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Retorno saved my life. I'm a girl from New York from a traditional Jewish home. I came to Israel and learned in a seminary. It wasn't long before people around me started to notice my drinking habits. My pill habit went largely unnoticed. Even by me. I did not believe people who told me I had a drinking problem and needed help. I thought they were being dramatic and that my lifestyle was normal and okay. Eventually, my life consisted of being drunk, being under the influence of pills, sleeping, and eating. Sometimes I showered. Never did laundry. As far as I was concerned, nice Jewish girls from Long Island were not alcoholics or drug addicts.
Eventually, I began to suffer emotionally and internally. I did not want to live anymore. I did not know that this suffering had anything to do with my using. I was too scared to live. I was too scared to die, also. The words of an addiction counselor at Retorno (who was trying to help me at the advice of a private therapist I was seeing) rang in my head--"Retorno could save your life." I had nothing to lose. I was desperate enough to have an open mind and a willingness to take this addiction counselor's suggestion. On the eve of the holiday of Passover I arrived. The counselor on shift that night said: "Girls... From slavery, to freedom." Everyone answered, "Amen!"
I was so anxious. The beautiful mountainous view was not beautiful to me. Rather, it was scary and reminded me of how big the world is. This made me cringe. Who would've thought that 11 months later, at the conclusion of my treatment, I would have stood at that same spot and, looking out, said "The world is so beautiful." I sure didn't believe that. I was a 20 year old American and all I wanted that first week was my mother. Eventually, a few days passed I started to feel more and more moments of comfort. I remember looking around and telling one of the other American patients that "I know I don't speak the same language as most of the girls. I know we don't know each other yet. But, I feel like I am among friends." I asked that she translate that to one of the Israeli girls who was sitting with us. The Israeli girl, who eventually became a friend, looked at me and said in Hebrew--"We love you."
I heard that phrase a lot throughout my time there. "We love you," or "Ohavim." Not only did I hear that a lot, but I was taught to talk about my feelings and thoughts and to hide in the dark room of shame that we create inside of ourselves. Slowly, I did this and became honest about things I thought I would take to the grave with me. I remember the first time I realized that nobody was judging me. Not only did I not feel judged, but the girls related to me and talked about how they had similar experiences. It was life-changing. When our behavior was out of line, as it sometimes was, we were sent to the bench. I was sent to the bench a few times. I needed to learn humility. Thank you Retorno, for teaching me humility. Life is much sweeter when I live with humility. Not humiliation--humility.
One time I got permission to go out for the day. I returned and missed dinner. The counselor told me I missed dinner and I did not eat that night. I realize that I am risking people interpreting this as cruel. But the truth is, Retorno saved my life because I learned responsibility. My father is a lawyer and I grew up in a well-to-do family in Long Island. For the first time in my life, I had to fight for something. I had to fight for my sobriety, my life, serenity. I was not merely given these things on a silver platter. I had to work for the gifts.
When I received permission to leave for a whole weekend, and drank, I was suspended. They told me to fax them every day. I did. They let me back because they saw I was honest. The counselors gave me a week of dishes. I was told to be in the dishes room all day from morning to night, and just write. It was hard and one day I went to the office, crying and wet from dishes, and told the counselor I want to leave. He told me "No. You asked me for my help and told me not to let you quit. So you go back to those dishes and fight." I listened and I wrote. They told me to write the things I'm hiding. Write the things that are scary. Write about what is happening inside Jaime. I did. I haven't drank since that night. It was 5 and a half years ago. By the grace of a Higher Power. What other reviews call harsh and abusive treatment, many of us, most of us, call saving our lives. Including myself. Thank you, Retorno.
My first Sabbath in Retorno, I remember hearing one of the counselors make kiddish (customary blessing over grape juice). Everyone screamed "L'chaim!!!!" I thought to myself, if these people once felt like me and can now scream "To life!!!!!" there must be hope here. And there was. I learned how to live. The counselors and girls loved me until I learned to love myself. They taught me that whatever my past was, whatever my secrets are, however badly I want to use, I have a choice. I don't have to suffer. I can choose life and here's how. Eventually, I caught on to the language. I came in not knowing more than a few simple sentences in Hebrew. I began translating groups for other new girls from English-speaking families.
5 and a half years ago, I was given the tools to live happily and healthily at Retorno. I laughed until my belly hurt. I also cried until my belly hurt. They told me to hold on, take it easy. They also told me however much I cry during my time in Retorno, will be how much I will laugh on the outside. And how true that is. Life is so sweet. I only needed a new pair of glasses, a different perspective.
I have so many countless memories from Retorno. Whether we were roasting vegetables over a bonfire, taking trips or hikes, riding horses in beautiful nature, sitting in the Rabbi's classes, arguing with one of my fellow patients, sitting alone in the dishes room that week not allowed to talk to anyone, feeling heard and not judged, feeling loved and cared for. Trips to Cafe Aroma in the nearest shopping center. The list is endless. Notice how I put the hard times on the same list as the sweetest times. This is because I wouldn't trade my time at Retorno for anything. I go back every year to visit. I am currently finishing my master's degree this May. I have the sweetest family and I am incredibly blessed. One day at a time. Thank you Retorno.
I got to Retorno treatment center in Givat Shemesh, Israel in June 2006, straight from New York. After years of hard drug addiction, I hit my rock bottom at the age of sixteen. My parents bought me a ticket and put me on a plane to Israel to get help. I didn't know that what I would be getting is a second chance at life, and a whole new life at that. I spent fifteen months in Retorno. Maybe the most difficult time in my life, and yet definitely the best time spent.
I am beyond grateful for having had the chance to go through Retorno's treatment. I came in a lost girl, hurt, filled with despair and distrust to mankind. I left with my head held high, proud to be me, mature, and filled with love and hope. Today, almost 10 years later, I still use the tools that I received there, still tell myself 'back to basics' when I need to. I try to give back to other suffering addicts the way that so much was given to me back then. I am forever grateful to those in Retorno who believed in me and gave me a second chance at life.
Retorno helped saved my life! I knew I needed help but was hesitant to lock myself up for several months. I was scared that I would love that time when instead I could be getting a job, a husband etc. But I realized that if I did'nt get help I would get none of those things. And going to Retorno was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Today it is almost a decade later and I am still sober and very grateful. I still keep in touch with some of the staff at the rehab. I was impressed with the staff there... I wasn't used to healthy people in my life who were consistent and respectful of me.
The staff at Retorno had all these qualities which helped restored hope in me. They gave me the help I so desperately needed and taught me about healthy boundaries, self-respect and dignity. I know people who got sober without going to rehab and I give them a lot of credit... I don't know how they did it! Retorno helped me deal with issues I've had my whole life. It helped restore me to a sense of safety. It wasn't always easy (and sometimes it was really hard) but I knew it was harder on the "outside" and I needed to learn how to cope. I will be forever grateful for Retorno. That is my experience.
Retorno is a powerful space. I experienced a tough love approach which was extremely challenging and ultimately empowering. I would recommend Retorno for people who are really at the end of their rope and ready to take responsibility for themselves and their recovery.
I left 'Retorno Rehab' 6 months ago and now reside in New York City. I had attended Retorno for 5 months. I had becoming addicted to prescription drugs, while under a doctor's care. I am sober. Retorno is an ultra-orthodox rehab that claims to conduct itself by strict adherence to the Talmud. By way of background, I am an Israeli/US citizen currently residing in New York. I am 61 years old, hold a doctorate in law, teach law at a university in NYC and actively practice law in NYC. I have two grown daughters, one of whom is an architect and the other a doctor.
The following is a short summary of some of the treatments I underwent at Retorno. The women there, ages 17-25 (many of whom did not graduate high school nor speak English), spent long hours each day shoveling horse manure or peeling potatoes with no group or other therapy. The horses are owned by the CEO of Retorno, Eitan Eckstein. Another 'therapy' included forcing a grown woman to wear baby clothing, use a pacifier, carry a stuffed animal, eat baby food and watch cartoons on TV (for perceived 'immature' behavior.). It was sadistic and upsetting, disheartening and unsettling to the entire group of women, who stood by helplessly.
When two women had a conflict, they were tied together by a rope for weeks at a time so they were forced to be together 24 hours each day. Two women might also be similarly tethered to each other if one had a 'happy' personality and the other very 'depressed.' To the best of my knowledge, no benefit was ever derived by anyone. This was 'Conflict Resolution Therapy' or 'Emotional Leveling Therapy.
For 'Anger Confrontation Therapy', all the women are forced to confront each other by standing, heads down, in a circle. A woman is selected to verbally attack another and stand nose to nose with her. The attacked woman must hang her head down and say 'thank you' ('toda raba') to the often irrational hatred and insults and obscene language permitted to be used by teenage girls. The counselors urged that stronger, louder language be used by the woman screaming so that 'real' anger be expressed.
Let me also describe 'Silence/Human Isolation Therapy.' As a survivor of incest, I fear isolation and silence, which were integral parts of my childhood abuse. I advised Retorno of my PTSD upon entering. Nonetheless, Retorno placed me in 'silent' treatment - no speaking, no reading, no writing - for a day after which I broke down completely, finally screaming helplessly and incomprehensibly. The 'treatment' was discontinued, but no therapy or help offered. The next day, the counselors told us they were 'happy with the silent treatment results' and reinstated the 'silence.' I responded the same way again, only more quickly this time, again with no help.
To this day I have recurrent nightmares reliving these experiences. Many 'feedback' sessions were used to retaliate or intimidate women who had no recourse or ability to share their side -- the fine line between teaching accountability and blaming the victim was crossed and humiliation, guilt and shame were used to motivate behavior. At one 'feedback' session, I was forced to sit for a prolonged period on the punishment bench in 120 F degree heat for accidentally becoming tangled in the air conditioning cord on the evening of Shabbat, and unbeknownst to me unplugging the air conditioner I was tangled in, which I was told is a serious religious orthodox Jewish prohibition on Shabbat.
After a period in the hot sun, I was told to stand up from the bench, forced to hang my head down, and 'accept' my corrective instructions. My additional punishment was not to be allowed air conditioning for a week in the desert heat. Women who broke 'rules' were commonly made to live/sleep/eat in isolation outside in the desert on a cot and not allowed to interact with anyone for a minimum of a week at a time.
Retorno sent mixed messages about relationships. Women were told to be open and vulnerable to their community, but NOT to form strong bonds with one or a few others. Outside of Retorno women's friendships tend to include one or a few close intimates -- not a unit of 25 women -- when the staff noticed a close relationship between two women (as was the case with a friend I made), it was labelled 'pathological' and steps were taken to separate the women. I have written to addiction specialists and Talmudic scholars in an attempt to understand these 'treatments'.
We’re sorry you had a bad experience. We don’t offer Jacuzzis; we offer a new life! Retorno is a therapeutic community proven for LONG TERM recovery with clear rules, consistent natural & logical consequences to teach boundaries & responsibility, not punishments. If you break a rule, you might be sent to a shady bench. The temp never hits 120! This is only one example of misrepresentation. Retorno’s gates are open, clients are free to leave any time; they stay because they know they’re healing!
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Hi, although I believe addicts need to learn discipline. The way it was done 7 years ago was so degrading and made me feel even worse about myself. Lack of slow integration into society like a halfway house cause me to relapse. You must must must enforce Narcotics Anonymous 1000 times more than they have. NA is the only thing keeping me clean today! If I was in charge and wanted people to succeed I would send obviously the responsible level of patients to a NA meeting at least 3 times a week and have people come in talking about NA. There should be inner NA groups or GA or SA no matter the addiction when they get out. This is the only support system that will keep anyone clean as it did to me.
Great place. Awesome staff. Life saving rehab. Especially that it runs according to orthodox guidelines. The reason why I rate 4 stars instead of 5 stars is because the price didn't match the accommodation. For the price paid I should've gotten a much more luxurious experience. On the spiritual and recovery side I will rate it 5+.
I had a good experience at Retorno which is located in Beit Shemesh. I learned a lot of things or tools that jump started my road to recovery. We had an American group there that I made a bond with and friends I will never forget. Good people that want to actually help you.
Retorno was a long shot, because my Hebrew is (was) lousy and I'd never even been to Israel. But I wanted to get far away from home so I took a chance. Retorno gave me a new way to look at myself and deal with stuff I couldn't even talk about before. I'm addicted to a few things, and I realized that I was just running from one thing to the next. And that I just needed to work it all out, once and for all. My best friends today are the people I did treatment with. No one gets me like they do. I especially liked the horses. They helped me get over a lot of my fears.
I came here by court order but soon realized that this was something I needed. The counselors really went out of their way to guide me through my sobriety. Since it's a long term program it gave me a chance to really work on myself and discover what life had to offer me. This place was like family to me and is located in a really nice area with mountains and scenery. There's even horse riding! I am so grateful to the staff who really helped me to realize my true potential.
Retorno International Rehab expert review by Erica Spiegelman
Retorno International Rehab is described as the world's largest Jewish rehabilitation center. Located in Givat Shemesh, Israel, the facility offers both inpatient and outpatient services to meet the needs of its clients. Treatment periods are based on different factors, these include that women can stay anywhere between 7 to 9 months, men are able to stay between 6 to 7 months, youth can stay 19 months and they also offer a 3 month detox.
Personalized treatment plans: Retorno International Rehab creates personalized treatment plans to help clients reach and maintain sobriety.
Holistic therapies: Retorno provides holistic treatments that help clients enrich their lives through therapeutic horseback riding, animal-assisted therapy and therapeutic bike riding.
Preventive education: Preventive education from Retorno can help people recognize the signs of developing and existing addictions in men and women of all ages.
Seminars: Retorno International Rehab offers several prevention and empowerment seminars that last anywhere from one day to a full week.
Withdrawal services: Inpatients at Retorno International Rehab can take advantage of services that help them overcome the physical symptoms of drug and alcohol withdrawal.
Best for: Substance abusers who want a holistic approach to sobriety, adults who use mind-altering substances to cope with trauma, young women and girls who prefer treatment in an all-female facility, drug abusers who want inpatient or outpatient services and people at risk of substance abuse.
Retorno International Rehab questions and answers
- What problem is Retorno Jewish International Rehabilitation Center trying to solve?
- To provide long-term sobriety, not short-term interim sobriety.
- What sets Retorno Jewish International Rehabilitation Center apart from the competition?
- Retorno Jewish International Rehabilitation Center offers programs for men, women and teenagers, has a success rate of 60%-70% and has on-site detox for teenage girls and young women. Also, Retorno’s location removes the client from the environment that helped him become addicted. He learns to live clean and sober before being confronted with those challenges. The long-term program (minimum 3 months) gives him tools to get clean and stay clean, not just detox. Retorno is the world’s largest Jewish rehab, with kosher food.
- What needs does your product or service fulfill, and how do you fulfill those needs better than your competition?
- We offer full inpatient rehab for drug, alcohol and gambling addiction for men, women and teenagers. Retorno’s success rate is 60-70%. It is not a “sterile” hospital-like environment; it is a community in which clients relearn how to live healthy.
- How does Retorno Jewish International Rehabilitation Center measure success?
- When people stay clean after completion of treatment.
- What’s the most common misconception consumers have about your industry and your company?
- People think it’s enough to “detox” or “get clean.” In fact, getting clean is the starting point for the process of real, lasting recovery. Short-term programs get you clean; Retorno helps you understand why you are acting in a way you don’t want to, and provides the tools so that you don’t have to continue those behaviors – you gain the ability to choose. In the past, Retorno had a reputation for being “too harsh.” While our approach remains tough love, we have made conditions easier to adapt to the reality of a generation unused to sacrifice and hardship.
- How has your industry changed in the last 5 to 10 years?
- Since so many new rehab facilities have opened, it’s more important than ever to speak to alumni of a program before sending your loved one there. You need to make sure the facility has the expertise and experience to cater to your specific needs.
- What is something you wish every consumer knew about Retorno Jewish International Rehabilitation Center?
- We are a family. The only thing you need to bring with you is the desire to get healthy.
- Has Retorno Jewish International Rehabilitation Center received any awards or recognition for its products or services?
- There are no official award categories for our services, but we have received accolades worldwide, including Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog, Minister of Welfare and Social Services, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, late Chief Rabbi of Israel and many others.
- How has Retorno Jewish International Rehabilitation Center grown or evolved?
- Our new detox facility for girls and young women (ages 14-27) means you can make a decision one day to get clean, and come in the next. Also, Retorno’s approach is softer than in the past to accommodate the needs of the current generation.
Retorno International Rehab Company Information
- Company Name:
- Retorno International Rehab
- Year Founded:
- Givat Shemesh
- (718) 285-9815