Ex-drug runner for Albanian mafia opens 'celebrity' rehab centre in Norfolk
- Credit: Verve Health
The man behind a rehab centre in a former Norfolk pub is an ex-Met Police officer and cocaine addict who became a drug runner for the Albanian mafia.
Verve Health chief executive Nick Conn has made no secret of his chequered past, which led to the opening of a 24-bed private drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in the former Hare and Barrel Hotel in Watton.
He was training with the Met when his cocaine addiction began and after qualifying said it became worse, with debt starting to mount.
He left the profession after a few years and went to Berlin where he ended up running drugs between Berlin and Austria for the Albanian mafia.
He had a £400 a day drug habit that he hid from his family.
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Mr Conn said: "I wanted them to be proud of me but inside I was in hell. I had built tens of thousands of debt."
Returning to the UK, he went into rehab and set up Help4Addiction, but felt there was something missing.
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Using his wife's background in hospitality he has turned the former hotel, on Brandon Road, into a "boutique centre" to help those with drug and alcohol addiction.
Mr Conn said the centre was creating 22 jobs.
The cost of treatments ranges from £6,950 to £8,950 a person at the centre and Mr Conn said he hoped the cost could be brought down further as many people could not access help.
Mr Conn said: "People are always going to have fear of the unknown.
"We're not here to upset anybody, we are going to be putting Watton on the map. There will be lots of celebrities who will be coming in as well.
"The people who are coming are lawyers, barristers, accountants. They are not there to hurt anybody, they want to get on with their treatment and leave."
Among those that have been supported by Mr Conn's team is former The Only Way Is Essex star James 'Arg' Argent during his addiction recovery.
Mr Argent said: “I am so grateful to have found recovery. My addiction did not only affect my life but the lives of everyone I love and care about also.”
Mr Conn said he wanted to create a relaxing environment and that those visiting the centre were treated like hotel guests.