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I stayed at the world's most expensive rehab - it costs £82,000 a week

Daisy Phillipson

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I stayed at the world's most expensive rehab - it costs £82,000 a week

Featured Image Credit: LADbible

I knew this place was different from the moment I was picked up from the airport in a Bentley.  

Sorry, let me begin properly. My name’s Daisy and I’m an alcoholic. 

I’m also one of the 0.00001% of people with substance abuse issues lucky enough to have spent time at the world’s most expensive rehab centre. 

Paracelsus Recovery in Switzerland charges £82,000 for a week’s stay - including access to no less than fifteen staff members tending to my various needs, from medical and psychiatric professionals to a butler and maid. 

As someone who’s found sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous, I’m used to a few plastic chairs in a church hall and a cup of instant coffee.

But what do CEOs, celebrities and royalty do when they’re struggling with drink, drugs or mental health problems? Even the more exclusive rehabilitation centres can’t guarantee the discretion they might require, let alone the level of luxury. 

That’s exactly where Paracelsus Recovery aims to come in.

It's not every day you get driven around in a Bentley.
It's not every day you get driven around in a Bentley.

While you and I might wince at the price tag, for the guests it’s often a mere drop in the ocean - and could be the difference between starting the road to recovery and not seeking help at all. 

During my visit I was given a mere taster of what’s on offer - literally, thanks to Moritz, my personal chef.

Unlike the group settings of AA and 12 Step rehabs, Paracelsus Recovery only has capacity for four guests at any given time, and the program is entirely catered to the individual.

A lakefront penthouse was where I would spend the duration of my stay, and I was told I’d be getting the same treatment as other guests.

For the two short days I was there, I underwent blood tests, oxygen therapy, dietary sessions, psychiatric assessments, yoga classes, massages, dining out - and let’s not forget an early morning swim in the blissful Lake Zurich.

The view from my lakefront apartment.
The view from my lakefront apartment.

I had access to the Dolder Grand spa hotel (around £1,000 a night and £225 for just a couple of hours at the spa) and its 4,000 sq ft wellness centre, with pretty much every relaxing thing available.

It was as if my own recovery process had been flipped on its head. One of the many reasons I still attend AA meetings is because it gets me out of the busy little universe in my own head, and inspires me to help others to get well.

At this ‘seven star’ establishment though, all of these people are here for you.

“Our guests have very interesting needs and demands,” explained Jan Gerber, founder and CEO of Paracelsus Recovery. "Recently, one of the clients’ people had to build an entire NSA-proof satellite communication system on one of our rooftop terraces.”

As for the treatment, Jan says the first few days are like 'detective work', figuring out what the client has asked for, their issues, their background and expectations. 

IV infusion treatments help patients through detox.
IV infusion treatments help patients through detox.

Having hit rock bottom and come out of the other side, I can tell you with absolute certainty that those first few days of sobriety are hell. Sweats, vomiting, shaking, you name it.

Once the physical effects have subsided, then comes the washing machine brain. But what struck me about Paracelsus Recovery is that there’s generally not a lot of time to put a full mental load on spin.

With regards to my own story, it all started when I developed an anxiety disorder aged 10, which coincidentally is the same age I took my first drink - a big glass of red wine then a beer at a caravan park on holiday. 

Casual drinking and drug taking resumed in my teens, and before I’d had time to develop any healthy coping strategies for life’s ups and downs, I was hooked.

My 20s were plagued with failed attempts to cut down, and as my drinking progressed I became more and more isolated.

Whether I was white knuckling it until the weekend or sipping vodka first thing on a Monday, alcohol took up 99 percent of my mental and emotional energy. 

Drinking consumed my life before I sought help
Drinking consumed my life before I sought help

Hiding the amount I was drinking became difficult - my partner thought I was a lightweight as I would always be smashed on a night out, not knowing that I’d already necked a bottle of wine before even leaving the house.

I would often hide empty bottles in a blackout, only to find them a few weeks later stuffed away in my cupboard. 

Thankfully my life couldn't look more different today, and by the time I'd reached Paracelsus Recovery I was ready to experience how the top one percent get well.

Alongside the lakefront apartment, I had every need tended to - from three-course meals cooked by Moritz to a fully stocked bathroom. Even the toilet paper was deluxe.

Around every corner there were glass bottles of water, which were swiftly replaced as soon as I’d taken a swig.

Introducing Moritz, my personal chef for the week.
Introducing Moritz, my personal chef for the week.

But, ultimately, these details are the bells and whistles. If the mega rich want to go and get pampered for a couple of weeks, they can just go on holiday. They come to Paracelsus to deal with their problems. 

"The most common client is a member of a wealthy family," said Jan. "And actually sometimes these people are at the most risk. Growing up in material wealth comes with an array of pitfalls, risks and struggles that others just wouldn’t have, and on the other side of the spectrum, so does growing up in poverty."

For those who fall into the former camp, emotional fulfilment and affection are often replaced by material goods.

Busy parents often leads to isolated children who are raised by their nannies or other relatives. They might feel a lack of a sense of self, having had their whole lives planned out for them from the moment they were born.

Susann, the yoga instructor, helps clients to build their mental strength and stability.
Susann, the yoga instructor, helps clients to build their mental strength and stability.

Those living in the public eye may be under intense scrutiny, leading to trust and self-esteem issues. 

Whatever the cause of the pain, when money is no object, coping mechanisms can go from being destructive to downright dangerous.

Tom* had been at the recovery centre for the past three weeks, and he’d just extended his stay by another month.

Despite the high pressure environment of working for an investment fund in the Middle East, Tom* - originally from the UK - admitted it was his personal life that drove him to seek help. 

"I had two main issues - alcoholism and substance abuse," he said.

"Alcoholism, I’ve been dealing with for the better part of 12 years. Substance abuse started with painkillers, then moved to cocaine where I was an extremely heavy user, taking roughly two grams a day for the better part of three or four years.

"One day, I snapped. I looked around and I’d lost my relationship with my mum, dad and sister. I’d burned so many bridges with all my old mates. My girlfriend left as well.

"I was just mentally and emotionally tired, having suicidal thoughts. I had to get to that low point in order to seek help.

I had sessions a number of sessions with Dr Thilo Beck, the clinic's chief consultant psychiatrist
I had sessions a number of sessions with Dr Thilo Beck, the clinic's chief consultant psychiatrist

"I had a moment of clarity on a Wednesday night - 22nd of June. And I just said, 'Yeah, okay, I think we need to make a change.' Then 72 hours later, I was on a flight and I came here."

"Alcohol and getting sober is just one part of the equation," added Tom. "My conversations with (chief consultant psychiatrist) Dr Beck have shifted - now instead of talking about those uncomfortable emotions, we’re focusing on what are my core values and planning ahead. 

"The idea isn’t just to leave here sober and potentially fall back into the same patterns."

Before meeting with Tom, I was expecting fantastic tales of a life far removed from my own. But as past experiences have shown me it doesn’t matter where you come from - or how much money is in your bank account. In many ways, we weren't so different.

Just like Tom, I had needed help.

Back in 2018 when my drinking and drug use had reached new heights, I decided to check out an AA meeting. It was life changing to hear the experiences of other people who think and act just like me. 

That's the thing with addiction. It doesn't really take your social status into account.

The view from the Dolder Grand.
The view from the Dolder Grand.

I wish I could say the path to recovery was straightforward, but a year after getting into AA, my dad took his own life.

Like me, he struggled with alcoholism. 

The grief and all the confusing emotions that followed consumed me, but rather than head to the nearest meeting or consider how my family and friends might be feeling, I picked up a drink.

It didn’t take long before I was back in the same destructive cycle, waking up with the fear and needing my ‘medicine’ just to quieten my mind for a few hours.

Rather than solving what had happened, alcohol just put a pause button on it - and caused a whole lot of destruction along the way. 

Once again, just as Tom experienced, I became sick and tired of being sick and tired, and one day decided enough was enough. Dragging myself back into AA, I began to do what others who had been around a while had suggested.

I was lucky enough to find a fantastic sponsor who guided me through the 12 steps, and day by day things started to look a little brighter. 

Today I am 14 months sober. It hasn’t always been easy, but through AA I’ve found something I was looking for in the bottle - peace of mind.

And from my time spent with Tom, it appeared he was well on his way to finding the same - even though the setting couldn't have been more different.

Oxygen therapy was quite the experience.
Oxygen therapy was quite the experience.

Each morning during my stay, medical assessments and notes from a dietician were fed to the chef, who decided on my meals for the day. Yoga sessions focused on presence, breathing and strength, giving me the mental clarity needed for counselling.

While I have found sobriety through the traditional route, my stay by the lake helped me to identify some of the external factors that contributed to my mental health struggles.

Through various physical tests, the medical team provided me with the information I needed to improve my strength and stamina (eating more protein, it turns out). 

All that being said, when it was time to go home, I couldn’t wait to get to an AA meeting. For me, being in active addiction was the loneliest place to be, and AA has gifted me with a community of people who have been in the exact same boat. I take great comfort from that.

And I guess that’s what getting well is all about – seeking help in a way that suits you. 

Time to say goodbye to Paracelsus Recovery (and the Bentleys).
Time to say goodbye to Paracelsus Recovery (and the Bentleys).

Did I feel comfortable having a team of staff catering to my every need? Yes and no, but I was only as uncomfortable as I’d imagine a billionaire would feel sitting in a dusty church hall on a Saturday night. Horses for courses.

When it comes down to it, the individual has to do the work - there is always help out there, sometimes for tens of thousands of pounds, sometimes for free.

Paracelsus certainly opened my eyes to another world of recovery. And for Tom and I, it's going to be about the journey as much as the destination.

But only one of us gets to use the Bentley.

*Names have been changed to protect the client's privacy

If you want to discuss any issues relating to alcohol in confidence, contact Drinkline on 0300 123 1110, 9am–8pm weekdays and 11am–4pm weekends for advice and support

If you want friendly, confidential advice about drugs, you can talk to FRANK. You can call 0300 123 6600, text 82111 or contact through their website 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, or livechat from 2pm-6pm any day of the week 

Topics: Health, Mental Health, Drugs

Daisy Phillipson
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