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30 Innovators to Watch 2021

Destigmatizing Behavioral Health Challenges and Providing Evidenced-Based Solutions Accessible Immediately on any Electronic Device: Freedom 365

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“Beyond our FDA-approved assessments, our system contains over 500 interactive videos on a wide variety of topics beyond how to remain substance-free.”

Substance abuse is a rapacious creditor that bleeds people dry. It is a mental obsession that occupies the focus of the substance users, forcing them to take life-threatening drastic actions. With that said, we’re thrilled to present Freedom 365 — the world’s first interactive, Virtual Recovery System™, providing 365-days of addiction support and recovery strategy, anywhere, on any device. 

Freedom 365 is where addiction recovery meets technology. Affordable, immediate, private access to recovery is now available to everyone. A 28-day program alone is not enough. Enjoying long-term recovery involves uncovering the relationship, financial, career, and emotional triggers that cause people to engage in substance use in the first place. The company’s self-directed digital solution provides the content and activities of an evidence-based rehabilitation program and couples it with 24/7, 365 days of support, providing the ample time needed to create new empowering habits.

The company is based in El Paso, Texas.

To highlight and further understand what Freedom 365 stands for and seeks to explore in this segment, I sat down with Brian McAlister (founder), who serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the company.

Below is an excerpt.

As a journalist, I find Freedom 365 quite striking. From the emotional branding standpoint, it has that appeal. How did you come up with the brand name? And please brief us about the history so far.

The name Freedom 365 is an accurate description of what our software provides: Freedom to privately explore recovery on your own terms. Freedom from the bondage of substance use disorder. Freedom to be a better parent, spouse, or employee. Freedom to pursue your dreams. Freedom from the stigma that often accompanies  traditional treatment options.

Before founding Full Recovery Inc, I spent years in the corporate world and saw firsthand the waste of human talent and the horrendous cost substance use has on the bottom line. Current SAMSHA statistics confirm that 1 in 5 Americans currently meet the clinical criteria for substance use disorder and 70 percent are employed. They are not just the guy living under the overpass, they are our family, friends and neighbors. They may be in the cubicle next to you at work. Substance users are often some of our most driven, creative coworkers. Unfortunately, substance abuse keeps them from reaching their full potential. And let’s not forget that from the business side of the equation, substance abusers  use up to seven times the healthcare benefits of other employees.

The idea for Freedom 365 came about by researching the reasons people were not seeking treatment for this debilitating disease. The answers aren’t all that surprising: Cost, time, and stigma.

Q. What makes Freedom 365 great? And how uniquely does the company help people with substance use issues?

This technology bridges the gap between high-cost, inconvenient treatment programs and (for many) getting no substance use recovery support at all. By tearing down the obstacles to substance use help like the investment of money, time, and risk to reputation; Freedom 365 was designed to close the gap between those needing behavioral healthcare and those receiving it. Included in our program are a suite of FDA-approved mental health assessments beyond our substance use assessment, including Anxiety, Depression, Sleep disorders, ADHD, and more. Substance abuse is often a symptom of an unaddressed mental health issue or past trauma — not the root issue in-and-of-itself. Freedom 365 allows people to take the most difficult first step: learning and self-identifying what behavioral health issues they may be experiencing; understanding why they may be turning to substance use, and finally learning what long-term recovery is all about…all without the stigma of publicly outing themselves. 

“We envision Freedom 365 as a comprehensive behavioral health tool that will provide corporations and individuals immediate access to life-improving, and in some cases, life-saving information and education.”

Q. As cited above, Freedom 365™ is the world’s first interactive, Virtual Recovery System™, providing 365-days of addiction support and recovery strategy. How do you interpret this?

We trademarked the term “Virtual Recovery System” and “Freedom 365” to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace. This is a comprehensive, content-rich program. Beyond our FDA-approved assessments, our system contains over 500 interactive videos on a wide variety of topics beyond how to remain substance-free. It is often the inability to process real-life challenges that can lead to relapse. Our ever-expanding video library covers all manner of topics dealing with relationships, career, financial, brain science, and so much more. It’s been scientifically proven through numerous studies that if a person can interrupt a negative thinking pattern for as little as two minutes, they can avoid relapse. Freedom 365 installed on your phone is like having a recovery coach in your pocket 24/7 when you need it. Simply type in any one of the thousands of keywords and you will be met with the proper content to address your unique situation. We provide a 365-day program of action designed to keep you moving forward. There are daily motivational tips on recovery, goal setting workshops and for those who need it, the ability to instantly connect with a higher level of care, and much more.

Q. That’s not all Freedom 365 does. What are your other focus areas?

Our latest addition to Freedom 365 is our Post Traumatic Stress program and we are extremely proud of it. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that eight percent of the general population suffered from PTSD. Current post epidemic estimates have a number as high as 40 percent. Our PTSD program follows the same interactive format as our substance use program. It contains an FDA-approved assessment, interactive video modules, and exercises, as well as immediate access to a higher level of care, should that be required and much more. Our goal is to destigmatize behavioral health challenges and provide evidence-based solutions accessible immediately on any electronic device. We are saving lives.

Q. Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how your solutions helped them overcome those challenges?

I sure can, let me tell you about a call I just received from a former client who was one of our original test group participants. I will call him Tom to protect his privacy. When we were introduced to Tom, he had just spent three months in the psych ward for activities he became involved with while on a binge. Upon release from the facility, he was at what you might say, “the jumping-off point.” He did not want to continue with his substance abuse, but did not know how to deal with life on life’s terms without it. Self-medicating through substance abuse had become his main coping mechanism. It didn’t take long to realize that Tom was extremely bright. He explained he held a master’s degree in economics from an Ivy League school and had become a money-making machine for his Wall Street firm. He had one problem: His self-destructive substance abuse was killing him, his relationships, and his career. Part of the Freedom 365 program is getting to the root causes of self-destructive behaviors. As Tom went through the program, he discovered that the main driver of his addictions was a result of hating his life and his career. He discovered by going through Freedom 365 that although he was a mathematical wiz, he had other career options. He had the realization that he did not need to be in high finance to earn a great living and become financially secure. By answering the questions in the exercises, he came to the conclusion that he needed to change his career path from office work to outdoor work. He wanted to work in a team environment. His self-directed 365-day plan of action helped him to remain substance use-free, earn a great income, and attract the spouse he had been desperately seeking. Tom no longer works on Wall Street. He now owns a commercial electrical business. He leads a team of 26 employees doing high-tech commercial and environmental work. He tells me he loves getting up in the morning. He is happy, financially secure, and enjoying life to the fullest. He no longer seeks to escape and is living his destiny. Substance use is a symptom not the cause of substance use disorder.

Q. What plans for transformation are you pursuing to remain relevant now and in the future?

Substance use is increasing not decreasing and it is costing employers in a variety of ways including higher insurance costs, lost productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, on-the-job accidents, and even costly litigation from inappropriate behavior, just to name a few. Our integrated Learning Management System saves employers money by improving employees’ behavioral health. PTSD recovery is our newest addition to the behavioral health programs we offer.

Forward-thinking Department of Correction decision-makers and Drug Courts have adopted Freedom 365, as well. Up to 90 percent of people incarcerated were high when they committed their offense. We have a customized security-enhanced software program that is being used by the Dept. of Corrections. Their goal is to reduce recidivism. The cost of providing Freedom 365 is negligible compared with the cost to house a prisoner, typically $36,000.00 to $56,000.00 per year.

The number one cause of rising University student drop-out rates is substance use. Colleges and Universities would also benefit from Freedom 365. We envision Freedom 365 as a comprehensive behavioral health tool that will provide corporations and individuals immediate access to life-improving, and in some cases life-saving, information, and education. Our services are consistently expanding and changing to meet the needs of our clients.

“Substance use disorder costs the US economy over one trillion dollars annually and kills more people than all auto accidents and gun violence combined.”