Thunder Road

Editors' Notes: 

Thunder Road's mission is to assist youth and their families in the challenges to recover from the abuse of alcohol, drugs and nicotine, and to support their growth as healthy, connected, and honorable members within neighborhoods and communities.

Parent Reviews

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Archived Q&A and Reviews

June 2011

I'd like to hear from parents who have recent experience with their teens participating in Thunder Road's Intensive Outpatient Program (most recent archive post is 2008). Is there a strong one-on-one therapy component or is it mainly 12-step groups? My high school aged teen finally admitted that she's been drinking as well as smoking weed. She said she's ready for treatment (which she had refused when I discovered the extent of weed use); she wants to work with a therapist again. No longer Kaiser members unfortunately, so can't access its excellent teen Early Intervention services, but Thunder Road is a provider under my new insurance.

I don't know whether to pursue Thunder Road or similar outpatient program or look for an individual therapist who specializes in teen substance abuse and depression. Information on Thunder Road and/or individual therapists much appreciated.

If your daughter is ready that is the key. Therapists don't help -- in fact I believe they enable and get you off on the wrong track.

My son, 17, completed the out patient program in February of this year, but was resistant and never did click with the leader. I was disappointed that the leader did not control the group very well. It was very difficult to get in contact with anyone at Thunder Road or obtain any individual assistance. But it was covered by UBH. It's the only program in the area. Anonymous

I didn't respond earlier because I didn't have any direct experience with the Thunder Road outpatient program. But my son went through one month of their inpatient program (AND also private therapy). I suggest you ask your questions directly to the TR staff. They are good at answering such questions. Yes, TR does use the AA/NA 12-step program but that's just part of it. And everything they do is because they know it works. Most of the staff are recovering addicts themselves (the AA philosophy is that you can't ''cure'' addiction). In fact, many parents of addicts have themselves had some kind of addiction at one time or another, so for the inpatient program the PARENTS have to go to a weekly AA meeting at TR if they want to spend the full allowed visiting time with their kid. But that's not all the kids do that they wouldn't do with a therapist: they also learn how to develop healthy interests by doing fun things, and learn how to avoid the circumstances that led to their addiction. My conclusion: TR will probably give your kid more tools for recovery than a private therapist would in general. Mother of a teen with 2.5 years ''clean''

Oct 2008

Does anyone have any experience with the effectiveness of the outpatient drug treatment program at Thunder Road in Oakland? What does the outpatient program cost? Or thoughts on any other East-bay drug-treatment programs for teenagers. We're trying to figure out how to help our 16- year old son. Thanks, Anon

My son went through the out-patient program at ThunderRoad when he was 15-16. He was drinking and experimenting with many drugs at the time, though he still hasn't disclosed all he was doing. My husband and I benefited from the support of the staff and from the other parents and teens. It helped us keep him safe for another year. He is now 19 and I'm not sure if he feels it was beneficial. I know that he liked and respected the counselors very much and enjoyed the support of some of the other teens. He also started attending Narcotic's Anonymous meetings at The Gilman and that was helpful as well. Truthfully, he is drinking occasionally now at parties and with his friends and no longer attends meetings. We still worry about him at times but feel better knowing that he gained some insight and some skills with regard to addiction from his experiences at ThunderRoad and NA. As far as the cost goes, it was covered by my insurance so I can't say. Best wishes for your family, fellow traveler

May 2006

Re: Teen support group for marijuana abuse?
My son has had a good experience going to the Narcotics Anonymous meeting Wednesday nights (9:00pm) at the Gilman. ... We also benefitted from the out-patient and in-patient services of, but if your son is interested in quitting on his own NA may be enough support for him. Best of Luck another teen mom

September 2005

Re: Son, 16, drinks to get drunk - need suggestions
Our family is currently in the intensive outpatient program (IOP) at Thunder Road in Oakland (510-653-5040) after discovering our teenager was heavily using marijuana. They offer free assessments there...which may be an intervention to choose if you want an outside look at your son's situation from folks who are experienced (and to give him a strong message). ...

August 2005

We are considering the outpatient program at Thunder Road for our 16 year old who has been using/selling marijuana and needs some help. He doesn't need a residential program at present, but does need to receive a strong message, support and some education, as well as family work we can do. Anyone have experiences with the Thunder Road outpatient program OR any suggestions of other outpatient resources in the East Bay? Thanks. anonymous

I can highly recommend the Thunder Road program. Our son went through the out-patient program at our insistence. He did well for the first month, then started using again and we ended up putting him into the in-pt program for 3 weeks. This helped remove him from his using friends and showed him we were serious about his recovery. We are still participating in the aftercare program. We've benefitted from hearing about the experiences other families are having and what has or hasn't worked for them. The coordinators for the outpatient program are great at getting to the heart of issues in a non-judgemental way. They've provided us with much needed support with limit setting and the group has also provided my son with some non-using friends (a difficult task in Berkeley). We waited perhaps longer than we should have to intervene because drug and alcohol use is so prevalent in Berkeley that we figured in moderation it was unavoidable. Our son, however, sped right through moderation and really needed this intervention. It isn't a perfect program and requires a lot of time and effort from the familes and the users but it gave us invaluable support and education around drugs and drinking and we hope that whatever the future holds for us we'll have some skills for meeting it. I have also heard great things about al-anon (though I haven't yet gone) Check out their website to find a meeting in I think Danville that caters to parents of alcohol/drug abusers. Best of luck

January 2005

Re: can intervention succeed? 15-year-old doesn't think he has a problem
we tried a family therapist first, focusing on his use and the problems it caused [especially between him and his dad]. we also switched him to a small private school in berkeley [where they at least called if he was in trouble]. those interventions weren't enough -- after 2 ER visits, 2 overnight runaways, and getting busted for paraphrenalia at his new school, he went to thunder road.

my son did great at the thunder road inpatient program, aside from being angry at being sent there. i think a lot of the wonderful staff, and appreciated the parental involvement their program offers. insurance only covered 30 days, and that wasn't enough.

he went to the outpatient follow-up program for 2 months, and we parents also participated twice weekly -- and then he was flunked out of the program, because he tested positive several times and was wasted at home several other times -- and we kept finding drugs, research about drugs, home-made alcohol, etc in his room. we later learned that to retaliate for sending him to rehab, our son decided to try everything he could get his hands on after he got out of inpatient. there was a third ER visit while he was in the outpatient program. it was a nightmare. ...

Thunder Road did give our son a foundation for work he did later. it gave my husband and me a LOT of support and education, which gave us strength for the next phase. but i suspect the kids who do best there are the ones ordered there by a court, for 9-12 months, because it takes a LONG time to really break the cycle. ...

When my daughter was 14 we found her stash and it had ecstasy, adderal & pot so we called Thunder Road and went in immediately, with her, for an evaluation by a counselor. They separate the parents from young person and do an intake questionnaire orally with both parties. It's very serious and, I imagine somewhat intimidating for the young person. They recommended family therapy 4 or 5 evenings a week in a group therapy setting on their premises with frequent pee tests. It was really hardball and sent the message to her: you want to do drugs? OK, here's what happens in our family when you do drugs: we care and we're committed to your not doing them and cannot accomplish that on our own so will get help. She had been seeing a therapist who found it kind of overkill. We continued to send her to this therapist (very skilled and trusted by all involved) and were able to sort of avoid the TR and keep her in line. I think the evaluation scared her into compliance and so I found it to be a good tool at that level. She's been an excellent student since and created lots of opportunities for herself for college. I'm sure she experiments like they all do but she's a good, solid person whom I trust now. Anonymous