Entrepreneurs Kage Njaka and JD Meints are painfully aware of the hardships faced by those recovering from alcohol and substance addiction. Both men been there.
For Njaka, it began in high school and rapidly took over his life. “Drinking was my drug,” he said. “It became apparent that I needed to start getting that in order.”
After several failed attempts at cleaning up, Njaka entered a sober living home in Thousand Oaks where he received what he considered to be the right treatment. “I just loved it, recovering there,” he said. “It was safe and peaceful.”
Sober for 12 years, Njaka moved forward with several successful business ventures–never forgetting his personal journey–and decided he wanted to give back, to help those suffering the way he once did. He purchased a house in Woodland Hills and opened his first sober living program for those trying to transition from detoxification back into society.
As for Meints, he considered himself to be a “functioning alcoholic.” Originally from San Diego, he was raised in a stable family environment and was given a solid education. “But there was alcoholism in my family,” he said. “It was just part of my culture.”
Very driven and with a degree in finance, he had developed many lucrative businesses but often felt unable to “turn it off.” He said it came as no surprise that it was just a matter of time until alcohol became a problem. When he first met Njaka, he was trying to turn his life around. “I was either attending AA meetings or getting kicked out of my house by my wife,” he said.
A kinship was inevitable and the two formed a partnership to create Nulife. “Kage had a facility put together, so we ironed out exactly what we wanted to do over several months,” said Meints. “I told him I wanted us to have core values … to set up proper goals and to do it for the right reason.”
Calling their program “a new approach and a new experience in addiction treatment,” Nulife now has two houses in Woodland Hills and a brand new sprawling facility in Calabasas off Mulholland Dr. “It’s a 360 degree program where we can take people from detox to sober living and integrate then back into society,” said Meintz.
The NuLife philosophy is based on their contention that individualized substance abuse treatment doesn’t go far enough and that the unique characteristics of the individual must be addressed. The creation and production of music is one of their most successful therapies. “When I was in treatment in Thousand Oaks, I discovered that many of the people there were artists,” said Njaka.
When he purchased the Woodland Hills home, an important component was a finished recording studio. “So many of the residents would spend more time in the studio or writing music than doing anything else,” said Njaka, whose also has a background in the recording industry. “It’s a beautiful thing to see your songs produced by professional engineers. These people leave with an amazing sense of accomplishment.”
“Color Blind Recovery” is the first album written and produced by Nulife clients. Money raised from the sale of the CD goes to their foundation, Hope and Recovery Place (HARP)–established by Meintz and Njaka–which is committed to providing help for addiction treatment to those in the music arts industry.
Njaka and Meints want to stress that “addiction has no face,” that it can affect anyone at any time, regardless of social status, race or culture. “The main thing is to just get help, whether it be through our facility or by reaching out to AA or an organization online,” said Meints.
“Get the support,” said Njaka. “You can’t do it alone.”
For more information about Nulife and its programs, go to nuliferecovery.com/
For more information about HARP, go to harpgives.org/