Company History

A History of Treatment Success

Company History

Combining Revolutionary Ideas

At the core of the success of Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers from our very beginning is the coming together of two revolutionary ideas. The first idea is an entirely new medical model, that addiction is a primary, progressive, and entirely treatable physical illness. The second is the comprehensive application of this clinical model in a broad-based continuum of care for patients and their families and communities.

A History of Treatment Success

First advanced in the late 1960s by Dr. James R. Milam, the research director for a large pharmaceutical company, the disease model of addiction counters and discredits the tragic, fundamental error in our worldwide cultural conception of addiction as a moral “weakness” or psychological “defect.” Through the 1970s and early 1980s, Dr. Milam tested and developed his original nationwide clinical treatment program, headquartered at the present-day site of LMRC. His landmark book, Under the Influence, was published in 1981. It endures as the definitive publication for lay readers and clinicians alike. Having sold over one million copies, it is classified by Bantam Books as “a classic.”

Early in the same period, Charles H. Kester, head of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services for Seattle-King County, Washington from December 1969 to April 1983, became acquainted with Milam’s successful model. Mr. Kester recognized its potential for revolutionizing addiction treatment, and he expanded its application by introducing it in publicly administered, community-centered treatment programs for Washington State residents. He was an early proponent of the network concept and first to build a network of outpatient clinics in King County. The Carter administration later studied the new network as a successful model of effective, community-based treatment.

Family Involvement

A key component, in Mr. Kester’s view, is the involvement and education of family, friends, and communities in every patient’s recovery. The next step was to broaden the application of the new treatment strategy and longer treatment period. This would be accomplished via a network of fully-functioning community clinics for complete outpatient treatment programs and for residential follow-up care. These satellite clinics would surround a central facility providing intensive inpatient programs for patients in need of residential treatment.

Proven, Effective Addiction Treatment

Delivering care that utilizes the same philosophy and medical model in all clinics and treating patients to the extent possible on an outpatient basis in their own communities proved both clinically successful and cost-effective. Results for patients were remarkable, and in 1983, these pioneering men together established the Milam Recovery Centers. Later, Mr. Kester assumed full stewardship and the successful 40-year evolution continues forward today with Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers.

Our Foundations

The foundation of Lakeside-Milam’s growth and success is our nationally recognized clinical program, which cooperates completely with such 12-step programs as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Our understanding of the disease of substance use disorders is unsurpassed in the field and is unique in emerging directly from its source. In 2023, Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers was recognized by Newsweek Magazine as the #1 Addiction Treatment Center in Washington state. Lakeside-Milam was one of only 200 treatment centers nationwide to make the list. In partnership with Statista, Newsweek utilized data provided by SAMHSA and surveyed thousands of addiction professionals including medical doctors, therapists, and counselors to select the best treatment providers.

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers has enjoyed continuous accreditation by The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) by receiving the highest level of approval since the early 1990s. In 2019, Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers became one of the first centers in the nation to receive an American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) certification. This certification indicates the dedication of the center to providing consistent and evidence-based care.

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers is currently recognized by insurance companies for the highest quality of behavioral health treatment. This recognition includes being a Center of Excellence with Regence, Premera, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Cigna, Aetna, and Optum have also recognized Lakeside-Milam with similar programs.

Lakeside-Milam’s message and treatment model is highly regarded and relied upon by public and private organizations as a key adjunct to their own services. LMRC works with major Washington hospitals to assist with substance use disorder emergencies and the triage of patients. We deliver training for doctors, nurses, and other professionals in the field. We provide drug-free workplace services including policy development, program coordination with unions, and supervisory training programs. We work with justice systems and their representatives in court-monitored treatment programs.

Most important to the people we serve, though, and a fundamental strength that sets our program apart, is our history of abiding commitment to providing effective treatment based on the disease paradigm of substance use disorders. Again and again, our patients prove that bodies, spirits, mental health, and lives are healed when rid of the cultural accusations of guilt and shame and when supported by good nutrition, reeducation, medical care, and dedicated multidisciplinary teams, including masters level mental health professionals, of LMRC treatment professionals, many of whom are themselves in recovery.

Since treating its first patients in 1983, Lakeside-Milam has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals and families suffering from substance use disorders. We serve patients from the Puget Sound region and throughout the country. Beginning as two revolutionary, synergistic ideas, the Lakeside-Milam treatment model has evolved to become one of the largest private providers of substance use disorder treatment in the western United States.

We believe we offer the finest, most effective treatment anywhere. Our history attests to it, and to the belief that anyone still suffering from substance use disorders will find hope and help at Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers.

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