In­side the ‘sum­mer camp’ for A-list ad­dicts

With We­in­stein just check­ing out and Spacey check­ing in, Jane Mulk­er­rins re­ports on re­hab for the rich and fa­mous

The Sunday Telegraph - - Features - it summe aff t be­lieve au­tho

Set on a 35-acre for­mer dude ranch in Ari­zona’s Sono­ran Desert, an hour out­side of Phoenix, The Mead­ows boasts moun­tain views, clear air, myr­iad cacti, and, lat­terly, a grow­ing rep­u­ta­tion as a pre-em­i­nent re­hab fa­cil­ity for the A-list. Its alumni reg­is­ter reads like a red car­pet roll-call: Kate Moss, Naomi Camp­bell, Elle Macpher­son, Donatella Ver­sace, John Gal­liano, the late Whit­ney Hous­ton, Se­lena Gomez and Ron­nie Wood. Har­vey We­in­stein re­port­edly checked in last month; Kevin Spacey is said to be there now.

Just as in the Eight­ies, when the Betty Ford Cen­tre ntre in Cal­i­for­nia be­came the go-to -to des­ti­na­tion for celebri­ties bat­tling tling the demons of drugs and drink, nk, treat­ing the likes of El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor, or, Ste­vie Nicks, Jerry Lee Lewis and a teenage Drew Bar­ry­more, so, , to­day, the wealthy and be­lea­guered ed make their way to The Mead­ows (of­ten via pri­vate jet to the tiny Wick­en­burg nburg Air­port three miles away) to mend their ways and their rep­u­ta­tion, tation, in tan­dem.

But un­like Betty Ford, which fo­cuses cuses firmly on sub­stance tance abuse, The Mead­ows, which ch is of­fi­cially reg­is­tered tered as a Psy­chi­atric c Acute Hos­pi­tal, l, treats a raft of less tra­di­tional and, d, in some cases, less ss tan­gi­ble prob­lems, ems, in­clud­ing not only eat­ing dis­or­ders rs and gam­bling ad­dic­tions, ctions, but love ad­dic­tion, tion, love avoid­ance, and d code­pen­dency. y. Over re­cent years, it t has be­come in­creas­ingly as­ingly famed for its male sex ad­dic­tion pro­gramme, gramme, known as Gen­tle tle Path, which Tiger Woods is re­ported to have taken in 2010.

What­ever the trou­ble, treat­ment does not come cheap: in­pa­tient pro­grammes at The Mead­ows last a com­pul­sory 45 days (though We­in­stein, it is re­ported, left af­ter only a week) and cost $1,200 (£910) a day – $54,000 (£41,000) in to­tal. It can, there­fore, come as a sur­prise, on check-in, to find one­self in a shared room, ba­sic to the point of spar­tan. Though there is an out­door pool, a gym and hik­ing trails, it’s there that the re­sem­blance to a five-star hol­i­day re­sort ends.

“The first night I was there, I was stuck in this tiny lit­tle room with two com­plete strangers, and one side-ofthe-road, petrol-sta­tion-stan­dard bath­room,” re­calls Sean Brock, a high-pro­file US chef with sev­eral award-win­ning restau­rants in­clud­ing Husk in Charleston, South Carolina. “I’d just come back from two weeks in Tokyo, stay­ing in one of the nicest ho­tels any­where, so that was quite a shock,” he says. “I was lis­ten­ing to my room-mates detox­ing, and think­ing, woah, this is not the lux­ury re­sort I was ex­pect­ing.”

Brock, 39, checked into The Mead­ows in Jan­uary to seek help for al­co­holism, worka­holism, anger and de­pres­sion. He’d looked into the cen­tre af­ter read­ing an in­ter­view a few months be­fore in which for­mer pa­tient Michael Phelps, who sought treat­ment for al­co­hol abuse, ex­tolled its virtues. “But it took an in­ter­ven­tion, a group of my clos­est friends say­ing, ‘the plane is wait­ing’, to ac­tu­ally get me there.”

Once in­stalled, he quickly saw the ben­e­fits of the no-frills ethos. “It hum­bles you, it makes you vul­ner­a­ble, it puts you in a dif­fer­ent mind­set. You re­alise you’re not there to re­lax. When you wake up in the morn­ing and have to wait in a line to use the bath­room, you think: this is what jail would be like,” he says, gravely. Com­pound­ing the sense of in­car­cer­a­tion, Brock’s shoelaces and belt had been re­moved on ar­rival (“they gave them back to me even­tu­ally, but my trousers were fall­ing down for days,” he re­calls) and he had agreed to abide by the strict no-tech pol­icy; phones, lap­tops and iPads as well as news­pa­pers are all banned at The Mead­ows (a re­lief for cer­tain pa­tients, no doubt). Drugs and al­co­hol are banned, nat­u­rally, but so is caf­feine and sugar. A dress code is firmly en­forced, with no shorts or vest tops. This is not, how­ever, to main­tain a smart aes­thetic in the din­ing room.

“In places that treat sex ad­dic­tion, peo­ple are more eas­ily trig­gered,” ex­plains an anony­mous for­mer ex­ec­u­tive in the re­hab cen­tre in­dus­try, who is fa­mil­iar with prac­tices at The Mead­ows. “They want to min­imise trig­gers, and are try­ing to de­sex­u­alise the en­vi­ron­ment as far as pos­si­ble.”

Out­door smok­ing pits are seg­re­gated by gen­der, but The Mead­ows isn’t po-faced about its high-pro­file pa­tients’ del­i­cate prob­lems; a sign in the com­mu­nal tele­vi­sion room warns clients they can only ob­jec­tify a mem­ber of the op­po­site sex for three sec­onds.

Pa­tients are iden­ti­fied by dif­fer­ent­coloured name tags ac­cord­ing to their spe­cific ad­dic­tion, but the ther­a­peu­tic timetable is sim­i­lar for all. Ev­ery day in­volves two ses­sions of group ther­apy, up to two hours at a time, in a small, mixed-gen­der, mixed-is­sue group, of around six peo­ple. Then there’s med­i­ta­tion, yoga, mind­ful­ness, tai chi, even equine ther­apy, plus daily one-on-one trauma ther­apy.

“There is an in­ten­sive fo­cus on trauma, and the idea is that ev­ery­one can find some fo­cus in child­hood to grab on to, to craft a nar­ra­tive around,” says the ex­pert. And while con­tact with the out­side world is limited, fam­ily mem­bers are en­cour­aged to fly in to take part in a week of fam­ily ther­apy ses­sions.

Clients are urged to also un­lock their trauma in cre­ative ways, by car­ry­ing ry­ing rocks around to sym­bol­ise the bur­den they’ve been hold­ing on to for decades, or whack­ing chairs airs with bats to ex­or­cise their ir feel­ings of rage or re­sent­ment ent­ment to­wards their par­ents. rents.

“It sounds crazy, but once ce you un­der­stand that it is s a spir­i­tual jour­ney, you u start to un­der­stand why y you pick up rocks,” cks,” says Brock. “There’s here’s a lot of very spir­i­tual rit­ual work, such ch as Amer­i­can In­dian dian talk­ing cir­cles; cles; even just the air out there, and d the sky and the stars – it is a very ry spir­i­tual place.” ce.”

The Mead­ows was s es­tab­lished in 1975 975 by Pat Mel­lody llody – a for­mer mer Air Force nav­i­ga­tor vi­ga­tor who helped ped cre­ate drug ug and al­co­hol pro­grammes ogrammes for the mil­i­tary dur­ing ring the Viet­nam tnam War – pri­mar­ily mar­ily to treat busi­ness si­ness ex­ec­u­tives with th drink­ing prob­lems.

“You had a lot of big per­son­al­i­ties, rson­al­i­ties, who didn’t like e be­ing told what to do,” says s the ex­pert. “So a big part of the cul­ture there is that ev­ery­body ery­body is treated the same, ev­ery­body ery­body has to be hum­ble, and d it is very or­dered and struc­tured.” uc­tured.”

All pa­tients are is­sued with a Nineties-style neties-style beeper, which is­sues ues de­crees about when to go to the lec­ture hall, or to din­ner. nner.

Brock gal­lantly re­ports the food d dur­ing his 45 days to have been en “bet­ter than I thought it would uld be. But most of the time, it needed eeded a lit­tle some­thing, so I would for­age around the prop­erty and find wild herbs, raid the pantry for condi­ments, then make sauces and go around sauc­ing ev­ery­one’s plates”.

For those for whom the $54,000 price tag is out of reach, The Mead­ows of­fers out­pa­tient treat­ments, with week-long cour­ses cost­ing $6,000 (not in­clud­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion) in­clud­ing heal­ing heartache and heal­ing in­ti­mate trea­son (for part­ners of sex ad­dicts). Not ev­ery­one is con­vinced of its ef­fi­cacy, how­ever, dub­bing the cen­tre “sex ad­dic­tion sum­mer camp” for those who can af­ford to pay for ab­so­lu­tion.

“It is of­ten a way for wealthy men of priv­i­lege to avoid tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for their sex­ual mis­be­haviours,” be­lieves David Ley, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist in Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico, and au­thor of The Myth of Sex Ad­dic­tion. “Sex ad­dic­tion treat­ment is a m male sex­ual priv­i­leg priv­i­lege pro­tec­tion rack racket. And it is a form of pub­lic penanc penance, like when peo peo­ple would wear shame masks o or hair shirts, and walk around so that ev­ery­one knew they had done some­thing some­thin they were ashamed of.” Jenny Moore Moore, a 41-year-old en­tre­pre­neur from Hous­ton, Texas, has othe other con­cerns re­gardin re­gard­ing the cen­tre’s high­pro­file clients, havin hav­ing strug­gled to find any­where de­cent to stay in Wick­en­burg, while at­tendin at­tend­ing The Mead­ows “Sur­vivors I” course, for part­ners and chil­dren of ad­dicts, as an out­pa­tient in 2014.

“The best place I could find was a Best Western, and that was lik like the sort of place a mur­derer tak takes you to kill you. With all the money The Mead­ows has, th they should build a ho­tel,” she sug­gests. “Where are Kevin Spacey’s fam­ily go­ing to stay when they come out for famil fam­ily ses­sions?”

‘The first night I was there I was stuck in this tiny room with strangers’

Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion: The Mead­ows can count Kevin Spacey and Har­vey We­in­stein, below, among its A-list of celebri­ties, as well as Kate Moss, far right; Sean Brock, a high-pro­file chef, right, says it was like be­ing in prison

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