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Stories Of Addiction: The Path To Recovery with Paul Noddings
On this episode, we have a well-traveled gentleman who spent several months outside of the country. He’s got a great business because he was able to go travel outside of the country with family for a number of months. His name is Paul Noddings from the Santa Cruz, California area. He has a podcast called Responsible Recovery. He runs a sober living home called Gault House. He has a podcast and also has a videocast component to that. I’m excited to have him on the show and sharing some of what he’s doing with all of you existing and potential podcasters because he’s got a different take on the value of the podcast for him and his business. Thank you for coming. I would love for you to share a little bit with our audience about how you see the value of your podcast for your business. You have a unique business. It’s important for people to understand if they have a local business that is not an internet-based business and not a large company on how a podcast can potentially benefit them through your story.
I run a Sober Living Environment, SLE, or what other people might think of as a halfway house. It’s for recovering alcoholics and addicts. About half of those people are recovering from alcoholism and the other half from heroin addiction. Those are the two big drugs. There’s a lot of under coverage of alcohol in our society. It’s been grandfathered into our society and does a lot more damage than our society properly perceives. Alcohol and heroin are the two big things in Santa Cruz. It’s not crystal meth, although that’s used and cocaine is used, it’s not what we’re seeing as the big problem. We’ve run a sober living environment in Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is a great place to experience recovery and get your recovery on track. Our house is called Gault House. We’re on Gault Street. The business is called Responsible Recovery. You can find it on the internet.
Our podcast is called Stories of Addiction. In that podcast, we interview people who have had an addiction. We talk to them about their addiction in-depth. We try to get them to talk to us about how much heroin were they injecting each day? Where did they find the money for the heroin? What did it make them feel like? Why were they doing it? What caused them to feel that this was a wrong track for them? What was the actual turning point that made them turn away from heroin and turn towards recovery? What did their recovery look like? How many times have they been to a rehab center? Which rehab centers did they go to? What did they do after the rehab center? How did the family play a role? We try to get in-depth and if you take a listen to our podcast, which you can on iTunes or Stitcher or go to our website, ResponsibleRecovery.net, you’ll see in-depth stories. Personal stories that are truly tragic and some of these depths that people descend to in addiction.
Our podcast is of interesting content to people who are in addiction and people who are in recovery from addiction. It makes interesting material to the recovery centers that are operating in the Santa Cruz and San Jose area. Consequently, those recovery centers refer clients to us as a good place for their client to stay after they’ve finished their treatment program. Normally, a person who’s in addiction would go to a detox center for about a week and then they’d spend about a few weeks at a recovery center. They would go to a sober living environment hopefully for about six months before they then go and find their own apartment again. That’s the cycle. We get most of our referrals from treatment centers. Our treatment centers are telling their clients about our podcast and it elevates our status as a sober living environment compared to the others that don’t do this fairly significant step. It’s not that easy to do a podcast when you are doing a lot of other things at the same time.
Tom, I found you and your organization helpful to me. I did use a local guy here to get me going and he was also helpful. Michael Merly is his name. He helped in framing everything, but then he wasn’t able to take me further forward the way that you have. I can see the options that you’re presenting to me and I’m quite interested in taking them. I’m also trying to run as hard as I can to take these options. We have this podcast and it elevates our status amongst the people that refer clients to us. It helps our clients and it gives us a higher status within our local environments. We got one call from a guy in New York that became a client for a period of time and we had a woman from Ohio. We did get some of the benefits of doing this internet-based stuff that does go beyond the Santa Cruz borders. Most of it is elevating our status within our local environment.
That’s important for people to understand what the power of a podcast is both on a national or even international level, but also on a local level. If I understood you correctly, you get business referred to you because of the podcasts in your local community area or certainly within drivable distance. I would call that in the category of lead generation for your business. Would you agree with that?
Yes, I would. We possibly would get all of those referrals anyway, but the podcast gives us an extra edge. It’s a differentiator. It elevates our status somehow. People seem to engage with us with a higher degree of respect or something of that nature. I’m not sure of the exact right words but I feel it. If I’m thinking I’m feeling it, there must be something there.
Would you say that you build trust more quickly with the people referring and/or your potential customers or people who would live in your home?
I do. I’ve been away for a few months to the Philippines and we’re about to start up the podcast again. Next time I go away, we’re going to run it while I’m away. We’ve got existing clients who are quite anxious to tell their stories. It elevates our status within those clients as well. This gives them a platform to tell their story. What a lot of people don’t realize or who are not familiar with recovery from addiction is that honesty is as a big way of shedding the weight of the burden you’ve been carrying around with you. That’s part of the reason people get into addiction is certainly one of them. They’re carrying too much weight on their shoulders. By being honest about it, the podcast is almost like a major confession. A lot of the clients want to do it.
I would think the more stories that you can share with others, the more people you’re going to help who could benefit from them. The more different stories and different experiences you have, you’re going to have more people who need help in recovery that are going to identify with one story or another or maybe several stories.
We have women staying in our sober living environment too. They are adults over eighteen, men and women. Women prefer to listen to a woman talking or at least hear some. I’m not saying they wouldn’t listen to a man but I believe there is a gender bias there. Alcoholics want to listen to another alcoholic tell their story and heroin addicts want to listen to another heroin addict tell their story. Not every podcast is for every person but the concept is working well. Our gut feel on it is positive. We are somewhat still newbies on this whole thing. I was listening to you talking about employing 40 people and I employ two, so it gives you a scale. You were talking about doing things that you shouldn’t be doing like reading resumes. I got angry because I was cleaning somebody’s blocked toilet.
That’s the reality of it. At the stage of business you’re at, it needs to get fixed. Who else is going to do it? You’ve got to do it. It’s unfortunate.
It’s annoying. I don’t like doing it. I feel like I’m above that now. I must have cleaned at least 100 toilets now.
As the leader of your business, that is something that definitely should be beneath you, no pun intended. You can make that in the future, even if it isn’t for your existing employees, a job requirement for a future employee to deal with that.Honesty is a big way of shedding the weight, the burden that you've been carrying around with you. Click To Tweet
We’re working on all of it. At the end of the day, sometimes the last resort is you’ve got to do it yourself.
I’d like to see your business grow to the point where you are able to help more people in recovery by having several sober living homes, not just one to the point where you would need a handyman, caretaker on-call for many things, one of them being plumbing.
We would love to expand to purpose-built sober living environments. If the building was purpose-built and designed for this population profile, there would be a lot of efficiencies built into the construction of the building. The design of the building makes it much more efficient to deal with this patient group. To do that, I need help from a finance guy. I have a degree in accountancy. It’s not that I need help with constructing Excel spreadsheets. I need somebody who’s got serious money. Anybody in your audience who can point me or refer me to others that would be sympathetic to this specific cause of purpose-built sober living environments. There’s a huge need for it. Almost all sober living environments are single-family residences which are converted for the purpose. The number of beds in them is less than optimal. Your bigger facility would have more economies of scale. Having a front office so you can see who’s coming and going and having a single entry point. There are a lot of design aspects that could be incorporated into purpose-built sober living environments. If this is ringing any bells with anybody out there, please call me.
That’s part of why I wanted to have you here is to help spread the word. There is a big need. With that big need, there’s also a big opportunity whether it’s directly an investment to make money or it’s a combination of investment in more philanthropic way and to help more people. It could be potentially a combination of both. There is quite a big need.
If this model worked in Santa Cruz, then you’d build out the same model in San Jose, which is next door, and then San Francisco and then Los Angeles and so on. There is a big opportunity here and it is property-related and that’s probably not as high-risk as some other ventures. Ultimately, the value’s in the real estate. It’s purposing the real estate for this particular purpose. There’s a real possibility that by putting out the word more, I’m going to run into somebody that is sympathetic to this concept. It’s part of the reason I’m interested in doing a book with you guys or through you guys and some of the other services that you offer. This is the exciting part of what I’m doing. Cleaning the toilets is not exciting. There’s a lot of other mundane stuff too.
I know your message is resonating. When you told me you were going to the Philippines for a few months and you were going to pause on publishing new episodes, I was mildly concerned that when you came back, you’re not going to have a big audience because it was relatively young in your journey as a podcast in terms of the number of episodes you’ve published. We both were pleasantly surprised that while you were away and not publishing new episodes, your podcast continued to get downloads every week and a larger number of them than either of us expected.
I’m pleasantly surprised by that too and it taught me a lot. The thing that’s going on here is that I’m providing content that is not that easy for other people to provide. It’s totally doable for a recovery center to do this or another sober living environment to do this, but it’s not easy for the man in the street to provide the same content that I’m providing. Our clients, even when we tell them they’re not allowed to do this or they’ve got to do that or they’ve got to clean the floor whatever, they might not like that but they trust us. They open up to us in a big way. There is another material that I’ve seen on the internet and YouTube that does cover similar subjects but not quite exactly what we’re doing. We’re in a unique position to produce the content that we’re producing.
I’m a little surprised that downloads were as high as they were. I feel that it’s an encouragement to continue to do what we were doing. Rather than look for new ways to put out a message, we’re deciding to stick with the formula that we’ve already got. It’s to interview the individual in detail about their addiction and what was the turning point that caused them to move towards recovery. What did the recovery look like? Unfortunately, some of the people that we’ve interviewed and have given great podcasts have been relapsed after the podcast, which is terribly sad. This is a deadly business. We had a person who lived with us for a few months and then moved out and died.
It’s terribly tragic. Hopefully, the reality of that and the story they shared could still help someone else. What you’re doing is admirable in how you’re helping people to recover. The podcast is another necessary and important tool to help others get the help that they need. Hopefully, it is part of the help that they need. It’s great because they can get it anytime they need it. I would imagine pretty much everybody has a phone.
That’s the one thing that addicts still have, it’s a phone. That’s the last thing to go typically.
They may lose their home, but they’re not going to in this day and age lose their communication line to the world. They need to call their dealer or text their dealer. You’re giving them a conduit to get help even when they can’t afford anything else where they’re down and out. It does make sense to me. I didn’t know where this journey was going to go with you when we first were introduced and started to work together. I’m pleased to be able to support you in doing what you do to help people. Every podcast is different. Every client is different that we work with. That’s part of the fun of it for me. I like it when I see it working and making a difference. To come full circle on that, I was worried you were going away for a few months, it’s not going to work. This is a good lesson for other podcasters and potential podcasters.
If it’s the right time for you to take a break from your podcast, you can do that. You may lose a lot of listeners, you may not. If you’ve got good evergreen content, listeners are going to find it. That’s what we’ve experienced with you. They’re going to find it even if you’re not producing any for a while. I do recommend ultimately, if you can, to store up some episodes if you’re going to be gone for a number of weeks or months and continue to publish over that time. I do think, especially in your case, your podcast may be a lifeline for people. Hearing new episodes or then the lack of them could be, I don’t want to say be detrimental to them, but people would be looking for it and wanting it. If it continues to be published on a regular basis, it may help them more.
Should I go away again? I only have two employees and I’m training both of them on being the interviewer. One has already done several interviews and the other is going to be doing one. The next time I go away, I will be having the podcast done while I’m gone. I hope it will work. That’s an example of me stepping away from something that I want to be the strategic thinker and I am the strategic thinker here. It’s easier to find people to be the interviewer on the podcast than it is to find people to unblock toilets. I’m having more success getting the podcast going than the toilets flushing.
The lesson and the point here is to see many different ways that a podcast can be effective in marketing and growing your business. In your case, it’s not only marketing and growing your business, but it’s serving people in a way that hopefully helps them have more success in their journey in recovery. There are many ways that your experience can apply to other businesses of a local nature or a more local business. You’re always going to have people in far off distant locations that are going to benefit as well. You have a local business for your local community and it serves you well and it’s helping.If you've got good evergreen content, listeners are going to find it. Click To Tweet
85%, even 90%, maybe 95% of our clients come from the local recovery centers. We would like to change that. Another thing about the podcast and that your audience might be interested to know is it’s elevating our status. It has the potential to get our effort here but just so people know, we have twenty beds here. It gives me the feeling that we’ve got a chance of moving up to a higher level, moving up a rung on the ladder or two rungs on the ladder. Without the podcast, we don’t have a bridge to try to get to a higher level. In the old days, you would use paper advertising, print advertising or something like that. We have a website too and we have little postcard literature that we put out and we have car magnets. We have some marketing material. The podcast feels like our big tool in the box and I’m finding that I’m excited about it. If you didn’t have proper content though, I don’t know that you should be doing a podcast. If you’re going to ramble on about stuff, then people won’t want to listen to it for too long.
You have to have a strong point of view, a vision, a mission or a message that you want to communicate or an area of expertise to share. You have all of that in what you’re doing. I’m happy you were able to spend some time with me. Thank you so much, Paul. I do appreciate it.
Tom, I can’t thank you enough. You’re a fantastic resource to me and I’m sure you know that you’re an important cog in our machine here. I’m pleased to have an association with you and I truly look forward to the day that I’ll meet you in person.
We’ll make it happen. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure. Have a great rest of your day.
Thank you very much.
- Responsible Recovery
- Stories of Addiction
- iTunes – Stories of Addiction
- Stitcher – Stories of Addiction
About Paul Noddings
Owner of Gault House – Sober Living Environment
I have been clean and sober since January 6th, 2015. I got involved with sober housing due to the strong demand for this type of housing and I am pleasantly surprised that I feel appreciated by my colleagues and most of my clients. I would like to grow our portfolio of sober properties.