The ABQ addiction treatment center stays the course with one goal

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Paul Tucker saw Turning Point Recovery Center grow from three to 70 employees. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

COVID-19 has changed the way CEO Paul Tucker runs Turning Point Recovery Center. Permanently.

Turning Point was started by Tucker in 2010 as an intensive outpatient program to treat addiction. It now includes a residential treatment center, low-cost housing and inpatient detox in addition to its outpatient services.

Social support and group therapy are important parts of the treatment offered by the Albuquerque-based company. Yet in the early weeks of the pandemic, it was clear to Tucker that meeting in person was no longer safe.

Turning Point Recovery Center Director of Admissions and Detox Services Dana Stratton, left, meets with President Paul Tucker Feb. 23. The organization offers residential and outpatient addiction treatment services. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

While some clients had to continue to detox at the facility, Tucker quickly created remote treatment options for other clients. This required him to train both his employees and the people they served on Zoom, a platform many had never used before. He bought cellphones for his employees, configured them to work from home, and developed settings for interacting with customers remotely.

“The first two weeks were crazy,” says Tucker. But nearly two years later, remote care has become routine for Turning Point and its 70 employees.

Tucker prefers in-person hookups to fight addiction. Many of the problems with early recovery involve continued use of alcohol and drugs, he said. When sitting face to face with someone, it is easier to identify if they are still using.

Still, group counseling via Zoom surprised him.

“It was much more successful than I expected,” says Tucker. “It’s been really good, given the limitations.”

Hannah Casey, care coordinator for Turning Point Recovery Center in Albuquerque, hosts a Zoom meeting with a client on February 23. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

With COVID-19 vaccines available and the omicron wave receding, the next step is to get people together in one room, Tucker says. But because it’s convenient, safe and efficient, Turning Point will retain Zoom – a tool once so alien to the center – for select individual and group sessions.

“Zoom never goes away,” Tucker says. “We’re going to have Zoom forever.”

How many employees did you have when you started Turning Point?

“Three… Yeah, that’s really grown up.” …And I would have done it faster if I had had more money. But, you know, I wasn’t getting rich doing that. Everything I do, I reinvest in the business. …I came in with credit card debt and was able to grow it out of thin air. And I’m not proud of credit card debt, but I’m proud of where I got it from that point to where I am now.

You said you didn’t feel like a CEO when you started the center, but now you do. What made you feel like you were actually a CEO?

“Realizing that it wasn’t me anymore. You know, it’s all these leaders that I developed. … It’s being a leader of leaders, being a CEO and being responsible for everyone. Being a CEO, in my mind, is a multitude of things. It’s about relationships. It’s about having a group of people who are leaders themselves. … Ultimately, really, it’s about having a team of people you can trust and knowing that there’s no way I can do it all. It’s really being a CEO for me.

Can you tell me about a time when you made a decision that impacted the future direction of Turning Point?

“My vision was pretty clear. I mean, I felt like I was tempted to deviate and do something like eating disorders. And I didn’t. I had the opportunity to step aside and do more things about mental health, and I didn’t. … Staying really focused on the addiction has been very helpful for us. I think our mission is pretty clean. There aren’t many branches outside of that. It’s a bigger organization (now), but it has one goal.

What does business success mean to you?

“A successful business is both being fiscally responsible and doing the right thing for the customer.”

How do you measure this?

“Well, one, can you pay your bills? This is the financial responsibility part. Are you so worried about your finances that you need to downsize? We haven’t had to, so I think we’re embracing that, fiscal responsibility. And client care is results-based. It’s based on a lot of things, but ultimately from a scientific point of view it’s based on what you do in terms of results. … We track our results and look for ways to improve. We are therefore constantly improving.

Tell me about your workforce and its impact on the business.

“Well, I really have a lot of dedicated people. I mean, my industry is kind of special in the sense that a lot of people who do this work are themselves in recovery or have a connection to recovery. So there are a lot of people who are very passionate about what they do. And it’s, it’s wonderful for me because I have people who really care about what they’re doing and really commit to it.

About the company

Name: Turning Point Recovery Center

Leader: Paul Tucker, Founder and CEO

Industry: addiction treatment

Headquarters physical address: 9201 Montgomery NE #5, Albuquerque

Year of creation: 2010

Number of employees in the year of creation: 3

Number of employees today: 70

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