Senator Marty Flynn was born and raised in Scranton, PA, and is a graduate of Scranton Preparatory School, class of 1994, where he excelled in baseball, football, and wrestling. He then attended Marywood University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies. While at Marywood, he began boxing, and eventually embarked upon a decade-long professional career. Upon retiring from the sport, Flynn worked as the Inmate Education and Program Coordinator at Lackawanna County Prison, where he also served as Chairman of the Prison Misconduct Board.
Flynn entered the world of government in 2013, when he was elected to serve the 113th District of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, a role he had for more than eight years. On June 9, 2021, he began a new chapter in his political career when he was sworn in as Senator of Pennsylvania’s 22nd Senatorial District.
In the Senate, Flynn is a member of the Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee, Labor & Industry Committee, Law & Justice Committee, and is the Democratic Chair of the Transportation Committee. Since being in this role, Senator Flynn has been the leader in holding the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission accountable for more than $150 million in uncollected Turnpike tolls.
Today we discuss how an understanding of Addiction and Recovery evolves in a generation.
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Joe Van Wie 0:04
Hello and thanks again for listening to another episode of all better. I am your host, Joe van we Today's guest is Senator Marty Flint. Er he was born and raised in Scranton, PA, and is a graduate of Scranton Preparatory School Class of 1994, where he excelled in baseball, football, and wrestling. He then attended Marywood University, where he had graduated with a bachelor's degree in Legal Studies, like Mary when he began boxing, and eventually embarked upon a decade long professional career. Upon retiring from the sport, when worked as an inmate education and program coordinator, the Lackawanna County Prison, where he also served as chairman of the prison misconduct board. Lynn entered the world of government and 2013 and he was elected to serve as 100 and 13th district of Pennsylvania's House of Representatives role he had for more than eight years. On June 9 2021. He began a new chapter in his political career when he was sworn in as the senator of Pennsylvania's 22nd senatorial district. In the Senate, Flynn is a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Community Economic and recreational Development Committee, and he was recently appointed as democratic chair, the transportation committee, a relatively new to the Transportation Committee, Senator Flynn has already made his mark by introducing several bills aimed at approving the Pennsylvania Turnpike revenue collection rates. And disclosure, I've been friends with Marty since grade school, a dynamic relationship, one, where I think he knocked me out once in high school, but I swing first. But more he's been a friend in and out of my addiction. And we'll get to find out what more he thinks about addiction and some of the efforts he's taking as a public servant, to increase not only the options and the availability of treatment, but signing on to a my modality of treatment that encourages a full spectrum of care that can last up to a year. So we shoot the breeze, pretty casual discussion. And I think you'll be interested to know a lot of things about Marty that aren't easily seen. If you don't know. Let's meet the Senator
Senator Marty Flynn. I wanted to use sound effects. I've never used them on a podcast, I understand some ground rules. We're here with Senator Marty Flynn, but I'm going to try something different. This podcast, I want direct eye contact without breaking. Listen, hear me out the whole time for an hour. And I think something will happen if we just stare directly. I don't know how long I've ever stared directly in your eyes. And I think it's there could be something there in this story. It'll it'll relax us, we'll be present. Nothing good for you. Do you do that in Harrisburg? Do you make direct eye contact in interviews? I'm very well, I'm glad you came on. And this is an addiction and recovery podcast and Morty. Flynn is not an addict, or a drug addict, or senator. He's actually a lifelong friend of mine. But he has many friends and he's lost friends because of addiction. And he has friends in recovery. And like anyone that I grew up with in Scranton, we have it in our families, or loved ones. Marty is now in a position to influence power, and help and aid and advocate for people to have more humane and compassionate treatment. Be that in the realm of his constituents, or how we address it here locally as a society. So I think Marty has a lot to say. And I think he has a lot of evolving ideas that we didn't grow up understanding alcoholism the way we do today. So I thought maybe we could start with a little background, how we grew up and how we became friends. Because in the 80s, there was a lot of dysfunction, not only in our neighborhood, but how we would probably grew up Thinking what alcohol and drugs war?
Senator Flynn 5:02
Yeah, I am. For myself, I have a different perspective, too. Because the way I grew up, my parents were so young. You know, my parents were, like, 18 when they had me and you know, there was four kids in the house growing up, and they were on top of everything, like there was no getting away with anything.
Joe Van Wie 5:22
Nothing that's in your dad. Didn't he stop
Senator Flynn 5:25
at? Like 1980 When I was like, five, wow. So it was like there was never alcohol in the house or anything. And I just remember being about 12 years old, and pulling me aside and give me like a little speech like Listen, kid goes, I can't drink and he goes, my dad couldn't drink and he goes I'm pretty sure your your mother's father couldn't drink either. He said, like catch on like your teeth out
Joe Van Wie 5:50
and back in my old county they couldn't drink and then the limeys made us drink and
Senator Flynn 5:55
it's just wasn't word that you know.
Joe Van Wie 5:57
Yeah. What do you think the driving catalyst for him to stop then? So your your five? I just
Senator Flynn 6:03
think what type of kid I was, you know what I mean? I was gonna take
Joe Van Wie 6:08
that what was the catalyst for your dad to stop drinking?
Senator Flynn 6:11
He would go on benders for like days, my mom said, sure. He he will go to work. And I come home for three days. And then finally she was just like, I'm done. Yeah. Don't quit drinking. So
Joe Van Wie 6:22
your mom was the driving force the family unit? Yeah, that's what I think it was. And doing that binges. It wasn't. It's not it wasn't a total oddity.
Senator Flynn 6:33
No, no, not at all. Not at all. It wasn't it wasn't everybody. There's a bar in every street corner still today. You know what I mean? Not it's not as prevalent now as it was back then in terms of your nine to five and you know, that's straight throughout all of Appalachia. You know,
Joe Van Wie 6:49
no, I think the 70s here was there was no one eating lunch. They always said you went to lunch but that nobody ordered food and
Senator Flynn 6:59
shot a beer at lunch and back and back to work
Joe Van Wie 7:01
and your dad you know long history your grandfather of union work a pipe your dad was a pipe fitter,
Senator Flynn 7:09
grandfather's show same thing my grandfather stopped drinking till guess but this story was like any he stopped drinking he was like 17 and I guess he got into like a bar fight and put be some guy was putting his hands on my great aunt it would be today. And my train father, like beat the guy half the death and he was gonna he was gonna die. They were gonna press char homicide charges he never drank again. So
Joe Van Wie 7:38
that was that was some people have that I that could drink really heavy. That don't need don't like a structural support that's outside of the family. The family is enough. And it's the catalyst to not drink even when you were relying on it for a release. Social.
Senator Flynn 7:57
True, some therapy,
Joe Van Wie 7:59
therapy. And you're Irish. Exactly. We're gonna go have some therapy. I
Senator Flynn 8:05
just And then like, for some reason I had a I had a perspective where I could see it. I was like, Oh, I don't need a drink to be an ass like that on my own. Yeah, you know, I just I just saw it happen. Like, you know, with kids. Seventh grade. I'm back beer parties. And I'm not drinking, like older kids trying to get me to drink but like, No way. No, I'd rather you do something. We have to go home. My dad smelled beer. My
Joe Van Wie 8:29
breath. I didn't drink until I was 12. And you were one of my first friends in the sense of the person I know who came down intentionally to play in the projects. Jackson tears. Like it wasn't nice. The play wasn't exciting enough and a pass North Main it's you had to come down to Jackson terrace. It's so my ideas were you know, you had all these classic characters like being comes in the flowers. They were younger, but they were teenagers when I was a kid. But then there was drunks and there was nothing appealing. I was I played little league play for the Jets. We were in the middle of the storm of the just say no campaign drug education. As bizarre and corny as it looks now. It was inundated everywhere TV's card. Nancy
Senator Flynn 9:18
Reagan Yep. pound in the message. They go. Yeah. I think that's somewhat semblance of that planet in there that you know, and my parents would always tell me like you trust me. You don't need that, you know, you know, and I just saw I just saw everybody else the way they acted when when when they did that was just like, a release for them. It was an adult and then when there was kids, they would just drink to get murdered, you know? Yeah, like, and I always saw that as like a loss of control in some way. I would. I wouldn't want
Joe Van Wie 9:52
it didn't look appealing. Did it look reckless? Like would you feel humiliated if you look that way?
Senator Flynn 9:56
Yeah, that's the way I thought about it. I'd be like, Oh,
Joe Van Wie 10:00
But you kind of were always, really you ran a tight ship. But was there anxiety involved? Was it a fear? Or did you feel you were missing out? No,
Senator Flynn 10:10
no, because I was always there. So you were there. It gave me like a bird's eye view of of the bad decisions everyone else's make. Yeah. And then I would just like leverage into my hand. Well, if I did that, I'm like, Oh, I can definitely pick up on that. Or my mother would definitely notice. Like, there was no way there was no way to get away with it. For up in Scranton,
Joe Van Wie 10:29
and west side, and this is pre prep. There's a statute I guess maybe you were that comes with that you you're being sober. You're in control did you feel was their fulfillment that you were a guy that didn't need what they were experienced?
Senator Flynn 10:45
I didn't even look at it like that. I don't think I don't think it was that conscious. Sure. And and look, I was in my bubble, where I went and did played sports, and I came home and there was no like, going out on school nights and stuff like that, even in grade school is
Joe Van Wie 11:00
like, well, it's surprising because I, I've been friends with you forever. And I meet people they know you, but they don't know, you know, and they just make assumptions about you, even when we're younger. Because you you kind of garnered a reputation, I'd say it was fully in effect and intact. By sophomore years, you were tough a fighter, way beyond the reach of Westside. At that point from wrestling, not really backing down from anyone that gave you
Senator Flynn 11:32
golf, you and I had no problem with that. That was that was recreation.
Joe Van Wie 11:37
So you got to celebrate a kind of a, a notorious reputation without drinking.
Senator Flynn 11:46
That as a badge of honor,
Joe Van Wie 11:48
I'll take it. But what I was my point was,
Senator Flynn 11:51
and then that that that in turn, laying around the bar that's basically sums up the ethos of Japan around booze and parent nightlife and the t shirt for my bar. Or if you remember, West grant, and the one place where how tough er, and how much you can drink. Oh, man still matters.
Joe Van Wie 12:09
Senator Flynn 12:10
that's basically, you know, wondering, well, as sad as it is, that's what what it's been for the past 100 years?
Joe Van Wie 12:18
Well, I think people have a confusion that what I was gonna say is, I've met many people that make the assumption that you were a drinker. And I'm like, No, you're really mistaken. They're like, No, I saw them. And I'm like, No, you did not. And I knew that.
Senator Flynn 12:35
And I never, I never felt like the the insecurity to, to feel comfortable. Like, people say, it's like a comfort thing that drink that, you know, can be, you know, fit in, it was never like, I never felt that, that I had to, I had to it was never an option for me. So if I felt uncomfortable is because I was uncomfortable. Yeah,
Joe Van Wie 12:53
it wasn't a part of your personality. See, I think with addiction, you know, there's something that precedes addiction, it could be trauma. And it could be something maybe you experienced, too, you had the same exact event, but we respond differently. And a lot of that goes to the idea of what a person has as a personality before eight. So my response, I bonded with alcohol, and you had bonding with your dad, and your bonding with family there was there's a transparency and that not everyone gets, it could be this sort of subtle. But if I had to suspect that I want to speak out of school, you were able to resolve it. by other means, instead of bonding with alcohol and let's let's face it, you never drank? You've never been drunk. So you may be an alcoholic Marty?
Senator Flynn 13:42
Well, most likely, I probably am. You know, think about that, though, for my dad who didn't drink for him to grab me at that age and be like, well, I got to talk to this kid. Like, he had to see his own behavior in from himself, where he thought I would be worse than him to actually really sit me down and say like, I'm going to knock your teeth out. Yeah, if I get you doing this must have shown in his mind what he thought of if I went down that path and how I would react to it is the only way I could I could think of it
Joe Van Wie 14:13
will comply with your dad or or listening to him. How much of it was fear versus needing validation? Like he's an intimidating guy when we were kids?
Senator Flynn 14:23
I am but I think it was just a coping mechanism probably for him. You know what I mean?
Joe Van Wie 14:29
What about you? Did you did you would you fear the consequences that dragged
Senator Flynn 14:33
out? Yeah, that was the whole thing. And that was the whole thing. Yeah. Because I knew he meant it like when he said something like so your
Joe Van Wie 14:40
first border and that's a line union cross that that is pretty that's a distinct person and you always have been to me, you know, if you're brutish, or I knew you had discipline that other people that did not know you and thought they knew you that
Senator Flynn 14:55
way. It's one thing when someone tells you something, but it's one thing when someone tells you something in Union Oh, they mean it. And that's what it was like, I know there was
Joe Van Wie 15:03
like, so you get to prep your west side or in prep, which is awkward in itself? It is because what are we? What kind of what's your role? Are you gonna be the west side? Are you gonna be toffee? It'd be an athlete.
Senator Flynn 15:16
But I think because so many kids that year came from the neighborhood, you know, there's a solid 10 kids that came to that school and a class of 200 that would you know, that that I went to grade school with or went to the intermediate? So we basically went in and, and took over in a sense, where were their kids from the other areas it was in more affluent wanting to be friends with us and play sports with us that kind of thing.
Joe Van Wie 15:40
Yeah. And you could give them personality put little salt on their steaks. With certain flavor. I was in Paris,
Senator Flynn 15:48
in Paris, and howls and, you know,
Joe Van Wie 15:53
well, did you make friends at that period? While you're at prep, say with people? You're friends with them. But you didn't understand drinking isn't just totally back there. By that time. It's cultural. It could be cultural. Did you feel you're you never felt you're missing out? By some extent, not really. That boggles my mind boggles everyone's
Senator Flynn 16:16
mind. But because it's such a, it's such a original perspective that most people never have, that I saw it like I was there for it in the front seats watching. These kids in ninth grade drink totally couldn't see. And I'm the person carrying them home. And I'm the gentleman I was there sober watching this all happen. So it was like, I had that bird's eye view that no one else basically had in the group, because everyone else was drinking. You know what I mean?
Joe Van Wie 16:45
Try try to reach back if you haven't described how you would understand addiction at 1617. From that perspective, how would you define us weakness? So like these kind of archaic medieval guy like a position of the personality?
Senator Flynn 17:01
Yeah, like a lot of people still still look at it like that.
Joe Van Wie 17:05
They can? Yeah. Yeah. I think it's easier. And I don't think it's, I don't think it's not a cruelty, it could be a limitation.
Senator Flynn 17:12
I think that over the years, I think my mind has evolved in that because I've seen, I've seen it eat up every body that I think wouldn't have a problem with it, or what gets into their life one way or another, it gets under that door. And, you know, people you would never think that, you know, they never even really drank in high school, and they're shooting 20 bags of heroin a day, you know, you know, I worked at the prison Lackawanna County Prison for 10 years, and I'm walking through there and you're looking at half the people in the air. I was addicted. I went to school with internet addiction. Yeah, 90% of its addiction, but half the people in there from my neighborhood or people I grew up with that, you know, and a solid 10% of them are people you would never think that would would end up there. But one bad decision led them down a road that you know, could have been anybody you know, if just because I saw things one way and you know, I went down a route amaze one way doesn't mean it couldn't happen to me and that's the way I looked at it like
Joe Van Wie 18:11
so the way you're describing you that course of being at the jail seen people you kind of respected maybe get addiction starts to develop their life did did an open a pocket a compassion, maybe I'm not Oh,
Senator Flynn 18:24
definitely, definitely more more empathy. You know, a lot of people have knee jerk reactions to in that field that, you know, they think they just ticket sold themselves, they repel that, but you got to think and say, Well, how did this happen? You know, your your question things and you try to unravel? Like, what would happen to this person? Why are they like this? Where did they come from? What keep leaving them not? Why is it the same people through the sliders every time when you know they are at every opportunity when like things don't make sense. So that makes you really silly. There's more going on here, then.
Joe Van Wie 18:59
It's hard. I think when you're younger, especially teenagers, even into your 20s when you start to open up empathy and compassion, it could feel reckless, because can this happen to me a lot of people have to look at things that look debilitating, say addiction, some horrifying decisions that look like criminality from the lens of why you have to be different than me, because this would never happen to me. So it's already a bias. Like you're you're just almost convincing yourself what it could mean. So you feel it.
Senator Flynn 19:30
You go on to socio economics and things and then you're gonna race and things and you know, it's a whole different combination that you know, your lottery ticket doesn't look the same, you know,
Joe Van Wie 19:40
the cosmic lottery lottery ticket. That's why I was always attracted before you Marty denialism. And Nietzsche made sense to me. I'm like, you know, you call me the rummy's? I called you the square. The brutal square. Did full disclosure Marty knocked me out in high school. I'm Nicholas, Peter. I'm
Senator Flynn 20:01
recovered, and I did not start this altercation. He did it. I think it was our was I the first person to
Joe Van Wie 20:08
swing? No, no, I just couldn't punch hard.
Addiction. When did you feel that it was starting to affect someone? Maybe you don't even have to speak to it that has there ever been a point where it's affected someone where you're completely surprised where you started to research a little more and think What don't I understand because you knew me. I got sober from three different periods in my life was I was the only person that you knew that was sober. Probably the youngest at that point.
Senator Flynn 20:46
online, you just you just bullshit yourself in doing drugs and alcohol again, you convince yourself that you can control it. You can. That's one of the things about my job is I am like, my job is a bullshit detector. I deal with the best in this state has to offer and I've become pretty good at reading people and reading.
Joe Van Wie 21:07
Oh, you're the last person I wanted to know I was in the middle of relapse. I'd tell you afterwards. But I'm like, I heard him already never finds this. I would tell you after I got sober that was my logic. I'll go clean this up and then I could I could. It was a nightmare. I was in the middle of a relapse after 14 years. I'm sober. I'm sitting trying to hide. Watch this Grateful Dead cover band, village idiots and some, you know, ungodly dose of psychedelics chips kind of II break and narcotics and kind of chemists. And I get tapped on the shoulder. It was just it's Marty Flynn. The last thing I'd like to hear or see is Marcy Flynn in the middle
Senator Flynn 21:54
What are you doing? What's wrong?
Joe Van Wie 21:58
Yeah, I didn't know you were bird dogging me down
Senator Flynn 22:00
where it was that was over in doubt by prep that bar or crap I remember that. Like you know Joe's act and funny. My spider senses go off and I know when when sums up the no good.
Joe Van Wie 22:10
Yeah, well, I was still flattered because it was it was acts actually an act of kindness. Followed up over the next two days. I didn't go to I went to treatment didn't hold after that. But not long afterwards, there was another element of pressure. Where like, How long am I going to hide? Like in this life that I'm because I don't I can't plug back into anything that's reliable, responsible. I really checked out, like, take the red pill rather die on my feet and live on my knees was my motherhood addiction.
Senator Flynn 22:46
It's not gonna end well.
Joe Van Wie 22:48
No, no, well, it ended. It's hard to look back now and think feels like hypnosis a little bit like I was hypnotized by myself. But to even think I got better. It's hard to even claim credit. Because it's like something you allow. It's not something you do. Like I really gave up. Like, what do I have to do? I'm doing it.
Senator Flynn 23:09
That's part of it, though. You kind of have to it's gonna, you're not smarter than whatever. No, it's this. He's is there's many smarter than you that live up to that last you'll
Joe Van Wie 23:20
run out of time. Even if you are smart enough. When is when are you going to be smart enough? You're running out of time, like life moves at a decline. By age gravity, you're moving forward towards the net. Like how fast do I want to get there moving right now. We're spinning spending time winning. Just for the viewer, we have not broken eye contact.
So when did you first believe you could win the state rep seat? We're looking at 2010. You were you were in 2012 2010 preceding the race is cognition you were thinking about right
Senator Flynn 24:07
people were bringing that up to me? Yeah. I just started to look at it. I wasn't really involved. Yeah, it makes sense. But you know, and then started firing around looking for support thing, then we'll take a shot at that. And as you can remember, we took our shot and
Joe Van Wie 24:26
yeah, we won. So we win a race. You know how to win a race. That was exciting. But then it's time to govern and run and run the office up on Main Street and was set up to serve constituents. Those first five, six years, you're in a state rep. There's a learning curve and you're learning fast. You have an unorthodox style to not only approach leadership that serves our area. I don't think they know how to handle you. What would be perceived as brand Hassard crassness, she's going into a door with no appointment getting. I've seen I think it served us it's great because you were yourself. Well, what I'm really interested because we never got to discuss this
Senator Flynn 25:13
look at a hammer. A hammer is a hammer. It's effective. Yeah. So
Joe Van Wie 25:17
a hammer. Let's Scranton, you bring in that on a hammer. And it served you served, it served us the the area. What part of that? We really surprised when it came to human services and addiction advocacy, because we have a lot of distress in our area. What did you find? Being in that position that hey, I didn't know, I didn't know I could help this way?
Senator Flynn 25:42
Well, I was like that, I would think, you know, putting a team together once you get an office, and you get the best and brightest around you that you think, yeah, this how I operate is what I'm saying. I want to get an office together that serves the community as best as it possibly can, as most efficiently as I possibly can. So you go to people who you would think would fulfill that role and who would be good at that? Yeah. The people that I had Tom while the as you know, huge community guy, Andrew, MP, super Nolan cognate. Now Nolan is where I took the big step in and given to giving a position to somebody who was on the wrong track that needed, you know, a chance to get getting your life back together. And, and no, and I kind of gave them read him the riot act like I'm gonna give you a chance here, you know, make the best of it. But don't screw it up because you only get one, you know. So he kind of really ran the ball there was, and he's he's unbelievable staffer. Great, great constituent resource. Yeah, it knows in navigating the state system. There's nobody better. I can say that. He's unbelievable.
Joe Van Wie 27:00
How was your staff made you better?
Senator Flynn 27:02
Well, they make every day. They help people navigate the system every day, I get the they don't get the credit. I get their credit every day. And they do it. So that's basically how
Joe Van Wie 27:14
and what what do you do as Marty Flynn, the senator like to show the appreciation? Because you You're fortunate? You've had the same team for over a decade? Much? Yeah, what is it? What is the relationship like that you you all work together, it's rewarding that you've, you've lost any crucial members, then
Senator Flynn 27:32
it's good to have people like that they can. They can make you realize what's going on in certain situations, because they were in them before. Yeah, you know, where, because you help a lot of people get different get into different programs like ly he, you know, tax rebates for people that are that are down and out, you know, things like that
Joe Van Wie 27:55
heating program. LIHEAP, that's what he that's why he sent people overnight,
Senator Flynn 28:01
that that are homeless to help them get benefits get in. These are things that, you know, he definitely had identifies with,
Joe Van Wie 28:09
is there any numbers coming over there for medical assistant directly for drug and alcohol treatment? Do people ever arrive due for direct help from you?
Senator Flynn 28:17
People have not not not as much as you would think. Yeah, people have, like, we've helped hand off people to call you angels on calls. Leo. So you know, that would that would come in handy here and there.
Joe Van Wie 28:31
Yes. It's a good resource to have he could give people Yeah, very quickly.
Senator Flynn 28:36
But I see, I have no issue and, and help people that have had a tough time that need a break in a sense.
Joe Van Wie 28:48
Moving forward, what what do you think the impact and a legacy is if we just had to put it under a microscope of what you can do for addiction in our area. And I mean, beyond the scope that you got the opioid crisis you have?
Senator Flynn 29:03
Well, I just want to make sure that, that it that the state doesn't turn its back on programs, and make sure the programs are rolled out efficiently to where people get the help and the service that they need, you know, not just one time, not just, you know, something continued care, that kind of,
Joe Van Wie 29:23
like Continuum of Care for a year that you're seeing, like, kind of,
Senator Flynn 29:27
I don't I don't like to see where they're sending people away for 30 days, and then they're washed them and they're done with them. You know, as as we know, that doesn't work. The numbers are horrible. So you have to have you have to have a continuum of care that that keeps up these people and gives them the background and the support system to stay sober
Joe Van Wie 29:46
and do find their support for these. These ideas that care not only comes into the form of maybe 90 days partial care and you can level down and that housing is part of this treatment. Do you see that conversation moving quicker,
Senator Flynn 30:02
you start to see also that the numbers that are going to cost you more over the long run. So now you're seeing companies, you know, with tax breaks and companies with, with insurance companies that understand pain now is cheaper labor
Joe Van Wie 30:17
pain later and then the unintended consequences for the state and communities. We're experiencing them like little Kensington,
Senator Flynn 30:23
it's yeah, it's, it's
Joe Van Wie 30:25
sad. But housing is Madison there that can start tax rebates for hiring people in recovery. Because it's running a program called Project manifesto. That's hiring people based on recovery, giving them skills. Do you see any plans in the works? For incentives, maybe for employers to hire people because of their recovery?
Senator Flynn 30:51
I could definitely I definitely see something like coming down the pike. Definitely. It's definitely a bipartisan thing. Because as you know, addiction, whether it's alcohol or drugs, it's hitting every family at this point in the country. There's so many drugs and designer drugs out right now that, you know, it's what, it's all over the place. So
Joe Van Wie 31:11
really, the more I have come to understand my own addiction, and the way I've been viewing it, my perspective has changed even in the last two years, what I thought I understood not only about myself, how addiction rises to me, if I had if I had endless time, or had the the wit to do research, I would really look at addiction as a sociological problem, that are a societal problem, that we download society and to reject that society. We're downloading. We do it with the defense of addiction. Not everyone does that. But I think addicts, there is a fundamental problem I have with my reality.
Senator Flynn 31:55
And there's some people well, there's some theory and that return to the wound comfort type type thing with opioids, right? Yeah, that's
Joe Van Wie 32:02
Terence McKenna is kind of descriptions of like a drug hierarchy. So the opioids would be the total immersed comfort of infancy, or prenatal, prenatal, alcohol and drugs or adolescence, this kind of dopamine release the period of this kind of sophomore thought and we you more reckless, can't measure consequence. But then the heightened drug drugs that could have experienced that historically could be linked to spirituality, maybe even movements of, of evolution, how we experienced conscious life consciously would be psychedelics, which are hallucinogenics anymore, they don't call them out. That's what I was trying to do. Right when you saw me, I was trying to really, I wasn't trying to indulge in psychedelics. I was trying to reset my brain. That's your that's a lie right there. Well, it's a lie. In the sense if I was trying to do that with cocaine. I know what cocaine is. For me. It's a failed medication. And indulgence to keep alcohol running. Psychedelics aren't something you could use daily, like I'm not, I'm che try it. Well, I've tripped for a couple days. Those stuff I don't draw. It was a nightmare. was holding the wheel tight, making sure the ship came back into my body. I was like, fuck, I did it now, boy, I'm gonna mess up. I was in this house. And I couldn't remember how long I was walking around opening doors. I kept putting food in the dog bowl. I'm like, this isn't a house. This is my mind. Like it was like a, I felt like it was in the fractal. Like it was. My mind was mirroring this manifestation. And people are just watching whatever the source of me is, is like wake up, Joe. Like, oh was off. It was disassociation. That's what you call it.
Senator Flynn 33:58
But isn't that don't they say what that's what that LSD trip is? It's it takes you away from your ID or
Joe Van Wie 34:03
Yeah, yeah, it depends on dose high doses could really do that Iraq cut you off. But if you're doing like doses you can have like, my personality was mirroring this association. Now when I took the high doses. I was having an experience that would let the self and the self as the part of the brain that were like, like this default in the frontal lobe where you're called Thinking self manifests. You tell yourself stories all day, that kind of cognition that is so over measured in the disorder of addiction or trauma, to get relief from that or it gets muted. I got it from a high dose trip, and then when you come back, it's like, you felt like it died. But there's a relief. Like there's more than just me, my thoughts, my bullshit. I felt relieved from it in a more profound way. It wasn't like just soothing a symptom. It's existential. It's not the point. or something? Yeah, there's not I'm not the object or the subject in the world. Like, there doesn't seem to be a distinction. I'm really missing a fundamental part of reality. I might not be able to describe it. But why do I feel so separated from it? This is this is the disorder. This is every normal people can have that problem. But I found relief in that problem with drugs. So that looks like that's my problem. He's a drug addict. He's an alcoholic.
Senator Flynn 35:27
But it's great. It's greed. It's um,
Joe Van Wie 35:30
it's can do better. You know, I guess it can. But that's what I was trying to explain to you before I went to Clearbrook. You're like, you just you just walk in the door right now.
Senator Flynn 35:46
You don't need the phone.
Joe Van Wie 35:47
That's what I know. Yeah, if I'm sober, I answered the phone. I always answer. A lot of guys. There's a there's some twice on some array. That's the motto of my sobriety into a and my friends, few other friends you when you're sober, you answer your phone. And, and usually it's under, you know, the guiding principle, how can I help? Now what do I need? How can I help you? And it's not a bad way to live. It really is relieving. It kills ego. When I think that way. And I'll tell you what, my life is far more interesting. I do more interesting things. The stakes are higher in the sense that life feels more interesting because of care. You can't stop that from growing. And if you just keep repeating to yourself, how can I help? When I'm drinking, I don't think that way. I think oh my god, who's going to help me? What do I need? If I had this things would be better? I only see a depreciation of things. Weird, my whole personality changes.
Senator Flynn 36:52
But there's no finality and when you use whatever it just, it just becomes the garbage can you're going through a garbage can to get to something better at the bottom of the garbage can.
Joe Van Wie 37:02
Well, I could use a lot like that's what
Senator Flynn 37:05
I mean. That's you start with the alcohol or the weed. May I just smoke a little
Joe Van Wie 37:10
go off a cliff? A Puffin and he told me I'm Nikki six without a band. See them? It's like you throw a four day parties. What was your job? Not good luck. Good job. It's a pain. It's unresolved pain in the shallowness, like if I could fill at first if like, I'm being a little entertaining in the beginning of addiction, you're being full and being a fool. You start, you can't believe you returned to the shallowness of an adolescent. If I could surround myself around people, even if there are other addicts, there's a shallow connection going on. And you can't scoff at it when you're drunk. You think it's nurturing? Where that
Senator Flynn 37:56
just look at the people that are around you, at that point, you can you kind of tell like, yeah, what
Joe Van Wie 38:01
will the, you know, the, the, you know, the problems, you know, car psychiatrically and the addictions were more gruesome. My crowd change because of the shame and my personality grows so much. I feel only comfortable around people that are sharing that same shame. You kind of then isolated then I just want to drink alone. I'm like, oh, no, for the nonsense.
Senator Flynn 38:24
out of the woodwork,
Joe Van Wie 38:25
drink by yourself. Ramiz come out? I mean, what do you think was the most fundamental idea that's changed in your mind in the last decade, concerning the diction? And specifically from information you found out in the Capitol, like maybe data that just spun your blue your hair back? Like
Senator Flynn 38:49
the recidivism rates,
Joe Van Wie 38:51
you know, you know,
Senator Flynn 38:53
in corrections, that's like, ridiculous, the mental health issues in corrections, and the drug and alcohol related recidivism in the corrections to you know, what I mean, that it just it
Joe Van Wie 39:06
seems so it's all my charts, it's off the charts. Well, how do you bite off like, being around some activism and really organized once you rub shoulders with them? How do you bite off what catches your eye that, you know, what is the programs that are catching your eye that you think we would benefit from? I
Senator Flynn 39:25
definitely the long term cares or long term? Yeah, that's definitely the way the future it has to be.
Joe Van Wie 39:31
It's communal to long term care puts you by the end of the year, you're in a community
Senator Flynn 39:36
and we're in my many look at the socio economics of it. Now. It's trickled into you know what I mean, to white America, where before it was everything was pushed off in the cities, you know, it it's really it's front center now where it's it's bipartisan, like you when I came into the legislature, you know, like we're doing corrections reform. You know, that's something I wouldn't And I've liked like Jordan Harris, I've laughed at him, like, you're never gonna get something like that passed. And then 70 years later, that's how exponential it's spread that, you know, they're they're, they're getting people out of prison. Really arrests like,
Joe Van Wie 40:16
what's your perspective? Now? Did you have that perspective when you worked at the prison? Oh, yeah, I would say, yeah, you would, it would have caught like
Senator Flynn 40:23
something. No, I thought that we were I didn't I didn't bite down on, you know, like, the fear base. Yeah,
Joe Van Wie 40:30
yeah. Oh my god, there's werewolves in this building I have to contain, like, there's a trouble for that
Senator Flynn 40:36
I grew up with that. I knew it wasn't, I wasn't looking at them as, as drug addicts, I'm looking at them as kids or my little team that, you know,
Joe Van Wie 40:44
sticking on prison reform, you know, it's here, it's in our backyard Thompson. limba.
Senator Flynn 40:49
The perfect example. He was like my best friend seventh grade. Yeah, I love to play baseball with them tough home or up rough home life, you know, he just got caught up in that wrong path. And, you know, was shoot heroin. You know, I'm 23 years old, 24 years old, you know, and totally went off the rail, you know, it was homeless was everything. And, you know, he was imprisoned, you know, got out, turn himself around, get through, you know, recovery and worked at it. And each, he just got a part and a couple of months ago, because, you know, he proved that, you know, he's not he's not like everybody else that he can change, you know,
Joe Van Wie 41:29
yeah. And was fulfilling when you would leave work. I mean, it could be torment of you see, someone you care about grew up with your memories with you just turn it off. Would you let yourself but you know, make a connection with them while you're there. Make them feel some humanity. Yeah.
Senator Flynn 41:46
That's different. But you just, yeah, just, that's work.
Joe Van Wie 41:52
Yeah. Okay, while we're on topic, I had a friend here two weeks ago, I don't know if you've listened to the podcast. But he he's a licensed social worker, he came on and we're talking about solitary confinement, this battles rising up everywhere, just on it was pushed for a ballot measure here. Petition went around 14,000 signatures and Lackawanna County gets kicked up that this is an in within the purview of the county to put it on the ballot. This can be changed by the prison. I don't know if you've had your eye on this. But what I would, what I want to ask is, do you see it as torture? Like can you see solitary confinement changing in the next 10 years? How it's applied as a punishment or retribution in prisons? Do you see that changing?
Senator Flynn 42:42
No, I don't see it changing. But I could be wrong.
Joe Van Wie 42:47
Okay, incrementally let's let's just buy it off it. So not that your process you're coming in not medical, as a retribution of breaking rules. Nonviolent rules? Yeah.
Senator Flynn 42:59
But when you're, you have to look at it. In terms of corrections, okay. You're in a community, you're a guard in that community. First, let's just say, on a block. Okay. There's 7080 members on that block. This isn't society. This is communal, this is very basic. This is basic, Neanderthal type atmosphere, where it can be very violent, it can be so. So rules are more important than they are, let's say, on the street, or at a job or there's certain things that that happen that you're you're observed all day long. And they know when you're gonna pick your nose, they know when you're going to tie your shoelaces.
Joe Van Wie 43:56
Let's let's put this in its own caveat. So you're this a description of county
Senator Flynn 44:01
is a county prison where they're working better on the loan, take it that way too. Because there were federal prisoners there. There were state prisoners there long term to be held, because we have the federal prison now the federal courthouse, and their state prisons all around us. So they will be moved around. And for certain reasons, there'd be state inmates in there for like a state block for. So it's basically for a long period of time, like, sometimes years.
Joe Van Wie 44:26
I didn't know like, so that's access state time. Yeah.
Senator Flynn 44:29
So you basically have a county prison. That's a federal prison and a state prison at the same time. If you think about it.
Joe Van Wie 44:35
I've never heard anyone describe it that way. Like, just as a layperson, I'm thinking oh, they're just being transferred. They're waiting. Yeah, no, it's definitely
Senator Flynn 44:42
it's sometimes acting. Yeah, sometimes. Yeah. That's the southern there'll be a unit that's a federal unit. There'll be a unit that's a state unit.
Joe Van Wie 44:49
Why? Why is this just overcrowding the money? They're getting
Senator Flynn 44:53
paid per per day from the state and some fourth largest county prison in the state. It was when I was there, like 10 years ago. was the third or fourth largest county prison in the state.
Joe Van Wie 45:02
So there's an incentive for the county to keep someone that's doing state time when I would transfer them out. And we got we got a renter here. It's a head to heads two beds. Yes. And that's the same for federal time. So I've seen every Is this a competition between? Like, why wouldn't
Senator Flynn 45:17
the farms yeah, sometimes Yeah, that was it's easier. It's easier sometimes, you know, you know, if you have, say, a sexual predator that can put on a block up there, that he's down here, and nobody knows, that kind of thing. So it was it just just complex. It's very, like the civilization of it in itself. Like, should I say, that should be gone that there shouldn't be any solitary confinement? Like, I know, people that were in the hole for for a long time, deserve to be in the hole. But do I think it's humane and innocence? Probably no, no. But at the same time, there really is no way to punish. So you know, they're gonna think about next time.
Joe Van Wie 46:01
Yeah, I had I have my friend John on. And I usually fall in order with them like it from the perspective of human services, social work takes money. But I have a brother, he's a law enforcement officer. I'm friends with you. I've been friends with plenty of guards. And I'm watching from here just trying to understand and observe what would a punishment look like if it wasn't solitary confinement, like given a fraction of the rules, there's really been which you're talking of regression to violence.
Senator Flynn 46:35
And these are violent people that that do violent, unspeakable things, that
Joe Van Wie 46:40
it gets complex too, because, you know, historically called the deinstitutionalization of mental health, where the jails since the 70s, have just picked up every year, every 10 years, double the amount of mental health problems now are being dealt with by a county prison. Was
Senator Flynn 46:58
it 72 of the war on drugs? And I think Nixon started Yeah, and then time there were 600 DEA agents like today's there's 8000. You know,
Joe Van Wie 47:07
like if you're looking at to pipelines to fill county jails, you got that problem that we're on drugs, now marginal infractions of addiction, then you see statewide closures and state hospitals, long term care for schizophrenia, personality disorders, things that there's unique treatments for today or a different setting. Now crimes are being committed because a they have no care, no place to go, no place to go back to the community and are unemployable to that point without treatment. There was plans made and they're the same plan since FDR, community mental health, urban community centers, Education Fund and its long term plans, but they work out. I think the plan is just too complex for the state partisan. So defund it, we'll just we'll just eat it at the county and Federal Prison level,
Senator Flynn 47:57
you're paying somewhere? Yeah. Like what like looking at education. So
Joe Van Wie 48:01
if we could be more intelligent, I just see, just to live with ourselves. You know, historically, eventually, like someone could have put the intelligence has already been put behind a planet can be built on. But it's hard. No one's servicing this mental health problem. Population, they're being exploited. They're overwhelmed in the court by the time they're being advocated for if they're even being the advocate of for properly.
Senator Flynn 48:26
A couple that with it's a billion dollar industry in the state. It's a 2 billion house
Joe Van Wie 48:32
to house inmates. Yeah. You know,
Senator Flynn 48:34
we're spending $40,000 a year per inmate.
Joe Van Wie 48:38
And what's the harm when you detract that you're you're taken away that's being a guards a good paying job? Yeah, no, yeah. That's there's an industry and
Senator Flynn 48:46
there's there's bad people that should never see the light that day. There's a lot of people there are a lot of bad people stop describing me that way. But the problem, the problem is we've coupled and stigmatized and coupled addicts with that. Yeah, and it's bullshit. Yeah, it's way
Joe Van Wie 49:04
bullshit, man. There's nothing I haven't done that if I got caught multiple times. You know, I've driven drunk, you know, not all the time. A couple times I have. If I got arrested every time I did, I'd be in state prison. And I know people who are who are magnificent people. These are crimes of addiction. I'm not saying okay, they can't be accountable for this. But there's a measure of cruelty involved. I don't think we're being smart enough. That's just Psalms. Yeah, we're now being smart enough with the approach because it's how do you add individual care to a state measure? It's really hard
Senator Flynn 49:46
in responsibility for your actions also, when you know we have to be reasonable talk and and not not you but at the same time someone's hurt you know that
Joe Van Wie 49:54
accountability is easy that your sis the community will keep you accountable regardless of how you fucking feel about Got it. That's called that's a norm. That's a standard of life. Now, if you want to accept the accountability from that, you know, a lot of times, it's not that you can relieve yourself of responsibility, but you can relieve yourself of shame. What I mean by that you'll find out the pain you caused, or the norm you broke, or the law you broke came from your own pain that you're not recognizing as pain. But if you have a profound understanding that you can lose shame, there's something prior to your bad act that you just haven't been aware of. It starts before identity, it's awareness, that you're not a piece of shit, you're broken, you're just in pain. That person could have their own venture doing that, but doesn't mean they're alleviated for being responsible from the norms and laws, as some of them could be unjust. I'm all for changing unjust laws.
Senator Flynn 50:49
And it's not it's not society's, it's not society's responsibility to show them
Joe Van Wie 50:56
it's ours that are alive because we showed up to a society that was made for it. They're all fucking dead. 90% of our laws are from fucking dead people. Fuck that, man. We can change whatever we want. Once you're conscious your agency, we're moving around, we know what we're doing. But I think you know,
Senator Flynn 51:16
steal my horse Don't steal my wife.
Joe Van Wie 51:20
Keep the sly, but I see advocating in your personal life and your friends in the support you've shown people that have addiction that you've been close to. I always find it awesome when someone thinks you are a drinker. I want to encourage that I'm just fucking tired of people now. I'm gonna start seeing how much he drinks it's he's just very private about it. He does it in parking lots and
Senator Flynn 51:49
I don't fit the stereotype. Irish grin I fit the stereotype. I
Joe Van Wie 51:54
just don't drink how many people in recovery these thicker voted for you. Lots. Yeah. How many would you venture to say are and Lachlan and I'm going to give you are going to shoot from the hip. And I think I'm right. Without evidence. I'm not sourcing This is a podcast to friends bullshitting when it happens to be our states. I'd say at any given time, my friend, we tried to estimate this in 2004. But Bruce, remember my friend, Santa Claus. He thought at any time there was about 5000 people that were in some way in touch with recovery via 12 steps or this community and active members. There's
Senator Flynn 52:31
220,000 people in the county in the county. So you have I think it's kind of been close to 10. I do
Joe Van Wie 52:38
I think 10 Maybe that suffer from substance use disorder. And I would say our margins are four to 6000 people that have had either contact with recovery. I think there's actively probably three or 4000 people in recovery that are active in our community in this county without a doubt. Without a doubt. Can you get me those numbers? I probably could. How would they How would people submit that information? He be like Soviets will have to ask the Soviets go to the bars go to mar Lago
Senator Flynn 53:11
Thanksgiving, they'll tell you everything you need to know down in Mar
Joe Van Wie 53:13
a Lago. So you got partisan, Joe, I don't know i don't i That's the great relief. I'm not in politics. I'm friends with a lot of politicians. And I've worked in media, but the relief and I've told you this over the phone of the last three years of not doing anything political. I'm a politician. It's so depressing to me. Well, the day will come The day will come and you'll have to serve. You could still serve. It'll just have to be nonprofit hands on the ground. You find out what it is start daydreaming about it now. Because I think you're an asset to everyone that knows you and your constituents. And not only my friend I can I can flatter you as much as I want. When will you come back? Of course I might make this the Christmas special Christmas with Senator Flynn
Senator Flynn 54:03
in the Ramis and then Romney's got to bring some Ramiz back from our analysts
Joe Van Wie 54:07
yo Ramiz. That's the title of the show y'all Ramiz
Senator Flynn 54:11
there's some roomies that are doing good.
Joe Van Wie 54:13
I remember. I mean, I'm a Rami that's I'm alive. And well, some of the crew some are not here with us. No, they're not. And I always stick to that. I think some of our friends that died in their 20s and there's a couple that we've been shared and all that's happened to me from 25 to now and you think of all the consciously how you approach a relationship, friendships considerations of what's more, let's change exponentially since I was that age to not have that space and time that a whole nother dimensional life. I still think about them and think of how much that was. They were robbed of those experiences. It's true. It's not a full bodied life. It's still Oh, there's still sadness
Senator Flynn 55:01
to the summit paint on the painting. That's not the full picture. It's sad.
Joe Van Wie 55:05
I look back every time I'm 10 years older. I was a fucking kid 10 years ago. Like, it's like it's still.
Senator Flynn 55:13
It's crazy. It is crazy that I was in high school 30 some years.
Joe Van Wie 55:20
Now. Let's go downstairs and listen to Bruce Springsteen, and then I'll let you go. Yeah. While everyone was sitting there,
Senator Flynn 55:33
Marty, flip it up Jamiroquai.
Joe Van Wie 55:36
We'll see you soon. See that we get through the first person and sound effects.
I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of all better. You can find us on all better.fm or listen to us on Apple podcasts. Spotify, Google, podcasts, Stitcher, I Heart Radio, and Alexa. Special thanks to our producer John Edwards, an engineering company 570. Drone. Please like or subscribe to us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. And if you're not on social media, you're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. And remember, just because you're sober, doesn't mean you're right.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai