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Monday Inspiration: From Heroin Addict to Psychologist

A little bit of inspiration for your Monday afternoon is the story of Fred Muench. A severe heroin addict for seven years before entering recovery, Fred Muench would eventually be the president of the Center on Addiction, a nonprofit group in New York. Fred Muench would go from a heroin addict, to earning his doctorate in psychology.


Struggling for seven years, Fred Muench would have to try anything and everything to stop his constant desire for short term pleasure. Frederick Muench would begin with going to parties as a teenager, partying using drugs and alcohol with little to no consequences at first. Muench then began lying to his friends and family, stealing, getting arrested, and going through treatment center after treatment center.


Frederick Muench would bounce from a failed treatment attempt, to relapse, back to inpatient or outpatient treatment, then finding longer term maintenance programs like methadone— all resulting in another relapse. Muench began to recognize the look of disappointment on his family member’s faces. His family would often try to understand his addiction out loud, saying how good of a person he was, but what had they done wrong? Fred ended up internalizing the shame he felt. He remembers loathing himself, feeling immense discomfort being in his own skin. What Fred Muench did not realize while he was in active addiction, was how grateful he would feel when he finally would put down substances for good.


Muench says he credits his success to a massive change in thought, describing a spiritual experience; “essentially, it was making a conscious choice to reject immediate gratification for the promise of tomorrow.” This process was much easier said than done, as addicts often are hyperfocused on immediate gratification, they have a tunnel vision that recognizes “feeling good right now” as the only goal. Muench says that into his recovery, he recognized that his past substance use disorder would have effects that could still reach him. Muench describes waking up in a jail cell, thirty days into recovery “due to the relics of my past irresponsibility” still, he says “I had nothing but gratitude and pride that I was not using substances. I’ve learned that the pain of being uncomfortable in my own skin can slowly fade as I continue to build my life…”

From Heroin Addict to Psychologist

Some Monday inspiration is how Fred Muench went from breaking down, to earning his doctorate in psychology. Fred Muench celebrates each day in recovery, stating that “There is beauty in hard work and persistence for a reward that surpasses any individual quick fix.” Today, Fred Muench is a clinical psychologist with a personal understanding of the impact of addiction. Muench is the president of The Center on Addiction, and the president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids— two nonprofit organizations. Muench also spear-headed many other efforts in the field of addiction treatment and addiction recovery.

How Did He Do It?

Fred Muench says that he re-arranged his goals to support long term gratification. Fred Muench built his life up with meaning, and suggests focusing on efforts in a couple of key areas to recover. Research suggests that it is easier to avoid relapse when you focus on building a recovery social support network, live by honesty and acceptance, and breaking old habits.

After the first few years in recovery, recovery is more easily sustained. Robert Ashford, recovery scientist at Philadelphia’s University of the Sciences Substance Use Disorders Institute, says “Reaching the three- to five-year mark seems to be a major milestone, that benchmark can signal a reduced risk of returning to substance use because the person with addiction has had the time to develop effective coping skills, social connections and a renewed sense of self, among other healthy attributes…”

Muench overcame his heroin addiction by immersing himself in addiction treatment programs, learning coping skills, creating a sober support network, attending behavioral therapies, and ultimately having a spiritual experience or moment of clarity that changed his life forever. Fred Muench now loves his life, enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids, and continues to do service in the field of addiction.

How Can You Do It?

You can embark on addiction treatment by attending one or all of our programs, that focus on both substance abuse and mental health. Drug or alcohol addiction need to be addressed through intensive therapies, often uncovering the root cause of your substance use disorder. Royal Life Centers Detox is where it all begins. We offer a 4 or full 8 day detox stabilization program, to safely, effectively, and comfortably remove any substance from the body. Our detox facility provides 24/7 direct supervision from medical professionals to ensure our guest’s comfort and safety.

Following detox, many institutes like the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggest attending a program with an inpatient level of care to increase your chances of lasting sobriety. Continuing care also increases success rates. Our programs at Royal Life Centers include: medical detox, a residential inpatient program, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), an outpatient program (OP), sober living and graduate housing.

At Royal Life Centers Detox, we also introduce 12-step programs of recovery like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gambler’s Anonymous, etc. Our treatment options all provide intensive therapies, and offer group therapy models that discuss topics like grief and loss, anger management, coping skills, dealing with triggers, and how to prevent relapse.

For more information about Royal Life Centers Detox, or any of our other facilities or services, please reach out to our addiction specialists toll free at (877)-RECOVERY or (888) 559-5109. Our team is available to take your call 24/7. Because We Care.


“Fred Muench, Ph.D.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids + The Center on Addiction, Partnership For Drug-Free Kids,

Muench, Ph.D, Fred. “Reflecting on My Recovery, My Journey to the Partnership.” Partnership for Drug-Free Kids + The Center on Addiction, Partnership For Drug-Free Kids,

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