Cali Estes is an addictions coach, wellness and life coach, and therapist with over 18 years of experience. She has a wide range of experience spanning drug, alcohol, and food addictions as well as nutritional coaching, stress, and trauma. She has been featured on NBC Universal News, she has published her work with ADD and relationships in several journals and books, and has worked with a number of high profile clients. Cali works to get to the root of the addiction; she advocates that addicts often feel powerless and need patience and individualized solutions to change their lives instead of a one size fits all approach. You can learn more about Cali at theaddictionscoach.com. We were able to speak with Cali regarding recovery, addiction, the importance of staying physically active, and the ongoing debate regarding marijuana.
TestCountry: Cali, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions today. You have an incredibly diverse background in therapy and coaching. In what way does this variety in training styles help you to be more effective with your clients?
Cali: I have been able to mix my therapy training in CBT, TC, NLP with the holistic side of things by infusing Yoga, Meditation, Fitness, and Nutrition to offer the total package to my clients. Getting well and battling an addiction is not an easy process and it takes being able to treat the entire person to get good solid results. In America, we have become dependent on ‘that magic pill’ to fix us. We use it for weight loss, anxiety, depression etc. We are told by the media and the big pharma companies that we NEED it. Thus, we have created a large number of addicts in this country.
TestCountry: You are a skilled yoga teacher, personal trainer, and Pilates instructor as well. Have you found that addictions play in with a person’s physical movement and well-being as well as their psychological well-being?
Cali: Absolutely! Movement stimulates serotonin and norepinephrine, two essential chemicals in the brain for depression relief and anxiety relief. When I get a client moving and talking the anxiety, stress, and depression all but disappear and the need for drugs, illegal and legal, become less and less. Traditional talk therapy does not treat the whole person and leaves the client feeling that something is lacking. So they reach for drugs and try to fill that void. I teach them that proper nutrition, exercise, and activities that encourage balance and meditation like yoga and Pilates are essential to the function of the entire system.
TestCountry: Why does every person suffering from an addiction need a coach?
Cali: People in addiction need to be held accountable for their actions. That is why you will see clients relapse after treatment settings and rehab stays. They do not have anyone to answer to anymore and go back to their own ways. Rehabs allow people to be ‘in the bubble of safety’ and then dump the client right back in the same environment with minimal therapy. Imagine having a coach to call, text and be present as you go through life. I offer intensive 24/7 services, daily, hourly and then also hourly with unlimited text and email. I instill in the client a sense of being accountable and having help immediately available. I also work with several sober companions so that we can go onset (for actors), on tour (musicians), or in the workplace as needed.
TestCountry: When you accompany a client to their place of work or to a high-stress situation, what types of exercises do you have them do to help them find a place of calm?
Cali: I custom tailor everything to fit the client. We do meditation, visualization, NLP, yoga, anger management and of course just having a presence for them allows them to feel relief that someone is available as needed.
TestCountry: In your experience, are there one or maybe two key aspects of a person’s life that can make them susceptible to substance abuse and addiction?
Cali: Getting to the root cause of the addiction is key to understanding why the person is using drugs. Are they bored? Was there a trauma that they are escaping from? Is there a new stressor (job loss, divorce, death etc.) that they do not have the coping skills to deal with? It can be anything and each person’s case is unique so once we establish the why of the use we can move forward in a positive direction.
TestCountry: If someone is currently suffering from an addiction, what (in your opinion) is the most important step they should take to start becoming whole again? Is there a factor that is the most important when it comes to recovery?
Cali: Ask for help. That is the most important factor. So many families call me each week with a son or daughter that is addicted and they want me to step in and ‘save’ their child. The client has to want the help, and many are simply not ready or willing to quit. If a client is not willing to stop taking the drugs or drinking the alcohol, is it almost impossible for anyone to make a difference?
TestCountry: There is a large debate occurring in our country currently regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana. For people who are already dealing with substance abuse, do you think that the legalization of marijuana will send mixed signals or cause further damage?
Cali: No, just the opposite. MJ is virtually harmless compared to the other drugs out there. I would much rather see a client smoke a bowl then snort Roxy or Oxy. MJ is natural, whereas the synthetic drugs that people are taking now are killing them. Have you heard of daily deaths of clients that overdosed on MJ? No, you haven’t. But in Florida alone, 40 people die DAILY of Oxy and Roxy overdose. Add in the Bath Salts, Smiles and Wet and our young people are dying. I think MJ should be legal in all states. It would truly cut down on the designer drug deaths and overdoses of people that are occurring because there is so much junk available that is cheap and legal.
TestCountry: Have you found that for people who are addicted to drugs that marijuana was the gateway to participation in risky behaviors, or has this fact been largely sensationalized?
Cali: I have been in the addictions field 18 years. The only reason that this country says ‘MJ is a gateway drug’ is because the government has not found a way to make money off it yet. It is not a gateway drug. It is a drug that makes people nonviolent, unlike alcohol or Bath Salts. It is safe to use and will not lead to someone using cocaine, heroin or other drugs. That simply is propaganda. Look at the videos our government created in the 70’s of housewives smoking pot and jumping out of a window to commit suicide. That does not happen on MJ.
TestCountry: In your work, have you seen one particular addiction trend rising above the others recently?
Cali: Yes, the snorting and shooting of pills. Oxy, Roxy, Xanax, etc. and the young people with the designer synthetics. MDMA, E, Bath Salts, Spice, Smiles and Wet.
TestCountry: Do you have any suggestions for how our readers can become more in control of their physical and mental health on a day to day basis?
Cali: Think of your body as a temple. Analyze everything you put into it and ask yourself “is this for my greater good”? If it is not, then do not take it.
You can learn more about Cali at www.theaddictionscoach.com.