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The Zac Clark Show

Author: Zac Clark

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Twelve years ago, I was smoking crack, shooting dope, unhappily married, broke, and hopeless. My story isn't unique, but I'm one of the fortunate ones. I never wanted to do a podcast, but I see the world burning — substance use, depression, anxiety, suicide — and the conversations that need to happen aren't. This podcast is a platform to have these hard conversations. With experts, frontline heroes, voices we know and the many we need to know, my intent is to confront these issues head-on and, most importantly, offer solutions and hope.
13 Episodes
In this heartfelt solo episode, Zac reflects on the core purpose of the podcast and why telling your story is so important. He shares the nostalgic and powerful experience of throwing out the first pitch at the Philadelphia Phillies game, the hometown team he grew up loving and continues to love today, and the broader meaning such a momentous experience carries for the recovery community. Please listen as Zac delves into: The Power of Your Story: How sharing your experiences can create a ripple effect that reaches and resonates with others. Childhood Dreams: Reliving the moment of throwing out the first pitch and its significance in his life. Strike Out the Stigma: Emphasizing the importance of being vulnerable and authentic in our storytelling. Building a Community: How our shared stories can build a supportive community that saves lives. Surrender and Lean In: Embracing your story without reservation and the strength that comes from it. The Ripple Effect: Understanding how your story can help others and create a transformative impact. Twelve episodes in, we are grateful for the listeners who have joined us on this journey. Thank you and Keep Going. Connect with Zac If you or anyone you know is struggling, please do not hesitate to contact Release: (914) 588-6564 @releaserecovery
With the Olympics around the corner, we sat down with a former Division 1 track & field collegiate athlete who once believed that nothing mattered more than making it to the Olympic stage. Olivia Arizin was a star from the beginning. As a sophomore in high school, she ran the 5th best time in the nation in the 800 meter race. She was a 2-time state champion in Pennsylvania and earned All-Big East honors at Georgetown, culminating with winning the Big East Indoor Track & Field Championships. However, behind the accolades and success, Olivia battled severe anxiety centered around her athletic performance. Since the 6th grade, Olivia would regularly throw up before track meets due to anxiety and the pressure to win. It wasn't until she reached college that she realized this wasn't normal and sought help.  Olivia is not alone. Young athletes, particularly in college, endure immense stress and pressure to maintain their athletic success.  In this episode, we discuss: The abnormal level of stress and pressure high-achieving youth athletes face. Is it healthy? Sustainable? The lack of resources and support to address and treat mental health issues across collegiate athletics. What should the role of coaches, teams, and universities be in helping college athletes navigate the stressors of athletic competition? Olivia’s experience transitioning from “athlete” to “civilian” at this critical jumping off point into early adulthood.  Should universities and their athletic teams do more to help young athletes transition away from the sport that has defined their young lives? The significant mental health challenges tied to athletic performance among youth are not just an issue for the struggling athlete but also for a system that has become a commercialized business exploiting young athletes' talents.  Olivia’s journey to reclaiming her identity beyond being an athlete is a powerful reminder that youth sports are meant for children who, first and foremost, simply love to play a game. Links:  Connect with Zac If you or anyone you know is struggling, please do not hesitate to contact Release: (914) 588-6564 @releaserecovery
Tim Schlittner is an expert communicator. The Director of Communications at the National Football League (NFL), serving as their Deputy Spokesperson, and the former Communications Director for the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States, he has built a hugely successful career managing perception, relationships and effective communications strategies. However, despite his professional prowess, his greatest challenge was crafting the narrative that mattered most – his own.  For years, Tim privately grappled with his sexuality and progressive alcoholism, each fueling the other on his painful journey to self-realization. Now, eight years sober and a proud member of the LGBTQ community, Tim has been named one of Outsports' Power 100 Most Influential LGBTQ People in Sports and is an active member of the Recovery Community. An NFL Executive, he continues to openly share about his sobriety and sexuality, providing a unique, inspiring and barrier-breaking perspective.  Brave and vulnerable, this conversation is about the journey of self-realization, the painful depths of self-denial, the freedom found in self-acceptance, and the healing power of sharing your story.  Connect with Zac If you or anyone you know is struggling, please do not hesitate to contact Release: (914) 588-6564 @releaserecovery
Gina Moffa wants us to talk about grief. In this episode, we deep-dive into the world of healing and human connection, and trauma’s often-overlooked companion: grief.  Gina Moffa, LCSW, MA, is a licensed psychotherapist, mental health educator, and media consultant in New York City. After a succession of professional and personal losses, including her mother, Gina became inexplicably sick only to discover the profound physical toll her own grief was taking on her body. This deepened her goal to understand and normalize talking about death, grief, and the experience of loss.  Gina has dedicated her career to helping thousands navigate trauma and grief, including working with Holocaust survivors and serving as Clinical Director at the Addiction Institute of New York at Mt. Sinai-St. Luke’s Hospital Campus. She is also the author of "Moving On Doesn't Mean Letting Go: A Modern Guide to Navigating Loss,” which seeks to reframe the life-long journey of processing loss and death.   In this conversation, we discuss a wide range of topics, including: Our society’s fear of loss and death. Grieving authentically. The powerful physical impact of grief on our bodies. Is romantic heartbreak as painful as the death of a loved one? Why the grief experience may never end. Grief in the workplace – a compassionate revamping is necessary.  Grief’s various forms, from lost loved ones and pets to divorce, friendships and even addictive substances – each teaching us to navigate its unique and poignant path. Zac’s unexpected grief journey with ‘The Bachelorette.’  Gina's upcoming book, "That Bitch," which explores themes of loss in friendships, navigating grief, and cultivating greater compassion. Please join in and listen to this fascinating conversation about the uncomfortable yet profoundly universal experience of grief. Connect with Gina Connect with Zac If you or anyone you know is struggling, please do not hesitate to contact Release: (914) 588-6564 @releaserecovery
This week’s conversation is a tribute to the unwavering love and dedication of a father for his child. I sat down with Steve D’Antonio Sr. and Steve D’Antonio Jr, who openly share their family's journey through addiction. Steve Sr., a successful Wall Street executive and father of five, found himself bewildered and helpless when his son, Steve Jr., fell deep into alcohol use disorder by age 17, shaking the D’Antonio family to its core and leaving them without a clear path forward. When families are confronted with alcohol and substance issues, how can they best support their children?  Equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring, this conversation serves as both a resource and a testament to the extraordinary lengths parents will go to for their children. It highlights the devastating impact of alcohol and substance use disorders on families, while shedding light on the societal stigma that hinders access to necessary tools and resources for families in need. It is also a poignant reminder that when one family member struggles, the entire family suffers, making the healing process essential for everyone involved. Today, the D’Antonio’s have dedicated their lives to helping families navigate behavioral healthcare issues. Steve Sr. left Wall Street and became a Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow studying addiction. He served as Executive Vice President for Shatterproof, a national nonprofit for addiction treatment, is a trained Peer-Parent Coach and continues to share his expertise and experience with families.  With more than 8 years of recovery, Steve Jr. has worked in the addiction and recovery field since 2017. He is the Director of Release Recovery’s New York City program, working intimately with individuals and their families to navigate the process of early recovery.  A wild, harrowing and redemptive story of family recovery – this is a conversation that I hope every parent of a child struggling with behavior healthcare issues listens to.  Close to my heart, this one is for the dads. Connect with Zac: If you or anyone you know is struggling, please do not hesitate to contact Release: (914) 588-6564 @releaserecovery Resources:
In this conversation, we dive into the mind of Ariela Safira, a visionary determined to revolutionize the mental health care system. Ariela is the founder of Zeera, a modern telehealth platform that aims to "spotify" mental health through the principles of group therapy and a modernized approach that speaks to today’s social media-powered society. She is a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree, the recipient of the American Psychiatric Association’s Innovation Award, and one of Inc's Top 100 Female Founders. With Ariela, we explore the idea of creating a "Spotify of Mental Health," the importance of educational reform in mental health awareness, why our healthcare system is at its worst when people need it the most, how to foster supportive environments both in the workplace and personally, and how to move beyond the stigmatization and criminalization often associated with mental health and substance use issues. Please give it a listen as we uncover how to "mental health" for ourselves and others, guided by a leading voice in the field. Connect with Zac If you or anyone you know is struggling, please do not hesitate to contact Release: (914) 588-6564 @releaserecovery Check out Zeera:
Even before the pandemic, rates of stress, anxiety, depression, and suicide among our youth were steadily climbing. Dr. Shairi Turner, Chief Health Officer of Crisis Text Line, is on a mission to inform, educate, and transform. Crisis Text Line, the only 24/7 nationwide crisis-intervention text-message hotline in America, boasts over 65,000 trained volunteers ready to provide support and resources to those struggling with mental health. In my conversation with Dr. Turner, we delve into the national mental health epidemic. Despite its devastating scope, Dr. Turner's solution-oriented approach is both surprising and inspiring. We covered a wide range of topics, including:  What is Crisis Text Line and how is it making an impact. The disproportionate impact of mental health challenges on minority communities. Racial disparities in accessing mental health services and treatment.  The rise in bullying and self-harm among our youth. Childhood trauma. The power of empathy to combat stigma.  6 KEY elements every community needs to foster a healthy and supportive environment for our youth.   Solutions and hope for a brighter future.  This is the critical issue of our time. Please give this hopeful discussion a listen.  Resources:  United in Empathy Report Community Resilience Report If you are in need of mental health support, simply text HELLO or HOLA to 741741 and you will be connected to a live, trained volunteer Crisis Counselor. Connect with Zac If you or anyone you know is struggling, please do not hesitate to contact Release: (914) 588-6564 @releaserecovery
This week’s conversation is all about RELATIONSHIPS – the things that go unsaid and the challenges of nurturing a thriving romantic relationship. I dive into it with Marriage and Family Therapist Kristy Fitzgerald, founder of the KMF Therapy Collective. Kristy and I explore a wide range of topics including sex in relationships, sober sex and finding the right therapist. We also discuss the continued stigma for men seeking therapy, gender dynamics in couples therapy, and the impact of trauma and substance use on relationships. This insightful and relatable conversation is perfect for anyone who is in or has ever been in a relationship. Connect with Zac If you or anyone you know is struggling, please do not hesitate to contact Release: (914) 588 6564 @releaserecovery
In this week’s episode, I sat down with my sister as she shared her story for the first time. Postpartum depression. Eating disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We discussed a lot of heavy issues. I believe conversations like this will help change the world. Please give it a listen and share if you feel so inclined. Connect with Zac If you or anyone you know is struggling, please do not hesitate to contact Release: (914) 588-6564 @releaserecovery
Roughly 68 million people bet on Super Bowl LVIII this year, amounting to more than $23 billion. In 2023, the American gambling industry generated more than $65 billion in revenue. These numbers surpass the economies of many small countries. In the United States, gambling – particularly sports betting – is here to stay and it is EVERYWHERE. In this week’s episode, I brought in an expert with his own gambling war chest to discuss this social-cultural explosion. Brian Dolan is an Addiction Specialist and an advocate for recovery. He’s an impassioned individual with personal triumphs over gambling and substance use disorders. With a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health and 6 years of experience managing Collegiate Recovery Programs, Brian is tapped into gambling’s mainstream rise, particularly among our youth, in a way most aren’t. We discuss the pitfalls of gambling, how to identify a gambling problem, the risk on our youth, the complicity of policy makers and Big Business players ready to cash in, and the reality that gambling, once relegated to the underbelly of American society, is a cash cow of social problems one click away. I hope you enjoy this discussion about a critical issue whose darker side demands more attention in our national dialogue. Thank You and Keep Going. Zac Clark Resource: Think you may have a problem with gambling, please click the link below: Source: SAMHSA Connect with Zac If you or anyone you know is struggling, please do not hesitate to contact Release Recovery: (914) 588-6564 @releaserecovery
In this episode, we explore groundbreaking approaches to substance use disorder, mental health and trauma with Dr. Carrie Wilkens, founder of Center for Motivation and Change (CMC), award-winning author, and a psychologist with over 25 years of experience in the practice and dissemination of evidence-based treatments for substance use and post-traumatic stress. Dr. Wilkens champions a compassionate, evidence-based methodology that challenges traditional treatment paradigms. She emphasizes individual needs, advocating for non-confrontational approaches at the intersection of science and kindness. Dr. Wilkens delves into the profound influence of trauma on personal narratives and shares strategies to confront and conquer its effects. We also address the urgent need for societal dialogue reform surrounding these critical issues, impacting millions of individuals and families.  This was a fascinating and refreshing conversation with an expert clinician willing to challenge outdated ideas about treatment and recovery modalities.  Please join in as we delve into innovative solutions at the intersection of science and kindness. RESOURCES CMC: Foundation for Change (CMC:FFC), envisions a world where everyone who cares about someone struggling with substances has access to information and tools based on science, grounded in compassion, and tailored to the needs of their community. Check out our powerful community of family support groups - Invitation to Change Support groups and access our inspirational and educational videos from any computer for free. The Beyond Addiction Workbook for Family and Friends: Evidence-Based Skills to Help a Loved One Make Positive Change (New Harbinger Publications, 2022). All the book proceeds go toward scholarships for family members and professionals to attend ITC workshops. Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change LINKS SPOTIFY APPLE Instagram
Dr. Michael McCormick was the chief of surgery of an Alabama hospital. He was also in the grips of an addiction to painkillers that nearly cost him his medical career, his family and his life. Doc McCormick is living proof that substance use disorder spares no one — even a prominent doctor well aware of the devastation of addiction. In this conversation, Doc bravely shares his truth as he continues his life’s commitment to helping people struggling with substance use disorder. We delve into Doc’s journey from addiction to long-term recovery, his newfound purpose in the medical field, why opioids and opiates are so devastatingly addictive, and the controversial, yet rapidly evolving impact of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in combatting substance use disorder. Hope you find this conversation as inspiring and insightful as I did.
We need the right voices to be heard now more than ever - Substance Use Disorder, Mental Health, Trauma, Suicide, Recovery. These are the hard issues of our time. Welcome to the Zac Clark Show.