After becoming a finalist for Springfield Hustles, a “Shark Tank,” style competition, Eric Mata is looking to expand and eventually turn his side-business, that offers programs for OVI offenders, into a full-time job.
Mata founded the Substance Abuse Prevention Institute last year along with Tracie Bishop, a counselor. The two met after Mata became sober in 2010 after years of struggling with substance abuse.
“Everything that I could get my hands on, I was using,” he said of his history with substance abuse and addiction.
Now, working as a life coach with CareSource, Mata also runs a 72-hour driver intervention program offered to OVI offenders through the Substance Abuse Prevention Institute.
He is now working on finding a permanent location for the business. By doing that, the hope is it will allow them to reach more people that are going through prolonged drug counseling.
“If we can help those struggling with substance abuse early on, we can prevent long-term addiction issues,” he said.
Right now his business teaches OVI offenders about the physical, psychological and social effects of alcohol and drug use. Those programs are usually held Thursday through Sunday.
Eventually he would like to offer remedial driving lessons through the week for those working to get their driver’s licence reinstated and focus more on outpatient services.
Currently the substance Abuse Prevention Institute works with municipal courts in the state and usually has 25 to 30 students at a time. Mata said the driver intervention program his business offers is held at hotels in Springfield, Piqua, Xenia and Centerville, Lima, Dayton and Cincinnati.
Those enrolled cannot leave the program during its 72-hour course and fees associated cover lodging and food.
“What makes us unique is that most of our team have all been through these challenges. We know what it is like to lose everything. To be looked down on by society,” Mata, an OVI offender himself, said.
He remembers being a 22-year-old high school dropout and a convicted felon with no work history, when he started his journey to sobriety. Over time he was able to get a his GED, attend Clark State and find full-time employment.
The idea to start his own business came about in 2016 through conversations with his future business partner Bishop. However, starting a business proved to be too challenging and those plans were delayed.
With the help of the Small Business Development Center in Springfield, which walked Mata through the process, he said he was able to start the Substance Abuse Prevention Institute with Bishop.
When Mata learned about Springfield Hustles earlier this year he was hoping to use the grand prize package of $10,000 and more than $76,000 in services to help find a location for his business.
However, he said the plans to keep expanding and is currently looking for those interested in the community to help him and Bishop take their Substance Abuse Prevention Institute to the next level.
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