Camino Recovery rehab clinic, Marbella, Spain [C.R.Facebook]

The interview with Don Lavender, Programme Director at Camino Recovery rehab center in the southern Spanish town of Marbella about addicts’ issues continues in the second part.

-They have the right to destroy themselves and they may commit crimes. Do they have the right to refuse treatment when they move to members of society and jeopardize others? Have you dealt with forced hospitalization? Can we talk about crossing the border of their lives?

-D.L.  Philosophically, this statement is in question. Every country has rules, laws regarding self-harm. If you don’t care for someone, then let them kill themselves. If you care for them, let them know your thoughts and feelings, then let them go if you feel you’ve done enough. Or organize an intervention to get some help for them. Forced hospitalization rarely works. Emergency admissions rarely work. Sharing concerns in a safe, non-threatening way often work with addicts who are still cognitively open to hear others. If I’m harming myself and others with my out-of-control addictive behaviors, then I’m not thinking clearly and I need help.

-Does the facility offer and integrated plan for family reconstruction?

-D.L. Yes. Camino has a “Healing the Family” workshop program. It is a week-long process of education, communication and confrontations done in a safe, non- threatening process which also offers effective closure to this emotionally intense work. It opens lines of communication that have been damaged or closed due to years of addiction and abuse. A center that offers just an hour-long weekend family meeting is well-intentioned but dangerously misinformed. Any center which does not offer a full family component to the care of the addict in treatment is offering a half of a program at best.


-How an addict’s life runs at Camino Recovery? Are restrictions placed in there?

-D.L. Schedules/rules provide safety and “holding” for the addict whose life has usually heretofore been in chaos. Daily routines involve getting out of bed by a certain time, communal gathering whether formal or informal, meal, education, group, lunch, individual times with therapists, individual treatments if deemed appropriate, time for socializing/exercise/meditation, homework assignments, community meetings, down time, lights out.

All clients remain with staff or peers whether on or off campus other than when taking care of personal needs. Nutritionally our facility serves no “processed” foods, no highly refined sugars and no caffeine. These aforementioned things alter the mood negatively which impedes effective emotional and psychological work. No foods are served which act as a catalyst to psychotropic medications. If a center is not aware of these basic practices, they are in the wrong field.

Sunset in Marbella, Spain [C.R.Facebook]

Sunset in Marbella, Spain [C.R.Facebook]


-Could the cases of unsuccessful prior treatment discourage patients from fully opening to your program?

-D.L. Unsuccessful prior treatments are common. About 50 percent success rate is common in treatment programs. Anyone who boasts better odds than that are fooling themselves and you. Most of our clients have had previous care. It would be wrong for Camino to say that our center is good and other center’s programs are bad. Successful treatment is an accumulative effect. Addicts embrace recovery and recovery processes when they are ready and not before. We can’t do it for them; we can only show them the door. Of course, effective treatment has a lot to do with what doors are shown to the addicts seeking recovery. Our program is based from a program in the USA called Sierra Tucson which had a 10-year-longitudinal-study done by an outcome organization called Matrix in California. They assessed that Sierra Tucson had 71 percent success rate. They, of course, included addicts who relapsed and regained recovery over the years.


-How much humanity and how much professional care are embedded in your work with these people?


-D.L. Any program devoid of the human touch which is genuine caring and acceptance of the person will fail. It’s appropriate to attack the disease, not the person. It’s ok to like the person but not the things they’ve done when active in their disease. A medical model can often fall short when there is no spiritual component to the addict’s care. By spiritual, we believe the best definition of spirituality is the personal definition of the individual seeking recovery. Some are atheists, some are agnostics, some embrace particular religions. We avoid judging or proselytizing.


-Did you set a feedback for life after treatment? How many people stay clean?

-D.L. Camino Recovery has a very high recovery rate with those who’ve spent about three months with us. There is a very low rate with those who’ve left after one or two weeks. We do offer outcome study follow-up questionnaires to those willing.

-Does the clinic accept non-English speaking patients? Can you name reasons why a person could be rejected by the clinic?

-D.L. We only offer an English speaking treatment program. Though half of our staff speak Spanish here, in Spain, we do not offer in Spanish a clinically sophisticated product.

It’s never a matter of the client isn’t right for our facility. It’s always a matter that the facility isn’t right for the client. If someone has psychological issues beyond our purview, we will identify this in our initial assessment. If someone is actively suicidal, this is also beyond our remit. These potential clients are appropriate for centers such as licensed psychiatric hospitals which could offer more containment, more holding than our center and are referred accordingly.

-How much does the rehab treatment cost on average per month at Camino Recovery centre?

-D.L. Our fees have been 495 euros a day which is 14,850 euros for 30 days for the last eight years. As we enter our ninth year of service we have to adjust to about 650 euros a day which is 19,500 euros for 30 days, if my math is correct. These fees are all-inclusive. We hire competent professionals with Masters Degrees or better. Compared to some centers in the UK and the USA, we are less than half their cost.

-Thank you for the interview!

Go top