It sounds like something out of a Lifetime movie: An opiate addict of 19 years miraculously defeats his addiction, finds a calling to help others and does just that by welcoming suffering addicts into his home.
Here’s the Las Vegas spin on the story: This ex-addict is a high-profile DJ, his house is in Henderson and his remedies are all-natural. Enter Justin Hoffman and Holistic House (HolisticHouseVegas.com). The 46-year-old ex-Light Group music programmer’s alternative to the sober living model pairs natural remedies such as herbs with daily yoga and meditation to transition recovering addicts through the rough period between detox and normal life.
Hoffman’s personal recovery story began in desperation. After undergoing emergency gallbladder surgery four years ago because of heavy drug use, Hoffman became hooked again—this time to the potent painkilling opiate Suboxone. “I just went from one drug to another. After more than a year and a half of trying to wean myself from the drug, I found it nearly impossible to fully get off,” Hoffman says. While in a deep depression, he saw a VICE documentary about the hallucinogen Ibogaine, which is an alternative way to treat addiction. Hoffman jumped at the first chance to try the treatment. “I said, ‘I gotta try this,’ so I went down [to Mexico] three weeks later and took it. Eight hours later, I felt that the depression and anxiety had left my body and was replaced with positivity and light. I thought, ‘Oh, my God! Why hasn’t anybody told me about this?”
Following his epiphany, circumstances turned Hoffman from a recovered addict to a philanthropist, and opened Holistic House in July to help other addicts and spread the message of holistic medicine. Like his uncle, Abbie Hoffman, who stirred the world as a political and social activist, Justin aims to make a positive contribution to society. “I was prompted to start this after someone I was working with passed away.” Hoffman says. “His father’s words were, ‘I don’t want another parent to feel what I’m feeling, and I know you can stop this.’ Now we’re partners.” Calls from potential clients started coming in. “I was meeting with strangers on a daily basis and helped in laying out solid recovery plans for them,” Hoffman says.
Since the use of Ibogaine is illegal in the U.S., Hoffman has to refer them to clinics in Mexico, where they undergo treatment, and return to Henderson for assistance in the recovery process. “I’d do that and help them with after-care as soon as they came back. I saw the most hopeless cases turn into miracles overnight,” he says. In addition, Hoffman works closely with his assistant, Tishara Lee Cousino, a former Playboy Playmate and one of the few Kambo (frog medicine) practitioners in the country. She also heals with plant medicine, and is a master Reiki practitioner.
Take a tour of Hoffman’s home, and you’ll find it’s vastly different from other sober houses and rehabs. It’s got the kind of easygoing sanctuary vibe that complements Hoffman’s natural remedies. It has high ceilings, earth tones, a grand staircase and wafts of sage smoke. “I want people to feel like they’re at peace when they come here. I don’t want them to feel like they’re in a low-level prison; you’ve got to treat them like human beings, especially when they’re going through so much.” Clients can use boxing dummies to let off steam and a swimming pool to unwind.
Hoffman’s path to recovery post-Ibogaine—what he calls “after-care”—comprises a rigorous schedule of daily yoga, exercise and organic, home-cooked meals. “Ibogaine is only the beginning. After-care is the most important part, and it’s their choice. I ask people, ‘What do you want to do? Do you want to go back to that life, or do you want to play tennis and go for a walk in the park?’” Activities on the daily schedule include anything from hot yoga at nearby Lifetime Fitness, private boxing lessons at Top Rank gym and sessions in a flotation tank courtesy of Float Centers of Nevada. Hoffman admits that he does break the cycle once in a while, however. “Sometimes, maybe once a week, we take them out for pizza and a movie. It kind of keeps them grounded, and reminds them that there’s still a world out there.”
Hoffman does have to limit the number of clients, though. He argues that it’s an issue of quality control; he wants to make sure each person receives the optimal amount of care on their paths to recovery. “The most people I’ve taken in at once is five, and that was hell for me,” he says. “We take it slowly—step by step. I’ve been to enough rehab mills that couldn’t care less about you.”
Running Holistic House takes up the bulk of Hoffman’s time, but he hasn’t completely abandoned nightlife. As Top Rank Boxing’s official DJ, he travels with Manny Pacquiao, and he recently DJ’d Pacquiao’s “Fight of the Century” with Floyd Mayweather. His turntables sit next to a gong in his living room to serve as a reminder of where Hoffman has come from and what he’s doing now.
“I’ve worked for Chateau, I’ve worked with Hakkasan Group. I opened up Tryst and XS [as] the music director. [In Las Vegas], I’ve pretty much done it all, but it’s just not what it once was,” Hoffman says. “Holistic House is where my heart is, and this is what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s my Dharma.”