By Sydney Spencer
Peachtree City welcomed a new DUI Driving Academy to the area on September 16. LifeSwitch Addiction Services officially opened to the public with a ribbon cutting to offer treatment for those seeking help for their alcohol or drug addiction. Their services are offered to both Fayette and Coweta county.
LifeSwitch brings experience, strength and hope to the academy from owner Mike LaTella. LaTella has experience having 12 years of sobriety and turning his life around to be an example for those who need a visual representation of what life could be like once you receive help. Tom Carney is minority owner of the business where he offers expertise on the financial and legal aspects of the business as well as an advisor to LaTella on marketing efforts. Carney received his master’s of Business Administration from Georgia Tech.
LaTella will be able to help students and clients reach their full potential by instructing with experience. He talks about his drive and passion behind his business and what he is bringing to the community.
“This is a second career sort of. I was in business and I was a traveling sales guy. I was working in logistics and was doing really well. Over time I developed a pretty nasty drinking problem,” said LaTella. “Twelve and half years ago I got sober, was doing fine and sobriety was going pretty good. A friend of mine that was a pastor at one of the local churches here had a friend who died from alcoholism and he asked if there was anything they could do as a church to help people like this. So, I started a Christian recovery group and fell in love with helping other people with addiction problems.”
LaTella goes on to reveal that he quit his job to dedicate more of his time to helping others get through their addiction. He touches on how receiving his master’s degree and becoming a Certified Addiction Counselor Level II (CAC-II) has assisted him.
“I quit my job and went back and got my master’s degree as an Addiction Counselor,” said LaTella. “I’ve been doing that and soon as I got my master’s degree I opened my own practice called LifeSwitch Addiction Counseling Services. I have been doing this for about 5 years and it’s been very successful. This is an extension of what I’m doing really. If I help one person or save one person’s life and that’s all I do for the rest of my life, it’s worth it. My goal has always been how many more people can we touch or maybe turn their lives around.”
Explaining how the process went on officially opening the doors, LaTella expanded on how strict state law is when it comes to providing DUI services. He acknowledges that Georgia state law has stringent operations and they really make sure they have the correct people behind the business.
“It’s great. It took a long time with the state having a lot of regulations and qualifications. We started on this about a year ago and we’re just now getting to the point of having our first class,” said LaTella. “You have to get fingerprinted and go through a background check. The state does a very good job of being thorough to make sure that the people they have running the schools are going to do a good job and do what they’re supposed to do.”
LaTella follows up with what is expected of him and his staff during their classes. He also spoke about making sure his students do not revert back to driving under the influence after receiving their licenses back.
“Really our job overall is to do the best we can for people who have been driving under the influence that when they get their license back it’s not a problem anymore,” said LaTella. “A lot of people are killed on the highways and roads from drunk driving. The state wants to make sure the classes are taught right and done the way that the state wants them.”
LifeSwitch Addiction Counseling Services has a five step process during treatment. Step 1 is the Assessment which is a meeting with a counselor where the addiction is addressed. Step 2 is Treatment Planning where a collaborative effort between the counselor and client for what the client hopes to accomplish when the program is finished. Step 3 is the actual treatment that features a 12-step program based on biblical principles and devised by Alcoholics Anonymous.
Step 4 is the treatment conclusion where the goal is to have created an environment where learned knowledge can be applied.A transformation of mind and spirit that makes the use of drugs and alcohol a contradiction to the client’s new life. Step 5 is the ongoing follow-up care where students can continue to meet with their counselor on a less frequent basis. This allows students to continue developing skills on sobriety and accountability.
The LifeSwitch Addiction Counseling Services are available to anyone who is seeking to drop their addiction. Appointments can be made in person or by phone Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays are open for appointments if they are urgent when Saturday slots are full.