Destination Change: Episode 4 — Zac Spowart

Episode 4: Zac Spowart
  • Episode: 4
  • Guest: Zac Spowart
  • Date Recorded: May 23, 2023
  • Date Released: June 28, 2023
  • Length: 42 minutes, 28 seconds
  • Questions/Concerns: Contact Us

Zac Spowart is nomadic in nature, and presently resides in Bali, Indonesia, after living in a variety of states around the USA. He is open about his 16 years of recovery from alcohol and other drugs, with a sobriety date of 11/28/2006, and as such has adopted the name “Nomadic Addictt” to account for his lifestyle and passions.

He has been successful in numerous departments within the behavioral health care industry. He has experience in clinical services, compliance, quality assurance, program development, and business management and strategy.

He dedicates his time to the addiction and behavioral health care industry, focusing on assisting clients/patients in landing at the best quality programs around the world through means of digital content. He accomplishes this as the Director of Operations for Addiction Recovery, a company that specializes in organic recovery-oriented content for web pages and blogs, written by writers in recovery.

Show Notes

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Podcast Transcript (click to open for the transcript of the episode)
Episode 004 - Zac Spowart

Angie Sutton
Welcome to Destination Change, a podcast where we talk recovery, treatment and more. I'm your host, Fiedler Sutton with the National Behavioral Health Association of Providers.

Our guest today is Zach Spowart. He is nomadic in nature and presently resides in Bali, Indonesia, after living in a variety of states around the USA. He is open about his 16 years of recovery from alcohol and other drugs with a sobriety date of November 28, 2006, and as such has adopted the name Nomadic Addictt to account for his lifestyle and passions. He has been successful in numerous departments within the behavioral health care industry. He has experience in clinical services, compliance, quality assurance, program development, and business management and strategy. He dedicates his time to the addiction and behavioral health care industry, focusing on assisting clients / patients and landing at the best quality programs around the world through means of digital content. He accomplishes this as the director of operations for Addiction Recovery, a company that specializes in organic recovery oriented content for webpages and blogs, written by writers in recovery. Thanks for joining us, Zach.

Zac Spowart
Thanks so much for having me, Angie, I appreciate being here.

Angie Sutton
For those who are new to the podcast, we always start with the question, kind of your your sobriety origin story, so to speak. So tell me kind of your experience. You mentioned that you're you know, you've been sober since November 28 2006. Congratulations, first of all, kind of how your recovery journey and and how you got into recovery and that kind of stuff.

Zac Spowart
Yeah, thanks for the question. Yeah, when it comes to my journey, in particular, it's pretty interesting. I, you know, obviously, you know, tell people I didn't make plans. I'm sure most of us don't to get sober, but definitely not at the age of 21, I got sober three months after my 21st birthday, never to drink again, at least just for today. Up until today. Obviously, that wasn't it wasn't in the cards, it wasn't something I really expected was going to be something that was going to impact my life, I did not think that, you know, getting sober was going to lead to 16, almost 17 years, at this point, and 37 years old, I'd be saying that I haven't had a drink since I was 21. It's pretty crazy when you look at it that way.

But also one of my greatest blessing is I hear a lot of people recovery speak to, obviously, you didn't know it at the time, but definitely grateful for my sobriety, grateful for my recovery today. And, and when it comes to a bit of my origin story about it, you know, really quickly without getting into a thorough drunk-alog, that'll take up the length of the podcast, you know, I struggle a lot with anxiety. And a big part of calming My mind was, it was explained to me if I if I drink and talk to me, rather, you know, I could sort of turn my mind off a little bit. And so it was explained to me later that drinking was my solution to the problem which was life. And that really resonated with me in the sense of living life on life's terms. And for me, finding ways to be able to quiet the mind a bit.

And so, but anyways, you know, 13, 14, 15 years old, when I was starting to get exposed to these things, drinking really helped me accomplish that. And then definitely as I got older, through high school, through some of the challenges and through college, it was my solution, girlfriends, dances, things of that nature, but eventually obviously became my problem and rapidly my problem and so yeah, I got you know, after getting a bit of legal mischief being under the influence and stuff, which I like to say that my higher power showed up in in the form of police officers and, and guided me with handcuffs. It was, you know, led to me getting in going to treatments from a, you know, an accident, I was responsible for that, that had some felony probation attached to it. And if it wasn't for those mandates at 21 years old, there's there's no way I would have stayed sober, I heartily believe that it was, I needed that strong consequence.

A teacher of mine from Hazelden Betty Ford, which is where I got one of my later degrees from told me use the terminology, you know, having a back problem and I really resonated with that, you know, he had the courts on his back, you know, lawyers on his back that the parents on the back and that was my story. I definitely came in with a back problem having all that stuff on my back and I'm grateful for that. So it's a bit about our origin story what led to me getting sober and and why states over.

Angie Sutton
law and how did that transform into your career to get used that as part of your recovery into the recovery space?

Zac Spowart
Yeah, great question. You know, actually for the first few years of my sobriety and recovery I did not want to work in the industry at all. If anything, I saw wholeheartedly in the treatment space how chaotic that looked, how much was going on, people relapsing around me, people sneaking you know, drugs into treatment, I'm like, This is nuts and I want nothing to do with this space. You know, I thought it'd be a bank or something you never know but it was it was about at the five year sober mark I was actually flying helicopters, believe it or not, trying to get into the to the military, which is my family had a little bit of a history of that long story short, that didn't pan out and so I was flying fly helicopters for a couple of years trying to beef up my resume for that opportunity to join. And I just didn't feel like it was the right calling.

And I got turned on to an opportunity to be a behavioral health technician BHT or house manager, whatever people call them these days, depending on the program, you know, just sort of entry level, you know, $10, $12 an hour position working in a treatment facility on an afternoon shift. And I'm like, You know what, this seems like something I want to just try out, you know, I was a bit lost. I was a college grad, I didn't know what I wanted to do. And it really seemed to be a good opportunity for me to give it a shot. So I did and slowly but surely worked my way back up. And that led to me applying for an advanced degree at Hazelden. Now Hazelden, Betty Ford, in Minnesota, getting some education from there. And then that led to me becoming a full blown counselor clinician, which led to more and more and more.

Angie Sutton
Well, and that kind of leads to the Nomadic Addictt. You have a blog that you have named after that, kind of tell me how you decided to start that and what made what prompted that? What made you think that that would be something worth doing?

Zac Spowart
Thanks, Angie. Yeah, so Nomadic Addictt, for me was a name that just came to me, I think, overnight, you know, for I was getting ready for bed one night. And it just, it just seems so applicable. Plus, it kind of sounded relatively catchy, but obviously representing just the nomadic lifestyle, which I've really gravitate towards, I find a lot of healing in connecting with people. It was explained to me also in my recovery, that addiction is being cut off from people. And recovery is connection. And so I find a lot of connection in my travels and in meeting new people and exploring different cultures, and really finding my zest for life in my travel. And so capturing that in a platform that I can give to others is really important to me, and will continue to be important to me.

Well, my primary gig is through digital content with addiction recovery, as I mentioned, and my passion project and hopefully my long term project that I want to continue to build out. You know, my goal is to be you know, a nonprofit or charity based, I could sponsor people's travels, or mental wellness, maybe even interventions, help people get treatment, potentially even scholarships for education. A lot of these things that I've done, and I've found success in is what I want Nomadic Addictt to eventually offer people. And so when I started getting the idea, I started, you know, I had some friends and family that were like, you know, what, you do some cool stuff, like, you should really share it with people. And so that that launched the web page, and then the things I've learned from addiction recovery allows me the opportunity to, to apply that knowledge to, you know, the open world wide web, as it were. And so we'll see where it goes. But you know, I would love to extend things that bring me a lot of joy, peace and happiness and freedom that I've learned through my recovery, and sobriety to other people to experience the same. And that's what Nomadic Addictt is really about

Angie Sutton
As a writer, myself, I'm never a big fan of where do you get your ideas, because I know it always depends, but kind of walk me through some of the the posts that you have done. And, you know, what prompted that? And what prompted you to write about one thing versus another?

Zac Spowart
Yeah, so a lot of it is just experience-based. I mean, I think one of my first ones was, you know, travel oriented, you know, for people that are open to the idea of, you know, how you travel, it's very much not an uncommon thing, especially post COVID. Everybody's traveling these days, you know, you got influencers left and right popping up. And, and that's great, you know, I think lean into it for everyone.

So a travel vlog or travel blog is definitely not uncommon. But that added element, my hope is of speaking to the recovery piece, speaking to the sobriety piece, speaking to the ability to travel sober, get on the long haul flight, even if you are inherently anxious, like myself, and may or may not feel super comfortable with that, or getting off of the plane and then being like, I don't know, the language, I don't know the culture, I don't know anything, except for my, you know, I don't even know where to get my SD card, you know, just being able to speak to some of these things for okay, how do we get people set up to or SIM card rather, get them set up to get plugged in get internet and find a place to stay? You know, where do they go.

And so, some of the basic fundamentals of travel, and then also highlighting some really cool things around fear, I've really learned to lean into my fear, which is, you know, they can say, you know, face everything and recover, you know, in the element of one of the acronyms for fear, which I really like. And so that's kind of something I really choose to lean into. And so, one of my blogs is on shark diving, which I think CCAPP are elements of Pete Nielsen, I'm actually promoted that on one of the websites, which I really appreciated, that you guys have recovery site, but it really just speaking to that I never thought I'd be in the water with the 12, 14, 16 foot shark, pretty much face to face, you know, thinking that was a good idea, let alone you know, actively pursuing that with other people that you met was a good idea.

And you know, while that doesn't have to be for everyone, for sure, and I'm not trying to you know, flex on anybody is like Oh, look at how cool I am. It's the purpose of it is really to highlight that was something I never ever thought in my wildest dreams I would do sober or otherwise, or definitely thought it wouldn't be sober if I ever was going to do it. So to lean into those things and to be able to capture that in a blog, and through a message to hopefully translate to other people's really what, again, my focus is about to hopefully encourage you inspire and motivate people to, to go out there, whatever that shark might be for them, go out there and get face to face with it and and have a good time in the process.

Angie Sutton
Talk a little bit more about your other content creation, what exactly do you do? I mean, to put it in a nutshell.

Zac Spowart
Yeah, so from the addiction recovery side of things, you know, we were writers in recovery, you know, overseeing the operations there as my primary gig that we, we write for treatment facilities we write for, you know, interventionists, we write for mental health professionals, we write for even some alternative platforms, you know, mental health programming, autism, and senior care. And these are people whose lives are touched by recovery or actively in recovery. You know, writing, editing, publishing blogs, and web pages, so that we can help people find the resources that they need. And that's ultimately what this is about.

Google's primary purpose is to give the best information for its users. And so if we write to give the best information for people on these subjects, then it Google's going to hopefully provide that information for its users, when you go to type in those 2am questions about, you know, whatever those may be, you know, something around recovery, or, you know, where is it possible to get sober at 21 years old or something, right, and you have a blog about that with information about driving to a program that, you know, we vet because we won't work with just any program, we want to know that we would send people to these places ourselves and feel good about that. And so our whole belief system is, you know, casting life-saving content into a sea of digital misinformation. And we know that in this world is digital space that we live in, there's so much garbage out there.

And one of my favorite quotes is really a meme, but it's got Abraham Lincoln's face, saying that you can believe everything you read on the internet. That's one of my all time favorite things. You know, I wish he could put it on for this because it's, it's so funny, because it's amazing how much that glosses over people's eyes when they first look at it. Like they don't even register, that clearly, Abraham Lincoln was not around for the internet. And clearly you cannot read or believe everything you read on the internet. So you know that truthful information, that grounded information, that researched information that is hopefully going to drive people to, you know, good, good programs, and also give them good information, that altruistic marketing technique and Nomadic Addictt is no different. I apply what I've learned from addiction recovery. And from the CEO Wes Jones, he's a great guy, I know you guys are connected with him, too, in some regards. He, you know, is really big on just good works in the space and in the industry and helping people and Nomadic Addictts born from that as well, you know, trying to provide the same mission and belief.

Angie Sutton
Well, speaking of resources, what are some of the ones that you either use yourself, or that you recommend on a regular basis.

Zac Spowart
So obviously, you know, so I'm on the board, for BHAP, NBHAP now, and that, obviously, I have my attachment to CCAPP. And I know, there's some affiliations here. But that's a great resource. Pete Nielsen, himself was a fantastic resource, you guys are all amazing resources. So those are certainly top of my list top of mind.

There are some good opportunities out there, you know, Joint Commission will list accredited programs, although we all know that just because you're accredited doesn't necessarily mean that you're the best programming, there are ways to get accredited without necessarily still being maybe the best ones.

And so if you're talking about resources of programs, specifically, you know, a lot of that really boils down to, you know, finding, finding good content online, can can be a good driver, but also calling and asking really detail oriented questions, making sure that the people that are answering the phones understand and know about the programs themselves. You'd be surprised how many of them do not. But yeah, there are there are, there's a lot out there. So I don't want to overwhelm and take up the whole call with trying to answer this.

But I think really speaking to people that are coming from a good hearted place, in the simplest form an answer can be your best way to find good resources. And that's why you know, I led with Pete, I led with CCAPP, I led with BHAP. There's a reason why I enjoy being with you guys as well, because I know and I trust you and and there's some good people out there that that will make sure you land at the right programs in the right places. And so happy to be a resource to anybody out there through Nomadic Addictt as well. You can reach out to me directly if you have any questions on that. Otherwise, again, it'll take up the whole the whole time trying to sort through ways and manners in which you can find the best programs out there. But there are some good programs but good trustworthy people are usually going to be your best bet because unfortunately just wrapping up that question. Programs are constantly changing hands these days too, and it can be hard to keep up with it. If you don't have your finger on the pulse of who's still the owner of which programs, you know, things can change seemingly overnight, so, yeah, happy to be a resource. And I know you guys probably feel the same way as well.

Angie Sutton
in terms of you'd mentioned the meme of, you know, you can't believe everything that you see on the internet, as said, by Abraham Lincoln, what are some of the ways you kind of verify that what you're doing is is accurate just for people who might be listening.

Zac Spowart
So for me, it's really, it's easy when it's coming from me, because I know that I'm getting grounded in my own research and my own experience. And I'm speaking from a place of I experientially with regard to my own life, my own journey, my own experiences, as I mentioned, so I'm not going to go out of my way to, you know, try to fabricate anything or speak to something that's going to be different because it is grounded in, in those experiences. When it applies to like an addiction recovery platform, or with our other writers, you know, all of our stuff goes through editors, it goes through quality assurance platforms, and a lot of which, I guess, credit to LegitScript there, you know, we only utilize certain platforms. So we're not going to refer or link to a random platform, it's got to be It has to be one of the approved links. It's got to be published with scholarly articles that are published with with certain approvals.

And so there's things out there that are checks and balances in place to make sure that it's not going to just be random information in the sea of digital misinformation. But certainly a great question. I'm really glad that you asked that. And I hope a lot of people will ask that question and research more for themselves. Because, again, anybody can write a blog, and anybody can make it onto sound really good. And anybody can skew it in such a way to make it seem like it's 100% genuine.

Matter of fact, without going down a rabbit hole of AI with chat GPT these days, that's a big area that people really need more education on. Because chat GPT is designed to be a writing communication-based algorithm. It's not even technically artificial intelligence doesn't think independently, it only knows to communicate back to us within certain parameters that are pre programmed, based off of information up until 2021. Well, as you know, Angie, we're in 2023. So there's already going to be updated information is already going to be recycled old information. And while it can be repeated back to you in a way that sounds very good, and reads very well, it makes it seem very, very believable, doesn't mean it's actually true, which is where that whole Abraham Lincoln meme comes in.

And Bard, which is Google's new algorithm, to compete with chat GPT was when they showcased it in a Paris launch that they had, you know, they were basically called out in real time, for errors that they made, Bard had made, which is the chat GPT, you know, fighter on their algorithmic based platform. And they just had misinformation, you know, people raising their hand like that's, that's not true. That's this is not correct. And they and they had to preface it, and I continue to preface it with like, well, this is learning, this is just information, you're participating in a platform that is learning for the future.

And that's fine. And that's why they tell you, even the CEO of chat GPT will tell you like, if you're going to use this to help with brainstorming, or X, Y and Z type of things. Great. That's what it's there for. But do not use this to write books, do not use this to write you know, do anything professional or medically inclined. There's all these things that he'll tell you, as the CEO of this thing, don't do it for these reasons. And yet programs, unfortunately, will do it. They lean into it as though it's gospel because it's cheaper, or it's easier, or it just reads well, and they don't want to believe that it's not the end all be all. Maybe one day, it will be you know, I do believe, wholeheartedly that you know, that's the direction we're going, you know, and it might be three years, it could be one year, it could be five years, you know, AI will be a thing or two, true artificial intelligence will be a thing. And it's amazing. It's not there yet, though, it is just a repeated algorithm mathematically based to communicate back to us. And that means it doesn't have its own intelligence. That means it's going to take old recycled information that has a high likelihood of not being accurate is going to be in that space of a sea of digital misinformation. So I hope that that answers your question. If it doesn't feel free to ask me more. And um, I'll keep rambling about some other stuff and try to try to answer it for you.

Angie Sutton
Nope, that's exactly what I was hoping for. The name of the podcast, as you know, is Destination Change. We talk about the addiction treatment journey, since you are the Nomadic Addictt to kind of talk a little bit more about that about how addiction can also be a journey and what does it mean to go through treatment and recovery and how that applies to what you do?

Zac Spowart
Or I love it. Yeah, when I started, Nomadic Addictt, my first tagline was sober global travel possible. And I had some people sort of make fun of that. They said, it's a tongue twister. So I swapped it out for adventures in recovery and, and journeys in recovery and things of what you're touching on right now. And so I think, you know, just speaking to the question directly, I mean, I think There's so much that goes into the journey of life not to pontificate or you know, get too philosophical here, because I'll do that. I love doing that. But I think everyone's journey is going to be for themselves. And while there is overlap in treatments about how we are approached, and there is this idea of client centered treatment, which I do believe exists, but again, for those of you out there listening, looking for resources, make sure you ask that question, what are they actually doing for your client centered treatment, because that's a good buzzword out there these days.

But there is inherently something that differentiates us, there's the for all of us, there's there's things out there that, that make us independent, makes us great, makes us who we are. And that's what my favorite things about human beings and cultures and diversity and, and travel is tapping into that and seeing what makes us different and unique and, and how we can learn from each other. As a result of that the way that we see the world differently, the way we experience the world differently. And so when it comes to the journeys through treatment, and when it comes to journeys through sobriety and recovery, each person has their own, you know, and it can be directed and guided through a sponsor, through technicians, through therapists, through you know, resources, you know, other friends that have walked this road before them.

And yet each person has their own path, some people are going to have kids in their sobriety, and that's a part of their story, some people are gonna have it, you know, families later, some people are going to be I'm still solo, you know, solo travelers, some people would never want to be a solo traveler, they'd want to travel in groups, or do certain things in groups, I, for one, have really learned to find myself in my recovery, and groundedness, and myself and autonomy and myself, and faith and belief in myself. And that's a part of, you know, my higher power and my connection with, again, with my recovery and grounded in, in my sobriety of belief in the abilities that it affords me these days.

But all of that, I guess, just trying to speak to the point is going to be driven from within is what I'm trying to really highlight in that's, I believe, inherently for each person for them to find out throughout their journey in their recovery. And I think it's also kind of the scariest part of this is like, wait a minute, like, I have to have the answers, like you can't give them to me? It's like, well, yeah, like, we have some ideas, some rough ideas out there of what your answers might look like, like we know, 90 and 90 for free AAers out there, you know, 90 meetings 90 days, and we know the 12 steps seem to work for most people if you do them and work and it works if you work at type stuff. But the truth of the depths of each of us I think is in our journey independently is we got it, we got to the answers are within. And we got to you know, go within or go without is, is another email, I got all these AA sayings that go through my head. And these days, I'm grateful for that. And what I've learned my recovery and my sobriety, it's part of my story.

But I really liked that saying to like if you don't go within and we go without, and so leaning into that for our own journey, and listening to that inner voice listening to what drives us listening to our passion. Again, back to Nomadic Addictt that I love, addiction recovery for that reason, and having a boss and a friend who supports me in that platform. Because that is my passion project. You know, I love what I do in addiction recovery as well. And I want to extend that further into a calling that I believe is inherently within me that I want to honor that space for myself as part of my recovery in that journey. So but that's all founded step by step, you know, that's something that people need to really, I believe, not put too much pressure on themselves to have within 30 days or 60 days or 90 days.

You know, benchmarks are great checkpoints are great five year plans are great, but be okay with going along for the ride, you know, things change, you know, that whole thing of I make plans and God just laughs like, it's, I've had a lot of five year plans, Angie, and I don't think I'm doing any of them. So it's, you know, just an example of, you know, the journey and that's, that's what it is, it's it's, you know, we trudge, the road of happy destiny and, and that's what this is about just taking steps in a certain direction, trusting and having faith one day at a time, one minute at a time, sometimes, not knowing what that's always going to look like. And walking in that faith, you know that there's something out there that hopefully is driving us the right direction with purpose. Oh, that that speaks to it a little bit. But I think that that journey really can be it doesn't have to be in treatment doesn't have to be in AA. For me, that's part of my story. And it's what's been a grounded foundation for me so I speak to that a lot. But some people do find it through therapy, they'll find it through other evidence based practices, they'll find it through close friends, they'll find it through reading books, self help books, and some people find it in travel and/or all the above right? And I think that's the beauty of this is you know to thine own self be true is one of my favorite quotes as well. Like listen to listen to yourself. And honor that journey and have patience with yourself and, and trust the process as it unfolds without putting too much pressure, you're gonna come out amazed before we're halfway through. Look at me. It's just a just AA and sober. You know, this is.

Angie Sutton
That's exactly what I'm looking for, though, I Well, that you kind of touched on this. But you know, every journey is not smooth, obviously. What are some of the barriers that you personally maybe have come across to move forward? Or that you've seen others come across? And how do you kind of see a good way to overcome those barriers?

Zac Spowart
Yeah, thank you for that question, too. Yeah, barriers show up in so many different ways that, you know, whether it can be a relationship, which is often something that can be run into, for me, I had, obviously my felony probation. Those were certain barriers, going back in time to my early days of sobriety. Different locations can be a barriers, fear is a barrier changes a barrier. I mean, I take up the rest of the podcast talking about barriers. So I love this question. I think for me, it's like it goes back to and I don't want to recycle my answers too much.

But but just what I was just touching on about to thine own self be true and listening to yourself, because inherently that that inner voice that drives you, not necessarily the inner critic, but the inner voice that guides in leads us around what you know, is our true passion, our true calling, I think can can pull us over, lift us over some of those barriers and draw us past them.

And so should I be in this place? Or should I go to another place? Or? Or should I stay in this relationship? Or should I move on? Or how am I going to get through this felony probation that was five years and seemingly daunting or, or a house arrest for four months, you know, not being able to leave my home and staying sober through those things. These are all things that are barriers that can be blocks and not having a license for two years, while also having to get to AA meetings and school and DUI classes. And these are all barriers. And I know a lot of which can be accomplished these days with Ubers. But, you know, the old school days was a bicycle. And, you know, the whole walking uphill both ways in the snow type story.

There are always barriers, always barriers. But if we think about how we drank in, in potentially use drugs, and I really think to the ingenuity of what is inherent within most alcoholics or addicts, if you identify with those labels, just human beings, if you don't, just like where there's a will, there's a way and people are amazing, in the sense of how they're they're able to find ways to really have a solution, have an answer, have a resource, you know, people they get trapped in, in the hills and survive, and these mountains are, you know, stuck.

I mean, again, there's story after story after story of how amazing human beings are lost at sea, you know, adrift and, you know, this is why we love our Netflix shows and our documentaries, it's so many of these things are based on true stories, because the resiliency that lives within us as human beings and in recovery is, is enough to push us past any and all barriers, I truly believe. And that's been a part of my experience, too, one step at a time, or, you know, not putting too much pressure on ourselves, you know, time takes time as they say, you know, I didn't get where I'm at today, overnight. And, and I don't know where I'm going to be, you know, years from now. But it's takes time. And I know, though that that pull that the calling that those barriers don't have to be barriers, you know, you can be pulled or blocked or lifted over any of them, if you're driven to do so.

Angie Sutton
When he first started talking about your origin story, you mentioned that you were in recovery at age 21 That, you know, obviously that for at least the US the age to become eligible, you know, old enough to drink supposedly, talk a little bit about, you know, what it was like to go through recovery so young, and at that age, when more people are kind of leaping into that aspect of life.

Zac Spowart
Yeah, 21. Like, like I said, when I started off, I wasn't it definitely wasn't part of the plan to get sober at such a young age, I certainly did not expect that that would carry on to the point that it has, and, you know, just get more AA talk there just for today. It's it really has been minutes at a time, seconds at a time, especially in the early stages. And, and so I really appreciate the question because for a lot of people, there's this whole idea, especially attached to the identification of the labeling of addict or alcoholic, that can be really tough to swallow. And I've run into that with a number of people, not the least of which is a really close friend of mine right now. And that's one of his greatest barriers is just wrapping his head around that that title or that, that label and, and so especially at 21 years old, you know, this idea of, you know, alcoholic or drug addict, it can be tough at any age, but at a young age, it's like I haven't even legally been allowed to do this. Like what are you talking about?

And but the funny thing is around and we know this to be true, legal or not, it doesn't make a difference, you know, an addictive substance or an addictive personality or an addicted person is, is inherently within that person. And, and so to discover that an earlier age, it's kind of almost synonymous with discovering, like your, your purpose or your calling at a young age. And so it's cool in that respect, of course, I didn't notice it at the time. But it's cool to see it now in the sense of like, being able to be gifted with something that was seemingly a curse at the time, but now being able to look back and be like, Wow, that was really, really something special to be turned on to at such a young age, but getting sober at that age. Again, the mentality attached to that is not easy. So speaking directly to that, you know, most people are 21 are just ramping up their drinking, or if they're late to the game, because they weren't drinking alcoholicly potentially, before, then they might just now be leading into drinking.

And so certain things start to come into question like, you know, what will your friendships look like? What were the social life look like? What will the fun look like? What will traveling look like? It's not uncommon for 21 year olds to go on spring break to certain party destinations, you know, we see these things on TV all the time. And there's nothing wrong with that, you know, obviously, it's go have fun, do whatever, it's why they exist. However, if it's trying to be sober, like me, you know, Cancun spring break, or Cabo spring break is probably not the best place to end up at, you know, that they're in, when you apply that to the college setting, going back to college, learning how to be a student, and trying to be sober at a young age is tough, a lot of people are like, Hey, let's go out at you know, nine or 10 o'clock at night.

So speaking directly to my solution, I just started to lean into things that were important to me, and that I knew would be fruitful. And they say self esteem is built on a steam mobile axe. And so I started to think like, Okay, what was going to make me feel better about the things I was doing. And one of the colleges I went to, to bounce around quite a bit of my early recovery. And definitely, in my early drinking days, offered spring breaks, where we got to do like some some trips in Mexico where we got to provide like medical aid, or build homes, or do some things like that. And so in my sobriety, that was an example of something I did to sort of stay away from some downtime, where I could maybe get in trouble or some other people might be going to, you know, maybe one of these party destinations, and I could be tempted, you know, I went and I built some homes for spring break. And that was an amazing experience. And typically, the people that you associate with those things aren't running around trying to get drunk, or do drugs, you know, they're trying to do something different. And so associating with those people was was huge for me, and, and obviously, you know, I came back from that spring break really recharged and really, really, really excited and grateful and passionate, and inherently more driven to find more about my purpose and more about myself. And it strengthened my sobriety, it strengthened my recovery, as opposed to the opposite, but testing it.

And other things, you know, it might sound goofy, but there was a there's a country line dancing to stepping place that was nearby a college I went to in Santa Barbara, and you know, again, at 20, I wasn't 21 At that time, but at 24, 24, 25. You know, being able to go out and go dancing, but go with a purpose. You know, people a lot of people were standing around holding a beer, looking at the dance floor, and I was the guy that was out there on the dance floor, you can get there early, and you take lessons and, and have a good time. And you know, when midnight rolled around or whatever, they say nothing good happens after midnight. Yeah, go home, like, you know, it's like 11 or 12 o'clock, I didn't need to be there anymore. I'd had my fun, you know, I got there at six or seven. And by taking some lessons and I met some good people. And, you know, that was for me, again, very protective of my sobriety and, and also very grounding for me, because I didn't feel like some people will say you have to associate only with sober people if you're going to be sober. And I have no qualms with that. I think, you know, if that works for you, do it.

And I certainly had times and elements where that was my saving grace, there's things like ICYPAA, you know, these conventions for young people. There's local conferences, there's lots of stuff you can do to have fun in sobriety at young ages. There's young person meetings that you can go to, there's an arsenal and army of, of things out there that you can find army of people out there that young in recovery, that you can have support with as well. And if you also want to associate with you know, the quote unquote Normie and I don't know that that's even a really good word to use. It's amazing how that will actually offend some people that are that aren't alcoholic or addict but like I'm not a Normie and you're like, Okay, fine, you're not normal. I'm sorry. I'll never say that. Again. It's kind of that that phrase that we've coined in the rooms of people that aren't alcoholic or or drug addicts, but there's plenty of room to associate with people who who don't identify as my point, and to have fun and to not have to be triggered.

And, and I found that through some of the, some of the means that I mentioned earlier, you know, and and just trying to see like, what's my purpose for going to this place? And, and what do I want to accomplish and, and I again had a really good time, it gave me more confidence, it gave me more social skills, it gave me more, more groundedness in my recovery, which led to me believing like, hey, I can have fun, and I can remember everything I'm doing and I can feel really good about what I'm doing and, and I can really wholeheartedly enjoy my sobriety, my recovery. So for anyone out there that's listening that is younger in nature, or somebody who knows someone who's struggling, who's younger in nature with this, it's definitely possible.

And I try to wrap up the question with this, like, I meet people today who will say, you know, 50 years old or 60 years old, or whatever, in the rooms, you know, I wish I got it at your age. And it really well, in some regards, you know, sad for them that they have to say that, you know, to each their own in terms of their own journey. I really appreciate I'm grateful for that reminder from them, because it helps me feel really grounded and appreciative of the fact that I did get this at a young age. And I think, from that perspective, just I started the answer of like, Wow, what a gift and what a blessing this is, it's like someone really tapping you into a superpower of getting in touch with yourself really early on is a great blessing.

So I hope people will hear that in the sense of like, you know, getting sober young can be a challenge. And it's also this amazing gift and opportunity in the sense that if that's the road we're headed down, you know, there's a trapdoor to every bottom there's an elevator only goes down, like which which floor do you want to get off at, like, you know, you don't have to keep writing it down. Then down deeper and deeper we can we can get off when we decide we want to. And so that's part of my story. And something I would offer up to other people is, is to lean into the hope and and just know that there's a lot of fun that can be had out there. And I've done over 40 countries, you know, I've flown helicopters I've have you know, over 300 dives, scuba diving, your laundry list of things I did, almost all of which was done sober, close to none of it was done while I was under active, active addiction, active drinking. So the world really opens up and life really opens up I think when we get sober real out.

Angie Sutton
Do you have a favorite sober destination?

Zac Spowart
Good question. I get asked that a lot. It really depends on what you want out of life. I think my favorite destination that has just about everything is Japan when people ask me, but anywhere and everywhere I've gone I've been able to find good people, and I've been able to find sober people. The rooms of AA are everywhere. But you know, even people, you know, just if you're open about who you are, and I've met people that just don't drink, you know, just don't drink and we share that passionate story around. But I've shared sailboats and sailing journeys with people that are sober, I've, I've had people invite me to their villas to meet their family or pick me up from the airport. That was a connection through sobriety that have changed and shifted my life completely. That I've extended themselves to me on one or two FaceTime calls, just because we share that inherently. You know, there's a laundry list of those types of stories that happen and it's pretty amazing when we open ourselves up to those opportunities. But yeah, I would say just in a nutshell, the shortest answer would be Japan's pretty special place. There's a lot they're highly highly recommend that to anybody that want to go.

Angie Sutton
And then is there a place or a activity that is on your bucket list that you haven't done yet that you're that you really would like to do?

Zac Spowart
Oh my gosh, yeah, I'm knocking that bucket list off pretty quick about as quick as I can write them down. I'm really trying to live for the moment these days and especially being a digital nomad. It affords me that opportunity and Nomadic Addictt I really can, you know, I'm extending in Hawaii here after was only going to come here for a week and I'm going on three months, you know, still working my way back to Bali. So the short answer for that would be it's pretty cool to say that at the present moment, aside from just experiencing more journeys and more travel, no, you know, maybe maybe Tonga and more whale swims - the whale swims are pretty special. You get a chance to do that those things those creatures are pretty pretty amazing.

Angie Sutton
Now if someone wants to learn more about you or learn more about what you do, what's the best way they can get a hold of you or visit you know website and stuff like that?

Zac Spowart
Yeah, thanks for asking. Yeah, so I just me one man band as it as it were. So reach out to me directly. You don't have to go to any any, you know, screening process or any assistance. It's just spelled with two T's is How you can find me or nomadic addict against spell the two T's at the is my website, there's opportunities there to email me directly. I'm also solely working on building a campaign to sponsor people's travels, and / or assist with some of their mental health and wellness. So keep an eye out for some opportunities to donate to that. And there's a link up for now, but we're going to keep keep moving forward and hopefully see who we can help. But yeah, those are probably the best means to find me also Instagram at Nomadic Addictts. So is my handle YouTube all the same.

Angie Sutton
Dare I ask why the extra T?

Zac Spowart
Because one's never enough? 1000s too many ones never enough? No, that's a great question. And the short answer is, is that I just, I couldn't have I couldn't have the handle on them on different platforms and for consistency. I wanted to just have that, but ya know, there's,

Angie Sutton
I figured it was probably something like that. There wasn't some sort of symbolism or

Zac Spowart
There was never enough. That's what I'm going for now.

Angie Sutton
Okay, anything else that you'd like to talk about?

Zac Spowart
No open ended questions. No, I'm just I'm a big believer that, you know, answers are within and, you know, I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be here and, and to speak with you. And I love the work that you guys are doing. I'm honored to be a part of it, and to show up in any way that I can. I'm just happy to be a resource to anybody who's out there. And in any way that I can.

Angie Sutton
Well, you've been listening to Destination Change. Our guest today was Zac Spowart. Thanks for being here. Our theme song was "Kita" by sudden nation and used via Creative Commons licensed by the Free Music Archive. Please consider rating and reviewing the podcast on Apple podcasts so we can get more listeners. In the meantime, you could always see more about the podcast including show notes, transcripts and where else to listen to on our website If you have any questions for the podcast, please email us at Thanks for listening.


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