Meet Malibu Beach Recovery Center CEO Joan Borsten
Today I’m welcoming another writer whose posts will appear from time to time. Pat Olsen has been freelancing for The New York Times and other publications for more than 10 years, but she also has a special interest in writing about addiction. She’s the only one in her immediate family who was not an alcoholic. (Sadly, she is the only one left.)
For her first post, Pat suggested interviewing me and managed to convince me that readers might find this helpful. Perhaps if you have questions, I’ll choose a few of them occasionally and answer them here.
1. You have an interesting background as described in your bio on the site. How did your family come to found MBRC?
My husband, Oleg Vidov, and I like the challenge of building new businesses using our very different backgrounds. Since 1988, we have started several different companies in diverse fields — from aviation to entertainment. We brand them, grow them, and then sell them. We heard about this unique addiction treatment methodology in 2007 and became co-founders of the treatment program. In 2009 we bought out the interests of the other partners.
2. You didn’t start in the addiction field. How did you become interested in it, and what do you feel you bring to the field?
I come from a family of do-ers. My dad, Orin Borsten, influenced many during his career in Hollywood. My mom, Laura Rapaport Borsten, was one of the first female Navy WAVE officers. I have always liked helping others; I volunteered for the Peace Corps after graduating U.C. Berkeley. In the field of addiction, there is true reward because you help bright, creative, interesting people turn their lives around. I like our particular treatment program because the holistic elements bring such rapid change in clients — they begin to look healthy very quickly. Their brains clear; you can literally see the fog lift. One of our clinical consultants has been in this business for over 30 years. She literally came out of retirement to work with us because she was so impressed with the results she was seeing. I was very pleased when our treatment program was endorsed by Dr. Kenneth Blum, the internationally recognized authority and researcher on neuropsychopharmacology and genetics whose seminal work with Dr. Ernest Noble in 1990 first established the link between genetics and addiction. We are planning to participate in one of his clinical studies next year, which we hope will bring quality of life back to a group of Californians currently dependent on prescription drugs.
3. What do you see as your role in MBRC?
My role is two-fold. First, it is to run Malibu Beach Recovery Clinic and to be its primary advocate for an holistic approach to recovery. In so doing, I’ve come to learn more about pill abuse. Utilizing my background in journalism, and my political ties in Sacramento and Washington D.C., I have become an advocate to draw attention to the prescription drug epidemic currently sweeping California and the nation and to champion much-needed change. The medical profession and pharmaceutical industry are out of control when it comes to pill addiction. There are gray areas of law that need to be amended and legislated. Our elected officials need to examine the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and doctors, the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and health care plans. Doctors need to have better training about the disease of addiction while in medical school and in their continuing professional education. This is an area where I can be of service to the addiction community.
4. What are some things you’ve learned in your work since joining the Clinic?
Holistic treatment combined with traditional therapy works for most clients. If they adopt the healthy new life style they learn in treatment, and become involved with the 12-Step fellowship, they have a good chance at long-term sobriety. I am cognizant of the huge changes that have taken place in medicine over the last century – hard to believe my grandfather died from an infection which several years later could have been treated with penicillin. There have been dramatic changes in treatment of hypertension and cholesterol, but few if any advances in addiction medicine. Nonetheless, knowing what I do about addicts, I am skeptical about the government’s plan to develop a pill for every addiction.
5. What is your interaction with clients?
I am often the voice on the other end of the phone the first time they, or their families, call the Center for help. I get to know everyone over the course of treatment, and I make every effort to stay in regular touch with our clients after they complete treatment.
6. What is a question you’re often asked?
Is there a cure for substance abuse? Sadly, the answer is “no.” The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is the Bible of recovery, says “one day at a time.” I believe that when they wake up each morning, most people in recovery still have to remind themselves not to drink or use street drugs or abuse prescription medication.
7. Do many clients come to you from other programs?
Yes. The Malibu Beach Recovery Clinic is often the last stop for clients who have tried and failed numerous other programs, not just in California but from other states as well.