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Rehab center moves to Hillcrest Urban environment bodes better for long-term recovery, CEO says

By Ashley Garman SDUN Reporter

When Rancho L’Abri opened

in Dulzura 30 years ago, its 75-acre rehabilitation center offered residents recovering from alcohol and drug addic- tion clean air and grassy vistas from which to contemplate their sober futures. But last January, with a new

treatment philosophy in mind, L’Abri’s CEO, David Newson, moved the facility to Hillcrest. “It doesn’t seem like getting clean and sober in a vacuum in the middle of nowhere re- ally works,” said Newson. “If someone can get clean and sober in this pressure-cooker environment, they are better off longterm.”

Although Newson said

Dulzura is a serene setting, he found clients constantly relapsed when they returned to urban life. An urban location, while

being “temptation central,” may provide daily stressors that help clients make lasting changes, concurred L’Abri’s program manager Megan Partch. While billboards advertising alcohol and the proliferation of drug sellers in the area might tempt recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, Partch said it’s better for them to deal with such unavoidable realities while under the program’s guidance and support. “If those are stumbling blocks, we get to catch them now,” she said.

The location change isn’t the only alteration Rancho L’Abri has undergone. Along with the move, Newson has also increased the program’s clinical budget to half of the center’s overall operational costs, an in- crease that’s enabled the center to bring in professionals with higher qualifications. “Our treatment is better than it ever has been before,” said Newson, noting that while he supports free 12-step programs, which are often led by rehabili- tated addicts, he believes paid clinical care offers a high-level of care from professionals who can accurately differentiate between drug addictions and mental health disorders. “Drugs and alcohol are

symptoms—they’re symptoms

of the underlying problem,” said Matthew Meiklejohn, director of admissions.

For Sean,* a resident of

Rancho L’Abri since January, using drugs and alcohol was a defense against fear, pain and anxiety stemming from child- hood experiences. The sub- stances buf fered his thoughts and emotions so he wouldn’t have to face them. “A lot of times, [drugs and

alcohol] cause more problems than not. We use [them] as coping mechanisms, and when they’re gone, a lot of times we’re grasping at straws. Hopefully, we grab the straw of recovery,” said Sean.

For that reason, Rancho

L’Abri prefers a holistic ap- proach over one reliant on medications. The program takes a holistic approach to rehabilitation, using medicine only briefly at the beginning of a client’s stay. “If you’re only using medical management, people remain on narcotics or some level of drug or pill for extended periods of time,” said Newson, adding that the center instead uses a psy- chotherapeutic approach. “The … psychotherapeutic

approach is longer,” said New- son. “Modern medical manage- ment eases the pain, but pain is part of the process and [psycho- therapy deals] with that pain.” The 30-bed program served

more than 400 people last year. Most of the clientele are be- tween 18 and 28. Newsom said families often spend as much as they would to send a child to college on treatment.

In addition to individual and

group psychotherapy sessions, clients have a range of physi- cal and artistic outlets. Yoga, martial arts, and music classes are a few of the activities on the schedule. “We want them to tap into

San Diego Uptown News | June 24–July 7, 2011


Rancho L’Abri CEO David Newson

something other than just the 12-steps,” said Partch. “Besides, wailing on a drum feels pretty good.”

Sean describes the decision

to go to a rehabilitation center as needing to be “totally intrin- sic.” If someone isn’t ready and willing to get better, it’s a waste of time, he said. “It has to be a personal decision.” “We’re not the kind of

program [that takes] people in and convinces them there’s a problem,” Partch agrees. In that respect, she said Rancho L’Abri might see more growth and success than other facilities, although she notes that success is a slow, transitional process. The program involves several different stages of healing, for example, starting with detoxifi- cation and inpatient treatments. Clients eventually transition to recovery homes and sober-

living environments. “We work with them as long as they’ll have us work with them,” said Newson. “One of the worst things they could do is to actually exit the program prematurely.”

ADVERTORIAL HELLO SUMMER Summer is finally here. It

is time to hit the beach, throw barbecue parties, attend luaus or engage in outdoor activities. It is that time of the year when people soak up the sun and get tan while enjoying the nice, warm weather. The waves, the sand, the sun, camping, theme parks…how lucky San Diegans are to live and experience this California lifestyle. With all this summer fun


New clients only. First pet only.

By appointment only. Coupon is required.

ahead, here are a few den- tal tips to keep your mouth healthy. Hotter and humid weather is sure on its way. Keep those lips hydrated by drinking plenty of water to avoid dry, cracked lips. Use lip balms with sunscreens to protect the lips from the punishing sun. Over- exposure to the scorching heat could cause oral cancer. But before completely fearing the sun, remember a good amount of sunshine is beneficial for oral health. Those rays of sun bursting through the skin and mouth are a great source of Vitamin D, which helps in fight- ing gum disease. Studies sug- gest that Vitamin D suppresses inflammation, a serious sign of periodontal disease. It prevents the formation of infections by counteracting deficiencies and reducing bone resorption. Did you know that the chlo-

rine used in swimming pools can be harmful to the teeth? It weakens the teeth, which could cause them to erode. However, the ocean’s salt water is proven to be conducive in decreasing bacteria in the mouth. If the pool is more preferred than the beach, ask your dentist about getting a fluoride therapy. This treatment will help fight sensi-

tivity and loss of enamel from swimming in pools with higher acidity levels. Sports lovers who are gear-

ing up for more fun and games this summer should be remind- ed that while sports and soft drinks as well as lemonades and iced teas are enticing to drink during and after a game, too much acidic drinks are bad for the teeth. They can cause tooth erosion. Water is still the best drink there is to satisfy one’s thirst. Also remember to use mouth guards when play- ing contact sports to protect teeth from being damaged. Avoid eating sugary or

starchy snacks, or candies and mints on those picnic days as it promotes bacteria. Rinse with mouthwash or water after snacking to dilute the sugar and acids. Brush with fluoride toothpaste to re-mineralize the teeth.

Everyone loves to look fit

and healthy especially on the beach. Aside from a good diet and exercise, brushing the teeth actually helps in weight loss. Notice that after brush- ing, the desire to eat fades due to not wanting to get teeth dirty again after just cleaning them. Brush-up whenever the feeling of eating strikes, and feel that craving disappear. For those wearing den-

tures, it is important to clean the gums after every meal to prevent plaques. This sticky deposit is where bacteria prolif- erates causing unhealthy gums and bad breath. Oral health is essential to

the total wellness. Periodontal disease should not be taken for granted as it leads to more se-

Evelyn Ascough DDS

rious illnesses such as cardio- vascular disease, respiratory disease and Type II diabetes to name a few. Make time to care for your gums and teeth to maximize their longevity. Floss, brush and rinse with mouth- wash after each meal to keep the mouth healthy. See the den- tist regularly for routine clean- ings and check ups. The earlier cavities are detected, the more chance of saving your teeth. Now that summer has ar-

rived, bring the kids to the den- tist for a dental check up. Take advantage of this free time to take care of the oral health of the whole family. Call Dr. Evelyn Ascough today and schedule an appointment at 619-298-0821 or visit her website, http://www. to make an appointment. Dr. As- cough’s clinic is located in the Hillcrest area at 3333 Fifth Ave. Suite 100 San Diego, CA 92103. Have fun this summer and the next time you visit, tell us about your summer adventures.

Yet, Newson said clients

commonly desire to leave as soon as they start to feel a little better.

see Rehab, page 17

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