Crosswinds Conversations | Curtis Smith Interviews Dan Johnson, Founder & President Of NewDay

This video segment is from Restoring Hope, a TV series hosted on WHMB40 and serving the Indianapolis area. Crosswinds Counseling offers counseling services throughout Indiana.

Curtis: We’ve been so blessed through our first 9 shows to have wonderful guests, and that blessing continues tonight with Dan Johnson the founder of New Day Treatment Center. Dan, thank you for joining us.

Dan: Thanks, Curtis. It’s great to be with you.

Curtis: For those who don’t know NewDay, tell us a little bit about your organization.

Dan: Well, NewDay is an addiction treatment center, and we’re unique because we are both a Christian organization – so everything that we do comes from a Christian faith perspective, but we also offer inpatient/outpatient services for addiction treatment that are accredited. We are licensed, able to receive insurance and all that sort of thing.

Curtis: That’s a tricky line to walk sometimes between both Christian and accredited and able to be covered by insurance. How have you guys navigated some of those waters? 

Dan: Well, it’s not been easy, and we have not shied away from the fact that we are Christian. And yet we do rely upon evidence-based methods and so forth. Kind of the way I’ve always described it to our team and others is that we have a Biblical worldview and we filter everything through that. What makes it through that makes it into our program. With rare exceptions, most of the traditional, recovery and treatment methodologies and so forth fit. Addiction treatment is still one of the areas of mental health where there’s a lot of faith still included. Kind of rooting back into the old 12 steps and even prior to that – historically.

Curtis: Dan, you’re the founder and the president, why did you start this? Did you see a need? Did it mean something to you personally? Why did you create NewDay?

Dan: Well, it all started when… actually my background was a pastor. So I was a pastor of a church, and this was back in the 1990s. And a friend of mine who attended our church came to me and said, ‘My son is struggling with heroin.’ And I’ll never forget the next question. He said, ‘What are we going to do about it?’ And he wasn’t trying to push anything on me, but just because of our connection he invited me, really, into their struggle. And that was really my introduction to the enormity of this need. Power of God to help people as well as the families who are struggling with their kids and their spouses and so forth.

Curtis: So he used the word ‘we’ instead of ‘I.’ He didn’t say, ‘What am I going to do about it? Help me pray about it.’ He said, ‘What are we going to do about it?’ Did you have any idea at that moment, what you would do about it?

Dan: None. [laughs] Other than obviously I had a heart for people, and having been a pastor I had a heart to help people. Take truth and apply it to the everyday realities of life. There wasn’t Google to go find stuff back in those days. So what I did was I just started meeting regularly with his son and also with him, and just kind of learn by the seat of my pants really. And over time, you know, my phone started to ring. At the other end would be someone who said, ‘So-and-so told me that you helped them with their son,’ and you know, told me their story. That was really the genesis of it all.

Curtis: And here we are, what almost 30 years later? 25, 30 years?

Dan: Yeah.

Curtis: Wow. It’s amazing. Dan, tell me about the link between mental health and addiction. At at Restoring Hope with Crosswinds Counseling we talk about mental health most of the time, but I think those two are so intertwined, and I’m sure you see that on a regular basis.

Dan: Absolutely.

Curtis: From your perspective, how do they fit together?

Dan: Well. Addiction is usually a chemical addiction is what we deal with, drugs and alcohol. But it is, I sometimes refer to it as a secondary issue. In other words, it is almost always something that people do in response to something else. And so whether it’s in response to depression or anxiety or just being overwhelmed in life, or trauma that happened in their childhood; addiction is very very commonly connected to other life issues, challenges, and in order to really overcome addiction, we have to get below the surface and find out what those issues are. And then to work to kind of untangle them and bring healing and hope into those issues as well. So they are all intertwined, very very closely together. 

Curtis: I feel like in the Christian community, sometimes we do a pretty bad job of handling the stigma of mental health. Sweeping things under the rug, and not talking about things we really should be talking about more openly. Is that the same situation in chemical addiction?

Dan: It is. I think it’s starting to change a little bit.

Curtis: Good.

Dan: As I think it’s starting to change a little bit just generally speaking with mental health. And where it’s – it’s hard to ignore the headlines. You know 80-90,000 people died last year because of an overdose. Those are numbers that are hard to ignore. Statistically, the numbers are the same for people who attend church and [those who] don’t attend church. And so same number of people struggle with these issues whether they go to church on Sunday or not. And so increasingly people are sensing that, ‘I don’t have to hide this. I need to be open enough, transparent enough, to seek help. Because there is help available.’ And really what the church needs to do is communicate there is help available. 

Curtis: With that in mind Dan, what do you think the future of New Day looks like. As you guys move into ‘22, as you move into the future, what do you think is down the road for your organization.

Dan: Well we increasingly… well my background and kind of the beginning was in church and so even though we serve a wide variety of clients and have referrals from all over the state of Indiana right now, we increasingly seek to partner with churches, to help with that stigma. To help pastors understand how they can come alongside someone in their church, that says, ‘Hey, pastor. I have this issue in my family. What can you do to help me?’ Where they also use the ‘we,’ you hear. And invite their pastor into their struggle to where he/she knows how to help them.

Curtis: Dan, thank you so much for all the work you are doing here in Indianapolis, and thank you for being here tonight with Restoring Hope. We really appreciate the conversation.

Dan: I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks a lot.

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