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In Balance  Academy provides a comprehensive combination of services designed to allow each young man and his family to reach their full potential.  Unlike most programs, that only focus on a few treatment modalities, In Balance Academy fully incorporates several treatment methods to ensure that the unique needs of each student are met.  Our multi-faceted approach creates a dynamic model that motivates and challenges our students.  Because several components are incorporated, the diverse interests of each student can be met and they are able to find a niche within the community.  Throughout the process of treatment, the student and his family are encouraged to examine the core of who they are and to envision who they can become.


In Balance Academy clinical services are research/evidence based and are provided by experienced therapists who bring a diverse range of competencies to their clinical work.  Several treatment modalities are used to ensure that the multidimensional aspects of cognitive, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of each student are addressed.  Clinical work includes the family, as our program understands and believes that addiction is a family disease and in order to treat the addiction, the family must be treated as a whole. 


  • Individual therapy with experienced therapists

  • Family therapy

  • Equine therapy

  • Experiential, Adventure-Based Therapy

  • Trauma Treatment; Including E.M.D.R

  • Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

  • Motivational Interviewing

  • Psychiatric services when indicated

  • Group therapy which may include a variety of issues:

    • Shame and Trauma Recovery

    • Executive Functioning

    • Ego and Entitlement

    • Family Issues

    • Depression and Anxiety

    • Anger Management

    • Transitions

    • Divorce Recovery

    • Sexuality and Relationships

    • Adoption and Attachment Issues

    • Grief and Loss

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As with any reputable treatment program, In Balance Academy retains state licensing to operate its program; but beyond licensing, In Balance Academy consistently demonstrates its commitment to clinical sophistication and safe and effective care by voluntarily participating in a number of initiatives and partnering with organizations dedicated to ensuring that the young people and families they serve receive the highest quality of services. By partnering with these organizations and participating in these elective programs, In Balance not only continually enhances the effectiveness of its diverse range of clinical competencies, the program ensures that treatment– industry-wide– is efficacious.


Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval®

In Balance Continuum has repeatedly earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation. While state licensing demonstrates programs’ ability to meet government-regulated standards of care, the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® is a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to providing safe and effective care that goes beyond licensing standards.


The Joint Commission accredits more than 22,000 organizations worldwide and focuses on continually improving health care by setting the highest standards for quality throughout the world. In setting the standards, The Joint Commission consults doctors, nurses, and quality and safety experts to review the current standards and make recommendations for improvements.


In Balance Academy voluntarily undergoes a rigorous review that monitors how effectively the program delivers quality, safe care, and establishes whether or not the program can do more to improve on its strengths. Among other things, The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval® ensures clients and families:

● Are provided a safe environment of care.
● Have protected rights, including privacy rights.
● Have ongoing evaluation of their condition–before, during, and after diagnosis and treatment.

NATSAP Research Designated Program

In Balance Academy is proudly recognized as a Gold-Level Research Designated Program (RDP) through the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs. This designation is awarded to programs that demonstrate they are involved in gathering and supplying data that is aimed at evaluating program effectiveness and increasing the understanding of treatment's impact on youth and their families.


This designation is reserved for programs that “honestly examine their work, and contribute to the scholarly, professional, and practical understanding of the effects of our interventions.” Since 2016, when NATSAP first introduced the program, In Balance Academy has earned the RDP designation, demonstrating that clinical practices are continuously and systematically examined in a meaningful way. As a Gold Level program +70% of Admit census is sampled, + 70% of discharge data is sampled, and + 25% of 6 &12 months post-discharge data is sampled to assess program quality and evaluate treatment effectiveness.

Choose Mental Health Program Partner

Launched in early 2021, and previously known as Youth Champions Charity, Choose Mental Health offers a library of mental health and educational resources for youth and their families. As a Partner Program, In Balance Academy is recognized as a program committed to accountability, accessibility, and affordability in its care and treatment of clients. In Balance Academy daily demonstrates its dedication to the families they serve and adheres to a “higher standard of care that far exceeds government and industry accreditation requirements.”


As a Choose Mental Health Program Partner, clients and families seeking recovery and mental health support can be assured that In Balance Academy is committed to outcomes collection, metrics and measures that document program effectiveness. The designation as a Choose Mental Health Partner Program also affirms In Balance’s commitment to providing proven clinical treatment that is individualized and specific for each client it serves. Clients and families can be assured that In Balance retains qualified, competent, and experienced staff to help clients with their treatment plans that meet or exceed accreditation standards and that client safety is a top priority.



In Balance Academy uses 12-step recovery to help students understand and manage substance abuse, gain a sense of community, explore spiritual principles as a means to solve their problems, and gain a sense of absolute accountability for their actions.  At times, members from the outside community of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous volunteer to conduct meetings with the students on-site at the Ranch.  Additionally, students are taken off campus to meetings and attend large weekend conferences of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Students work the steps with staff that are in recovery who help them understand how working the steps can create ongoing positive change in their lives.

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In Balance Academy uses 12 step recovery over other alternatives because it provides a unique sense of belonging, a sober culture, and access to a recovery community and support in any city, any time, any day of the week. For example, we take our students to A.A. meetings in a remote village in Peru during our international expedition. This accessibility and network makes the 12 steps an essential part of recovery from drugs or alcohol. We also use 12 step recovery because research supports its effectiveness in keeping young people sober longer. Research shows that "adolescents attending 10 or more meetings in the 6 months post-treatment had 2.53 times the odds of being abstinent. . .as those attending few or none." The same study reveals that "adolescents attending 10 or more meetings in the previous 6 months were more than twice as likely to be abstinent and those involved in three or more 12 step activities were more than 5 times as likely to be abstinent from alcohol and drugs as their counterparts." A separate study found that "for every AA/NA meeting youths attended, there was an additional subsequent gain of almost 2 days of abstinence over and above the effects of other factors." A very recent research study shows that "more meeting attendance was associated with significantly better substance use outcomes-particularly attending meetings at least once a week or more. Additionally, youth who also were in contact with an AA or NA sponsor or who participated verbally during AA/NA meetings had an even better outcome over and above the positive effects from merely attending. Doctors, counselors and other health professionals can improve the chances that teens will attend and participate in AA/NA by encouraging or making it easy for the teens to attend meetings early in their substance abuse treatment." 


  • On campus AA meetings

  • Off campus trips to AA and NA meetings

  • Opportunities for students to build supportive relationships with “sponsors” thereby practicing the skills that will be their lifeline to sobriety after graduating from the Academy

  • Young People in AA conference trips across the country; networking with thousands of youth and gaining inspiration from young people having fun in sobriety.


In Balance Academy views addiction as a family disease in which it is necessary to treat the entire family in order to begin making positive changes in each individual. Family dynamics contribute to the addiction and to the recovery, so it is imperative that family members gain insight into their processes so they can begin to heal both individually and as a family unit. There are several opportunities throughout each student’s treatment in which the family is actively involved so that the healing and reunification process can begin. Family visitation is encouraged and crucial, so the family can have several opportunities to work face-to-face with their son and begin to repair the broken relationships that have ensued over the course of the addiction process. 

Family Systems Component Includes:

  • Family therapy sessions

  • Weekly home phone calls beginning at Level 2

  • Updates from therapist

  • Family requirement to work an active Al-Anon program

  • Required reading list for families that include all aspects of the healing process

  • Therapeutic work for siblings

  • Focus on the reintegration of the student back into the home post-treatment, including strengthening support networks, sponsorship, therapy, and outpatient treatment.

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family weekends

In addition to the above family component, each family will participate in up to three family weekends during their child’s stay at the Academy.  These family weekends work to incorporate all family members that are old enough to be affected by the addicted family member’s past actions.  Each weekend is geared towards where the family is presently at in their process.  Weekends may include adventure-based therapy, communication strategies, equine-assisted therapy, parent support groups, as well as sibling support groups.

The first workshop focuses on healing the family through rigorous honesty. It also opens up lines of communication that have often times been closed off.  This weekend incorporates the siblings and assists in their process as well.  There is also a boundaries workshop in this weekend that often creates a profound shift in how parents see their roles and assists them in participating in the re-establishing of hierarchy in the family that is often lost through the chaos of addiction and mental illness.

The second family weekend focuses on helping both the parents and student see and understand the addiction and ensuing chaos from the perspective of the student.  It gives families insight into how their son ended up where they did and how they viewed the world through the lens of addiction.  It will help to outline the positive and negative peer influences they had in their lives in an attempt to create new peer groups that will facilitate recovery.  This weekend will also focus on relapse prevention and communication strategies.

The final weekend the family will receive individualized attention that focuses on creating a successful transition strategy.  This is one of the many strengths of In Balance Academy; the recognition that the transition strategy is one of the most important components of their stay at the academy.



"Our family has benefited by our son's experience by attending the Family Weekends, and in our son’s home visits where he has shared with us the insightful and revealing ways in which our family can learn to improve our mutual communication. His direct, yet non-threatening and sensitive communication has helped us to better understand our own tendencies, miscommunication, and ways of avoiding issues. In all, we see our son, who was so troubled and who we almost lost only one year ago, becoming a wonderful loving young man who will make a real contribution to a better world.” 
“Thank you again for a life-changing weekend. It was more powerful than I can begin to describe. I know I will spend the next few months getting more and more meaning from it as I await the next Family Weekend with excitement. When we first told our son that we were going to bring him to In Balance Academy, we described it to him as a gift. Now I know what an understatement that was. We feel so indebted to you for building such an incredible staff and program to help him grow. Again, words fail me…” 
“What a great Family Weekend for our son and our family. Thank you so much for your part in our family and your wonderful connection with our son. Mere words cannot express our appreciation! Our son has recently had his one year sobriety – it is a fabulous time to celebrate!!!”




In Balance Academy offers a unique equine program developed from extensive experience and training in the full spectrum of equine-assisted and facilitated therapy approaches.   Through challenge exercises and interactions with horses, students begin a process of gaining insight into their own lives and relationships.  By nature, horses are powerful and strong animals, weighing 900-2000 pounds.  They are prey and herd animals which gives them a fine-tuned, inherent sense of humans’ emotional states, attention, focus, communication strategies, and intentions.  Horses mirror all of this information back to individuals through their responses and body language, giving the students an opportunity to look at their approaches, attitudes, and relationship patterns. Our program has specialized and highly trained staff to assist with this form of therapy.

Equine-Assisted Therapy Helps Students and Families to:

  • Learn about their family roles, rules, boundaries, and difficulties in relationships

  • Improve communication and problem-solving skills

  • Improve self-esteem, self-awareness, body awareness, and emotional expression

  • Learn and practice mindfulness and self-calming techniques

  • Intervene in one’s own emotional and addictive relapse patterns

  • Reinforce the principles of recovery

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"The most significant experience of my life so far has been working with horses. Here at my boarding school in Arizona, I have learned to chase my goals. I am running at full speed with my companion, Lady, a twelve year old quarter horse mare. Lady has introduced me to “horse whispering,” also known as the Parelli method of horse training. When I arrived at school, I knew I would be involved in the Equine Program, but I had no idea what that meant, other than riding horses around the school ranch.
Hesitant at first, I soon realized I was involved in a program which was an incredible combination of animal rescue, horsemanship, and a new kind of communication. Lady’s beauty is evident through her sensitivity and empathy. She has shown me how to understand and communicate my true emotions. I have found leadership comes easily now that I have discovered the relationship

between emotions and behaviors. My horse, Lady, has taught me to lead and show my emotions; in return, I show her love and compassion. I am grateful to her because she helped me discover myself as an individual: a confident young man of integrity and honesty, who demonstrates respect and compassion for others."




In Balance Academy is located in beautiful southern Arizona, an hour and fifteen minutes from Tucson, which offers an atmosphere conducive to self-reflection and serenity. In the high desert, our summer and winter temperatures stay moderate, allowing for year-round outside activities. Located on over 100 acres of lush, beautiful desert landscape, In Balance offers our young men a safe, temptation free, healing campus. This serene atmosphere allows the young men to build internal strength and resiliency skills in a setting where they do not have to make the choice everyday whether or not to use. The campus and program design allows our students to build and develop their executive functioning skills and higher level thinking. The program environment optimizes emotional, spiritual, mental and physical health. Living in a rural setting, as opposed to a residential neighborhood and attending our own accredited high school, instead of a public school, allows our students to focus on the development of academic skills, therapeutic needs and individual growth. Our goal is to provide a safe and nurturing environment without sheltering our young men from life experiences. To give the students life experiences, while having strong support, we take them around town, around the country and around the world. Our students are offered off campus outing experiences and these opportunities increase exponentially as they progress through our program. To help our students transition to college, back home, or whatever exciting place recovery takes them, and to give them the opportunity to practice their newfound recovery and life skills, we have them do home or away from home visits during their second half of their stay with us. If you review our schedule and program, you will notice that our young men are not isolated from the community, rather they are integrated into it. Our program provides the perfect balance between a therapeutic environment and real life experiences.

Community Involvement:

  • Off Campus Outings

  • 12 Step Meetings 

  • Rock Climbing

  • Swimming & Fishing

  • Community Service Opportunities

  • Skateboarding

  • Multiple Home or Away from Home Visits


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healthy eating


Whole Foods Nutrition Plan:
In Balance Academy believes in a biopsychosocial, whole person approach to recovery. As part of the "bio" of the biopsychosocial approach we have employed a Healthy Eating Initiative at the ranch. Research has specifically shown that a healthy diet during adolescence is correlated with improved mental health. The evidence indicates that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimers disease.

Nutrition and Addiction Recovery:

Even more surprising is that healthy nutrition has been implicated in substance abuse recovery as well. Recovery from substance abuse affects the body in many ways, including metabolism (processing energy), organ function, and mental well-being. Proper nutrition has been shown to help the healing process. It does this by nourishing and healing the body damaged by substance abuse, stabilizes mood and reduces stress, reduces cravings for alcohol and drugs and provides a great foundation for the development of a healthy lifestyle."For many people struggling with drug dependence, learning about good nutrition is critical in the recovery process and is often instrumental in securing long-term success."-Dr. Grotzky-Giorgi. For an article discussing the importance of healthy nutrition in recovery from substances please Click Here.

80/20 Rule to help keep our Healthy Eating Initiative realistic and sustainable in our young men we employ a tactic called the 80/20 rule. The breakdown is simple: 80 percent of the time you focus on eating clean, good-for-you whole foods and 20 percent of the time you have the freedom to indulge as you please. For our young men this means that although they are eating healthy the majority of the time they are still allowed to have treats during movie time or enjoy a great meal while off campus. This flexibility makes the diet much easier to maintain for longer periods of time and research has shown that eating healthy 80 percent of the time has almost identical benefits to eating healthy 100 percent of the time.



Organic Vegetables
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In Balance Academy utilizes a variety of adventure and experiential exercises to support the students’ personal growth and treatment. Our Adventure program encompasses varying techniques and environments to elicit change. These include problem solving initiatives, trust exercises, a high and low ropes course, rock climbing in a gym, and outdoor experiences.  Challenge and perceived risk are an inherent aspect to our experiential program and students quickly transfer the learning experience from the activity to their personal lives. In particular, rock climbing, ropes course, and outdoor trips have a profound and dramatic impact on students’ awareness of themselves and how they see and act in the world.

Central to adventure and experiential program is the practice of framing. Framing is the creation of a metaphoric theme for an activity that relates to the targeted treatment issue. Students work together with a therapist to debrief and process the experience and help each other strengthen their recovery and treatment.


Adventure and Experiential Services Include:

  • Various adventure therapy experiences

  • Skateboarding

  • Gym and Fitness

  • Rock Climbing

  • Horse treks 

  • Outdoor experiences throughout the southwest – which could include Sedona, the White Mountains and Parker Canyon

  • Adventure sessions conducted during family weekends

  • Snowboarding in the White Mountains

  • Optional Annual trips abroad, so far we have done trips to: South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Nepal and Peru

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In Balance Academy is an all-male therapeutic boarding school. We decided to be a single-gender school simply because we believe in it and the research supports that it gives the young men an environment more conducive to healing and learning compared to traditional settings. Our single-gender environment allows our students to focus on their therapeutic process, personal growth and academic progress. As students navigate through our program they are encouraged to re-evaluate and learn how to build healthy relationships. The safety and support of a single-gender student community allows them to do this without distractions or pressure to fall into old patterns. Studies suggest that when boys are in single-gender classrooms, they are more successful in school and more likely to pursue a wide range of interests and activities. Research also shows that students who attend single-sex schools score higher on college entrance exams and are more likely to attend 4 year universities. The research indicates that boys in single-sex schools excel beyond just test scores and grades. They also tend to show more maturity and social adjustment, tend to be more confident and courteous around women and demonstrate more emotional intelligence. In single-sex schools, boys do not need an inflated masculine facade, rather they are allowed to know, understand and express themselves, to excel not only at sports but at music, arts, and academics.

To Research the Topic Further, Please Read the Following:

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In Balance uses Positive Peer Culture (PPC) to empower students to create internal positive change. A PPC builds powerful and mature individuals by helping students to identify their own personal values and beliefs and by teaching students behaviors that are congruent with those values and beliefs. Students begin to understand how their behaviors impact others and learn how to actively participate in problem-solving by seeking real and meaningful solutions.

The PPC model takes advantage of the fact that young people are profoundly influenced by association with their peers; however, usually these peers have been negative influences. The PPC groups at In Balance Academy are designed to reverse the impact of a negative peer subculture and mobilize the power of a peer group in a positive manner. Students help other students identify negative behaviors, values, and beliefs, and in turn, they help themselves with the same.

Students assume responsibility for helping one another and gain a sense of responsibility for themselves.  Students develop self-worth, significance, dignity, and responsibility as they become committed to the positive values of helping and caring for others.

Through the process of the PPC, students begin to build a brotherhood of positive relationships based on growing stronger together, versus their past relationships based on getting high or using drugs and alcohol.  They can gain acceptance from their peers without compromising their values and beliefs as they are capable of setting boundaries with people of their own age.  These skills carry over into all of their relationships throughout the rest of their lives creating positive, nurturing, and supportive networks wherever they go.

To Research the Topic Further Please Read: The Evidence Base for Positive Peer Culture

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In Balance Academy involves students in all aspects of horsemanship and riding with a broad range of opportunities that allow students to explore their interests and develop new passions.  All students learn the basics of Centered Riding skills, horse care, and what we refer to as “relationship-based riding.” This means that while we teach riding, we focus on the relationship the student is building with his horse and we notice and continually coach the student about how to improve this relationship.  After learning the basic skills of horsemanship, students will expand their skills in western riding through several activities.

Horsemanship and Riding Activities Include:

  • Learning more subtle training methods and higher level western riding skills

  • Learning and developing excellent horsemanship skills

  • Daylong trail rides to explore the mountains and land surrounding the Ranch


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Consistent with a “whole person” model of care, In Balance Academy recognizes and emphasizes the importance of health, fitness, and nutrition as part of a vigorous recovery program.  Students are motivated, directed, challenged, and trained to develop an exercise and health discipline and routine.  Students are taught the importance of concentration and focus, emotional balance, and athletic performance enhancement skills.

Students learn the self-discipline of physical fitness, healthy diet, and physical challenge and can apply this discipline to their own recovery from addiction.  Many students who suffer from moodiness, boredom, low self-esteem, depression, and low motivation experience a new awareness of the benefit and healing properties of a regular program of exercise, fitness, and nutrition.

Healthy Living Components May Include:

  • Gym and Fitness program

  • Weight training and cardiovascular activities

  • Basketball, tennis, flag football, soccer and sand volleyball

  • Indoor Rock Climbing

  • Skateboarding

  • Mindfulness and Yoga

  • Horsemanship and Riding

  • Nutritional Education

  • Outdoor experiences and treks

  • Diet accommodations upon request for those with special dietary needs

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Two important elements that are integral to the success of our program are leadership development and motivational therapy.  Adolescence is a crucial developmental stage where young people are looking for an identity based on pride, power, and purpose.  The young men who come to In Balance Academy have built their identity around the pride, power, and purpose they found from using, dealing, and being involved in the culture of drugs and alcohol.  The focus on leadership and motivation helps the young person to create a new identity that they feel comfortable with and gives fulfillment that will sustain them through all stages of their lives.

Leadership Development and Motivational Therapy Focuses On:

  • Principles of positive psychology

  • Learned, realistic optimism

  • Finding one’s passion

  • Mindfulness and being in the present

  • Teamwork and team building

  • Group dynamics, problem-solving, and leadership roles

  • Negotiation and collaboration skills

  • Emotional intelligence

  • Effective leadership skills

  • Spiritual well-being

There are several ways we incorporate the leadership development and motivational therapy. We work hard to give the students at the Academy a voice that affects their environment. We find this gives them ownership over their placement and allows them the opportunity to see the benefits of healthy advocating.  Many components of the Academy have been developed by past students. We have a leadership council that meets with supervising staff once a week.  It allows the students that have been nominated by their peers to discuss which parts of the program are working and which areas can be improved.  We create strategies with them to impact change in their community.

We have gone on trips to South Africa, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Kenya, Nepal and Peru with the goal to assist those less fortunate from other cultures. These experiences are allowing the students to gain the passion and knowledge base necessary to impact change in their personal recovery, their family systems, their home community and ultimately the world. Several students are now dedicated to the cause and have vowed to gain the education and abilities to continue to impact changes in these communities.

Additionally, In Balance Academy incorporates many healthy rites of passages, including level ceremonies that create pride and a sense of accomplishment in all of the young men that we serve.  Our society has eliminated these rites of passage that are essential to creating pride and purpose in young people.  Consequently, young people have developed their own rites of passages that are detrimental to their overall well-being.

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Community enrichment is one of the cornerstones of In Balance Academy.  It is not a mystery that addiction is a disease of self-centeredness and immediate gratification.  The disease would not be able to sustain itself if the young person was able to stop and recognize its effects on the people around him.  William L. White, an expert on the addictive process, states: 

“Addiction, by definition, elevates the drug relationship to a position of primacy in the addict’s life, transcending all other concerns, and shrinks the addict’s capacity to perceive and respond to the needs of others.  It is in service to others that the recovering addict finds the key to unlock the chains of such addiction-driven narcissism.  Service is the means through which addicts begin to experience the world outside their own egos.”

Source: Pathways from the Culture of Addiction to the Culture of Recovery, 


Accordingly, service work and community enrichment is an integral part of the In Balance Academy program. We have an annual tradition of working with Children’s Clinic of Tucson both adopting families, purchasing gifts and volunteering at their annual Holiday Toy Fair.  This has been a profound turning point for several students.  

International Service
Our most dramatic experience with service work thus far are our international trips.  The students spend months fundraising for their trips then travel to poverty stricken countries like Nepal, Peru and South Africa. They travel to these places bringing money, supplies, and service. The fundraised money has been used to build multiple special needs orphanages and give medicine, supplies, and toys to children very much so in need. The boys are doing fun adventurous activities in these countries while also volunteering and interacting with the orphans and poor families. The boys are absolutely making a lasting difference in these communities and the experiences have a life-long effect on the boys as well.


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In Balance Academy believes that in order to achieve long-term recovery, our students must believe that life can be fun and exciting without the use of drugs or alcohol. In order to achieve this objective, the school incorporates many recreational activities that give students first-hand experience at living life, having fun, and being social without the use of substances.  We have seen the benefits and rewards of recreation and provide many opportunities for our students, once they have achieved an appropriate level, to interact with their peers outside the confines of the program walls and enjoy life to its fullest.  These activities also allow the students to interact with other members of the recovery program that are not in the program, expanding their sober support network for when they graduate the Academy.

Recovery and Recreational Activities May Include:

  • Snowboarding trips in the White Mountains

  • Yoga, flag football, basketball, soccer, volleyball and other team sports

  • Level trips

  • Off-campus 12-step meetings, 

  • Dinners and movie nights

  • 12-step young people conferences across the country

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