Marvin Kimble: I’m Marvin.
Dr. Greg Murray: And I’m Greg.
Marvin Kimble: And this is the Balboa Horizons podcast. Today I’m here with Balboa Horizon’s own Chief Learning and Marketing Officer, Dr. Greg Murray. Greg, thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about your background, and how you got started in addiction treatment.
Dr. Greg Murray: Well, first of all, it’s great to be here with you Marvin. I got into this field many years ago. There was a time in my life I needed some help. Ready to lose my job, and going through some really dark times, and my company, they had an Employee Assistance Program. I was able to connect with that Employee Assistance Program and they got me in treatment. And while it didn’t take initiative, like it does, you know is consistent with a lot of people out there, I don’t meet many people where they get it the first time. I struggled, I stayed clean for four months, and I struggled. And I came back this last time, two and a half years later, and I’ve been around ever since. And so there’s a famous saying, “You have to give it away to keep it.” And that’s what I try to do. It’s necessary for me to give away what I have. Those things I have of value, whether they’re wisdom, knowledge, love, my recovery, I need to give that away in order to keep it.
Marvin Kimble: Yeah.
Dr. Greg Murray: And so I try really hard to do the best I can in that and it started out as kind of a voluntary thing, and through the years it has evolved into something much more significant in my life.
Marvin Kimble: That’s amazing. So, why Balboa Horizons?
Dr. Greg Murray: That’s a good question. I came to the West Coast several years ago, and visited Balboa Horizons. Now I’ve worked in the treatment industry in some capacity for well over 20 years, 25 years. And worked with a lot of different treatment centers, particularly in the East and the South, Southern part of the United States, in Tennessee where I did some work for about 10 years, working with treatment in various capacities.
When I came to visit Balboa, at the request of an Employee Systems representative out in the field, I really liked what I saw here. I came to visit, I visited various residential men’s, women’s, I visited detox, I came by and talked to some of the counselors. Loved everything, but what really sold me on Balboa three years ago was the clients. I talked to the clients. And I learned a long time ago, when you talk to the clients and there’s a certain thing you feel, a certain inspiration you feel, a certain sparkle in their eye when they’re getting the kind of help they need, I really felt that when I was here at Balboa.
And I left with that in memory. I also later was able to get the Executive Clinical Director, Burr Cook, to come out to my school. I was teaching different levels of Employee Assistance Program training to unionists and company representatives for quite a few years, and we actually asked various treatment centers to come out and do a presentation during our week-long training. And Burr Cook came out from Balboa, did just a [Tami 00:03:50] Program, and that just went over really well. The evaluations were really high from the students.
So I knew, that kind of solidified my attitude and feelings about Balboa Horizons, and the quality of care that they gave their clients. And so one year ago I met the owner at a conference, and he laid out his vision. I was looking at retiring from teaching, and the organization in which I retired from very recently. We were able to kind of merge our visions and he asked me to come out and here I am, at Balboa Horizons now. On the West Coast. So it’s been an interesting few months. I love it. I love what they do, and I’m only even more impressed being here with the work they do here at Balboa. I made a good move.
Marvin Kimble: Yeah. I would say so. You mentioned EAPs earlier. Can you speak about the importance of EAPs, and have the roles changed at all?
Dr. Greg Murray: Well that’s a really good question, Marvin. The Employee Assistant Programs are work-based intervention programs designed to address the needs of the organization. The needs of the organization is to make money generally, right? Companies have to make a profit and to make a profit, they need to have good employees. As you know, the opioid epidemic and the prescription drugs and all the stress in our society, and depression. There’re all kinds of things, family issues are usually our big, big, big factor in people’s problems and their stress. Having an Employee Assistance Program helps those kinds of employees that need help. Good companies actually are willing to implement these kinds of programs, because they want other employees to perform it optimally.
Good companies want a healthy work environment. Good companies want to grow and enjoy long-term sustainability. So it’s imperative that they have good workers. Workers aren’t good, as you know when they’re addicted to something, or they’re having a really hard time. That’s the essence of the Employee Assistance Program, to address the needs of an employee when they’re in trouble, or when they’re a difficult time, or you know, in the throes of a crisis. That’s what the Employee Assistance Program is. Have they changed, you asked? Yeah, they’ve changed. There’s been a kind of colorful evolution, an interesting evolution of Employee Assistance Programs in the United States. It’s generally influenced greatly by insurance companies, and what phase the insurance industry is in.
Managed care came out in the 90’s and really decimated a lot of drug and alcohol treatment centers. Some of that was good because there are some fly-by-night programs out there were in for short-term profit. But the good ones stayed alive. That was the 90s. I remember those days. I worked in the field during those days. And today, you have a lot of brokering going on, and a lot of unethical behavior, people trying to make money off of addicts. A good quality Employee Assistance Program helps prevent those things from happening. We taught university-level Employee Assistance Program training at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers at their education center, where I worked for almost 13 years teaching, building Employee Assistance, helping to build.
I had a great team building Employee Assistance Programs, Members Assistance Programs and working with union members in a labor-management setting, but also practitioners and professionals, and company representatives as well to make our programs as meaningful and as effective as possible. In doing that, we taught about the perils of the industry. Some insurance companies do a good job, but they’re taking more and more control over employee systems professionals, and the roles they play. I still think it’s so necessary for a good quality Employee Assistance Program, a Work Site Program. They’re identical to organizational performance. So yes, they’ve changed dramatically through the years, but there’s a management side of Employee Assistance professionals, there’s the labor side. Ideally, we want to merge those and allow them to work together for the better of the entire organization, which is getting healthy, creating a healthy workforce-
Marvin Kimble: Yeah.
Dr. Greg Murray: And providing the tools and means necessary for people to address the serious issues that prevent them from doing good work.
Marvin Kimble: Well, I’ve just got one more question for you.
Dr. Greg Murray: Okay.
Marvin Kimble: If you could say anything to a person struggling in addiction right now, what would you say to them?
Dr. Greg Murray: That’s another good question, Marvin. You’re full of good questions this morning, man. You know, I was lying on my couch in the throes of a crisis, hurting in indescribable ways. In recovery, we call it “Incomprehensible Demoralization.” Only a person who’s been through it understand what that truly, truly means, and I was in that state. I was groggy, and I was lying on a couch, just wallowing in terror and misery, hideousness, and all of those ugly things we addicts, a place that we addicts come to. There was a commercial that came on the television. This is in the Nashville, Tennessee area. It was a country music star. I heard somebody say, “Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?” I was groggy, but I raised up. I raised my head up and looked at the screen.
There was this man on the screen pointing right at me. He repeated, “Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?” I said, “Wow, that guy is talking to me.” I’d never heard it framed like that before in my entire life. Sure enough, he encapsulated everything I was feeling. I was so sick and tired of being so sick and tired. When I come in contact with people, addicts, people in desperate need of help, oftentimes I ask them that question, “Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? And if you answered yes to that question, well I’m here to help. There’re ways that you can change your life. You don’t have to feel like this. You don’t have to suffer every day of your life anymore, because you’re suffering every day of your life. Let’s do something about it. Let’s do something about it. Let’s get up, let’s move, and let’s change your life for the benefit of all concerned. You don’t want to exist. You want to live. Let’s learn how to live together.”
Marvin Kimble: Powerful message. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate it. I’m Marvin.
Dr. Greg Murray: I’m Greg.
Marvin Kimble: And that’s the Balboa Horizons podcast.