The Addiction Podcast - Point of No Return

Joanie Sigal

This podcast addresses hope and recovery successes for individuals, friends, family, parents and associates who have been or may be addicted to opioids, heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs, fentanyl, alcohol, etc.

These are stories and interviews with former addicts, parents and loved ones that describe the horrors and ultimately methods they have sought and found to save lives and help. We talk also with law enforcement, doctors, authors, sports figures, academia and advocates.

All Episodes

Admiral (ret) Sandy Winnefeld and his wife, Mary, founded SAFE (Stop the Addiction Fatality Epidemic) after their son died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.  They later hired Brandee Izquierdo - herself an addict in recovery - to run the organization.  Together they are making a huge difference in tackling the addiction pandemic.  Learn more here:  https://www.safeproject.us/

Nov 25

39 min 53 sec

A strong proponent of balancing advocacy and accountability, Dr. Kraft consults at the collegiate and professional levels championing the development of critical thinking skills in relation to mental health. As the founder and CEO of Camille Kraft Consulting, Camille has had the privilege of working with a first-turned-third round NFL draft pick and a former 14-year NFL veteran battling substance abuse. From 2020-2021 she served as the Commissioner for the Women's National Football Conference (WNFC) and most recently has been named to the Board of Directors for Pro Athletes in Recovery (Pro Air).

Nov 18

34 min 45 sec

Joseph Carlucci Adevai is Senior Pastor and Founder of Grace Church of North Brunswick, NJ. He is also the former CEO of Serenity Springs Recovery a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Edgewater, Fla. He worked on Wall St. for 25 Years and retired in 2009 as SVP of a $70 billion-dollar company. He pastors full time and still invests to support his family. He has been married to Alicia Adevai for 34 years and they have 6 children.  He’s the author of the book “A Reason to Live” available on Amazon.

Nov 11

27 min 22 sec

After spending almost 20 years struggling with addiction Paul finally made the conscious decision change. With 1 year left on his decade long prison stay he began to work on himself from the inside out. Through internal work and a shift in his mindset he has been able to stay clean while building a successful coaching business. Today he is able to help others become their best self though fitness, nutrition, and mindset coaching. Not only that but Paul has been able to share his story to others in need of guidance and help them see that they too can overcome horrendous situations and obstacles.

Nov 4

1 hr 13 min

Patricia Love is a professional life coach, NLP, EFT who motivates and builds confidence in women who struggle with being seen and heard in their personal or business lives. Turning her own life around from being broke and broken at 57, she made the decision to turn “Her Mess, Into Her Message.” Patricia Love's book – Seen and Unheard - delves deeply into how she ended up with a drug/alcohol problem due to her childhood upbringing, self-esteem issues, and more trauma that she encountered during her early to mid-adulthood (rape/physical abuse). Her mother ignored her when she was a little girl and was a 'closet' alcoholic and her father was an absentee traveling executive.

Oct 28

34 min 37 sec

Danielle Gregorich is an Arizona native.  She is an Air Force wife and a sober Mom of two children.                 She is a multiple suicide attempt survivor, a kidney cancer survivor, and a stroke survivor.                                 DG started writing about her sobriety publicly in 2018 after she suffered a massive stroke four months into her sobriety journey. ----That stroke took away her ability to speak, read, and write. Her speech therapist suggested that she write to stimulate her brain function to regain these abilities. She wrote authentically and raw about her struggles with sobriety, marriage, and motherhood. Writing quickly became therapeutic and played a crucial role during her first year of sobriety. During DG's first year of sobriety, she overcame multiple struggles and obstacles. Sobriety did not come easily for Danielle, but she embraced the suck of sobriety, with faith and hope that she would experience the miracle and the promises.                                 She wrote Stroke of Sobriety - The Essential Daily Guide - Embracing the suck of sobriety, in hopes that she will inspire someone to not give up before the miracle.  Her book is available for purchase exclusively on Amazon.  She will be publishing her second book titled: Stroke of Strength on 11.11.21.  

E

Oct 21

32 min 29 sec

Growing up in a small garden apartment community, Alan and his brother lost their father at a very young age.  Trying to manage in the wake of this tragedy alongside an emotionally destroyed mother and a brother who spiraled downward into mental illness, Alan navigated in the only way he knew how: throwing himself into before and after school jobs, playing baseball and going to the track to bet on the harness races - anything to stay out of the house. As baseball became increasingly important in his life, Alan found his way to college, playing baseball at the University of Miami and as a starting pitcher at the University of Tampa.  When arm surgery for tendonitis and bone chips reduced his pitching speed from 90mph to the mid 80's, Alan's hope of playing professional ball for a major league organization seemed lost. Still a talented pitcher, Alan signed a contract with a professional team in the Dominican Republic and played a full season. Realizing he had gotten as far as he could in baseball and living a dream, he joined the workforce.  After a series of interesting sales jobs, Alan decided to pursue another dream - harness racing - and took a course at the International School of Harness Racing at Roosevelt Raceway.  With no experience, Alan landed a job as a harness racing trainer in Maryland finally moving on to become a fully-licensed professional harness racing driver. From 1987 to 1995, Alan drove in harness races all over New York and New Jersey, making a name for himself as a regular driver on the circuit.  In 1995, after a couple of serious harness racing related accidents, Alan retired from driving. During this time, the pain of his dysfunctional upbringing caught up with him. Seeking relief from his lifelong feelings of anxiety and loneliness, he became addicted to cocaine in 1983, which ultimately caused him to lose it all including every relationship he ever had. Over a period of 24 years, Alan struggled with his addiction eventually believing that this is more than likely how he would die. In and out of rehab and countless meetings at Cocaine Anonymous and Alcohol Anonymous it wasn't until 2007 that Alan finally hit bottom.  Deciding once and for all to battle his inner demons, Alan was determined to become sober and change his life.  As of December 8, 2007, Alan got clean and remains sober to this day. With a combination of CA and AA, an amazing therapist and friends who believed in him, Alan is happier than he has ever been.  Today, he is the doting father of two daughters as he takes life one day at a time, enjoying every moment, drug-free.

E

Oct 14

46 min 27 sec

Dr. Gelfand is a board-certified rheumatologist with over 40 years clinical and teaching experience. Over the last three years he was involved with patient care and teaching rheumatology to a new Internal Medicine Residency Program of HCA in Myrtle Beach, SC, until he semi-retired last July, 2018 to devote most of his time to legal medical expert reviews of the medical histories of victims who have died or been harmed from the inappropriate prescribing of prescription opioids for chronic noncancer pain. Since 2010, he has been a founding member and the Rheumatology Consultant for Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing or PROP, the leading physician group in the nation addressing the opioid epidemic, as well as a medical advisor to a number of support and informal groups of people, many of whom have lost loved ones from opioid overdoses. A note from Dr. Gelfand:  It was Arthur Sackler, not Richard Sackler who marketed Valium to great commercial success. Richard was his nephew and the driving force behind OxyContin, but was a medical student during the earlier Valium and heroin epidemics of the early 70's when I was a medical resident. It is logical that he knew about the psychoactive potential of both benzodiazepine tranquilizers and opioids. Also, a series of articles just came out on the Comprehensive Pain Clinic of Myrtle Beach which I discussed in my interview. I posted a few on my Twitter account at:  Steve Gelfand, MD@SteveGelfand.

Oct 7

48 min 10 sec

John Luppo is a Modern Day Miracle.  He is a man who has endured much trauma, tragedy, and loss. His life is seriously what Hollywood Movies are made of. Raised on the streets of New York City in the borough of the Bronx in an Italian Catholic family he went on to become a very successful Wall Street executive. This led him to live a very fast life and all the trials that came with it. Alcohol, drugs, gambling and womanizing became the oxygen he breathed while becoming more and more successful, until his brother’s tragic death by overdose sent his life spiraling out of control and into rehab.   John stayed sober for 2 years, then a lifestyle of the Wall St. fast life got to him. The next 15 years his life was a roller coaster. He made millions and lost it, had 5 houses, numerous engagements and many girlfriends. With a life of being unfulfilled he came to his knees at 40 years old and got sober. He became dear friends with Pati Burke who was also in recovery and one day he found Pati dead from complications related to addiction. This tragic event inspired John to launch a great crusade in which he made a documentary called Modern Day Miracles. A movie about recovery from the disease of addiction dedicated in memory of Pati and John’s brother Robert Luppo.   John reached out to his childhood hero Darryl Strawberry who played for the New York Mets and New York Yankees, who also had his trials in the past from addiction, to be in the documentary. It was not until after further searching for God, John was at a dinner one night and a divine appointment happened. Darryl was in attendance and came up to John telling him about Jesus. In that moment John accepted Jesus and his journey with Gods love and grace started. Darryl also played an instrumental role in introducing John to the woman who he is blessed to call his wife, Chris Luppo.   John is on fire for God and has dedicated his life to tHe is an Ordained Evangelist Minister. John is also Darryl Strawberry’s manager and travels with him. Traveling across the USA to churches to tell their testimony in hopes to help others. John now has a Bible study on Wall Street, leading people to the Lord weekly. He has created companies centered around his faith that help those in need. John strives to make an impression on everyone he meets. From the homeless man he sees on the street, to the millionaire. From just paying for a meal, or saying God bless you, to leading someone to Christ. John always loves helping people be delivered into Gods gracious arms. John frequently speaks at prisons and also at schools to kids about overcoming obstacles and staying away from drugs. Because of John’s salvation, he now has a beautiful family, with two precious grandchildren, a great outlook on business and most importantly, a life filled of God. Miracles occur everyday and John is an example of this and what having a relationship with God will do in your life to bring you Eternal Salvation.

Sep 30

33 min 37 sec

Josh Torbich is the Executive Director of Christian Recovery Centers Inc. He also serves as the Director of the Ocean Isle Beach Celebrate Recovery and is the chairman of the Brunswick County Opioid Task Force. He holds a Masters degree in Education with an emphasis on Business Management and Christian Leadership. He was born in Johnston County, North Carolina to a great Christian mother and father. He excelled at a young age on the baseball and football field and proved to be a good student. At the age of 13 he began to experiment with drugs and alcohol which soon led to a full-blown heroin addiction by the age of 18. His attempt at managing his college studies with his heroin addiction and party lifestyle failed miserably. He finally reached the point in his life where he was ready to receive new instruction and in 2012 Josh made a decision to seek help for his chemical addiction. After having a genuine encounter with Almighty God, he experienced a call to service. As he began to find freedom for the first time in his life he developed a desire to help others experience this freedom. He has made it his mission to reach people who have been ravaged by the illness of addiction and show them a new path of freedom. Creating opportunities for others to receive a new hope for the future is what drives him.

Sep 23

43 min 19 sec

Manny Mendez received his school of hard knocks diploma in some of the hardest correctional institutes since he was a youth. After gaining his physical freedom he began a long journey to free his mind from the prison of addiction. Throughout all of this, his comfort came in the form of creating art. His work has been featured in many exhibits and recovery centers throughout the nation. Featured in several films through his national organization FoReel, Manny is a true inspiration.

Sep 16

35 min 44 sec

I am a family man with 7 children, six daughters and one son. I am a retired Police Officer who was run over on duty and ultimately retired from the injuries.  The injuries caused me to endure numerous knee surgeries and constant rehabilitation. To deal with the pain, I was prescribed Opioids. After months and months of therapy, the department and doctors made the determination that my injuries would prevent me from doing the job effectively and could place others at risk. It was decided that I would be medically retired from the department.  For the next few years, I struggled with being retired. The day after turning in my equipment, I felt ostracized and not a part of the brotherhood. I honestly felt like I lost my support team. I had not access to the building, I could not walk in and see my partners. They were busy and I felt they had forgotten about me. This was a huge blow to my ego. One day you’re chasing bad guys and the next you’re picking up your kid’s toys. It was a difficult transition. It was at this time, that my addiction took control of my emotions and I began to spin out of control, and I proceeded to self-medicate myself.  During the height of my addiction, I went through a very difficult divorce. I lost time with my children and made poor decisions costing me my children’s trust. The one thing people do not understand is that addiction destroys everything. Well I allowed it to destroy everything. I let it get out of control and I lost my way in the process. I made the decisions to hurt those I loved. I wish I could blame the addiction or the disease or my broken moral compass but ultimately it was me and I had to own it. Ownership is the only way to recover from an addiction. 11 years later, no relapses, no excuses! Thanks for allowing me to post my strength and hope!

Sep 9

36 min 6 sec

John Mabry’s story of addiction begins where most people’s end. At 22, he was involved in a horrific SUV accident that claimed his right leg as well as the life of his friend. (The vehicle flipped 10 times in less than 10 seconds.) It’s the sort of shocking, violent twist that takes place in Act 2 in most screenplays about substance abuse. Not for Mabry. This happened during the opening credits of his life story. It wasn’t until after John survived the accident that he found himself in a private hell of painkillers and alcohol that very nearly took everything he held dear. Years later, his bout with addiction has become the backbone of a remarkable recovery, which now sees him as a counselor, motivational speaker, triathlete (yes, you read that right), and a proud, married father of three who uses his past weaknesses as present strengths. It’s clear that John Mabry hasn’t simply learned to use a prosthetic leg so much as learn how to walk, fearlessly and courageously, through life. I also started working for a non-profit called the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which I still do some work with. They’re in San Diego. We raise money for people with physical disabilities access to sports. They’ve funded tens of thousands of dollars to me over the years for sports equipment and a running leg. In turn, I’ve been able to help raise money for things like wheelchairs for kids’ wheelchair basketball teams. It’s great to work alongside a charity with a meaningful purpose. I even got a master’s in counseling to get myself in a position to help other people.   Skydiving, triathlons, snow skiing. I continue to push myself physically. Crossfit took a toll on my good leg, which I have arthritis in. Now it’s boxing at Title Boxing, which has been challenging. Really good therapeutic outlet to let go of steam. I frequently quote Scent of a Woman, when Al Pacino’s Lt. Col. Frank Slade says, “There is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that.” I think so many people today struggle with disabling events in their lives that they don’t feel they can share with others or find the strength to face them. Maybe something in their past has caused shame, disappointment, or unmet expectations. Loneliness is a big one. Especially with millennials. Everything’s gotta look good on social media. All the filters. Or, “Oh, that angle didn’t work. Let’s try it again so I look thinner.” It’s really just about “If you’re struggling—it’s okay. It’s not ok to cover up your struggles by endlessly checking your phone, turning to food, toxic relationships, or any other addictive behavior. If you need help, ask for it.” You don’t have to work through your struggles alone.

Sep 2

45 min 42 sec

Behind closed doors, millions of people abuse opioids. Nicholas Bush was one of them. In this beautifully raw and refreshingly honest memoir, Bush boldly allows readers into his addiction-ravaged community. We see how heroin nearly claimed his life on multiple occasions, how it stole the lives of his young siblings and friends, and how it continues to wage a deadly toll on American neighborhoods—claiming thousands of lives and decreasing the average lifespan. But we also see that there is a way off of the devastating rollercoaster of opioid addiction, even for the most afflicted. Nicholas fights for recovery, claws his way out of a criminal livelihood, and finds his footing with faith and family, providing Americans with the inspirational story that is deeply needed today.

Aug 26

33 min 48 sec

While alcoholic falls from grace are as common as they are tragic, there isn’t often an Olympic pedestal involved somewhere in the story. Unfortunately for three-time Olympic champion Carrie Steinseifer Bates, her story has one in it. Her decades-long plunge into alcoholism didn’t just devastate her family and destroy relationships—it almost erased her monumental athletic achievements from memory. “When you have somewhat of a public life, your problems aren’t any worse or more dramatic,” she says, “but everyone in my community knew. And let’s face it: when you’re being put in the back of a police car at three in the afternoon when the school bus is dropping off kids, the gig is kind of up.” Bates, who first competed in the 1983 Pan American Games, realized that none of her gold medals mattered much if she couldn’t escape the long shadow that alcoholism cast across her life and remarkable career. At 15, Bates won gold medals in 4×100-meter freestyle and 4×100-meter relays, which she parlayed into Olympic wins the very next year. Beneath the brightness of her wins, though, something dark was percolating and about to rear its head. “I grew up in an alcoholic home, so swimming was my escape and my safe place—and I just happened to be good at it,” she noted. “That’s where I went to work out my fear and my anger. I took it all out in the pool and nobody can see you cry underwater, right?” Where that fear and anger informed her will, commitment, and singular drive to succeed in her competitive career, it later underscored a just-as-epic drinking career, too. “All the [sayings] that brought me my greatest accomplishments: ‘Don’t ask for help,’ ‘Barrel through it,’ ‘Bulldoze your way there,’ and ‘You’re strong’ became the same things that nearly killed me.” Bates first tasted alcohol on a 14-hour flight from Tokyo, which sent her off to the races (pun intended): “I was on an airplane and I was one of the youngest traveling with the national team,” she remembers. “Nobody was monitoring what we were doing. Not only did the drinking feel good, but it was more of a feeling like, ‘Oh my God. I finally fit in.’ I’d always had a sense of not being comfortable in my own skin.” (She drank enough wine coolers to vomit on the plane and pass out.) Still, her competitive swimming career continued after her ’84 gold-medal wins and meeting then-President Reagan. She attended the University of Texas, where she was a member of three NCAA national championship relay teams, not to mention representing the US at the 1987 Pan American Games and the 1989 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships. (She won gold medals for the latter two, as well.) And yet, alcoholism doggedly pursued her like a competitor in her own swim lane. “I don’t think I really crossed that proverbial line to alcoholic drinking until my late thirties,” she said. But when Bates finally crossed the line, everything came crashing down. “You have to remember I lived in a world that was about excess. Everything that we did was entitled and of excess,” Bates observes. “As elite athletes, we have this mentality that we work really fucking hard, but we play really hard, too.” And just as she did in the pool, with alcohol, she pushed the boundaries of what she was capable of. And while she later managed to get through two pregnancies without drinking, she knew that she was an alcoholic. “As I got older and was raising kids, I could definitely start to see that my disease was starting to progress,” Bates says. “I started to hide [my drinking]. I started to drink more than my girlfriends and more often, too. Eventually, it wasn’t just the quantity but the frequency.” It’s a story that sounds familiar to most any alcoholic, but it’s a particularly unsettling one for a champion who’d trained her entire life to be the best, if not quasi-invincible. Alcohol just wasn’t something she’d factored in. “I’d become everything that I hated in life,” she remarks, “and I didn’t even see it coming.” Soon enough, Bates found herself in AA rooms, even though she still struggled with hitting any honest stretches of sobriety. “Talk about driving the shame stake deeper into the ground,” she sighs, recalling the memory. “I was a complete fraud. I’d literally stand up and take coins when I knew I wasn’t sober. My life was so defined by my achievements that I was so afraid that people would find out my truth.” That truth was its own full-time job to conceal. Bates spent as much time drinking as she did maintaining the illusion that she had a perfectly manicured life as a wife, mother, and career woman. “If you could divide me into three [parts], there’s me as a sober, recovering, strong woman. There’s also the diseased alcoholic [who is] really sick and near dying. And then there is me as a successful athlete, great mom, and a good career. For a long time, I felt like they were three very different people and I couldn’t quite connect the dots, but in sobriety, I can.” Sobriety remained more elusive to Bates than an Olympic gold medal was to an ordinary person, though. “Elite athletes aren’t easy people to get sober,” she admits. “We have pretty big egos, usually.” Still, Bates had hit a bottom where suicidal thoughts, destroyed friendships and divorce waited for her, so she turned to treatment. That trip, though, wasn’t successful. “I wasn’t fully honest in treatment. I told the staff and the counselors what they wanted to hear,” Bates says. “I only told them parts of my stories because if I told my truth, I’d have to stay. I have a life to get back to, don’t you know? But I didn’t see how much that hurt me and my ability to stay sober.” Needless to say, her time in treatment didn’t work. She returned to treatment in 2012 after sitting at a kitchen table with two girlfriends, drinking alcohol out of a coffee cup. It was that moment when she decided to quit cold turkey, arranging for 90 days of out-of-state treatment. “And then went into this really, epic, dangerous withdrawal,” she says with a disturbingly cold, matter-of-factness that belies just how horrifying the experience must have been. “It was full DT’s: voices; hearing TVs that weren’t on; no concept of night or day. I was lucky I didn’t die, but I’m not so sure I didn’t want to die.” Years following treatment, however, Bates hasn’t just found sobriety—she’s found purpose. “I was sick of getting A’s in Treatment and F’s in Life,” she explains, looking back on decades of drinking with equal parts terror and awe. Now, she’s focused on being the best mother possible to her two daughters and making them “aware of what’s running through their veins.” She’s also taken a very vocal stance against the stigma of addiction, using her achievements as an Olympian for a greater purpose. While Bates respects the anonymity of others in 12-step programs, she’s dedicated to living out loud and helping others. “I talk about recovery openly,” she said. “It’s so much bigger than the medals. It’s about using this platform to help other struggling people who are ashamed to come out of their front door.” When Bates speaks about recovery, you can hear the passion in her voice: the electricity in between each syllable; the way she punctuates her sentences with confident periods. She doesn’t hit one inauthentic note. Bates is resolute when she describes being active with the California treatment center where she finally got sober—a place she visits frequently with her family. “I watch my girls tell other moms that their kids will forgive them, as they did me, if they stay sober. Those are my proudest moments,” she says. It’s particularly interesting to listen to Bates describe her recovery because she begins to speak with pronouns like “we” and “our,” rather than describing it as some sort of sad solo act. “My daughters aren’t ashamed of me and they’re not ashamed of our journey. We all own our story out loud and my kids have no interest in hiding the truth.” As Bates reflects, it’s clear that she’s come a long way from not only her drinking days, but an early recovery that found her “paralyzed by fear” and afraid to leave her house out of shame. Now remarried, Bates credits her “fabulous” husband for helping her achieve sobriety, saying that “he would walk in front of me until I was brave enough to be seen, in back of me in case I slipped, and next to me with pride when I was strong enough.” In many ways, Bates is as much a force of nature now as she was as an Olympic champion, if not more so. She recounts signing up for half-marathons, full marathons and Iron man competitions with enthusiasm and grace, not an unbridled ego ready to destroy other people. Bates isn’t broken by her past so much as she’s humbled by it. She’s keenly aware of the gulf between standing on the Olympic pedestal and lying on her kitchen floor. “I have the seen the world from a view that very few people will get to see in their lifetime: as an Olympian, a gold medalist, as someone who traveled the world,” she notes. “I have seen and done things a lot of people will never get to do in their lifetime. But I’ve also absolutely lived in hell on earth.” True champions never let the fire inside them die out, and Bates is no exception. For someone whose career was built on speed and endurance, it’s remarkable to see that Bates continues to outpace her demons, leaving them all far behind.

Aug 19

36 min 17 sec

In 2013, Kim Bellas' 15 -year-old started having seizures. Like most teenagers, he enjoyed going to parties and socializing. A significant aspect of these parties was the consumption of alcohol, and her son was unable to drink due to his seizures. As a mother, it was instinctive to make him happy by assuring him that alcohol wasn't necessary for him to enjoy himself. It IMMEDIATELY dawned on her how hypocritical she was being as she found herself frequently drinking wine. To prove a point to her son, she stopped drinking for 3 months. The time went by quicker than she anticipated, and she decided to remain sober for another 3 months. Following 6 months of sobriety, she found myself happier than she had been in a while. What started as an example for her son became something she decided to commit to for her son and herself. It's now 2021, and she has been sober for 8 years. Her goal is to demonstrate that a SOBER LIFE is an exhilarating one, and anyone can reap the benefits. Sober is the new cool – soberisthenewcool.ca

Aug 12

21 min 23 sec

Emily Souther's story:  At 16 years old I dropped out of highschool and got my GED.  I moved out of my home and got an apartment with my boyfriend.  I went to work full-time for my father at his landscape company.  I was a good kid who struggled in school and just couldn't do it anymore.  My parents had divorced a few years prior and at this time my mom and sister moved to Hawaii.  At this point in my life I didn't drink or do drugs.  I was trying to be an adult and that meant I had bills and responsibilities.  At 18 years old I found myself hanging more with the wrong type of people and this lead me to drinking and eventually trying weed.  After turning down trying coke so many times I finally have in and tried for the first time at a party.  I loved the way it made me feel.  I felt alive and on fire.  I knew it was my drug.  I only did it on weekends for the first few months.  Eventually that led to a few times during the week and then that quickly led to every day.  After finding my grandmother dead in her driveway my life quickly unraveled and I found myself smoking crack and doing everything I could to escape my pain.  In 2007 I led police on a high speed chase that ended in a car crash and with me on the 5' o'clock news.  This was my point of no return.  April 7, 2007 is the day I got sober and I've never looked back.  Today I am married to a police officer and I still work for my father as a landscaper.  I have a blog where I write to help those suffering from drug addiction and eating disorders.   

Aug 5

1 hr 3 min

Michael R. DeLeon, a successfully acclimated ex-offender who after nearly 8 years of drug addiction and gang involvement, spent 12 years in state prison and half-way houses for a gang-related homicide. Michael plead guilty in a very emotional and complicated case involving the murder of his own Mother by people tasked to kill him.  Since Michael’s release from prison, he has earned 3 Associates Degrees, a Baccalaureate Degree in Business Management, with a minor in Criminal Justice and a CADC Educational Certificate. Michael is now in the process of obtaining his Tobacco specialist certification from the University of Kentucky School of Nursing, his Masters Degree in Social Work at Liberty University School of Social Work as well as pursuing his LCADC. Michael DeLeon is on a mission: A mission to educate the youth to stay on the right path when it comes to serious life issues, especially drugs. He has become the #1 booked school presenter in the country. Michael is the founder and powerhouse behind Steered Straight Inc., a non-profit organization formed in 2007 upon his release from prison and designed to carry an important message to youth on the extreme dangers of drugs, gang involvement and associated criminal activity. Steered Straight’s program reaches out to children, teens and young adults with a message of reality about life-choices and the importance of consequential thinking so that they understand that there are consequences to their actions. The reality of the message comes from Michael himself, who was entwined in the life of drugs and traveled a troubling road to get to his future.  Throughout the country, Michael now leads a team of talented speakers who present a realistic and powerful prevention message.  His “no holds back” message resonates well with student assemblies, faculty and parents. Stay In Your Lane Media, the media arm of Steered Straight, was founded by Michael in 2012, and has produced four award winning documentaries, Kids Are Dying, An American Epidemic, Marijuana X and Road to Recovery. His fifth documentary, “Higher Power is currently in post-production. Michael has also produced multiple public service announcements, as well as educational and instructional videos on prevention and Recovery Michael founded a project of Steered Straight, Inc., called “The Recovery Army”. Recovery Army’s mission is to recruit everyone to wage war on this pandemic of addiction. He tours the country in a Recovery Army Tour bus, visiting communities with educational resources, films and books. He visits schools, prisons, jails, treatment centers, Churches and community organizations addressing each group with catered messages and presentations. He captures stories of Hope and Recovery and has produced over one hundred video stories on the Recovery Army Website. Every state in America has experienced Michael DeLeon – one of the most passionate prevention speakers you will ever encounter.  He is a member of many associations, committees and boards, but more importantly, he will take the time to answer questions from any youth and talk with anyone in his audience. Why? As Michael says, “I don’t want to just affect one kid; I want to affect them all.”    

Jul 29

35 min 9 sec

Dr. Stuyt is a board-certified Addiction Psychiatrist and has worked in the addiction/behavioral health field since 1990. She was the Medical Director for the Circle Program, a 90-day inpatient treatment program, funded by the state of Colorado, for persons with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse who have failed other levels of treatment from June 1999 to May 2020. She was instrumental in helping the Circle Program to become tobacco free in January 2000 and has been a strong advocate of the need to address all addictions at the same time, including tobacco, to improve outcomes. She has been actively incorporating complementary treatments into treatment programs, including the 5-point ear acupuncture NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) protocol and BST (Brain Synchronization Therapy), to help patients recover from addiction as well as trauma which often underlie addiction and chronic pain issues. Her current mission is to educate as many people as possible on the un-intended consequences of the commercialization of marijuana in Colorado, focusing primarily on the deleterious effects of high potency THC on the developing brain.

Jul 22

39 min 10 sec

Alcoholism is one of the biggest public health crises in the United States today, and it has been for generations. We know this because of the statistics and information on alcoholism and addiction that have been collected over the years, showing how alcohol and substance abuse have affected people across genders, ages, and socioeconomic statuses.   According to the CDC, six Americans a day die from alcoholism. Michael Blanchard knows all of this firsthand.  Blanchard nearly became one of those statistics.  A successful Fortune 500 CEO and family man, Blanchard had a hidden secret - alcoholism.  It became so severe that it landed him in jail, with three DUI arrests in as many months, and drove him close to suicide.  His marriage was crumbling.  Commitment to a psychiatric hospital, followed by a three-month stay at an Arizona rehab center that specializes in treating professionals — doctors, nurses, pilots and executives — began the turnaround for Blanchard.   Then he picked up the lens, taking prize winning photos.  The result is the award winning book, Through A Sober Lens that features both his photography and inspiration on how to overcome alcoholism with advice for others  He has been described as the Ansel Adams of the Recovery World by Recovery Today Magazine (https://siteassets.pagecloud.com/recoverytoday/RecoveryTodayMagazine-Issue72-_February2021-q8f6f.pdf).  Today, Blanchard donates profits from his book to non-profits that combat addictions and speaks around the nation about combatting alcoholism and how to do it.  He has tips on how to overcome alcoholism, as well as, how family members of alcoholics can deal with the issue. He continues with his photography that has captivated millions.    

Jul 15

36 min 50 sec

Bestselling author Christine Pisera Naman has been the mother of an addict, and she has an intense story to tell. Her latest book, About Natalie, is the true story of what it has been like for Christine to deal with the emotions of being a parent in challenging circumstances. She writes of her experiences and her feelings and her suffering along with her daughter. And how she came out the other side. Her works include Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11, Faces of Hope: Ten Years Later, Faces of Hope at Eighteen, Caterpillar Kisses, Christmas Lights, The Novena, and The Believers.

Jul 8

20 min 2 sec

Ryan David Leaf is an advocate for those struggling with mental, and behavioral health issues and encourages audiences to transform the way we think about mental health issues and addiction. Ryan works to eliminate the mental health stigma and says, "asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness." The former quarterback had a stellar career at Washington State, which included Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year (1997), First Team All-American, Sammy Baugh Quarterback of the Year, and Heisman Trophy finalist. He also led the Cougars to the ’97 Rose Bowl. Leaf was selected No. 2 overall in the 1998 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, and spent four years in the league. Ryan is currently the CEO and President of RAM Consultant, Inc. as well as program ambassador for Transcend Recovery Community. He also works significantly within the sports world as a college football analyst. Ryan joined ESPN in 2019, where he calls college football games on ESPN2 and ESPNU. He also hosts the Pac-12 radio show from 7-10 am PST on Sirius XM and is a regular contributor on SportsCenter.

Jul 1

31 min 1 sec

Brandon Jordan has been a professional musician all of his adult life. He founded the infamous punk band KillRadio (Columbia Records) in 2002 and toured the world with bands like Green Day, My Chemical Romance, and Rise Against, until his drug addiction made performing impossible. He got treatment with the support of MusicCares in 2007 and has been sober for more than a decade. Now, Brandon brings the power of music to those in need through Rock to Recovery. He works nationally with the Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) program and in the Los Angeles area with veterans, at-risk teens, and individuals in treatment for addiction or mental illness. He has written more than 3500 songs with those in the Rock to Recovery program. Currently, Brandon conducts 22 sessions a week, serving approximately 250 people. He also engages in solo music projects and plays with the Rock to Recovery band, Sacred Sons. 

E

Jun 24

49 min

Chris' story of addiction is one of the darkest and most harrowing that we have heard.  However, it is sometimes in the darkest hour that a person finds the light and turns his life around.  Chris did that.  After years of addiction and attempts to get clean, Chris now has two successful businesses and is a father.

Jun 17

1 hr 31 min

For the past ten years Cynthia Munger has devoted her time to the issues of substance use disease with special focus on Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family and their role in the opioid crisis. In 2019, Cynthia wrote and presented to Boston Opioid Spoon Conference a paper entitled, “The Web of Conflict.” Cynthia is a listed officer in the Opioid Spoon Project non-profit, one of the five person members of the Purdue Bankruptcy Ad Hoc Committee on Accountability, active member of Friends of Safehouse, Bankruptcy Legislation Editing Committee, POPN, Founding Member of Mentor Program Interim House, and an active supporter of the Sackler Act, among others. Cynthia was interviewed for an Italian TV opioid special and a major presenter in the soon to be released “Needles in the Hay.”

E

Jun 15

47 min 16 sec

Once involved in drugs, illegal activities and incarceration, today Jeff Nash is a role model for change as the CEO of Habilitat Hawai`i. A long term addiction treatment center which provides people a safe haven where they can transform their lives, Habilitat Hawai`i is like no other place on earth. Jeff has 4 years experience with private school high school administration as VP administration for Bending Oaks High School, Dallas Tx.

Jun 10

34 min 33 sec

Graduating at age 19 from NYU film school, Nick Jarecki began his career as the author of the best-selling book Breaking In: How 20 Film Directors Got Their Start, which introduced him to various figures in the New York independent film world, leading him to direct a documentary about indie filmmaking – The Outsider (2005). His first narrative feature as director, Arbitrage (starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth and Brit Marling), premiered at Sundance in 2012 to international acclaim. CRISIS, the second feature film from Nick stars Gary Odman and takes an uncompromising look at the opioid epidemic through three parallel stories inspired by real life events. A taut and alluring thriller, the tension- filled CRISIS puts a human face on the epidemic which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide and continues to rage out of control. 

Jun 3

38 min 42 sec

After overcoming homelessness and drug addiction, Adam Vibe Gunton became passionate about sharing the hope of recovery with those suffering similar experiences. With only two years of recovery, Adam had built a 7-figure business, began public speaking, and launched his now #1 Bestselling book: From Chains to Saved. For the year following that launch, Adam founded Recovered on Purpose and helped multiple other addicts/alcoholics in recovery (and one mother who lost her son to the disease) to write, publish and promote their stories into bestselling books. Adam’s mission is to continue to be the example of what is possible for those who recover from this disease while inspiring them to live passionate, purpose-filled lives that help others recover and deter future generations from going down the path of addiction. 

May 27

36 min 19 sec

After going from a strong, moral upbringing in Southern Oklahoma to a drug-related downfall that had him facing federal prison, Bobby Newman understands what those who are addicted feel and think. That’s what enables him to cut through the resistance and manipulative tactics of an addicted person and help them choose life and recovery. In the eighteen years since he completed a long-term drug rehabilitation program, he has educated more than a hundred thousand youth on the dangers of drug abuse and helped thousands of people with drug or alcohol rehabilitation. Many of those he helped with their addictions as a substance abuse counselor, now many more as a drug intervention specialist. Now, his focus is on doing interventions that turn situations from tragic to hopeful. When Bobby walks into a room full of family who have asked for help, he knows exactly how to cut through the emotion and confusion and establish ground rules to make the intervention a success. A successful intervention is so much about preparation. He’ll work with the family to ensure they have chosen a good rehab and cut off all avenues of evasion so their loved one has only one choice ahead of them — start rehab right now. When Bobby arrives, he has only one intention and that is getting that person in the doors of an effective rehab facility. His clear intention resonates with the family and gives them a boost in confidence and strength. Finally, they feel like this is going to happen, they are going to be able to save this person they love — this person they have feared they were going to lose.

May 20

48 min 31 sec

In his early years, Grant Cardone, creator of a billion dollar empire, was close to dying and strung out on multiple drugs. His story is one of strength and determination. From hospitalizations to decisions to quit that didn't happen to a final decision, inspired by his mother, to get clean that eventually lead him to turn his life around completely. Grant is known as a motivational and inspirational speaker, always seeking to get people to find the positive aspects of themselves. His "from the heart" story here will do nothing less.  Grant is CEO of Cardone Enterprises, Cardone Capital, an international speaker, entrepreneur, author of The 10X Rule & creator of 21 best-selling business programs. Grant owns & operates seven privately held companies and a $2B portfolio of multifamily properties. Named the #1 marketer to watch by Forbes Magazine, Cardone is also the founder of the The 10X Movement & The 10X Growth Conference, the world’s largest business & entrepreneur conference. More recently on Season 2 of the Discovery Channel's Undercover Billionaire, Grant was given $100, no place to live, no food, couldn’t use his name or contacts or social media to help him, and the challenge was to build a million dollar business in 90 days - if he comes up short he pays $1M. He also tells that story in this podcast. 

May 16

29 min 40 sec

Eric Protein Moseley, is a social impact documentary filmmaker/homeless advocate, director, author and business man who grew up in Detroit Michigan, dropped out of school, became addicted to drugs and other things, and used his shortcoming to become a motivation for those who don't have the inspiration to continue on with their dream, no matter what the circumstances. Moseley has been recognized as becoming the first to educate the homeless about The Coronavirus and turned it into a popular documentary called The Homeless Coronavirus Outreach which has made an impact in different regions of the world. A Father and daughter team up to educate the homeless about The Coronavirus. To their understanding, 5 out of 10 homeless we unaware of covid-19 Skid Row Journey Productions is the production company of Eric Moseley The company is named after a documentary and the experience of Eric Protein Moseley. In 1993, Eric Protein Moseley and his daughter Erica experienced homelessness all across the country (including on skid row) Those ordeals which allowed for him to see firsthand what it was like living on the streets of Los Angeles. After producing his first underground film Skid Row Journey, Moseley was allowed to surface by being involved in a homeless film titled Down but Not Out which aired on several PBS stations across the country and on other stations around the world. Moseley was also involved with other documentaries for which gained national attention and are in world distribution.

May 13

29 min 34 sec

David Sanchez is the founder and director of Los Angeles-based organization STRIKE OUT AGAINST DRUGS. Born in Redondo Beach, California, David Sanchez began learning about drugs at age 9 when a neighbor offered him marijuana. By age 15, he was using harder drugs that first led to juvenile jail and eventually to multiple penitentiaries. The turning points came in 2012 when he finally conquered his addiction, and then in 2014 when he began building on his own knowledge and studies of addiction, and on ideas to develop and keep communities healthier, safer, and free of drugs. https://www.strikeoutagainstdrugs.com/

May 6

32 min 10 sec

Camille Schrier, 24, grew up In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, before moving to Virginia to pursue her undergraduate degrees. In 2018, Camille graduated with honors from Virginia Tech with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Biochemistry and Systems Biology, and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University. In June of 2019, Camille was named Miss Virginia after breaking from tradition to perform the “catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide” as her onstage talent. Her unique talent performance and focus on women in STEM has sparked a positive reaction of inclusivity for the program as a whole. Camille’s story has been shared with hundreds of children and viewed by millions. She can be seen on national and international media outlets including The Today Show, Talk Stoop, CNN, BBC, The Kelly Clarkson Show, CBS This Morning, Inside Edition, The Weather Channel, Southern Living, Canada’s CTV, Germany’s RTL, and many more. On December 19, 2019, Camille earned the job of Miss America 2020 after competing live on NBC from Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. A certified Naloxone trainer in the city of Richmond, Schrier will use the Miss America national recognition to promote her own social impact initiative, Mind Your Meds: Drug Safety and Abuse Prevention from Pediatrics to Geriatrics. Most recently, Camille was awarded the Engineering Champion Award by the Phi Sigma Rho National Sorority for her work in promoting women in engineering and technical fields. Camille will travel over 300 days this year to share her message and advocate for change. https://youtu.be/trMv04544xc

Apr 29

32 min 57 sec

At 12 years old, Mark Owens started smoking pot. At 17 he started shooting coke and heroin. By the time he was 25 he had been to prison twice and arrested countless times. This chapter of his life ended when he was arrested for a bank robbery and dozens of other robberies in Maryland. After spending 6 months in solitary confinement for attempted escape, he figured it out. He was in prison for 4 years and 9 months and it saved his life. https://youtu.be/U-j9V6TgT58

Apr 22

1 hr 29 min

Arthur is the former Deputy Drug Czar for the United States during President Trump's period in office. He holds a PhD and is certified in trauma treatment. He is also a licensed professional counselor, licensed addiction counselor and a licensed drug and alcohol counselor. He has a story to tell. https://youtu.be/nX0pDbk1mIA

Apr 15

28 min 36 sec

Katie Sullivan has her own personal history with alcohol addiction. When she was a drug court judge in Colorado, she headed up a program that helped save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives by holding the addicts accountable and making it clear that they could leave clean and sober lives. More recently, Katie was appointed by Attorney General William Barr as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs. https://youtu.be/cndBnaL11U4

Apr 8

51 min 52 sec

Both Jeannie and Marcus Marshall have their own story of addiction. But both are in recovery - Jeannie for 35 years and Marcus for 9 years - and they are giving back to the addiction community with their Keys to Recovery Newspaper. Both have a passion to help. https://youtu.be/AWGrt0PEnCg

Apr 1

47 min 8 sec

When Peter Canning started work as a paramedic on the streets of Hartford, Connecticut, twenty-five years ago, he believed drug users were victims of their own character flaws. Although he took care of them, he did not care for them. But as the overdoses escalated, Canning began asking his patients how they had gotten started on their journeys. And while no two stories were the same, their heartrending similarities changed Canning's view. Check out "Killing Season" available on Amazon. https://youtu.be/G1148BJeBgg

Mar 25

30 min 1 sec

Roneet, Lev, MD FACEP was the first Chief Medical Officer of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Listen to this "no holds barred" episode about drugs, Narcan, fentanyl, marijuana poisoning and much much more. She has the facts, people. She works in an ER every day so she's on the front lines of the addiction pandemic.  She has her own podcast - High Truths.  Give it a listen if you want to be better educated on this global catastrophe. https://youtu.be/cqygBzNOrDM

Mar 18

38 min 4 sec

Julie Weintraub is president of one of the most successful family owned jewelry companies in the southeast - Gold & Diamond Source - with her husband, Steve. In 2010, Julie founded Hands Across the Bay, a non-profit organization that has quickly become one of the most notable and respected charitable organizations in Tampa Bay helping countless families in need. Julie talks about the connection between domestic abuse and addiction. https://youtu.be/1v5MitvsWp8

Mar 11

42 min 20 sec

Emily Walden's son, TJ, was prescribed opioids through his childhood during a series of operations. But he became addicted only once he started using OxyContin and moved on to the similar Opana. He was a 21-year-old member of the Kentucky National Guard when he died of an opioid overdoes four years later. Now Ms. Walden is the chairwoman of The Fed Up! Coalition with the mission to call for immediate, comprehensive and sustained Federal action to end the opioid addiction pandemic. https://feduprally.org/ https://youtu.be/AzAcAWyIzlM

Mar 4

34 min 2 sec

It seems more often that we speak to a parent who has lost their child to addiction. This story is a happy one - while mom, Laura, had her history of alcohol addiction and her son, Tom, had his history of drug addiction - both are clean and sober today. Recently they published a book about their story - Unraveled. https://www.amazon.com/Unraveled-Mother-Story-Addiction-Redemption-ebook/dp/B08LW575FV/

Feb 25

43 min 57 sec

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker and trainer, bestselling author, and noted authority on personal productivity and team performance. When her 19 year old son died from suicide after being addicted to marijuana for years, she became an activist and found of Johnny's Ambassadors. Johnny's Ambassadors educates parent and teens about the risks of today's high-THC marijuana.

Feb 18

48 min 21 sec

Ed Bisch's son, Eddie, died of an overdose of oxycontin in 2001. Ed didn't sit by and take it. He started researching oxycontin and it's manufacturer - Purdue Pharma; AND the family behind it - The Sacklers. He has been fighting this battle for years and doesn't see giving up until both the company and the family are made to take responsibility for the countless deaths due to oxycontin addiction and overdose.  Don't miss Ed on the MSNBC special - The Forgotten Epidemic.

Feb 11

51 min 7 sec

Will Grayson has been 30+ years sober. During those 30 years, he has dedicated himself to helping those trapped by addiction. Whether he was talking on the radio or meeting addicts one on one, he's changing lives on a daily basis.

Feb 4

41 min 30 sec

Mary Burns is a mother of three, a teacher and has become involved in addiction advocacy since her son’s death. She helped spearhead a walk called, Changing the Face of Addiction, to help change the stigma of addiction. She has also brought her advocacy to her local state senator and addressed the New Jersey Senate Budget Appropriations Committee about the need for a change to the addiction treatment protocol. She recently published hers and Eric's story in the book: Saving Eric. Available on Amazon.

Jan 28

38 min 37 sec

Charlotte Bismuth is a graduate of Columbia University, Columbia Law School, and Sciences-Po Paris. After joining the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, she began investigating Dr. Stan Li, a doctor who spent years supplying more than seventy patients a day with Oxycodone and Xanax, trading prescriptions for cash. After a tireless investigation, Dr. Li was convicted of two counts of murder and over 90 other counts. This is the story of Charlotte and her team's campaign to right a deadly wrong. Her book, "Bad Medicine" is the shocking story of New York’s most infamous pill-pushing doctor.

Jan 21

42 min 12 sec

We've talked about marijuana many times on the podcast and noted that quite a few of the former addicts started their drug path with marijuana. In this episode, Dr. Kenneth Finn from Colorado gives us the facts about the use of marijuana as pain medication as well as it's adverse effects on young adults. Dr. Finn used slides during his interview so we suggest you watch the YouTube version of this interview so that you get the truth, nothing but the truth and the whole truth about marijuana.  He's got the credentials and the science to back it up.

Jan 14

43 min 44 sec

After suffering childhood trauma, Tina Levene turned to alcohol and drugs to cope. Until she learned that if she shared her own childhood trauma with others that she might be able to help other children, her life was on a downtown. Now she is helping to set up recovery schools for high school aged kids in recovery. Florida Recovery Schools of Tampa Bay offers teens in recovery a safe environment to learn the life skills that everyone needs.

Jan 7

32 min 12 sec

Tiffany Jenkins is the funny lady behind “Juggling the Jenkins”. She has over 4.5 million Facebook followers and counting! Tiffany is a wife, mother, best-selling author, content creator and recovering addict. Although best known for her funny viral Facebook and YouTube videos, Tiffany is incredibly passionate about bringing awareness to mental illness. She speaks shamelessly, openly and honestly about her past and addiction, as well as her struggles with depression and anxiety and has been featured on national television shows like The Today Show and The Doctors. Tiffany shares her story of hope in jails, rehabs and high schools, and has traveled across the country headlining her own tour and helping others.

Dec 2020

35 min 13 sec