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Elaine Atkinson is the founder of Ocean Hills Detox & Rehab, a private rehab and detox facility in the Hawke’s Bay

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After 15 years in recovery from alcoholism, the former Aucklander decided it was time to set up her dream business. In 2019, she left a highly successful corporate career behind and went on to open the doors of Ocean Hills, a private rehab in Hastings.

Choosing Hawke’s Bay

The reason she chose Hawke’s Bay as a location to open her business was two-fold: there was no private alcohol and drug detox and rehabilitation facility in the Bay and also, she fell in love with a local man.

“It’s also a beautiful place to live and I was keen to get out of the hustle and bustle of Auckland. Everything’s within 5 minutes drive and I love taking in the beautiful scenery travelling to and from work.”

While the physical setting up of the business was complex – after buying a section in Hastings she then relocated a suitable building from Auckland – developing the business side of things was straight -forward.

“We were welcomed well by the addiction and mental health sector. People from the DHB came to see us and other local services like the Salvation Army and a local psychologist. Were also supported by the local peer support network sector.”

Through joining the Hawke’s Bay Business Hub, Elaine found further practical business support. As well as being connected with a mentor organisation, she was helped with marketing advice, local contacts and advice from several professionals.

“They were already really useful to talk to and helped me a lot in setting up Ocean Hills. It was crucial as I was new to the area and didn’t know anyone.”

Elaine also joined the “wonderful” Venus Napier Group, where she soaked up all the education and information they offered on business start-ups and connecting with other women in business.

Ocean Hills was also featured in local media in an article outlining the problems of accessing addiction and mental health services in the Bay.

Two years after opening, her team of addiction professionals have helped many people suffering from addiction to alcohol and drugs into a life of sobriety.

As a business, Ocean Hills is successful and Elaine has no plans to do anything but keep helping people in need.

 “I feel very strongly that addiction can be overcome and you can live a healthy and happy life – I’m living proof of that and I’ve seen it over and over again in my circles of recovery and through my work at Ocean Hills.”