Melissa Walsh

Promises Treatment Center

Salem Press | June 15th, 2011 | Salem Health: Addictions & Substance Abuse

Promises Treatment Center Category: Treatment Center Definition: With locations in Malibu and West Los Angeles, California, this for-profit drug addiction treatment center for the stars promises a continuum of recovery care for all clients, famous and unknown, through its offering of specialized inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Date: Established in 1998

Background Founded in 1998 by Richard Rogg, Promises Treatment Center offers treatment for a variety of substance addictions, including alcoholism, prescription drug addiction, cocaine and meth addiction, and marijuana abuse, and psychological co-occurring conditions, such as PTSD, depression, ADHD, sleep disorders, bipolar disorders, and others. Costing more than $35,000 per month, the center has treated a host of celebrities, including Lindsay Lohan, Brittany Spears, Ben Affleck, and Robert Downey, Jr. Its range of care specialities and high staff-to-client ratio ensure individualized and thorough care.

The center originated the “Malibu Model” of substance addiction treatment, which is essentially individualized treatment for each client’s unique experience and recovery needs. In the Malibu Model, customized drug-addiction treatment integrates the detox process with specialized physical and psychological care, focusing on rehabilitating “the trilogy of mind, body, and spirit.” The center promises customized treatment for the addict and a commitment to support him or her through the journey of recovery. It also vows confidentiality and care for the addict’s family through their time of emotional healing. To ensure comprehensive, holistic care for each client, the center limits the number of clientele to 24 at each of its two locations — Malibu and Los Angeles, California. Recognizing the value a recovering addict’s pet dog can offer to the treatment process, Promises’ Malibu location allows clients to lodge with their dogs in the residential treatment houses.

Mission and Goals On the Promises Treatment Center website, CEO, David Sack, M.D., describes the center’s mission as providing “a gateway to sobriety for you or a loved one and to aid in the achievement of lifetime dreams.” Though the underlying foundation of treatment is the traditional 12-step approach, each client’s treatment team of specialists integrates adjunct methods and techniques to meet the individual needs of the client, including medically monitored detox; psychiatric care; individual, family, and group psychotherapy; stress management education, art therapy; yoga and medication; fitness and nutritional education; eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR); dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT); and somatic therapy.

Working with Dr. Thomas Schweller, the center offers brain-imaging to discover whether and to what extent a client’s brain has been impacted by substance abuse. Via a technique known as Digital Electroencephalogram Spectral Analysis, or DESA® testing, specialists perform a single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) scan to collect images of the regions of the brain affected by substance abuse. The imaging provides doctors with information for analyzing a client’s central nervous system, input processes, and expression processes. Once specialists gather an analysis of how a client’s substance abuse has physically affected his or her brain, they present the results to the client, thereby facilitating the client’s understanding of how drugs and alcohol impact the brain and behavior.

The center’s “continuum of care” are the levels of drug and alcohol addiction program treatment designed to guide clients through the long journey of recovery. Beginning with 30 days of residential treatment, clients stay in comfortable, home-like lodging, where physicians and specialists are available around the clock. The next stage of continuum care is extended care treatment, providing continued support as clients transition back into work and family life, including relapse prevention, life coaching, individual and family therapy, etc. Next, clients move on to day treatment, the stage in which clients receive treatment five hours per day, five days per week, including private meetings with a therapist, group therapy, art therapy, and random drug and alcohol testing. Following day treatment, the client receives outpatient treatment, whereby he or she fully reenters work and family life while regularly meeting with a local therapist or counselor. In lieu of outpatient care a client may opt to, or be directed to, participate in “sober living” accommodations rather than returning to his or her pre-treatment living situation. Sober living homes require that residents attend 12-step meetings, continue with therapy, and participate in random drug and alcohol testing. They may also impose additional house rules, such as an evening curfew.

Promises Treatment Center offers programs in addition to addiction treatment, including sexual addiction treatment and video-gaming addiction treatment. The center also offers care and counseling to the addicted patient’s family, including intervention assistance, family therapy, and out-of-care transition support. Striving to provide affordable treatment for addicted individuals who are not necessarily wealthy, Promises Treatment Centers’ parent company, Elements Behavioral Health, vows to “fill the gaps” in treating substance abuse, offering inpatient and outpatient co-occurring mental health services in various locations.

Melissa Walsh.

Further Reading

“Gamers anonymous: a famed rehab takes on joystick addicts.” Los Angeles Magazine 53.1 (Jan. 2008): 34.

Stillman-Corbitt, Shari. “How promises uses EEG biofeedback to improve outcomes in addiction treatment.” Addiction Treatment Magazine (May 2010).

Web Sites of Interest

“Dr. David Sack CEO of Promises Treatment Centers on CBS News with Katie Couric,” YouTube (25 June 2010),

Elements Behavioral Health,,

National Institute on Drug Abuse, "Drugs of Abuse Information"

National Institute on Drug Abuse: The Science of Drug Abuse & Addiction

Promises Treatments Centers,

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,