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Dr. Rafael Penunuri

Dr. Rafael Penunuri, MD: Genuine & Healing Humility

Dr. Penunuri brings over 30 years of experience in addiction medicine, establishing himself as a trusted figure in Southern California’s medical community since 1985. Board certified with the American Board of Addiction Medicine, Dr. Penunuri is also an esteemed member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, graduating from UCLA School of Medicine.

As the Medical Director for Adelante Recovery Centers, Dr. Penunuri oversees all aspects of a client’s medical care, including their detox and all ongoing medical issues related to their treatment. As a well-known and respected physician at the substance abuse program within Hoag Hospital, Newport Beach, Adelante clients gain an added layer of support when and if temporary hospitalization is required for their care.

Spanning more than three decades with practices throughout Southern California, Dr. Penunuri’s addiction medicine focuses on treating real people without labels or judgment. “Human beings are vulnerable to chemical dependency, period. My job is to treat people suffering from addiction, not drug addicts.”

 

Built from this philosophy, Dr. Penunuri specializes in safe and supported medically assisted detoxification for both substance abuse and non-substance abuse clients—extending his expertise to individuals wishing to detox from prescribed narcotic pain medication.

Dr. Penunuri has always been a strong advocate for individuals seeking alternatives to prolonged pain medication, and is well respected by the senior population of Orange County for his treatment and guidance toward alternative pain management solutions. Dr. Penuniri perceives the disease of addiction as a profound and complex problem in our society. He recognizes the ongoing and progressive need for a greater capacity in healthcare to assist more individuals in need. He takes pride in contributing to what he considers a noble and significant mission.

Despite the demanding hours of his work life, Dr. Penunuri prioritizes spending quality time with his family, particularly his grandchildren. His hobbies include skiing, racquetball, and soccer. Additionally, he enthusiastically identifies as a pickleball fanatic,  playing the sport three to four times a week.

If you were to ask any of the thousands of patients he has seen over the years, they would all tell you that Dr Penunuri’s greatest medicine is his personality. Dr. P, as he is commonly referred to, exudes an unassuming and gentle nature that brings calmness to even the most challenging situations. He is always inclined to see the best in people, making everyone feel valued. It’s highly unlikely to spot him in anything other than a Hawaiian shirt and casual attire. Although incredibly busy, he always finds time to follow up at the end of each day. A genuine healer.

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With an uncompromised focus on client care and staff care, Bill brings over 15 years professional treatment experience to Adelante’s leadership team. Building from over a decade of director level management with Detox and Residential operations, Bill helped co-found Adelante Recovery Center and currently serves as both operations and program director for the facility. 

Empowered by his own journey of recovery, Bill strives to lead by example, maintaining the highest degree of compassion and professionalism for the clients under his care. With an earned reputation as a trustworthy and respected leader, Bill’s management style is one of support and service to the team while promoting physical, emotional, and spiritual health for allclients and staff. 

Through his experience as a Certified Addiction Counselor, Bill’s approach to client care is about understanding the person first, and then treating them. In his own words, “It’s extremely important that we deliver dignity by listening, seeing, and appreciating our clients as individuals first, and then creating a treatment plan based on that unique understanding.” 

As a core belief, Bill is passionate about the welfare of families and deeply concerned about the disintegration of the family unit in society. He sees the healing and unification of families as a crucial part of recovery and works tirelessly toward this goal.

In his leadership role at Adelante Recovery Center, Bill is known for his humility, non-judgmental character, and ability to meet clients where they are. His approach to earning respect is rooted in understanding and acceptance, making him not just a leader but a source of hope and inspiration for many. 

Bill’s past as an all-star baseball player was cut short by his addiction, but that hasn’t dampened his love for sports. Today, he is an avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys, the Dodgers, the Lakers, and the Kings, finding joy and relaxation in the thrill of the game.

A native of Orange County, Bill is a family man at heart, cherishing his time with his daughter, niece, and granddaughter. He enjoys the company of his beloved pets, Baxter the dog and a ragdoll cat, reflecting his warm and nurturing personality. Outside of work, Bill is dedicated to maintaining his physical and spiritual health, often found at the gym, enjoying a healthy diet, and attending church.

With a past that saw him overcoming personal challenges, including a journey through addiction and recovery, Bill has emerged with profound understanding and empathy for those he serves. As the team leader, Bill’s humility and non-judgmental character resonates throughout Adelante Recovery Centerempowering the staff and the clients they serve.