Residential Treatment Centers: Leveling Systems, Dress Codes, & Safety Advantages


The family home is and always will be the ideal place for living and learning. However, there are rare cases which may necessitate a child leaving the home. Here we will consider some arrangements for those scenarios.


Treatment Center Leveling System


Students advance through a series of Levels as a reflection of their commitment toward and progression in their recovery.


Level 0


Entering the facility, a student is at level 0. Once they’ve established that they won’t try to kill people and run away every 5 minutes, they advance to a level 1. Level 0 is a good time for detoxification from any drugs (including pornography) which the student was formerly addicted to compulsively.

A strict dress code forces the students to be modest in their appearance, and many rules further enforce respect toward peer and staff (such as no swearing). Students in the level 0 are dressing in orange shirts.

New students are also not allowed to have communications with the outside world, or other lower level students. New students are level 0, and only when a level 3 can a student speak to other lower level students. This helps students in bad places mentally not conspire with one another in non-working theories.

Breaking the program into phases helps the adolescent one-track brain understand that breaking the chains of addiction doesn’t happen overnight, and that it is not black-and-white simple. Many of them enter treatment, as evidenced by the begging letter, believing that their addiction is surface deep and easily remediated. The level program shows them that it takes work to recover, and most importantly, it gives them examples of person whom have recovered.



Level 1


Level 1 is a place where the students come to terms with the fact that they are in treatment, and that they will remain there until they have made appropriate changes in their lives, however long that could take (usually 6-12 months). Driven by a desire to go home, often students begin to make outward changes in this stage. Students in level 1 are dressed in tan dress pants and a blue button up dress shirt. The therapist of the student will have a weekly assignment for the student, such as writing essays on topics like “My 100 Favorite Lies” and “My 100 Favorite Things” and “100 Reasons Why I’m Not Helping My Family” and “100 Reasons I’m Likely Going to Spend My Life In Prison” or “100 Reasons Why I Use Substances”. In this stage it is common for the student to write home a lengthy letter home to their families showing them that they have changed, and all is well, begging to please take them home now, filled with promises to be perfect.


Level 2


In Level 2, a student learns that it doesn’t pay to lie your way up the levels in the program. They learn that only in transparent communication with their peers in group therapy as well as with their therapist in individual therapy (these both occurring once per week) Optional groups including bible study, AA & NA (Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous), and a loss group for persons dealing with significant loss of a parent, etc.) are also available, and participation in these allows the student to show he/she is putting forth individual efforts on their own behalf to make progress. If a student is caught in a lie, he is liable to drop a level. If a student confesses that he has lied while at treatment and broken rules to which he did not confess, he drops a level, and goes to detention. In detention, students are seated in desks, and subject to transcribing audio lectures to earn their way back into the regular treatment. Regular treatment has privileges such as longer than 5-minute showers, and the rare educational film, and the athletic teams. All students are monitored day and night, and more so in detention. It is standard for a student to make a confession before ever progressing to Level 3, however disheartening this confession is to the student who formerly used lying to get ahead. Honesty is a key focus of this stage of student, and honesty is expected from the student here on out. It is within this stage where students also can, when deemed worthy, attend seminars titled “Discovery”, and then “Focus”. These seminars are private meetings of which the students are not allowed to speak outside of the meeting. These seminars are time when students meet with other students who have shown the same level of honest effort and commitment to recovery as they have, and they meet with an advanced specialist who takes the entire group (sometimes 30 or more students of both boys and girls (the only co-ed activity on campus for lower level students)) though a series of soul-searching activities which help the students in their path toward recovery. Students often leave these seminars highly motivated, and with increased faith and hope in their recovery, and a renewed (if not new) sense of self-worth.

As a student advances toward becoming an upper level, he is taught that confession is critical to recovery, and encouraged to write a “confession letter” home. This letter is often quite long, relating to the person most effected (usually parents) all of the deception and misdeeds they have committed against them, themselves, and others. This is part of the 12 Step Program of the Anonymous programs, but all students are encouraged to write a confession letter regardless of whether they choose to participate in the Anonymous programs.


Level 3


Level 3 is often a deeply consequential phase of transitioning from lower level to higher level. New students are not allowed to speak to each other, as these relationships are usually destructive and divisive. The only students who can speak to new students of a level 0-2 are students who have attained the Level 3, and whom have passed the Focus Seminar. A student fails the seminars if they show no effort or transparency therein, expressing some sort of a rebellious spirit. Fellow students as well as the orchestrator determine whether a student passes a seminar. “3 through Focus” are the students whom are permitted to speak to lower level students. Other companies who don’t have this policy are likely to witness more group escape attempts, secret societies, gangs, planned violence, cliques, etc. A level 3 student is one who is committed to recover, even if they are struggling in progress, their commitment is there, and signs are beginning to show of their commitment. The Level 3 student recognizes that many of their behaviors were destructive, but has a difficult time realizing that even small acts of rebellion are contributing toward their unstable lives.


Levels 4-5


Levels 4-5 are more particularly where the student has experience in leadership roles, and is thoroughly put through the refiner’s fire when it comes to facing their fears, facing their families, facing their home lives which they are soon to return to. Though these are high levels, students still have much work to do before being prepared to return home. If a student confesses that he has been lying in his treatment up to that point and has been breaking rules, he may likely drop back down to a level 1. This drop is devastating, meaning more time in the program as a minimal time allotment is required for each stage, but the student realizes that total honesty is the only way to full recovery. It is not uncommon for a student to get stuck at these levels, showing great progress, but lacking in a grasp of the reality of their situation as determined by a council of the student’s therapist, and other employees of the facility. This council of level advancement may include fellow students at the 6th level whom often have important insights into the day-to-day attitudes of the student. These upper level students are exposed to more than the lower level students, including occasional interaction with students of the opposite sex in dances and trainings on adult roles. Since so many of the students got themselves into the program from deviant behaviors linked to behavior toward persons of the opposite sex, this can be a very trying time to confront real issues in the student’s lives (though issues of pornography, sexuality, STD’s, pregnancy, dating standards, and trust issues related to the student’s orientation regarding the opposite sex are not reserved for upper level treatment). The upper level student will surrender all of their rebellion of non-working principles to adapting correct principles. They are taught that guessing at what is right and responding to punishment will only take them so far, whereas adopting working/healthy principles will lead them to make good choices in all situations.


Level 6


Level 6 is the stage of triumph which every other student (the serious ones at least) hopes to attain. These students are role models to the other students, because the other students often believe their situation is unique and cannot be overcome. The upper level students prove them wrong, showing that persons from similar situations as themselves can throw out the non-working behaviors without throwing out their fun personalities and healthy (even cool) hobbies. These are the role models who help other students on a day to day basis, and whom are making plans to either find an apartment, or whom are taking the final steps in completing their high school diplomas via the program’s packet system high school. This high school is attended by students of all levels. Level 6 students may be 18 years old and chose to remain in the program to take advantage of the high school diploma program. Once a student is 18 years old, they are free to leave the program at any time. 18-year-old students who feel unprepared to leave the program for other than academic reasons are given extensive training to help them into their adult life, as being an adult in this program is frowned upon for the development of the student. 17-year-old students whom have shown some degree of progress toward their recovery may attend a regular class which teaches skills specifically for independent adults, whereas the younger students will likely return home to live with their parents after the program has reached completion. Younger students often have a more difficult time in the program, having a more distant understanding of reality and real consequences of their actions, though young students often show great maturity and progress in the program, and great post-treatment success. Level 6 students often leave the facility to get used to being in the outside world again. Most of these students have been in the program for over half a year and need positive experiences with society to show them hands on how to interact in positive ways in the community. It is not uncommon for the graduated student to write letters to the students at treatment centers, explaining to them what life is like “on the out’s”, and the trials they face. Lamentably, some students whom have graduated the program will return to the program from a series of serious relapses whom have shown they were unprepared for a healthy life. If a student lies to reach a level 6 (almost impossible), they now return to the program with a very real understanding that lying will not get them far. They must work very hard to reestablish trust, and level advancement will be a long and painful process for them. Sometimes deception is so ingrained in the life of the student that only a severe consequence such as this will pull them out of it. These students have often returned to religious roots, or found some form of religion to support the spiritual aspects of their recovery. They often commit to continued treatment in the Anonymous programs, or with outpatient therapists as they are taught that sustained sobriety and recovery will be difficult, though less difficult with a positive support group. Some students at this level are puzzled about where they will find positive peers in their outpatient life, and therapists help them consider environments which could be conducive to building committed relationships for lasting recovery.


Treatment Center Advantage: Safety

Many students feel that if they were to reveal their crimes at home, that their families would call the police on them, or at least forbid them from a social life. These students have come from scenarios where telling the truth or being caught has resulted in those consequences before, and many of them have become thoroughly afraid of being honest in the context of their family and community. Their name has gone from bad to worse as issues become public at home and in circles of immediate and extended family.

A treatment center gives the student a place where they can confess to a third-party therapist and group of peers. The student is “locked away safely” where vindictive parents or local law enforcement or ecclesiastical leaders cannot directly administer consequences to them for their actions. In this inpatient and secluded environment far removed from their homes, students with serious issues may be more likely to confess things which they thought they would take to their grave. Students chained down to addiction also are compelled to not use the substance, which gives them a chance to lessen their dependency on the substance they had been abusing. Though the student is under constant surveillance, they can feel safe from themselves and others from the high standards of boundaries at the program.

Boundaries imposed by the no-talking-lower-level-to-lower-level rule will greatly help the students to be safe and have a positive environment.

Therapy is centered on several key aspects of the 12 Step Program including confession to a trusted and effected person, commitment to sobriety. The therapist and student have a very close relationship, and the therapist can often get places with the student which the parents could not. The student often is embarrassed and ashamed by their choices, and is therefore not willing to divulge and speak about these subjects with his parents. Many parents are not trained in substance and other behavioral issues, and though well intended, resort to non-working therapeutic tactics.


Treatment Center Dress Code

The dress code shows the students that there is more to them than their alter-ego/fantasy. They learn the intrinsic value of themselves without trendy clothing. They learn social life doesn’t need to be created via clothing cliques. They throw away their “image”, and gain an acceptance for their body type and personality. Trendy clothing can get in the way of one’s personality shining through, and can help the student avoid falling back into an unhealthy clique. Strangely, this contributes to mental abstinence, and makes physical abstinence easier. Each student is brought to a level playing field as their peers, and money no longer determines their social life. Each is brought back to the age of childhood via their simple/out-of-awareness appearance, and their thoughts turn to deeper matters than outward appearances. This can also encourage honesty, as they’ve used outward appearances to deceive their families, hiding the truth. The “truth” of who they are is no longer hidden under masses of clothing and symbols. The new symbol for their personality is the words they say, and they learn to make those words honest words.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *