Gina sits down with Simple Path Recovery founders Justin and Samantha and discusses how the two of them became partners and how they decided to start their facility.
Gina Thorne: Hello everyone, this is Gina Thorne, and welcome back to the Lakeview Podcast Series. I am very excited today to be joined by Justin Dunbar and Samantha Van Sant with Simple Path Recovery out of Pompano Beach. Welcome! Samantha Van Sant: Thank you for having us. Justin Dunbar: Thank you so much. Gina: It’s good to have you guys here. So I’m going to ask both of you this question, but I’ll start with you, Justin. You’re one of the co-founders and Marketing Director for Simple Path Recovery, but before we start talking about Simple Path, why don’t you tell us a little bit about how you got into the field. Justin: Of course, yeah. So obviously, like most other people in the field, I’m in recovery myself. Between jails and institutions, psych wards, over 18 years I struggled with drugs and alcohol, eventually leading me to heroin, losing myself, losing my fiancé, having her take my kids from me, losing my brother, losing my mother, losing everyone close to me; but most importantly, I lost myself. I came back and went through the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and I found God and I was able to get hope and faith back in my life. Gina: Good! So your bottom was pretty significant in that you knew where you needed to start making changes. Justin: Yeah. I always knew where I needed to go. It was always my pride and my ego that always wouldn’t allow me to do that. Gina: Right. Good. Justin: Yeah, it was just time to give up. Gina: Well good! Samantha, tell us a little about your background. How did you get involved? Samantha: Sure. Actually, just like Justin, I’m in recovery myself. I moved to Florida when I was 21 years old from New Jersey, due to my addiction. I was homeless, I didn’t have a place to go and I found a local halfway house in the area and from there my journey began. I’ve been working in the field for about seven years and when I started working in it, there was something that I was drawn to, I felt like I was helping people that I could relate to and they could relate to me with my struggles. You know, I started using at a young age, so getting clean and sober at 21 really opened up the world to me, and I realized that I had so much more to offer. So I went back to school for healthcare administration and really took it from there. Gina: Great and so both of you launched Simple Path Recovery together. What prompted you, Samantha, to say, “This is something that we need to get going”? Samantha: Well for a couple years now, my dream has always been to have my own place where I, along with a team, to really just make decisions that we felt were right for clients and really focus on client care. And Justin actually reached out to me in regards to this company and he just told me a little bit about his ideas and from there I was hooked. And I was like; this is what I’ve been waiting for. I was waiting for the right partner to come along to really just take this to the next level. And ever since then, we’ve been partners and going full force since then and it has been an exciting ride. Gina: So how long has it been open? How long have you guys been operational? Samantha: We just actually have been open for about two-and-a-half weeks now. Gina: Oh, good! Ok! Samantha: We’re a baby. We’re brand new. It has been in the works for a handful of months but we’re very excited that it’s actually official and that we’re up and running. Gina: That’s fantastic! And Justin, what was it for you that you decided this was something that you wanted to do? Justin: It was really just a passion for helping others. When I came back into the rooms a few years ago, it was guys who were able to love me until I could love myself again. I worked at some other treatment centers before venturing out to do Simple Path Recovery, and it was just that whole dream that I had. I got sober to move on with my life and spread my wings and really fly on my own journey. It’s amazing what the 12-steps of AA and God will do when you’re doing the next right thing. Gina: Yeah and it’s interesting because I’ve done a lot of these podcasts and there always seems to be a central theme that those who are in the program are so hungry to give back and want to be able to touch others with the sense of recovery and it’s great to see that you all are the ripple in the water that is making that happen. So Simple Path has three specific phases, if I’m right on that… Justin: We do, yes. Gina: Could you describe those for us? Justin: Sure. So the three phases are: Intensive outpatient, outpatient, and sober living. In the IOP, there’s a lot more structure. We’ll nurture the guys when they come in, help them put together a resume, do online applications, and take them to and from meetings daily. They’re in group from 9 until 12 Monday through Friday with scheduled activities on the weekends, so it’s more hands on, the life skills aspect of it, trying to get them back into the real world, coming from an inpatient treatment center, back out into society. After the first 30 days, 30-60 days or so, then they’ll transition into the outpatient level of care. By that time, they’re working full-time, they have a sponsor, they have a home group, they’re going to meetings, and they’re doing the next right thing on a daily basis. After they complete the outpatient program, they’ll then transition into sober living. Through each level, through each phase, there’s less restrictions on what they can do. There’s a 10 p.m. curfew in the beginning, then it goes up to an 11:30 p.m. curfew and then eventually to a 12:30 curfew. Then the guys are able to get passes, they can go home and see their family and their families can come down for our family weekend. Gina: And where do they stay off property, in houses? Justin: They do. We have affiliated housing in East Pompano between the intracoastal and A1A in Oceanside housing. It’s a beautiful little town down there. It’s quiet with a nice fishing-type atmosphere, beachy feel to it. Gina: That’s good! So obviously we all know that the field of addiction treatment can be quite a quagmire especially if you’re a family member that’s in crisis and so when you’re thinking about navigating treatment, particularly for those people who are listening today, what is your recommendation, Samantha, for folks that are trying to seek access to services? What would you help them with in understanding the best first step? Samantha: Sure. As you said, there are a lot of different treatment centers out there and so many possibilities and how do you make the right decision? I believe that if it’s a family member looking, really try to find out what you’re looking for and what to get out of the program and see how a program is structured because I believe that structure is everything, in early recovery especially. Really knowing that the staff you’re sending your loved one to, or yourself, has the experience that is needed. Our staff has over 40 years of combined experience and I believe that is something that goes a long way, and if a family member knows that these people are a caring, experienced staff and that the place is welcoming, that it could be a good option for them. Also, I suggest always making that phone call, spending time on the phone, asking questions, don’t be afraid of asking questions to the admissions representative that you’re on the phone with. I feel that more questions is better, just to make sure that you feel safe. Gina: Absolutely, and to feel like you have control over some of the situation which is important. Samantha: Of course! Gina: So this is your first visit to Lakeview and I’m just curious what your thoughts are. Samantha: Oh sure. I was blown away. I think Lakeview is beautiful. The brand new gym facility, I was looking around thinking, “Hmm, I’d love to come down here and work out!” It’s just beautiful. The staff is so caring and welcoming and we just feel at ease here. Going to a new facility, it’s always a little nerve-wracking; you don’t know how everyone is going to be, but everyone made us feel right at home. Gina: Wonderful! Well we thank you for both coming up and visiting with us because I know sometimes travel can be heartache for some folks. So if folks who are listening today wanted to access services to Simple Path Recovery, how could they get in touch with you guys, Justin? Justin: Sure. They can always call me directly at 561-252-9375 or they can reach us toll free 855-HOPE-625 and they can look at us online www.simplepathrecovery.net. Gina: That’s great. Well thank you both again for taking time to visit with us here at Lakeview and for sharing your story with us. For those of you that are interested in learning more about Lakeview, we invite you to visit us at LakeviewHealth.com or if you know someone that is struggling with addiction and needs residential treatment right away, you can call us at 866-460-8416.