Pathfinders in San Diego, CA

Overall Rating

(4.5 of 5)
Treatment Effectiveness
Accommodations & Amenities
Meals & Nutrition
2980 Cedar Street
San Diego CA 92102

Pathfinders Philosophy

Since 1950, Pathfinders has been helping individuals suffering from the disease of addiction. The residential rehab offers long-term substance abuse treatment for men in a safe, structured and pro-social environment. Using a bio-psycho-social approach to alcohol and drug addiction, as well as 12-Step philosophy, the facility equips clients with the skills and tools necessary to live a healthy, productive and independent life in sobriety.

Areas of Specialization

  • Residential Treatment
    Residential treatment programs provide housing (food and meals) in addition to treatment for substance abuse. Some facilities offer only short-term residential treatment, some offer only long-term treatment and others offer both, ranging from a few days to many months, based on patient needs.

  • 12-Step
    The term “12 Step Program” describes a way to recover from addiction that is based on the model developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. Many drug and alcohol treatment centers base their treatment on 12 steps – the first three of which are situational, the next four addressing the practical issues created by the addiction, followed by two steps focused on making amends for hurting others. Steps 10 and 11 involve a deeper examination of the previous steps and the final step is focused on helping others avoid and recover from addiction.

Facility Highlights

Addiction Education

Relapse Prevention

Literature Study 360 Guide

Review by Contributors


Founded more than 65 years ago, Pathfinders is a non-profit organization in San Diego, Calif. committed to providing residential treatment for men with alcoholism and co-occurring disorders. The center claims to be “California’s Oldest Recovery Home for Alcoholic Men,” with more than 5,000 individuals treated since the facility opened its doors in 1950. Medically supervised detox is not available.


Pathfinders maintains three residences in downtown San Diego. All programs, which run three to nine months, use a social-model based on self-motivation and peer support along with the 12-Steps to help residents achieve long-term sobriety. The home describes itself on its website as an alternative to medical-based programs.

Residents attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings every day, and work for Pathfinder’s network of community-support projects to contribute to the cost of their stay. What sets Pathfinders apart is that instead of relying on trained therapists and counselors, treatment support is provided by program alumni and others in recovery, who will also act as sponsors through the Alcoholics Anonymous network.

Pathfinders also runs a shelter for homeless men who struggle with a co-occurring disorder. The “Shelter Plus Care Program” provides housing, meals, self-help meetings, and case management support to a this severely under-served portion of the homeless population.


Rather than a typical staff of therapists and clinicians, Pathfinders is largely staffed by men who are in long-term recovery themselves through the social-model that adheres to the philosophy that people learn and understand best from others also in recovery.


The men stay in family-style homes that underwent renovations in 2014. The three residences are located in Golden Hill, San Diego, and currently serve 40 men altogether. The two alumni polled by to date gave a four- and a five-star rating for accommodations and amenities, and both awarded five out of five stars for the facility's cleanliness.


All three alumni who reported to at the time of this writing gave a positive review. Many wrote that they were deeply thankful, and many feel the program changed their lives.

These alumni praised the staff in particular. Both alumni polled on the level of staff support gave five out of five stars. “The AA meetings held on site are some of the best in San Diego. The chef, Tim is an outstanding cook, making healthy, top-quality meals with love for the residents,” Patrick noted. “It is the finest treatment option I could imagine for any man seeking help with alcoholism and/or drug addiction.”

On the facility's Facebook page, the facility earned five out of five stars from 24 reviews to date.[1] Many alumni commented on treatment effectiveness. In a representative review, alum Christie wrote: “The people here were so helpful for keeping me sober another day! You all made me feel so comfortable when visiting here from CT! I want to thank you again for the open hearts and arms!”

Pathfinders received equally high ratings on Google, where all four reviewers also gave the facility a perfect five-star rating.[2] Alum M.R. wrote, "This place saved my life and is a legacy in san diego for long term sobriety and is the safest place to work the 12 steps and learn a new way of life!"


The three friends and family members polled by at the time of this writing gave Pathfinders great reviews, all of whom provided perfect five-star ratings when asked if they would recommend the center to others in need of treatment. Loved ones gave four- and five-star ratings for treatment effectiveness, meals and nutrition, connectivity, family participation, facility cleanliness, affordability, and the program's 12-step focus.

One loved one appreciated the focus on vocational skills. “This is a pretty good place for men to learn how to work a recovery program, they help and encourage job placement and structure,” R.T. wrote.


Pathfinders does its best to stay cost-effective for its residents, with the average cost per day at less than $50. The organization does not accept insurance.


Published on February 2018

User Reviews

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  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
Pathfinders has the highest rating for men completing a long term nine month program than any other facility in San Diego.I want to thank the staff and especially the Director for giving me another chance at life without alcohol and drugs.God Bless.


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  • Meals & Nutrition


  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
I came in with nothing but the clothes on my back, and I've seen other men come in the same way. And because of the strength of the staff and support group/meetings, people can walk away from here with a job and a new life, a new beginning. The staff and meetings and support from other men in recovery are very encouraging.It's a free program, it's not perfect living quarters but it's clean and they do their best.


  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
A lot of guys have gotten sober and stayed sober and learned how to live life here. This is a pretty good place for men to learn how to work a recovery program, they help and encourage job placement and structure.


  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
Every last staff member at Pathfinders is a successfully recovered addict and/or alcoholic. The AA meetings held on site are some of the best in San Diego. The chef is an outstanding cook, making healthy, top-quality meals with love for the residents. Pathfinders is a social model recovery community encompassing three large residences, on-site office and meeting hall, a separate corporate headquarters and multi-unit dual-diagnosis sober-living establishments. The alumni keep coming back to work with and encourage newcomers, who are welcomed warmly by both staff and existing residents. It is the finest treatment option I could imagine for any man seeking help with alcoholism and/or drug addiction.


  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
The place saved my life! This facility is designed to help homeless alcoholics who have reached there bottom. It allows you to find the "real" you. Not the delusional self that I was putting on a show with everyone. I really had no idea how much fun life can be clean and sober

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