Build Better Podcast

A Long-term Approach to Addiction Recovery

by Emily Langner

Lisa Ulbrich

On season 2, episode 5 of the Build Better podcast, Anastasia welcomed Lisa Ulbrich, vice president for Commodore Builders, a construction management firm based in Boston.

In addition to her career in construction, Ulbrich is passionate about addressing alcohol and substance use disorder. She is a certified interventionist and executive recovery coach, and has personal experience with overcoming addiction.

She joined Anastasia to talk about Commodore’s partnership with the Herren Project, and shares how they are helping provide those struggling with substance use disorder a long-term path to recovery.

Ten years ago, Ulbrich began her own journey into recovery, after battling alcohol addiction. According to Ulbrich, being in recovery “not only brought me back to who I was, it’s given me much more.” This journey inspired her to look into the science behind addiction, and she developed a passion for learning more about substance use disorder.

While in the last two years the AEC industry has seen organizations and companies acknowledging and responding to the opioid epidemic, including efforts to educate people and provide Narcan on job sites, Ulbrich feels there is a lot more that can be done to develop long-term treatments for recovering addicts and their families.

She says, “It’s terrific to save lives and we have to do that, but I wanted to take it a step further and to address it with the care and compassion that it really deserves and bring it out of the closet and say, how can we really support this individual so they can be a better participating member of society, a better employee, and a better family member…so that started my thought process of coming up with something really different.”

(l-r) On site at a Commodore Builders’ project: Chris Herren, founder of The Herren Project; Tom S. Gunning, director of labor relations at The Building Trades Employers’ (BTEA) Association; and Kevin Mikolazyk, executive director at The Herren Project

As a result, she worked with the Herren Project to develop a program at Commodore Builders to address the issue with care and compassion, and to provide a “no judgement” approach to help those in recovery be successful in the long term. She says, “One size doesn’t fit all,” so it’s important to provide a plan that fits a particular person and family.

The program aims to educate employees and their families, and to make sure they are supported in the after care environment. Commodore is now offering the services to every construction worker on their jobsites.

Ulbrich’s hope is to soon see people going through the addiction recovery process treated the same way as someone with diabetes, or a broken leg, for example. By normalizing the issue and the need for a comprehensive plan for treatment, she believes more of those in recovery will have success. She also emphasizes the importance of prevention by talking to kids as young as grade school about healthy ways to handle stress and develop healthy decision making skills.

For more info and access to treatment and recovery resources, including availability of online meetings 24 hours a day, seven days a week, visit