How It Started

Pemarro History

Pemarro Recovery was founded by Peter O’Leary, Mary Joyce Paullus and Ron Wynn, who felt strongly that there was a need for a more intensive and longer-term program to help those people who, due to factors we now know as co-occurring mental health issues, had a more difficult time recovering and were prone to relapse (then referred to as those “reluctant to recover).
These three friends were passionate and devoted to the treatment of alcoholism and addiction for populations who had been historically marginalized and had lost hope in being able to recover. Pemarro started in a house in Imperial Beach, California before finding its home in Ramona, California (about 30 minutes from San Diego) in 1984.
Residents of the 3-to-9-month program were treated using the CENAPS Relapse Prevention model developed by addiction specialist Terry Gorski. CENAPS is a method of treating addiction and coexisting mental health issues, as well as situational life problems. This holistic approach combines addiction-specific treatment methods with cognitive, affective, behavioral and social therapies. While this model is widely used now, Pemarro was a pioneer in promoting this treatment philosophy.
The 10-bed detox facility has always been a compassionate caring environment for those with alcoholism, alcohol addiction and drug addition who struggle to stay sober in 12-step programs and/or typical 28-day rehabilitation programs. It is a safe haven for those who feel marginalized and sometimes even discarded by the mainstream addiction treatment community.
In 2012, the decision was made to transition Pemarro Recovery from a residential treatment program to a detoxification and stabilization program. As such, Pemarro was one of the first sub-acute, medically supervised detox programs in California. It became difficult to raise funds for this type of program, but the Board was very committed to keeping Pemarro open. Several of those Board members had personal connections with Stepping Stone of San Diego because of family and friends who were helped by that program. Both Boards already thought of each other as sister organizations, so in 2019 when Pemarro was looking for a partner to merge with, Stepping Stone was a natural choice, and the two organizations joined forces under the Stepping Stone family of services. 
Pemarro Recovery Center now provides quality detox, stabilization, and short-term residential services emphasizing the importance of relapse prevention and discharge planning for individuals looking for help with alcohol detox and drug detox. .