Meet the man who quit heroin and became a fruit juice millionaire

As Khalil Rafati overdosed on heroin for the ninth time the paramedics frantically tried to save his life.

A drug addict who slept rough on the streets of Los Angeles, he eventually regained consciousness after the medical team used a defibrillator to give him an electric shock.

This was back in 2003, when Khalil was 33 years old. Also addicted to crack cocaine, he weighed just 109lb (49kg), and his skin was covered in ulcers.

While Khalil had tried and failed to get clean before, he says that after his ninth overdose he finally realised that he had to change his life in order to save it. So he spent four months in a rehab centre – and has been drug-free ever since.

Throwing himself into healthy living, Khalil has been so successful in rebuilding his life that today he is the millionaire founder and owner of fashionable Californian health food business Sunlife Organics.

With annual sales of more than $6m (£4.8m) from its six outlets – which combine juice bars and cafes, and also sell the firm’s clothing line – and via its website, the company is preparing to expand to 16 other US states and into Japan.

Now aged 46 and accustomed to travelling by private jet, he’s come a long way since his days of sleeping on the streets.

After successfully quitting drugs he kept himself busy by juggling several jobs.

In addition to working at two rehab centres in Malibu he washed cars, walked dogs and did gardening work.

“I was able to save money,” he says. “I worked hard, seven days a week, 16 hours a day.”

Khalil also started to become obsessed with making his own vegetable and fruit juices after he met an old friend from Ohio.

“He was a little bit like a hippie, and started teaching me about vitamins, organic food, super food,” says Khalil. “At that moment I was looking for anything that would make me feel better.”

In 2007 Khalil rented a house and opened his own rehab centre, Riviera Recovery, for clients who would pay $10,000 a month to stay at the facility.

For these residents, Khalil would make exotic juice blends such as one he called Wolverine – a mix of banana, maca powder, royal jelly and pollen.

Eventually the reputation of these drinks spread beyond the building, with people calling in to buy them.

Realising that there was enough demand to set up a separate business, in 2011 Khalil launched Sunlife Organics, together with his best friend and then-girlfriend.

Funding the business from savings, the first branch opened in Malibu. Khalil says it was an instant success, with sales of $1m in its first year.

Today the business employs more than 200 people across its six outlets. In addition to juices, it now sells a range of food and clothes, such as t-shirts and hoodies.

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