Born and raised in Los Angeles, Richard Taite rose to prominence as the founder and CEO of Cliffside Malibu and co-author of the best-selling book, Ending Addiction For Good. From its inception as a boutique luxury rehab with only six beds, Richard steadily grew Cliffside Malibu into what is now widely considered the world’s premiere addiction treatment facility.
As a celebrated entrepreneur and visionary leader in the world of addiction treatment during the ever-burgeoning opioid crisis, Richard was a constant presence on television, radio and in magazine articles throughout his tenure at Cliffside, including featured appearances on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, ABC News’ Nightline, CBS’ This Morning, Entertainment Tonight and Prescription Thugs, an award-winning documentary.
In June of 2018, Richard sold Cliffside Malibu, marking the closing of a circle that began when he was merely a child and spanned more than four decades. His journey, a path cut straight through the dark night of the soul, weaves a story arc for the ages.
The oldest of three brothers, Richard was born into a difficult family. His brother Todd suffered from severe mental illness. Throughout their childhood, Richard struggled to protect Todd from their physically abusive father, who was particularly tough on Todd not despite his mental illness, but because of it. Richard was seventeen when his father ultimately abandoned the family and left them financially destitute. Steeling himself to become the family’s provider, Richard began hustling work any way he could to help pay for Todd’s housing and living expenses, all the while pursuing a college degree with hopes of a brighter future.
Richard graduated from UCLA with a degree in Political Science and intended to become a lawyer, but life and fate had a different plan for him. As he matured into adulthood, the demons from his abusive childhood gained footing in his psyche and lead him down a dark path.
It was the 90’s and crack cocaine was a growing scourge. Richard, at only 26, had formed his own medical bill collection and consulting company. While the business was taking off, Richard was fast becoming a workaholic and soon turned to crack as an escape from the mounting pressures to provide for his family, often going on sleepless binders where he would smoke crack on an endless 24 hour cycle, eating just a single Big Mac once a week to keep himself alive.
After several hard years as a full-blown addict, and constantly being in and out of various sober living facilities, Richard finally achieved sobriety on March 3rd. 2003. Using seed money he earned from his company, he soon purchased a sprawling property in Malibu with breathtaking ocean views.
Buying the Malibu house was a life-long dream, but as Richard continued to work on his recovery, he began to feel an inner-calling to help others in his sober community who were too often relapsing and cycling in and out of rehabs. After extensively researching the problem, he found that there was a profound lack of effective aftercare resources to support addicts in their continued sobriety. It didn’t take long before a desire emerged in Richard to turn his new Malibu house into a dedicated sober living facility for men.
Moving into a small apartment, Richard began finding clients for his sober living house with referrals from area residential rehab centers that discharged clients after 28 days. From his own experience, he understood that most of these clients still needed treatment and aftercare and that what was missing from the existing establishments was a lack of an integrated therapeutic approach and a comprehensive aftercare plan. What also became clear was the treatment his clients had received before they came to him was wholly inadequate.
Richard began to consider turning his sober living house into a bonafide addiction treatment facility. But concerns developed. For one, the treatment business had a negative reputation for bad practices and fraudulent schemes such as body-brokering, unethical and fraudulent labs billing for urine, and what is commonly known as “The Florida Shuffle” the systematic moving of patients in and out of rehabs, through illegal means, to collect insurance fees. Richard knew if he was going to get into this business, he would have to do it the right way, by innovating and making 100% certain that his facility was truly effective, by employing only the very best methods and practices, and by always putting the patients’ needs above all else.
But Richard was also concerned about the ethics of a for-profit business that capitalized on the sad reality of drug addiction. Richard found himself asking, “Is it okay to make a business around others misfortune?” Searching for answers, Richard found himself face-to-face with a spiritual advisor. The sage gave him a mantra to repeat to himself, “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everybody could make a living helping people.” With this philosophy in mind, Richard finally embraced his mission and opened Cliffside Malibu, instituting a treatment method based on The Stages of Change model, a model of change that worked for his own recovery.
Incorporating these stages along with wholly integrated, holistic, evidence-based treatment protocols, and with intense one-on-one psychotherapy, physical activity and rejuvenation, Cliffside was able to evaluate each person to determine their current state of willingness to change, taking the best modalities and putting them together in a personalized treatment program. It was understanding this change process that made Cliffside so successful in helping people recover.
Richard also created an important industry innovation at Cliffside when he instituted a dedicated Client Care Department. He knew from experience that early in treatment people often froze-up in therapy sessions and would leave feeling frustrated that they didn’t get to express what they wanted. The Client Care department consisted of four dedicated licensed therapists or other high licensures who would walk the property every day looking for somebody with their head in their hand, or otherwise displaying signs they were having a difficult time. This active attunement to the patients’ needs ensured that love, empathy and respect would always be Cliffside’s top priority. Anticipating what a patient’s needs might be — before they actually had one — was a core element in Cliffside’s ability to achieve positive outcomes.
Richard Taite had taken his tiny boutique rehab start-up and grown it into into an exclusive blue-chip brand in the health and wellness industry. At its peek, the business employed over 250 people and was responsible for saving thousands of lives.
As Cliffside grew, so did Richard’s passion to help people with addiction issues When he learned that the world’s number one online recovery magazine, The Fix, had gone bankrupt — smack-dab in the middle of the opioid crisis to boot — Richard decided to buy the magazine so it could continue it’s important work serving the public and bringing information and resources to those in need of support. He also formed Clean and Sober Media, a publishing company currently leading the field in treatment and recovery content.
Though he was not involved in the day-to-day operations of The Fix or Clean and Sober Media before he sold Cliffside, Richard’s vision for these entities moving forward includes developing a Washington DC based news division that will focus on government policy toward combating the opioid crisis. The Fix will also expand to include video interviews with the people who shape domestic policy on such issues.
Today, Richard Taite is passionately pursuing a new goal: to spearhead sweeping and monumental reform in the addiction treatment industry. Now more than ever, reform is crucial so that people who badly need treatment are not dissuaded from seeking help. Richard sees himself as a warrior in this battle to clean up bad practices in the rehab business, and as such he has recently formed the non-profit, Center for Rehab Justice, to continue the fight on behalf of all addicts and patients in need of legitimate and effective addiction treatment.
The Center for Rehab Justice will also serve as an industry whistleblower, exposing bad actors in the rehab community and providing important resources to assist patients who have been harmed by unsafe and substandard treatment facilities.
In addition to this important work, Richard Taite remains dedicated to his family. He met Delphine Robertson in 2007 and they are the proud, doting parents of two wonderful children.