The Program of In Balance

In Balance Ranch 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 Ranch 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.



Therapeutic Services

In Balance Ranch 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. 

Therapeutic Services Include:

  • Weekly individual therapy with experienced master’s level therapists
  • Weekly family therapy
  • Experiential, Adventure-Based Therapy
  • Trauma Treatment; Including E.M.D.R
  • Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Daily group therapy to include a variety of issues:
    • Grief and Loss
    • Trauma Recovery
    • Family Issues
    • Depression and Anxiety
    • Anger Management
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
    • Transitions
    • Divorce Recovery
    • Sexuality and Relationships
    • Adoption and Attachment Issues
  • Psychiatric services when indicated (provided by Dr. Brian J. Ramirez, Click Here for More Info)
  • Relapse prevention classes
  • Educational classes on the dynamics of recovery



Twelve-Step Recovery

In Balance Ranch 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.  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, with other students who have more experience in the program, and with students visiting from our Transitional Living program in Tucson.  These “sponsors” help them understand how working the steps can create ongoing positive change in their lives.

Why In Balance uses Twelve-Step Recovery

In Balance Ranch 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 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."

In Balance Ranch Academy Twelve-Step Recovery Includes:



Family Education & Reintegration

In Balance Ranch 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:

  • Weekly family therapy sessions
  • Weekly home phone calls
  • Weekly 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.



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 Ranch.  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.  All weekends 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 the 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 Ranch Academy; the recognition that the transition strategy is one of the most important components of their stay at the ranch.

Here are what parents have said about their Family Weekend Experiences:

“Thanks for a phenomenal weekend. Our entire family had a wonderful time just spending time together. We picked up a few pointers about communication that we are committed to implementing.”

"I had a great time (at the family weekend), and felt like all of the activities that we participated in were extremely beneficial. I felt like your programs drew me in, each of the activities was personally meaningful to me. They gave me some insights to see where I can make my own personal changes… All of the activities seemed to come together to give me some insights not only on my family dynamics, but also my parenting habits.”

"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 Ranch 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!!!”

“Now that I have some distance from the Family Weekend, our son’s progress is incredible!!! You and everyone at In Balance Ranch Academy have accomplished nothing short of a miracle!!!"



Equine-Assisted Therapy

In Balance Ranch 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

"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."

By Henry P., IBRA Student



Therapeutic Environment

In Balance Ranch Academy is located in beautiful southern Arizona, an hour 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 160 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. Starting on day one, 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-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 3-4 Times a Week
  • 12 Step Meetings in Town
  • Basketball League Which Plays Local High Schools
  • Rock Climbing Gym in Tucson
  • Swim at a Local Waterpark
  • Paintball at a Public Field
  • A Variety of Community Service Opportunities
  • University of Arizona Rec Center on Sundays
  • Go to a Skateboarding Park in Tombstone
  • Multiple Home-Visits


  • Fellowship of The Spirit Conference: with 500-3,000 Young People in Recovery
  • A.A. Conferences all over the Country
  • Sweat Lodges
  • Havasupi, Grand Canyon Trip
  • Snowboarding Trips
  • Leadership Trips to White Mountains
  • Horse Treks
  • Cattle Drives
  • International Expedition



Healthy Eating Initiative

Whole Foods Nutrition Plan
In Balance Ranch 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. This initiative involves utilizing a whole foods nutrition plan. The whole food nutrition plan consists of eating food that is all natural, unprocessed, additive-free, unmanufactured, with no artificial ingredients. You are getting food intact, with all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are in the food and devoid of all of the harmful additives. Many studies have found that a diet with healthy whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are associated with a reduced risk of obesity and diseases such as: cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. What many people do not know is that emerging research suggests a balanced diet and regular exercise can also protect the brain and ward off mental disorders. "Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery. A whole food nutrition plan has been shown to reduce mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. 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.

To learn more about healthy diet and mental health well-being during adolescence please read "How Diet and Nutrition Affect Mental Health" and the other articles listed below:

To learn more about nutrition and addiction recovery feel free to read "Addiction: The Hidden Epidemic"




In Balance Ranch, consistent with the principles of the 12-Steps, incorporates spirituality into many of the activities.  Specifically, the Ranch works with Sweat Lodge experiences that provides the students with ceremonies and traditions, rites of passages, and other spiritual opportunities.  The Sweat Lodge experience offers youth an opportunity to find connection, peace, healing, balance, and self-awareness.  Once the students get in touch with their spirit, they are able to start respecting, and giving back to themselves, their families and communities, and to Mother Earth.

Spiritual Components Include:

  • Three-day camping trips in the Southwest in which the desert provides an environment for the students to connect with Mother Earth and her teachings of intelligence and healing.
  • The creation of traditional ceremonial objects such as drums, masks, shields, and staffs, which symbolize the spiritual journey through life.
  • Spiritual ceremonies including sweat lodges, spiritual runs, talking circles, and medicine wheels. These ceremonies give students a means of communicating with each other in a sacred and compassionate way, as well as providing a concrete way of putting action into their prayers.



Experiential & Adventure-Based Program

In Balance Ranch 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, and wilderness expeditions.  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 wilderness 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 Club
  • 1200sqft Gym with a Crossfit and Fitness program
  • Rock Climbing and Bouldering Club
  • Horse treks and Cattle Drives
  • Native American sweat lodge – facilitated by local Native Americans
  • Wilderness expeditions throughout the southwest – including, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, the White Mountains and Parker Canyon
  • Adventure sessions conducted during family weekend
  • Fun runs and ½ marathon experience – including training throughout the year
  • Snowboarding in the White Mountains and lodging at the In Balance Ranch Cabin
  • Annual trips abroad, so far we have done trip to: South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Nepal and Peru



Single-Gender Education & Treatment

In Balance Ranch 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 reevaluate and relearn how to build healthy relationships. The safety and supper 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:



Positive Peer Culture

In Balance Ranch 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 Ranch 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

“Brotherhood to me is not some trivial concept that necessarily has to be therapeutic. In fact, I much prefer the type of brother-hood where the ball bounces off the basketball court and all three of you go and get it together.”
- Andy, IBRA student


Horsemanship & Riding Program

In Balance Ranch 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 are 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 competing in exciting and challenging games on horseback
  • Learning and practicing English riding and jumping including going off-campus to nearby cross country courses
  • Four-day camping trips with the horses
  • Daylong trail rides to explore the mountains and park land surrounding the Ranch

Additionally, In Balance Ranch has developed a relationship with local ranchers and frequently takes groups of students to herd cattle across the expansive rugged hills east of Tombstone.



Health, Fitness, & Nutrition

Consistent with a “whole person” model of care, In Balance Ranch 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 Include:

  • 1200 sqft weight room and Crossfit/fitness programming
  • Weight training and cardiovascular activities
  • Basketball, tennis, lacrosse, flag football, soccer and sand volleyball
  • Participation in a public basketball league
  • Rock Climbing and Bouldering Club
  • Skateboarding Club
  • Mindfulness and yoga
  • Horsemanship and riding
  • Training for 5K, 10K and half marathon races
  • Nutritional education
  • Wilderness training and treks
  • High ropes course
  • Diet accommodations upon request for those with special dietary needs



Leadership Development & Motivational Therapy

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 Ranch 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 student’s at the ranch 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 ranch 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 send out each milieu on leadership weekends in Pinetop, Arizona.These weekends are focused on the natural strengths of each person and what role they can play in maintaining a healthy community. We teach them leadership strategies and practical applications. They also have an opportunity to enjoy themselves and bond with another outside of the ranch.

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 Ranch incorporates many healthy rites of passages 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.

Rites of Passage Rituals Include:

  • Level ceremonies for all for levels that must be completed to achieve the next level
  • An elaborate and moving high school graduation for those students that graduate high school while in the program
  • Formal dinner and unique graduation ceremony for those that graduate In Balance Ranch Academy. Both the student and his family are genuinely celebrated for their accomplishments.
  • Each student will create a legacy to be left for the Ranch prior to their departure.
  • A legacy program that invites graduates back to the Ranch that have gone on to create change in their community. Alumni are presented with a plaque and inducted into the Legacy Hall.
  • Alumni trips that occur at least three times per year that is aimed at giving the young men a chance to share their hope and experience of sustained recovery.



Treating Marijuana Abuse

In Balance Ranch Academy treats students who are using or abusing a variety of different substances, but a growing number of our teens are smoking marijuana and starting at a younger age than ever before. In today's world, with the growing popularity of marijuana and the reduced restrictions and laws governing its' use, our young people are faced with confusing, often conflicting messages. As parents and behavioral health professionals we hear, "Marijuana is natural so it can't be bad for you," "it comes from the earth," "people use it for medical reasons so there is no way it harms you, it helps you," "you can't overdose from weed," "smoking marijuana never hurt anyone," "it is legal, so what is the big deal if I smoke?"

The reality is that research is showing that marijuana is indeed harmful, especially for teenagers and young adults. During adolescence our brain is developing and transforming from the brain of a child to that of an adult. This is the peak age for brain development and research shows that regular marijuana use, or any drug use can impair this crucial brain development. A growing body of research has shown that regular marijuana use actually changes the structure of the teenage brain, specifically in areas dealing with memory and problem solving, which affects cognition, academic performance and decision making. At the most recent American Psychological Association convention psychologists relayed that "smoking marijuana just once a week can have a significant negative effect on the brains of teenagers and young adults, including cognitive decline, poor attention and memory, and decreased IQ."

To respond to the question; "Is Marijuana Harmless?" The answer would have to be a resounding NO. On the contrary, research continues to pile up that points to marijuana being harmful to the brains and development of our young people. In a world that is facing the legalization of marijuana and growing popularity of medical marijuana we have to stay vigilant in our message that marijuana for a developing adolescent brain is harmful. In Balance treats students with substance abuse and a variety of behavioral health issues and will continue to help people deal with marijuana use and abuse.

Another question that we are faced with is "Is Marijuana Addictive?" There is a common misconception that marijuana is not addictive. Research now shows us that marijuana can absolutely be addictive and also lead to other forms of drug use and abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states: "Long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction; that is, people have difficulty controlling their drug use and cannot stop even though it interferes with many aspects of their lives. It is estimated that 9 percent of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. The number goes up to about 1 in 6 in those who start using young (in their teens) and to 25-50 percent among daily users. Moreover, a study of over 300 fraternal and identical twin pairs found that the twin who had used marijuana before the age of 17 had elevated rates of other drug use and drug problems later on, compared with their twin who did not use before age 17." The fact that science confirms marijuana use can lead to addiction, marijuana use needs to be treated with specialized addiction treatment approaches like those offered at In Balance Ranch Academy.

To Research the Topic Further, Please Read the Following:



Community Enrichment

Community enrichment is one of the cornerstones of In Balance Ranch 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 them.  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 Ranch program. We have started a non-profit foundation named “Making the Solution Possible” that includes several current and past students of In Balance Ranch Academy. The students fund-raise throughout the year by holding events including formal dinners, golf tournaments, car washes, and yard sales. The students are given the choice as to how to allocate the proceeds collected. We have an annual tradition of adopting families, chosen by the students, throughout the holidays.  The students do all of the shopping and gift-wrapping and then dress up as Santa to deliver the gifts. This has been a profound turning point for several students.  There are also military families in the immediate area with several needs that we are interfacing with.

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.



Recovery Activities & Recreation

In Balance Ranch 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 Include:

  • Multiple snow boarding trips to the White Mountains of Arizona
  • Paint ball, flag football, and other team sports
  • Level trips including a Level 1 Sweat Lodge, a Level 2 Horse Trek, a Level 3 Leadership trip, and a Level 4 Sedona Trip.
  • Marathons and Half-Marathons in Tucson & Sierra Vista
  • Off-campus 12-step meetings, dinners, and movie nights
  • 12-step, young people conference attendance to Los Angeles, San Diego, and other out-of-state locations

Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Associate Member - NATSAP Woodbury Reports Award of Excellence Woodbury Reports Award of Excellence North Central Association SEVP
AdvancED Accreditation

This school is accredited by North Central Association/AdvancED, "THE KINETIC CATALYST AND MARK OF QUALITY DRIVING POWERFUL SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT" Click for information on our accreditation

A proud program of In Balance Continuum of Care
Click for the In Balance Ranch Home Page Click to Visit the In Balance Transitional Living Website Click to Visit the In Balance Sober Living Website Click to Visit the In Balance Outpatient Website