About Roland Williams

Roland Williams, Addiction Counselor

Roland F. Williams, MA, Master Addiction Counselor (MAC), Licensed Advanced Addiction Counselor (LAADC), Internationally Certified Advanced Addictions Counselor (ICAADC), Nationally Certified Addiction Counselor Level Two (NCAC II), Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor, Level II (CADCII), Advanced Certified Relapse Prevention Specialist (ACRPS), Nationally Certified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), works world-wide as a counselor, interventionist, lecturer, trainer, teacher, author and consultant specializing in addiction related issues.

He has worked in substance abuse treatment since 1986. As a consultant he has assisted many treatment centers to develop world class addiction treatment protocols as well as to create clinical treatment models that embrace the vision and passion of the program founders. As a clinician he works with many celebrities, medical, legal and business professionals as well as inner city clients and those involved in the criminal justice system. Mr. Williams has worked with clients and treatment centers in France, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Thailand, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Japan, Dominican Republic, the United Kingdom and all across the United States.

Mr. Williams has sat on the CAADAC (California Association of Alcohol and Drug Counselors) board and is a member of the NAADAC (National Association of Alcohol and Drug Counselors) Trainers Academy and he provides technical assistance and training worldwide. He was the Chairman of the African American Constituency Committee for California’s Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs and has sat on several addictions related advisory committees. As a SAP (Nationally Certified Substance Abuse Professional), Mr. Williams is qualified to conduct Department of Transportation approved substance abuse evaluations and treatment referrals, currently working with several companies and individuals to provide this very specific service. Mr. Williams is currently assisting the State of California to develop standards and implementation practices to provide Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services to all substance abuse and mental health facilities.


Following are some of Mr. Williams' clinical perspectives and treatment philosophies about addiction treatment and recovery developed over a career spanning 32 years. If you have any questions, please contact us and we'll be happy to help.

"People are basically hedonistic, meaning that we do things that provide us with a payoff. We need to find out what the payoff is for drug and alcohol use, and help the abuser find safer ways to accomplish what they want..."
-Roland F. Williams
  • "There is no such thing as a hopeless addict, anyone can recover."
  • "Relapse does not indicate failure; it means your recovery program needs a 'tune-up'!"
  • "Twelve-step programs are effective, BUT not for everyone. Treatment professionals should support alternatives to the 12-step philosophy."
  • "One size does not fit all... People of different cultures, vocations, sexuality and gender often have different issues that need to be honored and addressed in treatment and recovery."
  • "There is a huge difference between substance abuse and substance dependence, often times abusers are misdiagnosed as dependent and treated accordingly."
  • "Way too many treatment facilities are understaffed with underpaid and under-trained staff members."
  • "You can't relapse if you’ve never been in recovery!"
  • "Recovery plans need to be concrete, specific and measurable."
  • "You alone can do it, but you can't do it alone!"
  • "Pain is just as much of a threat to recovery as pain medication. Addicts should be taught what to do WHEN they have to take pain medications, not what to do IF they have to take pain medications."
  • "Relapse is a process, not an event, and begins way before the addict picks up the first drink or drug."
  • "Addiction counselors need to know when to refer a client to a private psychotherapist."
  • "Abstinence is NOT Recovery, it’s a prerequisite for recovery."
  • "You don't have to be one to help one. Being in recovery is not a requirement to be effective as a clinician working with addictions."
  • "It's not the messenger, it's the message – addicted people should not tune out those from different backgrounds, experiences, age, sex, etc. Anyone may carry the message that will turn a life around."
  • "Addicts and alcoholics are not bad people trying to get good, but sick people trying to get well."
  • "Family involvement in treatment and recovery increase the likelihood of success – an untreated family can undo in six days what a treatment program took six months to put together."
  • "You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink... but you can make him thirsty! We need to make recovery appealing to the abuser."
  • "Addicts should quit nicotine at the same time they stop all other drug use. Nicotine is the most deadly drug in the country. If the addict stops nicotine in the beginning and later gets into 'relapse mode', they are more likely to pick up nicotine before going back to their drug of choice."
  • "Near-beer, non-alcoholic wines, and virgin cocktails are 'pretend' drinking and often contribute to relapse."
  • "The number one relapse warning sign of all is, 'overestimating your recovery and underestimating the power of your disease'."

Professional Achievements

"You alone can do it... but you can't do it alone..."
-Roland F. Williams

Mr. Williams is an internationally recognized, powerful and inspirational speaker who regularly performs seminars, workshops and keynote presentations. He is a sought after expert in the field of addiction treatment, relapse prevention therapy and cross cultural counseling, he routinely conducts staff training, skills building and program development for numerous treatment centers and organizations around the globe, including:

  • Acadiana Recovery Center, Lafayette, Los Angeles
  • Acoma Recovery Center, New Mexico
  • Alameda County Alcohol and Drug Program
  • Betty Ford Center
  • Ben Franklin Institute, Philadelphia
  • California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program
  • California Youth Authority
  • California Youth Authority, Paso Robles, California
  • DARA, Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Asia, Koh Chang, Thailand
  • Family Court Service, San Jose, California
  • Florida Intervention Project for Nurses
  • Free At Last, East Palo Alto, California
  • Haight Ashbury Clinic, San Francisco, California
  • Illinois Alcohol and Drug Counselors Board
  • Milestones, San Francisco, California
  • Oneness Group, Osaka Japan
  • Napa County Alcohol and Drug Program
  • Physicians Diversion Program
  • Positive Directions, Oakland, California
  • Professional Recovery Center, The Betty Ford Center
  • Riverside County Alcohol and Drug Program
  • San Mateo County Jail, CASE Program
  • Santa Clara County Alcohol and Drug Program
  • Smith and Jones, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • State of Michigan, Adolescent Corrections Department
  • The Betty Ford Center, Rancho Mirage, California
  • The Lakeview Center, Pensacola, Florida
  • The Other Bar, Attorney Support Program
  • Valley Transit Authority, Santa Clara County, California
  • Walden House Inc., San Francisco, California

A frequent lecturer in addiction studies, Mr. Williams is the coordinator of Chemical Dependency Studies at California State University, East Bay. He has taught at many respected tertiary institutions including, the University of California, the University of Texas, California State University, the University of Utah, San Jose State University and JFK University. He focuses in teaching counselors, therapists and other providers, practical clinical skills to help them more effectively work with substance abusing clients and their families. One of Mr. Williams’ specialties is working with impaired professionals. He currently facilitates two relapse prevention support groups in the San Francisco Bay Area primarily comprised of healthcare professionals, attorneys and other high pressure business people.

An author of numerous recovery related articles, Mr. Williams has also developed a culturally specific relapse prevention model for African Americans and other under-served populations, including three books published on the subject. Mr. Williams has made numerous radio and television appearances, including the Biography Channel’s segment on Marvin Gaye as well as the HBO special ‘Addicted’.

Mr. Williams' other professional highlights include:

  • Chairman of the Advisory Board of Lionrock Behavioral Health, where he leads the development of LION (Lionrock Intensive Outpatient Network), providing intensive outpatient programs online via video conferencing.
  • Former Director of Clinical Operations for DARA Thailand, where he helped redesign the Clinical Program and developed the 12 Step model “Steps to Recovery”, and provided on-going consultation.
  • Co-Founder and Strategic Advisor of Alta Mira, one of the world’s most luxurious and comprehensive addiction treatment centers, where he designed and implemented their clinical treatment model and wrote the client workbook.
  • Founder and President of Free Life Enterprises, Counseling and Consulting Services. Free Life Enterprises provides EAP (Employee Assistance Program) services, which includes counseling, crisis intervention, assessment and referrals.
  • Founder and Director of VIP Recovery Coaching, an international recovery coaching company providing high profile clients one-on-one addiction assessment, evaluation, case management, treatment planning and counseling services in their home environment. VIP Recovery Coaching brings treatment to clients who either don’t want to go to traditional residential substance abuse programs or have a hard time implementing their recovery plan into their lifestyle after completing residential treatment.
  • Founder and Director of the Free Life Recovery Center outpatient treatment program.
  • Former Clinical Director and Co-founder of Bayside Marin, a residential and outpatient substance abuse program where he developed the “Bayside Model”.
  • Past-Director of Behavioral Health Services at Good Samaritan Hospital San Jose, California where he was responsible for their psychiatric and chemical dependency programs for 15 years.
  • Senior Trainer/Consultant for Terence T. Gorski’s CENAPS Corporation.