Breaking free from addiction doesn’t always mean going through the 12 steps. Alternative therapies are focusing on treating the person as a whole. That’s what is meant by a holistic approach. Joining us on the show is Dean Taraborelli, the founder of the Sanctuary, an integrative addiction recovery center in Sedona, Arizona. Sanctuary is a residential, non-12 step addiction recovery and trauma healing center, specializing in addictions of all types, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Dean has challenged traditional models head on with a revolutionary Integrative Addiction Recovery program that combines the latest advances in science with ancient healing modalities to treat the whole person and has helped hundreds of clients to recover from addiction and to live full, meaningful lives. Today we are going to talk about Dean’s experiences with his own recovery along with the holistic approach to breaking free from addiction.
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Integrative Addiction Recovery: A Holistic Approach To Break Free From Addiction With Dean Taraborelli
I’m in the always sunny and always sober Scottsdale, Arizona, where my team and I have helped thousands of people on their path to recovery over the course of many years. We started this show because there’s so much misinformation about addiction treatment, mental illness and recovery in general. There’s so much more to recovery than going to twelve-step meetings, going to inpatient treatment, seeing a therapist, or stopping the drinking, the drugs or any addictive behavior for that matter. All those things are important and AA saved my life. However, to find long-term recovery, live happy, joyous and free, there’s a lot more to it.
To live a new life, a person needs new healthy lifestyle habits, amongst many other things. There are many different approaches to getting clean and sober. There’s a lot more to it. Typically, this includes new eating habits, new exercise habits, new sleeping habits, new hobbies, new interests, new friends, self-care becomes a priority and the list goes on. Those are the types of things that we talk about here on the show.
I’m here with Dean Taraborelli. Dean is the Founder of the Sanctuary at Sedona, an integrative addiction recovery center in Sedona. Sanctuary is a residential, non-twelve-step addiction recovery and trauma healing center specializing in addictions of all types, depression, anxiety and PTSD. Dean has challenged traditional models head-on with a revolutionary integrative addiction recovery program that combines the latest advances in science with ancient healing modalities to treat the whole person. He has helped hundreds of clients to be recovered from addiction and to live full and meaningful lives. We’re going to talk about Dean’s experiences with his recovery along with the holistic approach to breaking free from addiction. Dean, welcome to the show. I’m so glad to have you here.
Thanks, Tim. I’m so glad to be here. First of all, when you invited me on the show, I love the name of your show. That’s what got me excited. It’s not about some arduous thing and staying sober. It’s about getting out and being alive. I appreciated that and I’m happy to talk to you.
My experience is that people who focus on trying to stay clean and sober, the people who try to make it another day, aren’t the people who make it. The people that make it are the people that focus on being happy, joyous and free. The people that learn how to live life differently, to have fun while they’re in sobriety. I love being sober and I know you love being sober as well. I’m glad that you’re here on the show. Let’s start off. I want to hear a little bit about you. I want to hear about your background and how you got to where you’re at now. Tell me where you are from and what happened.
I’ll condense a long story like we all have. We all have a story down into a concise bit. I started getting high when I was twelve years old and I don’t have any memory prior to that. Smoking marijuana all day, every day that led to drinking and I had a real powerful drinking habit. That led to opiates and turned into a juicy heroin habit. I’ve been dead a couple of times, clinically overdosed zillions of times, hospitalized zillions of times. You name it. I ended up with a horrible crack addiction because I went to rapid opiate detox, which was the only thing. Now I got naltrexone implants, so I can’t use an opiate. I needed some relief.
During that whole time, Tim, I’ve been in rehab a million times. The thing about it was I worked hard. I had a lot of people that cared about me. I had a good life. On paper, I looked great and I wanted to get well. I did everything that was suggested to me right up until the time I got high again. I’ve been to some of the best treatment centers that money can buy in the United States. When that started to not work when I kept applying myself and not going, I felt more like a loser because I had to go to twelve-step and all these different things and people were like, “It’s a simple program. It’s this. It’s you.” I’m like, “I know it’s me, but that’s not helping me to stop being me.” As that was all happening, I started to look around the world. I started looking online at things like ayahuasca and other stuff. If I heard of a mystic or a shaman or a cleric or some doctor that could help me anywhere in the world, I went to see them.
Dean, you started smoking weed at twelve years old. When did it progress to a point where you finally realized, “I got a problem and I got to figure out something?” When did you realize you had a problem and you couldn’t stop?
The marijuana thing was an all-day, everyday thing. It popped into my mind that this is getting to be a problem. It’s when alcohol came into the mix because that’s harder on the body. As with many people, I was able to be a functional alcohol abuser for a long time, still socially going out and all that stuff until I couldn’t anymore, then I’m now a home drinker. I was in my mid-twenties when it became very apparent that this was going in a way that I was way beyond my control.
You went to inpatient treatment, then to inpatient treatment again, then to outpatient treatment. You were in and out, and you were trying to get clean and sober, but you weren’t able to do it. You started looking at other approaches. That’s what I’m hearing.
I went to a rehab a year, then you said it, outpatient, intensive outpatient. I’ve had every counselor, group, and peer support group. You name it, I tried it and I’m open. In my last treatment experience, I remember I’m sitting across from my counselor at the time. All of a sudden, I have this insight or flashback. I had paid very strict attention in all of my rehab experiences. I saw all of my counselors visited me like Charles Dicken’s Ghost of Christmas Past, every one of them because I paid such strict detention. I’m sitting there and two things occurred to me.
One is that these counselors, they’re all well-meaning people to go into that occupation. Nobody goes in for fame and fortune and stardom. It’s not the right occupation for that, but how many of them are well and have made a shift? How many of them would be like I wanted to be? I don’t think too many of them. The second thing was, it occurred to me, “I’ve amassed this knowledge. I know more about this subject than everybody that I’ve ever sat across from,” because I have this worldview that most people haven’t been exposed to. I thought, “My addiction, all that treatment, this was my training to bring something forth into the world.” That’s where the idea of the Sanctuary popped into my awareness.
I’m like, “My whole life has been pointing me to this moment.” All of a sudden, all those 30 years of shame and hiding and all of that, I was like, “That’s my training.” To have a reframe, Tim. That’s become so important as we talk about what has people in the addiction world. Let’s face it, to manage your addiction, your life and all that stuff requires a lot of work. If we can learn to apply those skills that we learned to doing something productive, the sky’s the limit. Most of the time, as you know, addiction is a very energetically costly experience. It takes a lot to keep all that going. If I had used all that energy in my addiction, I could have built my own aircraft carrier by hand. That’s how much time and energy I had in this thing, all misguided. We thought, “How do we help people to get well?”
You were never a low-bottom drunk. What I heard you say is that on paper, you had things together.
When I was in the hospital or whatever, my parents and my family didn’t know most of the time. I snuck off and did that. Somehow I had the capacity. I had a lot of inner strength, so I was, in that way, a low-bottom. However, I’ve had some doozy accidents and I was clinically dead twice. If that’s not like a bottom, I don’t know what is.A lot of people still care for you no matter what mistakes you had in the past. Click To Tweet
I can relate because I’m the same way. Low-bottom, meaning I wasn’t homeless. I wasn’t on the streets. I had enough wherewithal to get myself to treatment or to get myself help. The only reason I say that is because there are a lot of people out there that need help, that haven’t lost everything. That’s one of the things that came to me in a conversation with someone. It’s like, “The disease of addiction affects everybody.” You don’t have to be financially broken and to not be broken. I was broken, you were broken.
Do you know what’s so interesting, Tim, with all of these things? First of all, there are a million addictions out there. Many of them are condoned by our society. One of my other addictions was work addiction. To keep my other addiction going, and I had a $200,000 a year habit for a while. I’m not saying that as some badge of honor. This is a person who didn’t feel well. I’m this sick man. In order to support that, I got to work sixteen hours a day. I’m working and doing all that stuff.
The interesting thing about sickness of any kind is that the longer it goes, the less choices you’re going to have. People are not necessarily incarcerated or broke or kicked out of their house. It’s only a matter of time before health begins to fail. You have a heart attack, you don’t have a choice of whether you’re going to the doctor or not. You get a DUI, you don’t have a choice of whether you’re going to jail or not. You run somebody over, you don’t have a choice of living with it the rest of your life.
As this thing progresses, our choices and our circumstances become much more limited. I would tell people, “You know what the trajectory is looking like. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.” I don’t know that you got to need to go see a counselor to know that your life is heading in the wrong direction. It doesn’t take a psychic to understand if you don’t do something about it, it’s only going to get worse. Nobody thinks it’s going to happen to them but unfortunately, a lot of people are going to die.
Moving on, you started talking about the idea for Sanctuary presented itself. Tell me about that.
In learning a lot about the ways that different cultures heal things, we think that in the Western world, we’re like the zenith of thought and progress on this planet. Somehow, it’s this and we’ve figured it all out. I realized that there’s a lot of other places where people are doing things that we’re not doing that might be helpful in conjunction with what we’re doing. If we look at something that people are aware of, we don’t do it here, but acupuncture would probably be a good example of that. It’s popular for 6,000 years in the East. It’s like this freak thing in the United States. I always look at, if some have been around for a few thousand years, like the people that are using it, they’re smart.
If it wasn’t working, they would’ve probably stopped doing it by now. For us, it was like, how are the mind and the body connected and what are the ways that we interface with these things? What became apparent in my study of brain science is the fact that 95% of our brain activity is unconscious. Meaning we’re not aware of it. This is what’s driving our behavior. It’s not this. Everybody on this show, then we’ve all had this experience where we wake up and say, “I’m not going to drink. I’m going to be a great husband. I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that. I’m going to have a great day with my 5% conscious brain.”
I’ve heard it’s even greater than that. I used to think it was 90% subconscious, 10% sub, then I heard it was like 99.94% of our thoughts are subconscious. There’s such a small percentage. The other thing is that 90% of our thoughts today were the same thoughts that we had yesterday.
I want to make sure that everybody on the show understands, the Sanctuary is a non-twelve step program. That doesn’t mean we’re anti-twelve-step. That’s silly. What are we going to help people? What happens is that sometimes the twelve-step, however people practice them, they’re not able to go deep enough to resolve the underlying trauma and the underlying things that make them what the unconscious programs that are leading people to do the same thing over and over again are. This is where the action is, back there. Beginning to understand that we can begin to change those programs, we can begin to start to become the curator of our thoughts.
You said something interesting. Ninety percent of what you’re thinking about today is the same stuff you were thinking about yesterday, so that means my problems, my circumstances. It’s like watching the same TV show every day. Not only the same TV show like you’re going to watch Seinfeld every day but the same episode of Seinfeld all day, every day, day after day. No wonder why we’re drinking.
As we become aware of this, then we can begin to change it. Here’s an issue that I’m going to bring up around always talking about our problems. I go to twelve-step and I say, “I’m Dean. I’m an alcoholic. I’m always going to be this way.” No criticism of that strategy. One thing that’s happening is the science of neuroplasticity, whatever I do repeatedly gets more ingrained into my brain. It’s like practicing the guitar. When I first buy a guitar, it’s so awkward but as I practice it, these neural networks connect and it gets easier. As I complain and talk all these disempowering things, it becomes easier for my brain to do that. I’m training my brain to complain and to be diseased. I’m not so sure that that’s what I would want to do.
Whatever we put our energy into grows. Tommy Rosen says, “My name is Tommy. I’m a person in long-term recovery.” He doesn’t say, “I’m Tommy. I’m an alcoholic,” which, to your point, it’s like, if we keep on saying one thing, then that’s what our brain thinks we are.
Be careful about that. There is no criticism of what people decide to do or not do, but as we bring all these things into our awareness and realize that every little bit matters. You had mentioned in your intro about things like food. Food and mood are about as closely aligned in this day and age. It’s undeniable. It hasn’t reached the mainstream yet, but it will like all science and all things. You read a textbook now, the data is ten years old by the time it reaches the digestible masses. It’s been out there. All of these things combined. I’m not saying that changing your diet will lead you to recovery or being careful how you’re watching your thoughts is going to make you recover or any of that, but when you add all these things together, we got some momentum going. That’s what the holistic process is all about.
It’s everything. My experience is that someone needs to change everything about their life to be clean and sober, happy, joyous and free. It’s everything from new eating habits, new sleeping habits, new exercise habits, pray and meditate. They learn how to have intimate conversations. They learn how to dig deep. We’ve got these neuropathways and we’ve got ways that we deal with life, and because many of our thoughts are subconscious, it’s a big deal to shift our subconscious thinking.
Here’s why we have to use a holistic protocol because I’m connected to my unconscious. All of my organs have neurons in them, primarily the heart. The heart has neurons, so those are brain cells. Other organs have these as well. The gut has brain cells in it. All of my organs are communicating with my brain to let me know whether I’m okay or not. Let’s say my gut is out of whack and I got a lot of pathological bacteria in there because I eat a lot of sugar and processed food. That sends a signal up to my brain that I’m not okay. It’s called gut dysbiosis, but I’m not okay. I’m feeling anxious, but I don’t know why. I’ll look at my environment.
I’m like, “How does my wife or my job or my interview with Tim Westbrook?” Whatever gets me up nervous. Meanwhile, it’s happening in my body. That’s one less thing. If I get my gut in order, that’s one less thing that will be irritating and inflaming my brain. It feels like the more of those things we can get out of the way, the better my chances of staying in recovery. It feels so simple to me. I’m not sure why more people aren’t adopting the strategy, although they are now.
Tim, many years ago, when the Sanctuary began, we were the only ones doing it. If you typed in holistic, one center came up. We were like the freaks of the industry, “These are a bunch of hippies out there.” Now, everybody’s talking about what we’re talking about. I don’t know how webmasters know all these things, but centers coming on a website and getting ideas and taking stuff and all that is fine. It’s not a secret. The more people that get well, the better.
There are enough people out there that need help. We’re all here helping people, and that’s it.
At any rate, how the interconnectedness of the body and we look at medication and those things. Thank goodness we have medication. A lot of times, people think a holistic program is about, “Let me get rid of medication and do meditation.” Holistic means the whole thing. If I need medication, let me add some medication. What’s so interesting is if I don’t take care of other things, like my gut, which is where the lion’s share of my serotonin is made, I go to the doctor and get an SSRI, meaning I don’t have enough serotonin on my synapse. If the manufacturing plant is all messed up, then I’ve got to fix that first. I may not need the SSRI. All of these things work to get the body and the mind and the soul and the energy body, the spirit all are working together.There's a million addictions out there. Many of them are actually condoned by our society. Click To Tweet
We have to understand what the interventions are for each of them because the interventions on the domain of the soul, for example. We’ve all heard the hole in the soul. Anybody who’s ever been to a twelve-step meeting and you hear that. No alcohol, drugs, sex, notoriety or money. You’re going to fill that hole in the soul because the soul resonates in a different language. It doesn’t understand any of that, nor does it understand logic and reasoning. As we understand the different protocols for the different areas of our body and we can intervene, all of a sudden, we get some momentum and people begin to feel better.
People need to make some great changes. People rationalize. Everybody reading can list a couple of changes they need to make in their lives now that they’re putting off because of some rationalization. “When my kids retire, my kids graduate, when I retire, when this happens, when that happens.” It all makes sense, but these are clues as to why people are hurting themselves. If I’m not living according to my own value system, what’s that eventually going to do?
On a value system, that means some people are in jobs that aren’t serving them. Some people are in relationships that aren’t serving them. Some people are in a lot of circumstances that aren’t serving them. For whatever reason, they don’t have the wherewithal or the courage to make some changes. It’s overwhelming. As people begin to feel better, they begin to get the internal strength to make changes. Those changes turn out to be exponentially helpful in the whole recovery path.
It’s like you make a good decision, then you make another good decision. As you’re making good decisions and putting yourself in the right environment because the environment always wins. It has been my experience. People intuitively know what they should or shouldn’t be doing. If they’re in an environment that’s conducive to making good choices, then it’s going to make things a lot easier. Otherwise, it’s impossible. Their thoughts repeat day after day.
Everybody’s got to start somewhere, Tim. By the time people get to the Sanctuary, for example, they’ve already tried virtually everything under the sun. It’s rare that we’re the first stop for people for a lot of reasons. Most of those reasons are the advertising budget you have in the recovery business. The advertising budget of some of those big companies, they’re two people see first, so where do they go? They go there first. When they don’t get the results they’re looking for, they look for places like the Sanctuary. We’ve got to get a start somewhere.
Tell me a little bit about what you guys do. I know that food and nutrition are a big part. What’s the most important part of your program that you’ve seen the biggest results or the best? In your opinion, because I know that it’s a holistic approach. It’s everything. It’s not just one thing. I have some ideas on what is important, but you tell me from your experience.
One thing that becomes important is that if you look at AA and the success of AA. It’s a lot about fellowship. At the Sanctuary, one of the things that we do right away makes people feel comfortable. They get here and they’re part of a community right away because people need to feel safe in order to go where they don’t even know where they need to go. You got to feed them and care about them. You’ve got to up. That’s entry-level stuff. We’re helping people because we’ve designed a program that is about examining these unconscious programs. Since that’s all they are, Tim, our programs are often installed at a time of PTSD or stress when we’re in survival mode, not creative thinking mode.
Naturally, in survival, my menu of choices is much narrower than in creative thinking. We’ve developed a program. How do we get to these unconscious programs so we can get them up and see them? That’s the primary platform that they’re going around. They get sessions. We do a lot of bodywork because we hold tension, trauma in the body. We do a lot of work on the nervous system through energy psychology energy work. The energy system of your body is primary in terms of its healthy system. Little is known about it or studied about it in the United States. It’s all over in the Eastern world. I could not get well until I understood my energy body.
Here’s a way that people can understand what I’m talking about when I say that. People that are old enough to have driven under a high voltage power line get static on your radio back in the days. It’s the digital age. It doesn’t happen anymore, Tim. You probably remember that. Many people know that the people that live underneath these high voltage power lines have higher incidents of certain sickness because electricity going down a line creates a field and everything in the field is affected by the field. The human nervous system is all electrically generated. The whole thing is electricity. That means your spinal column is like this high voltage power line and around your body is a field of energy that becomes very important to your health. That’s another strategy we do. We teach people how to meditate, to do these different things, and how they’re going to cook.
We give them the strategies of self-care that make a giant difference. I don’t know that any one thing is any more important than the rest. Our psychiatrist, for example. We’re trying to get people off of as many meds as we can because oftentimes, people are numb. There are too many meds going on a lot of times. It’s to get them balanced chemically to get them balanced emotionally. We get the start of starting to examine these unconscious beliefs. These unconscious strategies that we’ve adopted will include getting high to mitigate stress and pain. In our facility, we don’t have the hierarchy as in the typical addiction centers. The medical directors are on the top and the housekeeper is on the bottom.
Probably the most important person at the Sanctuary is the chef. We can’t live without the chefs for a day. The housekeeper is probably as important as that because we can’t live without them either. The psychiatrists are no more important than the yoga teachers because they’re all holding a certain piece. We don’t look at one as more important. The psychiatrist has more responsibility and authority, but we don’t hold it that’s more important than the meditation teachers. We don’t know if somebody is going to get the a-ha moment. It often isn’t sitting with a psychiatrist. It’s often some other aspect of the program that does that. Not to say that all of that doesn’t combine in this holistic. It’s a holistic strategy and it creates a holistic response.
We don’t know what does what, but this whole thing combined helps people to feel better and get inspired to live and feel better. Those people that are in addiction, “I’m here. I crash. All I want to do is get back to here.” That’s what caused the crash in the first place. “I’ve got to get up here. I’ve got to feel amazing.” Once people start to feel amazing, like the name of your show, I Love Being Sober, once people start to get a taste of that, the thought of putting a solvent in your body to change the present moment becomes less interesting.
The desire’s not even there. That’s where we want to get to. If we’re white-knuckling it and we’re trying to stay sober, it doesn’t work or it’s short-lived anyway. You talked a little bit about meditation. Why is learning how to meditate so important? I’m sure you’ve experienced people that say, “I don’t know how to meditate. Meditating’s boring. I’m not going to do it.” In your experience, why is learning how to meditate so important?
You said something a little that will sum it up. Ninety percent of what I think about today is the same stuff I thought about yesterday. That means my brain is this wild animal. It’s untamed. Everybody reading this show, tell me you haven’t thought about shipping your kids off to boarding school in South Africa or murdering your spouse or all that. This is crazy stuff that goes on in here. What meditation does is it allows me to start to get control of my focus. During meditation, your mind will wander, and I can tell you that nobody is designed for meditating. There’s nobody that’s born to meditate because most people think it’s about stopping thinking and that’s impossible.
It’s like the sun stopping shining. The sun is not going to stop shining. You could put on some sunglasses. As we learned a very simple meditation, say, “I’m going to focus on my breath,” or whatever it is. As my mind wanders, I go, “My mind is wandering again. That’s not what I want it to do.” I train it to come back. I’m like working out in the gym. I’m training my mind to not wander. It’s not half an hour that I’m meditating. It’s the every 23.5 hours of the day that my mind is now more at rest and controlled. Meditation is a great tool to help us look at these thoughts that I keep thinking repeatedly and to get control of them. Your attention is your life experience.
Let’s say I go to the movies for two hours and it’s a riveting movie. For two hours, that’s what my life experience is. Whatever you’re thinking about is your life experience. Do I want to be a slave to my thoughts that I’m thinking about stuff that happened ten years ago or stuff that might happen ten years from now or all this other stuff? Probably not. I want to think about love, connection, service, how do I be a better husband or father, helping people in recovery. Not, “I’m such a jerk. I can’t believe I did that wrong. I can’t believe that’s wrong.” Meditation helps us to manage our thoughts better.
Your thoughts are the most important thing because not only are they your life experience, but before you’re going to get high, you’re going to think about getting high always. Nobody gets high without thinking about it. Thoughts become important. I wake up in the morning and I think, “I have to go to the bathroom.” Ten seconds later, my body’s in the bathroom. I think, “I’m hungry.” Ten seconds later, I’m standing in front of the fridge. It all starts in your thoughts.
Thoughts become things. Thoughts can be toxic. We’re thinking about yesterday, we’re thinking about tomorrow. If we’re focused too much on yesterday or tomorrow or the things we did or what we should have done or what are we going to do when, that’s when we spiral out of control. That has been my experience.
These are all things that are outside of our control. I’ll share a little story with you, Tim. I lived in a Buddhist monastery for a while and I went at the wrong time of my life. I am not ready to be in a Buddhist monastery. I was in rehab two weeks before this. I had been interested in holistic stuff. I’d read a zillion books about meditation. You hear like, “Watch your thoughts but don’t engage them.” It’s like, “Why are clouds going by?” What that would mean is, if I’m sitting here having a conversation and let’s say somebody comes into my office and I noticed that they’re here, that’s just noticing it. If I turn around and yell at them because they’re in here and I told him not to, then now I’m engaging them.
In my first meditation at this center, I have this meditation. I’m watching all my thoughts go by. I’m like, “I’m doing it.” I watch them all go by. Forty-five minutes later, I have one of the biggest revelations of my life. I’m like, “No wonder my life is so screwed up.” This is the stuff that’s going through my mind. Stuff I wouldn’t even watch on bad TV and it’s occupying my precious thoughts. I’m like, “This is garbage. No wonder why I wanted to go to high then. Stop this.” It’s like watching the same TV show every day.
The mind can serve you or it cannot serve you. Learning how to tame your thoughts is powerful. Let’s talk about some of the other things like ketamine. Do you want to talk about ketamine and what your experience has been with ketamine treatment?
People use it as an antidepressant and it’s helped some people with that. We’re using it for here because it quiets a portion of the brain called the default mode network, which is your identity circuits. These are the same things that we’ve been talking about this whole show, the same circuits that are incessantly firing, “You can’t do this. You should do that. You can’t do that.” That’s my identity. Ketamine quiets that down and allows for some neuroplasticity. The brain is much more plastic. That means that we’re using it as a potentiator for the rest of the session. People will do ketamine and for the next two days, they are now more energetically and emotionally available and more regulated and we can get deeper.
We’ve been doing it now and we’ve noticed that people are able to get more traction in treatment sooner. Ketamine has become not an end, but a means to an end. We’re not using it as an antidepressant. We’re using it to potentiate the other work that’s happening. It has been powerful. Psychedelics are part of the mainstream now in the mental health world.
The way that most ketamine happens is that people will go to the doctor. They’ll get a dose, whether it’s IV or an injection. They’ll have a journey, an hour-long or so, then they go home. That’s the general fare for ketamine. We do it as a group. What’s interesting is that in some countries around the world, people have used psychedelic plants. They do it in a group ceremony and it’s a very powerful experience. We do it as a group and the people don’t miss anything. We do it in the evening. The following couple of days, they are primed for deeper work. It’s a tool. All of these things, Tim, these are all tools. There’s no such thing as the panacea, as you know. You’ve been doing this a long time but looking for the pill, there is no pill. It’s the whole thing. It’s overall health. What tools can I use to accelerate my healing process and ketamine is one of them.Whatever you do repeatedly gets more ingrained into your brain. Click To Tweet
What I’m hearing you say is it makes a person a little more flexible. Let’s say, for example, without it, it’s harder for us to get vulnerable, go deeper, and change our subconscious thinking. Maybe this opens us up a little bit more. I’ve never experienced ketamine treatment, but I know that a lot of people out there are and a lot of people are seeing success with it. It’s a tool, which is what you use it for. Is that correct? I’m hearing you say that it allows a person to be a little more flexible to where they can go a little bit deeper.
We look at the flexibility of the brain. That’s called neuroplasticity. That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking to change our brains and our body. There’s a science called epigenetics, which means that my environment signals my DNA. There’s been this whole big talk about, “You got the alcohol gene.” There’s no such thing as an alcohol gene, but you’ve got the alcohol gene, so that’s your lot in life and too bad for you. We know now that genes turn on and off.
My thoughts, diet, exercise, and all the things that I take into my day are either upregulating or down-regulating. There’s a lot of different things that we can do. They are all tools to help us to make these changes in our bodies that lead to sustainable recovery. I use the term recovered. A lot of people ask me about that. What I mean by that, Tim, is for me, my addiction and my recovery, it’s not a primary focus in my life.
I don’t wake up ever and say, “I wish I could get high.” It doesn’t even cross my mind. I live in this environment. I live at a treatment center and I still don’t think about getting high. I’ve had operations on my body. I take opiates as prescribed. Back in the day, if I took an opiate, I’d be like, “When’s the next one? When’s four hours? When is this? Should I take another one? Should I not take another one? When is that? When can I get a refill?”
I can relate to all of that.
I have none of that now. I think about it. My addiction is in my past now. I don’t look at that as, “Let me casually get high now.” I don’t do that. Why would I want to change the present moment? Life is so sweet. I love being sober, Tim. I love your tagline. Why would I want to do anything different than that? It’s so exciting to be available to the subtle clues and cues. Little intuitions, little things that say, “Go there.” That’s when I meet my new boss or my new love or my new this, or my new that.
When we’re available to little subtle clues and cues, all of a sudden, it changes our life from an okay getting by to an amazing experience of wonder and mystery. Who wouldn’t want that? Anybody who’s gotten high is looking for that. We’re looking for something more than feeling that. We’re looking in a place that’s not sustainable, as you know.
One of the things that I write on my gratitude list quite often is I’m grateful that I’m sober and thinking clearly. I’m aware of the subtle things that happen in life. If I wasn’t clean and sober, then I’d be numb to the world and to things that are happening in the world. I never want to give up what I have. I used to hear people say, “I’m a grateful recovering alcoholic.” I’m like, “What in the world are they talking about?” Now, the life I have is amazing and I wouldn’t change it for anything. That’s what you said, “Why would I ever want to give this up? Why would I ever want to ruin the life that I have?” If you go down that path of the way we were programmed to live, we lose it.
Our world is upside down now. I don’t know that there’s anybody that wouldn’t agree with that. Trying to fit in a dysfunctional system does not make us healthy and that’s what I did. When I was young, what do you do? You go to school, then you go to college, then you get married, you do this, you do that. That’s my prescription. I didn’t question it. I had no earthly business going to school. I wouldn’t do much better at college if I went now and have fun. I’d like to get way more out of it, but I went through the motions and didn’t question, like, “What does any of this mean? What am I supposed to be doing? What is the meaning of my life? What are my gifts and my skills? What is going to be my legacy on this planet?”
I never thought about anything like that. These are all big questions because people who are using intoxicants are often looking for a deeper life experience. If we look at it this way, Tim, in the simplest thing, people avoid pain and seek pleasure. That’s what all animals do. Nobody that I’ve ever met says, “I started drinking because I was in pain.” Nobody does that. People start drinking because it’s fun. All of a sudden, I can dance better. I can have courage. You got to talk to some member of the opposite sex.You will not get well until you understand your energy body. Click To Tweet
That begs the question, “What is it about how I feel about myself that I can’t dance, I can’t be free, I’ve got two left feet or I can’t do this, I can’t get people to think I’m stupid?” That’s where we got to get to because that’s what’s holding you back in your life. My inhibitions go down, so now my unconscious is able to express more freely. That’s why a lot of anger comes up for some people when they’re intoxicated. It’s all that pin-up stuff got to go somewhere. If I don’t deal with all that, then it comes back in a shadow to haunt me.
Are there any other modalities or tools that you’ve been using that you’ve seen success from? We talked a little bit about ketamine. Is there anything else that is like a newer tool that you use or that you’ve seen success from?
One of the things that we’re also doing is we’re doing a lot of IV nutrient drips for people and things like NAD. These are powerful detoxers for the body. They’re cellular upregulators. A lot of people are nutrient deprived by the time they come to treatment. Most food and treatment centers, as you know, are terrible. It’s all garbage carbohydrates. If you haven’t eaten for a couple of months, anything’s better than nothing. At the end of the day, what needs to happen is we need to give the body nutrients. As the body starts to get its nutrients, it gets stronger, faster. That’s another thing that helps in early recovery. We got to replenish the body. We got to repair the damage to the body, which makes us more available to the recovery process.
That’s something that we’ve been successful at. They don’t even know how depleted they are, Tim. You go to the average treatment center. Yes, people are now not doing whatever was hurting them and they’re eating, so they automatically feel better. They’re not feeling as good as they could. Jump-starting my wealth, vitality, and body become a powerful tool to help people in early recovery and ongoing recovery. We don’t get these nutrients out of food like we used to. It’s not the same as it used to be. There are all industrial chemicals that we need to detox out that we need help with. That’s another big thing that we’ve been using.
We do a lot of things as part of rites of passage and ceremony and all things. We are technicians of the soul. The soul is where a lot of healing can happen for people. That term is even nebulous for a lot of people. I’ve sat across from thousands of people now and I ask every single one of them, “What’s the soul?” People sometimes have a good answer about it. Sometimes they don’t, but across the board, people know that it’s important. They know that it represents their deepest, truest, corest, most essential self. If I’m not connected to that, then how am I ever going to possibly feel well? This is what we are masterful out here because the soul, again, I can’t get there through an intellectual experience.
That’s one of the reasons why people in a twelve-step program got to do the work and the steps. For me, that was my experience, going through, doing my inventory, making my amends, which is in line with working on the soul. My soul has to feel good. I got to clear away the wreckage. It’s along the same line. Speaking of IV drips and NAD and Ozone therapy, I’m all about it because I’m an example of a person that’s in recovery that utilizes those types of treatments. I get an IV drip once a month. I use NAD and Ozone. What’s your experience with Ozone therapy?
Ozone is amazing detoxer. I love alchemy, so I love trying different supplements and things. The IV clinic at the Sanctuary is right below where I live. I go down there a lot and see what’s the latest going on and what’s the latest thing we’re dripping. I love doing that because I feel better. It also keeps me on the cutting edge of what’s going on. There’s not one practice or therapy at the Sanctuary that myself or Kelly, the Co-Director, haven’t had ourselves to know. I have a direct experience of everything that’s happening. I do that because it’s fun for me.
That’s something that’s interesting, staying young, excited and fun and vibrant. To have energy, who wouldn’t want that? I want to do this right up until I die. There’s no reason why we have to go be on the decline when we get old. It’s so interesting that all the things that are now in recovery are all the things that they’re using for anti-aging because they help the brain. The brain is what deteriorates and why people get Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and that kind of stuff. Everybody should be doing what we’re doing because it’ll prevent all these degenerative diseases that are now common and prevalent in our culture. We look at Parkinson’s, autism, all those things, maybe we don’t have that but these are all things of the brain.
Maybe I don’t have autism, but whatever’s causing this massive increase in autism might affect my brain negatively even though I don’t have autism. Doing everything that we can to protect our brain and increase our brain capacity, make our brains younger, it’s the full benefit of being recovered and that drinking is the secondary thing. I don’t want to, in any way, dismiss. Early recovery, it’s hard. Whatever we need to do to not drink or not take a drug, do that. If it’s twenty meetings a day and you got to punch yourself down at the Alano Club, then do it, but that’s not going to last forever. We got to do these other things that are going to make me feel great. Now, my recovery can take a back seat to living. I’m drawn by what’s exciting to me rather than being pushed by my past.
It’s about living an amazing life. I had a birthday and I feel like I’m getting younger. I don’t feel like I’m getting older. It’s all of the things I do, all of the biohacking and the anti-aging, which all supports my recovery and it’s feeling good. We all want to feel good and have a clear conscience. We all want our souls to feel good.
As we delve into the shadow and that’s the unconscious mind, sometimes it feels like the scariest thing ever. When we go through the process, we look back and we say, “That was so much simpler than I thought it was going to be. Why did I wait until I’m 50?” Recovery, when we do it right and we look at it like a lifestyle, it becomes much more exciting and much easier, in my opinion, than when we’re trying to go through this arduous thing, like don’t drink today and my life becomes about abstinence. Abstinence is not super exciting unto itself. Abstinence is exciting because it’s the doorway to a million other experiences that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t abstinent. Sanctuary is an abstinence-based program. It’s only because that’s the ticket into the game. That doesn’t get me in the game. That just gets me in the stadium.
That’s the ticket into the game. Is there a question that you wanted me to ask or that you’ve always wanted to be asked and it has not been asked?
I don’t know that there’s a question, Tim. I’m blessed to be interviewed a lot because we have a completely different model that exists. The one thing that nobody ever asked me about is like, “What is it like to live at a treatment center?” I live here and I have for many years. That’s three shifts. That’s not just one shift, even though I go to bed, but something happens in the middle of the night. We got to respond to that. This becomes like a calling. There’s a whole personal side to this that is exciting. What inspires me is people that get so passionate about what they choose to do with their lives.We are technicians of the soul. Click To Tweet
I’ve always been one of those people. I look at that in awe and now I realize, “I’m one of them.” That’s what keeps me doing all this because there have been a million times where I get to see a subtle shift. I get to see somebody see their family again for the first time in a month or two or these things that happened that are priceless. You got to be there to see him. This is the whole thing about recovery. If you’re not paying attention to your kid, your kid’s going to do this amazing thing and you’re looking off over there and you miss it.
It’s not the things that we rehearse in life, Tim, our graduations and all the things that were important that I remember. I remember all these little unrehearsed things that happened, little things that if I were intoxicated, I’d have missed. That’s what I love about living at the Sanctuary because I get to see the human experience every single day and take people through this process and see them at the end completely different than how they got started. That’s enough to forgo living in a house in town and all that good stuff.
You do great work at the Sanctuary. Dean, I appreciate you taking the time to be with me here on the show. Where can people find you or how can they learn more about you or the Sanctuary?
Thanks, Tim. I want to respond in kind and say I appreciate your work. When you asked me to be on your show, I was like, “There’s a guy that I respect and I appreciate him and what you’re doing.” Anybody that wants to check out the Sanctuary, the cool thing about the Sanctuary, there’s a lot of information on the side, even if you don’t need to come here. That’s Sanctuary.net. Go check it out. Feel free to browse around. There are all kinds of resources and things and a lot to learn about.
Thanks again. Everybody, thanks for reading.
Thank you so much.
About Dean Taraborelli
Dean is the founder of the Sanctuary at Sedona, an integrative addiction recovery center in Arizona. Sanctuary is a residential, non-12 step addiction recovery and trauma healing center, specializing in addictions of all types, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Dean has challenged traditional models head-on with a revolutionary Integrative Addiction Recovery program that combines the latest advances in science with ancient healing modalities to treat the whole person and has helped hundreds of clients to be recovered from addiction and to live full, meaningful lives.