I'm here on the grounds of the fabulous Passages Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Center in Malibu , California with Chris Prentiss, co-founder and co-director of Passages.
LA: Chris, before we begin, I been noticing your beautiful Statue of Liberty on your front lawn. Does it have any special significance?
C: Yes, It stands for freedom from alcoholism and addiction.
LA: Passages has become very famous in very short period of time. How did that happen?
C: We learned how to cure addiction and alcoholism and the word got out. There was also a lot of TV, radio and newspaper coverage.
LA: what is Passages known for?
C: One-on-one treatment, curing addiction and alcoholism and our unmatched success rate. Why don't we continue this in my office?
LA: That's fine with me.
(Chris's office looking out over the ocean.)
LA: I'm going to go right to the heart of this storm you have brewed in America over your use of the word “Cure.” At Passages, do you really cure alcoholism and addiction?
LA How is that possible when for years, actually for decades, everyone has been saying alcoholism and addiction are diseases and they are incurable.?
C: First of all, we believe we can do it. That's major.
LC: Why does that make such a difference?
C: If you believe you can do something, you set out to do it. If you believe it's impossible, you don't even begin. Do you remember Henry Ford's saying: “Whether you believe you can or you can't, you're right?”
LA: I've heard that. How does it apply?
C: Telling someone he or she will be an addict and alcoholic for life, that its' impossible to cure them, is like a death sentence. It poisons their mind and robs them of hope, which is one of the main ingredients for a cure.
Anchor: What effect does hopelessness have on treatment?
C: The body's ability to heal itself is one of the truly great miracles of life. Our immune systems are awesomely powerful. And in our bodies, the most powerful stimulator of the healing process is our mind. What we think and feel constantly manifests itself in our body. If we believe we cannot be cured, the resulting depression and hopelessness that stems from that utterly worthless thought cripples our immune system and sets the pattern for failure.
LA: What makes Passages so different and so wonderfully successful?
C: There are nine major reasons. The first is one-on-one treatment; we provide more than seventy individual treatment sessions a month with fourteen or fifteen different therapists. Healing addiction is an intensely personal matter that requires individual, one-on-one sessions three of four times a day, not just once or twice a week.
LC: What's the second reason?
C: The second reason is we treat the underlying causes that created the alcoholism and addiction in the first place. We do not treat alcoholism or addiction.
LC: That's the first time I've ever heard that. I thought alcoholism and addiction were the problems.
C: They're not. They are only symptoms of the problems. They are what the addict or alcoholic is using to cope with the problems.
ASK KEITH CATHERINE, ETC. WHAT SOME OF THE PROBLEMS ARE.
LC: What's the third reason?
C: We only accept twelve clients at a time. We actually have more therapists than we clients. At Passages, no one falls through the cracks. Everyone gets personalized attention.
LC: And the fourth reason?
C: Our staff. Pax and I have searched the country for the finest people in each area of healing. If I include the maids, kitchen help and maintenance people, we have nearly sixty people working at Passages.
LC: And the fifth reason?
A: Our team approach. During the first week, which is primarily a diagnostic week, a client receives more than twenty individual sessions from a dozen different therapists. At the end of the first week, all the therapists meet to pool their findings and plan a treatment program just for that one client. Every week thereafter, they meet again to update each other on what they have discovered and to plan that person's program for the following week.
LA: That's real teamwork! That's an amazing amount of individual attention. It sounds as if can be extremely effective.
C: You'd have to sit in on the treatment team meetings to appreciate how effective it really is. That level of care is not available anywhere else in the world.
LA: What's the sixth reason?
C: The sixth reason is one that I have mentioned earlier. We believe a cure is possible. In China , the largest single population on earth, where they have been practicing healing for seven thousand years, they rate intention as the number one cause in stimulating healing.
LA: Why is intention so powerful?
C: It stimulates the life force within us. It stimulates the healing element. People live up to our expectations. We expect our clients to be cured, we talk to them as if cure is imminent, we create the conditions for healing within them. When we tell them that nearly everyone who comes to Passages for help leaves completely cured, their hope skyrockets. We have graduation ceremonies for each person who completes the program. At those ceremonies, new clients see and hear the person who is graduating. They see the sparkle in their eyes, they hear the excitement and gratefulness in their voices. They hear the comments of the others who were with them in treatment telling of the wonderful transformation they witnessed. They see that they, too, can be completely healed. They can be cured. We plant the seeds for success within each of them. With us, cure is not an isolated, occasional occurrence, but a way of life.
LA: I'm beginning to see why your program is so powerfully effective. What's the seventh reason?
C: Diagnostics. We perform blood tests, urine tests, stool tests, saliva tests and hair sample tests. We do psychological investigation and physical assessment. We collect data on their health history and their addiction history. We document their family life, and we evaluate their social function skills.
LA: What do those tests reveal?
C: The client's physical condition, their psychological condition, what has led them to this point in time where they need treatment. There's always a physical component to curing alcoholism and addiction and there's always a psychological component. It could be that a person is anemic, they might have hypoglycemia, or their thyroid or adrenals could be sluggish, or their liver could be in trouble. They could be lacking in amino acids or tryglicerides. Oftentimes, when a person has attention deficit disorder, commonly known as ADD, or bi-polar conditions, or an obsessive compulsive disorder, or a brainwave pattern imbalance, they are medicating the condition with drugs or alcohol. Not to discover those conditions is like trying to cure someone's addiction without knowing what what's wrong with them or what caused it in the first place.
LA: That's an amazing piece of information. No wonder you're rate of success is so high.
C: We also have many clients who come to Passages who are addicted to prescription drugs. Most of them are mis-medicated. I have seen people come to Passages taking as many as eleven medications, all prescribed by the same psychiatrist. I certainly do not want to take on the medical profession, but more and more doctors are using those famous three words for treatment.
LA: What are they?
C: “Here try this,” and they hand out the latest free sample the drug salesman left in their office. Let's say a person goes to a doctor complaining of a back pain. Does the doctor suggest they see an acupuncturist? A chiropracter? A neurologist? An osteopath? No, he says, “Here, try this.” And gives the patient some Vikodin or OxyContin, and sends him home. Six weeks later, the patient's hooked on pain killers. We get those people in treatment all the time.
LA: I can see why treatment centers that only provide group meetings for ninety-five percent of their programs fail. Is that why the relapse rate is so high in the country?
C: Yes. If the underlying conditions are not discovered and healed, treatment is almost certain to fail.
LA: Why don't more of them do what you're doing?
C: I hope they will. We want to be a friend to them. Passages is the cutting edge of addiction treatment in the world. We are happy to share what we have learned with everyone. The reason I have written my book on curing alcoholism and addiction is not just to show addicts and alcoholics how to cure themselves, but to assist treatment centers everywhere in improving their programs.
LA: Aren't you afraid you'll put yourself out of business?
C: There are millions of addicts and alcoholics, far more than the treatment centers can handle, and with the brewing companies and drug companies spending billions of dollars yearly on advertising, that's not likely to change.
LA: What's the eighth reason.
C: We tell them the inner secrets of health and well being. There's this little gland in the center of our head that is called the hypothalamus. It produces peptides which are short-chain amino acids. The hypothalamus is the greatest pharmaceutical laboratory on our planet. It can perfectly reproduce any emotion we can feel, such as anger, depression, or happiness. It works 24 hours a day with no vacations. These peptides are distributed to every cell in your body. On the face of each cell are receptor sites. Millions of them on each cell. The peptides docks onto the cell and takes control of it. It sends these tiny tendrils into the cell and tells it what to do, including when to split and make anew cell. The new cell is not a clone, but now has more receptor sites for whatever it was receiving. If you have been sending it depressed type peptides, the new cell will have more receptor sites for depressed feelings and less receptor sites for feel good feelings. That goes on billions of times a minute.
LA: That is totally amazing! So, we are creating our bodies every second?
C: Every second. And there's more to it. The cells have a two-way communication system with our brain. It's as if the receptor sites are calling out for what they need: “Send me some more depressed type peptides!” We actually become addicted to those emotions. It's one of the main reasons it's so difficult to break out of long term depression. At Passages, in the month our clients are with us, they learn to create a body that feels good easier than it feels bad. Being happy is an art, and we teach it at Passages.
LA: That is one of the most amazing things I have ever heard. And what is the ninth and final reason?
C: The ninth reason is one of the most important:
LA: And what is that?
C: Pax. In my book, The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure, you can read Pax's story of what it's like to be a real addict and alcoholic. His story alone is worth the price of the book. You'll read of the insane things he did to score drugs, of the times he nearly lost his life, of how low he sank, of how degraded he became. His terrible ordeal is the reason Passages exists. In the book, you can read how the mind of an addict or alcoholic actually works which will be of invaluable help to people who are associated with someone who uses drugs or alcohol. There is no one who comes to Passages who has done worse or sunk lower than Pax. Passages was Pax's idea. After he had been completely cured, it was Pax who said, “We know how to do it, let's do it.” We hold that out to everyone who comes to Passages, that each one of them can take a degenerative, horrible addiction to drugs or alcohol and turn it into something great such as the world's most effective treatme nt program.
LA: What a great vision. You must be very proud of him.
C: More than I can say. It was a ten-year journey to hell and back, but he made it.
LA: May we see the rest of Passages?
C: Sure. Let's go visit our administrator, Dawn Steiger.
LA: Dawn, what is your role at Passages?