So today we’re going to have a cool one, I think. I love it. And we’ve all just been having a very brief chat because we didn’t want to get too much into it before we started, but we are going to be talking about what it is to live a life of recovery, get into a life of recovery and then to go into the treatment industry to work in this field, which is for some people, and I think we would all agree that it’s a blessing beyond blessings to be able to do something we have a normal passion for, to earn a living doing something you’re passionate about it, I think is rare in this world.

Transcript

Rich Hession:

Hi, I’m Richie Hession. I’m the CEO of BlueCrest Recovery Center and this is [inaudible 00:01:52] … BlueCrest podcast, and joining us today. So thank you for all eight people that are out there watching us, we appreciate you. Actually, [inaudible 00:02:03] now, so Nikoleta, you get a little nervous. There’s a lot of people that watch now. And anybody who doesn’t see it now, like literally I think 8,000 views last time. So just throwing a little extra pressure on you to do a good job.

Nikoleta Danicic:

No pressure.

Richard Hession:

So today we’re going to have a cool one, I think. I love it. And we’ve all just been having a very brief chat because we didn’t want to get too much into it before we started, but we are going to be talking about what it is to live a life of recovery, get into a life of recovery and then to go into the treatment industry to work in this field, which is for some people, and I think we would all agree that it’s a blessing beyond blessings to be able to do something we have a normal passion for, to earn a living doing something you’re passionate about it, I think is rare in this world. It shouldn’t be, but it probably is. And I feel blessed that I’m able to do it and other people try to do that and it doesn’t work out very well.

And so, one of the overarching, which we’re going to come back to and we’re going to get into, but one of the overarching themes of this is that three out of four, because really what do we have this for? People are going to watch us. You get what you get out of any kind of podcast, but a lot of people, young in recovery, look to become counselors. I think it’s part of human nature.

I believe that people are mostly good. I am not a pessimist or a cynic. I believe most people have that. And when you get sober, it’s like that charcoal cupboard dirt grime covered, dirt grime covered perfect diamond that we had when we were born, gets covered with a lot of yuck as we get older, and the fear, guilt shame, the misery of addiction and alcoholism, coal covered up. And eventually, you get sober and you start cleaning that off a little and some of that diamond starts shining through. And when it does, I find that people want to help others. I think that’s a natural innate part of a human being. Most human beings on the planet is we actually do want to help people. And when people get an early recovery, it comes out a lot, there’s a lot of people who do.

And so anybody watching that’s new to recovery, you may be thinking to yourself, “I’d like to be …” Well, one of the overarching warnings, right? The caution labeled at the bottom of this one is three out of four people who do try and do it relapse. So that’s the real deal. So you got to be mindful and careful, what are you doing? Why are you doing it? Motivations, the plan, how you go about it, if it’s right for you. And we’re going to talk a little bit about all of that. So today, joining us, I’ve got Nikoleta Danicic.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Correct.

Richard Hession:

Did I say it right or no?

Nikoleta Danicic:

You got.

Richard Hession:

You sure, right?

Nikoleta Danicic:

Nobody says it right.

Richard Hession:

Yeah, but I want to say it right.

Nikoleta Danicic:

It’s from another country, but …

Richard Hession:

Pronounce it right.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Danicic.

Richard Hession:

Danicic.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Yeah.

Richard Hession:

See, there you go. Nikoleta Danicic. I like to say it right, because that’s what you are, beautiful. And she is the director of Milestone House. If you’ve not heard of Milestone House, I’m a big fan. They are out in Dover, and they are rockstar. Milestone is kind of works in tandem with Excel Treatment Facility-

Nikoleta Danicic:

Yes.

Richard Hession:

… and they are amazing. They have a true sober community out there. I’ve always been a fan of your guys. We refer people out there when we’re appropriate, so … And Mike Frank, I love Mike. He’s amazing. Mike Frank, who runs the joint, is going to be here on our next podcast, and the topic will be announced. I’ve got Paul Hart, he’s a behavioral health technician and supervisor at our very own BlueCrest Recovery Center. Wait until you hear about Paul. He’s one of my favorites. He’s a fan favorite at BlueCrest. He’s a great God guy, man. And I’m all about that. And then we’ve got Stephanie Davis, is it? Stephanie Davis, the easiest one to pronounce.

Stephanie Davis:

I know it’s hard. It’s hard to get that one right, I know. I know.

Richard Hession:

Stephanie, she is the regional manager for RCA; Recovery Centers of America, for anybody not in the know, but I think everyone in the world probably knows what RCA is by now. And she’s the regional manager for all of New York and all of New Jersey. So anybody out there and that needs help and you’re looking to reach out to someone, she runs their outreach and in anything in New York and New Jersey, if you want help, that’s the girl to call, or she could put you in touch with the people who you should be calling at RCA.

And me of course, I’m Richie, I’m the CEO of BlueCrest, and that’s it. So reminder, which Kevin makes me do, you can listen to this podcast on our website, bluecrestrc.com. You can subscribe on the major streaming platforms; iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube. Anybody who is on YouTube, if you’re listening, feel free to sign into your YouTube account. That’s the only way you can leave a question or a comment, is signing into your actual account, and then they’re able to give questions. We’re going to ask Nick if there’s any listener questions or comments throughout the show. Nick will read them out to us. You may like some of them and you may not like others, but we’re just going to throw it out there regardless.

Nick, are you around? Nick’s not here now so it’s very unlikely we’re actually going to get the questions but he will be here in the background somewhere. He’s always here hanging in the background. And that’s it. So how we decided we were going to get this thing started was I’m going to have everybody go around, I haven’t told anybody what the order was going to be.

And I was going to pick Nikoleta first because she’s the most nervous and I still might because I haven’t decided yet, but we’re all going to go. We’re going to do this almost like a what it was like, what happened and what we’re like now leading us up to working in the treatment field. And then we’re going to kind of bounce back and [inaudible 00:07:11] some highs and lows and cautionary tales. And I’m sure a lot of stuff will come up just naturally on its own. But we’re going to ask everybody to do a little background of where they come from; experience, strength and hope. Just shortened version of this story. If you can include how long you’ve been sober and how long you’ve been working in the treatment field kind of as you start to tell your story to kind of set the stage for everybody.

And then if you can give us five to eight minutes of kind of who you are. And that way, everybody watching can kind of know who this is sitting here, talking about the topic, that would be great. And why don’t we start with Stephanie.

Stephanie Davis:

Okay.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Phew. Jesus.

Richard Hession:

I didn’t just so she [inaudible 00:07:52] like this, but then she’ll realize, better to get it over with. Just got to spurt it out for eight minutes.

Stephanie Davis:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s okay.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Wow, you’re a torturer, man.

Richard Hession:

I’m going to set timers for each of you that you don’t have to exactly to, but it’ll give us each just a general idea of our time so we don’t-

Stephanie Davis:

There we go. Ready, set, go.

Richard Hession:

… other, it’s going to be four hours. Stephanie, go.

Stephanie Davis:

All right. So as you were previously told, my name is Stephanie Davis. I am the regional manager for Recovery Centers of America. How I got here today is a long and distinguished story. Like so many others, my addiction was the worst of the worst. I mean, it came with all of the bells and whistles, homelessness, arrest, loss of family, loss of dignity, shame, guilt, you name it.

I am a 12 step girl, so I don’t believe in reveling on the nitty gritty. I will say though, that is only by the grace of God that I am alive today to share my story. For me, finding treatment wasn’t so easy. I had no family at that point. I had destroyed a nursing career. I had really pushed anyone, everyone that cared anything about me away. I was still surrounded by all those that said they were my friends, as long as I had drugs in my pocket, right? But it was only by the grace of God that I was found by another soul who happened to be in law enforcement.

And this particular officer would just not leave me alone. She said, “There’s something in there. There’s something that you need to give back,” and handed me the card of someone that’s very much like me today and said, “Just give her a call.” And I did. And I picked up my first white chip in detox and I spent eleven months under the treatment umbrella.

By the time I picked up that first white chip in detox, I was completely broken and had figured out by only the grace of God, that my way didn’t work. And everything my way had brought me was where I was at right then. Now, those were only fleeting moments because I was that client. I was that client that looked at the fence every day and struggled and threatened. They threatened to kick me out multiple times, but I held on with every white knuckle I had and I made it through every level of care, including sober living. We were just saying how much I appreciate that extended blanket of love and support that’s so necessary.

But I will say I sit here 16 years later, still with that one white chip. And it was only by the grace of God, and following the lead of those within the treatment world that that got me where I was at. And today, I am a mother, I am a wife, I am a sponsor, I am a friend, I am a daughter and a sister and I am so many things. And only through my recovery can I say that I’m those things.

And since that first white chip, I knew that I wanted to give back, but I didn’t know how through the grace of God, I was going to do that while maintaining everything in life that I knew I had to have. So that’s pretty much me in a nutshell.

Richard Hession:

That’s excellent. That’s excellent.

Stephanie Davis:

Thank you.

Richard Hession:

For this, that’s a perfect kind of now I know who you are, where you came from and you didn’t … That’s awesome.

Stephanie Davis:

Thank you.

Richard Hession:

I love it. And actually, I’m going to change the time to six minutes, because if you could do that in four, less than four, you guys shouldn’t need more than that.

Paul Hart:

Holy cap.

Richard Hession:

You just changed the bar for everybody else. No, you know what? We’ll keep it what I said, because you just might do better than the rest of us at being more concise. Me, I just go on and on. So now we will, without dragging it out much further to torture the poor soul, we will go with Paul.

Stephanie Davis:

Oh, Nikoleta.

Richard Hession:

Oh, you just thought [crosstalk 00:12:16]. No.

Nikoleta Danicic:

He loves you.

Stephanie Davis:

He does love you. He’s saving the best for last.

Nikoleta Danicic:

He loves me.

Stephanie Davis:

He really is saving the best for last.

Paul Hart:

All right. So thank you, Stephanie. I’m Paul Hart. I’m a supervisor of the payroll tax at BlueCrest. Love my job. And so about me, I’ve got a story that I like to tell whenever I talk about me. First of all, I’m from New York, I’m not from New Jersey. And I was a high school basketball star. You wouldn’t be able to tell it looking at me now, but I was all city basketball player in New York. And I’ll never forget this one, in my junior year, there was this big basketball game. And there was this big article in the daily news and it said, Paul H. has to have a huge game if my high school was going to win. And I’ll never forget reading that article. I’ll never forget reading that. And I took it around and show all my teachers.

And so we went out and we got ready for that game. And I still remember walking into that other high school. And I can still feel it now. I remember walking in that school and it felt like everybody was paying attention to me. I was like, yeah, I walked in and my teammates were giving me five and we walked in and we went to the locker room, everybody saying, “Yo. Paul, man, you got to do it, you got to do it.”

And I went out that day and had a pretty good game. I had about 29 points, about 11 rebounds, 11 assists. Depending on how good I feel, those numbers change depending on how I feel. But I had a pretty good game. We won that game-

Richard Hession:

It’s a triple double.

Paul Hart:

I got a triple double that day.

Richard Hession:

It’s a triple double.

Paul Hart:

We got on a school bus to come home, and one of their cheerleaders came over and sat on my lap. So now you got to remember, got this 16, 17-year-old guy, I’ve got this cheerleader on my lap. I just won the big game, everybody talking about me. And then now the guys were drinking on the bus. Somebody handed me a beer. So now we’ve got a beer in my hand, I just won the game, this cheerleader sitting here. And I only tell that story because that moment was the greatest moment of my life.

Richard Hession:

I have arrived.

Paul Hart:

And I feel like I spent my whole life chasing that moment. I always wanted the girl, the drink or the drug and the attention. And I spent years chasing that. So I went on, I went to a division two. I had the opportunity to go to a small division one or a big division two. I chose to go to a small division two because I wanted to be the big guy there. Didn’t want to go sit the bench. And I went to college and my addiction took me … I lost my college scholarship. Through my addiction, I can tell you about it later, but I went to college, drank my way out of my scholarship. Knew I had a drinking problem. Came back home, graduated from college, decided after I graduated from college, I said, “Something’s wrong with me. Something’s wrong with me.” And I couldn’t figure it out.

So I went to the military. And because I did well in college, I went to Navy OCS, in Newport, Rhode Island. I went there, and after … It’s two eight-week programs. So 16 weeks, after the first eight weeks, they gave me some time off. And I went down to town down and went this bar and drank myself into oblivion. I lost. When I came to, it was time to go back to lead the 26 battalion in PT and I was a day late.

Needless to say, I was AWOL from the United States Navy. I lost my ability to become a United States Naval officer. So with all that being said, I knew that I had a drinking problem. I came back home, got a good job in an insurance company. And there’s when it started getting bad for me. And I met a guy named Ray L. and he told me that I had a problem. And he helped me into treatment. I went to treatment, and I’ll say this, treatment helped me get nine and a half years of sobriety. And after nine and a half years, I took back my will, I started believing that I had it. And after nine and a half years of sobriety, I relapsed.

In that nine and a half years, I had gotten an MBA. I had gotten a great job. I was doing big things. I relapsed after nine years of sobriety. I was working on Wall Street. I had that six-figure job. I relapsed and lost it all, I lost it all.

Now, I’ve got eight years back, almost eight years back. I love what I’m doing. I’m a behavioral tech supervisor. And Richie, you mentioned about having a passion to do this. I love this job. I love what I’m doing and I wouldn’t want to do anything else. So that’s kind of where I’m at right now.

Richard Hession:

It’s a good one. Another very good … Well done. And you did it in less than the six minutes. All right. That’s a lot of pressure for you.

Nikoleta Danicic:

All right, I got more minutes.

Richard Hession:

And now we will finally, actually, instead of me jumping in and telling you a little about myself, we’ll let Nikoleta go.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Thank you. I’m Nikoleta Danicic, Danicic. It’s hard to pronounce, so just Nikoleta. I am the director of Milestone House. It’s a transitional sober living place in Dover. That’s current status, but I’ve been sober for a little bit over 14 years. I’ve worked in the field since I was seven months sober officially. I had my first paycheck from the Milestone House. I kind of fell into it. But I’m from Serbia, Belgrade. For me, it was Slavija. I was born and raised there.

When I was 14, I immigrated to New York city with my sister, my mom was over there and there was some hardships in the beginning of our stay, where we ended up being homeless and living in an abandoned building. This is way before I picked up a drink or a drug. And we got out of that through hard work and perseverance and effort and survival skills and setting goals that we can overcome. So I became very ambitious, I became very driven. And by the time I was 16, I graduated high school, a valedictorian. I was living by myself, supporting myself. I put myself through college. I had some academic success. I had some financial success. I never really knew what I wanted to do. I think, as a result of my drinking and drugging, I was changing my major like every six months; arts and english, I ended up graduating with a philosophy degree.

And to reward myself, I would come home and the drinking would create relief from this life and this pressure that I was experiencing internally and from not knowing myself and being disconnected from the depth of my being, basically. I mean, it was a solution to my unmanageability really, and inability to meet life on life’s terms actually.

And when I was 27, I experienced a profound surrender, really, under the influence of drugs and alcohol. I am an alcoholic and a cocaine addict. I shouted from the rooftops, this is who I am, this is what I’ve been through, this is what I’ve done. It’s also to paint a picture of kind of the life I lived. And I think cocaine use also sped up my bottom by the time I was 27, even though I’ve lived alone from the age of 16. So it was an 11-year step one experience that I just couldn’t get with.

And there were efforts in the last few years of my drinking and drugging. There was this idea like I can succeed and I’ve done so much so that there’s absolutely no way that I can’t get through this. Right? I kept relying on my mind to come up with an answer on how to get through this difficulty I was having with managing my drinking and my drugging.

And at that point, I was working for a company. It was the greatest rug company in the world that worked with Christie’s and Sotheby’s, I was actually in charge of their accounting department. And I would be sending messengers out during lunch to get me like airplane bottles. And I was having all these like ugly experiences that we need to have to kind of get in touch with reality of what’s going on, fainting in the New York city subway and having seizures when I was like 26 and not making it to work and being late and all of that, all of these experiences, all of the pain that comes with.

And at 27, I had a profound experience under the influence of drugs and alcohol. At that point, I was already seeing a therapist who was trying to convince me I was an alcoholic and I was trying to convince him that I wasn’t. And when I had this experience, he actually referred me to treatment in Pennsylvania, called Marworth. I came in there not understanding why they wanted to search me, because I didn’t understand why anybody would go to treatment with anything on them. Like to me, that was never an option. Like either you do it all the way, or once you go in, you go in kind of, that was my idea. I had no idea that there was a treatment world out there, and I had no understanding of that. But I had an incredible experience in treatment, I think, because of the incredible experience I had with my step one experience of unmanageability and powerlessness.

And then I put myself in a halfway house for women also in Pennsylvania for 90 days, because I was sure that I was going to drink, even though the mental obsession was removed to drink. I was sure, I was so scared, that I wanted to be locked up. And then I said, “Okay, it’s time to rebuild life and build back,” because I lost everything, my apartment, my job, finances, bank account, phone, everything. And they gave me an option of a sober house in Dover.

And I landed there, never having seen it, on a Saturday, January 13 2007, with five months sober. And Mike Frank, my current boss, opened the door, all frazzled and overwhelmed with the one sober house he was running by himself at that time. And I think I teared up at the sight of Mike in the sober living home after New York city, after living in Manhattan for 13 years. And no, this is not a Jersey or city accent.

Richard Hession:

I wonder if that’s an act of Mike. He always seems frazzled and [inaudible 00:23:26]. It’s an act I [inaudible 00:23:28].

Nikoleta Danicic:

You’ll see next podcast.

Richard Hession:

Yeah. Exactly. [crosstalk 00:23:32].

Nikoleta Danicic:

Stay tuned. But listen, I was grateful. I was humble. I was open. I was so broken that I was open. So it really didn’t matter where I was. I was grateful to be alive. And I got there, and I did get a job, any job that I could get in the area, so I could pay rent and start building back. But after work, because I didn’t have a phone, I didn’t have the money for a phone. I would see Mike all frazzled, with two fingers typing receipts in his office, a pile of them like this, and I’d be like, “Can I help you?” And of course, I would be in like five minutes, done. I also made this spreadsheet and I made this a little bit easier for you. And let me know if you need more help, there’s three hours till the next meeting.

And so I fell into what I’m doing today. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t look for it. I didn’t wish for it. To me, didn’t matter. I have a gift of being a very good worker. I don’t pat myself on the back with that. I just, I’ve been working full-time since I was 16. And I take seriously responsibilities and I’m sort of a perfectionist and I want to do well and I want to please, and all of that was present, but I did get a sense that this was the only thing that I started doing that I was actually enjoying or speaking the language of it from a personal experience.

So that was like very exciting. Other jobs were not exciting. This was very exciting. So I started volunteering for Mike, and I was having an experience, an incredible experience with step work and kind of trusting life, trusting God, trusting higher power, trusting life, trusting universe, trusting whatever came my way. And I think Mike offered me like pennies more to quit the job I got in Denville, and to help him out administratively in the office.

He just purchased the second house at that time. And he really just needed help. And I think he saw the way I lived and moved at that point and how I was moved by step work. Wow. I can talk.

Richard Hession:

Yeah. Surprise.

Nikoleta Danicic:

I’m going to take her three minutes and his two minutes.

Richard Hession:

Okay, all right. We have the time. All right.

Nikoleta Danicic:

And I started working April 2007, when I had seven months sober. And now we have four houses, a treatment center in a coffee shop. It’s a little empire, Dover empire. So that’s a little bit of my story.

Richard Hession:

Cool. Thank you. It’s good stuff.

Stephanie Davis:

Absolutely.

Richard Hession:

And the coffee shop, I love because that’s what makes it like part of the community.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Yeah.

Richard Hession:

That they have some newly sober kids who work in the coffee shop. The coffee shop is right in back of the treatment facility, which is down the street from one of the sober homes. It’s all like a very community-community kind of thing. I love that [crosstalk 00:26:38].

Paul Hart:

Nikoleta, did you say that you went to Marworth?

Nikoleta Danicic:

Yup.

Paul Hart:

That was actually my first treatment center.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Yup.

Paul Hart:

And Marworth in Pennsylvania.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Marworth in Pennsylvania.

Richard Hession:

One of the things I like about Marworth from people I know, that’ve gone up and I know a guy who worked in the counseling services unit. The FDMY would send a lot of people with them all the time. And the one thing I liked about Marworth is that they have a big books everywhere.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Yes.

Richard Hession:

And that means a lot to me.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Yes.

Stephanie Davis:

Absolutely.

Richard Hession:

[crosstalk 00:27:04]. There’s one common thread, right?

Paul Hart:

Yes.

Richard Hession:

Because we’re all big book people.

Paul Hart:

Exactly

Richard Hession:

[crosstalk 00:27:09].

Nikoleta Danicic:

The greatest experience, I got to tell you, I walked in there and they said, “Why you’re here?” I said, “I don’t want to die.” She handed me the big book at intake.

Stephanie Davis:

Yup, yup.

Richard Hession:

There you go.

Stephanie Davis:

[crosstalk 00:27:19].

Richard Hession:

… the big book is literature. Out in the 12 step world, there’s all sorts of fellowships. None of us at the level of radio press or film, we’ll align ourselves with a particular fellowship, but there is a book that is the basis of all 12 step or whatever fellowship has grown, has it grown out of that which many of us were lucky enough to have been handed a copy of and following some directions to get really sober. But one of the other reasons why it’s good to have different folks from different walks of life and different … One thing I noticed common about the three of you that’s different than me was that you all seem to be graduated of college. You went to college, you went to college-

Stephanie Davis:

I did.

Richard Hession:

… you went to college.

Paul Hart:

Yes.

Richard Hession:

Not me. I’m not a college graduate. I did fail out of a college, I did go to college for five and a half years on Staten Island [inaudible 00:28:07]. My father looked at me one day. He said, “Are you going to ever effing graduate or what?” And he stopped paying my tuition, and that was it after five and a half years.

So I’ll give just a quick, short one for myself because especially to set the stage for this, I love the way you guys all, because it kind of … I skip over all the stuff that I usually love to talk about and I’ll say that it’s interesting that you said you fell into this. I never planned on doing this. Well, I always had it in my mind maybe at some point when I’m like in my mid 50s and I retire from Wall Street, maybe one day I’ll open a rehab. I liked the idea of being able to kind of run something that I love to do just for myself. Non-professionally in my kitchen, at my kitchen table, which I’ve been doing for 24 years now. I liked the idea of kind of maybe doing something like that, but it was just an idea that might never even be born out.

But so for me, it’s weird but a lot of people go to Wall Street and they get messed up. I went to Wall Street already a full cocaine addict and alcoholic. And I’m on this crazy trading desk. Like you see in the movies, Boiler Room. I mean, I was a kid and I fell in with these lunatic people and I was on one of these trading desks and I was just like qualifying leads. And I’m getting there, you work at seven o’clock in the morning until 7:30, eight o’clock at night for 200 bucks a week. And you had to make your bones. You had to earn your stripes. And then eventually, they let you take your Series 7. And if you pass it, you become a broker. That’s the deal.

And so I’m there and I’m an animal. And I mean, I was an animal. Dialing for dollars just all day long, no stop, all go. I’m a cocaine addict, right? So I’m wasted. And I love … I’m like, absolutely, that just so fit my temperament, my personality. And the two of the guys that I was working with, including my boss was sober. And he saw me coked out of my mind with the little white dots and he knew, and he called me into his office one day. And I remember on Wall Street, I get called into the boss’ office and he goes, “So last night, at some point yesterday evening, you went to a bar,” probably [Guidos 00:30:19], because he knew where I was from on Staten Island. He’s like and then maybe what? Did you get your first 40 piece at around like eight o’clock? And I’m like, I literally got a 40 piece at eight o’clock. I’m like, holy shit.

And he literally, and I said … And I’m thinking to myself, “Were they following me?” Because he’s like, at midnight, you decided to go home and just get one more 20 and bring it with you. And then you decided at two o’clock in the morning, you weren’t going to be able to sleep anyway so you called up your guy … And literally, he called it to what I drank and how much I used almost to the dollar. I’m like, I thought they were following me around. And it turns out that he’s just an alcoholic and a cocaine addict and he knew exactly what I did the night before.

And so that’s the first time anybody ever said to me, like you clearly have a problem and an issue. And it was because I went to Wall Street. And so they took me to my first bunch of meetings, 12 set meetings. I did nothing they suggested, I didn’t get a sponsor, I didn’t get a home group. I didn’t do any of the things they suggest.

They gave me one of those textbooks or whatever that I never opened or looked at. I used it at some point to crush cocaine on many months later, but whatever, that was just me. And I didn’t take anything seriously. And I was able to kind of maintain for seven months on the marijuana maintenance program. It does not work. Eventually, that witty baby high, not good enough. And we want to get really high. And eventually, it brings you back. And so it did for me.

And so I ended up leaving that particular job. And so I stayed on Wall Street, kind of. Right? I was basically unemployable wreck for a long, long time. I had already well dropped out of college. I officially left school. It was the timing of it was perfect, to get that job. I said, “Well, I’m done with school. My father already said he wasn’t paying any more after five and a half years.” So it was good timing. I was working as a cook, a short order cook, Al’s Pizzeria on Staten Island, Jude Avenue. And I leave, I get the job with those guys. I don’t fail out with them, I just make a decision to go a different direction. And I went to a different place, then I went to a different place, then I went to a different place.

And somehow throughout that, I was able to pass my Series 7, and I got my licenses, but I was in the end, I worked for a particular place. I end up partnering with one of the biggest cocaine dealers on Staten Island at the time. And he becomes my partner at the brokerage firm, which was a good idea for me to partner with that particular guy. Anyway, go on forever about that. But I will say that, at that point is where I hit my absolute bottom. I was technically employed, but I really wasn’t employed because I never went there. If I did go, I was usually violent and angry and I would show up every once in a while and I blew a really big deal and I had a big opportunity and even he was done with me. Even that guy was like, I can’t take this anymore. And I ended up going to my first detox.

I’m the guy that my mom didn’t want me in the house. Everyone kicked me out. My brother and my parents, mom, dad, I would go knock on the door, they put the chain, what do you want? It’s not like, “Hey, what’s up, Richard?” It’s, “What do you want?” My mom, when I went over to her house, I’m the guy that she would hold her purse the entire time walking around the house, my mother would never have her purse not be in her hand if I was in the house with them. I punched holes through her walls. I was insane at that point. Finally, I went to her and knocked on the door and she said, “What?” And I said, “I think I have a problem with alcohol and drugs.”

I always tell that when I tell my story and she said, “You think so?” Were the last ones to know. And so, but I knew. And I just resigned myself to that’s just what it is, I’m an alcoholic and a cocaine addict and I don’t give a shit. And that’s just how I live. And so they sent me to Bailey Seton Detox on Staten Island, and that was the first time. So I know nothing of the treatment industry, because I know detox because I went to detox for seven days. But on Staten Island, then it’s still that way. Anybody watching that’s from Staten Island, there were rehabs outside of Staten Island. None of us ever looked, we don’t know. There’s two hospitals on Staten Island. You go for detox and that’s it. And then you go into one of the fellowships and that’s recovery, apparently.

I didn’t go anywhere. There was no sober living, there was no treatment options or opportunities, at least that I was made aware of. I got lucky that I went the day I got out of detox, I fell in with a group of people who told me you should do the 12 steps, you should do big book. And they gave me a thing and this is what they did and my sponsor helped me and he guide me through that way. So I had my experience, right? And I got sober, but I didn’t get in the treatment field. Again, I got sober on Staten Island. There was no treatment field. I wasn’t even aware of it at that point. Right?

So now, I’m sober on Staten Island and I’m doing my thing. And I end up talk about unbelievable … And again, we talk about careers and how blessed and lucky I’ve been, how amazing my career was. But I literally sponsored a gazillion people. And one of the guys that I sponsored opened the door for me, and I’m not going to go into the whole thing, although I’d love to tell the story because it’s so cool. But I especially always think of the people watching. I think about the young people in recovery, new to recovery, you’re behind in everything in life, right? And I was. I was 25 and a half years old when I came in, all my friends had graduated college, who graduated law school, who got married, who’s having kids? And I was a bum. I had no credit. I had arrest record. I had nothing, right? My dad finally allowed me to stay in one of the back bedroom of his condo. Other than that, I would have been homeless.

I was technically out of the detox. No one would let me in, but dad gave me one more chance, which was like one of however many more chances, but one more chance to stay with him. But my point is, we all find ourselves in treatment in different ways with different backgrounds. I was not formally educated. I didn’t have a college degree. And one of my sponsees opened a door for me in Wall Street.

And he ended up in a way that never … I was a retail stock broker at that point, selling stocks of companies I knew nothing about. I could talk on the phone and talk you into something. What I was selling you, I had no idea. But when you get sober, and my remember my sponsor told me, and my time’s about to go up so I’m just going to cancel it and I’ll wrap it up. I don’t want to [inaudible 00:36:16] on me. You could do that when you sit in this chair.

But I told my sponsor when I first got sober, I was like doing inventories and doing this different stuff. And my sponsor was like, so what’s the problem with you with work? Because I told him, I said, “I can’t do this anymore.” And he said, “Why not?” I said, “Because it’s dishonest.” And he said, “You’re lying to people on the phone?” And I said, “No, I’m not lying to anybody on the phone,” I said, “But in a way, I am, because it’s all a lie. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never been formally educated in finance. I’m selling a company that I think is going to do okay but I don’t really know.” I’m given a thing, this is what the company does, tell them it’s great, but that’s not honest because I don’t really know if it is great. I don’t have any real informed way to be able to tell him that. And I said, “I’m not comfortable doing that anymore.”

So now I’m at a crossroads in recovery. You want to be really recovered, then you’ve got to stop … You can’t live dirty and stay clean. And once it becomes unacceptable to you personally, you’ve got decisions to make and you’re going to have to do something else. And so here I am and I’m like, I’m about to quit my job. And my sponsor’s like, be as honest as you can be, find something in the meantime, don’t put yourself, you’re giving you dad money now for rent, whatever. So I said, all right, I got to do it. And a sponsee opened a door for me and got me a job, a dream job on Wall Street. I could spend an hour a program just talking about that, it was so insane. I had no business even getting that job.

Merrill Lynch wouldn’t even have given me a job in their lunch room. I couldn’t have been a lunch worker because of all this stuff on my record, they literally would not have let me serve food in their lunch room. And he got me on a trading desk. It’s insane.

Having said all that, I did not come to treatment like how did you get in the field? We know, we know, we know. Me, I didn’t get into the treatment field until I was 20 years sober. And I didn’t intend on doing it. I had written down here to remind myself to say it, but a lot of really good meetings get started with a resentment, a coffee pot. And one of the reasons, the sun, moon and stars lined up. That’s how I found myself in this, but it was twofold. One, a friend of mine had come and said to me, “Oh, I was in the treatment field. I’m thinking about starting it. Could you introduce me to your friend who has money that maybe they’ll invest in a thing?”

So I was just putting two people together, having nothing to do with me whatsoever. So that’s how I got and then that person was like, I’ll do it if Richie gets involved. And I was like, “Who? Me? And I didn’t even … I had no intention of that at all. And at the same token, at the meetings that I go to outside, there were a lot of young kids coming in from all these rehabs. And I’m like so, you get a sponsor, you do a 90 and 90, are you going to go through the book? And they’re like, what book? And how do you get a sponsor, and what’s 90 and 90? And I’m like, what are they teaching you in these rehabs? I was infuriated. At my home group, constantly, I talked to them and I would be like this. I’m like, I don’t know what they’re going over in these rehabs, you guys are lost. And none of them know what they’re supposed to be doing.

And so with that resentment, and with that just happened, the sun moon and stars lined up, boom. All of a sudden I find myself in the treatment field, and from a different way, right? As somebody who never worked in house and never did anything in the treatment field at all. And now all of a sudden, I’m being asked, “Hey, what do you think about starting a company? You’ve got a lot of experience on Wall Street, whatever. What do you think?”

So you don’t start by creating it … It’s a top-down. You’ve got to go learn what it is. What do people do at rehabs? And let me figure out what they do wrong, what I don’t like. And let me see if I can make it better or fix it. Or at least that was kind of how it was broached for me. It’s not the typical way of getting involved in the treatment field. You know what I mean? Mine was a little opposite everyone else’s, but isn’t that odd, right? And again, this is recovery. This is real life. Sometimes, the college educated genius starts off as a tech and eventually ends up running RCA for New Jersey in New York.

Somebody else who’s like me, who couldn’t hack it in school, all of a sudden, I start running a company like it’s people look at this, say, “You got no business running that company.” I’m like, I know, I hear you. They’re going to find out I’m a fraud one day and they’re going to pull me out of here.

So anyway, so now we know kind of who we all are and how we ended up in the treatment field. There’s a few things I wrote because I wanted to make sure we … One thing you mentioned law. And before we go into the questions and stuff, just these things, people say stuff and I like to make little notes because like you mentioned law enforcement. And you said that-

Stephanie Davis:

I did.

Richard Hession:

… that person gave you a card, or pulled you and said you need help.

Stephanie Davis:

Absolutely.

Richard Hession:

So many times that has happened. We’ve personally experienced that. We go and we talk to all of our local police departments, the cops, the firemen, the EMS workers, they have [inaudible 00:40:46]. We get calls from them all the time. They’ll see a kid that’s in trouble … And thank you to all of, most of the ones that we have, there’s no insurance, but we’re happy to help anyway, but we help everybody, dude, we don’t care.

Stephanie Davis:

That officer-

Richard Hession:

They call. Saved your life, saved your life.

Stephanie Davis:

… saved my life.

Richard Hession:

Happens with us all the time. Happens [inaudible 00:41:03] us all the time.

Stephanie Davis:

And I’ll tell you, my career has been saying, thank you and giving back in every way that I can. But that officer, and in my mind, if my own family wouldn’t talk to me, but this officer had enough gumption to not just once, but several times, see me, whether it was her beat or what have you. But she stopped every single time and said, “What are you doing? Get out of here.” And she handed me that card than once. And thank God she did.

Richard Hession:

It’s funny how things change when you get sober. Because when I was out there using and breaking into cars, I hated the police. [inaudible 00:41:45]. And then when you get sober and you start getting a little bit mature, I love a nice strong law enforcement presence in my neighborhood. It’s weird how things go full circle. Right? But yes.

And then it was so for anybody, even in the treatment field or anybody … Listen, putting brochures in all the police stations, EMS, the more educated they are about addiction, they need education-

Stephanie Davis:

Absolutely.

Richard Hession:

… on addiction just like anybody else. Most of them look at it as what’s the drug, right? It’s the old school. It’s how we grew up, a druggie, is a dirty, filthy criminal, dishonest, angry, dangerous shit bag. [inaudible 00:42:19]. But that’s really not, right? I mean, it’s soccer moms and accountants’ kids and policemen’s kids and everyone’s kids. And it’s dude, from any walk of life, addiction don’t care.

Stephanie Davis:

[inaudible 00:42:30].

Richard Hession:

Guys, it don’t do any of that. Addiction don’t care. In treatment, we don’t do politics, we don’t do religion. We don’t do race. You know why? Because addiction don’t care.

Stephanie Davis:

Don’t care.

Richard Hession:

It goes and it hates us all and it wants us all dead. So we always say, and this is old school, treatment stuff, as you guys know, you put your life problems and all the life stuff that you got to deal with in real life in this basket, put your addiction in this one, you deal with that and all of that stuff will figure itself out and take care of itself once you’re sober enough to address it and deal with it when you’re done. So that’s what we focus on.

So I wanted to call that out because I wrote it down because I said you’re right. And I’ve had that experience and seen it quite a bit. Paul, I love in a weird way because who knows who’s watching this. Paul’s like, I’m not from New Jersey, I’m from [inaudible 00:43:18]. And he really wanted to throw it out there. [inaudible 00:43:22].

Stephanie Davis:

No, you’re in jersey.

Richard Hession:

I was born in a real state. I happen to also be Staten Island born and raised, but I didn’t think it was necessary to bash New Jersey. That’s all good. And then I also love the fact that you said again, a lot of this stuff I say, because I think about the kids or the people watching us thinking getting into treatment because that’s what we’re about to go into now. And that’s why I like to point out the diversity and the difference in backgrounds. Like the fact that I’m a dropout and that I never got a college education, I’ve never got a college degree. And yet here I am anyway, it doesn’t matter where you’re at. It doesn’t matter what addiction did to you, where it took you, where you went.

Paul said you wouldn’t know it by looking at him now, he used to be a ballplayer and blah, blah, blah. I mean, look at us, right? Dude, now I’m like almost 50-year-old man. And of course I’m a big as a house I’ve gotten, I used to work for a moving company and I was ripped, but I’m not like that anymore. But life changes, man. Things are different, and it’s all good. Go ahead.

Paul Hart:

Wait, can I make something.

Richard Hession:

By the way, just yell it out.

Paul Hart:

Okay.

Richard Hession:

You two too. If you want to bang in, this is back and forth, so … There’s no …

Paul Hart:

Stephanie, you mentioned homelessness. You said you’re homeless.

Stephanie Davis:

I was.

Paul Hart:

It reminded me of I didn’t kind of tell you like how my whole thing ended up and like you, Rich, I was on Wall Street. I had my Series 7, my Series 6, my Series 63, my MBA. I had all these great things. I was director of sales and marketing for this big firm. And I got sober and I knew sobriety. And then my pride, my ego … And I told that story because I wanted you guys to know that that pride and that ego and how I always held on to that. And that same pride that got me all those great things was the same pride that when I relapsed, that wouldn’t let me come back. But I just wanted to talk about like, so here I am, I’m on Wall Street, I’m doing all these great things and I’m making all the money like you talked about, but I couldn’t find myself. I was making all this money, but I wasn’t happy.

And then life hit me like it hits everybody, me and my wife weren’t getting along. She had an affair and it devastated me, devastated me. Then 911 happened and I was on the seventh floor when that first plane hit, standing underneath when that second plane hit. And then a month later, after 911, they found my brother dead in my apartment in New York.

So I’m going through all that with nine and a half, 10 years of sobriety, but not talking to anybody. And we talked about how addiction and it doesn’t care, but my addiction, everything, it’s working on me, but I’m not telling anybody, I’m not saying anything because I got all this money and I’m too proud and too big to tell anybody what’s going on. So-

Stephanie Davis:

I get it.

Paul Hart:

… just so you know, I lost my house. I lost that Wall Street job. I lost all of that. And it wasn’t until I found myself begging for welfare.

Stephanie Davis:

My pride and ego is what made me homeless and kept me homeless because I didn’t need anybody’s help. Everything that I had lived through in my childhood, who I could very well blame my addiction on. But the reality of it is, is my addiction is my responsibility. I claim it, I own it, my sickness. But that pride and ego told me I didn’t need anybody, which was as far from the truth as I could get, because you know what? I needed my higher power. I needed other people. I needed my fellowship. I needed strong souls around me to carry me through. And I think that the reason I still hold that one white chip is because I have a group of women that have surrounded me for 16 years. Some have been around 16 years, some have come, some have gone, some are brand new. Some are very much older than me in this journey.

But my daughter was diagnosed terminally ill. I have eight children, and I’ve fostered and adopted four more. I’ve been in this industry for 15 years. I have seen highs, lows, crashes throughout my sobriety. And I hold that one white chip today because that pride and ego stays in check, because I don’t do it. I don’t do it. My fellowship, my God does because that pride and ego got me nowhere but homeless. Period, end of story. And that was one of the hardest things I had to grab in the first two years of my recovery, which brings us back to our topic. But I’ll wait [crosstalk 00:47:57].

Richard Hession:

Yeah. No, that was good [crosstalk 00:47:58].

Nikoleta Danicic:

Right on [crosstalk 00:47:59].

Richard Hession:

[crosstalk 00:47:59] great segue back in. But no, I mean, and it’s interesting, pride and ego. The truth is we can just say, what the hell with the rest of this topic, let’s talk about pride and ego.

Paul Hart:

Right.

Stephanie Davis:

We could. Days, days, days.

Nikoleta Danicic:

But how about the pride and ego that develops as a result of working in the field?

Paul Hart:

Absolutely.

Richard Hession:

He said it’s going to lead you back into this [crosstalk 00:48:18]. totally

Stephanie Davis:

Absolutely.

Richard Hession:

So yeah. And one of the things is we have a series of questions. Before I go into it, we have to take a pause and we have to say for those of you who are just joining us, you’re listening to The Other Side. This is the official podcast, the BlueCrest Recovery Center. I’m Richie, I’m the CEO here at BlueCrest. Should I read … You know what? You can watch us. If you’re already watching us, then you know what you want and us on; YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify, iTunes.

So we’ve been talking about just kind of what we were like, what happened and what led us into the treatment field. Everyone that you see, if you’re new, that’s sitting here has been in addiction, active addiction personally in our lives, has found recovery. And then one way or another, we just told our individual stories of how we ended up in the treatment field. And so now, that’s the main focus of the podcast, is … And this is where we start going into the Q&A of this stuff, we could break it down into 50 different ways. One of the things I also wrote, because I reminded myself, think about what we have here, right? We have the housing aspect, we’ve got the marketing aspect. And just because that’s the outreach, but marketing has to … We hate to use the word. Because marketing is for tires and advertising, and we get people.

Stephanie Davis:

That’s it.

Richard Hession:

And we have a passion for people so we hate to use it, but for lack of a better term, outreach. But level, so we’ll say outreach, you’ve got the housing aspect, you’ve got the clinical aspect, you’ve got the owner rehab aspect of like the kind of global view of the whole thing. But when you fall into the opportunity, the possibility of getting in treatment, some people early in recovery stop and say to themselves, “I think I want to do this. I want to help people. I want to be a counselor. I want to be an outreach coordinator, or I want to be a housing tech or I want to run a house or I want to …” And usually depending on who they kind of-

Stephanie Davis:

Gravitate to. Yeah.

Paul Hart:

Yup, yup, yup.

Richard Hession:

… connect with, that’s what they’ll gravitate towards. Plus, for some of you guys, it’s personality. Some of us are born salespeople. Right? And my grandmother told me when I was a kid-

Stephanie Davis:

Not you Richard, yeah.

Richard Hession:

… And she also said, “You’re going to end up in jail,” my grandmother. So I don’t know, my grandmother was very … But she always said you could sell ice to an Eskimo. So I would gravitate towards that. Some people are more maternal or paternal and so they may go more towards something else. So really it depends. But I personally think, and I’ll hear from each of you guys, I think each one of those … And I hate to say this the wrong way, don’t misunderstand, but each one of those represent a different level of danger in early recovery for me. I mean, I’ll call it that way, because ego, money. All that stuff, ego and money are two dangerous bedfellows in early recovery.

That’s what my sponsor means by, I wish he was slow recovery. He didn’t mean getting recovered, he wanted me to speed through 12 step recovery, but he wanted me life stuff, the slower that stuff repairs itself sometimes for some of us, the better off we are. That deflation of ego and keep [inaudible 00:51:04], slipping clipping coupons for ShopRite. And I’m putting only $6 in gas in my car at a time, it keeps somebody right and keeps you right minded. And I think that that’s a positive thing in early recovery as well.

Stephanie Davis:

You know what I like what you said, Richie is you fell into this through a resentment.

Richard Hession:

Yeah, kind of. In a way.

Stephanie Davis:

You’re the only other person besides myself that I actually … I started my journey to be a counselor over resentment.

Richard Hession:

There you go.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Oh wow.

Stephanie Davis:

A resentment of my counselor in treatment. God bless her soul.

Richard Hession:

Well, let’s hear the story because that’s the thing. What really got you connected with treatment [inaudible 00:51:39]? Go ahead.

Stephanie Davis:

Oh my goodness. So throughout my 11-month journey through treatment, I remember in the first few months in residential treatment, I had a beast of a counselor. God bless her soul. I don’t know where she is today, but I wish I could give her a big hug and didn’t just tell her that everything she said was right. That is not what I told her at the time, at all in anyway.

I knew this woman was out to get me. She didn’t like me. She didn’t want my future at hand. I remember a game-changing event is I knew that I was going back to where I had just came from and I was going to surround myself with the same people and I wasn’t going to use, because I had this. And she came in with the rap sheet of the house that I was going to in the middle of a group room and she dropped it on the floor in front of all my peers. And I said in that moment, I think I had been in treatment three, four months, very, very early recovery. I said in that moment, if she only knew what it was like to wake up under a bridge with footprints around you, not knowing what that was, if she only knew what it was like to not want to go get high, but not be able to stop your own feet. If she only knew the desperation, then she would be able to help me today and I could do this better than she can. I could reach people better than she can. I know this path.

So that started out my journey. I thought that because I was educated, because I was what I considered to be clean and sober at that time, which I was literally just starting to not even crawl. I was like, what does that infancy stage when you start to roll over? And I really thought that I could bring the message so much better than this woman could. And I knew I was going to be the best counselor ever and I was going to save so many people from the horror and the experiences that I had by being that person. And it all started with a resentment. And I will tell you, it did not end …

Richard Hession:

And yet it did, really.

Stephanie Davis:

And yet it did. And yet it did. And yet it did. And I’m really grateful today for her and for the fact that she wasn’t in recovery, and that she-

Richard Hession:

Which is what I was going to … Because I like to throw everything out as we [crosstalk 00:54:10].

Stephanie Davis:

Yeah. She was not in recovery.

Richard Hession:

I could literally do a whole separate section with three counselors that are not in recovery and anybody who thinks that you need to be in recovery to help people with addiction, wrong. And I would never want a room full of us like that. Let’s be honest, everyone in your treatment facility-

Stephanie Davis:

Needs some normal.

Richard Hession:

… [crosstalk 00:54:29] in recovery themselves, no way. I mean, we’ve got pros, amazing people that are with us.

Paul Hart:

That’s right.

Richard Hession:

They’re all brought to addiction for their own reasons.

Stephanie Davis:

Correct.

Richard Hession:

And a lot of times it’s a whole different perspective. It’s an outside perspective. It’s a family member or somebody-

Nikoleta Danicic:

Usually a family member.

Richard Hession:

… who is affected in more … Usually, they’re affected in addiction. And so they don’t just find it by accident completely. They’re usually effected in some way, shape or form by a family member, whatever, in valuable, in valuable. And I remember back when I was an ignorant fool and I was in early recovery and I’d be like, I wouldn’t talk to a … Like I’m not going to talk to a counselor that’s not … Don’t-

Stephanie Davis:

Yes.

Richard Hession:

… you’re counselor is telling you that they’re not even in recovery.

Stephanie Davis:

They don’t know what it’s like.

Richard Hession:

And saying stuff like that. And somebody had pointed out to me, oh so I don’t understand, a psychiatrist has to have anxiety and depression in order to help somebody through anxiety and depression? Someone has to have had AIDS in order to come up with a cure for AIDS. That makes no sense. Nothing you do, you don’t always have to have the exact experience. As a matter of fact, sometimes the best help comes from someone who has a totally different perspective-

Paul Hart:

That’s right.

Richard Hession:

… to be able to meet that, right? To match that calamity with serenity.

Paul Hart:

Yes.

Richard Hession:

So it’s just, there’s all sides of it. And so that’s important to throw out there because-

Nikoleta Danicic:

And many of them have outside issues that need to be addressed.

Richard Hession:

No question. Yeah-

Nikoleta Danicic:

Trauma, childhood, co-occurring.

Richard Hession:

… co-occurring. No doubt, no doubt. All right. So let’s throw this out there. I’m going to start hitting you guys up with some questions, right? And I’ll start with Nikoleta. Nikoleta, how does working the addiction treatment industry affect your personal sobriety?

Nikoleta Danicic:

Oh God, you want the truth?

Richard Hession:

And conversely, how does your being in recovery affect your performance working in the treatment industry? It’s an interesting-

Nikoleta Danicic:

Yeah. I mean, it’s pros and cons obviously, but the bottom line is this, as long as my personal recovery is not dependent on my job and as long as my personal recovery is intact outside of my employment, I can perform my job very effectively.

Richard Hession:

What do you mean by that?

Nikoleta Danicic:

Having boundaries, trusting universe, trusting life, taking my own inventory. Why am I being challenged? What button is being pushed? What is this telling me about me? How can I be more helpful? How can I be more effective? Everything that I’ve learned in 12 steps, everything that recovery has taught me are tools that I bring into life to deal with whatever situation, right?

So whatever situation is thrown at me at work, I think there’s like this element of like ego can really rebuilt itself and we can feel very empowered by working in this field because we’re constantly in a position of helping, right? We’re serving others, we’re helping. And there’s a tiring aspect to that, number one, right? There’s a lot of neediness that’s occurring. There’s a lot of draining of energy that can be occurring, right? If I’m not rehabilitating myself, so to speak, after work in some ways, recharging, self caring, cleansing, grounding, whatever.

Richard Hession:

So I want to get specific about … And just a couple of the things that I knew that I wanted to talk to each of you about to see what your own experience is all with it. Some people more directly are affected maybe than others. You maybe earlier on in your career, not so much now, I think, but we’ll see. But for you, let’s look at the tech part of it. Tech and for you too, especially, right?

Paul Hart:

Yeah.

Richard Hession:

Let’s talk about that. So you have clients that come to the facility or come to your house or whatever, and you’re in charge, and you’re helping them or you’re watching and you’re minding them and you have an outside speaker come in, an outside NA speaker, CA speaker, an A speaker, one of the 12 step people come in, and they do a meeting. They have a meeting for your people. But you’re in the room, right?

Paul Hart:

Right, right.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Right.

Richard Hession:

Because little Billy might be trying to sneak whatever. And whose hand in who what? And you’re like psst, psst, psst, listen to the speaker. You’re paying attention. Who’s got to go to the bathroom. And you’re like, oh my God, again. And so you’re dealing with the whole meeting. Then when that meeting is over and everyone goes back to, okay, did you make your meeting for the day? Is that your meeting?

Nikoleta Danicic:

No.

Paul Hart:

No.

Richard Hession:

Did you make a 12 step meeting for that thing, your personal recovery?

Nikoleta Danicic:

No, no, no, no, no.

Richard Hession:

You’re telling me that after-

Nikoleta Danicic:

Not if I’m paid.

Richard Hession:

… you’ve been to plenty of those.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Nope. But … No.

Richard Hession:

But you’ve been to three of those-

Nikoleta Danicic:

Don’t matter.

Richard Hession:

Throughout the day.

Nikoleta Danicic:

It don’t matter.

Richard Hession:

But when you leave work, you’re telling me you want to go to another one for you?

Nikoleta Danicic:

I’m not necessarily paying attention to the message. I’m paying attention … I’m getting paid for that. First of all, I’m getting paid for that. And that’s the difference. Like you can’t call it service if you’re getting a paycheck. I don’t care who you are.

Richard Hession:

That’s a fact.

Nikoleta Danicic:

And that’s been my motto this whole time. And that’s just the way it is. And it’s worked for me.

Paul Hart:

Right.

Richard Hession:

But don’t you find it hard to want to go to another meeting for your personal recovery? [crosstalk 00:59:05].

Nikoleta Danicic:

Sure. But you need to have stamina. Not everybody can work in this field.

Richard Hession:

I’m with you.

Nikoleta Danicic:

When people come to me, I say, “Don’t do it.” Don’t do it unless you’re absolutely sure you want to do it. Dip your toe into it, volunteer, be surrounded by it. Then-

Richard Hession:

So what do you say to the young person who just took a job. They’re a tech in a treatment facility and they’re telling me and telling you, “I did two meetings already today through my job,” would you tell them they have to still go to … And if they’re the kind of people that are saying, “I don’t want to go to another meeting today, I’m all meeting-ed out, what do you think they’re prospects are for long-term in that field or recovery [crosstalk 00:59:41]?

Nikoleta Danicic:

This is the trap of being in recovery and working in the field. I would tell them the same thing that I tell some of my residents who are giving me a million excuses that I’ve heard a three million times about why they shouldn’t go to a meeting, why they don’t have to get a sponsor, why the job is more important, where the girlfriend is more important or whatever. It’s the alcoholic mind. I don’t see individuals anymore, I see alcoholism or I see sobriety. I see you’re living in the truth or you are delusional. And I think we confuse like I’m grateful and I’m experiencing surrender and I’m like in this bubble of like recovery and safety, and then we want to give back and we want to serve. And we get this fantasy idea of wanting to work in the field because we feel so close to it. But I think it’s an idea that we get disillusioned with quickly.

Paul Hart:

Yes.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Quickly.

Paul Hart:

Yeah.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Which is why I’m not in clinical.

Richard Hession:

So I was going to ask-

Nikoleta Danicic:

And I’ve done all the classes.

Richard Hession:

… Do you think … And that’s why it’s good. Do you think everyone-

Nikoleta Danicic:

I’ve taken all the classes just to know what they’re talking about.

Richard Hession:

Right.

Nikoleta Danicic:

What they’re getting educated about.

Richard Hession:

But even that’s not for everyone, right?

Nikoleta Danicic:

No.

Paul Hart:

No.

Richard Hession:

In field, there’s a lot of different jobs and aspects of being to able to help people and do something-

Nikoleta Danicic:

Being a tech is not for everyone.

Richard Hession:

No.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Unless you’re willing to not take it personally, unless you’re willing to get punched in the face emotionally, unless you’re willing to get spat on, unless you’re willing to get lied to and not like be a drama queen about it, don’t work in it.

Richard Hession:

Yeah, there you go.

Paul Hart:

That’s right, that’s right.

Nikoleta Danicic:

You need to have stamina. You need to have some grit. You need to not take things personally. It takes certain qualifications to work in the field.

Richard Hession:

Agreed.

Paul Hart:

That’s right.

Richard Hession:

Steph, you are in outreach. You sponsor women, I’m assuming.

Stephanie Davis:

Absolutely.

Richard Hession:

You sponsor girls, right?

Stephanie Davis:

I do.

Richard Hession:

So you get those phone calls, right?

Stephanie Davis:

I do.

Richard Hession:

Can be kind of annoying sometimes. Let’s be honest, when you sponsor a lot of girls. For me, it’s a football game. Giants are on. Although now I’ve kind of … The season stinks because all the COVID stuff, but whatever. But I’m watching the game and I see the phone ring, and it’s one of my sponsees. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been doing this 24 years, I don’t really want to pick the phone up. I’m going to but I don’t want to, you know what I mean? That happens sometimes. But when you’re in treatment and you’ve taken 50 phone calls that day and you’ve dealt with families and this problem and that issue and this problem, and I don’t want to go and I’m on a street corner and well you’ve done this to me three times already. Are you really going to be there? Oh my God, my son. Okay. Ma’am, calm down. We’re going to talk you through this. Crying for an hour and a half, and then you see a sponsee call coming in. You know you’re good for another 45 minutes of drama.

Stephanie Davis:

At least, at least.

Paul Hart:

And right.

Stephanie Davis:

I sponsor women.

Richard Hession:

So …

Stephanie Davis:

45 minutes is a [crosstalk 01:02:16] call.

Richard Hession:

Tell us what does that look like to work as … In outreach, it’s got it’s whole ‘nother set of you don’t deal with the same stuff they do. Right? It’s a little different. Your connection with them is a little different, right? More of it’s home.

Stephanie Davis:

I started as a tech. I’m [crosstalk 01:02:32]-

Richard Hession:

Oh, I know. You know it all, but I’m talking about [crosstalk 01:02:33].

Stephanie Davis:

I’m [inaudible 01:02:33] for punishment. No, but I’ll tell you.

Richard Hession:

But I’m asking for you to speak on … And again, before you answer, I’m going to say, because this is my point, the housing part, and we get, I see. I mean, you’re talking about in the trenches every day, going to meetings-

Stephanie Davis:

Everyday, all day.

Richard Hession:

On top of what you already have to do to do your own personal recovery, you’ve made it clear and I get it. But there’s also something grounded about that. Doing tech work to start with. Now, you may move up and over and right and left and do other things in treatment. Become a full counselor, go over into outreach. You could work in admissions. You may start as a tech to learn the field, then find into your, what you’re drawn towards it. And if the place you work for is good, they’re going to look and have an eye, they’re going to want to develop your talent and what you feel passionate for. And that’s all well and good and that’s fine. There’s a grounding to that. And when you start out there, you learn the field. I think that’s the best way to start, is in either housing or just a plain tech on the floor with no CADC classes until you’ve learned a little bit and decide for yourself, do I want to? Can I actually do this for a living? Some people go right into the outreach coordinator. And now that that is-

Stephanie Davis:

That is the most dangerous thing you can do.

Richard Hession:

… there’s more money, there’s more ego. I think it’s the most dangerous aspect of early treatment.

Stephanie Davis:

It’s the most dangerous thing you can do.

Richard Hession:

We would never …

Stephanie Davis:

No.

Richard Hession:

We don’t like to hire anybody unless they have two years of recovery. We have made some exceptions for people who are very 12 step oriented, but not less than a year. And really, we want two years at a minimum because there’s a maturity that comes with that. I see people hire people in marketing after six months, which I think is insane. But then you have other people who fall into housing stuff quite a bit earlier, you did.

Stephanie Davis:

Yeah.

Richard Hession:

If the motivations are right and the person’s the right type and you feel okay with it, as long as you keep an eye on them and you’re holding their hand through the process. Okay, fine. But your end is tough. Your end is difficult. So tell us.

Stephanie Davis:

Richie, I’ll tell you, coming straight into marketing is almost setting yourself up for a relapse. Period, end of story. I mean, you don’t have a personal life in this space. There is no you time because it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing. You know not answering that phone could mean life or death for someone. Period, end of story. Like this phone for me is a lifeline to so many people that don’t know where else to turn. It’s that card, right? It’s that card somebody handed.

Now, I’m a mother. My husband is a saint because I have been in this space for 15 years. I’ve been marketing for 13 of those 15. And I mean, he’s seen me answer phones in labor with our children. I’m not even kidding.

Richard Hession:

Listen, listen. Hey-

Stephanie Davis:

I’m as serious as a heart attack.

Richard Hession:

I’m so glad you brought that up, because I’ll throw that out there from my own marketers, from my own [inaudible 01:05:22]. No, I’m saying, there are some of them whose girlfriends, they leave them.

Stephanie Davis:

I’m done.

Richard Hession:

I’m done. I’m not doing this anymore. It’s ridiculous. We’re on vacation. And they’re picking up a call at pool side in Mexico.

Stephanie Davis:

Yep. Vacation.

Richard Hession:

And I’m telling these guys, “Stop answering your phone. Forward it to someone else, take a week off. Disconnect.”

Stephanie Davis:

But you can’t.

Richard Hession:

They can’t do it. They can’t [crosstalk 01:05:42].

Stephanie Davis:

Yeah, first time.

Paul Hart:

That’s right, that’s right.

Stephanie Davis:

That first time you talk to that mother that’s lost that child.

Richard Hession:

I get it.

Stephanie Davis:

That first time you’ve made that connection with someone and you know that they’re no longer here to give a breath, it does something to you as a marketer. And I’ll tell you, that weight that you carry, right? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to somebody at 11 o’clock at night and I said, “Man, I can have a driver there for you. Like, it doesn’t matter where you’re at or what you’re doing. I can get you there right now. Hell, I’ll come myself.” And they said, “You know what? I just need an hour.” And I never spoke to that person again. Like you carry that with you. You carry that in every fiber of your being. I’m a mother.

Richard Hession:

Good people carry [crosstalk 01:06:32].

Paul Hart:

That’s great.

Richard Hession:

Because let’s also be honest, when people in early recovery, you’re a big book girl, and you’re in this for real. Like you’re in this.

Stephanie Davis:

I’m in this, heart and soul.

Richard Hession:

Like for you, you have a passion for … But there’s a difference. Some people are in this for money, like anything else. And like who am I to say, but I can say that there are some places that are better than others. Some people that are better than others, better meaning there are people in anything in the world for the right reasons and for the wrong reasons. And if that right reason is upfront, you could tell just by talking to someone that that’s the thing, right? Like you know the difference. And you can tell the difference between somebody who knows the right things to say, but it’s not a part of them, but it’s a calling, it really is. It’s a calling.

Stephanie Davis:

It is.

Paul Hart:

Yeah. Call.

Richard Hession:

And I see that in you clearly.

Stephanie Davis:

I tell people all the time, I hire people and I say, “This isn’t a job. This is a life commitment.”

Richard Hession:

Yeah.

Stephanie Davis:

This isn’t nine to five. This isn’t vacations. I mean, one of my favorite things now is I’m teaching my girls to ski, right? And I have a jacket that my phone sits right here. I can’t tell you, I’ve answered the phone on Space Mountain at Disney World. I mean, it’s a commitment. And in early recovery, that takes every piece of you. It fuels your pride and ego, and it takes all of that love and nurture that you need to be pouring into yourself to be calm, that healthy, grounded, well-boundaried, stable person. And you’ve just given it away. You’ve literally just said, it is no longer about me. It is about everyone that’s in need. And then, it does something to you. It really does.

So many marketers, they come in and I’ve seen it time and time and time again, they’ll make the mistake of showing up to bring somebody in and they walk into that house and they don’t ever walk back out sober. They go in, it’s almost like the plane, you got to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, because you ain’t making it out if you pass out. And I see it in marketing time and time again. And I thank God that he put my path where it is and really cracked my knuckles on working inside the treatment center before he gave me the opportunity to reach out to what I love and what I’m super passionate about, and that’s speaking to other families and other people in need, and sending the message to the officers and to the hospitals and to the first responders and to everyone that sees this ugly disease head on day after day and minute after minute, and saying, “There is hope.”

Richard Hession:

My ex wife would say [foreign language 01:09:24]. Very dangerous, or it can be anyway. So-

Paul Hart:

Yes.

Richard Hession:

… my man, Paul, let’s go to you. So I mean, the questions are all similar, but the same. But first, same question to you because you’re tech on the floor, you deal with everybody. Like I said, you’re more closer to where you have to see them in meetings and you run some groups and you …

Paul Hart:

Right.

Richard Hession:

But running a group and having one-on-ones with people all day long, doing what you do to help. And dude, I see you. You have a God effect on people that are … No, I’m serious, right? Like you’re a total God guy, but it don’t mean you don’t need to go to church. How do you separate the two? How do you separate the two? How do you live that boundary where you have to have personal recovery and then you bring what you bring and you give of yourself? And I know you get fully, I watch you day in and day out, but how do you manage both of those things where it creates a buoyancy rather than make you feel like you’re going to drown?

Paul Hart:

Okay. So you guys, first of all, I almost felt like crying when I listen to some of the days you guys say, and you know what, Richie?

Richard Hession:

Paul cries a lot. He’s a crier. Oh my God, he cries.

Nikoleta Danicic:

That’s great.

Paul Hart:

I don’t forget where I came from. I went from park avenue to the park bench. I went from the penthouse at an outhouse. And I’ll never forget that. And I’m one of those kinds of guys, and we talked about homeless and all that, but my higher power, God, he had to break me. I talked about the ego, right? I was broken, but they talk about sometimes, I wasn’t just broken. God didn’t just humble me, but he humiliated me. The foreclosure sign and taking away the cars.

So when I started getting better and where I work now, I watch this and it’s more than just this is not a job for me. This is the way I’m supposed to be. I always think … I was telling somebody else about this story, I’m a tech. I’m a tech. I take urines. I I move chairs around, I move clients around. I set up rooms. And people say like, “Yeah, but you on Wall Street.” Yeah. But this is what keeps me humble.

There was this one day. I’ll never forget it, Richie, at BlueCrest. And I was throwing out the garbage. And my boss called me, Drew had called me. And he said, “Hey, Paul, the cigarette thing on the outside is smoking.” So I got this garbage bag in my hand. Now, he wants me to go put the garbage out. Now he wants me to put a water on the garbage. So I go outside and I’m pulling this, and it started to rain.

So I got garbage in my hand, I’m pouring out … And it started to rain. And one of the buses pulled up where all the clients are coming in. And there I am, 55 years old with all this. And it was like almost God’s showing me like this too is okay. And I didn’t feel bad about it. You know what I mean? It hit me for a while, but for me, I had to get to the point … And I want you guys to know, like when I lost my job on Wall Street and I was bankrupt, I was bankrupt. But for me, I was spiritually bankrupt.

When I lost everything, I lost my money, but I lost my soul. I lost everything in me. So when I got back at treatment and I got back this … I do this because it keeps me grounded. I love this job. I love what I do. It’s more than a passion for me.

So now, I’m a God guy. I’m a love guy. I always talk about love. Love is the foundation of everything that I do. So I love helping people. But I do. I have to be very careful. It’s love. It’s the boundaries. And for me, my higher power. I’m a very spiritual person. When I started off in this field, I didn’t start off like coming here to work. I started off ministering in treatment programs. I started off going to prisons, speaking to the guys. I started off going to salvation armies, speaking to the guys about who I am or what I was. And then I kind of fell into this. So I kind of keep it separate because I knew that I wanted to help them, but I know who I am. And I know what I can be.

My ego and pride can flare up at any time. So I’m constantly going to my higher power and being honest. We talk about being honest, open and willing. I keep my humility where it is. I love what I’m doing, but I can only help them as much as I help myself. So at the end of the day, when I watched them do whatever they do, I am certain and I’m very aware there before the grace of God goes I, and if I don’t take care of me, I could be right back in those seats.

Stephanie Davis:

That’s it.

Richard Hession:

Amen.

Paul Hart:

Right back in those seats. One bad decision away from sitting with the people that I’m trying to help. And I don’t want that today.

Richard Hession:

No. We all sponsor people, right? I mean, anytime you ever see me, all you got to do is ask, “Hey. Richie, are sponsoring guys right now?” And if I ever say no, I’m dead. I’m dead. You know it. Oh, you better stay away from me. Or if you thinking of relapsing, I might be a good partner to go out with for a while.

But I mean, that’s a fact, right? Sponsoring people becomes everything. It’s funny how ego can mix with anything that we do. Because we’re talking a lot about that. And that is big in the treatment field. Anybody thinking about getting into the treatment field, definitely you, the one that started bringing up, and you were right. And the ego, and it can have its play even in the other side, it’s not just in the treatment field, it’s in our personal recovery side.

Right? When you get asked to go speak a lot, I go speak a lot. People who ask me like, “Oh, can you come do this conference? Can you do that conference? Blah, blah. Yeah, I’ll do that conference. I had people call me up … We’re out there now. BlueCrest, my story’s out there. LinkedIn, this, that. I get calls from people I used to work with many years ago, my kid, this, that. And I remember I had gotten a call and the guy’s like, “Hey, my kid and whatever.” And I’m like, well, listen, you want them to really come to [inaudible 01:15:36]. If he comes to my rehab, I can’t sponsor them. But if you send them somewhere else, I can go meet with them. I’ll work with them one-on-one.”

Like yeah, but he needs rehab. I’m like, no, I don’t think you understand. You need a great sponsor. I’m like hearing myself saying this. Like, I think I’m a great sponsor. Right? But I mean, I’m so invested in both sides, the eagle could come anywhere.

Stephanie Davis:

Sure.

Richard Hession:

What do people need? They need it all. I mean, if we could get-

Stephanie Davis:

They do.

Richard Hession:

… them the best of everything, a solid sponsor, a solid … But at the end of the day, all any of us can ever really do is the best that we can. Are we showing up with the right motivations? Do we show up the right way? Are we giving our all? Are we making time for ourselves, for God, self care? Are we doing our inventories? Are we sponsoring people? Are we doing all the 12 work that we-

Nikoleta Danicic:

Staying grounded.

Paul Hart:

Stay grounded, yes.

Nikoleta Danicic:

You got to stay grounded.

Richard Hession:

Are we doing our own work? So our own house is clean and in order. And if we are, and we look the right motivations to show up in treatment, best of all worlds, that’s how you stay buoyant instead of it bringing you down to the bottom. If I’m out of whack in either one of those areas, the one can totally screw the other. But if both, I think, are lined up well, I think that they compliment each other so well. I’ve had texts on my house, and one of them had just said to me the other day, he’s like, I know a lot of people say they struggle sometimes doing this and doing that but I got to tell you, I feel like the work I do here just makes me even more alive. And I’m like, good for you. But that’s where he’s at right now. His personal recovery is clearly rock star.

And now the experience he’s having here is rockstar as well, and he’s like, I don’t get it. Like in his mind, are you crazy? This makes me even more connected to God. But that’s not always the case. It’s not always the case. And sometimes, it can feel that way for a year, but we have to always be very mindful-

Stephanie Davis:

Of that brick wall.

Nikoleta Danicic:

It’s a double-edged sword.

Richard Hession:

Have any of you had anybody who came to you in your careers in the places you work? And if you haven’t had anybody at BlueCrest do a poll, you will. But for you two, especially, I’ve met people who’ve come to me, great techs in-houses. I’ve had great clinicians, young, early people who’ve come to me and said, “I can’t do this anymore.” These are good big book kids. And I’m like, really? Because I love them. And I’m like, really? And they’re like, dude, my personal recovery, I had discussed it with my sponsor. And I was like, say no more.

I tell them all when they start, “If at any point you get to the point where you feel like this might not be, you’ve got to recognize that and be honest with us.” And I’ve had them come to me. And I love when they do. I hate it because I love them in the field and I know they can help a lot of people, but if it’s wrong for them, and once you become aware it’s wrong for you, that’s it, you got to go. You got to call it.

All right. So Kevin is saying that we’re out of time. Oh my God. We did go a little longer. There’s nothing wrong with that. I guess everything we said needed to be said. Thanks for ringing operate, Kev. We appreciate it. Nick, thank you for not giving us any of the questions or comments. I don’t know if you’re still in the garage, but …

Nick:

It’s a couple of comments. [inaudible 01:18:25].

Richard Hession:

Nick said there was only about three dozen comments and 12 questions, and we didn’t get to any of them. All right. Well, next time anybody who had a question, we’ll email you the answers. And anybody with negative comments, keep them to yourselves. But I want to thank all three of you guys for coming. And this is a lot of fun to hang. Right? I said it wasn’t scary. It’s just we’re all talking to each other.

Nikoleta Danicic:

I just warmed up.

Richard Hession:

Yeah, there you go.

Paul Hart:

Yeah, yeah.

Nikoleta Danicic:

Now I’m ready.

Stephanie Davis:

There you go. Now we [crosstalk 01:18:48].

Paul Hart:

I feel we got to do this again.

Stephanie Davis:

What’s our next topic? Let’s go, let’s go.

Richard Hession:

We’ll have you guys back again-

Nikoleta Danicic:

It’s a two-part series, no?

Richard Hession:

Three four-part series. But thank you very much for everybody for coming and be well. And from BlueCrest, we’ll see you next time.

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