine therapy and the like, Above It All has a block of time they call “Celebration” which is good, old-fashioned boy-and-girl time (genders are segregated but once a week, Celebration allows them to share group activities). Usually, this occurs during one of the many outings to the village for church, bowling, pizza or 12-step meetings. The goal is to regularly integrate aspects of ordinary life during the recovery process to lessen the culture shock after rehab.
There are 60 and 90-day programs here but the minimum stay is 45 days. Most major insurance or cash is accepted. For addicts looking for luxury or an institution with a longer-standing reputation, the rustic charm of this newer facility might not be ideal. But for those on a budget or those seeking a serene place to recover, slow down and reconnect with nature, Above It All might be a good fit.
Above it All Treatment Center
27482 North Bay Road
Lake Arrowhead, CA 92352
Above It All Treatment Center Cost: $10,333 (30 days, adjusted). Reach Above It All Treatment Center by phone at 877-351-4676 or by email at [email protected]. Find Above it All Treatment Center on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+
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