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The Car Wash Model vs. The Red Door Life Model of Care for Substance Abuse Recovery

Updated: Apr 8

The status quo in high-end detox, addiction, substance abuse, and mental health & trauma treatment is virtually the same everywhere you look. One is extricated from their environment, surrounded by resort-style amenities, attends groups and meetings, meets some peers that they may or may not keep in touch with, goes through detox, and abstains from substance use for a few days, weeks, or months… hopefully receives some therapy and coping skills and then is dumped back in the original environment with all its triggers and conditions that made the person sick in the first place- often without much support or environmental change. Clients with much lower severity cases have a better chance at an effective recovery in this model and perhaps even those with moderate to severe cases can abstain for a brief time- perhaps even a long time. But as the client returns to being alone in their life without the underlying trauma and aspects that were overwhelming or destabilizing having been resolved, usually the brute force strength of willpower wears thin with time. It is often not long before one ends up right back in treatment, generating a sustained income loop for the majority of treatment centers and placing the blame, shame, and responsibility solely on the client.

At Red Door Life Detox and Substance Abuse Recovery Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA, we call this The Car Wash Model- one comes in, “gets clean”, gets out… rinse and repeat. This model is heartbreaking as it capitalizes on such a fragile population and sets them up for failure which is then implied as a personal defect. We have written many other in-depth posts on this topic and the reasons for its lack of efficacy and positive outcomes (according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse NIH in 2022, the relapse rate for those struggling with substance abuse issues is in the range of 40%- 60%). You can also read about what led our co-founders, Alex Shohet & Berni Fried, to develop this unique model in our next post. However, the purpose of this article is to contrast this mainstream car wash treatment model with the uniquely innovative model here at Red Door Life. We have developed this model over decades and have seen a whole higher level of transformation as we implement it here at Red Door Life Detox and Substance Abuse Recovery and Trauma Healing Center in Los Angeles, CA.

The Red Door Life 12 Dimensions of Human Health and Wellness is a radically different comprehensive, holistic, attuned, and innovative model of care. It functions in several ways, first to look deeply into all the areas that comprise one’s life that may be causing dysregulation. Often, we think we are looking at a “substance abuse issue” or “a mental health problem”, but actually if we look deeper, we can see that a person is in dysregulation- overwhelmed by the factors in their life, their environment, or past traumas -which manifest as the need for substance use- or as mental health struggles. The key life areas we assess are: substance use & medications, education, finances, career, legal/ criminal & civil, family, romantic relationships, purpose, connection to community & friendships, housing & living situation, medical & physical health, spirituality & religion, mental health & emotional regulation, and nutrition & fitness.

The ideology of this interplay- that all aspects of one’s life are interconnected and contribute to health and well-being has long been established, but the difference at Red Door Life is that we don’t just acknowledge all the areas of one’s life that contribute to human wellbeing and stability. We have created and implemented a system to leverage the power of this knowledge which is further amplified through the use of highly specialized multidisciplinary teams and community.

Successful recovery outcomes are significantly improved by two vital things: attunement and connection. Often these are the two vital things affected in childhood that create complex trauma. As our recovery model is attachment-based and highly attuned to each individual (individualized care) it first begins to provide the medicine for deep wounds just as a function of its nature.

How does it work? Through the 12 Dimensions Model of Care, a Client Advocate works in unison with the client, their loved ones, peer support, psychologists, specialized therapists, facilitators, medical doctors, coaches, and many other types of specialists needed to uncover the underlying issues in all 12 areas of the client’s life and provide the support and planning to work the problems out their roots- whether it be underlying trauma, a medical condition, legal, or relationship struggles, etc. As we create this map of the destabilizing factors in one’s life, we work together to provide individualized support as a team- led by the client and their Client Advocate. Working together we are able to transform these aspects into areas of balance and well-being, allowing the client to come into a state of regulation, and that is where transformation takes place.

In order to heal and begin to flourish it is imperative to inquire into the full picture of the life a person exists within. The 12 Dimensions model allows us to engage with the truth- we are complex dimensional human beings, not just bundles of maladies. For example, through the one-dimensional lens of psychiatry, one might be prescribed medication for anxiety or insomnia. But that is a surface-level symptom. If we attune deeper, we might see insomnia is not the true issue- perhaps looking further we might see the client’s relationship is in turmoil, and looking even further- we might see this stems from unresolved trauma. Often areas cross-pollinate causing destabilization in other areas and solving the surface problems with medications or surface-level therapy is merely a band-aid. And so instead of pathologizing a person and treating them as their currently presenting surface symptoms, the 12 Dimensions allows us to see the full picture and address the roots of what is causing the insomnia, depression, anxiety, or driving one to abuse substances. This system allows for deep and profound healing through attunement, connection, and support so often missing in the lives of those struggling.

In addition to a comprehensive view of one’s complete existence, the 12 Dimensions of Human Health and Wellness Model of Care is developed as an innovative way to also provide a holistic view and brief summary of pertinent information, much like Cliff Notes. This allows the full picture of what is pertinent and needs to be prioritized by the multidisciplinary team in the fastest, most efficient way possible. Adjustments to meds, methodology, and treatment can be made in real-time, strengthening the efficacy of the multidisciplinary team and leveraging the power of collective learning as the needs of the client change- without the confusion, conflict, disconnect, and destabilization that are characteristic of the mainstream treatment model. This model is implemented daily and adjusted in real-time as the client’s journey and needs change.

Another major difference between the mainstream car wash model and the Red Door Life 12 Dimensions model of care for substance abuse and recovery is that once a client leaves residential treatment here at Red Door Life- the connection remains. Disconnection is the number one issue that inhibits recovery and worsens relapse. To read in more detail about our unique attachment-based approach which addresses this issue on multiple levels, check out this article. Our 12 Dimensions Model of individualized multidisciplinary care is further complimented and amplified by the deliberate incorporation of the community aspect into healing. You can read more about this vital aspect of our model of care in that post as well.

The cost to society, families, and individuals created by substance abuse struggles is enormous and at Red Door Life we are proud of our discontent with the mainstream model and our continual compassionate effort to innovate and provide solutions and improved outcomes. There is so much potential in the lives of those who struggle in these ways, and we are proud to be actively working to help so many special individuals unlock their true potential.

Red Door Life is a Los Angeles, CA substance abuse treatment, recovery, detox, addiction & trauma healing center also featuring companion services, entrepreneurship empowerment, community & education.



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