This review is from the perspective parent. La Hacienda was definitely not the right choice for my 18 year-old daughter. I am a parent who was guided to La Hacienda by insurance coverage, internet reviews, and La Hacienda’s pre-admission sales pitch. First, you should be very cautious before believing what the intake (or admissions) specialists say to you before you check in to any facility. I am convinced the person “selling” La hacienda to us prior to our arrival was on some form of incentive program designed around securing new patients. The “tell you anything” approach seems common in the rehab business.
The La Ha admissions specialist (salesman) boldly lied about several things. I won’t detail the things about which he lied, because that isn’t the point. The point is that he lied specifically about the things we expressed were important to us in a rehab program. If we had expressed other priorities, his story would likely have morphed in parrallel. The salesman assured us that all the things we wanted were key aspects of their program. The most important lie was when he described how trauma treatment was one of La Hacienda’s specialties as a part of their dual diagnosis program. As it turned out there was no trauma treatment available at La Ha, and no one on the staff had a clue how to treat someone dealing with trauma.
I will preface the following statements with an acknowledgment that my daughter was a difficult patient. She had been through a very traumatic event. She had been using drugs, but was clean for at least two weeks prior to admission (there were no detox challenges). She was very reluctant to enter rehab.
The first thing that happened upon arrival at La Ha was my daughter found out that she had been lied to by La Hacienda about what would be available to her during treatment. That immediately made her angry and skeptical of the staff. Then we discovered that many of the patients at La Hacienda were there as part of a court order to reduce sentencing. My daughter didn’t want to be there, and she was surrounded by other people who didn’t want to be there. Most of the court ordered patients had no desire to stop drinking and/or using drugs. They were simply serving the their 30-day rehab sentence.
The way the La Ha staff handled an 18 year-old who had been through trauma, didn’t trust the staff, and didn’t think she needed treatment was to begin a battle with her over authority. “You will do what I say, because we have rules and I am in charge.” My daughter’s response was to prepare for battle. When she resisted participation in therapy they chose a firm disciplinarian approach. There was never a noticeable attempt to build trust and use encouragement.
I became involved after both my daughter and the staff were complaining about each other to me. I participated in conference calls and meetings where I felt like the counselor (or referee) trying to get both sides to be respectful and find a productive path forward. My daughter’s behavior deteriorated while at La Hacienda into a personality neither my wife or I had ever seen. The longer she was there, the worst it became. In addition I personally witnessed La Hacienda staff members and management interacting with my daughter by initiating conflict, arguing immaturely, engaging in personal insults, using degrading and condescending language. It was appalling and shockingly unprofessional. The La Hacienda staff conducted themselves in a way that was fitting of what one might expect from the staff at a county jail.
Our daughter was at La Hacienda for 18 days. The La Ha staff and my wife and I all agreed the program was not working for her, so we took her out early. She was in a demonstrably worse state at the time of discharge than she was when she was admitted.
Here is “The Rest of the Story”. It took two solid days of negotiation, comforting, counseling, insisting, etc. to finally convince my daughter she still needed counseling. It was difficult because of the disaster she had just experienced at La Ha. She reluctantly entered another facility called the Ripple Recovery Ranch (RRR) about 20 minutes north of San Antonio.
The difference between the two facilities stark in every regard. The approach taken by Ripple is not a 12-step program. It is neuroscience-based approach that focuses on retraining the brain’s physiological response to trauma, stress, temptation, etc. The 12-step programs focus on the patient’s moral shortcomings. There is substantial research supporting the conclusion that addiction is not a moral shortcoming. My daughter found the neuroscientific approach much more beneficial. Aside from the difference in the clinical approach, the difference in the staff was also like night and day. My daughter entered RRR much more reluctant and resistant than the was when she was admitted to La Hacienda (because of her bad experience at La Ha). The staff at RRR was engaging, encouraging, patient, challenging and professional. All the things you would expect from professional counselors. The food was all freshly prepared, high quality and healthy. The facilities were exceptional. The residents essentially live as guests in a very nice ranch home. The patients were a mix of all ages and challenges, but they all wanted to be there. There was no one serving their 30 days as part of a court ordered stay in rehabilitation.
The Ripple Recovery Ranch was out of network for our insurance and cost us a lot more money than La Ha or any other in-network would have, but it was money well spent. My daughter completed a 30-day program and has been for a little over a week. Only time will tell how much actual healing actually occurred in 30 days at RRR. But her mom and I both agree that she is better today than she has been in the past two years.
The takeaway message is that even though my daughter was a difficult patient, she did great in the proper treatment program. The key was getting the right treatment for her, and La Hacienda was not it.