My dad, Chris, and I opened Passages Malibu in 2001 and Passages Ventura in 2009. Since then, it’s been our honor and privilege of guiding thousands of people
toward permanent recovery from their addictions. However, you may not be aware that the Passages treatment philosophy developed from my own firsthand journey to hell and back.
For 10 miserable years, I was hooked on heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. In those days, my behavior was unimaginable. I lied, stole, cheated my friends and loved ones, pawned my possessions, conned credit card companies, and passed bad checks. Very soon I had nothing left. I began stealing heroin from dealers, and I was eventually caught, beaten, and hospitalized. You might think that nearly being killed would stop me from using, but it didn’t. I continued year after year until I had no friends, I alienated my family, and what little health I had left was at risk. There was a dark moment near the end of my run when I was standing barefoot in the street, trying to sell my shoes so I could buy heroin.
Throughout that horrifying time in my life, I continuously tried to get sober. I attempted to detox myself at home, went to countless AA meetings, and attended multiple 12-step treatment centers. None of it worked. Out of grave concern, my dad even took me to a remote cabin in Big Sur for nine months. Within hours of returning home, I started using again. If the substances were clear from my system and I stayed away from drugs, why did I still have this underlying need to numb the pain festering inside me? No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t overcome my addiction. Now I know exactly why I failed; the only option for recovery was an outdated treatment philosophy based on the “disease concept” and 12-step methods.
My drive to do drugs was powerful. I was trying to cope with the daily agony of my underlying issues which, in my case, were low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. I was using drugs for the same reason most people do – I was trying to get away from my problems and avoid feeling the emotional pain they brought me. After so many years of wondering why I was doing this to myself and my loved ones, I realized it’s not just about quitting drugs and alcohol; it’s about learning “why” you use and then healing the inner source of your destructive behavior.
After this profound realization, I imagined the kind of program that focused on the individual, offering lots of one-on-one therapy, that didn’t preach the disease concept, and did not tell me that I was doomed to be an addict for the rest of my life. I searched and searched and eventually discovered that this kind of program didn’t exist, so my dad and I built it ourselves. Because of this new philosophy, I celebrated 12 years of sobriety in September 2012.
Before sobriety, my world was in perpetual turmoil. I experienced no real joy in my life, I was constantly sick, and I wasn’t forming any quality relationships. Now, I spend my days calm, settled, and at peace. I am happy, healthy, and have the opportunity to raise my daughter and watch her grow up. I finally have my power back. I don’t have addiction looming over every moment in my life, and I know you can attain that kind of freedom too. You don’t have to live one day at a time – you can live your life whole; completely and without reservations.
My greatest hope is that my story will inspire people to change the direction of their lives and overcome addiction. If I can do it, you can do it too.