Betty Ford San Diego aims to bring hope, healing

The new Betty Ford Center San Diego in Carmel Valley held a ribbon- cutting celebration on Jan. 11. The outpatient treatment clinic on El Camino Real in Carmel Valley hopes to help more people get the care they need, close to home with convenient daytime and evening programming and services that support recovery. The center will offer family education workshops, mental health services and programs that target teens and opioid use.

For the last three weeks the center has already been “up and thriving” — a 12-step meeting had been held earlier that day.

“We are opening up a beautiful new space of healing and hope here in the San Diego area as part of the mission of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation,” said Mark Mishek, president and CEO of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. “It’s here in Southern California that Betty Ford entered her life of recovery and we’re here to really celebrate and extend the legacy of Mrs. Ford and all of the tremendous and courageous things that she did. We’re here to honor that and to serve more people under her watchful eye.”

The nation’s largest nonprofit treatment provider, the foundation has roots back to 1949 in Hazelden’s first rehab facility in a Minnesota farmhouse and the first Betty Ford Center was opened in 1982. There are currently 17 sites in nine states.

The Betty Ford Center in Coachella Valley is world-renowned and Mishek said they hope the center in San Diego becomes the same kind of strong institution.

The center, located on the second floor, includes a large conference room, as well as small meeting rooms and private counseling offices. Touches of San Diego are noted in the artwork and in a Torrey Pines glass mural that marks the conference room and hallway. A portrait of Betty Ford hangs in the spacious lobby.

Brian Couey, director of outpatient services, said the message at the core of the facility is one of hope and in their ability to help transform lives and communities.

“We are all painfully aware of the opioid crisis and it continues to have a devastating impact on this community and the nation,” Couey said.

In response, the Betty Ford Foundation developed the innovative COR-12, a Comprehensive Opioid Response program with the 12 steps. Couey said the holistic approach, which includes a medication-assisted rehab to ease withdrawal, has a proven track record of keeping patients engaged. 

Over the past several years, patients are increasingly coming to them at a much-younger age. Couey said that, at the center, the team specializes in an individual program for teens.

Jim Steinhagen, vice president southwest region and Betty Ford Center administrator, said the goal from the beginning was to be a community partner and they found one in Scripps Health Network. Scripps has merged its treatment center into theirs and they opened with 10 staff members from Scripps, now a part of the Betty Ford family. Steinhagen said they are the group that will work the “magic” under the leadership of Couey and he hopes that the center will be a tribute to the Betty Ford Center, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year.

“Betty Ford’s legacy includes her courage and commitment to advocacy, she broke down the barriers of stigma and paved the way for people to walk through the doors of community-based facilities such as this one in San Diego,” Steinhagen said.

To learn more, visit HazeldenBettyFord.org/SanDiego or call (858) 766-9980, 1-866-831-5700 (24 hours). The center is located at 11720 El Camino Real, suite 200, San Diego (Carmel Valley), 92130.

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