"Serenity Lodge" with Dino Campitelli

January 18, 2022 Joe Van Wie / Dino Campitelli Season 1 Episode 13
"Serenity Lodge" with Dino Campitelli
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Dino Campitelli, AAC, executive director of Serenity Lodge for the last 15 years, is skilled in working with men in recovery. Using his years in addiction and his years in continuous sobriety, Dino sees beyond the behaviors that keeps residents stuck and helps them to both see themselves clearly and understand the importance of changing their behavior based on intellect, allowing their feelings to follow, in order to discover the benefits of a sober life. Dino understands through his own experience that recovery is a process. He is passionate about helping each resident in his individual process to achieve the sober life that he deserves.

Dino models working the 12 steps and is very involved in the local recovery community. He serves as guest lecturer at Clearbrook Treatment Centers and is very proud to be program facilitator for the Families Helping Families program.

This is not simply a career for Dino Campitelli. His life is proof positive that each individual has the opportunity to transition from pain to purpose. Pacing with and leading the residents of Serenity Lodge is just that for Dino….his purpose.

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Joe Van Wie  0:16  
Hello, and thanks for listening to another episode of all better. Today's guest is Dino campitelli. Dino is the executive director of serenity lodge for last two decades. Dino is an AC, and Dino uses his years and addiction in his continuous years in sobriety, to influence young men at this facility. There's a distinct line in Dino's bio on his website that it really popped out to me that says Dino sees beyond the behaviors that keeps his residents stuck, and helps them to both see themselves clearly. And understand the importance of changing their behavior based on intellect and allowing their feelings to follow. In order to discover the benefits of a sober life. It's a really distinct line. And we get to talk about that, because there's a lot to unpack there in there is what addiction truly is, and I believe, the path to recover from it. It's very interesting. Dino has been a friend of mine for 20 years. And someone I admire. Dino also runs his facility on 12 Step principles, which kinda is rare these days, you're seeing that less and less, but being a person that practices 12 steps and myself I'm always interested to see how does that unpack up there at Serenity Lodge? Let's hear from Dima.

Dino Campitelli  2:00  
Well, here we are

Joe Van Wie  2:01  
with Dino campitelli. Dino, and I've been friends. And we've known each other for about 20 years now. And I just gave you a little intro but for context. And for anyone listening. I want you to understand who Dino is. And so Dino. Thanks for coming. You know, are you from scratch?

Dino Campitelli  2:23  
No, not Joe.

Joe Van Wie  2:24  
But it's amazing. You are beloved by script and people I know our circle our community. Okay. And I just find Scranton just adopt and be loves people because of what you've done here the last two decades that I think we'll talk about, do you feel you're a part of this area? No.

Dino Campitelli  2:42  
I do. And the interesting thing is I never felt like I wasn't Yeah, grant. And the fact of the matter is, I'd never heard of Scranton. I ended up here in a daze. And it's been June will be 23 years. And from the day I got here, everyone I met welcomed me like I was born and raised here my whole life.

Joe Van Wie  3:07  
Yeah. Yeah, I think that's a good attribute you don't find in a lot of places Scranton still has. Right. So 20 years ago, we before you arrived in Scranton, who was Dino? How would you describe yourself?

Dino Campitelli  3:21  
Okay. Well, I was born in Baltimore, and raised in Baltimore. And at a young age, I got involved in drugs, alcohol, the party scene, you know, I quickly escalated into what I would call an addict. It was almost instantaneous, you know, yeah, I thought I found the solution to my problem. And you from the first time I picked up a drug and a beer or a shot of whiskey. It kicked off an obsession that didn't go away for about 35 years. And so, you know, I spent my life battling drug addiction. So, you know, I had difficulty in school, I had difficulty with employment. I had difficulty with finances. I had difficulty with everybody I came in contact with including the people that loved me the most my family until I was all alone and wandering the streets. And I did that for many years wandered the streets of Baltimore. got to a point where it was obvious I was going to die and I was approached by a family member and they said they heard of a place in Scranton, Pennsylvania. That may If you could help me, and I got in the back of the car, and I got dropped off in Scranton, and I remember seeing the sign Wilkes Barre, and, you know, I had no idea where I was and everything looks weird and strange and you're in pretty

Joe Van Wie  5:16  
big fucking trouble when someone says we're going to Scranton is going to help you.

Dino Campitelli  5:21  
So I quickly realized that I mean, there was a struggle. It wasn't it wasn't easy, you know. But I quickly realized that Scranton was needed to be my home. Yeah, for the immediate future. And, and I made a life for myself here, which I didn't have before. When I was two, I arrived at Clearbrook treatment center on June 9 1999.

Joe Van Wie  5:53  
I met you for right around that year after you left at San Gordy's Christmas party at their house. Yeah, was sitting around. So that was actually a couple years. A couple years later. That's when I kind of that's when we met about three years ago. And you and Sam. Hi, I was young. Yeah, but you were always cool guy. I'm like, Who's this dude that? Friendly? Yeah, great shirts. Great. But I just want to unpack something because I do this a lot on the show. Because you know, if someone's not familiar with addiction,

Dino Campitelli  6:29  
excuse me one sec. Yeah. No, because I mean, that was who I used to be. Yeah, who is Dino? That's what I used to be exact. That's not what I am today.

Joe Van Wie  6:38  
To stay on the prior Deena, you've been sober two decades. But you said something that I find everyone who comes on the show and recovery, myself included, you found the solution to your problem. And you said it was drugs and alcohol. And I think it's never clear to families what that really means. So I'm curious, did you have Do you have siblings? I do. Or are there normal? Like some?

Dino Campitelli  7:06  
Some what? Yes. So I'd rather not discuss. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  7:10  
Well, yeah. Not to put you on the spot. I do. And they weren't I have two sisters. They're not out addicts or alcoholics to other sisters. No an addiction problems. And when when I say prior conditions, when you say I when I drank alcohol, I felt like I found a solution to something a problem that already existed. Exactly. I don't think people see addiction that clearly they only see the end result of what drugs, alcohol, especially daily use does. Right? It's really hard to describe that, I think to someone who doesn't understand that there was a condition prior to that. It's

Dino Campitelli  7:45  
well, I mean, you know, we learn all this stuff in the program. And and but basically, when I adjusted a chemical, it not only changed the way that I felt and made the world a tolerable place. But it set off a craving. And that craving caused my behavior to become compulsive. Yeah. And then as a result of my compulsive behavior, my life became extremely unmanageable. Because I spent 90% of my waking moment chasing more drugs, more alcohol, more money, where don't get it. Who has a nightmare. It's a nightmare. It's a nightmare. And it's a consummate exercise in futility.

Joe Van Wie  8:35  
What did you feel was wrong with you before you could articulate what addiction was like what was going on in your head? It was just living in a nightmare.

Dino Campitelli  8:42  
I had. I had no idea that any of this was going on until I got better. Yeah. And understood it. But basically, you know, I was a kid that suffered with depression. Yeah. A lot of anxiety. The world was kind of not a safe place. Yeah. I had learning disabilities couldn't read. So I never did any homework or anything like that, you know, now. I'm not a spring chicken. I'll be 63 years old. So you know, we're going back. We're going back in the, in the, in the 60s. And so a lot of this stuff went undiagnosed. My parents had no idea what was wrong with me. Yeah. And, and so I wasn't able to study wasn't able to

Joe Van Wie  9:43  
take tests of ADHD what you would describe today, I had severe

Dino Campitelli  9:47  
ADHD and I had difficulty reading, everything gets jumbled up, and it confuses the hell out of me. So, you know, plus the depression plus the anxiety in the world. was just a very, very uncomfortable place. It was a it was a struggle to be me. And as a result of all of that I had tremendous low self esteem. I felt like I was stupid. I felt like everybody else was better than me or, you know, the world looked like I would look at other people. And I, and I would say to myself, like, Why is life so easy for them and so difficult for me just to get up in the morning was a chore. Yeah. And at a young age, I found older kids in the neighborhood that were smoking pot. And we would get the older guys to buy us a bottle of whiskey and we would pass it around and sip the whiskey and smoke hash and pot and all that stuff. And I was instantly addicted. Yeah, I was instantly addicted. So to answer your question, the drugs and alcohol were a symptom of a more pervasive illness. Yeah. Depression, anxiety, low self esteem.

Joe Van Wie  11:02  
I think it's been articulated better. I mean, I my relapse was brutal. But to really focus on that again, and talk about it intelligently. I don't remember kind of picking up on it, like my ADHD, anxiety. This prior to drinking, like I, I'm having new memory, not new memories, but of growing up and thinking, Oh, that. That's addiction. That's where it started. And then

Dino Campitelli  11:27  
it becomes clearer as time in recovery goes on. The longer I stay sober, the better I understand. Yeah, what was happening to me.

Joe Van Wie  11:38  
Yeah, it's profound to hear it I hear it in a new light. I that's maybe I was just numb to hearing the same words and growing up young day, but when I hear you talk like that, I'm like, That's it. That's the pattern. I rebuild story out of the Alcoholics Anonymous. No, I'm like, This is a story about anxiety. PTSD, abandoned by his grandparents. Like that's the real story, trauma,

Dino Campitelli  11:59  
trauma. You know, adoption. You know, I It wasn't me, but you know, but you get to see the story. Parents get divorced. I mean, you know, there's a million reasons real or perceived. Yeah. You know, like, the fact of the matter is, I had really good parents that loved me. Yeah. You know, I couldn't feel it. Yeah. I couldn't feel it. It's wild.

Joe Van Wie  12:20  
No, right. Yeah. No, I understand that completely.

Dino Campitelli  12:25  
So I was I was basically one of these kids that needed to be in treatment at 13 years old. Yeah. Back then. I didn't know about treatment. My parents didn't know about treatment. I didn't I never heard of AAA or anything like that till I was 26 years old. And by that time, I had already been using for 15 years. Yeah. And the train was just going too fast. Dan, that's

Joe Van Wie  12:53  
right. You're cynical by then you're beat up in a lot of pain. There's no way you're gonna let that that message doesn't come in easily.

Dino Campitelli  13:00  
It does not know and that denial was there. And

Joe Van Wie  13:06  
so you get to Scranton. What was so profound that kept you here? Like, what did your recovery begin? Like? How did you make that turn from being stable, not using for a little while to like, this is a whole new life. I'm gonna stay here.

Dino Campitelli  13:24  
So I was here, I went through a program, I relapsed. Went back to that program relapsed. And the one smart thing that I did was I knew I needed to keep keep a safe place. Yeah, like when I relapsed, I would go back to Baltimore. Yeah. And, and then I would like live in a car for three months and get arrested. And then I came back. And I did that a second time. And the one smart thing that I did was I didn't contaminate this area. I didn't start buying drugs using drugs. I didn't do any of that stuff in Scranton. That's brilliant. You wanted to live some? Yeah, the pork. I knew that. Like, this shit had to stop. Yeah. And and so I think that I was just so addicted for so long. It took me like two and a half years to stop that train. And and so what kept me here as easy answer, love, love, love, kindness. Real kindness, where people I could tell that people in the recovery community genuinely cared about my well being. Yeah. And I responded to that. Not that that wasn't going on in other places. Yeah, I either wasn't ready yet. Or it wasn't going on there. Like it was here. I met the right people at the right time. And recovery became attractive to me. I found some people that I wanted to be like that I believe that were you know, Like, as bad as me are suffered from the same thing I was suffering from. And I wanted to be part of that. Just like I wanted to be part of the drug culture. I wanted to be part of the recovery culture, but it was basically the love and kindness of the people in Scranton that I responded to.

Joe Van Wie  15:20  
Well, that's pretty clear.

Dino Campitelli  15:23  
You and I met were instantly friends. Yeah. I don't know what it is about the people in Scranton, they're just, you know, I've met some of the craziest people I've ever met in my life. Yeah, absolutely. But everybody, even those people are kind. Jenna,

Joe Van Wie  15:37  
you ever meet Chris Barnes? Yeah. Chris always said to me, I would do his improv class, great guy. You say Joe in LA, people are always trying to figure out who they're going to be or who you want them to be. Because it's great. When you're from Scranton. I mean, we over there, you're going around telling people who you are, right?

Dino Campitelli  15:58  
He's a funny guy. Yeah, he's

Joe Van Wie  15:59  
a good dude. Yeah, it's flattering. I think it's the same. And I think I've seen it as an adult in the last two years. And I just reconnected to it. I'm like, what, how have I been blinded? This? There's, there's good people here. Recovery communities pretty distinct here. Unlike other people, what I've seen people going back to Jersey or Connecticut, it's a little colder.

Dino Campitelli  16:24  
You know, I don't know. You know, I don't want to knock anybody in either. But I've just brought it down, just speaking off the cuff. But I mean, there's and I've met people all over the country in recovery, and I meet good people everywhere. I was at the right place at the right time around the right people for me. Yeah. And I mean, I remember saying to my first sponsor AAES is different here. Yeah. And he said to me, no, AAA is not different. You're different. Yeah. Yeah. I guess you know, and so true to them. Yeah. Yeah. But, you know, nobody judged me. You know, I, I grew up always feeling like I was being judged. And especially like, my family, I always felt like they thought I was behaving this way on purpose. Like, intentionally, yeah, ruining my life and making them miserable. Like, I was doing it on purpose. And I wasn't doing it on purpose. I couldn't help myself. No. And, and so when I got here to Scranton, nobody ever said to me, why are you doing that? You know, you got so much going for you. What are you doing that for? What happened? Nobody said any of those things to me. They just said, We love you keep coming back. Yeah. And that's what I needed to hear. That's what I responded to. I remember, somebody came up to me, guy that we both know. And he was a well respected guy in the recovery community. And he, he I was like, still feeling horrible about myself and pulled me aside and he said, you know, you have a really good spirit. He says, You're gonna help a lot of people. You're you have a really good spirit about you. And nobody ever said that to me. Yeah. You know, and I thought, Wow, maybe I do have something to contribute to this world. Yeah. I don't know what it is. But maybe I do you know it. Why would he say that? Like, like, I believed him? Yeah, I believe. Yeah. You know, he said it in a way that I believed. I mean, why did he take time out of his day to say that to me,

Joe Van Wie  18:25  
were you in you were in early sobriety, I was in early sobriety. Yeah. And here and stuff like that. Did it kind of just wake up a sense of purpose you want it to find?

Dino Campitelli  18:34  
Yes, exactly. How did that happen? It allowed me to feel, you know how we say, Joe. We don't get AAA gets us. Yeah. You know, that's what happened to me. Yeah. You know, it was just slowly starting to get me. I was starting to make real genuine friends. You know, yeah. And I could feel that people actually cared about my well being and my sobriety. You know, it's powerful. And I say AAA. Well, the reason I say AAA is because that's where I found this was sure, you know, yeah, going to where that AAA stuff was, I remember. I was going to a psychologist in Baltimore for years, smart guy. And he said to me, he said, You need to get spiritual. And I said, what is that? And he said, I don't know. But that's what they do in a

Joe Van Wie  19:36  
well, I want a nice guy. I don't know but you should go to and

Dino Campitelli  19:39  
come to find out. Well, that he had a nephew that got sober at Serenity Lodge. Really? Yeah. And he said, he said, he said my nephew's sober two year. So he said, he, he went to this place called serenity Lodge. Yeah. And he said, maybe if you go there, it'll help you. And that's how I ended up here. And you were

Joe Van Wie  20:11  
went through serenity Lodge. Exactly after Clearbrook. So serenity Lodge, it's up in Lennoxville. It was that exactly. I used to drive up there in college was Frank that right? Exactly, yeah. He's a wildcat. Yeah, yeah, it was great. A lot of my friends were in there. And we would sit up in that attic. It wasn't the same building at all, but and I saw community there. There was a spirit in that building of people just taking care of each other. And just, he was a wild Pied Piper like, yeah. So Frank was there then? It was at the

Dino Campitelli  20:46  
Yes. Frank owned serenity Lodge, along with his wife, and, and he had started it. And I guess it was an operation about five years.

Joe Van Wie  20:58  
I felt like it was so long, like I didn't know I don't know the history. That's what I want to talk to you about it.

Dino Campitelli  21:03  
Yeah, at that time. I think he opened in 94. And I arrived in 99, June 14 99 Answers. You know, I can't remember what I have for breakfast, but I can remember certain dates. And I remember first time I saw his face, and he had his big smile. And there was something about him. That was attractive. Yeah. And I fell in love with him right away. And we became really good friends. And that's, that's, that was the beginning of my still around as he, frankly was in North Carolina, North Carolina. Yeah, he's still alive. He's still, you know, thriving. Yeah. He's a nice man. Nice man. He spent he's close to his family now. It's great. Yeah, his kids.

Joe Van Wie  21:54  
So you go through there, you're sober while an opportunity arises. And you take serenity Lodge? How long ago was that? So I

Dino Campitelli  22:03  
was, I was broken and lost. And I had gotten arrested in Baltimore. You know, one of my, my second relapse? Yeah. I managed to get 20 bucks or 30 bucks for a bus ticket. I called Frank. And I said, Frank, I said, Can I come back? And he said, why? What's different? What's going to be different? You've already been here twice. And I said, I don't know. But I can't live this way anymore. I can't I can't do this anymore. And he, he said, Well, if you can get a bus ticket, back here, I'll buy I'll pick you up at the bus station. That's what happened. And that was my first day of sobriety. March 23 2002. Wow, that's my sobriety date. So I, you know, of course, I did what I had to do to get money for a bus ticket. Sure. got on a bus, downtown Baltimore, and came here to the bus station. It's the old bus station in Scranton. And they this this fella, Danny, who was working at the lodge, the time picked me up, brought me up there. And that was the beginning of my sobriety. I had about six months sober. And I had resigned myself to staying in Scranton. And at that point, I didn't care where I was or what I was doing, or what I had, all I wanted to do was be sober. Yeah, it's all I cared about. And I was able to meet some other people in the area that worked in the treatment field. And, and they gave me an opportunity to do some work with families and stuff like that. And I realized, like, Wow, I like doing this. And I could tell that people kind of listen to me like, yeah, like, like, they respected where I come from, and my experience and and so

Joe Van Wie  24:24  
it's your cadence to is ultra more cadence. I love listen to tissue. It was it was different than the script field, the way you would pronounce the cadence things that I was waiting. Were the story of I would go down to after Carolyn my mom.

Dino Campitelli  24:39  
Okay. And you know, it's funny because people would say, where are you from Mississippi? And, of course, I can't hear what I sound like. Yeah. But yeah, they thought I was from the Deep South. But I do know that we do have a distinct accent, I guess. Baltimore Ron's Yeah. So So I realized that I liked working with people. And and I started to work with people I got involved with some local people that you know, and I was working with Family Education Program and, and facilitating groups with families and people in recovery. And just knew at Well, what happened was Frank and I, we got an apartment together. Yeah, he got divorced. And he said, wow, you know, I just got divorced. I don't know what I want to do. He said, Why don't we get an apartment? You're looking for an apartment. He said, You want to get an apartment? I said, I said, Sure. So we go over to summit point, we got a two bedroom apartment. And he and I lived together for a year. And during that period of time, he said to me, I want to be closer to my kids. I didn't raise them. Having grandkids and I want to be close to my kids, they live in North Carolina. And why don't you? He says, I you know, I've had it, I want to make a change. Why don't you take over the lodge? That's Wow, that's awesome. And so it was literally that simple. I mean, of course, you know, we put a financial package together and, and we took care of the business piece in Florida. But, but I took it over. And, you know, I went and got some education, and I got a lot of on the job training and, and I had a lot of really good. People helped me. And I had a lot of experience. I had been to a lot of treatment centers. Yeah. And I was around a lot of really, really good therapists and counselors. And you know, when I decided to get sober, all of that education that I had for 16 years attempting to get sober. Yeah, it all came flooding in. Oh, no doubt, I was able to put it to use to help somebody else. And, and it was, you know, I consider myself to be the luckiest guy in the world. You don't really get to live the way I lived for 42 years and end up where I've ended up. Yeah. And and the biggest thing that I've gotten out of this whole thing, Joe, is a sense of being exactly where I'm supposed to be, wherever I am. Well, I'll put it this way. When I was when I was, I spent my whole life feeling like I was supposed to be doing something. Yeah, I didn't know what it was supposed to be. And I felt like I was supposed to be with somebody. But I didn't know who it was like whoever I was with, I wanted to be with somebody. And wherever I was, I want it to be somewhere else. I never had my mind and my body in the same room at the same time. Yeah. Right. What recovery is giving me is wherever I am, is exactly where I am supposed to be.

Joe Van Wie  28:15  
Some people call that enlightenment. And where whatever I'm

Dino Campitelli  28:19  
doing is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. And whoever I'm with is exactly who I'm supposed to be. There is no place I'd rather be than right here with you right now.

Joe Van Wie  28:29  
And if you don't feel that way you think something's wrong. Do you think I think that

Dino Campitelli  28:33  
that's peace? I never knew that for one second in my life? Yeah, until I got sober. And the obsession lifted. Wow, that obsession and that I experienced the first time I used Yeah, that didn't go away for a couple of years into my recovery. Yeah. You know, it's an interest. You know, it's funny, I tell people all the time, the reason I have the amount of time that I have and sobriety it's not because I didn't want to use all of a sudden one day. Yeah. You know, I mean, I didn't stop eating Big Macs, because Big Macs stop tasting good. I stopped eating Big Macs because I don't want open heart surgery. Yeah. Right. So you know, I, I stopped drinking and drugging, in spite of wanting to drink and drug all the time. Yeah, you know what I mean? And so, after, after a long period of time, the obsession finally lifted.

Joe Van Wie  29:31  
How did you notice that? Was it like just just an awareness came over you that you were like, I don't think I've had an introduction.

Dino Campitelli  29:39  
I don't I've had an obsession recently. Yeah, well, I noticed. What I noticed was that the obsessions were less frequent and less intense as time went on. Not that it didn't all of a sudden just stop one day and you're

Joe Van Wie  29:57  
going to meetings at this point. You You have a new community around you. And they just, that's all the time or is that not true?

Dino Campitelli  30:09  
You want my formula? No, you want my child

Joe Van Wie  30:12  
to see patterns? Like what's the pattern outside of just sounding like a fundamentalist what happens, what precedes these things going away? Because it's it's neurological, like it's carved into the brain at this point what either a thought has to proceed

Dino Campitelli  30:28  
to retrain my brain to think differently. Yeah, it's all and it's in the behavior. You know, I mean, I believe that all the cliches that we hear are true. Yeah, I had to act my way into a new way of thinking. And so what did I do? For two years? I didn't go anywhere, do anything. I didn't associate with anyone that used or drank even socially. Yeah. Okay. including family members smart. I went to anywhere between 12 to 14 meetings a week, for five years. There were a lot of days where I went to four AAA meetings. Yeah, a lot of days. Especially around celebration time, you know, how we make a big deal out of celebrations around here. Other areas don't make as big a deal as we do. But we make a big deal out of people's anniversary dates. Yeah, celebrating them. And, and everybody comes together. I mean, it's a beautiful, beautiful experience, to just,

Joe Van Wie  31:35  
I like it. I'm a part of something.

Dino Campitelli  31:39  
I'm a part of something, I feel the love. And I can see the transformation, especially when when families like when somebody has a year and their families come and maybe their mom will give a kid a coin. And yeah, and you can I mean, they're crying. I mean, it's just got to have the pizza. But But I want to, you know, like I said, sometimes for meetings in a day, I mean, I the only people I knew were people in recovery. Yeah. And then I ventured out into Al Anon and, and met a lot of nice people in Al Anon. So all of my friends were either in AAA or Al Anon. Yeah. And I gotta tell you, you know, the funny thing is, is the only thing I mean, I was living basically like a cockroach. Okay. And the only thing I could think of worse than that, when I was in active addiction was hanging around those losers in AAA. Yeah. Like, that's crazy. Like, I would go to an AAA meeting and look at the people and say, What is wrong with these people are strange how strange they are. Now immediately go back to my drug addicted homeless friends. You know, like, people would clean clothes. You wouldn't believe that weird. I was. I was just, you know, I hung with people that had no keys. Yeah, no keys. No. I remember. I remember. Frank at the, from the lodge he, I remember him saying this is what sobriety gives you. And he would he would jingle his keychain? Yeah, yeah. And he had like, 40 keys on there. I guess he worked in a jail or something or part time. But so I lost my train of thought where

Joe Van Wie  33:24  
it was. We were proud to drop just the distinction of what you did to prior to the obsession leaving is like you act it your way. And I think that is the premise of a unlike like, say a religion. You have to believe something, you act your way into a spiritual awakening your life change.

Dino Campitelli  33:43  
Yes. And, and I know what I was saying. I was talking about, you know, I thought people in AAA were losers. And now I'm one of those guys that the kids look into that loser over there. Yeah, I transformed my life. You know, I like figured out what was important in life. And it wasn't what I thought it was like, I didn't realize that relationships were important. I didn't realize being of service to others is important. Excuse me. I didn't realize that love and being loved. You know, that's what the number one repercussion of substance use disorder is it robs us of the ability to love and be loved that which makes us human. It robs us of that ability. You know, all relationships begin with ourselves. And if I can't like myself, or love myself, it's very difficult for me to love someone else. And so I was going through life functioning for the good Have myself without thinking of others. Yeah. What is sobriety? Sobriety to me is about functioning for the good of others without thinking of self. Yeah, if I try to not think about myself at all, I think enough about myself, you know how like, you now, you know, if you tried to cut all the carbs out of your diet, you'll still eat enough carbs. Yeah, you do. You'll still eat enough, you know? And so even though I don't try not to think about myself, I still think about myself too much. Yeah. So you can imagine how pathetic I was when I didn't try to think about

Joe Van Wie  35:35  
it. I've had a while in the last two years, I started meditating a little, and some of the exercises of what you're talking about, right? I can't not think of myself, but I'm starting to see it like from it's a different version of self and observer. And I just let things pass, does it just because I'm thinking it doesn't mean I choose chose the thought, right? And I don't have to hold it. No, I want to be a part of what's in front of me, like you were saying the presence. I've never felt this way that in the last two years that that was like, wow, I've totally missed a whole realm of life, a veil over my eyes. It's crazy.

Dino Campitelli  36:10  
And here's a thought, here's a thought, you know, I used to think and tell me maybe you felt this way too, that I wouldn't be having these strong obsessions. And I thought the only way to get rid of them was to go use drugs. Yeah,

Joe Van Wie  36:23  
I didn't know that you could have a thought and not act on it. It could pass. I know that the the app I used for meditation, Sam Harris, one of the first exercises when you're angry, imagine holding that now for a week. That just state of rage. It's impossible, right? And that's the same state of an obsession. I could not even let the idea come in that I wasn't going to drive over and get cocaine. It made me sick to think I can't do that today. I definitely want to quit. And then when I got separated, just 30 days, and I would get those urges. I just got used to I call people. Right. And I was anxious, and it would take 10 minutes of the conversation before I told them I had an obsession. Hey, how are you? I'm doing well.

Dino Campitelli  37:08  
So let me ask you a question. How many times did you swear? Yeah, the night before that tomorrow morning. I'm not going to use any more. This is my last.

Joe Van Wie  37:19  
I can't even count. And you used anyway. Yeah, it was going on for years, too. I wouldn't blink I left my worth. I'm like, I'm gonna settle this after relapse. I would blink and I would start smoking pot again, like a daily heavy pot smoking thinking this is fine. Just go to meetings. This will help for the first year.

Dino Campitelli  37:41  
I mean, imagine

Joe Van Wie  37:42  
it was crazy. It was for those who

Dino Campitelli  37:45  
aren't. I've never experienced the obsession, the compulsion, and you imagine drinking or drugging against your will. Every day it's wearing you know, I would swear to myself, I'm going to eat this morning. And I would take the $10 and buy a bag of heroin and not eat.

Joe Van Wie  38:06  
I would cry. I'd be in a parking lot crying in front of a liquor store watching people go out waiting for me to go in alone, because I still thought there's could be a group that still thinks I'm sober. I don't want I don't want to ruin their day. Yeah, yeah, we're trying waiting for Mike coke dealer to call me back. If he doesn't text back. Like it was just like, none of it. I want it to happen. But I had to get it today was a wash. It's not gonna happen today. I'll reset tomorrow or 20

Dino Campitelli  38:34  
as exactly how I thought, yeah.

Joe Van Wie  38:36  
But they got, I gotta be honest, at the end, not to speak to some idea of some natural harm reduction was happening. My addiction was wildly out of control. I blinked and after more were three years went by, and I was still doing the same thing. And losing more and more, more. I would think the intervals got less. I could get a week, two weeks, and then I would relapse, and then it'd be three days. And then I would call someone so they're getting spaces in between and the relapses were far emotionally more torment of like, what am I going to do? Are you going to do this? Are you gonna kill yourself? Are you gonna get sober? Like, I can't go through life like, I'm gonna die. I'm gonna kill myself. Yeah, the torment.

Dino Campitelli  39:23  
You know, we find that people that go through treatment, go through extended care or sober living and get a little bit of clean time and they're doing the work in the program and they relapse we find that every time they relapse, the relapses get a little bit shorter, and they come back to the program. You know, now, are they worse? Is that a bigger failure? Do we beat ourselves up more? Yeah, probably. Yeah. You know, I can tell you I never got since I've been sober. I haven't relapsed. Yeah. I had some clean time for a few months in a in a living in a bubble. You and I, I didn't experience anything that would resemble sobriety. Yeah, I just didn't have the opportunity to I was removed from the takes

Joe Van Wie  40:13  
work to have a relapse from where you were at. Like say it would take, it would take years of work, like denying and ignoring parts of reality.

Dino Campitelli  40:23  
So, you know, it's funny, but it's funny people ask me all the time, like, what is surrender? What is you know, and, and I think that it's this thought it's not going to be different this time. Yeah. Because I used to tell myself that I'm going to be able to use and control it and manage my life and accomplish whatever dreams I had, which weren't much. And, or I was going to, you know, be reasonably happy. Or I was gonna, you know, be able to pay my bills. And and so I remember realizing that not only how much work it is to be a drug addict, because it's way harder to be a drug addict than it is to get a job and work 80 hours a week. Yeah. But I remember the thought that it's not going to be different this time. Stop lying to yourself. So as I that was my surrender

Joe Van Wie  41:31  
was truth laid in your brain. You can't have the delusion or an illusion anymore. Right? Yeah, that's surrender. That surrender, you know, more denial. You know, I have a head full a, I called you one afternoon, at 30 days, just did a detox this before I got sober. My sister was sick. And I'm like, This is my moral obligation to not get a phone call. She was in Philly getting cancer treatment, and be drunk. Like, what if I have to go down to Philly. And when I drink, it could be three days, just drinking, right? And I got 30 days together, went to a detox. I was calling you a lot. And I called you I'm sitting in my office, no employees left.

Dino Campitelli  42:15  
pretending I'm a businessman.

Joe Van Wie  42:20  
I'm gonna put a jacket on today comes in here. called you. We talked, I distinctly remember a half hour about surrender. And I didn't feel it yet. But I'm like, if I could stay sober long enough, maybe I'll experience it. I got sick. Right after the holidays was around Thanksgiving. Yes, I went into a coma. When I came up. I was to spot out like I ended up relapsing after that. But I remember having that conversation. You're like you when you're done, you're done. That's it, no matter how you feel, keep going. And I'm like, I was getting a momentum waking up at me and woke back up a year later, I get sobered stabilized. But I remember talking to you a lot, because I was at Clearbrook, the year before that you come up and speak and I could relate to you in a way I never could before because now I'm in my 40s and you got sober in your 40s. And you didn't humiliate I didn't feel humiliated around you. Like Like after relapse and you could see it was falling apart compulsion. It's a well it's just a slip up. I was in a crisis. So I always had that comfort and I could see what the years of recovery did and I was like it just I started noticing it was flooding my consciousness like oh my god, that's recovery. What Dino's doing up there I couldn't go up there and speak that way sober. I was so far removed from sobriety that right before so it was good. It was it was a it was a brightness shining into my head. I want you to know that. What you were saying. I wanted to touch on serenity lodge after you took it over. A lot of my friends I count probably 50 Guys, I if I could sit here I can name 50 guys that I became friends with that ended up staying in this area that were from different parts of the eastern seaboard Long Island Bucks County, Philadelphia, Connecticut. New York, a lot of New Yorkers Baltimore, they get the chance to go to transitional living. That's what you are. And in that that's where things really could change for someone. They went through the fourth step they can write down this inventory. These guys it was like the reverse brain drain. They moved to Scranton and a portion of them were entrepreneurial, sneaker shops, barber shops. Pat has a ReMax Realty lawyer. I've never seen that written anywhere in any degree here. But you supplied entrepreneurs through the act of recovery to our area. For two decades,

Dino Campitelli  45:02  
you know, what happens is? What happens is sobriety gives us an opportunity to play the game of life. Yeah. And you get out of life which you're willing to work for, and put your effort into. And when you're not drinking, and you're not drugging, you know, we become very productive people. And not only are we productive, but we are understanding compassionate, kind, considerate. We believe in service. I mean, what is what is business? Everybody's has, you know, you can't name a business that somebody doesn't have the same business down the street. So what is it all about? It's about service work. Yeah. Right. And so, I mean, and I could give you a million examples. I'm not going to get into it. But but, you know, to me, that's the magic ingredient in any thing that you do in life is the passion you bring to it and the service that you're giving to your customers.

Joe Van Wie  46:04  
Do you ever get overwhelmed? Do you ever just sit? I mean, not to be vague. I'm gonna say Washington achievement. Ever think of how many people you have met? Like, how many beds you have 40 beds. We got to production. Sorry about that. Yeah, don't sweat it. But I'm thinking that's it's prolific. How many lives have changed, and you were you were there to see them? Meet them? Do you ever just get overwhelmed as we're talking 1000s of people?

Dino Campitelli  46:33  
Yeah. I gotta tell you. No, I don't. I don't, I don't even notice. Yeah, I mean, I'm happy for everybody. That's the plan. That's the ideal. Yeah, situation. That's what I'm hoping will happen. You know, and I think that the biggest thing that I can do for anybody is just being an example. Offer a kind word, I think that I've been gifted through my life experience to with regards to substance use disorder. Not be judgmental. Yeah. I never judge. I may in other areas, but not when it comes to addiction. Sure, or relapse or anything like that, or people's character defects. You know, we don't you know, I mean, have you ever heard somebody tried to pronounce the word anonymity? Yeah, we don't laugh at them. Do we know now, and we're not judging anybody. You can say it any, any way you want. You're welcome here. So, so everyone's welcome. And we don't care what religion you are, what color you are, what your gender what your, you know,

Joe Van Wie  47:51  
I was trying to make bones that I was an atheist when I was coming back. And you said, Joe, I don't give a shit. Just work.

Dino Campitelli  48:02  
Stop drinking. So I put you know, that the same opportunity is there for any everyone. If you get the drugs and the alcohol out of your life, you're gonna, what happens is the good stuff in our my baseline personalities the same. By getting sober and getting rid of some of my character defects or diminishing some others, I was able to get rid of the bad stuff so that the good stuff could get better. Yeah. So that can be useful. And what the way I see it is that I am grateful that I was available when that person over there needed help, or were ready to make a change in their life, that I'm available to encourage them to walk side by side with them through that experience. And as I said, some people were a three month project, some people were one year project, some people were a five year project, this isn't, you know, this is not an easy deal. You cannot you cannot work in this field if you're easily discouraged. Yeah. You know, and you can also be the most rewarding work that anyone will ever do.

Joe Van Wie  49:24  
This is a second sentence. I'm sorry, I just want to refer to it in your body. Dino sees beyond behaviors that keeps residents stuck. I don't know like that's just noise to me. I know exactly what you're saying. Because I see it do it. Burnout rates quick, especially in 30 day treatment. Like that line means a lot to me because you're not looking at you're not sensitive. You've done the work, you're you've recovered. You're not offended by someone who's ill. You're waiting to how can I bring some more awareness to them? That'd be kind of how you would describe a goal. How do you make someone aware there Your own bad behavior.

Dino Campitelli  50:02  
I think you tell them I think in a loving way you tell them they listen, if I can help somebody see themselves in reality, and they are repulsed by their behavior, they then maybe they'll change.

Joe Van Wie  50:21  
And that's a lot. That's what's happening in the Transitional Living, are you kind of pointing out?

Dino Campitelli  50:28  
I am. The stuff that lingers of addiction, that's behavior. The advantage of having someone live with you for three months, four month, six months a year, you get to observe their behaviors, their conversation. I'll give you an example. I have a kid that has had a bit of a tough life, he had horrible upbringing. He was adopted, but at a later age, like seven or eight years old, and he's got a habit. He's, he's 16 years old now. But he's got a habit, if, if somebody says something, he doesn't like, his automatic reply, it's shut up. I'm gonna punch you in the face. Yeah, he's not gonna punch anybody in the face. Sure, he doesn't really mean it. But that's what he does. So, you know, I've known him for a while. And I see every time somebody tells him, you know, why don't you you know, sweep the kitchen floor, shut up, I'll punch you in the face. So I had to bring him in. I don't say anything. Bring him I have to bring him in my office, I sit him down. And I say, Listen, you know, there's, there's some things that you need to change about your personality. I said, I said, all this is is a habit that you've developed. Since you were a little kid to protect yourself. Shut up, I'll punch in the face. I say you have three times a day you say that, you know, if you punch somebody in the face, every time you say you're gonna punch somebody in the face, you'd be in jail. So, you know, let's see what he does. But yeah, I mean, we observe and I'm just trying to make people better. Yeah, function better in society. You know, but you know, something? It's you. You gave me a second to think about something you mentioned about all the successful people. And there's a lot of them. Yeah. You know, it's, I think more about the people that we've lost. Yeah. Then the people that are successful, and maybe I shouldn't do that.

Joe Van Wie  52:31  
What that is, do you think it's to keep yourself on guard?

Dino Campitelli  52:35  
I think that everybody holds a pleat a piece of my heart. Yeah. And when I see somebody die from this disease, they take that little piece with them. Yeah. And, and there's been I don't know how many 100 You know, you know, 19 year old kids. Yeah. 17 year old kids. 16 year old kids and older. But we've buried a lot a lot of people. Yeah, you know that. And, and, and I probably think more about those people than I do the ones that have the real estate business. Yeah. You know, this sneaker shop or the barber shop, right, that gets natural. I think especially people like us are from trauma, depression.

Joe Van Wie  53:31  
Good or bad. I'm just saying I see those things first, because they moved me quicker. It's hard to see success translate, it just becomes normal background.

Dino Campitelli  53:40  
Yeah. You know, I kind of expect people to do well, I guess like,

Joe Van Wie  53:45  
that's expectation. Yeah.

Dino Campitelli  53:46  
Yeah. I mean, I expect people to get sober too. I'm not naive. I realized that the vast majority are not at least not right. You know, today, and maybe you know what?

Joe Van Wie  54:00  
That might be the answer. You just said you expect people to do better or recover. That means you're vulnerable. You're so you're taking a risk to be disappointed and hurt if someone meets tragedy. That's the That's what would you say? That would be descriptive?

Dino Campitelli  54:19  
Yeah, no, I these are really good question and things I don't really think about that much and this way. So I

Joe Van Wie  54:30  
when you're caring about people, and if you if you care about someone, and that's what I don't think I see a lot 30 day treatment centers. Sometimes it doesn't happen. Because it's burnout. You get 30 days to you get to know someone for a year and if something horrible happens to them because of addiction. It's got to be it's painful.

Dino Campitelli  54:50  
It's painful. You know, when I at one point, before I remodeled I had a sign on my door it said it said expect Do we expect miracles? Yeah. And, and I do, I expect that people are going to listen to what I have to say, and they're going to respond to it. And they're going to make the adjustments that they need to make in their life. I'm not naive. So I also understand that some people aren't ready yet to make those adjustments. My job is to not tell them what to do. But to lead them in a way so that they can make that decision for themselves. Addicts don't make healthy decisions, when they bait they make all their decisions based on how they feel not doing the next right thing. Or not thinking about their future or tomorrow, or consequences. You know, they live for the moment, not in the moment. Yeah. And so they can't think one second, beyond right now. So they're always doing what feels

Joe Van Wie  56:00  
good. And that's a world of difference living in the moment. I mean,

Dino Campitelli  56:03  
right. So so so my, you know, I used to do lectures at treatment centers, right? And I would see it was a patient. And yes, and there would be 70 people there. And I'd be talking about recovery. And I can see four people interested in what I'm saying. And 68 people that they just have a blank look on their face and could care less. I mean, so that's what it looks like. So I realized, like, what is my responsibility? My responsibility is to tell the truth, as I see it. And I am powerless over what they do with that information. So I don't take anything personally. Yeah. If if if I because your health, I say to somebody you should stop drinking, they say, or if I say Did you ever think about maybe not drinking or doing drugs and maybe get some out? If they tell me to go screw myself? I don't take that personally. You know, my responsibility is to point out to them that drugs and alcohol are ruining their life. What they do with that is up to them. I can't I mean, anyone that believes that, that people you can tell people what to do, and they're just gonna do it. It's called fascist, they're gonna they're gonna be extremely exasperated and frustrated. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  57:33  
It's called on autocracy. Yeah, coercion doesn't work. It can help us scenario I think arise. If someone's really trained at it seems like a really good interventionist, but it rarely works. It's sometimes it causes more harm, I think, to an addict, just misperceiving that there's a conspiracy against the good.

Dino Campitelli  57:55  
Yes. Do you go I also agree with forcing someone so do i to go into treatment? So I mean, they need to

Joe Van Wie  58:02  
have that experience. Yeah, especially beyond their liberties, their harm to themselves, and they can't see it, especially if all the loved ones and everyone in your life could see your your risk to yourself and your life and your livelihood. coercions needed like an organizing corazones maybe sounds like a big word. But an intervention has to happen. Right? It's better than what fate tragedy you ignore it. That's I've changed my mind about how I feel about interventions.

Dino Campitelli  58:29  
Yeah. You know, I think that people, if you're an active addiction, you aren't capable of making that decision for yourself.

Joe Van Wie  58:39  
So there's no easy day to get sober.

Dino Campitelli  58:44  
Right now is the best day to get some right this second. So you know, people that love you, if they love you, and they care about you, I think that they should step in, intervene, and use whatever they need to to get someone into treatment. So they can have that experience. Because if they don't ever have the experience, they don't know what it is they're supposed to be responding

Joe Van Wie  59:07  
to. Yeah. So there's been in recent weeks kind of wanting to describe you take adolescence, because that's kind of a recent change, or

Dino Campitelli  59:18  
no, we're we we take all ages, all ages. Yeah, we are a sober living community. And, you know, we'll help anybody that that needs

Joe Van Wie  59:29  
help. Well, how would you describe the property? Because I'm familiar with it, but how would you describe it? Well, we're

Dino Campitelli  59:36  
on 10 acres of property. I mean, we have a gym a basketball court. You know, TV rooms. We plan activities for you. I mean, it's it's yeah, it's a surreal magical, it's magical, but there's a creek in the back and the guys a lot of them like to fish. Yeah, we're we're close to this time of year. We're close to elk mountain. So the guys a lot of them like to snowboard

Joe Van Wie  1:00:00  
or do families ever reach out to you directly? If, like, is that happened, should I? I'm going to put a link to Serenity lodge 100%.

Dino Campitelli  1:00:07  
But my cell number up there disappointed if you don't call me. I'll call

Joe Van Wie  1:00:13  
you. I'll do a test right now pretend I'm of anguish dad.

Dino Campitelli  1:00:17  
Yeah, I'm available 24/7. If I don't answer the phone, I'll call you back. Please. Yeah, if you have, if you have someone in your family that's suffering, please call me I'll, I'll help you navigate your way through it. And we'll take the appropriate course of action. I can put you in touch with people primary treatment centers. And we can we can definitely manage that situation. There is hope you have to remember, there is hope. You know, it's funny, you know, we have to be taught this stuff, right, Joe? Like, I didn't know you were supposed to care about other people. Well, I didn't understand I had to look up gratitude in the dictionary. I had to look up accountable in the dictionary. I didn't know what that meant. So I was talking to a gentleman yesterday. And he's a childhood friend of a friend of mine. And he had a son that had an accidental death. And then shortly thereafter, he was going to retire and move out West and his wife gets sick and dies. So I said to him, now he's a healthy guy. He's not an addict. Doesn't go never been to a 12 step program. And I said to him, Wow, you really had a tough couple of years, huh? Yeah. And he said, Dino, he said, I have two words that I live by. I said, What are those words? He said, grateful. And hopeful. He says, I'm grateful. And I'm hopeful. And I. And when I said to him, initially, when I said, you know, you've had a tough couple of years, he said, Yeah, I have, he says, But you know what? I'm not the only one. Yeah, there's other people that lose their children lose their wives. I'm not the only one. And that's that he told me said he has two words that he lives by his grateful and hopeful. And then how we live? Yeah. Okay. But somebody had to teach

Joe Van Wie  1:02:20  
someone has to teach me I have to have a discipline to do it everyday to Yeah, because it disappears for me. I my brains wired. Tell me I'm a victim. Yeah, me, something's happening to me. Exactly. Gratitude. It's strange for me to unpack when I would be told to be grateful. I felt like someone was giving me telling me to fuck off. Or like smart, and I didn't understand it. I was so sensitive to certain words, right? Gratitude for me is using my imagination that's already geared for anxiety to stop and say, well, that's not happening. I'm grateful. This is happening. Right? And it's just that it's started as a practice that simple. I think the world's awful. I'll have a dream about it. Well, no, it's not. My electricity is on. I have access to water, it could start that simple. I have access to water. Most of humanity did it for centuries. If you get creative of how grateful you want to perceive life, it's a pretty overwhelming experience. If you could start there. It's really nice to be alive.

Dino Campitelli  1:03:25  
Wow. I mean, if you think about like, I mean, I know you and I know you would probably would agree with this. I mean, our natural state was restless, irritable, and discontent. Yeah. And I had trained my brain to look at all the things I didn't have. Yeah. Look at all the people that had more than me. You know, I was trained and to feel sorry for myself. Yeah, for me. Everybody else has this. Everybody else has that. And, of course, I wasn't willing to work for anything, either. Sure. And so you know, all that's changed. With sobriety, all that's changed. And now I can be grateful for what I have. And I have way more than enough. And what a peaceful way to live. It is, you know, we hit

Joe Van Wie  1:04:11  
an hour that flew by, but I want to thank you again for coming on. I've known you for a while and honestly, I don't want to sit you up. It was flattery. I wanted to say that serenity lodge hasn't gone unnoticed. And that's what I meant when I was talking about the guys I'm still friends with guys because of you shepherd in that place. So it might be worth taking pause. I mean, you've changed the lives of 1000s of people from you're just speaking the steward of that place taking it over. I don't think you get acknowledged enough like in our circles, it just it's just expect that that's what you do. At 43 I find that as it's a profound way to live your life and I'm very happy to know 6362 and a half I was mixing it to me You owe you for yourself. Yeah, I'd like to be sitting, sitting where you are. And the degree of what you gotten used to being a rhythm of your daily life is so impactful to people that are or could be doomed. Really. It's interesting. Would you come back again? How am I going to keep doing this? I've really been enjoying it. Well,

Dino Campitelli  1:05:24  
thank you so much for having me. Joe. I love you. And I am so happy to see you doing well. Thank you. And helping people. I mean, you know, it's just I always knew he had it in yet. And yeah, you're putting it to good use.

Joe Van Wie  1:05:39  
Yeah. I feel a big debt. It was get cashed out. I better start waking up.

Dino Campitelli  1:05:45  
Right. I appreciate thank you so much for having me.

Joe Van Wie  1:05:49  
Thanks, Dino. Thanks for listening guys.

I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of all better. Find us on all or listen to us on Apple podcasts. Spotify, Google podcasts, Stitcher, iHeart 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, we're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. And remember, just because you're sober doesn't mean you're right.

Transcribed by

Where ya Frum?
Patterns of Behavior
Less Than
Serenity Lodge
Becoming One
When your ready