Certified Master Life Coach, author, a national and international professional keynote speaker, who’s passionate about delivering an encouraging, stimulating, and motivating message.
by Gordon Nary
Gordon: What initially interested you in substance abuse?
Randy: Well, we all have memories, right? Some positive and others not so much. For me, there are really two memories that offer feedback on my focus on substances. I actually had my first beer at age 13, we were playing pool at a friend’s house and somehow, I discovered a beer in the bar refrigerator and without anyone else noticing I quickly drank that beer. To this day I don’t remember whether I enjoyed the taste or not but it was the exhilaration of not being caught that really set me off onto a path of drinking for 25+ years.
Another memory involves an emergency room physician who had worked 36 hours straight and even though we couldn’t ever prove it he was most likely high on crack cocaine. It was a Sunday afternoon and our family was at our place on the river, suddenly my five-year-old son doubled over in excruciating pain and he was vomiting some disgusting green stuff.
We rushed him to the emergency room where, after initial diagnosis it was determined that he needed an emergency appendectomy. The emergency room physician I just mentioned did the math wrong as he wrote the numbers on the bedsheet and instead of pushing two milliequivalents of potassium he pushed twenty (a lethal dosage that would have killed any adult – potassium is used to “put down” animals).
He self-administered this dosage, even after two ER nurses adamantly refused to administer the miscalculated dosage he suggested. That afternoon the emergency room physician overdosed and killed my five-year-old son. This has subsequently fueled my passion for working with professionals in the medical provider community, because I don’t ever want another parent to experience the loss of a child because of the poor decisions of a care provider.
There were times when I pursued alcohol to be part of the cool group, other times when I drank to maybe numb my fears or anxieties, and there were certainly times when drinking served to cover up the large number of shortcomings and deceit that existed in my business life and in my personal life.
I am happy to report that as of September 24, 2020 – I’ve been blessed, through God’s forgiveness and grace, to celebrate 30 years of sober living.
Gordon: where did you do your studies in substance abuse and what was the most challenging course that you took, and why was it so challenging?
Randy: At this stage in my life, I’ve not completed any formal studies in substance use disorders – my learning has been through seeking guidance from others and by persevering through the difficult experiences that pursuing sobriety delivers.
I’m a Certified Master Life Coach, and my background includes involvement in the finance and energy sectors, with enough evidence to convict me of being a serial entrepreneur. I’m a former VP of a large electric and gas utility in the Midwest, in that role I was responsible for a $130 million business unit and the 400 team members.
And, I’ve been blessed to be the founder of “Quest 180” a faith-based program that was launched on March 17th in 2005 and has since served more than 22,000 men and women who have or are struggling with alcohol, drugs, pornography, or another compulsive and destructive behavior.
The participants in the Quest 180 programs are those who are seeking recovery and/or the loved ones with children or spouses or other family members who are battling some form of compulsive and destructive behaviors. The Quest 180 programs are now offered in both Minnesota and Florida.
Gordon: What are some of the primary factors that contribute to substance abuse?
Randy: My usual keynote title is “Crushing the Stigma” – this message is delivered primarily to white collar corporate America, faith community leaders, and local civic organizations. My goal is to annihilate the stigma, so lives will be saved, marriages restored, and their families will be reunited. Stigma is one major contributing factor to substance abuse. Many are struggling with mental wellness and are fooled into believing that substances will somehow offer a solution to their moments of anxiety, depression, a lack of self-worth, and their desire to “be normal”. Very often when asking someone what they want out of being clean and sober, their response is “I just want to be happy!” It’s the guilt and shame that holds people back from seeking recovery, and, it’s that same guilt and shame that is the primary cause of relapses. There’s also a lack of empathy that’s sorely needed when a family member or a co-worker first comes forward to admit a problem with drugs or alcohol. We are quick to embrace other health challenges, like cancer or other physical disorders but too often are very negatively judgmental when someone comes forward to admit substance abuse.
Gordon: What role has the pharmaceutical industry had in the opioid crisis?
Randy: My personal opinion is that we as Americans are often looking for the “quick fix” when it comes to physical or mental wellness or when seeking care. Our society has become overly dependent on taking a pill or an injection that will supposedly offer an immediate solution to whatever is ailing us. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry has capitalized on the financial opportunities which are supported by research and insurance reimbursement programs, that supposedly heal the woes and sicknesses of humans. A good amount of the opioid crisis began in South Florida
From 2003 to 2010, Florida experienced a proliferation of “pill mills,” a category that includes physicians, pain clinics, and other providers that dispense large quantities of prescription drugs, typically for cash only, outside the scope of standard medical practice. These pill mills initially operated with limited state oversight. By 2010, stats show that 90 of the 100 doctors purchasing the most oxycodone nationwide were practicing in Florida. Accompanying increases in pill mills and opioid prescribing was a rapid rise in mortality from prescription opioid overdoses in Florida.(1)
Gordon: Please share with our readers some information about Safe Access
Randy: When someone asks me “what do you do?” My response is, “I’m a guide for talented management professionals whose drive has led them down a path of destructive and compulsive behaviors”. In addition to my forthcoming book titled, “God Took Me to Las Vegas….to Get Sober”, I’m also very involved in executive coaching. My podcast, the “Courageous Recovery” podcast was launched about fourteen months ago and has listeners in 24 countries around the globe. My Facebook group, titled the same as my soon to be released book - “God Took Me to Las Vegas….to Get Sober” – offers daily words of encouragement for those in recovery and their loved ones. And, within each of us God placed a Lifestyle Champion that’s waiting to be revealed. Thus, I offer an 8-week program titled “The Lifestyle Champion Cohort – during those weekly 90-minute Zoom meetings there are three phases – (1) Evaluate (2) Equip and (3) Enjoy. The first thirty minutes involves teaching and sharing of principles while the balance of the interaction is for accountability and encouragement.
There’s a 21-point assessment on the front page of my website - http://randymortensen.com – and by completing that short assessment you’ll have a better idea of whether your substance use struggle is “mild”, “moderate”, or “severe”. If you’re a mild or moderate, then you’re a good fit for the cohort. If you’re in the severe category, then I will refer you to providers in my recovery network that offer more intensive solutions. For more information you can call my office at 321.757.HOPE.
My role with “Safe Access” involves me serving on their Advisory Board. The solution offers comprehensive tools for health and safety in businesses, faith communities, schools, and any other place where people are regularly visiting or occupying. The app and the system offer access to a suite of solutions, including physical and security risk management, AI-based cough signature analysis, disinfecting expertise, regulatory compliance, and digital health passports. More information can be found at https://www.safeaccess.app
Gordon: How can parents tell if their child has a substance abuse challenge?
Randy: As the Dad of a son who in his mid-teens battled a meth addiction, I wish I would have known more about the challenge in those years. Praise God! He’s now been clean for fifteen years. Figuring out if your son or daughter is abusing drugs or alcohol can be challenging. Sadly, many of the symptoms could also be related to mental health challenges, like depression or anxiety.
By establishing a healthy relationship with your child, it will allow you to err on the side of caution and when you notice a mood change or unusual anger or an uncooperative behavior, please be bold enough to ask questions in a non-accusatory manner. Be mindful too if your child is suddenly hyperactive, or maybe they’re avoiding eye contact, maybe they now lock doors, or you catch them in a lie – those are key indicators. If they’re chewing gum or using mints to cover up their breath – be aware. You might notice them now practicing poor hygiene, maybe they are routinely exhausted or have sores around their mouth or nose.
Pay close attention to their habits and behaviors. Your son or daughter needs to be reminded of your unconditional love and that means caring for them without demeaning comments and please don’t allow anger or foul language to express your concerns.
Gordon: Thank you for a powerful interview that will be of great help to anyone who has suffered from addiction and/or who may have children affected by addiction.
(1) Opioid Overdose Deaths and Florida’s Crackdown on Pill Mills
by Alene Kennedy-Hendricks, PhD, Matthew Richey, PhD, Emma E
McGinty, PhD, MS Elizabeth A. Stuart, PhD, Colleen L. Barry, PhD,
MPP, and Daniel W.Webster, ScD, MPH Am J Public Health.
2016 February; 106