How Marsha Stone Uses Her Past Struggles to Help Others Overcome Addiction

How Marsha Stone uses her past struggles to help others overcome addiction

Marsha Stone’s personal struggle with alcoholism had a major impact on her life, including the suspension of her law license. But for more than a decade now, Marsha has used to own experience to help others overcome addiction.

In this interview, Marsha covers a variety of topics and provides practical advice for anyone struggling with addiction or family members of addicts.

👇 Key Takeaways

  • Marsha has used her own struggles to impact and help others
  • Family plays an important role in the recovery process
  • Groups can be extremely powerful for effective recovery
  • Your recovery has to be the priority that impacts every decision you make

Overview

Business Name: Foundation Stone Family of Programs
Website URL:  https://www.foundationstoneprograms.com/
Founder: Marsha Stone
Business Location: Austin, Texas and Pensacola, Florida 
Year Started: 2023
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 77

Please tell us about yourself and your business.

I’m Marsha Stone, the CEO and founder of Foundation Stone. Our network comprises boutique, focused programs designed for individuals and their families grappling with mental health, substance use disorder, and co-occurring disorders throughout the U.S.

Our flagship treatment center, Amend Wellness, is spearheaded by a team of specialized medical experts dedicated to identifying the root causes of mental health diagnoses through integrative and functional medicine. Drawing from my personal journey of overcoming addiction, I integrate my experiences to deliver the most effective and high-quality rehabilitative programming for those facing various disorders.

In my previous role, I founded BRC Healthcare, a diverse treatment provider offering a comprehensive continuum of care, including medical detox, trauma and dual diagnosis, young adult, and gender-specific chronic relapse treatment. Over a decade of executive leadership, I expanded operations and set strategic directions for the organization.

Since 2011, I’ve held the position of one of the few female CEOs in the recovery industry. With expertise in addiction recovery, intervention, family therapy, behavioral health, wellness, and ethics in treatment center management, I’ve successfully led multiple non-profit organizations. I consider myself a serial entrepreneur dedicated to the business of helping people.

I also regularly speak at top industry conferences worldwide. I firmly believe in the importance of coordinated efforts among the medical, legal, and social work communities to effectively address addiction issues.

Photo courtesy of Marsha Stone

Can you share your personal journey that led to working in the recovery industry? 

I came to work in the recovery industry in a very roundabout way. I had been an attorney for about 10 years and was really struggling with my alcoholism for the majority of that time. I ended up having my law license suspended for five years because of my inability to stay sober. 

During that time, I moved to Austin, Texas, and I was working at a local day spa. One day I received a message from Mark Houston who owned a recovery center here in town, and he asked me to come and work for him and create a women’s program that would mirror the men’s program that he had created several years before. I did that and fell in love with the work.

I really felt like I found my calling and the type of work that would give purpose to the struggles that I had had with my own recovery. I have been in recovery since May 6th, 2008, and since that time, I’ve always worked in and around the recovery industry in some shape or form. It has become the true love of my life from a professional standpoint.

What lessons from your own journey do you believe are crucial for others struggling with addiction?

I think the biggest lesson for me is something that I can see in the rearview mirror, and it’s very simple. When you blow recovery all the way down, are you willing to surrender to your own ideas about how to manage your life and completely begin to rearrange your values and the things that are important to you?

Basically, you have to put recovery and the protection of your recovery in the first chair or the driver’s seat for any ensuing decisions you make about your life. Everything that I do with my family or friends and with my profession is somehow seen through the lens of my recovery.  I think that that is such a blessing, and it’s the way that I’ve found the most peace and harmony in integrating my life.

Foundation Stone offers boutique, focused programs. Can you elaborate on the approach and philosophy behind these specialized programs?

When uncovering what types of programs are going to be helpful and which programs we should offer to the public, we discovered that if we can be as specific as possible about the struggles, then by nature, we’re going to be able to match the right clients with the right staff for the right type of boutique program.

Our first boutique program was for people who had trouble staying sober. These treatment-resistant clients are sometimes called chronic relapses. What we found was that when you’re able to have groups of people going through treatment together and are suffering from some of the same struggles, or if their addictions have some similarities, it helps with the identification piece. That’s really the necessary underpinning of any relationship that will be successful in recovery.

Three women sitting in front of a wall that says wellness looks good on you
Photo courtesy of Marsha Stone

Family therapy is a key component of your approach. Can you explain the significance of involving families in the recovery process and how it contributes to long-term success?

It’s very important for families to be involved in the recovery of their loved one, not necessarily from the standpoint that they have to know and understand everything about addiction and recovery, but from the standpoint that they’re taught about the diseases of addiction, alcoholism, different mental health diagnoses that might affect some of the clients.

If the families have information and training about the illness their loved one is suffering from, they’ll be able to understand and be a boundaried observer, versus someone who unwittingly tries to put themselves into the role of savior.

When loved ones begin to understand, and the begin to change and lean into their own self-actualization through the recovery process, the family is able to come together in a new, unified, and powerful way that’s rooted in trust and respect.

What challenges have you faced as one of the few female CEOs in your industry?

Being a female CEO in the behavioral health industry really means facing the fact that it’s a male-dominated industry. After many years of being involved, I certainly have been invited to sit at different tables that I wasn’t invited to in earlier days. 

I think that, as a general rule, it’s important for women to realize that they do have the ability to lead organizations, and oftentimes, their own struggles may uniquely qualify them to take the lead in certain situations.

What I’ve found to be the most successful way to navigate any profession, being a female, is just to continue to lean into my own personal values and my own understanding of business and business relationships.

At the end of the day, it can be done, but it’s a long road, and it’s sometimes a lonely road. Once you find your team that’s going to help and protect you, it’s important to build loyalty in those relationships because it can definitely be a daunting prospect, being one of the few females at the table.

Marsha Stone speaking to someone
Photo courtesy of Marsha Stone

How have you seen the landscape of addiction treatment evolve over the years, and what changes do you believe are still needed in the industry?

I do believe that the landscape of addiction treatment has evolved over the years. I think that what we’re seeing right now is a huge evolution where we’re really beginning to incorporate conversations about mental health and wellness into our conversations about recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. 

This is a huge win because it begins to normalize the discussion of these issues relating to behavioral health and make it a part of a health-based conversation versus a pathology sort of finger-pointing and moral failure, which is the conversation that’s been the underpinning of alcoholism and addiction treatment for years.

I believe that what’s happened recently is that we’re really understanding how our mental health is directly affected by what we eat, where we sleep, where we explore recreation and experience fun. I think it’s just such a win for the health and wellness industry, in general, to begin to incorporate lifestyle choices and changes that people have full autonomy over. 

How can someone know when they need professional help for their mental health?

Making the decision to seek help for mental health for yourself or for a loved one can be confusing and daunting. Lots of times, mental health is misunderstood because it’s attributed to some type of behavior that has begun or has continued to develop over time.

Unfortunately, at times, the person suffering or a person who’s concerned about their loved one suffering may misunderstand signs and signals that would have actually pointed to an earlier intervention.

When you’re trying to make a decision like this for yourself or someone else, it’s important that you contact professionals because they’re trained to interpret behaviors and understand confusing signals that may be misunderstood or misapplied by a person who isn’t specifically trained in understanding mental health and behavior. 

Unfortunately, when someone is suffering from a mental health crisis, their brain may not be able to process what’s actually happening or the need for help. That’s why it’s important to include loved ones and to include professionals in any decision to seek a higher level of care to address mental health or behavioral dysfunction.

Marsha Stone speaking on stage
Photo courtesy of Marsha Stone

What tips do you have for busy entrepreneurs and business owners to protect and care for their mental health?

I would say that it’s very important for entrepreneurs and business owners to remember the importance of self-regulation. This is always going to be promoted by sleep hygiene, great nutrition, and plenty of time for rest and play – all of the healthful things we’ve learned throughout the years would be important for the longevity of life. 

How can business owners create a supportive environment for mental health in the workplace?

Business owners can really go a long way to create a supportive environment for mental health in their workplace by providing flexibility in terms of working hours and location, for when personal things come up for health purposes, whether that’s appointments for one’s self, their children, or their family.

Most of the time, working mothers are the ones to answer the call, put the kids in the car, and take the kids to the pediatrician’s office. For a while, I was sort of made to feel guilty about those things. But now I don’t witness that or experience that in the workforce anymore, and I’m just really grateful that finally employers have begun to know and understand that unless their employees are taking care of themselves and their families, they’re not going to be able to be present and productive whatsoever in the workplace.

I personally really encourage people to take time off, take trips with family, enjoy a mental health day, or go to the spa. Lots of times, I have been fortunate enough to bless someone and either set that up for them or even cover the cost for them. Small things like that are just another way of showing your employees that you value their health and happiness as an employer.

Marsha Stone with a microphone
Photo courtesy of Marsha Stone

What are some of your favorite books, blogs, podcasts, or YouTube channels?

Outside of work, I enjoy unwinding with my guilty pleasure, Bravo TV. I find it interesting to see different perspectives and narratives, some of which can offer unexpected insights into teamwork, creativity, and even leadership!

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