Malibu Beach Recovery Center®, Joan Borsten

If you search for residential drug and alcohol treatment in Malibu, Calif., you will find nearly two million results. Among the first listings, you will see Malibu Beach Recovery Centers® and may be drawn in to its site by its elegant and calming blue-and-white pages and become curious about what makes it special.


As you browse the site, you read, “Perched high on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where the air is pure and there is always a clear view of the southern skies, Malibu Beach Recovery Center® offers an ideal and discreet setting for recovery. Our clients come to us in pain and despair, and after completing the residential treatment program they emerge physically fit and emotionally healthier, upbeat and positive about the future.”


That sounds appealing. Coming out of treatment not just sober but more physically fit and upbeat? That is a program you could get behind.


And many, many people have indeed gotten behind it since it opened its doors into September 2007. Its treatment program is based on neuroscience, which lead the founders down the path of nutrition as a pivotal aspect in its unique approach. This holistic overlay includes a French low-glycemic diet; three hours a day of Kurma yoga specifically designed for people in recovery from alcohol addiction, depression and anxiety; and SynaptaGenx, an over-the-counter food supplement designed to naturally raise and sustain dopamine levels, as well as other over-the-counter natural, food-based supplements.


CEO and founder Joan Borsten says this combination allows clients to rapidly achieve a more stable mood and an enhanced sense of well-being by balancing and normalizing dopamine and biochemical levels in the body.


“As a result, the clients start to look and feel good very quickly. The fog lifts, so it’s easy for the clinical team to work with them from  an early stage,” Borsten reports. “We have a stellar clinical team that includes a 24/7 concierge doctor who tries to get clients through detox easily and quickly with a minimal amount of medication.” All clinicians are licensed PhDs, PsyDs, MFTs or MSWs, and have additional certifications in addictions studies.


Their primary advisor on neuroscience, Dr. Kenneth Blum, PhD  is the scientist who co-discovered the link between genetics and addiction in 1990. “Some of our clients and their experiences have become the basis for some of Dr. Blum’s  clinical studies,” Borsten says. “And we were one of the handful of treatment centers in the U.S. to beta-test his patented new genetic testing procedure, so we feel very fortunate to work with him.”


Malibu Beach Recovery Centers® is actually two houses: the Malibu house, which is co-ed and intentionally small (it is licensed for six beds) to allow staff to really focus on each client to enhance his or her recovery process during the typical 90-day stay.


The Brentwood House, located in West Los Angeles, is one of the few upscale, women-only facilities in the country. “The vibe is very different here than at Malibu,” Borsten states. “It’s a total sisterhood.” The women’s-only facility typically houses women between the ages of 30 and 70 who prefer to process their recovery without the presence of men and young kids. “They have women’s issues to discuss,” Borsten explains, “and at some point, my staff turned to me said ‘This is really cool’ as they saw what a difference a gender-specific setting made.”


Borsten says seeing the quick progress their clients make with their specialized protocol gives her hope for anyone walking through their doors. “This program is quite different from almost any other out there,” she states. “We believe addiction is a chronic brain disease that impacts the reward system of the brain and through a healthy lifestyle we can put it into remission.”


So successful has this program been that Borsten believes alumni who follow even 75 percent of what they recommend stay sober. “Our alumni have an open door,” Borsten says. “We encourage them to check in with us, which we find helps to sustain sobriety.” After approximately a year of sobriety or more many of the alumni actually volunteer to record video testimonials about their experience for the Malibu Beach Recovery websites and blogs because they are so excited about their journey with Malibu Beach Recovery.


Borsten and four of the center’s executive chefs recently published a cookbook entitled Dopamine for Dinner, based on the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet®. It includes four weeks of meal plans and recipes, each week created by a different chef. “We chose 150 recipes from the more than 7,000 meals we’ve served, and designed them to be simple, elegant and inexpensive to prepare,” Borsten states. “We wrote the cookbook for our alumni and their families, but also for all addicts and alcoholics who need tools to maintain long-term sobriety. We think the recipes are also good for anyone who wants to eat healthy and feel good.”


Another way MBRC gives back to the addiction community is through tireless political advocacy efforts. Joining forces with some of their alumni, who testified twice in Sacramento, Borsten says MBRC was at the forefront of getting California’s moribound online prescription database re-funded and modernized.


Additionally, Borsten and some of her alumni are now working to help outlaw the current Blue Cross policy of sending checks issued to pay for treatment by out-of-network substance abuse and mental health providers directly to the patients. Borsten, a former journalist, has spent months meeting with California state officials and speaking with California treatment centers to document the public safety issues created when Blue Cross puts large checks in the hands of addicts and alcoholics in early recovery. She says there are cases of patients using the checks to buy drugs who end up dying, or relapsing and killing innocent people on the roads, as well as developing cross-addictions such as gambling and shopping.


All of these efforts are well-documented on the two blogs they run (one for each house). “We’re very proud of these blogs”. In addition to Borsten, a colleague who comes from the New York Times writes most of the content, and Chef Licia Jaccard contributes monthly recipes based on the Malibu Beach Recovery Diet. “We believe that we provide meaningful content and information in a well-written format,” states Borsten. Indeed they do – giving new meaning to full-service treatment center.


For more information about Malibu Beach Recovery Centers, visit or

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