Passages Malibu in the Wall Street Journal

Welcome to the Hotel California


A California addiction rehabilitation center is getting about a fifth of its business from the New York metro area, including many clients from Wall Street.

Passages, which currently has locations in Malibu and Ventura, Calif., is considering opening another treatment center in the Hamptons for New York customers, said Pax Prentiss, co-founder. “We’re weighing our options right now. But whether we’re in New York in the next 12 months or 24 months, I do think we will be there at some point,” he said.

One major stumbling block to opening on the East Coast is the dismal weather. “It’s easier to heal in an environment where it’s beautiful every day,” said David Kaiser, chief marketing officer for Passages.

About 21% of Passages patients are from metropolitan New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and roughly three out of four of those patients are “corporate titans, Wall Street executives or their family members,” said Mr. Kaiser.

Many of those clients are drawn to the facility because there are no group therapy meetings, allowing for confidential treatment.

It’s not cheap. A month of treatment at the Malibu facility costs $88,500 and at the Ventura facility costs $32,500.

Beginning Jan. 3, Passages launched a $6 million national television advertising campaign, much of it hitting channels like CNBC and New York 1 News that are heavily watched in New York.

So far the campaign is working: inquiry calls are up 168% and intakes have doubled from a year ago.

For Mr. Prentiss’s New York clients, stress and the recession are the two biggest contributing factors to alcohol and drug abuse. Prescription medications like Oxycontin, Valium, Ativan and Vicodin are the most commonly abused drugs, followed by cocaine and heroin. Alcohol continues to be the biggest problem for his clients.

“A lot of people have been damaged financially. They’ve watched their businesses and stocks crumble in front of them. It’s caused stress at home, loss of time with family. And one of the first things people do in the face of disaster is drink,” said Mr. Prentiss.