Frequently Asked Questions



Medical & Legal






What type of treatment for drug/alcohol addiction does the JVA provide?
The John Volken Academy provides long-term, residential, Therapeutic Community-based treatment for addiction. Our program includes job and life skills training for providing the tools necessary to achieve lifelong sobriety for men and women between the ages of 19-44.

Our program provides participants with all the tools they will need to handle life’s many challenges. They achieve this, in part, through extensive personal development, career preparation, and educational opportunities which are all crucial for a rewarding life of sobriety.

How does the JVA Therapeutic Community work?
The community at the John Volken Academy is the strongest healing mechanism of the program. We live and lead by the motto “each one, teach one.” This motto implies that the individual assumes responsibility not only for their own recovery, but also for the recovery of their peers. They recognize that the recovery of each member is related to the recovery of all and conduct themselves accordingly—this, in turn, reinforces their own recovery.

Personal growth and proper living are achieved by peers serving as role models, providing support through interaction, and confronting each other in group sessions. By doing all of this, participants come to understand and resolve the cause of their addiction and also gain the tools they need to stay sober.

Program participants are expected to observe the behaviors and attitudes of their peers and act to promote change. The more senior participants teach by example and provide instruction and leadership. They act as big brothers and sisters to the more junior members. They show them how to work, encourage them, reach out to them, “pull them up”, monitor them, and correct their negative behaviors. In our Therapeutic Community, program participants are considered equals in their struggle to change their lives.

While they have no formal authority over their peers, they have considerable informal authority in their community management roles. They are taught to become leaders by handling increasing amounts of responsibility in their job functions and general supervision. As junior members are primarily in learning roles, less demand is placed on them to lead. As they progress through the stages of the program, their attitudes and behaviors change while their responsibility, accountability, and therefore, their self-worth, increases.

What does a day look like as a student at the John Volken Academy?
Our program is designed to provide sufficient structure and opportunities for students to attain job and career training, educational advancement, and leadership opportunities to ultimately build strong character and gain necessary tools for lifelong sobriety.

A typical day at the academy begins around 6 a.m. Students will get ready for their day in our state-of-the-art dormitories. A nutritious breakfast is prepared and served by students assigned to our cafeterias. Following breakfast there is morning group and chores. Students will then disperse to their assigned duties throughout one of our various businesses and functions within the program designed to support the community, allow them to gain work experience and continue their education and life skills training.

Assignments and learning experiences vary by each John Volken Academy location but include all aspects of running businesses such as furniture sales, horse boarding and ranch, grocery and market management, moving, lawn care, and woodshop services, and much more.

Students assignments and roles will rotate throughout their time at the academy from as they are provided the opportunity develop their skills and explore possible career opportunities.

Lunch and dinner are served at the assigned times and the students conclude their day with a variety of structured activities such as peer-to-peer counseling, leisure time, sports and fitness, as well as planned outings to experience the arts, entertainment, nature, and more.

Is a long-term Therapeutic Community effective in treating addiction?
A long-term, Therapeutic Community approach is considered to be a very effective treatment for addiction. It works far beyond initial drug and alcohol treatment by not only allowing physical time and space away from substance but also helping the addict re-establish healthy life skills, values, and develop mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. In doing so, they acquire the tools essential to live without drugs and alcohol, for life.

Our Therapeutic Community approaches addiction treatment through the following key areas:

Group work and peer counseling
A look into the underlying cause of their addiction
Time to heal the brain and body
Learning and education opportunities
Job, career, and life skills training

What evidence is there for the success of a long-term Therapeutic Community like John Volken Academy?
According to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, rehabilitation programs of at least 90 days or longer are needed to give an addicted person enough time to recover. Long-term drug rehab programs have 70% sobriety success rates, whereas short-term rehab programs have between 16-20% sobriety success rates.

You’re chances of gaining life-long sobriety increase SIGNIFICANTLY with a two-year commitment to fully getting well, overcoming addiction, and gaining the skills and tools needed to maintain sobriety.

How does the John Volken Academy program teach a recovering addict sufficient skills and tools necessary for lifelong sobriety?

After a few months in recovery the symptom of the addiction has been dealt with and students feel physically better, often better than they can remember. But for lifelong sobriety, treatment must not end there. Successfully treating the root cause of the addiction takes more time. Too many people relapse because the most important, most essential part needed for lifelong sobriety is not being considered, namely, the tools necessary to handle life’s many challenges.

Some of these tools are: to see obstacles not as problems but as challenges; the ability to face inconvenient realities; to be accountable for one’s actions; to practice self-control; to follow directions; to accept authority; to have self-confidence and self-worth; to be able to deal with changes, handle criticism, learn a “stick to it” attitude, and to cooperate with others.

Our program has four main areas of focus that provide students with these necessary tools:

1. Addressing the Root Cause of Addiction

The abuse of drugs and alcohol—along with other destructive behaviors—are not the real cause of addiction, they’re a symptom of something beneath the surface. To attain permanent recovery, the real cause of addiction, not just the symptom, must be treated. The cause is what drives a person to drugs and alcohol in the first place. It is almost always some underlying issues that makes an individual unable to be content with life as it is.

To determine and treat the causes of addiction, each student at the John Volken Academy undergoes an intense process of therapy in a safe place. Through individual counseling, group sessions, and appropriate peer-to-peer interactions, students learn how to share their thoughts and feelings, while facing and dealing with difficult situations. They learn to reflect on their own struggles and gain valuable insight into the sources of these struggles. In time, the causes of their addiction are identified, and students learn how to “let go” and to deal with those issues in a healthy manner.

2. Healing the Brain

The impairment caused by substance abuse is evident in many ways, such as impulsive, emotional, and irrational decisions and behaviors. During addiction, the brain still functions, but not effectively. Time and space away from substance is required for the brain and body to regain equilibrium.

During treatment, the brain begins to heal (or re-wire) itself. With a relative short time of abstinence, the proper environment, and new patterns of living, improvement in brain structure and function become evident. During this healing or re-wiring process, the person’s actions, reactions, and decision-making abilities remain distorted, but continue to improve as time goes on. After five years of sobriety, active recovery, and addiction treatment, the brain is usually as good as it will ever be, and if the recovered addicts continue to use the proper tools, they will be able to maintain sobriety for life.

This healing process takes time. It requires at least two years, and up to five years, of treatment for the brain to function at its optimum. That is why the minimum stay at the John Volken Academy is two years. It is the best investment of time that a struggling addict can ever make.

3. Adopting a New Lifestyle

To obtain life-long sobriety, it is essential that a person learns and adopts an entirely healthy new lifestyle. Under the direction of our Program Directors and other senior managers, our students do exactly that. This is accomplished, in part, by being taught and learning the following:

Learn to communicate effectively, co-operate with others, and better deal with the public
Become responsible, accountable, punctual, polite, reliable, and productive
Develop patience, tolerance, a “stick to it” attitude
Become valuable employees and to take pride in performance
Develop humility, self-control, and excellence in standards, manners and etiquette
Gain experience in business principles and entrepreneurship, management and leadership skills, problem solving, and how to handle criticism
Learn to go the extra mile and to be givers instead of takers
Develop the ability to deal with changes and improve self-confidence
Enjoy a wide range of healthy indoor and outdoor activities without any stimulants

4. Building Tools Required to Stay Sober

Like turning a big ship around, turning a life around takes time. To expect a person with a history of substance abuse to learn and adopt all the tools needed to stay sober in just a few months is simply unrealistic. We help students gain the tools needed to ultimately build good character through, group work and peer counseling, learning and education opportunities, job training and life skills.

What makes the John Volken Academy different from other treatment centers?
We fully believe we have one of the best addiction treatment programs in the world. What sets us apart from other long-term treatment centers is we offer one of the most effective and most affordable addiction treatments. Our program is FREE after a one-time, in-take fee of $5,000 plus a $2,000 incidental fee. Whatever incidental fee is unused will be refunded when the student graduates. Contrary to popular belief, addiction treatment does not have to be expensive to be effective. We take a lot of pride in our program, our community, and our state-of-the-art facilities—while providing them at a cost unparalleled to our mission of changing lives.
What age and gender do you provide treatment to?

The John Volken Academy accepts both men and women between the ages of 19-44 years old. Depending on the circumstances, exceptions can be made. We are currently accepting both men and women at our Phoenix, Arizona and Surrey, British Columbia locations and only accept men at our Seattle, Washington location.

How long have you been providing addiction treatment?
The John Volken Academy has been providing long-term addiction treatment since 1998.
What kind of transitional services/relapse prevention does the John Volken Academy provide?
Transition support first begins as the student nears graduation. Through our Re-entry Program, we connect students with a mentor and they begin learning the skills needed to be successful out on their own. These skills include banking, resume building, applying/interviewing for jobs, and money management.

For graduates who want to ease back into the “real world”, we offer transition housing. This housing is affordable and located close to their JVA campus. This option allows graduates of the program to stay close to the Therapeutic Community and other graduates of our program. We also provide access to job opportunities at our Life-Skills Training Centers or other local businesses that we have developed relationships with.

Do you offer specialized plans for each student in the program?
Each student is on a growth track of their own. As students gain experience and excel in their roles, they will be given more freedoms and more opportunities for leadership, learning and gaining more trade skills. Our goal is to provide students with the tools necessary to overcome addiction and re-join society as a productive member, making a positive impact on the world. If it takes longer than the minimum two-years, we are here and willing to help each student as long as they desire at no extra cost.
Can my family visit me while I am in the program?
Yes, at a certain point, as you progress through the program, short visits are allowed. They must be arranged prior with the Program Director. We have a system for all visits as well as furloughs for students. All of this will be explained by the Program Director. Our main goal is to keep our students safe and healthy during visits.


What is the application, evaluation and assessment process for becoming a student at the John Volken Academy?

Applying for our program is simple. Contact us and/or submit your application through our website. One of our Program Directors will get in touch with you. You must complete the following before your application is accepted and you can enroll as a student:

TB TEST: A TB test must have been performed within the last year with the date of the exam and test results faxed to our office or provided on the Pre-Admission Medical Evaluation.
PRE-ADDMISSION MEDICAL EVALUATION: You must be medically stabilized with the proper psychiatric support and mood stabilizing medications in place.
DRUG REPLACEMENT THERAPY: Each location has different rules on drug replacement therapy, depending on local laws and staff resources. Please ask our Program Directors at the site you want to apply to for more information. All applicants must be detoxed from illicit drugs before entering the program.

Along with the PRE-ADMISSION MEDICAL EVALUATION filled out by your doctor, you will also need to fill out the ADMISSION APPLICATION. Both forms must be filled out in full; if any information is missing, this will hold up the application process.

In the application, we will provide you a list of acceptable items to bring with you to the JVA, as well as our rules and standards.

Call 1-855-896-1318 to speak directly with us for more information.

Should I get treatment locally or away from home?
It is up to the individual attending the program if they would like to complete treatment in their own state or province. Through our experience, it can be helpful for an addict to take their journey towards sobriety away from the environment where they previously used drugs or alcohol. This way, they can be free of outside distractions and negative influences and not be as tempted to discharge themselves early from the program. This is why we have three different locations to help students build lifelong friends, communities, and experience away from their familiar surroundings. If you are unsure of what is best for you, consider asking yourself, “Will I act on impulse and leave my treatment early if a challenge arises with my home and the past negative environment is so close by?” Or, “Should I choose greater distance away from home to ensure I am not tempted to leave early?”
How do I arrange travel to the facility I plan to attend? Is there an airport nearby?

All three of our facilities are located near major airports. It is a good idea to work with your Program Director as you arrange your flight to one of the below airports, and we will be there upon your arrival to pick you up and transport you to our facility.

British Columbia

Vancouver International Airport (YVR)


Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)


Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)

What can I bring with me to John Volken Academy?
The list of acceptable things to bring to the John Volken Academy is listed in the Admissions Application. Please do not bring anything not on the list that you do not have prior permission, or it may be confiscated. If you have any questions about this policy, ask the Program Director.
How do I prepare for entering the John Volken Academy?
There is little you need to do to prepare for the John Volken Academy. All you need to do is contact us through our website and/or fill out the two online applications in full; then, we will give you a call. You will need to get the proper medical examinations as well as a pass TB test. Once that is complete, and your applications are submitted and accepted, you will be ready to enter the John Volken Academy.

From there, our staff will reach out to you and help you get your legal affairs in order if necessary. Please be sure to have a valid ID(s) with you. If you do not have a valid ID, please let us know. Medications and medical conditions must be disclosed on our application before entering the facility.

It also is helpful if you begin to lessen or completely stop your use of drugs, alcohol, and nicotine before entering our program. There are no nicotine products allowed on the premises.

Most of all, take a big breath. We know this can be an overwhelming and challenging time. You will be embarking upon the best opportunity available to overcome your addiction. We are here to support you. You will find there is an entire community ready to bring you into the fold to support you and guide you through this journey.

Medical & Legal

Are students of John Volken Academy insured?
All John Volken Academy students at our Arizona and Washington locations are insured through state insurance, which allows them to see a doctor, have access to free medications (if needed), and have regular dental checkups and cleanings. Students attending our Canada location may be covered by BC medical or other provincial insurance rules. Please find this out before your admission to the program.
Do you accept individuals who are on probation or are coming from a jail/prison facility?
Yes, we accept individuals who are on probation as well as individuals coming here as an alternative sentence to jail.
Do you have professionals on staff?
Our program has been designed and developed by addiction professionals and healthy-living specialists. By combining the Therapeutic Community approach with professional guidance, our program is extremely effective and truly life-changing. Our program is diligently instituted through peer to peer participation with guidance and direction from our Program Directors and other paid staff.
Why no clinical staff on-site?
A Therapeutic Community does not require addiction professionals on-site as we follow and enforce a professionally prepared program designed to be run by students, for students.
Do you offer medical detox?
We do not offer medical detox. If you are interested in coming to the John Volken Academy and feel you may require medical detox, we will advise you to get the medical assistance you need before entering our program.
Am I allowed to smoke cigarettes or use nicotine products while in the program?
Are you able to treat people with dual diagnosis?
We accept students with dual diagnosis on a case-by-case basis. This can be further discussed with the Program Director at the location you will be attending.
Do you accept individuals in drug replacement therapy programs?
In our Surrey, British Columbia location, we do accept people on some drug replacement therapies; please ask the Program Director for more information. We do not accept students on any drug replacement programs in our Seattle Washington location or our Phoenix Arizona location.


What are the facilities like?
Each of our locations is unique to themselves; however, each provides the following:

Modern living quarters with comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and access to necessary hygiene and toiletry items
Healthy meals prepared and served in excellent cafeterias
Furnished workout rooms and sports courts
Access to advanced computers and technology
Designed and developed space to spend time in and enjoy nature
Libraries and reading rooms
Music rooms with instruments provided
And more…

Where are you located?

We have three locations throughout Canada and the USA. Our locations are in Seattle Washington, Surrey British Columbia, and Phoenix Arizona. Take a tour of each location.

Does your program have a nutritional component?
We believe good nutrition to be key in a full recovery from drugs and alcohol. We provide three nutritious meals a day, as well as snacks.
Will I have a roommate?
We have beautiful, comfortable, and accommodating living quarters at all three John Volken Academy locations. We do not have private rooms; however, we do provide modern living space with comfortable beds, laundry, private bathrooms, and access to necessary hygiene and toiletry items.


How much does the program cost?

We offer one of the most effective and most affordable addiction treatments in the world. Our program requires a one-time, in-take fee of $7,500. Contrary to popular belief, addiction treatment does not have to be expensive to be effective.

How is John Volken Academy free after the intake fee?
The John Volken Academy is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Through a private foundation, donations as well profits from our individual businesses, we are able to provide this life-changing program free of cost after a one-time, in-take fee for each student.
What payment options do I have?
We do not have payment plans for the one-time, in-take fee of $5,000 however if you feel this program is for you, and you need an option for paying the in-take fee, this can be discussed with the Program Director at the location you will be entering.
Do you offer scholarships for those who cannot afford the in-take and incidental deposit?
If you have a genuine desire to join our program, this can be discussed with the Program Director.


How long is the John Volken Academy program?
Our program is a minimum of two-years. Some may require more than two years of treatment, and we are here and willing to help any student for as long as they need at no extra cost.
Why two-years? Is that necessary?
We find that students in our program have tried many different avenues to get sober without success. They’ve been to week-long detox programs, classic 28-day centers, recovery houses, and 90-day programs, before finally making a commitment to getting sober with the John Volken Academy.

According to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, rehabilitation programs of at least 90 days or longer are needed to give an addicted person enough time to recover. Long-term drug rehab programs have 70% sobriety success rates, whereas short-term rehab programs have between 16-20% sobriety success rates.

You’re chances of gaining life-long sobriety increase SIGNIFICANTLY with a two-year commitment to fully getting well, overcoming addiction, and gaining the life skills and tools needed to maintain sobriety and have a successful future.

Is my addiction bad enough for a long-term treatment program?
While two years may feel like an extreme amount of time to get sober, consider the current cost and amount of time your addiction has taken away from you, it likely is unapparelled to this relatively short commitment to getting sober and changing your life.

Consider the amount of time you have already given and lost to your addiction. Consider the financial burden drugs and alcohol have become to you and your family. The cost of lost productivity at work or an inability to keep a job. Consider the legal fines, potential jail time you may be facing as well as the medical bills, and lost physical and mental health at the hands of your addiction. Your relationships and standing within your community are likely strained. The cost of your addiction (and ultimately, the potential cost of your life) is minimal compared to this commitment to getting sober and gaining the life skills needed to live the life you desire.

Chronic drug and alcohol use can take a minimum of two years for your brain and body to heal fully and can take up to five years for a full repair. Our program will ultimately be a blip on the radar of your entire life and will be well worth it for what you can still potentially lose to your addiction.

In considering our program, think of the hope you have for your future and your recovery from addiction. There is a lot of life to live and an extraordinary impact for you to still make in the world. We ask you to take this opportunity to completely change your life, which, in the long-term, will be a very short period. It is an investment in yourself to become the person you are meant to be.


Do you offer family support?
Yes! Entering a long-term treatment program is something a person cannot do without the support of their families. For this reason, we provide family support as much as possible. We have a John Volken Academy support group for each location, family liaisons, and Program Directors whom you will be connected with when your loved one enters the program.
How can I, as a family member or friend, support my loved one in the John Volken Academy?
We fully understand the stress and fear family members experience with a loved one struggling with addiction. You play an important role in addiction recovery. Your support requires patience, tough love, and faith.

The best way in which you can be of support to your student is to allow them to complete their commitment to the program so they can fully heal and recover. Encourage them and love them from a distance. More importantly, support them in graduating from the program. Here they will remain safe with us, have opportunities to grow and learn, and a chance to heal their potentially broken relationships with you.

What do I need to know as a family member or friend of a loved one entering the John Volken Academy?
Your student will need to go through our application process, which includes a medical evaluation. Once accepted, transportation to our facility will be required however, if they plan to fly to one of our locations, we transport them from the airport to our location. There also is a one-time, in-take fee of $5,000 plus a $2,000 incidental fee. Whatever incidental fee is unused will be refunded when the student graduates. These fees will need to be paid before they are able to enter into our treatment program. After that, there is a short blackout period in which there will be no communication. As the student progresses through the program, they will gain more opportunities to be in touch with others through the mail, email, and telephone calls.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can connect with our John Volken Academy Support Group as well as have direct access to our family liaisons and Program Directors at each facility.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can connect with our John Volken Academy Support Group as well as have direct access to our family liaisons and Program Directors at each facility.

John is often asked why he embarked on this demanding mission. A typical response is:

“The other day, a student made a rather serious mistake…that’s expected. It gave me an opportunity to spend some time with him. After our “heart to heart” we hugged and I told him that I loved him. He responded with tears and said, “My father never said that to me…and how can you love me after all the stupid things I have done?” I reassured him that his mistakes were behind him, and that he was on his way to a new life. That is what the John Volken Academy is all about. Forgiveness and change. There are tears, there are laughs, there is hope, there are struggles, there is change…The transformations are incredible! Every day I am grateful to God for the opportunity to be part of changing lives.”