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John Volken Academy

John Volken Academy Gilbert Arizona

The John Volken Academy is a long-term residential rehab that follows a therapeutic community model to treat alcohol and drug addiction. The facility believes that peer-to-peer interaction, support and accountability is crucial when it comes to recovery. The Academy also helps individuals make healthy lifestyle changes while encouraging them to further their educations and/or career paths. Led by a team of addiction professionals, healthy-living specialists and psychologists, clients are guided through four “essential elements” for a successful recovery (the cause, sufficient time, a new lifestyle and necessary tools). Once completed, clients (who are referred to as “students” at the Academy) graduate as responsible, contributing members of society, with the will and the tools to become the best that they can be.


The John Volken Academy (JVA) is a nonprofit organization based in Vancouver, British Columbia and operates three treatment centers in British Columbia, Seattle, Wa., and Gilbert, Ariz. The Gilbert facility is located at the Welcome Home Ranch in Maricopa County in the desert near the San Tan Mountains.

Each facility offers an identical long-term residential treatment program for young men and women ages 18 to 32. Long-term residential treatment facilities make up only 20.4 percent of facilities in Arizona.


According to the organization’s website, the JVA addiction recovery program is modeled after the therapeutic community approach to addiction treatment, meaning that treatment is group-based and highly structured. Members of the group, referred to as “students,” are expected to assist one another, with more senior members providing instruction and leadership.

Treatment lasts a minimum of two years, with an average stay of 28 months. At the center of the John Volken Academy’s philosophy is the belief that addiction recovery relies on four elements: addressing the underlying cause of addiction; healing the brain; adopting a new lifestyle, attitude, and behavior; and building the tools necessary to handle life’s challenges.

Residents wake at 6 a.m. Monday to Saturday for a healthy breakfast and their assigned chores. Throughout their long-term stay, young men and women attend the “Life Skills Training Center,” where they’ll spend their time in career training, group counseling sessions, community activities, and personal development work. Along with recovery-related programming, students are also encouraged to complete three hours of post-secondary education online daily.


The organization’s founder, John Volken, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Though no specific accreditation is listed, the organization’s website notes that clients receive consultation from addiction professionals and healthy-living specialists.


Students at the Welcome Home Ranch live in a state-of-the-art center. The ranch has an equestrian center that boards horses and hosts special events, which students help manage, and workout facilities.

Three healthy meals and two snacks are provided daily, and clients sleep in shared rooms for up to three people. Approved visits and occasional outings take place on Sundays.


B.M., the single alum surveyed by to date, gave a highly negative review of their six-month stay. Despite their appreciation of the student-run environment, B.M. told of “expired food that will mess with your digestion,” “bait and switch” tactics, and of an extended waiting period before being able to take any classes.

Feedback from alumni on secondary review sites was mostly positive (though most reviewers did not specify at which of the three locations they were). On Google, 14 individuals gave the organization an average rating of 3.8 out of five stars.[1] In a representative positive review, Lisa described the organization an “Incredible long term program to change your life forever.”

However, a former participant of the Arizona facility did not agree and was critical of the work-therapy aspect of the facility. “Do not believe the lies they say on their website,” she wrote, further stating that “all day and do hard backbreaking labor on barns and arenas that would take thousands of dollars to pay a company to do.”


Three loved ones polled by as of this date gave the facility perfect five-star ratings for the facility’s accommodations and overall effectiveness. Representative reviewer Theresa strongly recommended the facility to others, writing, “If you are really ready to purge yourself of the pain of addiction this is the place that will offer relief.”

On Facebook, which the the facility can manage, JVA received overwhelmingly positive feedback from 23 individuals, who offered the organization an average rating of 4.4 out of five stars. [2] Parent Lisa wrote: “I am so grateful for the John Volken Academy. It saved our son. He has only been there 9 months and he is like a new person.”


According to the organization’s webpage, the John Volken Academy is sponsored by private charitable foundations, meaning that treatment is free except for a one-time intake fee of $5,000.

[1] GoogleReviews

Reviews about John Volken Academy

  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • My brother is at JVA and it most certainly has changed his life. Our entire family is so grateful for this opportunity and I would recommend anyone seeking treatment to go here!
  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • My son will be graduating this program in a few months. Yes, it has been tough for him, and also me, as his parent. That being said, it makes me so proud to see the person he has become. He has had complaints along the way, but, I see that as unavoidable. He spent a lot of years as an addict, and no help for his future. This program saved his life. Thank you JVA!
  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
  • My son has been at the Welcome Home Ranch for 4 months now and it feels like he has already learned a life time of change. The biggest one being that he likes who he is sober and he experiencing lasting joy and a newfound zest for life. He works hard, he plays hard and meanwhile his brain is forming lasting pathways to a fulfilling, amazing life. If you are really ready to purge yourself of the pain of addiction this is the place that will offer relief. Go in with the right attitude and willingness to put forth real effort and you will not fail!
    I attended the volley academy for over 6 months. The only positives I'll give it is that it's not a hostile environment nor gang-related. Well be prepared to work tirelessly for 6 days a week over 48 hrs of work. It's student run... one program director is super cool and nice. However the British fellow is a really awful who looks miserable and mad all the time. Don't be fooled by the 2 years. Graduates relapse arguable more than those that left after a year. You'll eat expired food that will mess with your digestion. You can't make any education or classes until your there for over a year. No they don't pay for it. Keep looking. This place does the whole bait and switch. Trust me. These are the master manipulators.