The Long Road: Top Tips for Recovery

The decision to abandon a life of addiction is the first big step in a long process. You have to learn to transfer your dependency on substances to a dependency on faith, relationships, and your own strength. But this isn’t an easy road to walk and often requires the help of treatment centers and sobriety programs to help you manage the transition. Even though support options vary, all programs work better when the former alcoholic commits to long-term life changes that enhance success. So what does this look like? We asked three experts in addiction counseling to offer their advice:

1. What are the benefits of choosing a treatment center versus other options?

PAUL HOKEMEYER (clinical consultant at Caron Treatment Centers): Treatment centers are for people who have tried the other options and are unable to stay sober. They are also appropriate when a person’s drinking or drug use is placing his or her life in danger. Residential programs envelop the person in a safe, contained and medically supervised environment where they can focus morning, noon and night on their sobriety. They also provide an opportunity for the person’s family and loved ones to participate in the person’s sobriety and be educated on the nature of addiction as a disease.

2. What are some of the things to look for in choosing a treatment center?

PAUL: The program should have a long and solid record of success. Reputation does matter. I would also steer clear of for-profit programs and look for a not-for-profit treatment center that has been in business for 10 years or longer. In addition, the program should have a solid and robust family program. Alcoholism and addictions are incredibly destructive to the person’s family and loved ones. Competent care includes family and relationship therapy while the person is in treatment. Solid programs provide after-care and step-down, sober living components. Finally, I’d steer clear of programs that promise to “cure” alcoholism or addiction. There is no known “cure” for this disease. Like diabetes, alcoholism and drug addictions are successfully managed and need to be continuously treated for the rest of the person’s life.

3. What happens after you leave the treatment facility?

PHILLIP VALENTINE (director of Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery): Treatment centers are geared to initiate recovery and they do a great job. When people leave treatment they may be stable, clean, and sober. That’s when the real test begins. Liken it to knee surgery; the surgeon goes in and repairs the knee (treatment), however the real work (recovery) begins with physical therapy. So when people leave treatment, they have to continue their recovery, whether that is attendance in support groups, involvement with a recovery community organization, or a similar plan.

4. What are some of the hurdles people face in maintaining their sobriety in the real world?

CALI ESTES (life coach at The Addictions Coach): Often, we see the following: 1) Anxiety rises due to the lack of substances that were used to “stuff down” the feelings. 2) You can’t go back to hanging out with the party friends. If they are using, you have to cut them out of your life. 3) If you are known to buy drugs or are triggered to use where you live, you will need to move. 4) Expect to deal with the hurricane you left behind. If you stole money, for example, you will need to explain that to those you took from and “clean up your side of the street.”

PHILLIP: Some of the biggest hurdles people face include: 1) Returning to a living situation where people are still using. 2) Overcoming the desire to use alcohol and/or other drugs to deal with emotional and physical pain. 3) Finding meaningful work. 4) Coping with fear and anxiety without being self-medicated. 5) Not being able to deal with life on life’s terms.

5. What tips would you give someone for successful long-term sobriety?

• Think positive and stay focused on the goal.
• Talk about your feelings. Most people use drugs and alcohol to not feel anything but being sober allows you to feel and that can be scary.
• Find fun sober activities. Being sober does not mean being boring.
• Hire a therapist or sober coach to support you.
• Designate a support team.
• Learn to use fitness/yoga to boost your serotonin and norepinephrine.

Remember that you are not alone, but if you continue along this way of life, you will be. Things will seem overwhelming at first, remember to breathe and take it one day and one thing at a time.

• Avoid risky situations.
• Take care of your spiritual condition.
• Associate regularly with other people in recovery.
• Practice recovery principles in all your affairs.
• Be honest, open, and willing to go to any length to maintain recovery.

You can do this – with support

There’s a reason that step-by-step programs work so well for addicts. Recovery can be a slow process, but you can mark your gains by the steps you’ve accomplished. Better yet, count on trusted friends and family members to help you make this journey. As Cali says, “A strong team that you can call if you need to be talked off that ledge is very important. You cannot do this alone, as you got yourself here in the first place. Learning how to ask for help is imperative.”
•Dr. Paul Hokemeyer is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist and a clinical consultant for Caron Treatment Centers. He is also a media personality and blogs at
•Cali Estes is a psychotherapist, life coach and fitness guru, specializing in addictions coaching. You’ll find her at The Addictions Coach.
•Phillip Valentine is an accomplished speaker and presenter. He is the Executive Director of Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR).

Dallas Cowboys one dead one convicted of manslaughter…should have hired a sober coach!!

IRVING, Texas (AP)

Remembering the many athletes sports lost way too soon.

Dallas Cowboys practice-squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a one-car accident Saturday and teammate Josh Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter.

Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz said the accident happened about 2:20 a.m. Saturday in the Dallas suburb. Brent was speeding when the vehicle hit a curb and flipped at least once, Argumaniz said.

Argumaniz said the 25-year-old Brown – also Brent’s teammate at the University of Illinois for three seasons – was found unresponsive at the scene and pronounced dead at a hospital.

The police spokesman said officers conducted a field sobriety test on Brent and arrested him. The charge was upgraded after Brown was pronounced dead.

”We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. ”At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry’s family and all of those who knew him and loved him.”

The team said in a statement that Brent was not on the team flight to Cincinnati, where the Cowboys play the Bengals on Sunday.

Cowboys players were informed of the death of Brown and Brent’s arrest as they sat on the team charter waiting to take off, reported.

The pilot requested all passengers other than players and coaches de-board the plane temporarily, then head coach Jason Garrett delivered the news.

Argumaniz said Brent was being held without bond. Brent is named as Joshua Price-Brent in the police news release. Argumaniz also said Brent missed a 10 a.m. Saturday booking session with a judge because he was intoxicated. He did not know if Brent had an attorney.

Police received 911 calls from motorists who saw the upside-down vehicle but they did not immediately have any eyewitnesses to the wreck. Argumaniz said.

He said when officers arrived at the scene on a state highway service road, Brent was dragging Brown from the vehicle, a Mercedes, which was on fire. Officers quickly put out the small blaze, he said.

Argumaniz wasn’t sure if the vehicle was a car or SUV and said it wasn’t known how fast the vehicle was travelling. The road has a 45 mph limit.

”I can say investigators are certain they were travelling well above the posted speed limit,” Argumaniz said.

Before he was taken to the jail, Brent went to a hospital for a blood draw for alcohol testing and also received treatment for some minor scrapes.

Argumaniz said Brent identified himself to officers as a Cowboys player.

Brent was arrested in February 2009 near the Illinois campus for driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license and speeding, according to Champaign County, Ill., court records.

In June 2009, Brent pleaded guilty to DUI and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, two years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a fine of about $2,000. As part of his plea deal, prosecutors dropped one count of aggravated DUI/no valid driver’s license. Brent successfully completed his probation in July 2011, court records show.

Several NFL players have been arrested in 2012. Take a peek at who made the list.

The accident happened a week after another NFL tragedy. Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide Dec. 1.

Brent has played in all 12 games this season and has been a bigger presence on defense with starting nose guard Jay Ratliff battling injuries. He made his first career start in the season opener against the New York Giants and has 35 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks.

The Cowboys signed Brown to their practice squad Oct. 24, but he hasn’t been on the active roster. He was released from the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad Oct. 20.

”On behalf of the entire Colts family, our sincerest condolences go out to Jerry’s family and friends, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. ”He was a good teammate that was well liked by all. Today’s tragic news is just another reminder of how fragile life is and how everyday given is a gift.”

Cali Estes featured on NBC Universal for Recovery Coach

A rise in prescription drug abuse involving Xanax and similar anti-anxiety pills in recent years has prompted some doctors in the U.S. to rethink the frequency with which they dole out the prescription.

Between 2004 and 2009, New York City emergency room visits involving Xanax and other anti-anxiety prescription drugs known as benzodiazepines increased more than 50 percent. That’s up from 38 out of 100,000 New Yorkers in 2004 to 59 out of 100,000 New Yorkers.

Data from the New York City Department of Health also show benzodiazepines were tied to more than 30 percent of all the city’s overdose deaths in 2009, or 3.3 out of 10.9. Nearly all of those overdoses involved multiple drugs, of which benzodiazepine was just one.

Xanax is the most popular anti-anxiety drug in the benzodiazepine family. In 2010, Xanax was America’s 11th-most prescribed pill, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

In Louisville, Ky., psychiatrists at the Seven Counties Services network of mental health clinics took the unusual step of halting all Xanax prescriptions. The self-imposed ban has now been in effect for a year.

Dr. Scott Hedges says benzodiazepines are fast-acting when it comes to remedying acute panic attacks, but he says they are not meant to be long-term treatments. Instead, he focuses on more traditional behavioral therapies.

“The problem is, in terms of longer term treatment, there are really much better treatments that have better outcomes than the use of that short-term medication,” Hedges said.

Some Xanax abusers say their panic attacks and anxiety seem more intense after long-term use of the drug.

“Rob,” a recovering Xanax abuser who did not want to reveal his identity, said shortly after he started taking the pill he noticed the effects of benzodiazepine were wearing off too quickly and he had to increase his dosage.

“It doesn’t take long before that doesn’t do anything for you and you have to double it or triple it,” he said

Like many Xanax addicts, “Rob” says he also abused other illegal drugs at the same time. He often took Xanax pills to alleviate panic symptoms associated with his attempts to quit heroin and other narcotics.

Dr. Jeff Rabrich, who directs the Emergency Medicine Department at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan, said he often sees the negative effects of illegal narcotics exacerbated by benzodiazepines.

“The Xanax potentially makes it a much worse overdose. It could turn a relatively mild overdose into something that could be fatal,” said Rabrich.

According to practice guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association, doctors should avoid prescribing alprazolam — the generic name for Xanax — for patients who have a history of alcohol or drug abuse.

The APA practice guidelines go on to list several reasons for caution when prescribing Xanax to recovering addicts:

“A history of abuse of other substances, both licit and illicit, is associated with a higher prevalence of benzodiazepine abuse, a greater euphoric response to benzodiazepines, and a higher rate of unauthorized use of alprazolam during treatment for panic disorder.”

Pfizer, the manufacturer of Xanax, said in a statement that it does not condone the abuse of its products and says prescribing clinicians must be aware of the risks of the medication, which is included in the package insert and communicated to patients.

“When prescribed and taken as indicated, Xanax has a well-established safety profile and is an important treatment option that has benefited millions of patients,” Pfizer said.

In disclosures on the Pfizer Physician Prescription Information sheet, or PPI, doctors are warned of the possibility of physical and psychological dependence associated with Xanax.

The PPI goes on to say:

“Some patients have experienced considerable difficulty in tapering and discontinuing from Xanax, especially those receiving higher doses for extended periods. Addiction-prone individuals should be under careful surveillance when receiving Xanax.”

Cali Estes, a drug counselor who is now helping “Rob” recover from his addictions, said she adamantly believes Xanax and similar drugs are overprescribed.

“I don’t believe they take the time with the patients to figure out what the problems are,” Estes said. “A doctor who is running short on time and nurses and probably isn’t paid as much as he or she used to be finds it easier to say, ‘OK this person has a problem, here’s your script, have a nice day, where’s my next patient.’”

Dr. Karl Rickels, an expert on benzodiazepines at University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Psychology, said Xanax and similar drugs need to be better understood by the physicians who prescribe them.

“My advice is not to prescribe benzodiazepine if you know that someone has been abusing something else and if you learn this later than you should start right away tapering the patient off benzodiazepine,” Rickels said.

Jon Bon Jovi daughter Stephanie OVERDOSES….needs a sober coach

Jon Bon Jovi Speaks Out About His Daughter’s Drug Overdose: ‘We’ll Get Through It’

By Suzy Byrne | Goddess: Celebrity Moms and Dads4 hours ago

Jon Bon Jovi and daughter Stephanie (Dave M. Bennett/Getty Images)Parenting isn’t easy — even for celebrities. A week after Jon Bon Jovi’s daughter, Stephanie, was hospitalized for an apparent heroin overdose, the rocker is speaking out about the ordeal.

“It’s human,” Bon Jovi, 50, told Fox 11. “What I do for a living seems glitzy and glamorous but if you don’t take it too seriously it’s a great way to make a living. And then life goes on. Things happen. This tragedy was something that I had to face too. So we’ll get through it.”

He also thanked his fans for their support during the difficult time. “People’s warm wishes for my family and I have been really reassuring,” he said. “So, we’re good.”

On November 14, Stephanie Bongiovi, 19, overdosed on heroin in her dorm room at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. Paramedics were called and she was rushed to the hospital, where she treated and luckily survived. A search of her dorm room turned up a “small amount” of heroin, marijuana, and other drug paraphernalia, according to police.

Both she and her friend Ian S. Grant, 21, were subsequently arrested for drug possession charges. However, the charges against both of them were later tossed because a New York law exempts people from possession charges if they sought help for somebody experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose or other life-threatening medical emergency. In this case, Grant called 911 to help save Bongiovi.

Bongiovi is one of the Bon Jovi frontman’s four children with wife Dorothea Hurley, who was his high school sweetheart and to whom he has been married since 1989.

Jon Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea, were all smiles walking in Manhattan Tuesday. (Splash News)


Bath salts and sober coaching

Illegal ‘Bath Salts’ Mimic Cocaine in the Brain: Study Bath salt is street name for a group of powerful, synthetic stimulants July 26, 2012 RSS Feed Print THURSDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) — Street drugs called “bath salts” have a similar effect in the brain as cocaine and carry the same risk for abuse and addiction, a new study in mice has found. Bath salts are synthetic stimulants that have …

become increasingly popular among recreational drug users in recent years. (The substances have nothing to do with the crystals you might sprinkle in a bathtub.) In the new study of adult mice, University of North Carolina researchers found evidence that the effects of the bath salt mephedrone on the brain’s reward circuits are comparable to similar doses of cocaine. The mice were implanted with brain-stimulating electrodes and trained to run on a wheel in order to give themselves a reward, which was direct stimulation of the brain pathways involved in reward perception. The technique, called “intracranial self-stimulation” has been used in experiments since the 1950s, according to researchers. Prior intracranial self-stimulation studies have shown that one of the characteristics of addictive drugs is to make self-stimulation more pleasurable. The researchers measured the rodents’ wheel spinning efforts before, during and after they were given various doses of cocaine or mephedrone. Like cocaine, mephedrone made intracranial self-stimulation more rewarding for the mice. The study was released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Behavioural Brain Research. The findings support the idea that mephedrone and other bath salts may have a significant addiction risk, said study leader Dr. C.J. Malanga, an associate professor of neurology, pediatrics and psychology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “The effects of mephedrone on the brain’s reward circuits are comparable to similar doses of cocaine,” Malanga said in a university news release. “As expected our research shows that mephedrone likely has significant abuse liability.” On July 9, President Barack Obama signed a law banning bath salts containing mephedrone or another stimulant, MDPV, in the United States. Experts caution that while animal studies may be useful, they often don’t reproduce the same results in humans. More information The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about bath salts. Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Workplace: The Hidden Addiction

Trying to use drugs and alcohol and sustain a career or a job can be an overwhelming task. You want to drink and get high but you are supposed to be working. Maybe you struggle with the daunting idea that you can not be SOBER at work?  Do you fear losing your job because of your use? Are you tired of hiding it thinking ‘they’ don’t already know?

That is the struggle that goes on daily in your head. The train is moving 3000 miles an hour and you feel that you can not possible jump off and survive. A sober coach or a recovery coach can help. We can teach you to slow down the train and step off slowly before it derails and you lose everything. Loss of a job can be life crushing. If you have a family, rent, mortgage, car payment ~ it will all suffer and they will suffer as well.

If you are afraid to call your EAP because you don’t want to be labeled or defined as a drug or alcohol addict and be labeled at your job, we are 100% confidential.  Your boss and job does not need to know.

Sober Coaching and Recovery Coaching at The Addictions Coach is unique. We are staffed by Master’s Level therapists and psychotherapists that can assist you to get back on the right track and not derail your train!


Addiction Therapy and Sober Coaching

Addiction Therapy/Coaching

Trying to the find the perfect fit for a therapist should not be a daunting task. You need a therapist that can work around your schedule and meet your unique needs. You need a therapist that can get to the root cause of the addiction quickly. You need a therapist that is an out of the box thinker and does not simply use one style of ‘therapy’, because YOU are unique.  You need a professional forward thinker that understands you and can be 100% CONFIDENTIAL.

Cali Estes, The Premier Addictions Coach, will meet your needs in a therapy session because she understands the high profile client. She is a progressive forward thinker and Cali specializes in understanding addiction on many levels. In your sessions with Cali Estes you will gain an understanding of your behavior, the cause for it, and the proper steps to work towards correcting it. You will begin to regain control of your life and that ‘learned hopelessness’ factor will fade. You will learn to move past Fear Based Thinking and handle obstacles such as impulse control and the demand for instant gratification.

After a few sessions with Cali Estes, The Addictions Coach, you will begin to notice a change within yourself and the way you view your environment. Your lifestyle will begin to change and your stress will drop along with your addictive tendencies. You will be able to identify your patterns of addictive thinking and move forward towards positive change and produce personal growth.

Whether you are an athlete, musician, actor, attorney, doctor, or business executive, Cali can work within your parameters and assist you in reaching your true potential. If you are court ordered to treatment, or arrested for a DUI or possession of a controlled substance (narcotics) the publicly can be an ugly mess that you do not need. Cali can work with the court system on your behalf to lessen the blow and allow you to continue in your career.

Cali is a psychotherapist, life coach and fitness guru, and blends talk therapy, with forward and positive change to assist you in reaching your true potential and making the necessary lifestyle changes to excel in your personal and professional life. Cali has over 18 years of experience working with drug, alcohol, sex, gambling and food addictions. Her deep understanding of addictions and her unique background and blend of therapy mesh to assist the client in meeting their needs.

Cali offers individual hourly sessions in person, via Skype and Face Time. She offers a nontraditional approach that will get to the root cause of your behavior quickly and work with you to solve the issues.  Cali generally works with someone on a weekly basis, but more frequent appointments can be arranged, depending on the severity of the addiction and need for individualized service.


Some focus areas included:

*Drug and Alcohol Addiction

*Social Anxiety

*Past Trauma


*Stress Issues

*Sex Addiction

*Sober Coaching

*Gambling Addiction

*Life skills and Coping skills

Please see our About Us Page for further Information on Cali Estes, The Addictions Coach



DUI? Criminal Possession Charges?

Have you been convicted of a DUI? Lost your license or had a problem with the criminal system and caught a charge?

I can help. I have been in and around the criminal courts system and can assist you by handling all your court requirements (AKA drug court) or allowing you to present progress to the court. I am able to assist your attorney in presenting you in a favorable light and  assist you with learning how to deal with the DUI and charges. I can come to court if needed or prepare all documents you need to assist with the court cases to regain your good name and assist with all career progressions.

If your personal or professional life is being affected, please call me to assist. 800.706.0318


The Addictions Coach offers therapy and sober coaching

The Addictions Coach, Cali Estes, offers individual therapy sessions and daily weekly and monthly sober coaching sessions.

Cali Estes just returned from Malibu and Los Angeles and was working with clients to assist them in understanding their addictions. Cali Estes, The Addictions Coach is also Sober Coach Los Angeles.

Individual therapy sessions can get to the root cause of the addiction and Sober Coaching assists with the life skills, coping skills and daily routines after the therapy piece of treatment. Cali Estes and her team can cover both and assist you with both.

Call Cali Estes at 800.706.0318 today.


The Addictions Coach MOBILE REHAB!

Mobile Rehab

If being locked into a traditional 28 day rehab is not in your plans, we can help by bringing the rehab to you at your home, on set of your film, on tour, or onto the playing field or court. This will allow you to continue working within the parameters of your career and daily life while beginning to enact a lifestyle change. Getting sober is only a part of the battle, learning how to deal with personal and professional stressors and challenges is the key to changing your life. Dealing with those stressors and factors in a real world setting is the key to remaining sober and enacting that lifestyle change.

We offer a 7 day intensive program with or without a 24/7 sober companion to assist you in dealing with the issues and stressors that are beginning to take a toll on your life and putting pressure and stress on your livelihood and personal relationships. We will not send you to NA and AA meetings or preach to you. Rather, we work with you to get to the root cause of the addiction and assist to propel you forward in personal and professional growth.

Post 7 day intensive we recommend a 3 week sober companion with daily or tri weekly individual therapy/coaching sessions to ensure stability and assist with the lifestyle change. All of the 7 day intensives are done with Cali Estes, The Premier Addictions Coach and tailored to your unique and individual needs.   There are no groups, no meetings, no books or pamphlets to read and it is done on your terms, in your environment.

Cali’s multidimensional approach focuses on the underlying cause of the addiction and she approaches each client in a unique manner. Unlike traditional rehabilitation centers that convince the addict that they have a disease that is incurable and they must attend meetings, recite prayers and follow steps, Cali tailors her program to fit the client. By realizing that each client is unique and their pattern of addiction is unique with a root cause, Cali is able to address the addiction at the core and assist the addict in making the necessary changes and positive steps in their life.

Some of Concepts we focus on:

*Motivation vs. Learned Hopeless                    *Reaction vs. Control

*Successful Behavior Change                             *Removal of Fear Based Thinking

*Removal of Irrational Thinking                     *Impulse Control

*Self Esteem and Image                                 *Reconnect with family and Loved Ones

*Understanding Homeostasis                                     *Anger management

*Identification of Patterns of Addictive Thinking and Behaviors

*Understanding Post-Acute Withdraw both Emotional and Physical

These are just some of the concepts we draw on to begin your trek into sobriety and learning to handle life and all the stressors that accompany a high profile position or status.

Please visit the About US page to learn more about Cali Estes, The Premier Addictions Coach.