Overcoming Addiction and Building a Warrior's Heart

Overcoming Addiction and Building a Warrior's Heart

When I worked in nightclubs in Las Vegas, my wife Lisa was in law enforcement. We would joke that I'd get them drunk and she'd booked them in jail. That was the full circle.

It was fun and exciting, but it took a toll on me physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I'd go out drinking and just burn it down. One night, Lisa came home in her uniform and found me lying on the couch after a three-day bender. I looked up and saw she was as lost in my addiction as I was.

She wasn't out partying, but she still had her part in it by enabling and covering up with excuses. But not that night. She said: Either you go to rehab tonight or I'm going to divorce you. She was fed up. She knew if she continued down this path, I was either going to be dead or in prison.

What she didn't know is that I attempted suicide that night. I was done. I had my rifle and I was going to pull the trigger. Then I had a spiritual experience. I heard in my head: Not yet. There's more work to do. I went to rehab and started the healing processes in November 2001. My life changed.

Not only was I working on myself and treatment, but they had a good family program too. Lisa and I started healing together. When you hit rock bottom, you really have the greatest potential to rebuild your marriage.

Her ultimatum gave me a choice. Her strength pulled me out of the gutter. I went back to work at the nightclubs but I couldn't do it. I didn't want to be part of a problem anymore. I called up the owner of the treatment center I went to and I asked him to teach me about the industry. Lisa and I opened our own treatment center in 2002 in Salt Lake City. We were going to open in Vegas, but we thought, who in their right mind would go to Vegas to get sober? We’d lose them at the airport. We ended up opening six locations in multiple states before selling them to a private equity company in 2013.

We took some time off and asked ourselves about the future. We co-wrote The Social Capitalist: Passion and Profits – An Entrepreneurial Journey.

[Text Wrapping Break]We realized how many law-enforcement officers had come in for treatment and the folly of putting them in sessions with people they may arrest one day. We also learned how many veterans are dying by suicide.

We started a partnership with Tom Spooner, who runs combat training companies, to create a licensed accredited addiction treatment center that just focuses on the warrior class.

It's built around the culture of the military -- the police, firefighters, EMS guys that run to the sound of gunfire -- and it's working.

Since we opened in 2015, we've treated more than 840 people. We have detox inpatient treatment, which is a minimum of 42 days. Then we have outpatient and long-term sober living.

For thousands of years, we sent our warriors out for battle thinking like native Americans. When warriors come back, they tell the stories to the tribe. The tribe then takes on the burden collectively.

Nowadays, when you come back to civilian life without your team, it's a major crash physically, emotionally and spiritually. People substitute adrenaline by self-medicating with drugs, alcohol and sex.

Even if you stop drinking, you still relive the trauma. They have all this pain and you're not numbed by the medication.

If you think about World War Two, when they came back, there was a lag time of a month or more because they came home on ships. They got to decompress. Now it's 12 hours from the battlefield to home.

They're still in combat mode when people want to talk about the kids and groceries. The mind just can't process the change fast enough.

When our guys come to us, getting them off drugs and alcohol is just the beginning. They have lost their spiritual connection. Addiction is running the show and they don't even understand what they’re doing. The true person just can't stop it and it hurts them. Treatment brings that spirit back. You see it in their eyes -- BAM -- welcome back.

That's why tell them when they come into our program “Welcome Home!”

This is so important we expanding to 100 beds, then we're going to take the company to 1,000 beds. What's the next mission? We find jobs for these guys in military veteran-owned companies that have great leadership and that that resonates with them.

After they complete the program, our guys are setting up their own Warriors Anonymous chapters in their communities.

You can find us on Warriors Heart. We also have the Warriors Heart foundation. That's the non-profit where incredible Americans can help out a warrior who calls us and says: “I have no money or I don't have VA benefits or I don't have insurance.”

Original publish date: June 01, 2020