New Beyond The Bars Radio Podcast Episode: “I Married a Junkie” Author and Addictions Expert Cali Estes

Hear from Dr. Cali Estes! Author of I Married a Junkie. Founder of The Addictions Academy. Host of Unpause Your Life Podcast. Addictions Expert appearing on Fox News, Dr. Drew, CNN and several other shows. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Dr. Cali Estes is a well known Addiction Expert as seen on all major news networks and talk shows. She has been nicknamed by the press ‘The Female Dr. Drew’. She has devoted her life to teaching treatment centers and individuals the correct way to helping people. She is the founder of The Addictions Academy and Celebrity Coach. Cali has worked with many wealthy, celebrity and even regular people. You can usually see her on Fox News, CNN and KTLA TV on the regular!

Cali Estes, Ph.D is an author and highly sought after Addiction Therapist and Life/Corporate Coach who specializes in harm reduction and utilizes holistic approaches to treat addiction, as well as mental conditions holding her clients back from reaching their full potential. She works with individuals, drug and alcohol treatment teams and addiction professionals looking to advance their knowledge base.

Dr. Estes has over 20 years experience working with drug, alcohol and food addictions. Her deep understanding of drug and alcohol addiction, including the behaviors and ramifications that are associated with it, place her at the top in the field of addiction therapy. Dr. Estes is an interactive, solution-focused Positive Psychologist and Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. Her unique no-nonsense approach of cognitive behavioral therapy, positive psychology and life coaching combine to provide the perfect support for an addict. Dr. Estes’ background in food addictions and the emotional and physical tolls it takes on one’s psyche and physical well-being is highly unique.

Dr. Cali Estes is a #1 Best Selling Author on Amazon has been featured on CNN, NBC, CNBC, CBS, FOX News, LA Times, Yahoo! News, Philadelphia Inquirer, Reader’s Digest, Entrepreneur Magazine, MSN Money, Max Sports and Fitness, San Jose Mercury, The Fix, Dr. Drew, People Magazine, Washington Post, Yoga Digest, Reader’s Digest, and more. She was also featured in a riveting documentary about addiction, Gone Too Soon: The Story of Emily Cooley.

Dr. Estes is a Certified Masters Level Addiction Professional. She holds a Ph.D from DSU in Psychology and Life Coaching, a Master’s Degree from WCU, and an undergraduate from PSU, International Certification as a Drug and Alcohol Therapist, Master Certified Addictions Professional, as well as 24 certifications and over 20 years of experience as a Personal Trainer, Yoga Teacher, Pilates Teacher, Food Addictions Specialist and Life Coach. Her unique approach to get to the root cause of the problem with each client and relate on a humanistic level makes her desirable in this industry. Dr. Estes is more than a ‘sober coach’. She has a background in clinical and personality psychology, addictions and forensics and has been featured on NBC, CBS, CNN’s Don Lemon, MSN, Dr. Drew Podcast, Washington Post, Fox News, The Los Angeles Times and many more.

Click here for more information on Dr. Cali Estes.

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Rob Lohman

Beyond The Bars Radio podcast interview with Cali Estes of The Addictions Academy.

Length: 23:51

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Rob Lohman: Hey, everybody. Thank you so much for tuning into another episode of Beyond the Bars Radio. I am really excited to Interview CaliEstes today because she has been a huge mentor of mine and has really helped me break into this industry of addiction and recovery. So, good old Cali, welcome to the show. Why don’t you give people a snapshot of who in the world is CaliEstes.

Cali Estes: Hey, everybody. I’m Doctor CaliEstes of the Addictions Academy and the Addictions Coach and a podcast called Unpause Your Life and a bestselling book called I married Junky. That’s me in a nutshell.

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Rob Lohman: I love it. Your home office, your office is something that involves wheels from my understanding, but you also relocated to a physical loft.

Cali Estes: Oh, well. Yeah, what I did was, two and a half years ago, I gave up my office in Miami and Brickell. It was just awesome to get an RV and travel around the country and see clients in the RV and I just hung my wheels and went back into Miami, which is a little more stationary, a little more my speed. But the wheels are nearby, so I can use them at my leisure to see clients.

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Rob Lohman: Very nice and the view from your new pad is pretty sweet. You can pretty much see forever and ever and ever. So I’m sure that will bring a lot of tranquility and serenity to your life as well.

Cali Estes: I can see Oprah’s house.

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Rob Lohman: Do you have a big like…

Cali Estes: It’s pretty cool.

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Do you have a big like water balloon winger you could kind of send her a water balloon from your deck or anything?

Cali Estes: No. She is too far away. She is on Fisher Island. I can see Fisher Island from here. She is probably… the water is in between us, maybe three miles of water, but I can see Fisher Island. So it’s pretty cool, you know how the other half lives.

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: So you help a lot of people all over the globe in what you do and the Addictions Coaching and you have the Addictions Academy, you are published author, you have a podcast. Why do you do all this?

Cali Estes: Well, you have to constantly be in everyone’s face and that’s just how it is. So you’ve got to be available, accessible and people have to like you, well, to a point. They have to understand your method and they have to see you repeatedly and say that’s who I want to work with. You could do a book and then three years go by and no one thinks about you. I have my second book in the works already. So it’s constantly grinding, it’s constantly moving, constantly staying in the public eye. There is a reason Dr Drew is so big. He goes from show to show and thing to thing. He doesn’t just show up and do one little thing and that fizzles out and he goes okay, I’m just going to hang out on my boat or my deck or whatever. You have to constantly be producing, constantly hustling.

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: I agree, because there are a lot of people that help people in the addiction realm and recovery and obviously you are a pro at staying out in front of people. I try to emulate a lot of what you do and just continue to do things to draw people into your world. What would you say is kind of like the biggest challenge of what you do? What has been the biggest challenge over the years, because you have been at this for a while, for you to keep going?

Cali Estes: The biggest challenge hasn’t been the client, as strange as that would sound. Because people say well, you are in addiction, the clients are crazy. The clients wear you out. They are exhausting. But they are not really the problem. This is going to sound strange. I would say the colleagues in my industry are the problem. We have some of the most hateful nasty people doing this work, pretending to do good work. In 2014, I got slandered all over the internet from people just making things up because they didn’t like me. They didn’t like me because I was constantly marketing or I was offering training or they wanted to do what I was doing, but they were just too lazy.

So they went on social media, and these were people that have been on Dr Oz and Oprah that shouldn’t be doing this kind of behavior. Some of these people own treatment centers. Some work for treatment centers and that’s has been the biggest hurdle. Getting over people constanlly having something negative to say no matter what you do. I come out with a book, oh we don’t like the book. How could she possibly do this, that or the other? 

So in 2014 when all this went down, there was Facebook group and someone had posted

“You know, Cali is no good at her job. She is a fake doctor. She is wanted by the FBI. She has never gone to college”. It was just ridiculous. None of it was even true. Then they said, by the way, what kind of psychologist or what kind of therapists marries a junkie? She must not be good at her job if she married a junkie and I looked at my husband and I said, let’s take this and let’s spin it. I married a junkie. That’s how we got the book title. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: That’s awesome. So basically someone slandering you gave you the name of the book that you’ve been able to market and get out there as a best seller? 

Cali Estes: Absolutely, and that’s what I call Karma because I could have said, oh my god, look what they’re saying and internalize it and believed it. I sat there and said, what can I take this and run with that shuts up the haters? As soon as we came up with a title I said they can’t complain anymore because now I have a selling book that says I married a junkie and it’s all about my life with Tim and him relapsing on heroin and what happened. This is all the stuff they were complaining about. So I just put it in the book and now I’m selling it. So it’s sort of like that’s been my biggest hurdle and I was able to circumvent that and take such a negative and make it a positive. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: For some reason, I don’t know why, it makes me think of the movie Eight Mile with Eminem. Have you ever seen that movie? 

Cali Estes: Yes. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Yeah know he gets up on stage. He’s like, “That’s right. I’m white trash. I’m a little white boy”. He goes and he gives them all the things they are firing at him and then everyone is like, alright, what do you have say about me now? I just told you everything about me. I love that how you can spin that piece of it. I got introduced to you in my own life transition and a friend of mine said, “Hey, you should check out CaliEstes and the Addictions Academy” and hear you were coming to Denver and I got to take your training and that really got my foot in there and you’ve been a great mentor in my life to get me connected in the industry and I’m really grateful for you. So tell people a little bit about the academy and kind of how they find the information and what you offer through that. 

Cali Estes: Sure. So about six years ago, I really was getting into the celebrity market. I was working with the NBA, the NFL celebrities on how to get past their addiction and I was using fairly new concept of coaching as opposed to therapy. A lot of people said, how are you getting the results you are getting? How are people quickly turning their lives around in six months when they’ve been in and out of treatment for five years? I said, “Well, I’m coaching”. A lot of therapists and people that sponsor people didn’t know what coaching was. So I said, let’s create a school to do coaching and intervention. And I came out with the addiction’s academy and we offer just recovery coaching level one and intervention. 

We quickly grew to offer 40 classes. We are in 22 countries. We are in five languages and we have 20 plus teachers. So we are getting bigger and bigger and bigger as we continue out and we broaden our strokes and we can kind of offer more services to more people. In six years we’ve trained 6000 people, which is pretty awesome. Some of those are scholarships, freebies, and some are people that were able to pay for courses. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: So what does somebody do, and I love the growth of that too, but what does somebody do? So they take your course and I love now you offer supervision and 10 hours of supervision for your new students and everything. But what is someone able to do with that certificate in their journey of employment or what they want to do with life or what can people do with the knowledge they learned from you? 

Cali Estes: A lot of different things. We specialize in professional coaching, not peer to peer. I’m not a big fan of the peer to peer market and I know that sounds awful, but I just don’t agree with it. I don’t think you should be putting clients in your car. I don’t think people should be going to hospitals as recovery coaches on the front line. That’s an interventionist job. So I don’t agree with any of that. Our school is about professionalism. So people that want to work one on one with the client hourly or intensively get paid what their worth is, because I definitely believe in getting paid. Whereas some of the other coaching programs, it’s free, pro bono, give back.

I don’t agree with that. That’s service work and a lot of our students have started their own companies. They do sober companion, they do safe passage or safe sober escort work. They do intervention work; they can work for a treatment center. A lot of them have stepped in and done interventions for treatment or coaching for treatment and then we have trained a ton of treatment center. We have trained almost 500 treatments. So we go in and we actually train the staff in recovery coaching, intervention, how to answer the phone, call center, admissions, AMA, APA blocking, business development. We have expanded to be able to offer all that, but is from the professional side, not the peer to peer side. So it confuses people sometimes when they call, but we explained sort of what we do that’s different and how we want our people to go out and kind of conquer the world. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Most definitely and I know a lot of your students and I see a majority of them kind of going into the private practice arena and just say I’m a [inaudible 09:19], I’m going to hang my shingle and I’m going to go for it. The ones that have the ability to go out and market themselves and get busy and start their own business and have that skillset could do really, really well. I can imagine there are ones that come through it that are just like, I have the knowledge now what do I do? But I know you also offer a marketing class to help people get their own business started. 

Cali Estes: We do. We actually offer a huge marketing class and one of the biggest treatment centers in the country bought it from us and it covers everything, how to open up a company, how to garner clients, how to navigate social media, how to go into a treatment center and network, how to do a lunch and learn, how to do all the things that most people say I don’t even know what to do or where to start. We started actually adding that in our advanced intervention class. So it’s now actually part of our three day advanced clinical intervention where you not only learn how to become an interventionist, you walk away with the tools to open up an intervention company or make money. 

That’s the big problem in our industry, it’s sort of like people say here, this is how you do it. But people in the addiction industry aren’t marketers in terms of their own company. They are not business people. So this is new to them. Most therapists were taught in college and education, this is low pay, high stress, and I just don’t agree with that. I think you should be paid what you are worth and I think you should be paid well if you are doing a good job. So we teach you how to do that. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: That’s great. You can’t beat years of experience to pour into people. So tell us a little about this I Married a Junky book. I mean, what are some things people can plan to experience if they buy the book and kind of dive into that? 

Cali Estes: The book opens up with my husband stopped at a red light, nodding out and the police officer rapping on the window. He rolls it down and of course you know he’s on heroin, and the cop says, “Are you doing heroin? Get out of the car”. My husband says, “No, I’m just tired. I was working”. So they call the EMT, then they come and they put all the electrodes on him and he has got the baggies in his mouth, so he is trying to hide the heroin. So that’s how the book opens and how he gets out of it, talks his way out of it, come homes and I don’t suspect anything. He goes in and gets in the shower and he has the electrodes on him. Had I seen that I would have freaked out and would have known something was wrong, but I didn’t see it, so he got away with it. That’s how the book opens. 

There is a section in there about how he got our BMW stolen and we had to call LoJack. He is there with no shoes, no wallet, no nothing, trying to tell me that he stopped at a red light and got hijacked, his car got hijacked. I’m looking at him going, “Where are your shoes? Your car got hijacked; you should have your shoes on”. Like, it didn’t make any sense. There is a section of that and it kind of talks about my past. What was like for me growing up, because he grew up in the perfect family. He was like the Beaver Cleaver family. His Dad was a school superintendent, mom was a teacher, brother, older brother, worked for NASA, and younger brother was a school psychologist. So he had this perfect family. They had dinner at 5:00 every night and I came from a shit storm. I mean, my dad used to put a gun to my head and played Russian roulette. 

So my background is so bad and here I am doing all these things and running companies and being out there and he can’t function. It talks about how does that happen? How am I not completely dysfunctional and how is he dysfunctional in that area. It talks about how we work together to bring each other’s deficits up, if that makes sense. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: It completely does. I look forward to diving into it the roller coaster ride. So many people I think can look at that and just say that makes no sense. Then others look at it like, I want to know more and they will just want to dive into it and be entertained in a way. But also we can last addicts in recovery and people we can laugh at some of the stories that other people would just be like, I can’t believe that. You are like yeah, I can’t believe it either, but it happens. 

Cali Estes: Everybody’s path to recovery is different. So when you look at my husband’s addiction, people say, well, people are addicts because they have a disease. Well, I don’t believe that. I just don’t. I don’t follow that model, I never have. Then people say, people are addicts because they [inaudible 13:39] trauma, that’s Gabor Mate’s work. I say, well, some of my clients do, some of my clients don’t. My husband doesn’t have a trauma. So that theory is that, he says everybody has a trauma. Not Everybody. So my husband falls under Ken Blum’s work, which is reward deficiency syndrome or low dopamine. He’s an adrenaline junkie. He’s always seeking the next bigger, badder, crazy thing. 

We have a dodge challenger and he wants to get the Hellcat, he’ll open that up at one 70 on the highway just because he gets a rush. Meanwhile well, I’m going, “Oh my god, if you go over 55, you’re going to get a ticket”. You know, we have totally different personalities and that would fall under low dopamine. So the book talks about how there are alternative ways of looking at addiction and dealing with addiction that our society doesn’t even want us to see. They want us to focus on it’s a disease, get them on Methadone, Suboxone or Vivitrol, and then send them on their merry way. Well, what about the other people that don’t qualify? So that’s in there too. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: So we have this term dopamine throwing around that not everyone know what that is. So what is dopamine and how do you get it?

Cali Estes: Well, for your listeners, Rob. I suggest that they look through your time hop on Facebook from about a year ago today. I think a couple days ago. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Oh, no. We’ve got to stop the podcast. Podcast stop it. Okay, go ahead. 

Cali Estes: And they look for Rob Lohman’s donut run. Because spend about 45 minutes or an hour driving around for the perfect donut, in the snow, if I remember correctly, somewhere around there looking for these stupid donuts. That’s dopamine. Your brain went, “I want something, donuts make me happy”. Dopamine is the happy chemical. You decided to chase the donut. It can be anything, donuts, drugs, alcohol, women, gambling, Internet, whatever it is you are chasing, that’s a dopamine rush. 

So people who have low dopamine are always looking for something to fulfill them outside of themselves, whatever it is. And that’s a perfect example. So to take a spin off of that, because we saw it came through our time hop, Dr Tara who works as well with us at the academy and I decided to do donuts versus dopamine challenge. Thanks to Rob Lohman We are going to be asking people what you prefer, a donut or dopamine rush, like exercise and the healthy ways to get dopamine. One example is GABA, which is an external supplement that you can put in your body that increases your dopamine. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Tell us more about GABA. How do people honestly really know they are low in dopamine, that they need a boost? Sure, because you’ve talked a lot about like amino acid therapy and a lot of the work that you do. So how does someone actually know that they are low on dopamine and they are not just in a funk? 

Cali Estes: Well, even if you’re in a funk, your dopamine is low. So people who have high stress, for example, work has changed. It has gone up it’s more stressful. You are getting a divorce. Your child is sick. Your dog is sick. You will have higher cortisol, which is what creates belly fat and you will have low dopamine. Your stress goes up; your happy chemical goes down. So anybody in a stress format could take GABA and I’m not talking about Gabapentin. I’m talking about GABA. They could take and they will feel better. They will feel lighter. They will feel happier.

People who are depressed should be on GABA. When I work with clients who tell me that they are doing heroin or alcohol, I immediately put them on GABA because heroin or opiates drop your dopamine serotonin and alcohol drops your serotonin dopamine, and also increases your CNS system which makes you depressed. So there are so many factors out there. Not only like talk therapy can manage, but we really have to take a look at the brain and the impact that some of these drugs are making and causing you to be depressed or unhappy or unfilled in your life. It’s a combination of both. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Okay. Definitely not things you heard about when I got clean 18 years ago and through the rooms of AA and this language. I don’t remember hearing that language being shared ever about any of this. Is this kind of a new thing that’s like a new topic of conversation out there in regards to dopamine and GABA?

Cali Estes: For me, I got clean 23 years ago on a Yoga mat. I had trouble with the room. For me because my [inaudible 18:06] addiction was my primary, speed was my secondary, so I would go to OA, Overeaters Anonymous and there was no coffee, no food, no nothing. Then I would go to NA for my speed addiction and they had coffee, which is a stimulant and everybody is smoking a cigarette which is an addiction and everybody is banging sugar. So it didn’t work for me. I ended up at a gym on a Yoga mat, but they didn’t talk about all this other stuff and back then there weren’t access to this kind of stuff. If you wanted a natural way of feeling or being, you had to literally drive hours from where I was living in West Chester, PA to a health food store and even then you’ve got very limited things you could find. 

There weren’t GMCs on every corner and vitamin shops on every corner and people talking about the blood brain barrier. There wasn’t any of that. Now Ken Blum’s work was coming out at that point. It was new and people were attacking him saying, this isn’t right. If you’re just an addict, you just need to stop. You need to go to AA. You need to just quit. Well, that’s great. You can quit, but if you don’t fix the brain, all those bad behaviors you had before you quit are still there. That’s why you have the term dry drunk. You have somebody who stopped drinking, who is miserable. They are cranky. They are irritable. They are condescending. No one wants to be around them. Why? Their dopamine serotonin levels are off. Now we are starting to buy into the research that there is more out there. I also think it has got to do with the legalization of cannabis because that has really opened people up to say, hey, there’s other ways besides total abstinence. What if you can manage your pain with cannabis? That’s a whole other topic. 

So here is the GABA. The GABA comes in to give you the happy feeling and you have toxicity from bad food, bad water, and bad air quality, depending on where you live. I mean if you live in La, you look up and it’s nothing but a big cloud of exhaust, so you’re breathing that. That’s in your system. If you’re drinking water and if you Google what’s in my water, they just did a big study. Miami is full of cocaine and LA is full of [inaudible 20:13]. Wherever you are living and drinking the water, you’re getting that. Yeah, well, our muscles up in Seattle now have opiate in them. So our food sources are tainted. Our body is constantly trying to flush this stuff out and as that’s happening, we get toxic. I could talk about this for days. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: It’s true. It’s so eye-opening because these aren’t things we think about. Most people obviously go through their daily routines just this way and that’s the way it is and you can’t change it. But when you hear these things, I mean it’s worth going back and listening to the whole podcast again. So are there any new kind of exciting things going on like in your life or Tim’s life? I know Tim is out busy doing some music work. I know he couldn’t be with us today because he is taking care of some other business. But what’s going on with your husband these days? 

Cali Estes: They are getting… [inaudible 21:06] is gearing up to, well, they’ve got some fresh blood, let’s put it that way and they are gearing up to get back out there and start traveling and touring again. So we’ve got the RV getting serviced so that they can go do that. They’ve got some interest from some different people, that’s pretty big. I can’t really talk about anything until it’s in stone, per the request. But they are going to be doing that. I’ve got a second book coming out which is completely unrelated to the addiction industry, so that’ll be interesting. I guess that’s everything that’s new. I’m back in Brickell and I’m heading out to LA. I’m going to be on West Gear’s radio show West Gear from Corn. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: That is cool. Like I said, always exciting things going on in your world. I want to throw this out there. So let’s say someone is listening right now and they are in the throes of addiction or contemplating life change or something along those lines. I need to do something. What would you encourage people to do in this moment of clarity that they are listening right now? 

Cali Estes: Well, it depends on what it is. If it’s addiction, give us a call, see if we can help. If it’s more, I don’t know what I want to do with my life, take a listen to or give us a call and see if I can help you. One of the specialties that I do is taking people from being stuck in their life and unsticking them and getting them to the next level. Getting them to where they want to go and they feel positive and accomplished. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: That’s great. We talk about calling, so what’s the phone number to get in touch with you? 

Cali Estes: 1800-706-0318 is the main number. You can also call my cell 768-709-0479. If you do call me at 3:00 AM, I will not answer unless you text me and it’s our code red and then I will answer it. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Yeah. Well, you definitely are a code red type lady to help people. I appreciate you and all you’ve done, like I said in my own life, business, and practice. You are definitely a gem in my book, so I appreciate you. I wish you the best in your upcoming cool things that are going on that we can’t talk about yet, but one day we’ll get to hear the neat things that are going on in your life because they are so top secret. 

Cali Estes: Yeah, absolutely. I thank you for having me on and everyone needs to know that you do teach for the Addictions Academy and you teach our Christian coaching program and you are available as a great coach and interventionist as well as a podcaster and you are in our supervision and helping everyone, guiding them on their path. 

Interviewer: Rob Lohman: Yeah. Well, I appreciate all the opportunities. I’m going to grow with everything you just said too. You are a rock star. Enjoy your day and for those people that do follow you and follow you because you do your Facebook live stuff, I know you’ve kind of been pushed by Steven and people to do that, which I enjoy those quite a bit. We’ll call it good there and just hope you have a great day. We’ll talk to you soon. 

Cali Estes: Thanks and thanks for having me on.

Learn more about Cali Estes at

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