Mark Rivkin wasn’t your average 23 year old. At the age when many young adults are making slightly above minimum wage, Mark was a successful entrepreneur with a growing family, a beautiful house and an Internet technology company that had recently gone public.
In his early 30s things changed.
From the outside everything looked perfect, but behind the scenes lay a different story. For several years he suffered from a debilitating and all-consuming addiction. As Mark says, “I had lost track of who I was and what I wanted to become. Instead, I had one overriding desire – to feed my addiction.”
Both in and out of the boardroom he was a “high functioning executive.” Given that Toronto is the third largest financial centre in the world, he certainly wasn’t alone. His story will ring true for many men and women who are battling the underbelly of success. “Many people have their own perfect storm – a series of events that lead them down a path of self-destruction. It may manifest itself through alcohol, gambling, substance abuse, prescription drug misuse or another destructive behaviour,” says Mark Rivkin.
He began a search to put his life back together, researching both residential and out-patient treatment facilities in Canada. He experimented with a few by following their program for months at a time, however he struggled to maintain a sober lifestyle. In the world of addiction this is often referred to as ‘white knuckling’ your way to sobriety. As is the case with many people in his situation, he often relapsed. Even worse, since no one knew he was using, nobody knew when or if he had returned to previous habits.
As a businessman, Mark had a thought that often precedes a big undertaking: ‘there has to be a better way.’ His research eventually drew him to an in-patient treatment centre in Malibu that integrates conventional interventions with an individualized, holistic approach to recovery. More importantly, the program looked at the underlying causes behind addiction and not just the addiction itself. It was certainly a far cry from the more institutional options that were available in Ontario. After a month in treatment he returned to Toronto. However he knew in his heart that the true secret to lasting change was still missing.
“The critical component that many fail to recognize is the importance of accountability and aftercare,” Mark says. A mere 18 months later Mark relapsed under the heavy weight of business, social and family pressures. When he headed to treatment in the U.S. a second time, he was prepared for his return before his plane even took off. He had identified a gap in his recovery plan and realized that it had everything to do with what happened after he left the facility and returned to his original environment. He researched, built and then personalized a comprehensive aftercare program from scratch. It included bi-weekly urine tests from his doctor and an integrated blend of psychotherapy, body treatments, mindfulness work and more. In treatment he learned how to rediscover himself; however, back in Toronto he was rebuilding himself.
In June 2014 Helix Healthcare Group launched a state-of-the-art facility for the treatment of mental health, addiction and trauma, located in Toronto, Canada. “Helix Healthcare Group was born out of the principles that I learned in my recovery – the ones that without a doubt, saved my life,” Mark says.
Today Mark is a different man. In the language of mindfulness, he is present. Long gone are the days of partying, clubs and even 16-hour workdays. Instead, he would rather turn off his phone, and tune into kids while enjoying a movie on a Friday night. Regardless of the struggles he claims that he would not change a thing. “Through the journey I found both my purpose and my passion.”
Written by Tara Rose