Profiles in Recovery

Adi Jaffe

Jaffe’s career has the gravitas of a lifelong high-achiever. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA, where he lectures and conducts research. He’s a columnist for Psychology Today, Executive Director of a California treatment center, founder of a popular website on addiction, and author of a TEDx talk about shame and stigma in mental health. Jaffe has also shared his insights on TV’s Good Morning America and Larry King Now.

It’s a journey that could have turned out remarkably different. A former meth addict and convicted drug dealer, Jaffe spent a year in jail after a SWAT team raided his apartment. Today, 12 years into recovery, he hopes his striking transformation can inspire others to rebuild their lives.

Day Job:
Co-Founder & Executive Director, Alternatives Behavioral Health; UCLA psychologist and addictions expert.

My rock bottom moment:
Waking up to 12 officers in my bedroom with shotguns, handguns and full gear staring at me at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. The moment that changed everything came after, though. When kicked out of the rehab I was in for using (drugs), I decided to be honest with my parents for once and tell them what happened. The world hasn’t been the same since.

What worked for me:
Having my attorney tell me I needed to go to rehab to give my case a chance. It was the act of getting evicted from this treatment facility for using that truly got me to understand how bad my judgment was and that I needed real help.

The sober living house I stayed in for 8 months was 12-step based and I was willing to accept anything to not be homeless/in-prison for the rest of my life. After jail, I went back to school and began studying addiction with everything I had. After 3 years in the program, I left AA and have been managing my impulsivity and compulsivity to substance use well since that time (12 years ago).

Rules I live by:
Be as honest as you can at all time, and if you have to go back and get even more honest later, do it. Forget shame, it’s not worth it. Pay attention to my own needs and consult with others on the best way to meet those needs – self-care is equally important to hard work.

On my bucket list:
Give a full TED talk (after my TEDx); Create a national powerhouse that changes the way people think of, and treat, mental health issues; travel around the whole world with my family.

Best advice for newbies:
Keep walking forward, find someone you trust and start trusting your ability to get to the other side of this.

On my schedule today:
Go Karting with my clients from Alternatives, writing a bio for a retreat I’ll be leading with my wife, speaking to two families who are in need of help and watching a few shows on HULU with my wife.

What I value most in recovery:
Having a life I appreciate and enjoy; my family

Stigma I faced:
Being unemployable, having mentors tell me I shouldn’t share my past with anyone

I get inspired by:
Seeing others reach their goals, seeing a client smile, a number of business and inspirational podcasts, MUSIC

Proudest moment:
Birth of both my kids (and TEDx talk)

Shed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].