Light on the Summit – a pioneer in recovery
William Oswald, Executive Director and Founder of Summit Rehabilitation Center, a pioneer in the alcohol and addiction recovery field sat down with me for an in-depth, raw discussion about his journey and passion for helping others. Willie, as he's affectionately called, remembers the first time he got high at eleven years old, before he even knew what getting high meant. He sniffed glue out of paper bags with a friend whose parents’ were both Sheriffs. At thirteen years old he was already using heroin and was known for having more dope than the dealers by the time he was in high school.
From that point on it was down hill with alcohol and at sixteen getting arrested in a sting operation, he did time in juvenile hall, where he still found a way to get his hands on heroin, anything to get his fix.
“I almost got sober by mistake,” he says when reflecting on the first time he got sober.
Shortly after his release, Willie's girlfriend ended up in a hospital in Texas when there were no other options for treatment but to go into medical care. He followed, but there were no beds available the night that he arrived. While he waited, one of the counselors convinced him to spend the night at his house and Willie returned every day for thirty days in hopes of being admitted. By the time a bed was available, Oswald had already detoxed and three months later was offered a position at the hospital. He worked as a tech for a year and a half and worked his way up to Vice President of the company, something he thought would never happen for him, he had a new chance at life.
"I don’t know what pain I was trying to escape, but it just took more and more of whatever I could get my hands on,” Willie reflected on his drug use and all the things that one might expect from an addict, probably many things worse.
Rehab was humbling for me. I learned to keep my mouth shut. I always thought I was bigger than I really was. Going into treatment saved my life.”
Willie knew he needed to dedicate his life to helping others. A real world experience with compassion for this deadly disease.
Not every program is going to work the same for everyone, I have over 30 years of recovery and I too have had a few relapses, it happens, Summit Malibu and Oswald Interventions cater to every recovery differently.”
Willie was good at what he did, he created PR campaigns for programs he was largely involved in creating and registered the first Cocaine Anonymous, opening the first worlds’ service office and was Chairman of the Board for the first three world service conferences, finding himself in the “limelight of recovery”.
Willie first started working with Summit Malibu as a tech, in spite of his decorated career as a leader in the industry, he wanted to work from the ground up until he bought the facility with his partner Steve Booth. Summit Malibu is a Spanish style villa set on three acres of private land, inside a private gated community, surrounded by three sides of wild hills and right by the beautiful Malibu ocean.
In addition to owning his own treatment center, Willie heads up Oswald Interventions because of his compassion for helping those who suffer with alcoholism and addiction. When asked why he does what he does, acknowledging the often seething experience of working with someone as keenly sensed as an addict, he says,
There’s a lot of predators out there and when done right eighty percent of interventions can be successful. I just want to make sure that people are getting the help they need from the people who can provide it”. He adds, “It’s not about the business to me, I care about the people and I care about their success and that’s what matters the most to me”.
For more information on Summit Rehabilitation Center in Malibu, please visit: http://www.summitmalibu.com/