Transcending addiction and redefining recovery: Jacki Hillios at TEDxBoulder

Transcending addiction and redefining recovery: Jacki Hillios at TEDxBoulder

Transcriber: Mohand Habchi
Reviewer: ali alshalali I work with people who many of you stereotypically love. They’re alcoholics. They’re buzzers and they’re drunks. They’re addicts. They’re pill poppers and they’re junkies. You see, I’ve always wanted to understand
why people do what they do. Because I believe
if can figure out the why, then I can find ways to help them. Help them find a better life and heal. So I worked as clinician
for probably about 15 years, and I watched as drugs and alcohol destroyed people’s lives. I made the decision to go back to school and I got my PhD. Because I thought, maybe, through research I can find
some of the answers to the questions that I couldn’t answer as a clinician. And what is really exciting is
I’m finding some of those answers, and I’m going to share
some of those answers with you here tonight. When I was a clinician, I watched so many people
who wanted to get sober, work really hard to try getting sober but they just couldn’t. And then again, it wasn’t
because they didn’t want to, but because things just got in their way. So let me tell you
a little bit about Anna. When I met Anna, she was trying to get clean from meth. She has probably been in treatment
maybe five or six times, and she burned all of her bridges. But she told she wanted to get clean and so we found her program
where she could go. This particular program, was going to be a little be tough because it’s a no smoking program, and Anna smokes cigarettes
in addition to the meth. And she was there
for may be a couple hours before she lit up. There were no second chances. They kicked her out. They actually drove down the road
to the 7-11 and dropped her off. She had no money and no phone. And really her only opportunity
at that moment, her only choice, was to hitchhike back to the meth house. And that’s what she did. I heard from Anna
a couple of weeks later and she wanted to try again. But this time, in order for her to get into treatment, she was going to have
to go through a detox program. She went to three detox programs before she actually found one
that would take her. The first one she went to
was a medical detox. And well, if you’re not going to die,
they don’t want to admit you to the program. There’s no risk, why bother? And when you come off meth, it really hurts, but you don’t die. The second program she went to, was cash only. She had no money. You can’t pay, you can’t stay. But she found this third program
and they finally admitted her. Ten hours after she was
admitted to the program, my cell phone run. It was 4 in the morning. The nurse on the other line told me
that she was done. She had completed her detox treatment. And now they wanted me
to come and get her. It’s 4 o’clock in the morning. But you see if didn’t come
and get her, they also said, they were going to make her just leave. And I knew where
she was going to end up. So I went and I got her, and this is where things
actually got really hard. Because, now she is
on a waitlist for treatment. We didn’t know if it was going to take a day, a week or a month
for her to get in. And she had no idea what to do next. Anna is not alone. In America today, there’s 23 million people
struggling with addiction. And of those, 10% are able to get treatment. And of the people who get treatment, 40 to 60% of them
relapse within the first year. So after a year, only about half of the people
are still sober. And the question remains, even they’ve gotten treatment,
what will they do when they get home. What’s next? And what about that 90% of people
who don’t get treatment at all. What are they supposed to do? You see, chances are, their cell phones are filled
with phone numbers of people who they drink
and they used with. They can go back
to the bars and the parties. They really just
don’t know what to do, because they burned
all of their bridges. Think about that for a moment. If you were one of these people, what would you do? Can you even imagine what tomorrow might be like? About ten years ago, I was climbing at the Rock Gym
in Boston, Massachusetts, and I met this guy named Scott Strode. And we became friends
and climbing partners. Scott! He told me he’s on recovery. I didn’t really think anything of it because the truth is we were climbing
and we were having so much fun. And there was this one
New year’s Eve weekend, a whole group of people got together and we went ice climbing. And again, knock it out of the park, we had so much fun. A few weeks after that holiday weekend, Scott told me that it was the first time
that holiday come and gone, and he hadn’t thought about drinking. He shared with me this idea he had
for doing things different. He wanted to take what he had learned from his personal experience on recovery and give it to other people. And me, I thought it was a no-brainer. You see, Scott got sober after years of binge drinking
and lot of cocaine. And lucky for him, he wandered into a boxing gym. And then, mountaineering, and then triathlon. And with every mountain he climbed, and with every finish line he crossed his recovery was stronger. But what he struggled with
was the stigma and the shame. Telling people he was
on recovery was really hard, and he often felt alone. When I met Scott, it changed my life because I realized something
from spending time with him. And that was that people
are not their disease. So not long after this great weekend, Scott was very inspired and he decided he wanted
to make this happen. So he moved here,
to Boulder, Colorado, and he started a program
called “Phoenix Multisport,” and he asked me to help him. So we created this program, where addicts were no longer
defined by their addiction, instead, shoulders to shoulders they climbed mountains
and they inspired others. And in 2006, Phoenix Multisport was born. It is a practical community for people who are on recovery
from drugs and alcohol and gets them involved
in an active lifestyle. And through things
such as climbing and hicking and running and cycling and strength training, people are finding the strength
and the support they need to recover. In Colorado, right now, in Front Range, Phoenix has served over 8000 people. (Applause) (Applause ends) In case anybody is wondering, we have goals of taking over the world. Public: Yeah! Our instructors facilitate
probably 45 events a week, which is really amazing, because what it means is that, every day of the week
there’s something for people to do and there’s some way for them to connect. They don’t have to be alone. The other thing that is really unique
about Phoenix Multisport, is that all of our instructors,
are what we call peer professionals. Which means,
they’re in recovery themselves. Because we believe that
they’re in this unique position of knowing what really works
and what doesn’t, and what matters most. And they can also connect people
into a broader sober community. That as a clinician,
I just could never do. It’s pretty amazing! The other thing people
ask me all the time. If we’re just replacing
one addiction for another, the alcohol and drugs we’re replacing that
with running and climbing, the answer is no. The sport brings people together, but it’s the experiences people have: it’s the fun and the people
that keep them coming back and help them heal. A lot of our members
wear T-shirts that say Phoenix Multisport
or sober across the chest. You see it’s really hard
to be tied to stigma and shame when so many people around you are proud of who they are and they’re open about their recovery. In the beginning, I told you about that 23 million
who were struggling with addiction. Half of the people went to treatment
actually were able to stay sober. At Phoenix, three quarters of the people
who come to our programming stay sober. (Applause) (Applause ends) And what’s also really amazing is that when we ask people
who relapsed if they’d come back, over 90% of them said yes and that they’d come back without any feeling
of shame or guilt or worry. And that’s huge, because addictions
are chronic relapsing conditions. And if we can get people to come back, at least we can minimize
the damage that has been done and get them back on track
and moving forward. So we call that a huge win. We also believe that recovery
is more than sobriety alone. And our participants tell us
that by participating in Phoenix, they actually are seeing benefits. To their physical health. Their mental health. And their quality of life. (Applause) (Applause ends) So while I’ve been part
of Phoenix Multisport, I’ve learned three really
important things about recovery. And the first one is people matter. Going it alone by yourself
on recovery is really hard. But when you do it together, it just makes it all that much easier. Second, fun matters! Because if you’re not having fun today, you don’t see joy, you have no hope for tomorrow. And that brings me to my third point. Tomorrow matters. If we can imagine a better tomorrow and we have hope for our future, and we see a bright tomorrow, it makes dealing with the crap
we have to deal with today a lot easier. Together these three things
are creating a tipping point, Where living sober
is just a little bit easier. It’s a little more accessible. It’s valued. And before I leave tonight, I have one last thing because I think this is really important for recovery or beyond, and that is that people
are not their disease. It doesn’t matter
if they struggle with addiction, diabetes, depression, cancer. It’s a piece of who they’re. That’s it. And when we tell somebody
struggling with addiction, that they’re an addict or a junky, what we’re telling them
is they are their disease. What I want you to think about: they’re actually the person
sitting next to you. It’s your mother and it’s your brother
and it’s your sister. It’s your cousin,
it’s your best friend, it’s you. They’re also teachers and mentors. They’re engineers. They’re doctors. They’re lawyers. They’re even presidents. So you remember Anna? While she waited to get into
that treatment program, she came to Phoenix Multisport everyday. I had a lunch with Anna
a couple weeks ago. She has been sober for five years. (Applause) (Applause ends) Anna was and always will be more than her disease. And the people that I work with
at Phoenix Multisport, you might not agree, but I got to tell you, they’re not just alcoholics
and drunks and boozers, addicts and dope fiends. They’re so much more. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “Transcending addiction and redefining recovery: Jacki Hillios at TEDxBoulder”

  • If you or someone you know has been affected by the disease of addiction, come find online support with people who care. Our page is run by addicts in recovery who have walked the path and are willing to show you the way. Find us on Facebook @ No Addict Left Behind.

  • If you or someone you know has been affected by the disease of addiction come find online support with people who care. Find us on Facebook @ No Addict Left Behind. Resources may be available.

  • Charlene Willey says:

    I have been there before, I have been clean and sober for 34yrs, Changed gender when I was 24yrs clean and sober, and currently in my 3rd yr of college to become a Social worker,Trauma Therapist, and the nueroscience of it all. It has really been a process of feeling, and learning how to live in the reality of reality. Sobriety has been just a small gift, doing the feelings and grief work with a therapist has been the biggest gift of all to myself. Never give up on yourself. I got clean and sober at 24 yrs old, Iam now 58yrs old and have a very good life.

  • hey ,if anyone else wants to uncover best diet to avoid diabetes try Diabetes Recovery Tactics
    Ive heard some awesome things about it and my partner got excellent success with it.

  • If you or someone you know has been affected by the disease of addiction, come find support on Facebook @ No Addict Left Behind

  • jo-jo volkswagen says:

    Please don't botdr me with what u k kW the. Eat for the lost kkd. Like me u don't know it do u this k this game is the drug is the point of their life . not from the broken home since the were young and they try to have it but god hate them so much god said whoevsr accident in this basket it needs all tbe separate them kill their heart make rhem srhpid and mjsunderstand trap them sk u csn be the onlh people can have happiness and rich group of human .The other reason problems that u never think it powerful as same as drugs I am sure there is for sure u want to bet with me?

  • jo-jo volkswagen says:

    U can quarantine kids away from the things that u think it will fulfill their hsapiness , go for it I don't need that happiness if u think u feel uncomfortable

  • Lynn Turner Smith says:

    I would love to send a message out so that people can get a better understanding of addiction because it is a disease. Being a recovering person myself, and going back to school at 54 getting me BA, and now working on my masters. I work with recovering people as a Recovery Coach, and CPRM (IC & RC) here in Michigan. Being in recovery takes work, it hard but simply. I am in a documentary here in Michigan "Sigmatic" through Mclaren Hospital, Bay City, MI.

  • Is sports not swapping their biological Reward Pathway to the Runner’s High from their hedonistic drug of choice whilst also reducing any Slippery People? If so, then their causation pain & grief (Step 4/12) stays in the jar, susceptible, waiting. The addiction is not the problem.

  • Laslow hierarchy of needs. If your struggling for basic needs the development of the rest becomes difficult especially they way I’ve seen the medical system handle addiction.

  • Jarrod Woodward Sr says:

    Thank you!!!
    Feeling as if I being an addict was exactly the definition of ME, and this was so nice to hear, cause I am an addict, but first of I, ME, I am JARROD!!!

    i.e. the Nirvana shirt I am wearing…doea not make me Kurt Cobain….as much as I'd love to be.
    U get my point tho…
    I think the first step we have to take its finding a state, county, small city, some place understanding, and compassionate. And change some state or local laws to EXPERIMENT, In ways that these news AMAZING and almost obvious new research and understanding of addiction can be implemented

  • This video is changing my life. I'm moving from Florida to Denver because it inspired me so much. I'm already a member and I hope to one day work for them. I have so much passion in my heart to help others and myself at the same time. I will make a difference. Thank You!!!

  • William W. Roylance says:

    suppose if you where indecently well off and had the time and the money to what she suggested it might work But what I about people who work 40 hour jobs and have families to raise She worked over 5 years in the field and did not have a clue how to help people Recovery is not all fun in games it is a lot of hard work If anyone tells you other wise they are not being truthful

  • If you or someone you know been affected by the disease of addiction, come find support on Facebook @ No Addict Left Behind. Resources may be available.

  • The brain is plastic, in a neurological perspective. Neuroplasricity is how we learn new things and the brain responds accordingly, particularly with enjoyable activities. Addiction, therefore is not a disease but the brian responding accordingly to positive stimuli , the hijacking of the reward centers. Addiction is big business in North America and it, along with the US for proffit health care is abhorant. Behavior can be changed, even the highly complex behaviours related to addition. Just get a grip, folks!

  • The Great Awk-ward says:

    recovery is an individualized process. You fight for yourself. You use the same skills that worked to pay for and find drugs and apply them to paying for and finding help. Finally realizing and accepting that you're worth the effort to get clean is a MIRACLE unto itself, but that's just the beginning. But just like it took time to get yourself into that bad spot, it takes time to get out of it. I think Jacki Hillios is moving in the right direction for sure. We just need MORE options, accessible options to low income ppl, and how do we provide services without the funds to pay for everything needed to support them??? Change how society views addicts, so they're seen as being worth the investment…idk I'm just thinking out loud now. I'm 8 years clean….I just wanted to share I guess…in ten mins I'll come back and erase this anyway..Thank you

  • You need to want to be clean more than you want to live in the gutter. That's the truth. I'm a fentanyl addict. Arguably the hardest habit to kick. And I did. It's the hardest thing ever. Most people can't comprehend it.

  • Ok addicts are people too! We get it? But what's this video beyond 'selling'' a sports program? and telling us addicts are more than just people simply using? What's the actual point of this video?

  • 10 hours after being admitted to the detox program and they say she completed her detox treatment? For methamphetamine?? Meth has a half life of 12 hours! I think our society can do a little better than that…

  • Well there you have it ,your bag of sugar for today. Step one get detox. Step 10 climes a mountain or two. All cured, that was easy. I wonder if she ever watched her video.

  • CFDMEDICAMBO68 Relf says:

    Not Ever Get A Spiritual experience, I Got A spiritual experience, By The Grace Of God, I was 3 Weeks Sober Going Into A.A. And Now I’m 4Years And Some Months Sober From Alcohol

  • According to Jexi says:

    I love seeing YouTube videos that talk about addiction and recovery. Although my channel is super new I am hoping to make a difference by sharing my experience. Addiction doesn't have to be the end. Recovery IS possible!

  • People are getting sober everyday, all over the world and in your town without treatment. There are groups of all types in most cities and small towns. You don't even have to agree with everything any group says. Science tells us you will become like those you hang around.

  • The one sentence that brought me to tears…"it is valued". Trying to fit in with people who have no clue what addiction is gives you the clear knowing that your struggles and pride in yourself has no value to them. We must hang with other people we who know what we feel and value our strength.

  • Comparing the general statistics of half the people remaining sober who attend tradition treatment versus 3/4ths who attend Phoenix multi sport is very misleading. It doesn't consider key demographics such as net worth and income. It's possible people with access to more financial resources have a better chance of sobriety because they can afford the costs of keeping themselves engaged in society.

  • Max Holehousr says:

    If your struggling with addiction NA is a great place to make some changes. We need this in England!!! Id love to start something like this up

  • David Cooper 09261974 says:

    Last thing I want to hear is to how to beat an addiction from someone who has never been addicted themselves…..answer is 12 step

  • If someone isn't ready to get straight or sober it's like beating your head against the wall to expect change.

  • Thank you for your great words I wish more people were like you im struggling in addiction sober now and in fighting everyday to spead the word of addicrion mental health to stop turning your eyes on addiction ir time more people start changing the way people judge others we have the power to make change because the government wont do it

  • Stuart Branson - Theme Composer says:

    No help, no support and no clinics for my addiction – Sugar.
    Killing me slowly from the inside. "Just stop" they say. "Eat broccoli instead" some say.
    What a joke. Addicted since birth thanks to naive parents. No way out as far as I can see.

  • US Drug Rehab & Addiction Treatment
    Call: 877-827-0539

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  • Usually people drawn to drugs and alcohol are hyper and need physical activity but we are drawn to the fun and excitement finding it in healthy activities… Thanks for the ideas I'm sober from opiates for 5 months now I've been busy getting done what I was not able to do its kept my mind off drugs… I've been sober from alcohol for 2 months and it's hard… But I will keep this exciting activity in mind

  • #TeaWithSu Lorito-Schindler says:

    This all sounds good but where is the money coming from to pay for this.? Where do the participants live and how do they get food while they're there? Does insurance pay for this? What if they have no insurance, income for home?

  • My area could use something like this. Right now my city has a safe injection site (in the parking lot) a harm reduction site aka Arches Al and they have addiction counsellors. And it seems that it is creating more problems as more used needles are being found in the downtown area. I've been told that it's possible that they planned this site for majority of users, criminals, or any trouble makers to be conveniently in one area for the city police to keep tabs on. I'm talking about Lethbridge Alberta but I'm sure this is happening in a lot of cities. Methbridge is now what its called by many

  • I hate being sober life pain never stops doesn't go away time does not heal nothing changes I can't help my own friends they die disappear if weren't for my dad and dogs I'd kill myself I imagine blowing my brains out jumping in front of a train hanging myself I'd rather die in war but I'm 34 and was discharged from he military and they wont take me back

  • I got out of prison in August. I then went to rehab here in Winfield KS. I recently got out and am doing good. So I just wanted to say thank you for the information on addiction!

  • I just need someone who loves me right here besides me all the time , and I’m good to go
    But when I look at people all I feel is hatred, repellent behavior , looking down on me.

  • TheVelvetCactus says:

    Anna sounds JUST LIKE ME. Homeless from meth. 23. Looked up motivation bc I been up 4 days just lost beyond all belief.

  • Having something productive is half the fight when going against addiction. It's easy to lose hope and not attempt anything when you're addicted. And the worst part is the shame you get for sharing your situation. No one understands and in todays society, no one wants to understand it. They'd rather put you in a box and say your mentally sick.

  • F1 Rocket Engine says:

    I say; EVERYBODY WITHDRAWS, THAT is not "addiction" of ANY KIND. TRUE opiate addiction is a rare and much more serious condition. The popular AND WRONG notions about "addiction" is the ONLY reason the CDC COULD do what they did slandering opiates as medicine.

  • Talking about being and addict openly is poosible, but will always be stigmatized by society. . Either openly or hidden. These are my personal experiences of almost 50yrs. So sometime it`s best to keep this to yourself and fight your fight for the rest of your life secretly….Maybe you`ll find one person that you can trust, then you are lucky…
    It`s the same with depression. As soon as you tell ppl., your boss or partner or neighbors, they will look at you differently, sad but true.

  • budha tony bodhisatva says:

    Insecurity, Co dependancy, from birth…. Love, boundaries, security needed…. ❤️ Meditation, separate attachments to suffering… Learn!!

  • budha tony bodhisatva says:

    Why no one ever says why,,, a suffering is huma ignorance lack of knowledge… Dettach from the parent or thing they blame!

  • The biggest problem that fuels addiction is the fact that drugs are illegal. If we change the definition of what drugs are, we therefore redefine what an addict is, and literally liberate all addicts by giving them a legal door out of their state of being.

  • Love this talk. Am an opiate addict on a program (for 19 yrs, and yes, I know it’s insane. Haven’t touched H for 14 yrs., but still on the methadone)….and getting into sports, or getting a job can be a saving grace. And that thing about seeing the future in multicolours instead of just grey…that matters a lot. Thank you.

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