Minnesota Alternatives, LLC in Spring Lake Park, MN

Call (763) 789-4895 to Contact Minnesota Alternatives, LLC

Overall Rating

(3.9 of 5)
Treatment Effectiveness
Accommodations & Amenities
Meals & Nutrition
7766 NE Hwy. 65
Spring Lake Park MN 55432

Minnesota Alternatives, LLC Philosophy

Minnesota Alternatives is a treatment facility that offers a unique approach to substance abuse disorder treatment and provides an alternative to the 12-Step, abstinence-based “Minnesota Model”. Minnesota Alternatives offers adult outpatient mental health and addiction treatment, and focuses on skill development, engagement, neuroscience and personalized interventions. Treatment options utilize meditation, imagery and cognitive behavioral therapies.

Areas of Specialization

  • Individualized Treatment
    Some facilities have an addiction treatment protocol that all patients or clients are expected to follow, while others customize or individualize treatment based on a person’s unique needs and circumstances. Factors that may affect treatment decisions include age, lifestyle, medical conditions, type of drug, religious beliefs, etc.

  • Client & Family Support Groups
    Group therapy is a vital component of addiction recovery treatment, considered as important and effective (sometimes even more so) than individual therapy. Benefits include reducing isolation and loneliness and providing the opportunity to learn from others in recovery. In the addiction setting, group therapy is run by trained professionals who guide participants toward a shared goal of recovery.

Facility Highlights


Flexible Programming

Trauma Treatment

Meet the Staff

Paula L DeSanto, Owner and Director


Photo of Paula L DeSanto, Owner and Director

Paula is the founder and president of Minnesota Alternatives, a unique outpatient program providing substance use and mental health treatment through person-centered principles and interventions. Paula also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota, where she teaches graduate students about her model. Paula’s Master of Science degree is in Psychiatric Rehabilitation from Boston University. She is a Licensed Social Worker as well as a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner and a Certified Co-Occurring Disorder Professional-Diplomat. In her role as outside consultant and trainer, Paula is often invited to speak to both professional and consumer audiences about alternative approaches to substance use disorder treatment and harm/risk reduction. She also serves on the Department of Human Services Alcohol and Drug Division Advisory Council, the Anoka County Directors Network, and the Medica Community Advisory Council. Paula has developed programs that serve adults with mental health and/or substance use issues for more than 25 years. She has worked in a variety of settings that include intensive residential and outpatient treatment, case management, and community support. Previously, she worked at Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center bringing progressive, person-centered care into a medical setting. She was a program director for Diane Ollendick-Wright – working with her for 11 years and she also directed programs for 9 years for People Incorporated.

Rehabs.com 360 Guide

Review by Rehabs.com Contributors


Located in the community of Spring Lake Park, Minnesota Alternatives offers outpatient programs (OPs) and recovery and consultation services to adult men and women seeking recovery from issues of substance use, as well as co-occurring mental health disorders. Offering alternative treatments to the 12-step model of recovery, the facility "focuses on engagement, skill development, holistic and personalized interventions," according to its website.


Minnesota Alternatives is a harm-reduction based program, encouraging a gradual decrease of alcohol and drug use, rather than an abstinence-only program. Though not the basis for the program, 12-Step may be incorporated if clients desire.

Treatment begins with 15 to 20 minutes of guided meditation, followed by "open talk" discussions, where members check on each other's progress and discuss topics and readings, with refreshments provided. Typical groups average six to eight people. Groups discuss education, skills development, and weekend planning, followed by individual meetings with staff counselors. Programs also offer emotion-based interventions and life skills training.

Treatment includes evidence-based therapies such as mindfulness meditation, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and others. Typical mental health issues addressed include depression, anxiety, PTSD, and others. Reiki and therapeutic massage are also offered.

Programming is generally offered from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. three to four times per week, and from 5 to 8 p.m. three times a week. Rather than fixed lengths of treatment, Minnesota Alternatives lets clients finish when they feel they have achieved their treatment goals.


Minnesota Alternatives employs a part-time medical doctor who offers addiction medicine and psychiatry services, as well as a licensed care social worker, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed counselors, peer specialist, and an office manager.


The two alumni polled by Rehabs.com to date gave positive reviews for Minnesota Alternatives. They both rated the facility a perfect five stars for its holistic treatment offerings, the staff's level of support, the effectiveness of individuals counseling, and the facility's ability to resolve conflict.

“My program was tailored to my needs as they came up,” alum Sarah wrote. Another alum, R.R., wrote: “An overall good facility with great holistic offerings and supportive staff.”

On Google reviews, eight reviewers to date rated the facility an average 4.4 out of five stars, with seven positive reviews.[1] In a representative five-star review, alum David wrote: "This is a no judgement, No Label, alternative to the traditional 12 step, pass fail, stringent and more draconian style of treatment we are all familiar with."


The three loved ones polled by Rehabs.com to date also praised the facility, all offering perfect five-star ratings for its counseling options, the level of family involvement, and the effectiveness of mental health treatment. One anonymous parent wrote: “The program is a great program with excellent and caring staff. My child needs put into practice the info he has learned frome program.”


The three staff members polled by Rehabs.com also gave positive reviews of Minnesota Alternatives, rating the facility four or five out of five stars in nearly every metric, including respect of privacy, honesty, and fair pricing. In comments, the employees praised the facility's client-centered treatment, flexibility, and its holistic options, though a couple wrote that the program sometimes lacked structure and risk management. "People are able to self direct what is important for them on their own terms which makes them more accountable and successful in the long run," one employee wrote.


Costs vary depending on the purchased treatment options and resources for payment. Most insurance plans are accepted, including Aetna, Cigna, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Short-term prevention services cost $600 per 24 hours, up to 48 hours, and private substance abuse assessments cost $125. Payment plans and sliding scale fees may be available to those who qualify.


Minnesota Alternatives runs a non-profit which is currently raising funds to open a peer support center offering a AA alternative for clients experiencing issues of substance use.

[1] GoogleReviews

Published on April 2018

User Reviews

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  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
This treatment, even though I went in with a Stay of Commitment as a court order, I changed my doc (drug of choice)...the skills taught are the best thing possible with the care and support of a very loving staff. The harm reduction / damage control model was exactly what I needed after being around Recovery for 30 years. I adore and trust the staff at this facility. I could never ask for a better referral from a run in with many police and behavioral health facilities. I will be doing trauma work soon. I now attend a peer support group as an alumni.


  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
An overall good facility with great holistic offerings and supportive staff.


  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
this was my 14th treatment and the only 1 that helped. my program was taylored to my needs as they came up. when my mental health issues flaired up my program was changed to meet my needs. i was never treated like i was crazy or defective. they truly care for me. They taught me that I am capable and I can care for myself. I can be a functioning member of society not dependent on psych wards.


  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
His usage has decreased. The program is a great program with excellent and caring staff. My child needs put into practice the info he has learned frome program.


  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
It was court ordered.


  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
A great facility with wonderful counseling and a supportive staff.


I am the founder, so I have a clear bias. I think anyone who is interested in our services should look at client reviews, come and take a tour, and meet with staff to see if we are a good fit for your needs.We foster self-determination which means people need to figure things out.. this can mean continued high risk behavior. We do our best to balance risk management with empowerment.


Strengths include: client centered, flexibility, willing to meet clients where ever they are at in their recovery. However, sometimes we may be too flexible for clients that want more structure and to be directed by others as opposed to creating a treatment that is individualized. I appreciate the individual nature of harm reduction and the opportunities it creates to provide a more effective experience for clients. People are able to self direct what is important for them on their own terms which makes them more accountable and successful in the long run.


Strengths include: excellent management, ongoing staff education, integration with Community Services, innovative, open to feedback from clients/family, utilize evidence based tx strategies and open to evolution of services ongoing. Mn Alternatives is the most comprehensive cutting edge SUD Facility I have worked at, with true compassion and understanding for clients personal goals AS THE CLIENT DEFINES THESE GOALS. There is no DICTATING to clients as to what they should do, to please the therapist & satisfy management. My Professional career in CD/MI Nursing spans 37 years & this is the best managed agency I have worked for. Staff is respected and provided with the administrative support they require and problem solving is addressed in a partnership between management & staff. The clients can be open & honest regarding their use of drugs/alcohol with a true experience that their honesty is supported and assistance to stabilize their lives as the Client Defines it is not a meaningless commercial, but a true therapeutic experience.


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