Sovereign Health Addiction, Dual Diagnosis, and Mental Health Treatment Programs in El Cajon, CA

Call (866) 629-0442 to Contact Sovereign Health Addiction, Dual Diagnosis, and Mental Health Treatment Programs

Overall Rating

(2.4 of 5)
Treatment Effectiveness
Accommodations & Amenities
Meals & Nutrition
2815 Steele Canyon Road
El Cajon CA 92019

Sovereign Health Addiction, Dual Diagnosis, and Mental Health Treatment Programs Philosophy

Sovereign Health specializes in mental health, substance abuse, and dual diagnosis treatment for men and women. The rehab has numerous facilities in California — the El Cajon location offers residential treatment for adolescents. The program utilizes evidence-based treatment modalities combined with a holistic focus for a well-balanced and sustainable recovery. Clients are encouraged to examine and understand how and why their maladaptive behaviors evolved and to set realistic goals for a happy and fulfilling future.

Areas of Specialization

  • Teen Treatment Center
    Specializing in the treatment of co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders, Sovereign Health Group’s adolescent program combines evidence-based and alternative treatment modalities for a holistic approach to lasting recovery. Teens receive quality, individualized care, thorough addiction education, family therapy, mental health services, and more.

  • Individual Therapy
    Sovereign Health offers a comprehensive continuum of one-on-one therapy options to suit each client’s individual needs. Program offerings include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Skill Building Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, and Brief Strategic Therapy.

Facility Highlights

Cognitive and Genetic Testing

Individual and Group Psychotherapy

Anger Mangement and Life Skills

Meet the Staff

Sandra J. Lee, M.D.

Medical Director and Psychiatrist for Adolescent Programs - See more at:

Photo of Sandra J. Lee, M.D.

Dr. Lee is the medical director and psychiatrist for Sovereign Health’s adolescent programs at the Rancho San Diego facility. She received her M.D. from Wayne State University in Detroit, where she specialized in mental health and addiction treatment services for children and adolescents. Dr. Lee was chief resident at Loma Linda University and was granted a fellowship from the University of California, San Diego, for child and adolescent psychiatry. She has also held several leadership positions focusing on the psychiatric care of chronic drug and alcohol addictions at various treatment centers, corporations and medical facilities throughout the course of her 25-year career. - See more at:

Yaron Pruginin, Psy.D.

Site Training Director

Photo of Yaron Pruginin, Psy.D.

Dr. Pruginin is a licensed psychologist and clinical supervisor of the adolescent program at Rancho San Diego. Dr. Pruginin received his Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1999 and received his doctorate in psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in 2005. He started his professional career in 1995 as a counselor at a psychiatric rehabilitation program in Jerusalem, helping young adults recover from mental health breakdowns and reintegrate in society.

Since then, Dr. Pruginin has continued to focus on those goals and see them as the ultimate goal of mental health treatment. He has worked with children, teens, adolescents, adults and families in a variety of settings. These include the Jewish Family Service’s Integrated Services Program for adults with substance abuse problems, San Diego Family Care in pediatric primary care, South Bay Guidance for dialectical behavior therapy groups and individual therapy, Isis Center, San Diego LGBT Center, Hanbleceya Treatment Center and an adult residential program. Dr. Pruginin’s private practice conducts psychological evaluations for San Diego County’s health and human services department.

- See more at: 360 Guide

Review by Contributors


Sovereign Health operates four substance abuse treatment facilities in California, including one in San Clemente. The El Cajon facility, also known as Rancho San Diego, is located 15 miles east of San Diego and offers residential and outpatient treatment for adolescents aged 12 to 1, including specialized treatment for transgender youth, who are struggling with substance abuse, dual diagnosis, and eating disorders.

The center is equipped to treat adolescents struggling with mental health disorders including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, behavioral problems, brief psychotic disorder, schizoaffective disorder, eating disorders, and more. Detox services are available.


Treatment begins with a three-step series of thorough assessments, including medical and psychiatric evaluations, to ensure the facility can accommodate the client.

Treatment is built around both evidence-based and holistic modalities. As well as traditional individual and group therapy, residents participate in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), solution-focused therapy (SFT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and psychodynamic therapy. Holistic treatment options include equine therapy, yoga, and art and music therapies. The center also prioritizes family and education, encouraging loved ones to attend family weekends and offering dedicated weekly time for clients to complete courses they are enrolled in.

Mandatory 12-step meetings are included in treatment, but participants may join non-12-step groups such as SMART Recovery. Topic-specific groups include sobriety, trauma-informed care, anger and stress management, and coping with addiction, among others. Clients’ schedules include leisure time to allow for TV and game time, exercise activities, movies, bowling, go-karts, optional church attendance on Sundays, and nature outings.

The center also offers a partial hospitalization program (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (IOP).


Rancho San Diego employs a child and adolescent psychiatrist, primary therapists, registered dieticians, case managers, family therapists, clinical supervisors, and a clinical concierge. The director is a doctoral-level, licensed psychologist with more than 25 years of clinical expertise.


Residents sleep in gender-specific dormitories that are monitored 24/7 by staff, and may participate in online schooling, independent study, or an on-site schooling program. A recreational gym is available, and canyons and fields are near the facility. An onsite chef provides culinary meals, with specialized nutrition for clients with eating disorders. Amenities include flat-screen TVs, a swimming pool, a basketball and volleyball court, and a baseball field.


Four alumni polled by to date gave Rancho San Diego mixed ratings. Although two alumni gave the facility positive ratings in categories such as exercise and leisure options, cleanliness, and staff’s level of experience and training (an average 4.25 out of five stars), two of the alumni rated the facility poorly in its accommodations and amenities, treatment effectiveness, and meals and nutrition.

The positive alumni praised the program’s “well-structured” treatment program, but negative alumni described poor accommodations and rude, uneducated staff. Alum Brittany wrote: “The staff were horrible and thought they could treat you however they wanted. They were usually on their phones or not paying attention.”


Of the three reviews submitted to to date, two were negative and the other mostly positive, with some caveats. R.A. wrote of his/her nephew’s stay: “He complaints about the rudeness of the staff, and his bed sheets smells awful as well as the restroom.” Another claimed that the facility did not provide detox as advertised and reported rude staff. One anonymous reviewer, however, gave the center four stars for its family program, counseling options, and treatment for co-occurring disorders, and wrote: “The excellent communication with family members and knowledgeable staff were benefits of the facility.”

At the time of this writing, secondary review sites yielded polarized reviews from parents, resulting in a three-star average rating based on seven reviews on Yelp.[1] Of six “unrecommended” Yelp reviews, four were negative and two positive.[2] Complaints among these reviews repeatedly cited run-down conditions and a lack of appropriate oversight and discipline for troubled teens. “If your unruly teen is defiant against you, the rules or any other reason why you looked for help in the first place. ...Run,” Alicia wrote in a representative review on Yelp. Several reviewers, however, noted that treatment had worked very well for their child: “I am in aw talking to my son. He has done so well and is loving the program,” Tracie wrote in a representative review on Yelp.


Two former employees reviewed by rated Rancho San Diego only one out of five stars. Both complained of unprofessional conduct from staff, describing staff sharing drugs with clients, and one described poor group therapy. Employee Lisa wrote: “ Again, there will be few staff who actually do care about the kids but management gets in the way of letting the kids learn how to build strong and positive relationships.”


According to its website, this facility accepts most major health insurance plans, and offers some financing. The two individuals polled to date on the center’s affordability gave it one star and three stars respectively.

In November 2015, the Orange County Register reported that six youths had climbed this facility’s wall and fled while receiving treatment. All six youths later returned safely. At the time of this writing, no official facility response to the incident was available.

Updated May 2017



Published on June 2017

User Reviews

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  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
To potential employees and/or patients: This is the most unethical, uncaring, emotionally and financially abusive business I have ever come across - That it is in the health profession, where the credo is "Do No Harm," makes Sovereign even more shameful. For their $26,000, or more if Sovereign can bill for more, patients get "therapy" from unsupervised and unlicensed students. They get their property (cellphones) forcibly taken from them, they get those same phones shoved in their faces later to force a family contact that although potentially harmful to the patient, is billable by the company. They cannot come and go as they please. Group and individual "therapy" sessions occur in open areas. Would you like your loved one to be sharing his soul with an unsupervised, unlicensed student under a tree on a bench outside which don't see, confidential? As for employees it is pretty much each for themselves - Management creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Instead of quality patient care the focus is on gossip and backstabbing one another.The corruption here is trickle-down, all the way.

  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
strength:well structured program, Neat and clean environment , trained staff members weakness:There are certain points that are average cant take them as positive but nothing weakness as such When I first got in Sovereign I was really nervous. I was apprehensive because I think like a lot of people who are recently diagnosed and dealing with mental health issues it is kind of hard to admit you have a problem or that something has not been working for you. Well like a lot of with my illness or addiction I did not want change I loved my house I was very attached I mean extremely attached I had been there for 50 day and I did not want to move. I have met new people that it just change and it is always good to admit a new group of people who are really cool and welcoming and the apartment managers there are still the staff is still it is different but it is the same mentality they are compassionate they are there for you I mean they are not counselor or therapist but they do care about the clients and I haven't experienced any adversity or injustice from the staff since I have been here so it made it easier for me to transition and then I realize that I got a little more freedom and I got my own room so more privacy and it has been really nice. Well I remember when I first got here I had never once been to a group therapist session in my live. I have had you know one-on-one therapy session but this was really my first time in a group setting and that wasn't anything else really uncomfortable with it first because I don't want to share my story in front of strangers especially therapist that I don't even know you know I am pretty close off when it comes to my past which is the reason why I am here to deal with you know the issues that I have that I carried about my whole life but it was kind of uncomfortable for me at first not because of anybody else but because of myself I had to really breach that stronghold. My favorite groups have probably been definitely trauma group because I really didn't understand what it was I knew that i had had experiences in my life but I didn't consider them traumatic. And so gaining that understanding and acceptance I think I ultimately I gained acceptance that it is okay to have trauma and a lot of us here do and that no one is alone and I also really enjoy the stress management group because it can be very stressful here. I just want everybody here to know that I am amazed at the patience and understanding most of the staff have here. It blows my mind because when we come in clients you know we each thing that our case is the most important thing in the world because it is our life and the fact that you guys have to deal with that you know when new clients come in that frequently throughout the month or even the week sometimes and you do your best you do the best that you can and I tell all new clients when they get here immediately everybody wants to leave it doesn't reflect on Sovereign it is a reflection of the fact that we are scared we are vulnerable we are uncomfortable it is something we mostly never been through before and I think that the staff knows how to deal with it a lot of time it is crisis and people come in here and I think everybody should give it I always say like give it a week don't leave tonight you know it is your first night here give it a week and I say that because somebody said that to me on my first night and I have been here 67 days and I needed it. Had I left my first night I probably wouldn't be breathing today so thank you for everything the compassion the inspiration putting me in my place when I needed to kind of be simmered down and just not giving up on me because it allowed me to not give up on myself.

This place was horrible. The pictures look nothing like the inside. The pic with the couches is the room we would typically do groups in, but instead we have beanbags. The couches in the livingroom are old and dirty. The staff gossip about the clients with other clients and it creates a horribly tense atmosphere. ...The meals were barely edible, I would often find hair and pieces of cardboard (yes, really). The staff were horrible and thought they could treat you however they wanted. They were usually on their phones or not paying attention...Groups were canceled left and right, we were rarely allowed outside, Equine therapy was once a week if you were lucky and got on the list, and we don't have an active lifeguard so we know got to use the pool once or twice. Staff act like it's a bother when you ask for stuff like shampoo and will often take days to get it. They rarely had conditioner and the girls were left without any for weeks. The groups stunk and you only saw your therapist once or twice a week. Overall, I would NOT reccomend this place.

I don't know where this site got the false information that Sovereign's adolescent facility practices "naturally-assisted detox with vitamins and minerals" but they don't. In fact, that's the biggest joke I ever heard. Their recruiters (who actually do not even work at Sovereign and have never even seen the facility) are famous for providing complete BS information. They tell families that Sovereign is a medical detox when Sovereign will refuse to give a detoxing patient anything more than a baby aspirin every 4 hours. They usually require any patient who did hard drugs that may cause them to have withdrawals to go to the hospital before even being admitted to Sovereign so they can get medically cleared. This will cost you EVEN MORE than your child'a whole stay at Sovereign but they don't care. At Sovereign, you are forced to wake up around 7:30 based on who your lazy house manager is that day, then you fight with your 14 housemates to be able to use one of the two showers before you go to eat breakfast. The house managers are extremely uneducated and rude and most of them smoke cigarettes... When my son was first admitted one of his housemates who was admitted the same time as him had been addicted to Oxyxodone and was having such bad withdrawals and the house manager treated him horribly. One of the house managers smokes cigarettes on every single one of her breaks and will have a major rude attitude to the kids when she gets mad at them. They completely fail to realize that these kids are going through the worst time of their life. They lie to your family at intake and tell you a bunch of lies just to get you into their program.

  • Accommodations & Amenities
The excellent communication with family members and knowledgeable staff were benefits of the facility. They also provide flexible times for family therapy, which was nice. However, there was a lack of ability to treat diabetic children effectively.

  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
not lenient, good location, fair food hostile staff, few choices to be made by the attendee, triggering staff

  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
The excellent communication with family members and knowledgeable staff were benefits of the facility. They also provide flexible times for family therapy, which was nice. However, there was a lack of ability to treat diabetic children effectively.

  • Treatment Effectiveness
  • Accommodations & Amenities
  • Meals & Nutrition
My nephew goes to the facility in El Cajon. He complaints about the rudeness of the staff, and his bed sheets smells awful as well as the restroom.

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