No matter what path you follow to personal recovery from addiction, invariably, a part of that journey is grounded in connectivity to those that have come before you…those that have found the freedom that you now seek. There is a power that lives in the hearing of another’s experience, strength, and hope for the person suffering, and a gift in sharing the experience as the one who has found their freedom. And the story of how Malibu Wellness Ranch recovery center came to be, falls into that same spirit.
Malibu Wellness Ranch is a family business founded by Dr. Allan and Phyllis Detweiler to create a new recovery center of hope for those suffering from substance use disorder. Their drive to convert what was once a historic dude ranch into the now 800-acre recovery campus was born from Dr. Detweiler’s personal experience of finding his own path to peace and serenity at the Ranch.
At the age of 5, Allan Detweiler started to experience behavioral issues and challenges that were causing him difficulty at home and in school. As these progressed, his parents stepped in to see how they could best help their son. At the end of that conversation, his father concluded that perhaps something was missing in Allan’s life, something that he could joyfully connect with. As a result, he asked him the age old question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Allan’s response was, “a cowboy!”
His father, Colonel Edward Detweiler, granted that wish the following summer. He found a place called Malibu Dude Ranch in Milford, PA that offered people the experience of staying on the ranch and experiencing what the cowboy life was like.
Allan had a remarkable experience at the Ranch that summer, and in the next ten summers that followed. He connected with the staff and ranch hands; with the serenity of the wilderness and wildlife; and most of all with the horses. The bond he formed with the horses brought him a calm and joy that had been missing in his life.
From this new place of internal serenity, Allan was able to learn and incorporate many other foundational skills from his time at the Ranch. As time went on, he became less of a guest and more a member of the Ranch team. As part of this team, he learned the value of discipline, responsibility, respect, accountability, patience, balanced temperament, and the spirit of teamwork.
Armed with the set of new skills that Ranch has instilled in him, Allan Detweiler set out in the world to build his life. He completed college and medical school, culminating with the award of his Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine. He married a girl from his neighborhood that he had known most his life, Phyllis, and together they brought two beautiful and brilliant daughters into the world, Priscilla and Victoria.
Dr. Detweiler, starting with one practice serving an impoverished section of New York, grew that to multiple practices over the next ten years. These practices operated with such high efficiency and patient satisfaction outcomes, that a large medical group came along and acquired them.
These blessings and successes in his life have always been something Dr. Detweiler attributed to the experiences and teachings from the Ranch. He believes the Ranch to be a truly special place where people can connect with the serene beauty of wildlife and nature, and access incredible peace and joy.
Dr. Detweiler wanted to make sure that his children had the same opportunity to find what he found at the Ranch and continued the summer tradition with Priscilla and Victoria. Each summer, the Detweiler’s returned to Malibu Dude Ranch to reconnect with their extended family, nature, and the horses.
In the late 2000’s, Malibu Dude Ranch began to struggle to maintain its historic success. By 2010, the previous owners could no longer hold on and the property was being prepared for sale to a real estate group…it was to become a townhouse development.
Dr. Detweiler decided that they could not allow this to happen and stepped in to save the Ranch from the wrecking ball. By the end of 2010, Malibu Dude Ranch was under the new ownership and management of the Detweiler Family. Doc and his family reinvested heavily into the Ranch. Colonel Edward Detweiler led the renovation project to modernize the amenities and offerings of this historic and storied property, while preserving its rustic charm. The Detweiler Family brought in a team of rodeo all-stars to support their vision and successfully operated the Ranch for the next several years.
By virtue of his medical practice, Dr. Detweiler was acutely aware of the growing opioid epidemic in the United States and the loss of life it was causing. One night in 2017, he sat up in bed with an idea and immediate woke his wife Phyllis to share it. Doc said, “The Ranch helped me and gave me so much…I want to afford that same chance to others and turn it into a wellness center for those struggling with substance abuse! “
While maintaining the present Ranch operations, Doc began an uphill battle to sway public opinion regarding the value of turning the Dude Ranch into a Recovery Center. In June of 2018, the labors of Doc and his family paid off and permission to convert the Dude Ranch to a Wellness Ranch was granted by the local municipality.
Doc and Phyllis repeated a process that had long served them well in their business ventures…when entering into a new arena or industry, they found a veteran partner with the knowledge and experience that could help them achieve their goals. Their search for this individual ended in their Chief Operating Officer being Tommy McHugh.
The combination of Doc’s passion, Phyllis’ fiscal management and Tommy’s decade of experience allowed them to put a plan together to create a treatment center that would be able to better serve those with substance use disorder. The new Malibu Wellness Ranch would create a continuum of care in one location that would provide its clients with the opportunity to establish more stability in a structured environment thus preparing them for a higher likelihood of long-term recovery.
The Ranch shut its doors as one operation on April 29, 2019 and reopened them with new purpose, mission and vision as Malibu Wellness Ranch on May 1, 2019.
Malibu Wellness Ranch has become a recovery center where both clients and staff are excited and grateful to be every day. We are blessed with a team of dedicated and passionate professionals that love serving our clients. And the outcomes we have seen with our clients is nothing short of remarkable. The majestic beauty of the recovery center was designed to encourage the clients to connect with serenity and press “pause” on the present wreckage of their past while they heal and learn. Malibu’s combination of diverse clinical therapies, experiential treatment activities and equine programming, offered across multiple levels of care, gives our clients the time, tools, and hope needed for them to restart their lives on a pathway that yields lasting recovery.