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How I came up with the unique Red Door Life Model of Care for Addiction & Substance Abuse Recovery: The 12 Dimensions of Human Health & Wellness

Updated: Apr 8

While it is technically possible to achieve a successful recovery through the mainstream methodology that exists in most treatment centers (The Car Wash Model- a client comes in “gets clean” and then is returned to their often problematic environment, rinse and repeat) unfortunately this is the exception rather than the norm. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse NIH in 2022, the relapse rate for those struggling with substance abuse issues is in the range of 40%- 60%.


I have always been a problem solver and I don’t define solving a problem as unsustainable recovery.

I’m in my 60s now but for as long as I can recall I’ve had a calling to try to solve problems. Early on, I can remember some of the problems my mother was having in life, and out of a sense of love and connection, I felt like it was my responsibility to help her. I’ve always had a fascination with problem-solving and helping people. I’ve carried this with me throughout my whole life and in my work, it has motivated me to relentlessly look deeper beyond the surface of the symptoms clients in recovery present with and to continually seek to improve our methodology and systems. After all, I believe wholeheartedly in the beauty of each human’s precious life and celebrate the unique gifts and potential each human being possesses.


If treatment centers on the whole were having successful outcomes, then the status quo would be fine to me. I’d be looking for other kinds of problems to solve, perhaps creating more sustainable business models or optimizing for other efficiencies. But the problem that impacted me from the moment I entered my personal first stay in treatment in 1986, through my past decades of experience of working in treatment is an incredibly high rate of harm- people being harmed personally- physically, emotionally, and also harming others. There’s a huge impact- a negative impact, on everybody associated with people with substance abuse and mental health issues. And the status quo treatment models aren’t effectively handling that. These models of care are more likely to work for people with mild conditions; it’s the higher-severity issues that need more attention and work than mainstream treatment centers have the capacity to provide. It has been my passion to continually address this, and to redevelop and improve the model of care to reduce this harm- the harm to the individual, their loved ones, their life, and society as a whole- the staggering $1 trillion economic burden caused by substance abuse issues and countless lives lost annually to addiction and mental health disorders.


As a result of many years of observing and looking beyond the status quo, I have developed a much different more comprehensive, and innovative model of care at Red Door Life detox and recovery center in Los Angeles, CA. We call it The 12 Dimensions of Human Health and Wellness. It is a system we use to evaluate all the areas that comprise one’s life. We then develop a multidisciplinary team of individualized, wrap-around support in all the areas where issues are discovered: substance use & medications, education, finances, career, legal/ criminal & civil, family, romantic relationships, purpose, connection to community & friendships, housing & living situation, medical & physical health, spirituality & religion, mental health & emotional regulation, and nutrition & fitness.


The Red Door Life 12 Dimensions of Human Health and Wellness

You can read in more depth about the innovative system of The 12 Dimensions of Human Health and Wellness model of care here. But in this post, I’d like to share with you how I conceived of this 12 Dimensions model of care, how it is evolving, and where it is heading.


At the first treatment center I co-founded a few decades ago, my role was more on the sidelines as an executive, not the clinical side. From this perspective I watched the clinical team, the processes of treatment, the conventions, the customs… and I began to see many pain points from this close-up view. At the second treatment center I co-founded, I was in more of a hands-on role and working with clinicians and clients, particularly in problem-solving with specific client cases.


It was during this time a psychiatrist who worked with us- one of the top psychiatrists at UCLA, introduced me to what a multidisciplinary team looked like. As I was sitting there with a patient, their family members, a psychotherapist, a psychiatrist, I was observing what was going on between all of them. What I started to see was the value of all of these people collectively working together. And I started to see when they included the client, the client became enlivened about their own recovery. By having the conversations all together and including the client- instead of in silos or behind the scenes, the clinicians, family, and support team gained greater insight, could work more effectively, and the client felt a sense of support, autonomy, and motivation that was incredibly powerful.


I realized the power of collective learning that was going on within that system, and how collective learning was highly impactful to better outcomes. I’ve also observed that successful recovery outcomes are significantly improved by two vital things: attunement and connection. Attunement to the truth of the human being beneath the surface symptoms as well as connection between all team members and the client. And so the concept of the client-led, muti-disciplinary team was the first AHA! moment beginning the birth of what is now the Red Door Life 12 Dimensions of Human Health and Wellness model of care.


But then the next problem that I observed was how do you keep people informed when the clinicians have limited time in their scheduled sessions… and also the client- due to the nature of the recovery process, is in a state of highly dynamic flux? And so I further developed the 12 Dimensions of Human Health and Wellness model of care to include an innovative way to also provide a holistic view and brief summary of pertinent information, like Cliff Notes, of what was going on with the full picture of a person and what needed to be understood and prioritized by the multidisciplinary team in the fastest, most efficient way possible. Adjustments to meds, methodology, treatment can be made in real time strengthening the efficacy of the multidisciplinary team as the needs of the client change, without the confusion, conflict, disconnect, and destabilization that are often characteristic of the mainstream treatment model.


This is certainly not “the easy way” to do treatment- from a business perspective it is much simpler to run a “Car Wash Model”. But I wholeheartedly believe it is our human responsibility to keep looking deeper and pushing things forward for those who are struggling… beyond the accepted status quo and its lowly outcomes. I am passionate about unlocking the human potential and the gifts held by those who struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues, and it is miraculous to witness the power the right conditions have to influence and create transformation.


I will discuss this in a separate blog post which I am excited to share soon- but even to this day and through all our success, I continue to evolve this model of care through developing wearable tech- leveraging the power of AI to gain insights into the biometric signals within a clients’ system which could take years to uncover through traditional therapy and medicine. Using predictive logic, this tech will help prevent overdose, relapse, and suicide which so often blindsides those around the person struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues.


We are very proud of our innovative 12 Dimensions of Human Health and Wellness model of care for detox, substance abuse, recovery, and trauma healing here at Red Door Life in Los Angeles, CA. It has been the culmination of my life’s work of compassionate problem solving and it feels good to not simply be doing what is considered “enough” in mainstream treatment but to actually be working in profoundly effective and innovative ways that significantly improve outcomes, save lives, and restore the inherent potential each human being has to flourish.


Alex Shohet is the co-founder of Red Door Life, a Los Angeles, CA substance abuse treatment, recovery, detox, addiction & trauma healing center also featuring companion services, entrepreneurship empowerment, community & education.


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