Daniel Esterly, founder of Public Waves, LLC, has a bit of an oxymoronic background. He received his Master of Science in Professional Counseling in 2013 and went on to obtain doctoral studies from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. On top of those accomplishments, he is graduating from a Masters of Business Administration program in August of 2017, and will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Community Engagement this Fall.
He accomplished all of this while struggling with alcoholism.
Fortunately though, he has conquered his addiction and is now passionately putting all his energy into his professional life. Esterly adapted an unorthodox view on his addiction, that treats the neurochemistry aspect of the disease, over the ‘spiritual’ component. Esterly received a house arrest related to a DUI in 2015, which opened his eyes on issues in addiction science.
“We are still living in 1935 regarding addiction. Courts can basically mandate religion as a legitimate treatment to a disease. While AA is not a religion itself, it is founded upon monotheistic principles inspired by the Oxford Group. The entire basis of AA is spirituality – and it’s confounding to me that courts can mandate a spiritual resolution for a disease”. Esterly himself did not have to attend AA as a part of his sentencing. However, thousands of people a year, are mandated to AA. It is the only legally mandated spirituality in the U.S. judicial system, and opponents argue violates religious freedoms.
Instead, Esterly began voluntarily receiving Vivitrol injections on a monthly basis. Vivitrol is a specialty pharmaceutical that targets the receptors in the brain, responsible for cravings and pleasure around alcohol (and also works on Opioids). Esterly described the experience as being like a ‘light switch’ turning off. The cravings subsided, and Esterly was able to focus on rebuilding his life. “There were people who wanted to see me fail. The local paper published my DUI, and then people spread it around social media, and made up things about it. This is the story of addiction around the country right now. We take responsibility when it’s due, but find ourselves stigmatized and bombarded by criticism far after we’ve addressed the issue, and answered to the legal system. It’s no wonder why the system has been failing addicts. Shame, deterrence, and judgment have never worked, because they were never linked to the core issue in the first place. People start substances for varying reasons, but their biology will determine if they have trouble stopping or not. And when you’re in a 24/7 state of addiction, you’re bound to have lapses in judgement. Once you understand those basic factors of addiction, it’s easier to begin focusing on real solutions, instead of this Colonial American type of public shaming we’re seeing”.
A look to the future
Esterly currently consults for an engineering firm and a business incubator located in Pittsburgh. He is beginning the task of expanding his business, and signing on other consultants. He has also joined two mental health non-profit board of directors within the past year. However, his experience with addiction has left him wanting to do more. His past philanthropic endeavors have focused around other areas of mental health. He started the Esterly Fund shortly after his DUI, in hopes of future involvement in giving back to the Pittsburgh community. The fund has been giving to mental health non-profits in the Pittsburgh region ever since, but may be useful in funding research related to substance abuse and medicinal solutions. Esterly is no stranger to the pharmaceutical world. He used to lobby for an organization that gave him access to biotech and pharmaceutical companies, and he currently invests in those types of companies as well. Esterly believes that the future of addiction lies within the hands of this sector of the American economy.
Esterly’s MBA is in health care, and he reports to have already begun utilizing it in his professional life. Esterly wouldn’t delve too much into his plans with his Ph.D., but hinted at research specific to the Pittsburgh community, and relevant to his experiences. “I think it’s important to give back when you do well for yourself. Pittsburgh has been my home, and has contributed so much to where I am today. I’d like to continue my life as a servant leader, and use all of these experiences to my advantage. People do a disservice by not embracing their own hardships. We can utilize so many lessons and skills from obstacles, that it’s much better to own these sorts of things. We can then try to help others who may not be there just yet”.
Time will tell if Esterly’s views on addiction are accurate or are truly on the fringe. It’s clear to see the overlap between his professional aspirations, social life, and charitable goals. Regardless of his past, it’s inspiring to see a former addict prioritize the community that gave him his start.
What is Public Waves, LLC?
Public Waves is a privately owned company registered in the state of Pennsylvania. It is solely owned and operated by Daniel Esterly, and recruits other contract consultants screened by Esterly. You can check the company website out at: www.publicwaves.com
And, if you’re so inclined, feel free to personally reach out to him by shooting an email to: [email protected]
Press Release By Peter Briggs