Transcript

Marvin Kimble: So I’m sitting here with Todd Zalkins. Todd Z-man Zalkins. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Todd Zalkins: Man, there’s no script, there’s nothing here. You’re not going off any cheat sheets or anything like that?

Marvin Kimble: I don’t have cheat sheet, I don’t have anything up my sleeve, I don’t even have sleeves.

Todd Zalkins: I might be turning this interview around and interviewing you.

Marvin Kimble: That’s okay.

Todd Zalkins: No, thanks for having me on today. Tell us a little bit about me. Currently, I’m a family crisis interventionist and I’ve been doing that for over ten years, and I’m a licensed CADAC in the drug and alcohol counselor. I do a lot of talks at schools, like in colleges and high schools and other institutions.

Marvin Kimble: Very cool.

Todd Zalkins: Primarily, there’s a film out that is used as a good platform, talking point. It’s called the Long Way Back. And it’s on Hulu and Amazon and Google Play and all that good stuff.

Marvin Kimble: Tell us a little bit about that. The Long Way Back, it’s a road to recovery for yourself.

Todd Zalkins: Yeah, the film captures a lot about my growing up in Long Beach and how I got started on those prescription painkillers in early 1990 after a back surgery. It covers my descent into that hell that I didn’t know that was waiting for me. But we got a lot of music in there, a lot of the soundtrack is killer. We’ve got a lot of Sublime in there, grew up with those guys and lot of other local heroes, TSOL, The Fallen Idols and the Vandals and stuff like that. So yeah. The story does capture obviously a little bit about my recovery, but how we lost my friend Brad Nowell in 1996 and then years later, his son was struggling. So we were able to help get him clean and sober.

Marvin Kimble: Got you. So if you could pick one thing about your job what you do today, that you love, what do you love to do?

Todd Zalkins: When it comes to intervention, because I do a bunch of different things, but when it comes to intervention, my favorite thing is that the whole family gets relief. That’s one of the best things. It’s not just … of course I want the individual who’s suffering to get off the things that are killing him or her. At the same time, I want to see the family heal too.

Marvin Kimble: Got you. And here at Balboa Horizons, I was in admissions, so I don’t know if you knew that or not. But I used to answer the phones and I used to talk to these families in distress who call in just at their wit’s end, they’ve had enough. So you get to go in, swoop in and change them from a foundational standpoint and get everyone on board to recover together, is that-

Todd Zalkins: Yeah, that’s a good point. That the family need to be educated about what does recovery look like for their loved one. It’s not just … so many people’s perception is well we send my husband or son or daughter away to treatment and everything is just fine. When he or she returns. And that’s just not the case. The family has their own work to do and there’s so many things, whether it’s accountability, whether it’s looking for red flags, for behavioral change, there’s just stuff everyone needs to do to protect themselves.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah. And families even now are more vulnerable than ever. The opiod crisis, I’m sure you’ve seen an influx in calls for your services for young guys on opiates? The emergency rooms are inundated right now with-

Todd Zalkins: Yeah, more than 1,000 a day.

Marvin Kimble: It’s like the World Trade Center every day, people are dying.

Todd Zalkins: Yeah. 179 people a day, dying. From something stemming from opioids, whether it’s heroin, phenyl, phenyl being the lead perpetrator right now.

Marvin Kimble: I heard with a grain of salt of Fentanyl can basically kill someone.

Todd Zalkins: Yeah, that’s interesting point. Few grains. I was actually taking 2,400 micrograms of that a day for so many years on top of the 14 to 18 Oxycontins a day. Yeah, if I took one of the Fentanyls, six a day would probably kill me.

Marvin Kimble: Wow. So something that you guys might not know about me and Todd, we went to the same high school.

Todd Zalkins: Oh, you went to Wilson?

Marvin Kimble: We both went to Wilson High School at Long Beach.

Todd Zalkins: That’s right.

Marvin Kimble: So I know what Long Beach was like for me growing up. How was it like for you?

Todd Zalkins: Geez. Hell on wheels for most of us. Grew up in Belmont Shore and the culture there was … groups of kids, most of us surfed, most of us loved all sorts of music primarily like punk rock and reggae, the blended sounds from Sublime came later. But it was dominated by backyard parties, chasing girls, the stuff that young kids do. And it was all in an environment where you could just ride your bike or your skateboards to. So it was like, you could kind of overhear couple blocks, oh shit, so and so’s playing right now, okay. And summertime was especially just be dominant and that kind of stuff. It was a good place to grow up.

Marvin Kimble: For sure. It was like that for me. I had my first drink in Belmont Shore and I remember that vividly, although wouldn’t have been my last drink. Being in Long Beach and doing what you do, it’s a hub, I’m sure, for drug traffickers. And even the recovery industry.

Marvin Kimble: So you get these calls, you get people coming in, saying that they need help, they’ve had enough of their son or daughter, and they need your services. You come in, you do an intervention on them. And then the family gets the help that they need. If I’m understanding correctly?

Todd Zalkins: Intervention is a two-day affair. First and foremost, it takes a couple days just to get ready for pre-intervention. So typically speaking, what’s today? Is today a Tuesday?

Marvin Kimble: Tuesday.

Todd Zalkins: Today’s Tuesday. So just say tonight would be a pre-intervention where we prepare all the family and their loved ones about all the mechanics of what an intervention looks like and there’s a slew of things. For people listening or watching, if you’re thinking about trying to manage one on your own without a guide, I don’t recommend it. It’s often falls apart and blows out in your face more times than I can count.

Todd Zalkins: So intervention is essentially a two-day process. Pre-intervention one day, the intervention’s typically the following morning. And never ever conduct an intervention at night, primarily because you want the person in the most lucid as they can possibly be even if they’re, whether it’s hungover or they’re just getting their day started. You don’t want them when they’re totally out of their minds at night. So there’s a great deal of preparation involved and pre-intervention typically is about a minimum of three hours, around four-and-a-half to five hours of preparation, and then the next day is intervention.

Marvin Kimble: Okay. And for those interventions, did you learn through trial-and-error?

Todd Zalkins: Absolutely not. I was trained by a master interventionist. A gentleman by the name of Geoff Jones who left us just a few years ago, but he’s a wonderful guy who taught me a lot about the right way to handle families with a loving and compassionate element. That’s the way we handle the personal intervening gong, it’s a firm but loving and compassionate way of addressing the situation that is affecting everybody. But yeah, I’ve run into people all the time, who say they’re an interventionist, and it’s like, “Hey you’d you train under?”. And it’s like “Oh, you know I just go and get people.”

Marvin Kimble: For sure.

Todd Zalkins: Yeah, really.

Todd Zalkins: Yeah. It took a lot of training to learn how to do it the right way and I think that any decent interventionist develops his or her own style in time. I work off of something primarily with something that’s called the Johnson model of intervention, which is just a loving and kind approach, and people write intervention letters, and that kind of stuff. But, there’s a whole lot more to it than just writing a letter.

Marvin Kimble: For sure. So, the families that are distressed, let’s say a family who is watching right now, and they have a loved one, who is struggling with addiction, what kind of tips, or ideas, or thoughts, or motivation can you give them to not give up, to not give up hope because there is help available and it’s out there if they’re willing to put in the work to get it.

Todd Zalkins: Yeah. I can’t tell you how many times families have contacted me wanting to intervene who don’t follow through. Excuses are made with one of maybe the weak links of the family members. Probably 75 percent of the time it’s the mom who’s contacting me. Ever now and then, the dad or a brother or sister, but it’s almost always the mom, who’s reaching out. And so-

Marvin Kimble: Why do you think that is?

Todd Zalkins: First of, God bless moms. I love moms to pieces. My mom’s one of my very best friends and my little world today. I think that moms are just so capable and so strong as human beings and I think if you push them far enough, and there the ones that are ultimately just like, “We have to take some action here”. When families are in distress and they talk about doing something, talking is great, it’s how you start, but doing is really critical too. So, the follow through.

Todd Zalkins: So, back to my point. You get people who call and they wanna do something and it’s like they change their minds … maybe the big game, or there’s some big anniversary, or let’s get through the holidays … and I’ve had a bunch of people who try to get through the holidays and their son’s dead.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: I’m not gonna candy cut anything here. We’re talking about a life or death-

Marvin Kimble: It’s the real deal.

Todd Zalkins: It’s the real deal.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: Yeah. And it’s heartbreaking.

Marvin Kimble: It is. I mean, I can’t count how many people I’ve known that we lost to addiction. I’m sure you’re the same. Being in recovery for as long as I’ve been in recovery and you, you’ve seen a lot of stuff. You’ve gone through a lot yourself. Do you think that helps you relate more to the clients that you get to help?

Todd Zalkins: A 110 percent. More than 60 percent of the people I’ve intervened on have got some similarity to my story from when I called, that hard core prescription painkiller abuse. Opiod abuse disorder dominates a lot of what I do, but I kind of wanna come back to something.

Todd Zalkins: We we’re talking about families in distress. First and foremost, when I get a call from a family, things are not going well. I don’t get a call to share with me that you know what, my son is doing great, that’s all I wanted to let you know.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: They’re calling because they’re at the end of their rope and one of the things I’ve often tell people is that the person that you care about and love so much, so long as they have a pulse, there’s a chance.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: When they’re gone, it’s tough to intervene man. And I don’t mean that to be funny.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah, I get it.

Todd Zalkins: When people are still with us, there’s hope. So, my point being that when someone is considering intervening … I consider intervention to be one of the most extreme acts of unconditional love, even though the person does not see it at the time, and by the way, the addict or the alcoholic, they’re not seeing the world clearly anyways. That’s why the family’s reaching out because they are seeing clearly. Honey, this is killing us and it’s killing you.

Todd Zalkins: And so, to finish my point, when you’ve at least preferred to have tried. I know a lot of families you are like, “Todd, this is not about being a crystal ball. It’s this life or death thing, but left untreated this is going to most likely end up bad.”

Marvin Kimble: Or get worse.

Todd Zalkins: At least try.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: I think there’s a great deal of peace I think in you know, we’ve tried everything. We did. So try.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah. Yeah, and for the families out there, who are listening, Todd’s experience is invaluable, with the hope that you bring through your interventions to the families that are suffering, you can only do so much. And eventually the client has to be willing at some point to say, “Yeah, I messed up. I need help.” What do you think about that process?

Todd Zalkins: Yeah. I should first say that intervention is more than 90 percent successful. That is not guaranteed. I will say 90 percent your loved one gets clean and sober, but we are generally very successful of getting them into the care, the right level of care, that the individual needs to address, whatever is going on with them. And treatment centers are not all the same. And I know for instance, that Balboa Horizons is a very good one. I have experience with you guys and I know you guys do good work. Really good work.

Marvin Kimble: Thank you.

Todd Zalkins: I don’t send people to places that do subpar, or just average work.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: The families entrusting a great deal in you, they’re going all in with you to guide them through a process that is very, very confusing. Very foreign, confusing. Everybody is scared. Everybody has anxiety and fear of all of these things and it’s my job as the interventionist to help manage this process and walk them through the fear and anxiety that is just absolutely owning them.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: Okay. And so, I don’t know if I answered that very well or not.

Marvin Kimble: No, it was perfect. Do you have any examples for us … I know you can’t name any names, but any interventions that seemed a bit out of control? Like you had to kind of wrangle it in.

Todd Zalkins: I mentioned a minute ago that done correctly, intervention is more than 90 percent successful, and you can further that by first saying, “My hope is that the individual finally gets a little bit of clarity in their head” because there’s a lot of flight or fight going in within the person. That owns them. There is fear. They’re under great distress with them being intervened upon, but when you come at it with a loving and calm approach, you’re able to generally win out.

Todd Zalkins: First one of the most common things I get is, hey is it like the show on A and E, Intervention? No, it’s not. That’s so dramatized –

Marvin Kimble: But there are tears.

Todd Zalkins: Oh my god. Kleenex is mandatory at both the pre-intervention and the intervention. The person that is in the disease needs to see everyone’s hearts on their sleeves. All these people who have gathered, who love this person, who wants to see them get help, I encourage anyone who is involved in the intervention to show what’s really happening with them.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: That person needs to see how affected they are. This is not the time to man up and to be well, I gotta be strong. Are you kidding? The tears have gotta flow.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: And my job is always to keep insanity in check the best I can because things can get very verbal.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: The anger level, especially from the addict, or the one who’s sick, can be off the charts and so, one of the things that we have to do, is to keep them at a level that is manageable.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: The moment that we engage with anger, we lose.

Marvin Kimble: For sure. I have an experience with myself, back in 1998, I was in my Volkswagen Bus, ’72 Bus.

Todd Zalkins: Awesome. I love those cars.

Marvin Kimble: Tearing the thing apart completely out of my mind on crystal meth and I was just out of control. I was 18 years old, losing my mind, and in this bus, I had a family member come in, my cousin, out of all people, I wouldn’t have thought that this guy would come to my bus, but he was like, “You know what? We love you and I know what you’re doing and you need to stop” and for some reason … my hairs are standing up on my arm right now … I felt that. I feel it right now. It hit my heart. Even though, I was out of my mind on methamphetamine, I felt it and that meant so much, that someone else cared about me ’cause addicts, I’m an addict, we tend to beat ourselves up a lot. Do you see that a lot?

Todd Zalkins: Oh my gosh. I’m glad that you mentioned that. First and foremost, when someone is in the thralls of the disease, they’re completely blocked off from love. They’re blocked off from all the good stuff from life and so, that family member approach for you, that person was saying the situation very clearly ’cause I’m sure you weren’t.

Marvin Kimble: No.

Todd Zalkins: That does not mean that you did not know that you weren’t sick.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: ‘Cause I knew for years, for instance, that I was owned by something that was so much bigger than me and I despised myself. You mentioned we beat ourselves up to the umpteenth degree. Our self-esteem is at an all time low. Our view of ourself is just completely masked and we’re in a world of delusion.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: To this day as a sober person can still beat myself up and it’s one of those things. It’s why we have places we can talk to people, we can share what’s really going on with us, ’cause now that we’re sober, we’re so freakin sensitive.

Marvin Kimble: It’s true. The sensitive emotions come out once you start using because you’ve been repressing those for so many years and then, once you get sober, everything gets kind of flooded, the floodgate comes out.

Todd Zalkins: Oh, yeah. I’ve always compared to like we live our lives in this big emotional blender and for years, we’ve suffocated ourselves with drugs and alcohol, the blender’s kinda churning around. We go into treatment you start to get feelings back and the lid comes off that blender and the thing is thrown on high and things are just flying out. I freakin cried so much in my first year. Unresolved grief, trauma stuff, things I had not remembered since I was a kid, things that I needed to do a lot of work around in order to get back on track.

Marvin Kimble: For sure. So, when a client comes into treatment at Balboa Horizons, we often get that early stage of what you just described, that raw emotional state, where our therapists, and our counselors, and case managers, can kind of mold them into becoming the person that they’re always meant to be and to see that process, and you being at the beginning of it, it’s amazing. It’s beautiful. Where do you think addiction is headed today?

Todd Zalkins: Boy.

Marvin Kimble: It’s a random question.

Todd Zalkins: No, no. You didn’t stifle me here. It’s just such a loaded question that there’s a lot to it. First and foremost is the stuff that’s out there is more potent than ever and it’s more available than ever and more people are dying than ever. I don’t see that changing.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: I don’t. I don’t see it changing anytime soon. The education and awareness piece needs to be impressed upon people at a younger age. Back in the day, they were talking to us in high school. I’m sorry, but that’s too late.

Marvin Kimble: We had a drug dog come in at 5th grade.

Todd Zalkins: Well, I speak at schools, man. When I’m talking to high schoolers, it’s like, no disrespect to high schoolers, I love them, because I was in their shoes once, but the truth be told they don’t wanna hear much.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: Because most of them are on their iPhones waiting to go to whatever is going down after school anyway.

Marvin Kimble: Absolutely.

Todd Zalkins: Getting to people younger, I think is absolutely imperative. I’m actually in the process of creating an app called Higher Ground app. You can check it out on highergroundapp.com and it’s being developed to help educate young people, to incentivize learning program, to help young people make better choices and to learn from maybe the poor choices they make during the exploratory part of this application. You mentioned: where’s addiction going? It’s not going anywhere. It’s hear to stay, but what we do need to share with people is that first and foremost, that there is help.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: There is help out there, but there needs to be more.

Marvin Kimble: Absolutely.

Todd Zalkins: There needs to be more help because there’s a lot of people that I unfortunately cannot help, because they don’t have resources or decent health insurance and you try to get them to state programs like Red Gate, or the Rock Center

Marvin Kimble: [inaudible 00:21:00] Garden.

Todd Zalkins: Yeah. And those places are often full.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: And the waiting list kills them.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah. Well, I’ve heard, actually, recently, that the waiting list for the Salvation Army, they don’t have one. There’s empty beds. So, there’s something happening in our industry that’s either diverting people or … where are people getting treatment?

Todd Zalkins: I have a take on that. The Salvation Army has saved a lot of lives and that’s, from what I understand, a year program. It’s Christian-based. I hate to say this, but I’m going to, I think there’s so many younger people in treatment and I work on the front lines of this thing and I gotta tell you there’s so much entitlement going on.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: And Salvation Army is a bare bones, brass tax, no screwin around. You’ve gotta be accountable in that thing and I don’t know, if people are just used to nicer places. I don’t wanna be so bold to say that.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah. Well, I think part of it may be because what’s happening in the courts system. Back when we were using drugs or alcohol, the police officer would pull over, you’re going to jail if you were under the influence, or if you’re just walking down the street and they stop you and say, “Hey, we’re taking you in ’cause you’re not right”. Whereas, now we’re just getting tickets.

Todd Zalkins: Oh, gosh. Yeah. There needs to be more diversion. I’m a big believer that there’s a huge amount of the population that’s incarcerated that shouldn’t be.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: That they should be in court-mandated treatment because these people leave with no skills. They leave being locked out or in jail, and they just go right back out to using and stuff like that. I think that there’s a way that we can get thousands and thousands of people help, who need it, who should not really be in jail or prison.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah. No, I agree with that completely. What the opiate crisis has done, at least here in Orange County, it’s put a bad light on our industry. It’s hard for us to negotiate and navigate those subtleties that are happening in our industry, and being able to help as many people as possible would be amazing. How do you feel once you’ve helped someone and then you see them a year or two years later and they’re clean, sober, they got a sparkle in their eye, and they’re sober. They’re doing the deal. For me, that’s what’s gratifying about my job. I get to see that on a daily basis. So, with that said about Balboa Horizons, we inspire change and transform lives. That’s what we’re about and if we’re not able to do that, with the way that things are going on in the industry, it’s hard to be able to help those people.

Todd Zalkins: Yeah.

Marvin Kimble: Did that make sense at all?

Todd Zalkins: It did and it does. There’s a lot of facilities out there who do great work.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: There’s also a lot out there who don’t.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: And there’s a lot of people who are using people as almost slave tools, or pawns, in the financial game, which is absolutely heartbreaking. Just when I thought they I’d heard it all, you guys already probably know this, but situations where you have individuals, who are paying people to go into treatment and paying them to get loaded and just re-circulate. And I believe the insurance companies are on to that now. They’re no longer paying for 15 treatments in a year. They’re capping things out and doing better to manage these places and pay for places that are doing the wrong thing.

Marvin Kimble: For sure.

Todd Zalkins: I know for certain that your facility does thing by the book and you guys are very rigid about that and you guys aren’t doing body brokering and BS like that, and stuff. It’s a real bad mark for people who are trying to do this thing for the right reasons.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: Treatment is a legitimate business for the people operating it legitimately.

Marvin Kimble: Absolutely.

Todd Zalkins: For the people who are just the Johnny come latelys, the guy with nine months sober who scores money from his parents opens a treatment facility … dude, you have no business opening one.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: If you haven’t even gone through the recovery process yourself, no offense, but you don’t have any business owning a treatment facility. You have no idea how to make it run. Sorry, but you don’t. I’m steadfast on that, man.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah. For sure. In the beginning, you mentioned that you go into schools. You go into colleges. What’s your schedule like this year? Are you going anymore or?

Todd Zalkins: Still tired from the fall. God, I think I hit 17 or 19 colleges in the Midwest and the east coast.

Marvin Kimble: What are you seeing out there?

Todd Zalkins: One of the questions I always ask the audience is: do you guys know someone who is struggling with substance use disorder or you know someone you’ve lost because of it? I’d say about 85 percent of the kids raise their hands.

Marvin Kimble: Wow.

Todd Zalkins: And this is in front of hundreds of people.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: So, what I see is, and we talked about it a second ago, with where addiction is going. We’re at a very unique time here in our country. Never has there been the availability of narcotics that are so potent and so deadly. And here’s the thing is that there’s so much money and a lot of this stuff is now being manufactured in China. You’ve got your illegal manufacturing of the Fentanyls being laced with the heroine and the pills, and now the Fentanyl is being thrown in with cocaine.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: Listen, nobody wants Fentanyl with their cocaine.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: They don’t.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: And so, these criminals who are doing this, it’s sad.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah, it is sad. And now they’re trying to pass a legislation to get … is it the [inaudible 00:27:16] that prevents the opiates from attacking the brain and prevents the overdose over the counter. I think that would be amazing, but at the same time, I think it might be sending the wrong message, like, hey it’s okay to use this stuff.

Todd Zalkins: Yeah.

Marvin Kimble: As long as you have this backup plan.

Todd Zalkins: Today, we are so fixed on the quick fix.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: We are a society that is riddled with impatience. Everything’s gotta get done now and I wanna be fixed now. Oh, there’s a pill or something I can have implanted in me that’s going to fix me from my addiction. No, it’s not.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: I will say this, if it’s gonna prevent you from dying in a hotel room with a needle in your arm, I’m all for it.

Marvin Kimble: Absolutely.

Todd Zalkins: However, what’s been fortunate is that we’re talking about a very short term solution for a problem that’s not going anywhere.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah, and there’s no easy solution for that, except getting help. Going through the process.

Todd Zalkins: Well, there is an easy solution. You just said it and it’s stripping yourself down and making yourself vulnerable and being able to say the hardest words anyone who suffers from this can ever say is, ” I don’t know how to do this. I need some help”.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: It was hard for me, despite how sick that I was. I still thought that maybe I could figure things out, but I got wrapped up by some good people.

Marvin Kimble: Why do you think that is? Why do you think we manipulate things like that and always looking for another solution or another way out or another back door?

Todd Zalkins: I think that a lot of it has to do with a false sense of pride and ego, and for so long, I know that I can only speak for my experience, or no, I can speak from what I see, and that is for so long people just run on self.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: They’ve done things their own way, his or her own way, for so long and alcoholism and addiction progressively worsens.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: It progressively worsens and so, in time, we either choose a different path, or we’re probably gonna die.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: And it’s tough, for all those years and years that we’ve run on our own ideas to be like, “Wait a minute. Wait Marvin. You may know something better?”. ‘Cause the first thing that comes into my mind is okay, this is an authoritative figure. I hate authority. I actually do to this day. I fall in line with it better today.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: But most people who are alcoholics and addicts, they do not like to be told what to do ever. Can anybody relate to that? It’s true, man. But, setting that aside, and allowing people who have gone before us to maybe impress upon us what needs to happen. It’s actual a beautiful thing. In fact, that spills over to something called humility.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: I’ve been humbled by this disease big time.

Marvin Kimble: Oh, absolutely. I have, myself. I’ll just tell you a quick story. When I got sober, I went to a outside AA meeting. I was in the Salvation Army and they took us outside. So, I went to this meeting in Seal Beach and I was sitting outside on the ground, drinking my cup of coffee, having a good time by myself, isolating, just like I should be, right? And this guy comes up over me and he kicks me. He kicks me in the butt and I look up like, “Who the hell is kicking me?”. And he said,” Get in and get in the meeting and sit down”. And for some reason, I said okay. All those ideas got me to that point and now I had someone else tell me, “Hey, maybe you should come inside”. It was more of like-

Todd Zalkins: That was a vicious act of love. Actually.

Marvin Kimble: Absolutely.

Todd Zalkins: Where he had to tell you different.

Marvin Kimble: No, I agree with you, 100 percent. I was 19 years old and to have someone do that, it just showed me that there’s other people out there that actually cared.

Todd Zalkins: Oh my gosh. I’m glad that you brought that up. In fact, I can speak to that. I think I was 6 or 7 months sober and I’m thankful to this very day, there’s a group of men, we’re gonna beat you. Literally blanketed me, wrapped me up with love.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: I didn’t use that word very well, but these guys they loved me and they tolerated me. I was very sick.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: I can remember I was at this men’s meeting on the beach. I strongly recommend anyone who is new and recovered to stick to gentleman only meetings, that’s just me. My men’s meetings saved my life. And I can recall sitting there very twisted, man, and it was this simple pat of this guy, this guy who’s very well loved and respected, he’s one of the leaders, if you wanna call it, just one of the pillars of the group. That simple patting on the back made me feel apart of something because I still can do that self-isolation.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: I can be like, “You know what, I don’t need this anymore. I’m so uncomfortable. It’s never gonna get better”. In fact, that’s another thing, is that it’s always important for us to tell the new people that you’re gonna be okay.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: We have these ads that say, “Nothing is okay”.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: “It’s never gonna get okay”.

Marvin Kimble: For sure.

Todd Zalkins: It’s our responsibility to share that with them.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah, and I think you guys at the Peasant treatment center and Balboa Horizons, I think it’s our job to help people see that for themselves through the therapy that they get and the hope that comes along with just being able to say, “Hey, I’m not alone. There is people just like me going through the same kind of situations”. I think that’s foundational for any kind of treatment.

Todd Zalkins: Well, that’s huge. It’s why you guys have got a phone number, 833- NOT-ALONE.

Marvin Kimble: That was a good plug in.

Todd Zalkins: Nobody knows aloneless like people who have suffered with alcoholism and addiction.

Marvin Kimble: Right.

Todd Zalkins: It’s a awful, scary place that’s just loaded with fear and when people can impress upon the one who’s sick, share with them that they can get better, and it will get better. I needed to hear those words continually.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: I wasn’t like riding high, floating around at 6 months sober. I was still very cloudy up here, very sick, and very scared.

Marvin Kimble: Yeah.

Todd Zalkins: All the time.

Marvin Kimble: I think a lot of people are in recovery. I know I sure was. So, let’s wrap this thing up.

Todd Zalkins: So, you don’t wanna go for like another hour?

Marvin Kimble: I mean, we could be here all day, but I mean I just been watching-

Todd Zalkins: I’m kidding.

Marvin Kimble: You got some big waves coming over to you.

Todd Zalkins: Yeah, yeah. Let’s talk. Let’s wrap up. What’s going on? Talk to me.

Marvin Kimble: So, you got someone out there that’s struggling. They’ve been using cocaine, heroin, meth, whatever drug that they’ve been using. They’ve lost all hope. What would you say to them? What would you say to that person that was just like you or just like me struggling to get sober and just didn’t know what to do?

Todd Zalkins: I think that telling a person who’s sick that there’s a different way. There’s a different way and there’s a way out of the way that you’re living. However, it cannot be done alone. You can’t, for instance, put down the drugs and the alcohol, go home, and kick on the couch, watch Netflix, for two weeks and emerge a new human being. I’m a big believer in equality treatment center for the following reason, it keeps the person safe from themselves while they start to learn a little bit more about this disease, a little bit more about themselves, and about some coping skills as to how to combat this thing that will ultimately kills all of us. But how’d I say it first though, I always have to tell the people I love you, man. I tell them straight up: hey, man, I love you, dude. One of the guys a few weeks ago, hey, man, we don’t know each other, but I freakin love you. I wanna see you get well. I need to say that. I think I have that responsibility to share that with people.

Marvin Kimble: Absolutely. Todd, it’s been a pleasure having you on our show. I appreciate everything that you are doing for our community and for addicts and alcoholics that still suffer, your story of addiction and recovery process that you’ve gone through is inspiring many thousands of people across the country and I truly appreciate your time here and thank you.

Todd Zalkins: Well, thanks Marvin for having me and if anyone wants to get a hold of me, you can check me out on my website. It’s toddzalkins, Z-A-L-K-I-N-S, toddzalkins.com, if you wanna reach out and just talk, my phone number is on the website and I’d love to hear from you. Thank you for having me and keep up the good work that Balboa Horizons doe for so many.

Marvin Kimble: Thank you, Todd.

Todd Zalkins: Alright, man. Thank you.