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Desert Palms
- Cathedral City, CA -

Sunspire Health Network


Astoria PointeDesert PalmsHyde ParkRecovery RoadSpring HillHilton HeadTexasHeartland



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Welcome to Desert Palms

Sunspire Health Desert Palms is a treatment facility in Cathedral City, California for men and women affected by addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Treatment at Desert Palms combines evidence-based interventions with experiential therapies that address the underlying causes of addiction to ensure that patients heal mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Each patient who comes to Desert Palms will work with clinical staff to develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses their unique needs throughout the progression of treatment from detox to outpatient care at our Palm Desert IOP with sober living options. We provide patients with a full-continuum of care designed to support a successful transition to a life free from addiction, whether they stay for 30 days or 90.

Located in a secluded spot in the desert just outside of the recovery destination of Palm Springs, the Desert Palms facility is housed in a former hotel that was once a Hollywood movie set surrounded by palm trees and mountains. Patients can relax by the pool during free time while taking in the stunning views, or they may opt to participate in a meditative hike in the foothills with an experienced therapist-the tranquility of the environment is perfect for healing and recovering from the chaos of addiction.

The clinical staff at Desert Palms specializes in treating co-occurring mental health disorders like depression and anxiety and have expertise in helping patients to overcome traumatic military, sexual, or early childhood experiences that may have contributed to the development of substance abuse. Additionally, many of those working with patients at Desert Palms have lived experience with addiction or trauma, giving them a deep understanding of the struggles patients may be facing.

Desert Palms also specializes in treating the LGBTQ community by offering individual and group therapy sessions that address any struggles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. We are sensitive to patients' needs in treatment, respecting patients' gender identity and their family of choice for family therapy sessions.

Our staff also works closely with young adults ranging from 18-25 years old who enter our residential program with unique triggers and concerns, as well as those who may have been through multiple rehab programs in the past but continue to struggle with relapse and require group therapy catered to these issues.

Regardless, all patients at Desert Palms will receive individualized care suited to their specific needs, as well as the support and tools necessary for a life in long-term recovery.


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Levels of Care at Desert Palms

Detox is often the first step to recovery during which the substances of abuse are cleared from a patient's system under the supervision of medical professionals in a comfortable setting. Sunspire Health Desert Palms provides social detoxification on-site with monitoring professionals aiding patients with withdrawal symptoms and offering them maximum comfort during this time of cleansing in preparation for inpatient treatment. For patients with more acute medical detoxification needs, arrangements can be made based on their clinical needs.

Upon completion of detox, patients will begin their residential program at the Sunspire Health Desert Palms campus with around-the-clock guidance and supervision from our clinical staff. During intake, the patient will complete a full biopsychosocial with our staff in order to design an individualized treatment plan and will meet with their primary therapist in order to begin healing.

Treatment at Desert Palms not only focuses on evidence-based therapies and clinical interventions but also incorporates mind-body wellness for recovery. The facility features a swimming pool and jacuzzi, access to a local gym five days a week, yoga instruction, mindfulness meditation, and opportunities to partake in meditative hikes that allow patients to work on self-discovery and inner peace as methods of stress reduction.

At Desert Palms each patient will have an individualized schedule that will keep them actively engaged in therapy and activities from morning to night to keep them focused on their recovery. All patients are introduced to self-help support groups inside and outside of the community to integrate them into the recovery support system that will be vital after residential care.

Getting patients involved in the vibrant recovery community surrounding Desert Palms also offers them a chance to utilize the coping skills they are learning and to apply those tools to everyday life, setting them up for a successful transition to life post-treatment.

For more on Residential Treatment Programs, read more >>

PHP is the next progression of care for patients after successful completion of residential/

For more on Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), read more >>

IOP is the last step of care at Desert Palms. We give patients leaving residential treatment the option to continue on to our Palm Desert IOP facility with sober living, which is just a 15-minute drive from Desert. Patients are given more independence at this facility as they begin to readjust themselves to everyday life while still receiving support and care based upon their individual needs. Each patient will leave Sunspire Health Desert Palms with a comprehensive aftercare plan and will be able to participate in The Courage Program, which is a Sunspire alumni support network.

For more on Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), read more >>


Therapies Offered at Desert Palms

12-Step Program • Addiction Education • Acupuncture (by request) • Adventure-based Therapy • Anger Management • Animal Assisted Therapy • Art Therapy • Attachment-based Therapy • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) • Community Activities • CRAFT Family Model • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) • Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) • Emotional Transformation Therapy (ETT) • Equine Assisted Therapy (offsite) • Expressive Arts • Group Therapy/Process Groups • Individual Therapy • Massage (by request) • Medical Nutrition Consultation • Mindfulness Meditation • Motivational Interviewing • Music Therapy • Recreation Therapy • Relapse Prevention Therapy • Seeking Safety • Sleep Hygiene Consultation • SMART Recovery • Spiritual Support • Yoga

Family Program at Desert Palms

At Desert Palms, we believe that including patients' families of choice in the recovery process is integral to their lifelong success and healing for all. Each patient will meet regularly with a family therapist who is trained in Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT) and will conduct family therapy sessions that include loved ones in order to begin to recover damaged relationships and foster healthy communication.

Once a month, families of patients are invited to Desert Palms's Family Weekend. Over the course of the weekend, families will learn about the disease of addiction and its effects on the brain and body followed by an explanation of how treatment is handled at Desert Palms by our clinical staff. Families can begin thinking about an aftercare plan for their loved ones, as well as their role in recovery in order to give them the best chance of staying sober after leaving treatment. On the last day, the patients join their families to participate in healthy communication exercises.

In addition to therapy sessions and the Family Weekend, patients can contact loved ones after completing detox during free time, depending on their progress and at the discretion of their primary therapist.

Read more about Sunspire Health's Family Program
Sunspire Health Desert Palms
67580 Jones Road
Cathedral City, CA 92234
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"I must say how impressed I was when I went for family weekend and how professional everyone is at Desert Palms. The place is beautiful and clean. The food is scrumptious. My loved one is well, and you all saved his life." — J.R.L
"I felt hopeless and had almost given up, but my family had not and called Sunspire Health. Sunspire Health took my insurance and could get me in the next morning. That was the last night I ever drank or used. I have been clean and sober since...The facility was very nice and the views were beautiful...This place saved my life. These people saved my life. They taught me how to live again. Thank you!" — Lauren
  • Substance Use Disorders - A substance use disorder (SUD) is a chronic brain disease that causes a person to suffer uncontrollable addiction to a substance like alcohol, heroin, opioids, prescription pills, methamphetamines, cocaine, or any other drug.
  • Process Addictions - A process addiction is a disordered behavior, such as compulsive gambling, sex addiction or eating disorders that interfere with a person’s ability to live normally and have healthy relationships with others. These may also occur with substance abuse.
  • Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders - There are many variations of co-occurring mental health disorders, some of which leave sufferers at a higher risk of substance abuse, including: anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and personality disorders.


Desert Palms Staff

Nekic Leader

John Nekic, MBA - Executive Director

As Executive Director of Sunspire Health Desert Palms, John oversees the financial performance, operations and strategic direction of the center, striving to continually improve productivity and efficiency to offer the highest quality treatment for patients. John is an energetic leader and a creative problem solver who has a proven performance record of executing plans, optimizing operations and leading his team to achieve outstanding results. Having earned his MBA from the University of Phoenix and a B.A. in Psychology from Cleveland State University, John has over two decades of experience in leaderships roles at behavioral healthcare providers throughout the United States. He draws on this vast experience to ensure that Desert Palms is able to continue providing exceptional clinical care and services to patients.

Drummond Leader

Brett Drummond, RADT-I - Director of Admissions

As Director of Admissions, Brett Drummond is the first person patients interact with as they begin their journey to recovery at Sunspire Health Desert Palms. In this role, Brett is responsible for overseeing the admissions process, managing utilization review and referrals for admission at Desert Palms. With seven years of experience in the field of substance abuse treatment, his passion for helping individuals who are seeking treatment for substance use disorders motivates him each day. He began his career in addiction treatment as a chemical dependency technician at the Hazelden Betty Ford Center, working primarily with young adults in recovery. Brett advanced to management positions by leading fellow staff members to strive for a patient-driven approach to care, believing that the patient and their needs is top priority in treatment.

Lemarie-Griffith Leader

Dawn(DJ) Lemarie-Griffith, MEd, LPC - Primary Therapist

DJ Lemaire-Griffith is a Primary Therapist at Desert Palms, responsible for counseling patients and guiding them through the recovery process. Prior to this role, DJ provided crisis counseling and conducted diagnostic and Alcohol and Other Drug Assessments for Rescue Mental Health Inc. in Toledo, OH. She also acted as a school counselor intern in Pemberville, OH where she provided individual and group counseling. DJ is a Licensed Professional Counselor and earned both her bachelor's degree in psychology and MEd from Bowling Green State University.

 Martinez Leader

Michelle Martinez, CADC-CAS - Milieu Manager

Michelle Martinez serves as Milieu Manager at Sunspire Health Desert Palms, where she ensures that the administrative and clinical policies are being followed to offer patients the best therapeutic environment for healing. Michelle has dedicated her life to guiding people struggling with substance use to recovery and is committed to patient advocacy. She has been in recovery from addiction for sixteen years, is actively involved in sponsorship for 12-Step Self-Help Support groups, and attends seminars for addiction professionals regularly. In addition, Michelle has training in DBT, seeking safety and women's issues in early recovery, and she participates in domestic violence and sexual abuse therapy groups in the area each month. She attended College of the Desert for Drug and Alcohol Studies and graduated from the CCAPP Institute with a certification as an Addiction Specialist.