I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Adi Jaffe, addiction and mental health expert and author of the new book The Abstinence Myth. Dr. Jaffe has lectured at UCLA and has helped hundreds of people who were struggling with unhealthy habits and addictions find their way in life.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I ended up here by complete chance. After struggling with drugs myself, I found myself in jail for a year needing to rethink my life. By the time I was released a 9-time convicted felon, getting a job was simply impossible. I searched for work for 9 months until eventually , the idea of going back to school dawned on me. The school I applied to (after being assured by UCLA that my grades weren’t good enough to go there) was California State University, Long Beach. They didn’t ask about a past criminal conviction. My adviser at this graduate school was a man by the name of Dennis Fisher, who studied communicable disease like HIV and Hepatitis-C. When I started doing research in his lab, I found myself truly fascinated by the drug and addiction related aspects of the work. I became extremely motivated and eager during that time because I had found a true passion. From that day on I have been focusing my work and research on addiction-related issues and mental health and shame problems.
How have your personal challenges informed your career path?
As mentioned above, my personal challenges drove me back to education by necessity but completely informed my passion for the subject I’ve made my own. Without those challenges, it would be hard for to imagine being so driven to succeed in this field in the face of all of the obstacles I ended up facing (and still face) during my career.
Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Doctor”
I come from a family of helpers. My dad was a doctor, my sister is one too. It’s in my blood, regardless of my unusual path. I’ve always had a deep need to stop and give a hand to those in need. Sure, I didn’t necessarily enjoy every moment of the 12 years of school to get me through all the training, but still, I’m incredibly glad I did it all.
However, as I’m certain happens in every line of work, there are some secrets that I feel are simply not shared often enough. I’m not talking about secret bathrooms or handshakes. This is the stuff that will keep you getting through everything with your head held high(ish) and your spirit strong. Here are my five things I wish someone told me when I first became a health professional:
Social media and reality TV create a venue for people to share their personal stories. Do you think more transparency about your personal story can help or harm your field of work? Can you explain?
I’d been told repeatedly NOT to share my story when I was starting out of fear that it would taint my work. Nevertheless, I am a huge advocate of transparency and I believe that we need to do more to share our stories in the hopes of connecting to our clients/patients and inspiring future practitioners.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant to your life?
My favorite advice & life lesson comes from the stories of many who came before me, but the most obvious and explicit example of it is “Never, never, never give-up” By Winston Churchill. There have been many instances in my story that have made me rethink my path and direction, but perseverance has always proved to be the most powerful characteristic to pull me through.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am fully focused on reducing the impact and role of shame in keeping people from becoming their best selves. I truly believe that this singular emotion, put to use in this increasingly complex and stressful world, is destroying millions of lives and that it must be addressed. From racial issues to sexual orientation and identity issues to the suffering of women in a patriarchal society and the silencing of those with mental health struggles — shame is at the core of everything I see. I aim to eradicate it.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am @dradijaffe on essentially every media source. I look forward to connecting with everyone.
Originally published at medium.com