Deanne Adamson On Addiction Recovery Through Psychedelic Therapy
Published On: September 7, 202151.9 min read
When addressing any form of addiction, most people think of going to rehab or AA meetings. But Deanne Adamson takes it to another level and presents another solution: psychedelic therapy. She joins Tim Westbrook, MS to talk about how this can help a person dealing with addiction get into actual work that directly impacts mindset, perspective, and spirituality. She shares how beating alcoholism inspired her to set an example and later started Being True To You, a transformational addiction recovery program. Tim and Deanne also talk about becoming an effective transformative coach, how it differs from a counselor, and how an individual can benefit from working with both experts.
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Deanne Adamson On Addiction Recovery Through Psychedelic Therapy
We started the 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 in-patient treatment, seeing a therapist and going to twelve-step meetings. All those things are important, and AA saved my life. However, to find long-term recovery and live happy, joyous and free, there’s a lot more to it than stopping the drinking, stopping the drugs, stopping the sex addiction or stopping any addictive behavior, for that matter.
To live a new life, a person needs new healthy lifestyle habits, amongst many other things. Typically, this includes new eating habits, sleeping habits, exercise habits, friends, interests, self-care becomes a priority and the list goes on. Those are the types of things that we talk about here on this show. I’m here with Deanne Adamson. Deanne is the Founder of Being True To You, a transformational addiction recovery program. Deanne has a Master’s in health counseling and a background in academic psychology, philosophy and theology, psychotherapy and personal development, family and childcare services and judicial victim advocacy.
Deanne’s highest mission within the discipline of addiction recovery is engaging the millions of people struggling with addiction, guiding them into the new era by offering an attractive, interactive and adaptive recovery platform that is action-oriented, results-based, purpose-driven, intrinsically motivating and stigma ending. In this episode, Deanne and I will talk about integrative recovery coaching, psychospiritual prep and integration coaching, family coaching and so much more. Deanne, welcome to the show. I’m so glad to have you here.
Thank you, Tim. It is such a pleasure. We met a few years ago. Thanks for circling back and having me on the show. It’s a pleasure to be here.
We have a mutual friend, Joe Polish. He introduced us a few years ago and this is the first time we’ve gotten to meet face to face. I’m looking forward to this interview. Let’s do it.
Let’s dive in. Thanks, everyone, for reading.
Tell me a little bit about your background and how you got interested in addiction recovery.
Psychedelic Therapy: Recovery is about building character and becoming a better person. It’s clearing the mind, unburdening the hearts of emotional baggage, and strengthening social connections.
Thank you for the introduction as well. You covered some of it there. I have a background in academia and professional training with a Master’s in counseling. I’ve worked in a lot of different arenas. I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector, helping families. I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for a long time, which I have found to be relevant in our work now, helping retreats and bringing hospitality into the coaching and the personal development arena. I’m excited about that.
I’ve worked in the judicial arena helping people who are victims of crimes, which was an interesting experience and I’ve worked in the medical clinical arena as well. I’ve bounced around to different professions. What got me interested in addiction recovery is an interesting story. I have a long story of interactions with the phenomenon of addiction, that’s for sure, but what transformed and changed my life was a sudden conversion experience that I had in 2010 from alcohol.
I never thought of myself as an alcoholic. I knew I had a drinking problem. It was easy to blend in with society because I was working in hospitality and it was what people did and I grew up in a culture of heavy drinking, so it was easy to blend in. I started to notice people around me that were struggling more and that’s what started to catch my attention.
In August of 2010, I woke up one morning after having a tough night with some loved ones and seeing how grand alcohol addiction is over the population. Before I even woke up, in the pit of my stomach, I felt sick to the deepest degree that you could ever imagine. I was imagining all these people around the world, drinking whiskey and vodka and not being able to stop. I felt so much despair.
Honestly, I felt hopeless. In my mind, I said, “There’s nothing I could do to stop this.” That was the first time I noticed God speaking to me and a voice came in my head and said, “There is something you can do. You can quit yourself.” I was like, “Whoa.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. Honestly, I never thought of that. I never even wanted to quit. I remember thinking, “I have to control this because I don’t want to be one of those people that has to be sober the rest of my life.”
At that moment, my vision, my life purpose and my mission were born and it was then that I realized that I could be the example. At that moment, I knew if I, right now, say that I’ll never drink again, I had a window of opportunity out and I know that doesn’t happen for everybody, but I thought to myself, “I’m doing it.”
[bctt tweet=”You can’t buy, beg, or force your way out of addiction. You actually have to do the work.” username=””]
I texted five of my family members and closest loved ones and I said, “I want you to know that from now on, I am a non-drinker.” I didn’t expect them to believe me. They probably thought I was hungover and they’re like, “Whatever.” I wanted to lock it in and I never had a drink since. That was many years ago. From there, I started to question my profession. I was a counselor.
I was looking at the industry and I had spent $250,000 to counsel other people through their suffering and addictions. Yet, all I was doing was doing paperwork, diagnosing people and shipping them to the office next to me to get medicated and that’s all they wanted. I felt limited in my ability to help humanity and that whole month was big for me because I had to stop and think, “You can’t leave the profession. Once you’ve spent that much time and that much money investing in a profession, you have to follow through.”
That’s when I found coaching and it was before it was trendy and I thought, “This is how I can do it. I can do what I want and not feel limited or confined and I can work for myself.” I started a coaching business. Initially, I was going to work with teens because I had troubling teen years and I was sad at the end of my twenties at how much time I had spent devoting to popularity, drinking and fun. That was all I cared about. My value system was having fun. To me, that was life and that was as great as it got. I wanted to work with teens, but then I realized that teenagers aren’t quite ready to dive into the work.
I met a friend of a friend who had an ibogaine clinic in Mexico. That’s where I got into the addiction work. Ibogaine is an entheogenic plant medicine. It’s a derivative of iboga which is a natural plant from West Africa and the main alkaloid is ibogaine. People are taking that internationally. It’s a Schedule I Substance here in the United States, so it’s not legal here, but people are going internationally to do this detox. I went down there and I checked it out. I was amazed to see that people were detoxing themselves in one night and there was no aftercare.
When you say doing the work, what does that mean? I know what that means but I want you to explain to the readers what does it mean to do the work? That’s one of the things that we talk about here on this show. A lot of people want to take a pill so they can stop drinking, drugging or any addictive behavior, but it’s not that easy to do the work. What does it mean to do the work?
That’s a good segue because that’s what I saw. I saw that people were detoxing, but then I saw that they were relapsing later on. That’s when I realized that there is no quick fix. There is no external solution. You can’t buy your way out of addiction. You can’t force, coerce or beg your way out of addiction. You have to do the work. That’s when I started to realize that people don’t know what the work is.
To them, the work is, “We’ll go into meetings, treatment or something physical.” I’m like, “Yes, that is a part of it. We’re physical beings. We have to do these things and it helps to use particular tools and programs and things like this in the material world but that’s when I started to think about what is the work to get out of addiction.” That’s when I realized its cultivation. It’s personal and spiritual cultivation and it’s a holistic process and that’s the thing I want to highlight is that it’s a process.
People want to spend a lot of money to nip it in the bud and get away from it. One of the things I have to tell families is, “We can help your family. There’s a lot of hope here. Miracles are possible, but it’s a process and honestly, it’s a marathon.” It’s everything from building character and becoming a better person to clearing our minds to unburden our hearts of all the emotional baggage that we carry. Cleansing our body, strengthening our social connections and the physical discipline of some kind. It’s some regimen that people are instigating.
We were talking before the show about healthy morning routines. That’s one of the best ways to promote sobriety. It’s getting up early, getting a strong start and the most important thing is the spiritual path. We call it The Path of the True Self here in Being True To You. That connection to God to the true self, to me, is what people are truly seeking.
I was at an AA meeting. The topic was, basically, spirituality in the rooms of AA. I can tell you that for me, I found God, more connection, more intimacy, more love, more community and more laughter. I found all of that in the rooms of AA and that’s why I learned all of those things. Being connected to myself, that’s what I’m hearing you say. It’s basically the same thing. We’ve got to do the work and it’s more than stopping the drinking and stopping the drugs. It’s more than going to AA meetings. Going to AA meetings is a good start. In-patient treatment is a good start. There are so many ways to get started, but you can’t buy your way into sobriety.
I never went through Twelve Steps. A lot of the people I was working with, were angst against Twelve Steps, but in my years, I realized it’s a cultivation pathway and that’s what people need. They need a pathway to look within and to identify where do they get off track, where am I shortcomings, what do I need to make right in my life? In all the things I’ve studied, I’ve become quite fond of Twelve Steps. It’s probably one of the best pathways out there, even though it does get a bad rep and there’s a lot of emotion around it, but that’s the work.
We have a lot of resistance when we have to show up and look within. That’s the hard thing. With addiction, the whole definition of addiction, the way that I see it is you’re externalizing your problems and your solutions to the external world. Anytime you get into a program, the mirror gets turned on you. It’s difficult. These are good starting points in any pathway that people can find to cultivate themselves is going to be helpful and powerful.
It’s taking a look at yourself. Many times, people go into the rooms or they get clean and sober and they’re a victim. It’s like, “Where’s the path to responsibility?” People have to learn to take responsibility and not blame others because I am responsible for everything in my life.
It’s that personal responsibility and taking ownership. It’s difficult when we live in a strange world and there’s a lot of trauma going on and hardship that we go through. It is hard to look within because there’s a lot of problems outside. It’s easy to look outside of us, but truly, you understand through the pathway of recovery or transformational recovery, as we call it, that what’s going on in here becomes a reflection of what’s going on out here. Even if you can’t change what’s going on out here, you can change the way that you show up to it, the way that you interpret it, the way that you interact with it, which in turn changes your experience.
As they say, it’s an inside job. People got to do the work. You started talking about iboga and your experience with people detoxing off of it. It sounds like it was a quick detox, but then what?
When I went down and I saw this treatment, I was blown away. I was like, “This is magical,” because it was cutting through people’s initial barriers, like withdrawal and cravings. Afterward, I saw that you still have to do as much work and it’s an expensive treatment like most of them. Some of the things that I discovered through that work, helping people because most of the people I worked with had been through rehab seven times.
That was the average amount. Most of the clients I worked with had been through about seven times of rehab. They had been through suboxone and methadone treatments. They had been through many of the conventional approaches and it wasn’t working for them, so they went internationally to some of these retreats to try something experimental to save their life. Most of the people I was working with were addicted to heroin and opiates in a bad way. It’s like, “If I don’t do something now, I don’t know that I’ll survive.”
It was pretty amazing to see what was happening in that world and since over the last couple of years of guiding people around these transformational experiences. Whether it’s a Tony Robbins seminar or whether it’s psychedelic therapy, I have come to see that regardless of what approach that you take, they have to do the work. It’s up to you how much you want to go into that particular experience. What got me passionate about the work was seeing that there was more to addiction. This whole phenomenon of addiction, as I started to see it, it is not what we think it is in society. We’ve compartmentalized it as something that only belongs to certain people.
I realized, “No. It’s a phenomenon of the human experience in general. It’s something that we all face. It’s that tendency to outsource our problems, solutions and we get hooked on whatever it is that we’re using. The further we get from ourselves, the more trapped that we become in our own prison.” What got me passionate about it was I saw that sometimes we have to lose ourselves to find ourselves.
For me, I didn’t know. I was lost. I thought I was living the life. I was on top of the world and the coolest person out there. I didn’t know until fifteen years later and adding up the consequences and starting to look at the people whose addiction had progressed more than mine what the devastation was. You wake up some mornings and you’re like, “Who am I? What is the purpose of life? Why am I even here?”
I became passionate about addiction, Tim. It was when I realized that we could use addiction and we could use states of suffering as a launching pad for personal transformation. I saw that you have to lose God and forget why you’re here, and in that absence, it wakes you up and thinks, “This is life or death. I either have to work hard to break out of this and survive or this is going to take me.”
[bctt tweet=”If you have a lot of resistance to show up and look within, recovering from addiction will be a hard thing.” username=””]
That sense of urgency that is created through the phenomenon of addiction, I came to value because I saw other states are suffering and I thought, “There are a lot of states of suffering that you could survive your whole life with and never deal with.” With addiction, you can’t ignore it. You’ve got to look at it, you’ve got to see it and the only way out is to cultivate and develop yourself. You can’t walk out. You can’t choose to come out. You can’t buy your way out.
That’s when I became passionate about addiction. I was like, “This is a window to personal transformation and this could potentially be even a mass awakening if we can all come together and say, ‘We have addictions. We have the states of suffering,’” instead of hiding from it. That’s the conventional approach, sometimes it depends, but it’s numbing it, escaping it, avoiding it and instead of that, it’s like, “No. Let’s lean into this. Let’s look at this. What’s underneath this? What’s the emotion that’s trapped underneath the pain, the wounding and the karma?” It’s all of the stuff and baggage that we’re carrying inside of us. With coaching, that’s when I realized that coaching parallels this so well because that’s what it is. It’s a process of personal growth.
In listening to you, I’m thinking about myself and I say this all the time and I feel so blessed and so grateful that I had my addiction. I’m an alcoholic and I was forced to do the work. I hit my bottom. Anybody that’s struggling with addiction, when they hit their bottom, they have to do the work if they want to get out of it. Life is so much better on the other side of it. Whereas, if someone’s not struggling with addiction, then they’re rolling along and they’re living life. There’s their suffering, but they’re not an addict or an alcoholic, so they don’t have to go and do the work because doing the work is uncomfortable. It’s not fun and there’s a lot that has to happen. If someone hits the bottom, they’ve got a chance because they’re forced to do the work.
Most people, they’re not willing to do the work because it’s uncomfortable. They’re like, “I’m not an alcoholic. I’m not a drug addict. I’m not going to go to an AA meeting. I’m not going to work the twelve. I’ll go to church.” I’ve got nothing against the church, but when you’re going to church, that’s a good community event and that’s a great activity, but if you’re going to church service, you’re not doing the work, which is the same thing as just going to an AA meeting. If you’re just going to AA meetings, you’re not doing the work.
It depends on why you’re going. If you’re going to tell yourself, “I’m doing the work,” or telling your family, “I went to church or I went to a meeting,” but if your heart isn’t in it, then it’s not going to have the same effect. You can almost hide behind these things, pretending that you’re showing up when you’re not. I would say it depends on the intention behind going to church. Are you going there to let go of your burdens and find self-forgiveness and self-compassion? Are you going there going through the motions?
The intention is big in terms of what we’re using because I’ve seen that if somebody whose heart is in it, they can go to the worst rehab in the country and have successful results. In reverse, someone can go to the best program, the most luxurious and expensive program and if their heart’s not in it, they don’t experience that transformation. It’s about intention and getting your heart in it. That’s the trick. It’s how to get your heart in it when the addiction is taking over.
It’s more than the intention. The intention has to be there, number one and after that, people have to be willing to take action. You sit in a church service, an AA meeting or whatever, but that’s part of it. Above that, what work are you doing? What action are you taking to continue?
Psychedelic Therapy: Even if you can’t change what’s going on out here, you can change the way you show up to it, which changes your experience.
The word that we use is integration. What I discovered years ago was the integration industry. There was no integration industry that I could see when I started working with people through addiction. I saw they were going to a bunch of treatments, twelve-step meetings and things like that. They were laying that foundation for an ongoing pathway, but in general, people weren’t integrating these experiences.
Whether it was a tragic experience that suddenly happened or whether it was an opportunity that happened or some kind of treatment program that they went through. We have to integrate afterward. We have those big insights. We get moved. We have those callings to change our life, but at that moment, we have to take that and bring it to fruition. We have to integrate that into our life. That’s what we do on Being True To You. We help people integrate positive changes into their life to create lasting results.
We’re going to dive into coaching and Being True To You. Before, what gives you the right to claim you’re an expert in coaching and in training coaches?
To be honest, I’m surprised because nobody asked me that. We’ve been training coaches so long and to be honest, people don’t ask about our credentialing or what gives us the right to be certifying people. I do appreciate you asking that. I suppose there’s a lot of things that I could speak to around that. First of all, it’s academic and professional training. Through that, you understand the diagnostic structure that we’re using as a society to understand mental health and psychology. You also understand the professional relationship, how to hold yourself in a relationship with a client, what are the proper boundaries there and what is the power of the therapeutic relationship. Academic and professional training, then you have coaching experience.
At this point, I’ve been coaching people for more than eleven years. We’ve coached thousands of families through heavy stuff. Most of our clients, not all of them, that come to us have been in a difficult state. We’ve faced nearly every scenario with our clients, our partner clinics that we work with and the coaches. We’ve saved lives and we have a decade of testimonials of people saying, “You saved my life.” The coaching experience in general often becomes the most powerful thing for people because it is that companionship. When we ask people, “What helped you get sober?” They say, “My coach. Ultimately, it was my coach who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.”
At this point, we have a track record of years doing this work. I built a coach training program at the request of other coaches that were working with me. We are now in the fifth edition of the coach training program. If anybody’s interested in doing this work, you can reach out to us. We also have a team of senior coaches. It’s not just me. I don’t use the word expert. I use a lot of disclaimers with the training. When I put out the training, I clarify to people, “This is non-academic, this is non-medical and non-professional. What we’re doing is sharing our experience helping.”
At that point, maybe 500 people went through the opiate addiction process from a human-to-human perspective. I clarified with people that this isn’t training that came from textbooks or from scientific data. This is training that came from real-life experiences of us coaches working with people and hearing from their own mouths and their own experiences what worked and what didn’t work. I tracked all that stuff for years.
About four years into it, then I created the first training program. If I could say a couple more things on that, it’s an important question. We’re committed to personal growth ourselves. It’s not a process of, “We’re the experts. We’re helping you or telling you what to do.” It’s more like, “We’re all human. We’re all in this human experience and it’s an ongoing process of development.” Within Being True To You, we’re always looking within and seeing how we can improve. We’re always looking at our character and seeing how we can strengthen our character, which brings me to spiritual centeredness.
I have a strong spiritual practice that I’ve held for many years. Through that, I have clarity. I have found God, I have a moral compass and guiding principles. I’m not easily led astray. I am sound with ethics and legalities, so we look at morality, ethics and legalities and best judgment. There’s a lot of things you have to look at when you’re helping people because there’s a lot of gray areas. Sometimes it’s not absolute. I have a good foundation in that regard.
[bctt tweet=”Sometimes, you have to lose yourself to find yourself.” username=””]
I’m the sole owner of the company. I don’t have investors, so I don’t have quotas to meet or hidden agendas that are coming through the training. This is me with a bunch of senior coaches working together and we hold each other accountable. If we see something or hear something, we talk to each other about it and we have people from all different paradigms. We have people from the conventional mental health paradigms. We have people from literally every profession coming into the training. We’ve created this circle of checks and balances, so to speak.
Lastly, I’m a born leader. From the start, I’ve always loved people. I’ve always been good at accepting people of all faiths and belief systems. I’m able to see the different paradigms in society and see the universal place that we all connect, so I’m good at bringing people together. Somehow, I created an 800-page coach training program that’s inarguable. I have a way of touching people of all faiths, of all demographics and providing a pathway that is logical, reasonable, sensible and practical, but not stuck in the empirical world. I can see beyond and the bigger picture of why we’re doing this work.
It’s not about healing trauma. It’s not about recovering from addiction. It’s about the mission beyond that. It’s about finding the path of the true self and finding the path of God. It’s big work, so I feel that I have a meta-view on the power of coaching for our society right now, how to keep it grounded and balanced. It’s a good question. Thanks for asking.
I like what you said about your coaches continuing to do the work. What I think of at Camelback Recovery, myself and my staff, all have to continue working on a program because we’re the examples. That’s the most important thing that we can do. The most important thing I can do. To continue working in a program, continue doing the work and stay connected. If I’m not doing the work, then why would somebody want to do the work that’s following my lead? It’s like, “Do what I say, not what I do.” That was great. I’m glad that’s what you’re promoting because it’s true and it has to happen.
That vulnerability piece is important. That’s what we’ve created within our community because when I was a counselor, we never got vulnerable. In the training, we might share doubts about our ability to counsel somebody else but getting into our work, we didn’t do that. When I became a counselor, I had a lot of stuff within me. I wasn’t doing the work. I was still drinking, as I admitted. I wasn’t doing the work. It’s through this pathway that I learned what the work was and dove into it. It’s important to be able to tap into that to be authentic and get vulnerable with each other and have a network of other professionals to mentor with, especially in the coaching arena.
There isn’t a board that supervises you. You’re on your own. It’s important to have other people that you can go to and get real with, but what’s going on here because that work, coaching others, we all know that. Sponsoring, coaching and counseling others mirrors your own stuff. It’s going to come up and you have to be able to separate what’s mine and the clients. You can’t put yourself as the expert above other people. We’re all in this process together.
What’s the difference between a coach and a counselor?
In general, a counselor is going to be a licensed mental health professional and you’re using professional tools. You’re using professional assessments, diagnostics, treatment plans and you’re often working with other professionals in the arena, such as a psychologist, a psychiatrist or something like that. You’re using approved psychotherapies that you can only use if you are a licensed professional. From there, a lot of it is talk therapy, processing past, present and future. There’s a lot of magic that can be done through the therapy arena.
With coaching, you’re using your own life experiences and you’re using whatever methods and approaches that you want essentially. You’re not using professional assessments, diagnostics and treatments. You’re not diagnosing people or writing their treatment plans. You’re strategizing with them and pulling the answers out of them, so you’re not telling them, “Here what you need. Here’s what I see. I’ve studied this and I’ve studied this psychology. Here’s what I suggest to you.” Instead, you’re pulling the answers out of the client. Not to say that counselors don’t do that too. A lot of times, counselors are being trained in coaching. You’re strategizing with the client and acting as their accountability partner.
You’re saying, “You tell me what’s important to you, what you need, what you want and what you value. I’m going to help you strategize how to align with those things that are important to you.” In general, coaching is about action, results, performance and whatever the client wants to work on, but you’re not doing it through the lens of professional training. You’re doing it through the lens of your own personal experience and maybe the personal development arena and spiritual wellness and holistic healing. A lot of stuff can be tied into coaching, which has its pros and cons.
Psychedelic Therapy: If you’re not grounded in your own faith and value system, it could take you off your path to recovery.
Would a person have to choose between a coach or a counselor or can they have both?
Clients can have both or they can have either it depends on the client and where they’re at. It’s a personal preference. They can work well together because there are areas that a coach may not go in and those are going to be areas of intense childhood trauma. Those could be splits in the psyche or severe states of suffering, maybe bipolar, schizophrenia, personality disorders, generalized anxiety or chronic depression. When we are working with these diagnostic situations, those would go to a counselor, but anyone can work with a coach regardless of what you’re going through.
Even if you have some severe things that you’re working on, the coach might be more personable, upbeat and positive about things, not pathologizing the situation, but opportunities in the situation. They can complement each other quite nicely or a person can choose either/or. Some counselors these days are doing both their counseling and their coaching. When you get one of those situations, that can be helpful for people. It’s nice for people to have different kinds of mentors.
As a coach, one of our roles is to help people expand their support network. Whether it’s building relationships with their loved ones, friends, sponsor, mentor, advisor or counselor, it’s having that of the spokes on a wheel. It’s having different strengths and different kinds of people you can go to because different people are going to help you with different things.
More support is better. In my experience, that’s what I’ve seen. It’s not, “I want a counselor, a coach or a sponsor.” It’s, “A sponsor, a coach and a counselor.” Everything that a person is willing to move forward with, more support is going to be better in my experience. Would you say that coaching is a replacement for treatment or a compliment?
The important thing there is to help clients become well informed about what they’re going through so that they can make the best decision for themselves. I would say, we sell coaching as a complement to the industry, but a lot of people use it just by itself because it’s all-encompassing for them. The coaching relationship can help you identify what kind of specialists and treatments you need. Sometimes people just need that person or that confidant to brainstorm, “What do I need? Do I need a brain scan? Do I need a doctor with my brain? Do I need to work on my gut? Do I need this kind of doctor? Do I need to work on my past trauma?”
A coach can help a client become well informed to what they’re dealing with and what they’re going through so that they can identify for themselves what would be best for them. That’s the important thing. Helping people to identify what they need and what’s available to them so that they can see that. It’s a compliment, but it can also be an alternative as well.
You talked about ibogaine and there are different types of treatments, including plant medicines and ayahuasca. There are some people that are facing addiction recovery or in addiction recovery. That wasn’t my path but I know it’s a path for some people. For me, I would say that it seems like it would be a slippery slope for someone like me or an alcoholic and a drug addict to go out and do plant medicine or any psychedelic. I want to dive into that a little bit.
Being true to the company that I started and owned, we got into helping people prepare for and integrate after psychedelic therapy. A lot of people think I’m a psychedelic advocate, but I’m not actually. I’m an advocate for the path of the true self and I’m an advocate for that spiritual process and that pathway. I’ve come to realize that it’s up to the person what kind of tools of transformation or catalysts that they’re using or different treatments. It is a little bit different for everyone. That’s the thing about transformational recovery. There isn’t a one size fits all model. Each person has to go within and figure out, “What will it really take for me to break these chains around me?”
With psychedelic therapies, they are quite fascinating. They are mostly illegal in this country. There’s a lot of efforts to decriminalize them and to legalize them. There has been a lot of movement in those arenas. It’s not going to be unlikely that in the very near future, you can go to your therapist, you could lay down, have an MDMA session and you can process your stuff.
What I have found is that when people are really stuck, suffering and maybe even having some life-threatening situations that these experiences can pop people out of it for a moment and create a window of opportunity. It’s the same process. Regardless of what you do, you still have to do the work. I don’t think that there’s a shortcut.
As far as it being a slippery slope, yes and no. On the one hand, I have seen a lot of people come from the traditional paradigm, which is a good and sound struggle with this because their friends are talking about it and they want to do it, but they don’t want to break their sobriety. That’s a big debate for people like, “If I do this, am I breaking my sobriety?” Twelve Steps would say, “Yes, you are,” but it’s nuanced because people are still smoking cigarettes, still on Suboxone, Xanax, antidepressants and are addicted to coffee and sugar. There’s still a lot of addictions going on in the Twelve Steps arena. To me, a person has to make their own choice on that. There’s a lot of psychedelic Twelve Step meetings now supporting people.
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I’m not an advocate for psychedelics because I believe in autonomy so much and people need to choose for themselves and these are big experiences. Ultimately, from a spiritual perspective, we don’t know what’s happening. There’s a disadvantage to every advantage. What I see is that the potentialities and the opportunities that come through it can be very significant if a person is willing to do the work with it. The slippery slope part of it, they’re not addictive and they’re nontoxic and they’re difficult.
When you go into an experience, they’re not fun. They’re hard. You’re sitting naked with yourself. You have to see all of your truth in such a short amount of time. It opens the floodgates on your emotion. It can open up your trauma from childhood, so you have to be ready to do something like this. Most people aren’t rushing to go back because it’s unfavorable.
Ibogaine, that’s a very difficult journey. It’s 24 hours, eyes closed, going through a life review, feeling everything that you have not allowed yourself to feel for the last however many years. People don’t tend to become addicted to it. However, there are some that are maybe a little bit more risky and there are some plant medicines that people can become addicted to like cannabis, obviously. A lot of people abuse ketamine. People can abuse MDMA or ecstasy. For some, it could be a slippery slope. Now that people are micro-dosing it, people could become dependent on that.
The bigger issue that I see is that if you’re not grounded in your faith and value system, it could actually take you off your path. That’s the bigger thing. I worry less about people becoming addicted to it. I just have seen a lot of people get off substances through it. I worry more about getting off track with one’s orthodox, traditional, spiritual pathway that serves them and then jumping into a new age reality where anything goes. Sometimes people could throw out their value system with it. It’s more of the culture that I would prepare people for so that they don’t lose their own essence. The medicines don’t do that itself. It’s more of the culture around it. It’s a debate in our culture. People are for and against it. There’re a lot of good reasons on both sides.
What I’m thinking about over here, as I’m listening to you is, “What’s the intention?” If I’m going into it with the intention of just doing drugs, having a good time and partying, I’m not doing any “deep work.” Just going into it to have fun and to have a good time, then, of course, I’m not going to get anything out of it, but if the goal is to do the deep work, to find out what’s underneath my issues, then that’s where it needs to start, which leads to the coaching piece. Why is it important for someone to have support or coaching leading up to an experience and then following the experience?
That’s what we do, to prepare people for these things, especially if you’re going to do an ayahuasca journey in the jungle. You’re going to leave home and go down there or you’re going to do ibogaine, which is upwards of $10,000. You don’t want to rush down there, spend all that money, invest all that emotional energy, get your family excited and then come back and relapse or dump stuff that you’re not ready to handle.
The importance of preparation is that intention. Getting clear and setting the stage for that process to unfold and to identify what the work is because sometimes we don’t know what the work is. The work comes up, we resist it and we push away from it. We don’t realize that every scenario, hiccup, triggering moment and hard moment, that’s the work. That’s the stuff that we get frustrated about like, “Why me? Why does this stuff keep happening to me? It’s always like this.” It’s like, “No, that’s the opportunity.” This is the work.
In the preparation phase, we’re helping people to clarify what those intentions are. We’re helping people to become well informed about what their options are and what they’re getting into so they can make their own decisions. Autonomy is important in this and making the decision for yourself. You cannot force people into psychedelic therapies. You can’t. This has to be a personal decision. We’re helping people to look at coping skills, grounding skills and embodiment skills.
As they go through this process of facing and feeling what’s underneath, the limiting thoughts in their brain, the doubts, the fears, the resentments, all the anger, sadness, loneliness, all that stuff. We’ve got to lean into that. We’re looking at coping skills to build that resilience and tolerance to feel that pain while we’re healing it. All around establishing the readiness for somebody to step into something that is intense and potentially transformational. There’s a lot of stuff that we’re doing in the preparation.
In the integration phase, a person comes out and they’re already ready. They’ve already been preparing for weeks, sometimes months before the experience. They’re already in that mind state of like, “This isn’t about avoiding pain anymore. This is about leaning into pain. The harder it gets, sometimes it’s the better because the more I’m working on at a particular time.”
In the integration phase, you are bringing the fruits of those insights and realizations, those a-ha moments and you’re identifying, “How can I turn those into action steps? How can I actually apply this wisdom that I’ve attained within myself to my life?” Setting up a lifestyle with discipline, routines, accountability, structure and social relationships that are positive and healthy so that you can have a chance at sustaining those results.
The before and aftercare or preparation integration that what we do is the continuum of care that goes around any treatment and streams together all of the efforts because people are doing lots of things. They’re like, “I tried that. It didn’t work.” That’s not a problem with the program. That’s the person. That’s because we’re not integrating those experiences and streaming them together. That’s what the coaching is doing. The coaching is the guidance, accountability, reassurance, structure, companionship and being the trusted confidant, all of those things. As you go through your recovery journey, regardless of what things you’re using, whether it’s psychedelic therapies and or all these other things, you’re doing the work in between all of it.
Psychedelic Therapy: You must get clear with your intentions and set the stage for the recovery process to unfold. Sometimes, you don’t know the work, so you simply resist and push away from it.
How important is the work that happens after the experience versus the actual experience? What’s more important?
After, for sure. Every experience is different and there are those miracle stories. That’s what leads people to psychedelics because they get online and they’re like, “I saw that person and they just did the experience and they were fine afterward.” I’m like, “That’s 1% of the people.” I had that sudden conversion experience and so there are people who have been doing the work for years and they’re just ready. They go in and it just cracks them open and they come out and they just stay sober.
That’s people that have put in a lot of time and a lot of work before it. In general, the majority of people are going to have to work pretty hard afterward. The experiences are weird, confusing and difficult. Sometimes it’s like a nightmare or a dream and sometimes it’s like visiting Heaven and Hell on the same night. It’s challenging but in the process after is when you start to make sense of your life and start to make sense of what you’ve seen and create a new lifestyle and a new regimen. A whole new way of seeing and being in the world that makes it possible. In all the time I did ibogaine integration, I would say that the Ibogaine turned out to be 5% of a person’s journey, maybe 10%. Still, the most important part is going to be after.
What it seems like to me is that the actual ibogaine experience is where they are, call it enlightened or they get the realizations. They realize what needs to happen and then after is when they work with a coach to put everything in place. As you said, and this is what I believe as well is someone’s life has to change completely. Everything in their life has to change. New eating habits, sleeping habits, exercise habits, friends, hobbies, interests. Everything has to change.
What I’ll say about these plant medicines is that they do create that window of opportunity to create change and that’s why people do it. It’s cleaning out your gut completely. The gut and the brain are connected as we know. If your gut is full of bad bacteria, it’s telling your brain what it wants. It’s saying, “Eat that Snickers bar. Use that drug. Watch TV.” It’s controlling your whole world. It’s so difficult for people to create change because of all the factors that make us stuck in those realities. That inner prison we’ve created for ourselves.
That’s one of the reasons people are going to plant medicines because it feels like a new beginning, it feels like a fresh start. There’s a moment afterward, whether it’s a week or a month or sometimes up to three months of opportunity where change is easier. It is easier to give up bad habits, vices, negativity, gossip. People feel clean of those things, which is the downfall of ibogaine. It creates such a feeling that you’re fixed and rejuvenated that sometimes people don’t do the work. They’re like, “I’m better. I’m different. I am on top of the world.”
We call it the pink cloud because they’re in the pink cloud for a while, but if people understand that effect and they realize, “This isn’t real. I didn’t cultivate this yet. The medicine has helped provide me state of being but in order for me to maintain the state of being and hold on to the state of being, I have to change everything about the way I think, feel, react, respond, choose different foods, make different decisions, who I hang out with, where I hang out,” and then you can move into that life.
That’s the misconception about plant medicines that, “Just keep going back and doing another experience to feel good.” What the medicines are showing people is like, “This is what it could feel like and this is what it could be like if you do your work.” It gives you a taste of that and then it takes it away. That’s confusing for people because they’re like, “I felt so good afterward and now it’s gone.” It’s because you have to actually assimilate into that state of being yourself in order to maintain that.
Do people usually go back and do a second experience or a third experience or is it typically one experience?
It depends on what plant medicine, but if we’re talking about ibogaine, typically one. The reason is there’s a higher risk factor. There’s a cardiac risk to this treatment that’s why it’s done in a medical setting. It’s expensive and it’s really difficult. It’s a very hard experience, so most people don’t want to go back. They’ll say, “I’m glad I did it, but I never want to do it again.” Every once in a while, I have seen people go back for a second treatment.
That can be helpful if the person is doing it for the right reasons and they’re not just doing it to reset their addictive nerves so that they could go back to where they once were. That’s what they think. Typically, just one time and that’s why we prepare people because it’s like, “You want to get it right. You’re not going to want to do it again.” With other plant medicines, people may or may not go back for different experiences.
Let’s talk about Being True To You. How did you come up with the name Being True To You and what does that mean?
After fifteen years of realizing I wasn’t true to myself and that I was true to all these other things that maybe were implanted in my mind from the material world about what was important, what I realized was the most important thing was being true to yourself. It’s a neutral term that anybody can get behind. To date, I’ve never had anybody not like that term because to me, being true to yourself is being true to God. That’s the discovery in your process awakening to that.
Whether people are religious, spiritual or scientific-minded, whatever state of mind people are in, it makes sense. This idea of being true to myself promotes sovereignty, autonomy and free-thinking. It gives people permission to explore what that means. It just came to me, honestly. Years ago, I was thinking about Living True To You and then all of a sudden, I was like, “No, wait. Being True To You.” This feels more grounded. This feels like it has more depth. It invokes curiosity because it’s like, “What does that mean to be true to myself?”
To me, it invites the inner work, inner process, the inner introspection into the deeper part of our human experience and what we’re here for. I had no idea when I started the journey that I would go on naming my company that. The depth has really grown over the years. It’s been hard because, for many years, all I could see was the gap between who my true self and who I could be and my higher self and then who I really was. It’s not easy because you see the difference between your best self and where you are. If you bring self-compassion into that, you can use that to actually elevate yourself not to bring you down.
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What makes a person a good coach? You got lots of coaches. How many coaches do you have on your roster?
We have a few hundred coaches on deck. We’re using a few dozen regularly and growing. We have a lot of coaches. We’ve trained upwards of 800 and we have coaches all over the world. In most countries, it’s really cool even though it’s a small network. They’re all spread out everywhere. I have a lot of experience training and mentoring different coaches of different kinds. Family coaches, relationship coaches, recovery coaches, health coaches and life coaches.
There’re a lot of different niches with coaching, so what makes for a good coach? Doing your own work and being able to separate what your work is from your client’s work so that as your work comes up, you continue to stay in your own process. I would say that’s the most important, your character. Being a good person is important to being a good coach.
Being stable in all areas of your life, that doesn’t mean your life has to be perfect. It’s not going to happen for any of us that were just perfect but having stability mentally, emotionally, physically, financially in this world is important to be able to help somebody else find that stability and quality of life. Having sound moral, ethical and legal judgment, this is really important. That’s not something that everybody has. Sometimes people might have one, but you have to look at all of them. Ethics, morals and laws and then understanding boundaries between coach and client. That’s important.
Being compassionate, personable, relatable, friendly, creative, spontaneous, being able to keep your client engaged. You have to be adaptable. You have to understand what it is that they’re wanting, needing and being able to sometimes wear different hats to show up to different clients because everyone’s different. In my early days, when I had 30-plus clients at one time, that’s when I realized I’m a different coach to each person because they’re all a little bit different. Some of them are more cognitive, some of them are more in their body. They’re working on different things.
Of course, after character, I always put character first, then comes credentials, experience training, the refinement of your coaching skills. Being able to ask the right question and say the right response. Not talking too much. Really listening to what the client is putting out and not infusing your own experiences and bias into the client’s world. It’s important. It goes back to boundaries.
Resilience is important. You have to be able to persevere and sustain, especially recovery coaching because it’s hard. People go up and down and you can’t go on that emotional roller coaster with them. You have to be able to stay strong and grounded, not attached to their outcome or how well they’re doing. You have to be free of attachment from them because it doesn’t work. Their families are attached and their loved ones are attached to their outcome. Always trying to control every detail. The coach needs to be hands-off. Almost like a guardian angel, you’re with them but you’re not trying to control it.
Impeccable. That’s the thing that I teach the coaches here. You need to be impeccable with your word and your work. Be punctual. You need to be available. You need to follow through on what you say. You’ve got to be reliable. It really comes down to the strength of character. I do think credentials and experience and training are equally important but it’s who you are that matters and how well you can relate to people.
Who should consider this type of coaching?
Anybody can hire a coach because even if your needs are severe, a coach can help you brainstorm what other types of treatments or professionals you can work with. In general, good candidates for coaching are going to be people who are coachable. People who are ready to do the work. People who are ready and willing to get vulnerable to lean into whatever it is that they have to work through to get to where they’re going. People that are either desperate enough or eager enough to create change because the coaching process is not always easy to lean into the sensitive parts of ourselves that sometimes we have to go in to create change. That willingness, readiness, coachability and acceptance to being held accountable. Those are all good traits to have when working with a coach.
I would say people that may not work well with a coach. Sometimes it’s good to look at that side of things, would be people who don’t want to change or are being forced to change. They’re not doing it by their own decision. People that have an inability to look within. They just can’t. They’re in that victim role and they cannot see their role in it. Of course, those are the harder personalities to work with.
Sometimes we’ve had a lot of success in coaching, just because we have the Village of Coaches. We have all the groups and the workshops and that can help break through some of that more intense resistance. You have to be able to invest in coaching, not just financially but mentally and emotionally. It’s an investment. If you’re not willing to invest over the long haul, you just want to step in and do 1 or 2 coaching sessions to try it out. That’s not the most effective way. You’re going to come in and be like, “This is hard.” You’re just going to quit. You have to have people that are able to commit.
I heard you say a couple of things here. First, I heard you say that you do lots of different types of coaching. Health coaching, life coaching, recovery coaching. I think about professional athletes. They all have coaches. Tiger Woods has a coach. In professional sports teams, there’s always a coach. Myself personally, I’m a huge believer in coaches. I had a triathlon coach, a running coach, swimming coach. I’m doing the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, I have a coach that’s writing my workouts and putting everything together for me.
I need somebody else besides me, to tell me what to do because if I’m listening to myself, I can rationalize anything and I can make anything sound good. I need another person to help me and push me outside of my comfort zone, hold me accountable and I believe that anybody can use a coach. I liked what you said that people that are not suitable for a coach are people that are that don’t want to change, people that are being forced to have a coach, people that are a victim and they’re not willing to look at themselves. That’s been my experience as well because I’ve seen it and I’m sure you’ve seen it as well.
Psychedelic Therapy: A coach can’t go on an emotional rollercoaster with their clients. They must stay strong and grounded, not attached to their outcome.
You have to want it and you have to be willing to commit to an accountability partner. That’s what I think about coaching, an accountability partner. With what we do, we do transformational coaching, but each coach has their specialized niche. That’s why it’s nice because we can fit any client that comes in to a coach. We have a coach for everyone, which is great, but we specialize in transformational coaching specifically, which is specifically taking your states of suffering, discomfort and those lingering conditions we’ve had through life and using those as a catalyst for transformation. We’re turning negatives into positives.
How can people find out more about you, more about Being True To You, whether they are looking for a coach or they’re interested in finding out more about your coaching program? Tell me how people can find out more.
You can find us at BeingTrueToYou.com. You can find us on Facebook. We have a Being True To You page on Facebook and we have an Instagram page. Those would be the three best places to find us. We have our annual coach training. If you’re interested in getting certified as a coach and engaging in this work, please reach out to us. We have a one-of-a-kind training program. It’s all online and flexible. We have an amazing community. We’d love to meet you and talk to you about that.
Of course, just working with a coach, it’s life-changing. It’s sometimes hard to step in, but once you step in and you engage the work, it feels better than avoiding the work. It seems like it’s going to be hard, but it feels good to get vulnerable. It feels good to talk about our pain points. It feels good to conquer and move through some of this stuff. I’m happy to take your call and talk to any of you. Those would be the best ways to find us.
Life is easy if you live it the hard way and hard if you live it the easy way. As you said, you got to lean into it. Deanne, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate you. Everyone, thanks for reading.
Deanne Adamson is the founder of Being True to You, a transformational addiction recovery program.
Deanne has a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling, and a background in academic psychology, philosophy, and theology, psychotherapy and personal development, family & child care services, and judicial victim advocacy.
Deanne’s highest mission within the discipline of addiction recovery is engaging the millions of people struggling with addiction guiding them into the new era by offering an attractive, interactive, and adaptive recovery platform that is action-oriented, results-based, purpose-driven, intrinsically motivating, and stigma-ending.