Meet the Team at The Grounds
Alex Zemeckis, MA
For almost a decade, Alex has worked in the addiction treatment & mental health communities helping young adults find new ways to live. Alex’s earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from San Diego State University and a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica. Throughout his career, Alex has worked in various direct care and administrative roles including sober coaching and companion work, admissions, business development and outreach and as a residential mentor for a prominent treatment program in Colorado. As a featured speaker, Alex maintains a presence within the Recovery world sharing his experience, strength and hope with those still struggling with addictions. In 2013, Alex launched The Grounds Recovery in San Diego putting into action the skills and lessons he learned throughout his own personal and professional journey. As CEO at The Grounds, Alex personally oversees the admissions and business development departments and mentors Grounds members’ by sharing his passion for the outdoors, the ocean and yoga.
Who can join The Grounds program?
The program is open to young men aged 18-30 who are ready to move forward in their recovery.
Why do you call residents of The Grounds, ‘members?’
When young men join our program they become members of a small community. There is a group support/brotherhood aspect, where they hold each other up and hold each other accountable. It’s more like a family than a facility, a home rather than a halfway house.
How long is the program?
The Grounds program is designed to be 6 months in length which includes 90 days in our Main House and 90 days in the Step Down House. Periodically, a member needs or wants additional time to get a little stronger or to coordinate with his independent living plans, we can usually accommodate this.
How much supervision do you provide?
At the Main House, we have staff on site 24/7 and many structured and required participation activities. After an initial orientation phase (approximately 7 days), members unsupervised time increases as they gain employment, show responsibility with program requirements and during free time blocks, work and other pursuits. At the Step Down House, we have a live-in house manager for check-ins and house meetings. All members (at both houses) have contact information for program administration in case of emergencies. Program participation requirements are significantly less for Step Down members as their programming shifts to self-directed and independent living but they are always welcomed and encouraged to participate in Main House activities as their schedule allows.
Does The Grounds drug test their members?
Maintaining a sober environment and accountability is critical to our work. The Grounds uses both urinalysis and breathalyzers weekly (more if necessary) to test all members for substance use.
What about transportation?
Transportation to programmatic activities is provided while at the Main House. Many members learn to use public transportation, skateboard, bike or walk to their jobs and other free time activities. At the Step Down House, members are permitted to have their own vehicles.
How are clinical services provided?
We require all members to participate in clinical services. All services are provided off-site with local professionals who we have long standing relationships and understand our mission. Licensed and credentialed clinicians offer a variety of services that can be matched to best support each member’s individual needs. Typical weekly services include; individual, family, group and equine therapy, psychiatric oversight and medication management. While Clinicians are independent from The Grounds, they are active and integral members of the treatment team. Clinicians participate and offer guidance with program planning, crisis intervention and family integration. As independent practitioners, members can continue receiving clinical services after their time at The Grounds.
Why is there a community service component to The Grounds?
We believe that service is a cornerstone to healthy living so we work alongside and contribute to numerous worthy, local organizations. Stepping outside of themselves, members gain new perspectives on their own life. Often times our members find community service a way of making amends to the larger community and maintaining the humility necessary for a sober and purposeful life.
What about educational pursuits?
Many of our members have had negative experiences relating to their education. Past failures, expulsions, substance use triggers and undiagnosed or unsupported learning issues are common. When members transition to the Step Down House we encourage them to develop an educational plan that supports their future goals to help re-write this part of their story. San Diego offers a variety of post-secondary options and resources including adult schools for high school completion, Junior colleges, vocational training courses and world renown Universities. Oftentimes, we encourage our members to engage educational consultants, tutoring organizations or other educational resources to make sure that they find the right fit for their needs.
Do Grounds members have to have prior work experience?
No, but work and employment is a primary component of our curriculum. We want members to experience the satisfaction of knowing they can support themselves. We’ll help you prepare by building a resume, performing mock interviews, and guiding you to seek employment that matches your skills, experience and interests.
Is there support after leaving the Grounds?
The main goal while in the Step Down House is creating a post-Grounds plan that fits your needs. We’ll help you pull the pieces together so that when you leave The Grounds you have a solid plan for your future that includes a budget, living arrangements and relapse prevention plan.
When do I get my phone, laptop and other electronics?
When members progress to Phase 1 from orientation (typically 7 days) they are eligible to have their phones, laptops and other electronics. In the Orientation Phase, we want members to be focused on acclimating to the new environment and getting to know staff and other members. The easiest way to do this is to minimize the distractions as much as possible. Many of our members have struggled with electronic over use and addiction. If warranted, we’ll ask members or parents to monitor or restrict usage temporarily if other responsibilities are goals are being neglected.
Can I smoke at The Grounds?
The Grounds has a designated, outdoor smoking area at both houses. There is no smoking or tobacco product of any kind allowed inside the houses. The State of California has mandated the legal smoking age at 21.
Do you allow members to be on medication?
Yes, under the supervision of a licensed physician. Most of our members transition to our local psychiatrist for on-going medication management. Medications that can be considered addictive or create dependency such as long-term stimulants medications often prescribed for ADHD and many opioid treatment medications such as Sub Oxone are not permitted.