Sobriety Safe Haven in the Sierras

Sobriety Safe Haven in the Sierras

September represents both National Suicide Prevention Month and National Recovery Month. Our client, The Differents, lives up to its name. Tucked away in the foothills of the Sierras, the family home turned healing space provides assistance with the well-known battles of substance abuse and mental health challenges.

Nestled in the mountains and serenity of nature near Lake Tahoe is a place offering a unique experience for people battling addiction. The Differents, which has been in operation for four months, provides firefighters, EMTs, police officers, and many others from diverse backgrounds a chance to regain their lives through its inpatient and outpatient programs. Just driving up to the property off Mount Rose Highway brings immediate tranquility: peace, reflection, optimism.

“We have nothing like this in Reno. We would always send folks to Arizona, Utah, Oregon, and California most frequently. They have facilities that were asked for their level of care and need,” said Brandon Cassinelli.



A Person Sitting By A Window Drinking Coffee And Looking At A View Of Mountains 683x1024 1



The Personal Stories

As a former Reno police officer and alcoholic, Cassinelli knows just how beneficial The Differents can be for those in need of its services.

“I happen to believe that most addiction is attachment cancer. It’s a tearing of an attachment to other people, not just our primary attachment figures like mom and dad, but a sense of belonging to humanity,” said Cassinelli.

Cassinelli decided to transition into the role of a clinical therapist after retiring from the police department. He has witnessed the impact of alcohol on himself, his colleagues, and his family.

“It took my brother’s life. He was an officer in Winnemucca for just a couple of years, but very shortly thereafter, he died in a DUI rollover. So, that was a big part of my decision to go back to school and change the course of my life personally, and try to make it more congruent.”

Now, Casinelli helps organize group sessions, holds appointments with clients, and builds programs for the treatment center. He credits the birth of his daughter as one of the reasons he decided to turn his life around.

“That’s when things really started to become so much more real. I was able to come back completely. She helps me get so much out of my own way, that I recognize what’s truly important,” he adds.

He feels like his purpose has been fulfilled now that he is on the healing and treatment side of addiction; “It’s like a hand fitting into a glove. So, it feels like my being in the world is being realized.”

Casinelli hopes his struggle and redirection resonate with current and future clients. He wants more first responders to accept the challenge and remove drugs and heavy alcohol consumption from their lives. He believes the space inside the home and the serenity outside of it will get more addicts to see the true meaning of living. “You feel profoundly alone when you’re deeply addicted to a substance because all you have is the substance to keep reconfirming negative and unhealthy patterns,” said Casinelli.



A Pool Table With A Fireplace In The Background 1024x683 1



The Foundation

At The Differents, the goal is to facilitate an environment that reconnects drug and alcohol abusers with nature by incorporating traditional methods with a holistic approach. There are nooks for reading, meditation, journaling, fitness rooms, a full kitchen, and laundry facilities, a full basketball court, lanes for bowling, and countless balconies and outdoor spaces for contemplation, healing, and magnificent views. All encompassed with large and gorgeous windows that offer a smile-inducing view in every direction.

“In order to really work with someone on their mind and mental health, we need to take care of the body. We need to take care of that soul. So, we built a program that addresses each aspect of the individual in order for them to overcome the challenges they’re facing,” said John Hanrahan, Founder and Chief Operating Officer at The Differents.

Ultimately, with this integrated care at The Differents, patients will be guided through various steps that could significantly impact their well-being.

“It’s really just redesigning your life and reigniting your passions. I believe very much in the connection of humans with nature,” said Hanrahan.

Programming at the facility is activity-based, giving clients the chance to take advantage of the spectacular views around the property. The 18,000-square-foot facility is equipped with 10 individual suites. Hanrahan says this allows for a hands-on custom approach to assist individuals at whatever level of recovery they are facing.

“The environment itself became part of the therapeutic aspect. Camaraderie is built through everyone being in communal spaces, engaging in full table activities. ‘Let’s go up to Tahoe together and stare at that beauty,'” said Cassinelli.



Big loft room with exposed beam ceiling and light blue comfy couch with a view of outside landscape of The Differents and mountains 1024x683 1



The Brand

The team says Mabble has been essential in translating its message through branding to reach some of the area’s most vulnerable people.

“They were really flexible and patient with us. As a startup, we have a million ideas that go in every direction, and they really did a good job of harnessing our chaos into something manageable,” said Hanrahan.

Currently, The Differents is increasing its focus on first responders. But the team knows Mabble will be critical once they expand to include more sectors, like journalists. They say Mabble completed tasks to their liking, and now their messaging, branding, and website are getting even more attention.

“They were really creative in helping us break down industry norms and defining what represents us,” said Hanrahan.



Person lifting a bowling ball from the pinsetter about to bowl 1024x683 1



The Journey

Even when clients transition back into the real world, The Differents plans to utilize its resources to stay connected with clients and offer continued support as they navigate life beyond the facility.

“We want everyone to feel that there’s a direct line, that they can call us in a critical situation to get help in that exact moment. We are working on enabling virtual attendance at meetings and sessions here as well, so they can benefit from our clinicians and the different support we offer,” said Hanrahan.

As The Differents grows and more people learn about these efforts, its team hopes to bring in more potential clients, regardless of their financial status or profession.

“We are developing a scholarship program and will be launching a major fundraising event, at least once a year, if not twice a year,” said Hanrahan.

If you want to learn more about sobriety and the services offered, visit