February 7, 2012

Building a Social Enterprise

Toward the end of my using, the more drugs I did, the less pleasure I got. At times I felt like I couldn’t get high anymore. I only got “well.” In the lingo of economics, they call this “the law of diminishing returns” and in the recovery community we call it “addiction.” Today my life is based on purpose and the focus is not on more money, fame or power but living life with purpose and service to others.

 
Since I started writing for RenewEveryDay.com, I have written a lot about social enterprise. When I was in rehab seven and a half years ago, the concept of social enterprise propelled my recovery forward. I found a way to organize my thinking where my passion and obsessive desire for building businesses was diverted away from the pursuit of money to the pursuit of social change. I saw how building a successful business could employ addicts in recovery.
 
social_buildingFor the last seven and a half years, I have been in pursuit of building a business that could employ addicts and alcoholics in early recovery. I started two successful drug and alcohol treatment centers—Wonderland and ONE80CENTER. It has been gratifying to employ over 100 recovering addicts over the last six years. The mission of ONE80CENTER is to employ addicts in their early days of recovery, helping to give them a sense of purpose and productivity. It’s challenging to hire people in their first year of recovery because of the potential for inconsistency and relapse.
 
So, I continue to look for partners to help. Recently I started volunteering at GETTLOVE in Hollywood, Calif. As I have seen many times in my life, addiction does not discriminate. It exists in families of all income levels and crosses all socioeconomic lines.
 
GETTLOVE was started by Aileen Getty. Aileen and I got sober around the same time. Her mission and purpose has been to help the homeless. She started a drop in a location where people living on the streets of Hollywood could get fed, take a shower and be a part of community. Building GETTLOVE helped Aileen find purpose in her recovery.
 
Over the last year Aileen and I have looked for opportunities to build an enterprise together that would help employ addicts in early recovery. Today we are trying again! Tune in to my blog every week for a play-by-play summary of building a social enterprise.
 
You’ll hear all about the growing pains of a new business, including all the failures, missteps and struggles that every new business faces. I hope at some point down the road you’ll see a new business that has been created, started, built and is being operated by recovering addicts with a triple bottom line, i.e. profit, community and support for the team members.
 
Stay tuned!
 
Image courtesy cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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