San Diego ARC Professionalizes Rehabilitation

By Marlene Gerber –

“We see our share of misery and miracles here,” says Major Don Mowery, administrator of the San Diego Adult Rehabilitation Center. Last year some 450 men and women found it a place of hope and new beginnings when they entered the 125-bed, long term residential facility in search of recovery.

The rehabilitation program is designed to address the needs of the whole person–body, mind and spirit. The interaction of psychological counseling, substance abuse education and 12-step programs with work therapy, within a Christian atmosphere and philosophy, provides the foundation needed for successful recovery.

One of the largest private alcohol and drug rehabilitation facilities in Southern California, the San Diego ARC has distinguished itself by introducing a number of innovative and effective elements to the ARC recovery program. The length of stay has increased to a minimum of six months–San Diego was the first of the ARCs to require this–as correlation between time spent in residential recovery and success rates became apparent.

The scope of the program has also expanded. The San Diego Center pioneered other major innovative program additions: (1) Re-entry program for ARC graduates, designed by Dr. Edward Lataille, director of Rehabilitation Services. It focuses on employment counseling and includes a partnership with the California Department of Rehabilitation to facilitate graduates’ vocational training and increase their job prospects. (2) The “Bridge House” affords graduates a valuable transitional living situation, while they return to the workforce and ease back into society. The success rate for recovery there is a remarkable 83 percent. A long term goal of adding a second Bridge House became a reality last year. (3) Development of the “Buddy System”–a one on one approach proven to be an effective way to help new beneficiaries adjust to the program. (4) Another first was the partnership formed with a university medical school–University of California at San Diego–to provide ARC beneficiaries physicians’ services from medical students, interns and residents in UCSD’s Community Medicine Department. (5) Expansion of the counseling intern program, with local colleges and universities to include U.S. Navy personnel. “The Department of the Navy liked our program so well they are now sending their substance abuse counselors here for additional training,” said Lataille.

The center continues to expand its professional services, offering anger management and relapse prevention classes, as well as family education counseling, in addition to the ongoing classes in chemical dependency and Christian living.

Lataille, a clinical psychologist, supervises the center’s acclaimed clinical staff and interns program, among whom are Dr. Lia Dobraya, a Russian psychiatrist who pioneered substance abuse programs in the former Soviet Union, and consulting physicians from UCSD–renowned psychiatrist Dr. Melvin Goldzband and internist Dr. Carla Fox, who also chairs the Advisory Council.

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