I've been terribly curious about that obnoxious, loud-mouthed guy in the TV commercials who claims he can CURE alcoholism, but only in Malibu. Hm. He can cure you in Malibu, but not in Detroit or Chattanooga? Now, why is that? Is Malibu crucial to his special, newfangled cure in some intrinsic way?
Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it is. He can charge you Malibu prices. A dry-out session at Passages will cost you $67,550 a month.
((((coughs)))) You say WHAT?!?!
I repeat, $67,550 a month. And that was the 2008 rate, before the economy tanked.
I started thinking it was a pricey hang-out for rich pill-poppers, when I took note of the placement of the TV commercials. Many of these are conspicuously broadcast during politically-oriented TV programming, such as the Sunday morning talk shows. (Are politicians all on drugs? Are political-junkies more likely to have this problem, or has marketing research shown that viewers of these shows have more money than the majority?) There he is, blustery Chris Prentiss, whom Hyman Roth might have categorized as headstrong, talking loud, saying stupid things. He doesn't believe in the disease concept of addiction, and he won't be so rude as to call you a drunk or a junkie, which are mean, unkind words.
From the Passages website (and click over and have a look at that spread of his):
Our treatment program is not like any other in the world for many reasons. We are not 12-step based, we won’t place you in groups all day that preach the disease concept of addiction, and place degrading labels on you like addict or alcoholic. You’re better than that, and along with being free from addiction; you deserve to be free of the labels as well. For most of you that will be refreshing to hear, for others, maybe not, perhaps you still want to wear the label of addict and alcoholic even after you’re sober, such as they do in the 12-step programs, if this is the case, then we may not be right for you. If you are ready to lose the identity of addict or alcoholic, achieve lasting sobriety, and live a life of health and happiness, then we are right for you.Uh huh. Just change those nasty, judgmental labels, and you will feel better right from the get-go!
Just like Mel Gibson, who I am sure feels so much better right now, she giggled in mean-spiritedness. Those damn LABELS are the problem!
Let me interrupt here, with my 28 years of sobriety, admittedly dotted with some spotty pill-popping and pot-smoking. I think I qualify to argue with this guy, since I think he is dangerously WRONG. But of course, he is financially RIGHT, isn't he? And I truly don't believe he CARES if he is wrong, dangerously or otherwise, but now I am getting ahead of the story.
If you are an addict, then you are. Period. You can call yourself polka-dotted or you can call yourself a Martian, or you can call yourself not-an-addict, and that does not make these statements real or true, and further, in your heart of hearts, you know it. NOT taking the dreaded LABEL does not mean you are not regarded by EVERYONE ELSE as an alcoholic or addict. Lots of alcoholics/addicts, perhaps even the MAJORITY, never claim the label of "alcoholic", but just ask anyone around them: their families, their employers, their friends. Is so-and-so an alcoholic? And they will tell you, straight up. This is the psychology of the intervention: other people correlate the facts and there is a laundry-list of your offenses, directly related to alcoholism and drug-use. No wiggle room given, when they throw you out of the commune and say, point blank, IT IS BECAUSE YOU ARE DRUNK ALL THE TIME. YOU STOLE FROM ME. YOU DISRUPTED MY BIRTHDAY PARTY, etc etc etc. It's hard to listen, but as the offenses pile up, you are forced to hear them. They are true. Everyone else is not "wrong"--while you are the only one in the right; this is not logical. Facts are facts.
Fact: Your life is out of your control, or you wouldn't be in this predicament in the first place. Why are you so concerned about LABELS at a time like this? You cannot keep on passing out and waking up in places like South Dakota or New York City (true stories of mine). Aren't you worried about dying or getting killed? Isn't your LIFE more important than whether you wear some damn LABEL? If it isn't, maybe you don't deserve to have a life, and adios. Stop wasting everyone's time, money and resources. BYE! (Sorry, the hard-ass 12-step sponsor emerges from time to time, even if I haven't been to a meeting in 8 years or something.)
If you are in such dire straits that you are spending close to $70,000 to get clean, you are an addict. Is this really in dispute? Certainly, I never spent money like that, even in the depths of alcoholism. If I HAD, I hope I would have the presence of mind to admit that I was indeed extremely desperate... and I hope everyone understands that DESPERATION is what we are discussing here. People do not spend that kind of money unless they are 1) rich people who want to get their relatives/employers/whoever off their backs in the short run and figure this might do it, or 2) desperate junkies who have tried everything else.
But this makes me very glad I was a poor addict, rather than a rich one (see post here, near the end, for my observations on that phenomenon). In the end, I was homeless, and homelessness makes for a unique sort of desperation, not the desperation of the rich movie-star or business executive... but desperation that concentrates the mind in a certain way that cuts out all the self-aggrandizing, egotistical bullshit. TIME TO DEAL.
I am grateful this happened to me, and I saw clearly. In Alcoholics Anonymous, this is known as a MOMENT OF CLARITY.
Perhaps the Passages people never get one of those. Do they?
I found a very informative article titled Addiction: Buying the Cure at Passages Malibu in LA Weekly, written by Mark Groubert. (There are 199 comments, also worth your time, if this subject interests you as much as it does me.)
The Groubert article is some fascinating reading:
Inside the cavernous main hall — there are two other buildings on the 10-acre facility — are yet more columns, a cascading staircase and a gaggle of pretty young guys and gals. These are the personal assistants. Each client at Passages gets his or her own personal assistant, which is kinda cool when you’ve been hammer-heading (combining Ecstasy and Viagra) for months and need a Himalayan goji-berry cocktail brought quickly to your bedside so you don’t miss the next installment of Intervention on your personal 46-inch plasma TV while waiting for your kick meds to kick in. The 29 comfortable beds here are currently filled with patients who pay $67,550 a month for them. Passages, owned and run by Chris Prentiss and his son Pax, is the most expensive, luxurious and controversial residential drug-treatment center in the world....
The Prentisses are the Holocaust deniers of the addiction-recovery industry. They deny the existence of addiction. They deny the existence of alcoholism. They deny that it is a disease, or that it is incurable.
“Doctors and scientists are still treating alcoholism as if it is the problem, when it has nothing at all to do with the problem,” Prentiss tells me. “They might as well be studying scratchism for people who have a chronic itch.” Prentiss insists that one of his major goals is to “see the word alcoholism eliminated from the English language.”...
Prentiss immediately tells me the I Ching is “the greatest book ever written,” that “it tells the future with 100 percent accuracy.” He tells me he has written more books on the I Ching than any writer in the world. I wonder if that’s true, seeing as how I am currently surrounded by I Ching books written by an author named Wu Wei —titles like I Ching Wisdom and I Ching Life, I Ching Readings, The I Ching Workbook, The I Ching: The Book of Answers. Wu Wei, it turns out, is Prentiss’ pen name. It means “no name.” All his books are self-published under his own imprint, Power Press.Ah, so Prentiss is a self-styled California GURU too. Why am I not surprised?
Prentiss now tells me how his system of workshops and therapy can actually cure addiction: “Our powerful treatment methods provide total recovery from addiction through intensive individualized therapy. Our fully customized treatment program first discovers and then heals the underlying causes of a person’s addiction using one-on-one therapy.”  the noted addiction specialist. When I read Prentiss’ statement to Pinsky, he states emphatically, “There’s no evidence that aggressive therapeutic intervention early in the course of addiction does anything but make addicts want to get loaded more.”
Confused by Prentiss’ claims, I later call Dr. Drew Pinsky,
Of all his offbeat claims, Prentiss’ “success rate” may be his most outlandish. In an industry where reputable facilities such as the Betty Ford Center and Hazelden wouldn’t dare claim even a 25 percent cure rate, Prentiss sticks to his guns. He looks me square in the eyes and says: “We have an 84.4 percent success rate since we opened our doors in 2001, the highest in the world.”I really love that .4 that he adds to the high number, really makes it sound scientific.
Prentiss says his cure rate is based on the latest survey involving 700 of his graduates, with whom he keeps in contact through phone calls and alumni gatherings.Well, there you go.
I ask him how he could statistically compare someone who left his rehab sober seven years ago with someone who graduates tomorrow having spent 30 days off drugs. In 12-step programs, the person with 30 days sober is considered to be in the infancy of his or her sobriety. Prentiss doesn’t see it that way. Once the car comes off the assembly line, it’s ready to drive.
“It’s easy,” he grins. “They’re both cured.”
That well-known "revolving door of detox" we've all heard of in AA? Just old wives tales. One visit to detox, 25 visits, all the same. You're CURED, baby! 
The stories of suffering individuals who have spent astronomical amounts of money on this half-baked bullshit  are very disturbing and make me wish these folks could file malpractice lawsuits.
Despite the pressure to stay another month, [Passages patient] Billy took part in the talking-stick ceremony after 60 days and some $100,000 of his parents’ money. One of the first things Billy did to celebrate was to smoke two eight balls of crack in a reunion with three other “cured” grads after renting a luxury hotel room on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. Combined, the four upscale crack heads had spent more than $300,000 on the Passages cure. The two eight balls, by contrast, cost around 500 bucks.One fellow named Stuart spent around a quarter million on two stays at Passages, about six years ago. Interestingly, at that time, AA meetings were part of the process!
So what happened?
“When I was there, we did six or seven [A.A.] meetings a week. Two or three in-house and the rest out,” he says. “And they were mandatory. When Chris wrote his book [The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure],that ended. That’s when he decided A.A. was the villain, because he decided he could make a fortune if he just claimed he had found the cure for alcoholism.”Stuart believes the word CURE was the marketable innovation, and of course, AA does not believe in cures, so Passages and AA were then at odds. "Chris was having trouble filling the beds, and the minute he changed the message, they filled to the brim. He created a cash machine,” Stuart says.
The business executive continues in an upbeat, almost appreciative tone: “Chris has a brilliant scheme that they have cooked up there. He has the perfect sales pitch.” His voice suddenly drops. “I know. I fell into it. It’s a beautiful sales pitch when someone is at the end of their rope.”
When I tell Stuart I couldn’t find any of the success stories Prentiss brags about, he tells me, “People come in there, they fail and nobody can call him on it. He’s got clients with confidentiality agreements to hide behind.”
Stuart is now an AA member, and feels he must expose the 84.4% fib.
“I scraped ex-clients out of seedy hotels, that’s why I have firsthand knowledge. I actually cleaned up the mess. The first thing they would say to me was, ‘Omigod, I relapsed,’ and the second thing was, ‘Please don’t tell anyone at Passages. Chris will be disappointed in me. I must be hopeless.’ They believed the 85 percent cure rate and felt like complete losers.”I dearly wish this scam could be exposed further. I'd love to stop seeing the extremely pricey commercials for their extremely pricey "cure" every Sunday.
And if these advertisements were about a cure for cancer? Diabetes? Asthma? Eczema even?
Would they be allowed to claim cures on expensive network television?
Don't make me laugh.
 In the article, Groubert notes that Dr Pinsky and the Prentisses squared off on Paula Zahn's TV show:
“I think [Prentiss] said it wasn’t a disease,” said Pinsky, somewhat amused. “I don’t know what you can cure other than diseases.”HAHAHA! Good shot, Doctor!
 One of my personal pet peeves is when smokers claim they have quit 10 (or however many) times, so yes, they know how, and of course (wait for it!), they can quit any time they want to!
I always correct them. As an ex-smoker, I cannot restrain myself from pointing out the error: No, you TRIED to quit smoking 10 times, and you failed, or you wouldn't still be smoking.
To me, this is a simple delineation, but I guess it's too difficult for Chris and Pax to understand (or perhaps it's just not in their economic interests to get it).
 To be clear, Passages is just one of many elite, resort-type treatment centers for celebrities in the area that specialize in pampering. By contrast, at Betty Ford, even the rich and famous must take out the trash, but no such demeaning work will be required by these swanky resort outfits, which I gather is a major reason they exist.
I know how eye-rollingly humorous it is, when Alice Cooper or Robin Williams or someone comes out of rehab, all starry-eyed about how, wow, I took out my own trash for the first time since I was a kid! But that is part of the process for such people, taking them down off their high-horses and reminding them that they are fallible human beings like everyone else. This is crucial to recovery for a person accustomed to being idolized. Because if you are super-human, you can therefore take super-human amounts of chemicals and endure, right? This is thinking like a drug addict, and puncturing such depraved-thinking is necessary. Taking out the trash and washing dishes is a good place to start.
As we can see from the link, Lindsey Lohan getting perpetually waited-on did nothing for her sobriety.
 Hey boys and girls out there, don't forget: Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are FREE. FREE FREE FREE. In the big cities, you can walk to meetings at nearly any time, within minutes. And some of them will have coffee and donuts, and they will be FREE too. (Since they understand addiction intimately, they ASSUME you are poor already, and they are usually right.) Recovery in AA will not cost you a red cent, unless you feel like donating. And donations is what the organization is built on.
Just a friendly reminder, in case you need one. :)