Buyer Beware

The Retreat NZ – Most Toxic Rehab In NZ

The Retreat NZ and A Place to Be is an overpriced, residential rehab located in Ōtāhuhu, Auckland, New Zealand. Before masquerading as a drug and alcohol treatment centre, it was a nursing home. Not much has changed, people go there and are as good as dead – we’ll get onto the deaths later.

You won’t find any pictures of the rooms or facilities on their website, as they try to hide the fact of how run-down and unhygienic the place is. Mold, maggots, flies, ants and vermin are always a problem at The Retreat. Getting something as simple as a toilet seat replaced can take up to two weeks for them to install a new one. If you do decide to go to The Retreat, please remember to bring your toilet paper because they don’t pay much attention to replacing their 1-ply dunny-roll very often!

Don’t be fooled by the stock images on their website. They try to market The Retreat as a comfortable private rehab – that couldn’t be more far from the truth. The place is dirty, neglected and needs to be bulldozed. They have no maintenance staff and their cleaner is sometimes nowhere to be seen for days. Their lease is around $6,000 per week for the dilapidated buildings. That’s chump-change to them. They couldn’t care less if the place is a squalid dump if the funds are pouring in. It’s all about the money at The Retreat, they simply don’t care about their inmates clients.

The Programme

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The Retreat New Zealand’s 30-day residential alcohol programme brings in guests throughout the country into a harmful and uncaring environment.

The primary service performed by The Retreat NZ is introducing people to 12-step dogma, despite the fact that AA is free – and despite evidence that it does not work for the majority of people who try it. Shuffling people off to 12-step meetings is their primary treatment modality.

Their program is extremely simple, they just preach the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book to you and drive you to AA and NA meetings. The majority of the groups are run by volunteers who come in weekly and go over the same chapters of their big blue bibles. The Retreat tries to get as many volunteers as they can to lead groups so they don’t have to cover staff wages and time. It’s not uncommon for them to get Sober Living clients in to share their experience, strength and hope.

The Retreats Crystal Clear methamphetamine programme isn’t even a programme as such. There is no course material. The programme consists of going through The Green and Gold Narcotics Anonymous book for 6-weeks and answering the questions. The Crystal Clear programme uses some controversial “therapy” methods such as screaming at someone they are working with and abusing them with every name under the sun until they “crack”. The meth program is just an expensive way to learn about Narcotics Anonymous. Save yourself 6 weeks of time, $16,000 and purchase an NA step working guide and do-it-yourself.

One female client came forward saying how she felt uncomfortable and “creeped out” how one of the facilitators tried pressuring her to move into his home. He would constantly message her outside of hours, trying to convince her to move out of The Retreat’s Sober Living programme and in with him.

The Retreats website content was written by a digital marketing team. It is rumored they spend over $20,000 on marketing per month. Don’t be fooled into thinking this place is anything more than a beginners guide to Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous.

The Retreat has turned the 12 Steps of AA/NA into big business. They are making enormous profits by simply funneling substance abusers into the free fellowship of AA and NA.

The Retreat NZ claim to only employ staff with more than two years sobriety. There are many staff members who barely have 6 months of clean-time up. One staff member only two months ago relapsed on methamphetamine and alcohol, The Retreat gave them a job a month later. Not to mention the fact they were caught sleeping with another client during the same time period!

The Retreat NZ does not meet the criteria for government funding in New Zealand. The 12 step programme is not recognised as an effective treatment method, it doesn’t work for everyone. Evidence shows that AA has only a 5–10 percent success rate—hardly better than no treatment at all.

The Retreat NZ uses the below book for “their programme”. Buy yourself a copy or download it free from here.

Almost all of the material they use for their groups is stolen from other recovery websites and printed off. They have no material of their own.

After two weeks in the programme, guests always seem to question why they had paid over ten thousand dollars to listen to volunteer speakers, do yoga once a week, read text from the Alcoholics Anonymous big book and be driven to free AA and NA meetings.

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The Retreat NZ is an absolute scam.

Relapsing at The Retreat

Most alcohol and drug treatment centers have a zero tolerance approach to a client who relapses. At The Retreat NZ it’s a little different. You can relapse as many times as you wish, however you will have to pay a $5,000 penalty and go back into the primary program for two weeks. The Retreat NZ only sees dollar signs, they don’t care if you relapse because they get paid either way.

Some clients who have relapsed over 6-times are welcomed back with open arms. Especially if their mummy and daddy are paying their ‘treatment’ costs. Not only do these serial-relapses get a free-pass to come back, The Retreat may even employ them. One set of rules for some, and another for everyone else.

If you relapse in sober living, which happens on a near-weekly basis it can go either two ways. You can leave the “Retreat” for two weeks or you can pay $5,000 to stay. Most people on court restrictions will pay the $5,000 fine so the Courts, Police or Corrections aren’t notified, and they don’t have to return to a prison cell.

This all depends though if they like you or not. When they want rid of you, they will exit you without giving any reasons why. Because in the CEO’s own words…

“we don’t have to give you a reason”

Staff

When you first arrive at The Retreat the first thing you will notice is a lot of electronically monitored bracelets on peoples ankles. You would be forgiven to think that they are the clients, however a number of staff members are sporting them too.

As of April 2022, two staff members with active cases before the New Zealand courts were employed by The Retreat NZ. One was serving a sentence for possession to supply methamphetamine and the other was recently sentenced to almost 4 years in prison for firearms and serious meth supply charges. These are the type of people The Retreat employ to help look after societies most vulnerable.

The most concerning thing about this so called rehab is the fact they have a convicted sex offender working as a counselor. This person was only released from prison approximately three years ago for sexual offending against a number of women. This is not hearsay or allegation, this is fact. ACC clients with Sensitive Claims are funded to go to The Retreat NZ for “treatment” and end up sitting in groups or private therapy sessions with this person having to share their own stories of sexual abuse. When clients find out about this persons past convictions, they feel re-victimized. This particular staff member is not allowed to work with women on their own, however The Retreat has no issue in letting them counsel men who were victims of sexual assaults.

This “counsellor” does not show up on any online search tools such as The New Zealand Association of Counsellors.

A client came forward saying this particular staff member contacted her on Facebook Messenger saying that they would make a really good mum. Following it up by saying “please don’t tell anyone that I have messaged you”.

The Department of Corrections and the Police are aware this man is working at The Retreat NZ. ACC also now knows about this convicted sex offender, The Retreat NZ employ. They have assured they are undertaking a formal investigation into some of the serious allegations which have been raised.

Qualifications are scarce at The Retreat NZ. Just recently they offered a “peer support course” to current guests who could potentially become “Retreat Assistants”. A guest who used methamphetamine only days earlier signed up to do the course, unfortunately they relapsed again and were exited from the programme.

There are only one or two trained counselors at The Retreat, the rest are garden-variety alcoholics and addicts who still display a wide variety of negative character defects. It’s much better for The Retreat’s bank account to employ recovering addicts and alcoholics than to employ trained, qualified staff.

In their defence though, it doesn’t take a genius to read “The Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous over and over again for 30 days.

Inappropriate Client and Staff Relationships

Like all good rehabs, there is always some action taking place behind closed doors. What you don’t expect is staff members fooling around with clients.

Not so long ago a staff member who was on electronically monitored bail was having sexual relations with a certain female sober living guest. This all ended when the staff member was sent to prison for drug dealing offences.

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Another staff member was caught red-handed on at least three occasions ‘hooking up’ with the same sober living client in the main lounge. This particular staff member is held in high regard at The Retreat. This staff member ended up getting in a fully committed relationship with this guest. The guest has now moved into a house off the property.

Clients who have witnessed staff and client relationships are too scared to come forward to management because of possible repercussions.

Sober Living Program

When clients complete the Primary programme, The Retreat then pushes them into “sober living homes” that are often unsupervised, overcrowded rental houses plagued by rampant drug and alcohol use.

A dog kennel sized room at The Retreat NZ’s sober living program costs $320.00 per-week. If you want meals included, this will cost you an extra $160.00. The Retreat NZ don’t own any of their sober living homes, they simply rent the often rundown dwellings from a landlord and turn a profit from them.

The title “Sober Living” couldn’t be further from the truth. The amount of methamphetamine that runs through these ‘sober’ houses is incredible. Numerous guests have been caught dealing on the premises many times, some given warnings and some exited from the programme. It all depends who you are and if they like you or not.

These incidents/crimes are rarely disclosed to the Police or Corrections as The Retreat will do anything they can to protect their image when it comes to the courts. Criminals make up a good percentage of their revenue.

There have been numerous instances when the staff at The Retreat knew someone was affected by methamphetamine and let them stay in the community until they had “come down”. They were still in the presence of other residents. There have been many guests go through The Retreat who had never been around methamphetamine in their life, until they came to The Retreat that is.

A simple allegation against someone saying that they had used drugs, even if they haven’t, is enough “proof‘ they need to exit that person from the program. They want as many beds free as possible for their primary program. If they can replace a sober living guest with a primary guest, it works out much better for their pocket.

One sober living client ended up relapsing on methamphetamine. One week later they thought it would be a good idea to send them around the road to their off-site sober living house. You guessed it! They relapsed again that same week.

The Retreat NZ has a bad habit for throwing people into one of their sober living rentals and forgetting about them completely. The only time they will get in contact with one of their sober living guests is if the rent is late.

Drug Testing

Like most rehabs The Retreat does “random” drug testing. It can involve either a swab test or a supervised urine test.

One of the good things for clients who have come through the courts is that The Retreat NZ will rarely alert Police of a positive result, which could result in a breach for that person. There have been many instances where they have turned a blind eye to drug relapses.

If you’re going to The Retreat be prepared for the drug detector dogs to do a sweep every month or so. This is sometimes followed up with a visit by a drug testing agency who will swab you in their vans. If you return a positive result from the swab test they will then take a urine sample and send it away for testing.

The urine tests The Retreat use can sometimes be highly inaccurate. Giving off false positive readings. You can protest as much as you want, but if they want rid of you – they will kick you out without any warning.

Complaints have been made against a certain staff member who pays extremely close ‘attention’ when supervising males urinating into a drug test bottle. Management has been notified about this staff members voyeuristic behavior.

EM Bail and Home Detention Clients

It is widely known in remand prisons throughout New Zealand that if you are wanting a “get-out-of-jail free card” to get in touch with The Retreat.

The Retreat claim they will not take any clients with violence, sexual assault convictions or people associated with gangs. The Retreat has had a variety of different clients with all types of serious convictions, including murder.

When they employ sex offenders and drug dealers, that shouldn’t surprise you though.

There have been multiple gang members attending the programme at The Retreat. Some were paroled to The Retreat and others were on electronically monitored sentences.

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If an EM Bail or client on current court restrictions breaches their bail by failing a drug test, The Retreat will do everything in their power to not report it to authorities. They do not want their reputation tarnished with the courts.

The Retreat NZ loves meth dealers money and they have no problem accepting it! Stacks of cash are regularly handed over the desk at The Retreat NZ.

No doubt the proceeds of crime.

The Retreat NZ charges an extra $5,000 to any client who is on an electronically monitored sentence.

As long as you have the money, they don’t care what convictions or gang associations you have.

Social Detox

The Retreat offers a social detox service at $1,000 per day.

If a newly arrived client has had a drink in the past couple of days (which is normally always the case) management will try push the person into their social detox room.

This service is not run by any medical professionals, they will normally find one of their sober living guests to supervise the detox. This saves them money as they just take the money off the Sober Living clients $320.00 rent.

A number of new guests have been alarmed at the criminals who supervise their detox. It is not uncommon for a home detention or EM Bail client to overlook the detox.

When a client comes into The Retreat NZ social detox staff will administer diazepam without getting any prescription from a doctor. They have no medically trained staff. They will either use diazepam they have stockpiled or “borrow” it from another clients medication box.

This is illegal.

There have been many instances where the person getting socially detoxed actually required a medical detox. Some people have had extremely severe withdrawal symptoms but The Retreat will ignore this so they can squeeze even more money out of the vulnerable person. For every day they keep a person in detox it’s another $1,000 in the bank.

There have been a number of occasions where detox clients have been forgotten about so medication wasn’t dispensed or they weren’t served lunch or dinner.

If you are looking for a FREE social or medical detox in Auckland, The Auckland City Mission or Pitman House will be your better option.

Auckland City Mission – Social Detox 09 303 3008

Pitman House – Medical Detox 09-845 1818

Mental Health

The following text contains information about self-harm and suicide. Readers are advised to proceed with caution.

The Retreat only employs a couple of trained counselors. The rest of the staff are ex addicts or alcoholics. Some of these people don’t even have one year of sobriety under their belt although they claim to only employ staff who are two years or more clean and sober.

One of the counselors The Retreat employs is a CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER. This person does 1-on-1 private sessions with male clients. They also facilitate groups with both male and female clients on a weekly basis. This person was only released from prison approximately three years ago. This person may have more sobriety than a lot of the other staff, but his sexual assault convictions are extremely recent. Men with PTSD from their own sexual trauma are counselled by this person.

The Retreat NZ is well aware of this person’s convictions.

The Retreat has had a number of self-harm incidents in recent years. One client slit their wrists on multiple occasions. You would think after the first self-harm/suicide attempt they would refer that person to a mental health facility who could deal with such a serious matter. Instead they let that person come straight back into the community. Not long after that the same person slit their wrists and lost consciousness. They were rushed to hospital by ambulance where they recovered from their serious wounds.

It was only then that The Retreat exited the person from the program.

A number of Retreat NZ clients have committed suicide after leaving The Retreat. One particular client left The Retreat and only days later killed themselves. The Retreat kept this very quiet and did not share many details with current clients. The Retreat would not let present clients and friends of the deceased know any information about any funeral or memorial arrangements.

THE RETREAT NZ HAS BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS.

One of the big problems with The Retreat is that they don’t provide any after care support for clients. Once you have left, you are no good to them anymore because you’re not putting any money on the table.

The Retreat have claimed that they have the best recovery statistics in New Zealand – 60% to 70%. This seems very fabricated. It would be nice to find out where they obtained that figure from because from what we have seen, the opposite seems far more accurate – over 60% of people who go through The Retreat, relapse.

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Violence

The Retreat NZ can be a violent and hostile place.

There have been multiple violent incidents at The Retreat NZ and the perpetrator’s seem to get away with it.

A staff member punched a client in the face one afternoon and was not reprimanded for their actions.

Another client was repeatedly punched in the head by another guest. When staff were notified they didn’t seem to care. They reported it in their log and that was it. The offender didn’t receive any consequences and management tried to pretend it never happened. It is important to note that the attacker in this case was bailed to The Retreat on serious violent-related charges.

Clients have been yelled and screamed at by clinical staff on numerous occasions – all under the disguise of treatment.

The Retreat NZ is a far from safe environment like they claim.

FOOD

Breakfast, lunch and dinner is inclusive in the Primary Programs. You will have to make your breakfast and you will have the choice of toast, cereal and eggs. These basics seem to run out fast so most clients end up buying their own breakfast.

Lunch and dinner can be very hit-and-miss. Sometimes it is absolutely delicious and other times it’s deep-fried, under cooked crap you wouldn’t feed your dog. The kitchen is an absolute health hazard and it is suprising The Retreat is able to serve so many people from it.

In summer the kitchen and surrounding areas are overrun by flies. The floors are always dirty. Cutlery and dishes are never washed properly and are covered in flith. The mismatch plates and bowls look like they were picked up at a Salvation Army op-shop in the 1990’s. The tablecloths are covered in about 15-years worth of stains. Cleaning supplies are scarce. Food is constantly left out on the bench. Food is left uncovered in the fridge and some cooks don’t practice basic food-handling techniques.

Vegetarians and vegans are always complaining about the food they are served. There is always a vegan salad and the other vege/vegan option is falafel. Sometimes a vegan quiche is made, but very rarely. They claim to cater for all dietary requirements, this is yet to be seen.

If you have already seen the state of the place from the pictures above, you will have a clear idea what the kitchen looks like.

Call 0800 787 797 or text 8681, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to speak with a trained counsellor. All calls are free and confidential.

The Alcohol Drug Helpline provides friendly, non-judgmental, professional help and advice. If you are concerned about your own drinking or drug taking they can assist with information, insight and support.

If you are a family/whanau member, friend or professional concerned about someone else the Alcohol and Drug Helpline can help you develop strategies for yourself and the other person.

On their Helpline services page you can access details of all their services including those for Māori, Pacific peoples, Youth, Work and Income clients and those impacted upon by Methamphetamine use. You can access a directory of service providers in your region. They also have a big range of useful printed information they can send you. You can also discover what happens when you call the Helpline and the types of help we can refer you to..

All calls to the Helpline are free and confidential. You can remain anonymous if you wish. Their counsellors will listen to you and work with you to identify the changes you want to make and find practical solutions that will help you achieve them. If you are on a longer journey of recovery they can walk alongside you as you make the changes in your life step by step. If they can’t provide all the help you need it’s their job to put you in touch with services that can.

The Helpline is funded by the Health Promotion Agency and the Ministry of Health and provided by Homecare Medical.

Drug Dealing

As mentioned earlier The Retreat is a druggies paradise. A lot of clients arrive straight from prison and it only takes them a few weeks to start slanging their wares again.

A staff member who doesn’t work at The Retreat NZ anymore, was caught supplying a guest at The Retreat NZ with his then girlfriend, who is now living off-site at a sober living house and in a relationship with another staff member. A number of days later the same staff member who sold the drugs to the guest, drug tested the guest who produced a positive result they were immediately exited from the program.

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Rumours have circulated about the motives of a person who runs Narcotics Anonymous meetings in the Auckland region. It has been alleged by high ranking members of certain organisations they are using their recovery as a cover for their own drug dealing operations.

The Retreat has been raided by Police in the past which had turned up drugs, guns and utensils. The Police still do bail checks on Retreat client’s on a weekly basis.

If you’re lucky you might even get the chance to buy a botox package from one of the staff members who has a clandestine filler business operating on the side.

Alcoholics Anonymous Success Rate

There is a large body of evidence now looking at the AA success rate, and the success rate of AA is between 5 and 10 percent. Most people don’t seem to know that because it’s not widely publicized. … There are some studies that have claimed to show scientifically that AA is useful. These studies are riddled with scientific errors and they say no more than what we knew to begin with, which is that AA has probably the worst success rate in all of medicine.

It’s not only that AA has a 5 to 10 percent success rate; if it was successful and was neutral the rest of the time, we’d say OK. But it’s harmful to the 90 percent who don’t do well. And it’s harmful for several important reasons. One of them is that everyone believes that AA is the right treatment. AA is never wrong, according to AA. If you fail in AA, it’s you that’s failed.

AA is basically a religious program, and its key element is that individuals are powerless to deal with their drinking problems through their own efforts and that, in order to do so, they must turn their “lives and will over to God.”

Service at The Retreat

As mentioned earlier Retreat NZ does not hire any maintenance staff. Instead, they rely on sober living guests to mow the lawns, drive people to meetings and sometimes cook, and clean. They do this to save money and the “service” is considered gratitude to The Retreat for giving them somewhere to stay.

They expect 1 hour of service from each sober living guest per week. Getting free labour and charging $320.00 for a shoebox-sized room, The Retreat NZ are laughing all the way to the bank.

The Business of Recovery

The Retreat NZ are preying on the most vulnerable people in society, offering a bunch of promises and fleecing millions while they deliver a substandard program in an extremely harmful and unsafe environment. Anyone can learn about the 12 Steps by going to AA and NA meetings for free.

If you are thinking about going into recovery…

DO NOT GO TO THE RETREAT NZ

The Retreat USA

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The Retreat NZ is modeled after The Retreat in Minnesota, USA. From their Google reviews, it seems that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

The disclaimer on theretreat.org’s website.

The Retreat NZ Warkworth

The Retreat NZ has recently acquired a property in Warkworth, north of Auckland to use as a treatment centre. The same staff and management team will be running the show. Their 30 day alcohol programme will be run from this location where as the meth programme will be run from their current Otahuhu slum.

Neighbours to this property in Warkworth have already started to object to The Retreat NZ running their “treatment” racket in their small country town. Letters had been sent to neighbouring properties making them aware of who their new neighbours could potentially be.

If you are a neighbour of this property and received the warning letter. Please take the time to read over this website.

Our Mission

The purpose of this post is to warn people of what to expect if they or a family member become a client at this facility.

We have protected the identity of clients and staff members, however in formal complaints these people have been named in full.

This post was created by past clients of The Retreat who wanted to speak out in in regards to the toxic culture. Trying to raise concerns to management at The Retreat always seems to fall on deaf ears

A Place To Be Rehab Otahuhu

The current counselor at A Place to Be is a convicted sex offender who was only released from prison a few years ago. The place is run by criminals for criminals.

Fake Google Reviews

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If you look at A Place to Be or The Retreat NZ on Google, most of the reviews are by fake people who only have 1 review on their profile. Or the reviews are made by current staff members.

12 Comments
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  1. One more popular thing which companies are practicing nowadays is posting fake comments or reviews about the company to increase their market and get more customers. I wouldn’t be surprised if The Retreat NZ starts doing the same thing over here. Beware you guys.

  2. Scams related to physical problems are bothering the most people because some people with no work are opening businesses like Retreat NZ and scamming people in the name of treatment. A study says people are very much concerned about their health-related issues and can spend thousands of dollars. The real scammers do their game just by scamming some of their customers.

  3. Why these scammers aren’t tested first, like their mental condition and also the past of their workers because one of their counselors was caught in some cases of molesting girls and women. Outrageous.

  4. It was mentioned in the article that you have to take your toilet paper became a nightmare for me because I remember once I was sitting in the washroom and ran out of toilet paper and was shouting for toilet paper from my husband, and he laughed at me saying that place is going to help me get rid of alcohol, are you sure?

  5. This place has a shady past where drug dealing was caught once which cost them heavily after facing lawsuits in court.

  6. The company consists of a plan worth $16000 where they are being yelled at by some person, shouting at you until you crack, and shouting at you for your betterment. Is this a joke? Listening to someone who is shouting at you makes you mad as hell after paying him $16000, don’t try these bullshit programs.

  7. One of my relatives was taken to the Retreat NZ where he joined the alcoholic rehab department. Things were good until he faced the meals, as he was sometimes served raw food, which ruined the experience entirely.

  8. The programs aren’t designed to make a person get comfortable but the real business is to take advantage of their situation by making a profit for themselves. After paying them thousands of dollars what you get is a room full of flies and bugs, is this a joke?

  9. The 30-day alcohol program seemed to be effective until we visited the place. After entering the place the first thought we had was that this place is being designed by an alcoholic himself as flies were flying all over the place, it looked like they were waiting to greet us.

  10. The incident of the counselor just shocked me. It was beyond anything I could imagine as a sex offender is counseling people. What an irony, many more workers are being charged with some cases from the court. The staff members are not the type of people suitable for working in a rehab center.

  11. As I was reading the comment I was creeped out after listening to the living conditions. It would be really difficult for the people living out there.

  12. Reply
    Don't Trust The Retreat NZ
    December 28, 2022 at 7:07 pm

    Never trust Retreat NZ with their services which can be disastrous because they don’t focus on cleaning their place for once. My experience was the worst because their residence is full of flies and ants.

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