Israeli program Retorno covers itself as a paradise and is actively recruiting Americans, but former patrons say the center nearly wrecked their lives.”>

A prescription anaesthetic overdose has virtually killed Victoria Gonzalez Vega, but the 61 -year-old American was hopeful molted get a second risk at lifeat Retorno, an inpatient addiction program near Beit Shemesh, a desert municipality near Jerusalem.

The rehabs brochures and website decorated Retorno as a paradise, with horseback riding and mountain hikes.

They said nothing of the full periods wasted peeling potatoes or shoveling pony dung. They didnt mention the use of shame as a sanction, or the strange care where admirers were called at and reviled by their peers until they broke down. And though Gonzalez had signed up for the English program, very few of the other women or counselors-at-law ever addrest it.

But it was the stillnes that still recurs her.

I wasnt allowed to speak to anyone. No one was allowed to speak to me, Gonzalez said, describing one of the treatments she received at Retorno. There been a great deal of grunting to request happenings I necessary, like a glass of ocean or something.

For Gonzalez, “whove been” sexually abused as a child by her parent, that stillnes and the guttural clangs were triggering. During radical care, she embarked hollering, then roaring. Soon some of the other women in her group was beginning to holler, too.

The next day, Gonzalez says one sadistic counselor told her, We liked “whats happened to” you yesterday. Were doing it to you again today.

Speaking from a New York coffee shopfive several months after she finished the programmes and left IsraelGonzalez says such treatment is banality at Retorno. She says its a residence where players toil long hours, discover what the relevant rules are by ending them, and are handed down singular penalties including timeouts, separation, and being forced to dress like a babe for immature behavior.

And now, the therapeutic parish, which traditions a self-described tough charity philosophyone that American mental-health experts name ineffective and possibly detrimentalis making a concerted pushing to draft more American addicts for its programs.


At 62 years old, Gonzaleza lawyer by training and an master by naturewas 40 years younger than her nearest peer at Retorno. Before she entered the facility in 2015, she was living with her then-boyfriend in Tel Aviv; when the relationship ran sour, Gonzalez became depressed, living most periods locked in her bedroom, high on Klonopin, Valium, and alcohol. One day her boyfriends son has now come to get her for dinner and find her unconscious in a pool of her own vomit.

When she woke from her coma months later, her boyfriend told her he didnt crave her to come home. He hinted a residence for disordered artists, then, she says, he found out about Retorno, for parties with addiction problems.

And I surely have an addiction trouble, Gonzalez says.

Though she wasnt technically devoted, Gonzalez had run out of options and was may be necessary to Retorno not entirely voluntarily, according to the rehabs head. Still, sounding that she had been accepted to Retorno, Gonzalez wrote to her boyfriend, I experience hopesomething ever beyond my reach since I was 18. Before that, survival itself was all I could hope for, dream of. Now it is feasible to exorcise the demons.

But Gonzalez says she never got the treatment she needed.

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