Q&A with Bruce Boardman: CEO of Social Model Recovery Systems

Bruce Boardman is the Chief Executive Officer for Social Model Recovery Systems (SMRS). With over 30 years of service to SMRS, he has been responsible for the development and expansion of the organization. Mr. Boardman has held a multitude of positions within SMRS with his primary emphasis on management.Initially, he was educated as a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor at Glendale Community College, upon completion he took a position with SMRS. Mr. Boardman has subsequently furthered his education with certifications from UCLA as a Dual Diagnosis Specialist as well as the USC Treatment of Clients with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness. Mr. Boardman completed his Bachelor’s degree in business and is currently working toward a Master’s. Amongst his peers, he is recognized as a pioneer in the field of co-occurring disorders treatment.

Mr. Boardman has spent the majority of his career advocating for individuals who have substance use disorders (SUD) and mental health challenges.  He had the opportunity to work in the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health assisting with the development of alcohol and other drug services in mental health clinics. He was met with multiple challenges but was able to help the system change to meet the needs of the population.

Mr. Boardman, as a person in long term recovery, understands how important the field of recovery is to individuals who are in need of treatment. Advocating to meet people where they are continues to be one of the directions Mr. Boardman sees as important to the current clients seen in treatment. “No one wakes up one day and thinks, ‘today is a good day for treatment’, they come in kicking and screaming not wanting to be here. Our job becomes helping them understand that it is safe, and we want them here.”  Mr. Boardman continues to look for new opportunities and be an ally to assist the most disenfranchised folks in our communities.


Q. If you are in recovery, what was your Drug of Choice? and when did you stop using?
A. I am in long term recovery, alcohol and stimulants were my drugs of choice, primarily meth amphetamine and alcohol at the end. My sobriety date is January 22, 1990.

Q. Do you think addiction is an illness, disease, a choice or a wicked twist of fate?
A. Addiction is a disease, I believe for some the beginning is brought on by their social surroundings and over exposure to drugs and alcohol. 

Q. Do you log on to ZOOM 12-step meetings? How often? Do you share?
A. I am not overly excited about Zoom 12 step. I have made the adjustment and attend a men’s meeting regularly with a person I sponsor. We all share at this meeting, and it is a book study. I am looking forward to getting back to in person meetings.

Q. Have you added anything to your Tool-kit to help keep you sober during the pandemic?
A. I would not say I added but I certainly modified what I do. I know the important piece for me is to remain safe. I have done more with getting back to nature and spend a lot of time on horses which allows for physical distancing. 

Q. Where did you grow up?
A. I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley in the small town of Sierra Madre, CA.

Q. From what school or teacher did you learn the most?
A. That is a very tough question, I like to believe I learned from all who have taught me over the years. One of the most inspirational had to be Ron V., he was in long term recovery and was “crazy” like me. His style of teaching helped me in developing my style of group facilitation which was very beneficial during my early years working in the AOD (Alcohol and Other Drugs) field.

Q. If you had an extra million dollars, which charity would you donate it to?
A. I would most likely give all of it to the organization I work in, Social Model Recovery Systems. We do really good work for the disenfranchised in Los Angeles County. I, along with my colleagues, would like to offer help and assistance to the homeless community here in Los Angeles. We have some resources but need some capitol for facility improvements. I also know it would mean changing some of the beliefs of staff and meeting folks where they are.

Q. Do you have any children?
A. I have two children. I became a single parent when my son was 11 and my daughter was 6. I had the opportunity to raise them and find a balance between life and two children. I learned about putting some areas of your life on hold and focusing on them. Dating was one of the difficult areas. My daughter went to college in West Virginia and is living in Florida working in health and wellness. My son is living in Tennessee where he is raising his son as a single parent. 

Q. Have you started any new projects because of the quarantine?
A. My hobby is building old cars, i have spent some time doing this but also we just parented a small colt. I have done a lot in area of working with horses through the pandemic and it has offered me the opportunity to get closer with my wife of almost three years. 

Q. If you ever retire would you prefer to live by the ocean, lake, river, mountaintop, or penthouse?
A. Probably all of the above other than the penthouse. The ocean plays a huge part in my recovery so I can never get enough time there. Currently where I live is my dream and when I retire I see myself staying where I am at. I am blessed beyond belief. Where I once was in my life to where I am today, I do not think I need or want to change anything.

Q. What is your favorite hotel or resort?
A. There is a place in San Clemente which overlooks the ocean. Probably one of my favorite places.

Q. What is your biggest or littlest pet peeve?
A. I think people wanting to blame others around them for their place in life bothers me the most. Sometimes you must push through in life. Don’t let the actions of others stop you from getting “better” and look for the good. Take ownership!

Q. Who has had the biggest influence on you throughout your life?
A. My parents had the biggest influence on me, they had ten kids, ten!! There was food on the table, clean clothes in the dresser, and strong role models. I just could not see what was right there in front of me.

Q. If you were giving a dinner party for your 3 favorite authors, living or dead, who would they be? (Choose 4 if you think one might be too drunk or stoned to attend.)
A. I would go to songwriters, Ozzy Osbourne would be first, his lyrics are baffling. I think Bill W would also be an interesting person to sit down with and learn more of the early days.

Q. What books are you reading now?
A. Currently not reading any books.

Q. What book(s) have you read more than once?
A. Call of the Wild

Q. What is your FAVORITE Radio show, news show, podcast?
A. I listen to a lot of Jeff and Larry on one of the comedy channels. The work they do helps me disconnect from the work I do.

Q. What is your FAVORITE APP?
A. Google!!

Q. Are you bingeing on any TV series? If so which ones.?
A. Heartland

Q. Which film have you watched the most?
A. American Graffiti, there is a theme here between TV and movie. I like watching simpler times or good stories not focused on alcohol or drugs.

Q. Who is your favorite sober celebrity?
A. Robert Downey, Jr.!!

Q. What/Who is your FAVORITE Band/composer/musical artist?
A. I love rock and roll from the early days through the current. I cannot say there is one that is a favorite. 

Q. What is your FAVORITE City?
A. San Clemente, for now.

Q. What is your FAVORITE Museum?

Q What is your FAVORITE Restaurant?
A. Currently, Kaza Maza

Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
A. You can get clean!

Q. What is the best piece of advice YOU’VE given?
A. You can get sober!

Q. What is the greatest risk you have ever taken?
A. Getting married again after being single for 20 years.

Q. What is your biggest regret?
A. Not being a better son.

Q. Have you ever been arrested and if so, for what?
A. I have been arrested. Last time was for drunk driving, helped me find sobriety.

Q. What is the proudest moment in your life?
A. Raising my kids and helping them become adults.

Q. Do you believe in God or a Higher Power?
A. I believe in a god of my understanding.

Q. If you were putting together a time capsule from 2020 what 5 things would you put in it?
A. Zoom, Teams, mask, hand sanitizer, social distance sticker

Q. Are you more inclined to believe in UFO’s or life after death, or both?
A. I am inclined to believe in both. There are many things in life which we do not know the explanation for, one of which, are we the only ones? Hard for me to believe. I have had afterlife experiences and need to stay open minded to all.

Q. What is your FAVORITE weekly news bulletin?
A. Not weekly, but daily I like to read the Los Angeles Times.