Dr. Howard Samuels

Interview with Dr. Howard Samuels

I had the good fortune of sitting down last week with Dr. Howard Samuels, founder and president of The Hills Treatment Center in Hollywood, and hearing his thoughts on how he envisions the 12 Step program evolving, long-term sobriety and the motley morphing of today’s recovery movement.

What makes The Hills unique in today’s recovery world?


First of all, today’s recovery world is ripe with mixed messages. Recovery has turned into a lot of places that are open just to make money, that are run by non-professionals, who have no personal experience with alcohol and drug addiction. As far as the “recovery” aspect, they want to treat trauma in the first 30 days – instead of treating alcoholism and drug addiction. Treatment centers are about treating alcoholism and drug addiction. Trauma and underlying issues will come to the surface if they stay sober and that will be a lifelong process. What we try to do here at The Hills is to stabilize and help people in the transition from the darkness into the light – which is a very emotional, confrontational and dramatic transition.

I’m not sure what makes us unique, but what I do here at The Hills is keep things very simple. I employ addicts only, recovered alcoholics and drug addicts only. I don’t believe in “normies” treating addicts and alcoholics because 98% of them have no clue. My entire staff is in recovery; this is paramount with the staff that is hands on. We also have staff with licenses and doctor’s degrees. I’ve worked hard to create a community here where we tell each other the truth, it’s not bullshit…and I try to do it in an atmosphere that is beautiful and seductive – because we need to seduce the beast into recovery.


Are you seeing any changes in addiction in this new informational/social media world?


The changes that I see in today’s world are that more addicts and alcoholics are coming out of the closet. They’re not ashamed to talk about alcoholism or addiction, which I think is very, very important. Many people who have the disease hide it and one of the traditions of the 12 Steps urges us not to talk about it – I don’t really believe in that. I go on TV all the time and talk about my recovery, that I’m a recovering addict/alcoholic. I’m 30 years sober, so even if I got loaded today, I’m a success because 30 years of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Steps has helped me tremendously.

I believe that we need to come together as a movement, a recovery movement and social media has really encouraged that. Especially as we are in such trying times with the legalization of weed, which is really about addiction, greed and money, and allowing another industry and another drug to get our children even more loaded. I say that because now it looks as if we’re going to mass promote weed and mass produce it, so it becomes the new health drug…..give me a f#!*in’ break!


Has your approach in addiction treatment changed to be able to treat Generation Y and/or the clientele you are getting today?


No. Addiction is addiction. When I was shooting heroin at 16 it was no different than it is now. I was just in a group with a kid who is 23 and he’s been shooting heroin, that kid was me 30 years ago. It’s the same type of attitude, it’s the same type of negativity and anger and hating the world and, “#%*! you!” It’s no different. What is different – as I answered in the question before – is that the non-professionals and the “normies,” are getting into the recovery field and trying to treat us addicts like we’re Guinea Pigs and attempting to make a dollar off of us.


How do you see the 12 step program evolving in the next 10 years with so many new forms of treatments or don’t you?


I think the 12 Step program has evolved tremendously and I think it’s going to continue to evolve. Because of the social media and because it’s such a popular community based recovery movement. I think it is only going to get bigger; it’s only going to become more popular because I don’t see the addiction rates going down. Like I said, with the legalization of weed in many states, that means the addiction rates are going to go up. That means recovery is going to become even bigger. Everybody hits a bottom eventually and God have mercy on the ones that don’t.


I heard you just celebrated 30 years of continuous sobriety, what do you believe the key ingredients are for long-term recovery?


There are two factors that have given me 30 years. I believe the first key ingredient for long-term sobriety is remembering where you come from. I was a hardcore heroin addict and I’ve never forgotten that, one-day-at-a-time. It’s all about the 1st step. The only thing I’ve done perfectly in my 30 years is a perfect 1st Step. If you forget who the enemy is – which is the drug and the drink – you’re gonna get loaded. That’s why people get loaded, because they totally forget and they look at substances as the solution. They forget that they’re really the enemy in their life.


I have not forgotten who I truly am, which is a dope fiend – and secondly – that I am in the middle of recovery. I work in it, I live in it, I am passionate about it, I believe in it, I love it. Having an enormous passion for recovery has helped me grow and helped me attain 30 years of sobriety. I encourage people to get into this field, because I consider it such a great field to work in. We need as many recovering addicts as possible, to get in here and help other addicts and alcoholics turn their lives around and move from the dark into the light.

In addition to the work Dr. Samuels performs at the Hills, I found him to be a very accessible and dedicated “trudger” on the road to happy destiny. His book, Alive Again, provides an in depth view at his personal struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, and is a valuable resource for families or anyone wanting to understand the intricacies of addiction and successful recovery. Dr. Samuels also offers a personal guide to the 12 steps Howard’s Guide to the 12 Steps, on his website, a remarkable gift of recovery for anyone desiring a deeper trip into step-work. To find out more about Dr. Howard Samuels and The Hills Treatment Center visit their website http://www.thehillscenter.com

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Howard C. Samuels, PsyD, is a leading drug and alcohol addiction expert. He is a licensed therapist with a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and years of experience running two successful treatment centers. Dr. Howard C. Samuels is also an accomplished author, having penned the critically acclaimed ALIVE AGAIN, an in-depth look at recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction.


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