To Love Her is To Help Her

Ann PremazonIn 2016, Neil Scott, the producer and host of RECOVERY – Coast to Coast visited our beautiful campus and interviewed some of our team members along with care partners and alumnae. His radio show is a two hour nightly national radio talk show dealing exclusively with addiction, with a focus on recovery. In addition, he has been a keynote speaker at numerous national, state and local events and has lectured at America’s leading schools of alcohol and drug studies, including Rutgers University. We are grateful we had the opportunity to get to know him and share all the wonderful life-changing work that we are doing at New Directions for Women. In this segment, he is interviewing, Ann Premazon, President & Chair Board Member at New Directions. To listen to the interview live, visit:

Neil Scott:

Welcome back once again to Recovery Coast to Coast. It’s nice to have you here. I’m Neil Scott. We’re here until midnight tonight. On the program tonight we’re talking to a lot of folks on an amazing treatment program specifically for women. It’s called New Directions for Women in Costa Mesa. It’s been around since 1977. By golly, they’ve treated over 5,000. Let me repeat that, 5,000 women. One of America’s leading gender specific treatment programs successfully treating women since, again, back in 1977.

Ann Premazon is joining us tonight. She is a member of the board. She’s chairman of the operating board. The way this is structured here at New Directions for Women, there are two boards. One has to do with the foundation and one has to do with the operating of this wonderful treatment center. Ann, you’ve been a long time board member. Tell me a little bit about your experience with New Directions for Women and what it means to you to be a part of this great organization.

Ann Premazon:

New Directions for Women helps so many people. The way that I learned about it probably is a little similar to how you shared that you learned about it. I’m from Texas if you picked up a little bit of an accent. I was in a meeting.

Neil Scott:

We won’t hold that against you, you know.

Ann Premazon:

Thank God because I can’t help it. I was in a meeting. I kept seeing women come in. They would share that they had so much time sober or that they were in treatment at New Directions. This was probably in the early ’80s. You stay around and you think, in the treatment industry, so many programs open. So many programs close. This one has been going, going, going, going, going, going, going and helping, helping, helping. When they got their new Executive Director Becky Flood, I met her.

Neil Scott:

They took a giant step when they got her.

Ann Premazon:

They really did. I met her. We just kind of clicked. Just from a standpoint of doing service work and doing the right thing, I got involved with the board. Afterwards, they asked me to become the chairman. The operating piece of it is really to ensure that the policies and procedures, the things that are supposed to happen will happen. We’re a non- profit. Our CEO has checks and balances.

Neil Scott:

All of those things that are necessary with a non-profit organization. On a personal level, you have been clean and sober for 38 years.

Ann Premazon:

Yes, but if I had to say that myself I would say that I have been clean for 38 years. The reason why I say that is because in the program that I choose to go to, that I call home, we use the term clean and not to confuse the newcomer, that is the language that we use.

Neil Scott:

So, you have been clean, as I clean up my language, for 38 years.

Ann Premazon:

I have.

Neil Scott:

Wow. You’ve seen a lot, obviously, in that time. The fellowship that you are a part of certainly has gone through some incredible changes and the whole recovery movement. One of the things that people in recovery are doing all the time, and sometimes to the detriment of meetings, I go to some open meetings and I see people with their cell phones out. They’re on Twitter. They’re on Facebook. They’re on all these things. Your background is in social media.

Ann Premazon:

I am a bit of a geek and so I understand the internet. I got clean before there was an internet. I got clean before the fellowship that I call home was really very active. But what I will share with you is I do think that there has been a lot of change in a lot of ways. In our society today, more than any other time, if somebody wants help, whether they go to a program like New Directions or they go to a 12 step fellowship or to a non 12 step fellowship, help is more accessible to any and everybody. That’s what the purpose, at least that I feel like what the bottom line is, is any addict seeking help can find help today, period.

Neil Scott:

Ann Premazon joining us tonight on Recovery Coast to Coast, board member of New Directions for Women. What makes New Directions for Women unique?

Ann Premazon:

Come on now. Sometimes, from a salesy perspective, everybody is going to have a canned answer. So, let me just tell you. I’m just going to tell you right now, this is my opinion.

Neil Scott:

A canned answer?

Ann Premazon:

This is my opinion and my opinion only. What makes New Directions unique is that they have been consistent. They’ve been here for a long time. Lots and lots of women, their lives have changed. Their children’s lives have changed. What makes us unique is that our history speaks for itself. What makes us different for an experiment when somebody calls? I feel pretty proud to be able to say that if somebody is seeking help or wants help for themselves or for a loved one and they call New Directions and New Directions can’t help for whatever reason, they will be sure to help them find the help that they need. They’re very committed into helping somebody get what they need, where they need.

I’ll give you an example. We’re in Southern California. A lot of people come from all over the United States to New Directions for Women. First of all, it’s beautiful here. But sometimes people can’t get on a plane. Sometimes people don’t want to come. Since this is Coast to Coast and somebody could be listening to this anywhere in the United States, if we’re not the program for you and you call us, we will still try to help you get help wherever you are. It’s something that I feel very proud of. We really try to carry the message that help is available, period.

Neil Scott:

Help is available and you will help them to find that help and get them in touch with another program.

Ann Premazon:

Another program or at least another phone number that they can call that can get them to another program. It’s not just about thank you for calling. Do you have insurance? Do you have money? If not, goodbye. It’s not about that. It’s thank you for calling. Who do you need help for? Are you calling for yourself? How can we be of assistance? What can we do to make you be successful in where you’re going?

Neil Scott:

Treatment is amazing and it’s also very expensive. A lot of women struggle with the financial barrier of getting into treatment. At New Directions for Women there is a scholarship fund.

Ann Premazon:

There is. I always like to be really clear about that because a lot of times people think that a scholarship fund means that you can come to treatment at our facility with no money. That’s not the case.

Neil Scott:

I’m glad you brought that up. Explain that.

Ann Premazon:

Very simply, if somebody is in need of government aid or a county funded program, we will try to help you find that in your area. Many times somebody will come in, especially with different levels of insurance. For example, maybe they’ll cover 60 percent, 50 percent, 40 percent. We’re in network with many different insurance companies. We work with them. So, there’s always a balance for that.

Whether its heart surgery or you break your arm or you have to go to the ER, it’s the same thing with substance use disorder. If you need to use your insurance and we’re contracted and you come to us, you are going to get a bill for what the remaining balance is. With that, by the grace of God, many benefactors and people that have invested of their time, talent, and treasure to New Directions, there’s a scholarship fund. We always try to offset that, if needed. We try to help people stay as long as they can. We really try to use that money very wisely so that the women that come through can do it in the most affordable way.

Neil Scott:

As women come through here, it’s not a cookie cutter program. It’s not you need to go to a 30 day program. The program is based on the needs of the woman in question.

Ann Premazon:

It is. Let me give you an example. There was a woman that came through New Directions. If she’s listening to this, I know she’ll know that I’m talking about her. She came. She had a baby here. The baby did very well. She and the baby went back to the same living environment even though it was suggested that she stay. A woman can stay with us anywhere from 90 days to two years or longer. She ended up going out. She needed to do a little more research.

She lost her daughter to another family member. So, she did a little more research out there, drinking and drugging, doing her thing. She ended up back at New Directions. She was pregnant. So, she had her second child here. She was here long enough to not only have her baby but then to start to raise her baby and to get her first child back. She stayed in treatment with both kids. After that happened, stayed for almost two years. She was able to get a job. She was able to understand. That’s not going to happen. That’s not going to be everybody’s story but it was this woman’s story. It changed her life and it saved her life. It was pretty awesome.

Neil Scott:

Just one of the 5,000 stories of women who come through this program.

Ann Premazon:

Yeah, one of the many babies that have been born. We just had our circle of life breakfast that is like our big fundraiser every year. There was a woman that got up that shared that had just been accepted into law school. She’s not an addict. She’s not an alcoholic but her mom was. She came into treatment here with her mom when she was 11. She hated her mom. She couldn’t believe all that had happened. So many people loved the 11 year old that her mom has been able to stay clean. She just got accepted into law school. She shared her story of being a child so young and being exposed to recovery and working with her mom through the issues for her to be able to become the mom that she is and for this young woman to become the woman that she is.

Neil Scott:

Experience, strength, and hope.

Ann Premazon:

Hallelujah, bro. That’s how it goes.

Neil Scott:

Ann Premazon is a board member, chairman of the operating board at New Directions for Women. It’s a great board. There are two boards. One’s for the foundation. One’s for the operating part of the organization that has grown so significantly from back in the 1970s.

Ann Premazon:

You saw it in the ’70s. Let me tell you. When I first saw it, it was a very small – Founder’s House was when I took a tour. I don’t know if you’ve seen Founder’s House but they just have redone the whole thing. It’s very posh and chic.

Neil Scott:

I’m going to see it before I leave.

Ann Premazon:

It’s beautiful. Before they did that I took a tour when Becky first came. The grass was dying. It was so interesting just how sometimes things shift. I know it’s a little thing and I always talk about this because now when you walk on, we call it our campus, when you walk on our campus you see women smiling. You see the grass is green. You see children playing. You see the little things that have happened.

What I can tell you without anything is that sometimes you walk into a place, and I’m sure you’ve experienced, where you just feel good. You just feel love and you just feel connection. I know when I walk into the doors at New Directions that people are getting help and feeling better. Everybody is not going to get the program, so they say. No place has 100 percent recovery but I can tell you that they definitely will get the message of love and that help is available. They can live differently.

Neil Scott:

That’s the start.

Ann Premazon:

That’s the start.

Neil Scott:

Ann Premazon joining us on Recovery Coast to Coast where New Directions for Women, where the grass is greener on the recovery side.

Ann Premazon:

Oh, it is. That was a nice little segue.

Neil Scott:

Thanks for joining us tonight.

Ann Premazon:

You’re welcome.

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