Our Mission

Our missionis to provide the investment capital, consultation and mentorship to support sustainable businesses that hire recovering addicts, giving them a chance to enjoy productive and healthy lives.

Our goal is to break the cycle of economic dependency of addicts on their family, friends and community. We believe recovery is incomplete until an addict has found purpose, economic self reliance and a career.

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Why Did Kate Let Leo Drown?

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FYI In this blog, we use the term “addict” to mean any individual that consumes any substance of abuse or has a behavioral addiction. This list includes legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, shopping, etc.

Many “using addicts” ricochet from crisis to crisis and are reluctant to enter residential treatment. The national statistics evidence the high risk of accidents or overdose due to prescription pills, cocaine, benzodiazepines, heroin or other addictive substances. (See National Institute of Drug Addiction’s “Overdose Death Rates” at http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates.

For friends, family members or loved ones, the risks associated with substance abuse intensifies the demand for interventions and treatment. Anyone who watched the reality show Intervention witnessed the arduous and harrowing task of getting an addict into treatment.

As a former CEO of two residential treatment centers and a participant in many interventions, I have been wondering what is the problem with our Interventionists or rehabs if they cannot guaranty success.

Let’s explore some of the reasons Interventions and rehabs fail from the perspective of a friend, lover or family member in a close relationship with a practicing addict. Here goes!

Our story involves Leo and Kate. Leo and Kate are young lovers, madly in love. Kate is addicted. Leo wants Kate to stop using. Our young couple decides to leave England and sail to NY where Kate has promised she will stop using. They board the Titanic Kate smuggles her drugs on board.

When the Titanic sinks, we hold our breath, praying Leo and Kate survive. Luckily, Kate makes it into a lifeboat. Leo stays on the ship. In our story, once Kate is safely in the lifeboat she remembers she left her drugs in the cabin and panics. Leo falls into the freezing water and swims for Kate’s lifeboat. Kate dives into the freezing water and swims for her drugs on the Titanic.

Why would Kate leave Leo to die in the icy water and swim back to the Titanic? Doesn’t Kate love Leo? Why would she risk her life for her drugs?  Maybe Kate does not see the Titanic as a heap of metal sinking in a sea of ice but thinks she was on the “Love Boat.” For any younger person reading this blog, the Love Boat was a TV show in the 1970’s, and 1980’s featuring an elegant cruise ship that magically motivated romance among its passengers.

To understand Kate, we need to learn a little bit from scientists who study the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals that communicate information throughout our brain and body.

Researcher Helen Fisher scanned the brains of young lovers and found that brain parts start lighting up when they see their partner. Ms. Fisher, shared her research in a TED Talk entitled “The Brain in Love”, where she answers the question, “Why do we crave love so much, even to the point that we would die for it? ”

We know from the story that Kate and Leo are madly in love. So why would Kate be more obsessed with getting her drugs then saving Leo from drowning in the freezing ocean or risk her survival to swim back to the Titanic?

Researchers studying the brain’s neurotransmitters have found that an addict’s desire for drugs, at times, will be stronger than their desire for love. Sorry Leo. Falling in love with a practicing addict is risky. Please watch Helen Fisher’s TED Talk it is great. As your watching, just substitute craving for love with an addict’s hunger for drugs.

Let’s go back to our original question. What is the problem with our Interventionists or rehabs if they cannot guaranty success.

Many addicts will be hit by an “obsession to use” anywhere in their first year or two of recovery. It is tough not to act on an obsession. In our story, Kate’s passion drove her to jump off the lifeboat and swim back to the Titanic leaving poor Leo to drown. Addicts with the obsession to use will find a way to use whether they are at a treatment center, sober living, psych hospitals, outpatient program, church, 12 Step meetings or jail.

Interventions rarely produce sustained behavioral changes. The TV show Intervention demonstrated one type of intervention designed to encourage an addict to enter a treatment center voluntarily. At times, the intervention was successful, and other times it wasn’t.

Even if the intervention was successful and the addict enters treatment, what are the success rates of the treatment center? This question “what are the success rates” sounds simple. But don’t be fooled. The word “success” means different things to different people.

An excellent exercise is to try to define success for yourself or your loved one.

Here are some ideas, hopefully, you’ll make your list from some of the ideas shared in this blog. Success is:

being abstinent from all mind or mood altering drugs
feeling good about myself
being in a healthy relationship with fill-in-the-blank (significant other, family, friends, etc.)
having a sense of purpose and meaning
having a satisfying spiritual and/or religious connection
being emotionally healthy
being authentic
being physically fit
being self-supporting through my own contributions
being grateful
giving back to my community

If we compare the treatment of diabetes vs. addiction, we may see the difficulty in measuring success.

If two patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, go into treatment. They are both prescribed the same treatment plan of insulin, exercise and a low sugar diet. Patient A follows the treatment plan, and when the treatment center follows up two years later, Patient A is diabetes is managed. Patient B eats sugar, does not exercise, take insulin regularly, and dies one month after leaving treatment. Patient A and Patient B received the same treatment plan for the same condition but had two very different outcomes because Patient B was non-compliant.

It helps to think of diabetes and addiction as chronic disorders that need managing. Having an addictive disorder is a complex condition with no easy answers. We do know that addiction will diminish a person’s impulse control. Therefore, it should be assumed that an addict will not follow her treatment plan.

If residential treatment is not going to “cure them” then is treatment effective. The short answer is yes. Just like treatment for diabetes, an addict in treatment will be given a treatment plan.

If the reader can tolerate one more analogy, let’s compare the recovery process to a runner training for a 26.2-mile marathon.

The recovery process has similarities to running a marathon. Many athletes require practice, coaching and changes in lifestyle to complete a marathon. If you do a search on the Internet, you’ll read lots of articles on marathon runners’ hitting “the wall.” This time, we’ll envision recovery to running a marathon and the obsession to use as hitting the wall.

Here’s how “the wall” is described on a blog posted on Runner’s World. “You’re in the middle of a run when things start to fall apart. Your legs feel like concrete, your breathing grows labored, your strides turn into a shuffle. Negative thoughts flood your mind, and the urge to quit becomes overwhelming.”

Here’s how the obsession feels to an addict in early recovery. It’s Friday, and I just got my paycheck. I feel like getting high, but I don’t want to lose my sobriety, and I don’t want anyone to know. I have the weekend; no one will find out. I’ll just use this once. My heart starts beating faster. It is hard to breathe. My mind is racing with fear, guilt, excitement; it’s excruciatingly surreal. I better breathe, take some deep breaths. Where can I find some? I hope they’re around. Breathe! Am I going to have a heart attack? My fingers are so tight around the steering wheel; my hands are turning white.

Reading the descriptions on the runners’ websites of hitting the wall, it seems evident that the causes are complex. Runners’ openly discuss their theories of the causes and their solutions. It appears that most running experts and hobbyists share about the wall without guilt or shame. It seems the wall is an accepted condition associated with running a marathon.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if individuals in early recovery and the professionals could openly discuss the obsession, without guilt or shame. Runner’s vigorously search for the complex, psychological and physiological causes of hitting the wall.

Recovery from addiction is a marathon. Many of these walls (obsessions) in recovery are difficult to see, rooted in the complex, psychological and physiological characteristics of the condition. If we can’t predict or prevent an addict’s obsession how can we prevent relapse in residential treatment, sober living, outpatient, a 12 Step group, a faith-based program or a psychiatric hospital? Pharmaceutical companies still haven’t found a drug(s) that will prevent an addict in early of recovery from being compelled to use by their obsession.

Without a cure, effective addiction treatment requires applying a set of research-based best practices, which will be elaborated on in our next blog. If we think about the addict running a marathon and every time, he hits the wall the health care providers or other people that are part of the addict’s recovery, intervenes. Interventions may take place each mile i.e. 26 times before the runner finishes the race. The people and health care providers working with addicts better get used to recovery being a marathon, lots of interventions before the finish line; and sadly all too often an addict will swim back to the Titanic from the life raft.

If I had a magic wand, I’d get all my friends, relatives, and clients off the Titanic.

About the organization and the author: The 12 Angels Evergreen Fund’s mission is to provide the investment capital, consultation, and mentorship to support sustainable businesses that support recovery from addiction and other mental health disorders. We believe every person with an addiction should have a chance to enjoy healthy and productive lives.

Our goal is to help improve the lives of individuals suffering from addiction and related mental health disorders. Our primary focus is to break the cycle of economic dependency of addicts on their family, friends, and community. We believe recovery is incomplete until each member of the recovery community can have a sense of purpose, economic self-reliance, or both.

Disclaimer: The author of this blog is Alex Shohet, who is an entrepreneur in the recovery industry. Alex Shohet is not a clinician or health care professional. He doesn’t have a license or certificate in the treatment of mental health disorders or substance abuse.

All content provided on 12 Angels Evergreen Fund’s blog is for informational purposes only. We make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

The owners of 12 Angels Evergreen Fund are not liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. This terms and conditions is subject to change at any time with or without notice.

Making an Investment in Recovery

My first year of recovery appeared to most people in the outside world as me sitting around a rehab, going to meetings and not making any “progress.” Looking from the outside in, through the eyes of a “normal” person, getting clean looks like sitting around, drinking coffee and not doing much else.   From the inside, it feels like a daily battle, literally “a battle with yourself.”  My thoughts and feelings were on a roller coaster for that first year.  The outside world did not understand the transformation or the characteristics of early recovery.   How do “normal” people judge success?  How much do you make?  Where do you live?  What clothes are you wearing? Where do you work?   Where did you go to school?

Here is how I would answer those questions while I was in rehab.

How much do you make?

I don’t make any money; I’m unemployed.  In fact, I can’t get a bank account.  The bank banned me.  Before I got to rehab, I made a deposit at the atm without placing a check or cash into the atm, and then I took the money out. Back in the 1980’s, this scam was very common.  Today, banks won’t let that happen.

Where do you live?

I live in a rehab in Pasadena, CA, with 150 others.   I share a pay phone and sleep in a bunk bed, I take a shower down the hall and sign the door.  Why do I sign the door, the rehab wants to know I take showers everyday.  :)

What clothes are you wearing?    My clothes are from the donation pile at the rehab.   Residents that leave the rehab in a hurry don’t bother taking their clothes.  If the resident doesn’t claim them, they end up in the clothes pile for us to take.

Where do you work?  I work at odd jobs around the rehab.  Sometimes I wash dishes, cook, clean bathrooms or sweep leaves in the courtyard.  There is a joke that we learn to sweep imaginary leaves because you’re required to keep sweeping until the supervisor tells you to stop, even if the courtyard is perfectly clean.

Where did you go to school? I went to UCLA but never graduated.  I looked at UCLA as a way to get student loans.  I used the loans to buy drugs to sell.  The goal was to sell enough to use as much and as often as I wanted.   You’d think if I was an entrepreneur I’d be a good drug dealer, nope.  I couldn’t stop using long enough to sell.  The empire crumbled.  In the end, I had a habit and debt.

Cut to 54, I’m not Bill Gates, but I am a productive member of society.  I started three technology companies, two rehabs and a nonprofit.  The question is – how many addicts with the right kind of support could generate a positive return on investment for the people willing to invest in them?  People will say not every addict is an entrepreneur, I agree.

Yes, Bill Gates and I both dropped out of college.  Outside of that similarity, I don’t think Bill was sweeping imaginary leaves at 27.  I’d guess most VC’s I’d call would have their assistant take a message.  If I read this blog, and I was a traditional Angel Investor or VC, I’d laugh.  Then after the laugh, I’d ask myself why not?  As Albert Einstein says “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

How about this for a theory – the same way Silicon Valley became a Mecca for technology, income, jobs etc.  What could a great business like Facebook or Google do for a rehab?   Does opportunity breed hope” Can hope fuel recovery”

It sounds a little crazy to look at rehab as fertile ground for entrepreneurship, but I have been lucky enough to spend two quality years in rehab.  That gave me enough time to see the possibilities.  If you doubt this – take a look at the Salvation Army and Delancey Street.  They have been doing it for years.  What we need now is an entrepreneur, a business plan, a few great mentors, a couple of Angel investors and one VC.  You know where to reach me!

 

Addict, Entrepreneur or Both?

On May 3rd, 2004, I walked into a rehab at 42 years of age.  Being an addict/recovering addict is a wild ride that is difficult to understand for almost everyone, including me.  As a personal problem, it hijacked my life on many occasions.  As a societal problem, it demands more resources on a yearly basis than the Iraq War. I can’t tell whether I was an addict or an entrepreneur first.  Peter Drucker says, “The entrepreneur is willing to put his or her career and financial security on the line and take risks in the name of an idea.”  With just a small tweak Peter Drucker’s statement could describe an addict, here is a small rewrite, the addict is willing to put his financial security and life on the line and take risks in the name of a substance.

In my 20’s, the first time I got clean, I risked my Mommy’s $5,000 loan to begin my first technology business Computer Physicians.  Over a few years, Computer Physicians’ success turned me into a Yuppie.  By 1994, I was bored.  I felt I enslaved by my own business.  I needed out.  I took a sabbatical and went sailing for about six months.  This impulsive move was disruptive to the business, my partner Marc, my relationship with Berni and my recovery.

I tried to start a couple of other technology companies hoping that I’d be happy.  The next nine years I got further and further from happiness.  I kept thinking that money, success or building a company would do it for me.  Nope.  It didn’t fix me.  Eventually in 2001, I relapsed.  In another blog, I’ll talk more about that.  In May of 2004, I stumbled or crumbled into rehab.

My life took a monumental step forward 11 years ago the day I saw the parallel between being an entrepreneur and an addict.  It hit me like a tsunami.  Luckily I had an internet connection and a computer in rehab.  I imagined using entrepreneurship to help alleviate the damage addiction does to the individual and society.  That thought organized my life.  In my soul, I knew I was an entrepreneur and an addict.  Combining both gave me purpose.  Soon on I was studying the missions and approach of the Skoll Foundation, Pacific Community Ventures, Investors’ Circle and other sites that opened my imagination and inspiration to social entrepreneurship.

It has always been easy for me to borrow and deploy.  This time, I borrowed from Muhammad Yunus, Investors Circle, Pacific Community Ventures, mixed them all up and started the 12 Angels.  The 12 Angels’ mission is to provide the investment capital, consultation and mentorship to support sustainable businesses that help alleviate the individual and societal destruction caused by addiction and mental health disorders.  Businesses we support vary from healthcare service and biotech to companies that create jobs for recovering addicts, giving them a chance to enjoy productive and healthy lives.

We are going to be launching 12 Angels version 3 in June of 2016, from scratch.  If you are interested in helping build version 3, send me an email at alex@12angels.org.  Stay Tuned!

The Real Costs of Unemployment on our Community

It takes a little digging to figure out the “true” rates of unemployment in the US.  The unemployment figures you hear reported in the media are somewhat misleading.  At the time of this blog, the current unemployment rates reported are approximately 5.5% or about 8.5 million people are unemployed (March 2015) .

However, if you want to know the “true” unemployment rates they are significantly higher.  Depending on how you categorize people without jobs the range is anywhere from 25 million to 90 million in the United States.  This blog is not to intended to teach anyone about statistics but to examine how unemployment affects the people in our recovery community.

I know I said I was not going to get into statistics but I do have one statistic that may be of interest to our community…Out of the 10 million people who are categorized as severely mentally ill 8 million are unemployed.  With a little math that equates to 80% unemployment.  That is correct 80% unemployment.  The economic cost of providing 8 million people with disability or other forms of government support comes in at $250 billion a year.  This is a very, very, very large cost to our economy.

It is important not to let statistics and economics overshadow the human experience of unemployment.  In an article on the effects of unemployment on people’s mental health,  author Rebecca J. Rosen of The Atlantic writes “Those who have been looking for work for half a year or more are more than three times as likely to be suffering from depression as those with jobs.”  Mary Giliberti, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness states “People with mental illness who find competitive jobs have higher quality of life, fewer symptoms and lower mental health care costs”

It is clear that unemployment compounds the problems associated with mental illness.  So where are the solutions?

In a July 10, 2014 article in USA Today titled “Bleak Picture for mentally ill: 80% are jobless” says one of the answers exits in “supportive employment”.  Supported employment is a well-defined approach to helping people find meaningful jobs and providing ongoing support from a team of mental health professionals.  Since the 1980’s studies on supported employment demonstrate enormous benefits in helping individuals become healthier and more productive.  Access to supported employment continues to be a problem, despite extensive evidence showing its effectiveness.

It is my hope that any well-heeled entrepreneurs looking for a challenge join me in developing more supportive employment opportunities for the recovery community.  What an amazing opportunity to help someone find productivity, purpose and passion in their recovery.

 

Solutions to the Economic Damage Caused by Addiction

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As of May of 2013, our unemployment rate is at 7.6% equating to 11.8 million people on unemployment.  

Everything being equal would an employer hire a recovering addict? If you were an addict just leaving rehab would you disclose this on a job interview?  How do you explain on an interview that you have spent the last 30, 60, 90 days or longer in rehab?  Can you imagine?  “Awkward!”  My assumption is that most people keep their stay in rehab their little secret.

In 1988, when I was coming out of my 6 month stay in rehab…as they say some are sicker than others :)  I chose to create an elaborate story about my whereabouts for the last 6 months.  I said to Gary, the very nice, very sophisticated, very well dressed property manager who was part of a conservative real estate company in Glendale, CA, that I had been traveling in Europe for 6 months.  If I was going to use the traveling through Europe alibi on my job interview I should have prepared better.  Gary loved Europe, of course! When the conversation turned to Paris I really got myself into trouble.  Gary knew about the different neighborhoods, little restaurants and some of the best places to stay.  Me, I had never been to Paris or Europe.  I was scrambling.  I knew one street in Paris, the Champs-Elysées.  So that became the center of my story.   Then I as quickly as possible changed the subject.

The next uncomfortable moment came when Gary called the rehab I was so embarrassed.  In 1988, before cell phones were common, our rehab had a pay phone.  My rehab was not one of those fancy places in Malibu, my rehab had a 150 residents who made the choice of going to rehab instead of prison.  Usually it was impossible to get through on the pay phone, Gary got lucky.  I heard my name being called down the hall “hey Alex come to the pay phone”.  When I picked up the phone I was caught by surprise, it was Gary.     I never expected he’d call.  Of course his first question was, where do you live?  I had to think fast, keeping with my fabricated persona of the traveling student, I said I was staying in a youth hostel.  Luckily years of drug use gave me the ability to think fast and convincingly lie.  At times I could not tell when I was telling the truth or when I was lying.  I got the job.  If I told you of my adventures with my first job out of rehab you’d laugh.  But I’ll save those stories for another blog.  The short story is I made it out of rehab.  It was tough.  Many of my friends and acquaintances at the rehab were not so lucky.  They really struggled.  I watched a parade of my friends and acquaintances relapse and die.  My theory is that the disappointment and stress of trying to find work seemed to escalate the frequency of relapse.  It looked to me when faced with returning to “life” or “using”, using looked like the better option. For the lucky ones they ended back in rehab, for the unluckier ones they ended up in jail or dead.

Whether the root of the problem for addicts is learned dependency or the very slow healing of the addict’s brain, I’m not sure it matters.  Our economy is being damaged by unemployed addicts.  I don’t mean to ignore the personal tragedy of people dying or going to jail but this is a business blog.  We business people try not to consider the human condition when we are talking about the economy. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, we have 22.5 million Americans aged 12 or older—or 8.7 percent of the population — had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends

So we have 11.8 million people on unemployment and we have 22.5 million using people in the United States.  What can we say is happening to the US economy by not addressing the problems of addiction and work?  How about this number…$366 BILLION caused by alcohol and Illicit drug use in health care, productivity loss, crime, incarceration and drug enforcement.  Ok so that is enough about the problem let’s talk about solutions…

One of the keys to our economic recovery is getting people clean and sober. Is that enough? We need to take it one step further and provide a bridge back to productivity. This is the focus of the 12 Angels. Here are some solutions to increasing productivity:

1. More agency owned businesses – these businesses can operate inside of long term government funded treatment centers. Some organizations like Delancey Street and the Salvation Army have been doing this for decades. One of our goals with the 12 Angels is to help other treatment centers that do not operate businesses start profitable and with sustainable companies. If you are reading this and are a cashed out entrepreneur, foundation or philanthropist – we need your help!

2. More micro-lending and micro-credit available to recovering addict entrepreneurs. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank for their success in creating economic opportunity to the poor. Why can’t we apply micro-lending and micro-credit to recovering addict entrepreneurs?

3. Why can’t we use models such as the ones developed by Pacific Community Ventures? Pacific Community Ventures uses tools of private equity to stimulate job creation, productivity and wealth in economically disadvantaged communities.

Practicing addicts and alcoholics cost our nation over $340 billion annually. Addiction is the largest health care problem in the nation. Using the 3 models described above coupled with the specific knowledge and experience of the 12 Angels’ organization is a winning combination.

We have an incredible opportunity to help everyone in our nation by reducing the damage addiction costs our society. Addiction is treatable. Economic recovery is possible. The return on investment is gigantic. Act now, help the 12 Angels implement our social entrepreneurship programs in the recovery community.

You can contribute via PayPal by using the button in the right most sidebar or donate your time and expertise by contacting us at 877-858-1212 or via email.

Award-winning play “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” Return to Off-Broadway

 

In 2011 – the 12 Angels Fund was thrilled to announce its support of the production company of the Off-Broadway play of BILL W. AND DR. BOB.(www.billwanddrbob.com).

Well-known actors Martin Sheen and Hank Azaria supported the play with performances of staged readings, including at a fundraiser in Los Angeles in November 2011 supported by 12 Angels – raising over ten thousand dollars.

12 Angels was not the only non-profit supporting and investing in the company – The Hazelden Foundation has now become the major sponsor and non-profit umbrella for the play. Now – Alcoholics Anonymous Play Bill W. and Dr. Bob to Return Off-Broadway (http://tinyurl.com/k3arsbt) this July!

An ecstatic Stephen Bergman wrote this update:  “Dear Alex, (Shohet) Hope you are well.  We’re in rehearsal now, for first preview July 8 and opening July 16.  Because of your Kickstarter donation, you have two free tix awaiting you!  I hope you can make it! Gratitude! Your old friend, Steve”

Friends come but rarely go in recovery.

Updated links: www.BillWandDrBob.com

 www.samuelshem.com

12 Angels engages to support the relaunch of award-winning play “Bill W. and Dr. Bob”

Bill W. and Dr. BobThe 12 Angels Fund is thrilled to announce its support of the production company of the Off-Broadway play “BILL W. AND DR. BOB”  (www.billwanddrbob.com).

Well-known actors Martin Sheen and Hank Azaria have supported the play with performances of staged readings, including at a recent fundraiser in Los Angeles in November 2011 supported by 12 Angels.

See pictures from the fundraiser – https://picasaweb.google.com/115617164588577667756/BillAndBobAtONE80?authkey=Gv1sRgCPKO-a2up6qILA

The production had a successful run in 2007 in New York, followed by similar successes in almost a hundred other U.S. cities and abroad. This track record has motivated 12 Angels to support and work to invest in the production company.

12 Angels is not the only non-profit supporting and investing in the company – The Hazelden Foundation has agreed to become the major sponsor and non-profit umbrella for the play, and has already invested in the company.

12 Angels has agreed to strategically support the play and invest at least $250,000 in the company. 12 Angels now is working to raise the capital to launch the play in September 2012.

With a successful fundraising, this will mark the first investment from the inaugural fund. Through a network of investors and contacts within the addiction community, 12 Angels’ goal is to invest in this production that will employ a number of recovering addicts, as per the fund’s mission, and which will be self-sustaining. The revenues from the non-profit New York production will be used to launch a national college campus tour and program to bring awareness of addiction in college life, and particularly the current deadly epidemic of binge drinking (2000 students die every year), and to provide solutions to address it.

Support this sustainable production of BILL W. AND DR. BOB through a donation to The 12 Angels Fund. Your donation will have a direct impact on increasing the awareness of the recovery community and education program. Help in bringing this wonderful play back to life to be able to touch the many people that are impacted by addiction.

About the Play: BILL W. AND DR. BOB is an award-winning Off-Broadway hit play about the relationship between the two men that led to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous and their wives, Lois and Anne, whose relationship led to the founding of Al Anon Family Groups. Written by Samuel Shem (pen-name of Stephen Bergman) and Janet Surrey, this play is historically-accurate, deeply-moving, laugh-out-loud funny and inspiring, and captures the power of a great American success story.

The 12 Angels Fund – Launching Spring 2012

After years of building on the 12 Angels concept of encouraging social entrepreneurship within the addiction recovery community, The 12 Angels Fund will be launched in spring 2012 to take it even further.

The 12 Angels Fund will invest in social enterprises that employ and develop individuals recovering from addiction. Our mission is to provide the capital and mentorship to create sustainable businesses that help guide recovering addicts back into productive and healthy lives.

 Every year, over $600 billion is spent or loss on the overall costs of substance abuse, including productivity and health and crime-related costs. But addiction is treatable, economic recovery is possible, and the potential return on investment is massive. Our hope is to provide a second chance to recovering addicts and break the cycle of dependence onf family, friends and the community.
The 12 Angels Fund will invest in profitable sustainable companies and demand not a traditional financial return on investment, but a significant social return through the employment of recovering addicts. Using our expertise in funds management and venture capital, we will foster successful companies and, as a result, healthy employees.
We are currently in the build phase of the organization and fund and are seeking socially conscious donors to join us in realizing our vision for a powerful vehicle to mobilize capital and drive social change.
Stay tuned for updates!


12 Angels Evergreen Fund is funded and managed by a group of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who observed the transformative process recovery has on addicts and alcoholics.  Many recovering addicts and alcoholics have gone on to become top business leaders, hedge fund managers, social entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Many of these top business leaders have kept their recovery hidden from their colleagues for fear this information will add a level of uncertainty to their roles as fiduciaries.   Addiction costs the United States over a one-half a TRILLION dollars a year.  Our supporters, managers and partners believe we can reduce the damage addiction does to our economy and our society by using a combination of micro-finance, community development, executive mentorship, leadership training and venture capital.

The 12 Angels Evergreen Fund  is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that is entirely privately funded by executives, foundations, and other generous donors.

Goodbye to Luis Villalobos, Our Organizations’ Mentor!

Luis Villalobos receiving the Hans Severiens Award

Luis Villalobos receiving the Hans Severiens Award

Luis Villalobos was a great mentor to me, the 12 Angels and lots of other people!He was a pioneer in angel investing, an advocate for entrepreneurs and an architect of organizations.Here is my story about Luis Villalobos…

In 2004, I was in a long term drug and alcohol treatment program.At 42 it was difficult to imagine starting my professional career over. The last 3 years of drug abuse had destroyed my professional reputation.My financial life was chaotic.My personal life was a mess.I had a young 2 and a half year old daughter and a wife who was a well respected professional in the drug and alcohol treatment industry.

For the last 20 years, I was in technology.I was an entrepreneur having founded 3 tech companies.At 42, I was wondering while laying in my twin bed at the drug treatment center, what do can I do?Am I too old or too poor to start another company?Should I get a job in technology?Should I get a get well job at Starbucks and focus on meetings and my recovery?

Career decisions are daunting while living in converted retirement home with 150 other unemployed addicts.Being around so many unemployed people robs one of hope. What can I put on my resume, I have been serving meals to 150 addicts at lunch time for the last 6 months?  I guess they would call that job a resume killer!

Somewhere along my path in treatment, I took the Myers Briggs personality assessment which helps identify temperament and aids in career decisions. My results, ENTP, the classic personality type of the entrepreneur.I was fascinated by the Myers Briggs and its accurate appraisal of my temperament.

 

In early recovery from drug addiction a person is on an emotional roller coaster of fear, hope, despair and purpose. I was searching for my calling, what can I do?Who am I, I am a recovering heroin addict and an entrepreneur.Those two activities have dominated my life.Where can I find meaning in my career, do I want to go back into technology?

 

It hit me one day, maybe entrepreneurship can help people with addictions.Maybe I can take my passion for entrepreneurship and apply it to helping people with addictive disorders.I was aware of social entrepreneurs who apply their entrepreneurial talents to social problems.I thought I am going to do that!

 

The next question is how?I started to brainstorm:

 

1.Creating businesses in treatment centers. Is anyone doing that?What are the benefits of having a business inside a treatment center?

a.You can generate money to help the treatment center pay for the services they provide.

b.You can provide job experience and funds to the residents in the treatment center.

c.You can make the transition out of the treatment easier and reduce the chances of relapse.

2.Successful entrepreneurs Create jobs and opportunities.

a.Entrepreneurs in recovery are more likely to provide opportunities to other addicts, because they understand what it is like to be an addict in early recovery.

b.Entrepreneurs can create personal income when traditional employment may be unavailable.

I can go on and on with all the benefits entrepreneurship can have to the recovery process but I need to get back to my personal tribute to Luis Villalobos…

 

So after my little entrepreneurial brainstorm I thought of the 12 Angels, an angel investment group that would stimulate entrepreneurship in the recovery community.I then went on line and found the Angel Capital Association and signed up as one of their groups.They had a program where new angel groups were assigned a mentor, enter Luis Villalobos.

 

I had a meeting with Luis Villalobos a graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School.He was the founder of the Tech Coast Angels, the largest angel group in the nation.I couldn’t believe it!Here I was a guy living in drug rehab, who thought of a crazy idea to start an investment group that provided funds to recovering drug addicts.Now I was going to meet one of the most influential angel investors in the country, I couldn’t believe it!

 

My meeting with Luis Villalobos was more than I could have ever dreamed.Luis immediately saw the value in the 12 Angels, the powerful opportunity to use angel investing to help one of the largest economic issues facing our country; addiction costs the US over $340 Billion dollars per year!

 

Within one meeting, Luis architected the 12 Angels organization.He gave me a blueprint from which I have been trying to follow for the last 5 years.And he gave me more.He attended our organizations first presentation and mentored me to create the legal structure for the group.He helped me understand how to be an investor and a group organizer.

 

How do we put the 12 Angels into practice?We needed to find an investment.Luis and I discussed starting a high end drug and alcohol treatment center and over the next year Wonderland Treatment Center was born.Luis suggested I utilize the local business schools for support.I then pitched UCLA’s Anderson School of Management for assistance and we created a business plan for career mentorship using Facebook technology.Luis was a guide, an advisor, a cheerleader and a visionary.

 

I cannot imagine where my life would be had Luis told me the 12 Angels was a horrible idea that would never work.I cannot imagine what my relationship with my wife, daughter, friends and family would be had Luis not given me his time and his experience.Luis encouraged me to follow my dreams.Luis believed in angel investing and entrepreneurship. Luis was a mentor to me and many other people and organizations.I am very sad Luis is gone.The world has lost a very important individual.I know Luis’ made over 60 angel investments in businesses but he made his greatest investment in me.Thank you Luis Villalobos, I will never forget you!