The owners of Santé Center wanted to create an addiction treatment program which prioritized the well-being of their clients over the company.
The Santé Center for Healing, located high atop a hill in Argyle, Texas, emphasizes integrated, individualized addiction treatment that combines traditional and modern, evidence-based approaches. They offer detox, residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, and transitional living services. Owners Deb and Rip Corley created Santé Center after leaving their previous employment at an addiction treatment program which they felt valued the company over their clients. Now, they tailor the treatment to the individual, stressing that the length of an individual’s stay at the center should match their needs.
Santé Center promises cutting edge treatment that mixes trauma resolution therapy such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) with medication, all in a restful environment surrounded by beautiful views. In addition, Rip and Deb have partnered with the Center for Professional Health at Vanderbilt and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in order to offer a specialized course on maintaining boundaries.
Former residents of Santé Center described a structured environment that kept them busy and accountable with basic chores. Most reported having roommates and described fellow residents as diverse in age, income, profession, and education level. The biggest age range reported was 20s to 60s, but alumni report that the differences only improved their experience:
“I love how there were younger people and older people mixed because you get to hear stories about the younger people’s struggles and then you hear the older people’s struggles and how they were going through the same thing as us younger people.”
Accommodations were generally rated well, with clients describing a “peaceful and low stress” environment, feeling “welcome,” and appreciating that “they gave us a lot of privacy that other places didn’t really give,” although one alum noted “it may be time to perform renovations on the living quarters.”
Amenities at Sante Center include sports such as volleyball, frisbee golf, soccer, and ping pong. In addition, there are options such as “Gym, pool, yoga, [and] equestrian therapy.” Alumni praised the personal trainer who was “available twice a week” and the yoga instructor.
Regarding entertainment, “We were not allowed to use the internet or tv but had movies on Friday and Saturday night.” Residents are allowed to use the phone at designated times, with one reporting that the amount of time you could use the phone depended on where you were in the program, so more advanced patients may get more access than others. Another alum said that there was “Very limited phone, internet and TV time.”
The food is served cafeteria-style at the center with many healthy options that were generally described positively, although one person said that the “portions left something to be desired.” Coffee, snacks, and salad bar are always available. Another complained about a lack of options for those who don’t like vegetables. Favorite meals included steak, chicken tacos, grits, and chili, though some alumni were less fond of the crab cakes and fish dishes.
For rule infractions, alumni described a “phase and level system.” Rule infractions are met with “tickets” that can lead to “demotions” in your level, which comes with a loss of certain privileges, including phone time. Most alumni found this system fair and helpful, saying it allowed them to “practice boundaries and rules in a safe and accountable environment.” One respondent found this system “juvenile.”
In terms of treatment, residents can expect 12-step meetings, therapy, and classes designed to help educate people about addiction. Therapy is designed to get to the root of issues underlying addiction disorders, and “rigorous honesty” is stressed in individual and group sessions.
Religion is not emphasized: ”Religion really wasn’t forced on anybody they let you choose your own path.” Spirituality as practiced in 12-step programs “was discussed,” with varying reactions. Most found it helpful. “Initially it made me feel uncomfortable given I was agnostic however I ultimately found my God again so all worked out.”
The tone of the treatment is generally described by alumni as “strict” and “tough love,” though most appreciated this helpful and necessary approach because it helped them stay accountable and face their issues. One individual described it as “situational,” with another saying the tone was “fairly tough love, but low stress.” A third said the treatment was overall “reasonable” but called the rules “absurd at times.”
Doctors or physician’s assistants are always available on site and are described as being very “helpful,” “great,” and responsive to residents’ concerns. One alum liked how the medical staff “explained their recommendations and decisions,” which fits the center’s emphasis on education. Case managers also received praise, as well as various modalities like psychodramas which were described as “touching and memorable” and EMDR which “helped so much.” One alum, however, felt that “Most classes and meetings were valuable, but some were clearly “filler” just to take up time.”
Most of the former residents surveyed have remained sober since graduating, with two describing occasional “slips” or “bad moments,” but both added that they’re better off today than they were before entering treatment at the center. When summing up their experiences at Santé, alumni were quick to mention the “amazing” and “great” therapists and the “helpful” one-on-one time and small groups with case managers. One individual explained how their extended stay helped them to become a better person:
“Being there really helped me open my heart up. I’m a genuine, good person still battling addiction until the day I die, but I have been sober since August 2018 and I just want to thank Santé for that.”