Saturday, November 22, 2014

The world’s most expensive rehab clinic

Dear All,

"Cannabis Psychosis" is very real and extremely destructive to the human as you will discover in this article.

Additional information: The Cannabis-Psychosis Link and Cannabis Psychosis

Ronald L. Kirkish

The world’s most expensive rehab clinic

It caters for sheikhs, A-listers, business leaders... and one immoderate journalist. Robert Crampton takes his place on the couch

Küsnacht, the suburb of Zurich stretching along the shores of the lake, is remarkable for three reasons. One is its extreme wealth. The singers Tina Turner and Shania Twain have homes here, as does Kimi Raikkonen, the Formula One driver. So do assorted Russian oligarchs and Arabian sheikhs. And in among the new money lies the old, the accumulated riches of the ages, passed down through venerable banking dynasties or half-forgotten Central European royal houses. You look at the solid, tasteful, timeworn villas and you can practically see money two or three centuries in the making oozing out of the walls. The income tax rate in Küsnacht, set locally, is 13 per cent.

Küsnacht’s second unusual feature is its tranquillity. The avenues and lanes here are, even by Swiss standards, uncannily calm. Contentment shrouds the rooftops along with the thick snow. Noise and ostentation are frowned upon. Privacy is prized above all else. The Prince of Wales, it is said, regularly dines nearby in the skiing season, but the idea of any local contacting a newspaper with this information is unthinkable. The streets and buildings display barely no signage. The best restaurants are accessed by plain, unmarked doors. Either you know where these places are, or you don’t get to go.

Küsnacht’s third claim to fame is that it was home, until his death in 1961, to Carl Jung, the second-most renowned psychotherapist in history. Jung moved here in 1908, building a lakefront house in which, in the late Twenties, he treated an American businessman, Rowland Hazard III, for chronic alcoholism. Jung suggested to Hazard that his future sobriety required him to experience “a spiritual awakening”.

Returning to the US, Hazard championed Jung’s methods to his friend Ebby Thatcher. Thatcher was a friend of Bill Wilson, who, influenced by Jung’s ideas, co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. Thus, indirectly, the 12-step recovery programme was born in Küsnacht.

Given this history – wealth, discretion, Jung – it really is no accident that Küsnacht is now home to the most expensive rehab clinic in the world. The Küsnacht Practice, operating out of a suitably anonymous modern office building, costs its clients £190,000 for a minimum stay of four weeks, payable upfront in full. That’s close to £7,000 a day. If a client stays three months, as some do, their bill won’t be far off £600,000. On top of that comes the cost of having a therapist travel home with them to help ease them back into everyday life, without returning to their bad old ways. The therapist may stay as long as a month. All part of the service.

By way of comparison, the Cottonwood clinic in Arizona, where former England footballer Paul Gascoigne is currently being treated, charges about £1,000 a day. Eric Clapton’s Crossroads centre in Antigua – alumni include Britney Spears and Colin Farrell – comes in at about £600 a day, as do the Betty Ford clinic in California, Cirque Lodge in Sundance, Utah, and the Priory Hospital, Britain’s most well-known addiction-treatment centre. Most people, rightly, think of these places as wildly expensive. Patients at Küsnacht pay ten times as much.

They may be addicted to alcohol, or drugs – illegal, prescription or both – or food, or sex (usually with prostitutes), or all of the above, often without acknowledging it. One chap, checked in for drug addiction, announced alcohol wasn’t a problem for him because although he got through a bottle of vodka a day, that was just how business was conducted in his country, each stage of negotiation toasted and sealed with a triple shot.

Patients may well be suffering from depression. They may well have been traumatised since childhood. Or they may be simply burnt out by stress. There are never more than three clients in situ at any one time. They never meet each other: no group therapy here. Instead, they are assigned their own therapist, available 24 hours a day. The patient and the therapist stay together in one of the practice’s luxury apartments, objets d’art worth tens of thousands dotted about, personal chef, housekeeper and driver on hand.

Therapists are very well paid – around three times what they might earn elsewhere – which accounts for the bulk of the eye-watering price tag. When not in session with their therapist, patients are counselled about addictions, exhaustively tested by doctors and biochemists, introduced to yoga and acupuncture, hypnotised, massaged and taken off for vigorous hikes in the surrounding woods by their personal trainer. They are also taken to AA and NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings locally. Part hospital, part spa, part analyst’s clinic, part boot camp, part support network, Küsnacht certainly takes its promise of – dread word – holistic treatment seriously. At these prices, you’d expect nothing less.

Last year the practice had 20 patients. This year, Lowell Monkhouse, Küsnacht’s Canadian founder tells me, he’ll take 30, but no more. Or maybe just one more, for 48 hours at any rate: your correspondent, a man not unacquainted with either the pleasures or pitfalls, the delights or the downside, of overdoing it, specifically in regard to alcohol, food, cigarettes, anxiety, late nights and other sundry self-destructive behaviours.

For reasons of confidentiality, I am not able to meet any present or former patients of the practice. By way of a substitute, Küsnacht provides me with an intensive two-day taster of the schedule bona fide patients undergo. Austrian Dr Claudia Elsig encourages me into a light trance to conduct a psychiatric assessment. (Results pending.) Dr Antoinette Sarasin Gianduzzo, a Swiss biochemist, gives me a nutritional assessment via saliva, blood and hair testing. (See below.) Psychologist Anthony O’Brien, a soft-spoken Irishman from Tralee, conducts an addictions assessment. (“Your body’s giving you the information, Robert. Now you’ve got to start listening to it.”) Meanwhile, Ivan Serretti and Isabelle Seiler and Shelby McDermott and Moustafa Ahmoud get busy with reflexology, acupuncture, yoga and massage respectively.

Each practitioner, I couldn’t help but notice, looks ten years younger than they turn out to be. Monkhouse looks younger than his 65 years. Sarasin Gianduzzo looks younger than her 45. As for Ivan the reflexologist, I had him down as around 40. He’ll be 53 this month. “It’s no secret,” says Monkhouse. “We’re healthy. Ageing is just your body not functioning properly. Ours are.” Mine, however, isn’t. Every month of my 48 years is etched in my face. “You look tired,” I am told repeatedly. “Well, I am,” I agree, and then generally nod off. Not so much a spiritual awakening as a falling asleepening.

I am also advised to drink more water, lose 10kg, stop snacking, especially late at night, stop drinking, stop smoking, take more exercise (walking, ideally), make time for a little meditation each day, “get some rhythm” back into my body via a repetitive manual task, consider taking up a hobby and, Sarasin Gianduzzo recommends, “develop a healthy egoism and not always sacrifice your own pleasure for the sake of others”. Lots to work on there. “You need to make a start or your kids may not have a dad,” advises Monkhouse. I come away with a bag of vitamins and other supplements.

Freeloading journalists aside, Küsnacht’s paying customers have thus far included oligarchs, sheikhs, aristocrats and “a world-famous Hollywood actress”. This lady, Monkhouse explains, liked to go into Zurich once in a while, which she did largely unbothered by the locals. “She signed a couple of autographs in Starbucks but other than that, the Swiss left her alone.”

Monkhouse is keen to emphasise that his clientele extends beyond the mega-rich and famous. “I wouldn’t want to give the impression that only people with their own 747s come here, although we do get some of them. Some what you call averagely rich people also come up with the money somehow and attend.”

Küsnacht regularly treats business leaders, power brokers threatened with the sack if they don’t clean up their act. “Had this one guy, friend of a friend of mine in Boston, senior executive in a big company – big company – in New York, been through three treatment centres in the States. Brilliant guy but he just couldn’t stay sober and his board were about to deep-six [sack] him. Will we take him? I said sure. He was here three or four weeks, we did lots of work with him, therapy, yoga, acupuncture; he’s still sober many years later.”

Such people as Monkhouse describes are as untroubled settling a $1 million bill as an averagely well-off person would be by paying a prescription charge at the chemist. For the duration of his treatment, one gentleman block-booked 20 suites in the local five-star hotel for his family and entourage. “Some of those suites are £8,000 a night,” says Monkhouse. “They all stayed a couple of months without blinking an eye.”

When Monkhouse asked another patient, scion of “an old and noble British line”, what he did by way of work, the patient replied, “Lowell, what you’ve got to understand is that no one in my family has worked for 500 years.” Many of his British patients, Monkhouse says, “have names that are the same as counties or towns”. Such privilege can foster an ennui that leads to hedonistic, and pretty soon nihilistic, behaviour. Equally, the sort of risk-taking drive associated with entrepreneurs and executives often brings with it a taste for excess.

One patient turned out to be a government assassin. Caught in an explosion on a mission, he had become addicted to the morphine administered to ease the pain of his wounds. A grateful nation, sheltered behind various offshore companies, picked up the tab. “You should write a book, Lowell,” I suggest, the two of us snug in one of the practice’s chauffeur-driven Mercedes saloons, crunching through the Swiss snow. “Yeah, right,” he chuckles. “I wouldn’t live to see it published.”

Another patient – from Central Asia – arrived accompanied by a courteous and yet firm American gentleman who did little to dispel the impression that he worked for a branch of his government’s security services. “It is very important to the foreign and energy policies of the United States,” this man explained to Monkhouse, “that your patient is successfully treated and returned to his country in good health.” The whole time that patient stayed in Zurich, so too did his mysterious minder.

Top surgeons blowing tens of thousands on crack, oil billionaires gulping down Xanax and Ritalin, bankers who just can’t stop sending their private jet to Moscow to ferry over their favourite hookers for cocaine orgies, Monkhouse has seen them all.

He’s fascinating company, Monkhouse. Yet he’s also perfected the art of telling a good story without too much detail – and certainly without any actual names, or indeed many proper nouns at all. In his business, for both ethical and commercial reasons, confidentiality is king. When I ask him to comment on speculation that John Galliano, following his drunken anti-Semitic rant in Paris in 2011, spent some time being treated at Küsnacht, Monkhouse will neither confirm nor deny such rumours. He then changes the subject.

Most of the people who come to Küsnacht have been through one, two, sometimes ten other treatment centres, some of them almost as expensive as Monkhouse’s. By definition, their previous attempts have not worked. Or not worked for long. They’ve gone back to their lives, and sooner or later, they have relapsed.

Monkhouse, by contrast, can recall only a handful of defeats, although admittedly, the low numbers involved make even one failure statistically significant.

The practice does not as a rule prescribe drugs – indeed, one of its aims is to get people off antidepressants – but three patients, Monkhouse admits, “had serious psychiatric issues and symptoms that had to be dealt with pharmaceutically”.

One he has lost track of, one is functioning reasonably well, the third, a young man in his twenties, lives in a secure psychiatric hospital and probably will for the rest of his life.
“He had cannabis psychosis,” says Monkhouse. “We couldn’t help him.”
The hardest addiction to break, he adds, is to cannabis. Cannabis – certain strains at least – is also the drug that can cause the most profound and least reversible neurological damage, often quickly, often in very young and otherwise healthy adults.
The drug many people think of as harmless can send you mad, swiftly and permanently.

Those cases apart, Monkhouse says his aim “to treat the underlying causes of addiction” has been realised. His goal is for patients to leave “not anxious or depressed or craving”, and thus with a decent chance of staying healthy and substance-free when they return to their normal lives. “We get the biochemical stuff and the psychological stuff and the family stuff straightened out,” he says. “And then we get them into the fellowship, AA or NA or whatever. It’s the best long-term aftercare there is.”

He should know. Monkhouse is 65, hasn’t touched alcohol or drugs for 26 years and still tries to get to an AA meeting twice or three times a week. Raised on a ranch in Canada, he went into treatment for alcohol and drug dependency at the tender age of 25, in 1972. His life to that point had already included arrests for drink-driving and possession of heroin. At university, he had taken LSD – at the time still legal in Canada – in a psychology class, under the supervision of his professor. He became a teacher, got into politics, worked for future prime minister Pierre Trudeau and then prospered in advertising, running his own agency before he was 30.

Sober for several years after treatment, one day in the late Seventies he had “one glass of wine”, discovered cocaine, “and was off to the races”. Sacked, twice divorced, he eventually got sober – through AA – in 1987. Ten years later, aged only 50, he sold his business and retired to Zurich. He began practising a little therapy, discovered he was good at it, got his qualifications and his licence, and was then hired by the Priory at Farm Place in Surrey. He worked there for two years.

When he began practising in Zurich, he found that yoga and other exercise helped recovery. “When you’re fit, your brain functions better. You’re self-confident.” He then read about therapists in California treating crack addicts – successfully – not with drugs, but with amino acid supplements and micronutrients to remedy vitamin and mineral deficits. “That’s when I got into the biochemistry, the eureka moment. Our body doesn’t get the food it needs to give our brain the energy it needs.”

Many addicts, Monkhouse suggests, develop their addiction by trying to medicate anxiety or unhappiness or depression caused by malnutrition in our modern diet. “We see deficiencies in people’s bodies all the time. Not just addicts, but people who have never touched alcohol and are just burnt out with stress.” His emphasis on biochemistry isn’t unique – lots of clinics in the US take a similar approach – but few combine the science with traditional counselling as Küsnacht does. “We try to treat all the underlying causes and then teach people how to live with a brain we have changed.”

For Monkhouse, a billionaire can be just as susceptible to modern malnutrition as someone on an average wage who is informed and sensible about their diet. Indeed in some respects, he argues, the super-rich are more vulnerable to ill-health than the merely well-off. “My overall impression is that the super-rich get bad healthcare,” he says. “They don’t go to places you and I go. They’re not in the system. They go to some ‘special place’ their neighbour has told them about. They’re likely to have their own doctor living in their house. They often arrive here with their own doctor and psychiatrist.” Shades of Michael Jackson? “Right.”

One patient, Monkhouse recalls, “an unbelievably wealthy guy, came here addicted to morphine because of the pain he was in after some incredibly bad surgery at some place had buggered up his nerves. It almost ruined his life. Another guy came whose whole family had been fed heavy metals by some quack. They’re all really sick now.” Isolated from normal interaction, unlikely to make use of state medical services, not used to hearing the word “no”, the modern rich can fall prey to a charlatan as easily as the Romanovs did to Rasputin a century ago.

Isolation also brings another danger, says Monkhouse. “You’ve no idea how dysfunctional some of these wealthy families can be. And because they’re protected by money, they’re able to keep the dysfunctional family system going for generations. You see the kids being just as nuts as the parents. Some of these families are tragic. I have learnt that sometimes people in your family don’t want you to get better. If they’ve got you to look at, they can say, ‘There’s our problem.’ They don’t have to look at themselves.”

As for appraising my own situation, and whether my experience at Küsnacht helped me to do that, two days isn’t long enough to make a full evaluation. I was an observer rather than a participant. I wasn’t in detox. I wasn’t paying. Having said that, the mere experience of having highly educated and committed people listen to you, and on occasions challenge you, is worthwhile. Neither does a little pampering ever go amiss.

The biochemical tests I had were fascinating, and for the most part reassuring: comfortably mid-range for most proteins, vitamins, hormones, acids and minerals, but my adrenals aren’t what they should be and my cardiovascular risk is raised. They’ve told me what to do and take to reduce it. I can’t help feeling such assessments should be available to everybody.

A friend asked me if I had a spare fifty grand would I go back to Küsnacht for a week. I said, no, if I had a spare fifty grand I’d pay down my mortgage, or buy a Mercedes. But if I had a spare £1 million, I might allocate a quarter of it towards a month being taken apart and put back together again in Switzerland. And if I – or anybody else – had a spare £10 million, I might think about investing in a facility where those people who can’t afford £7,000 a day could go and have their problems addressed.