Steve Dillon MA CIP CATCiv SUDCC
Hi, I’m Steve Dillon, a former addict and punk-rocker from Bakersfield, California — now a Certified Intervention Professional, Masters Level Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist, and the founder of Vision and Future Focus.™
From the time my biological dad upon leaving told me, “You’re the man of the house now,” at the age of six, my juvenile subconscious began to walk a dark road of damaging behavior. As I grew older, drinking, fighting, and drug use became a predominant part of my life and my persona. At the time, little did I know that the neural pathways within my adolescent mind were quite literally being carved like the rivers and valleys on a topological map, leading me to the undesirable destination of addiction.
Throughout high school and into my first year of college, I continued my partying ways with little to no negative repercussions, with alcohol as my primary method of subduing whatever I was feeling. It seemed to be all fun and games until I was admitted to the Stanford Medical Center — at the ripe old age of 19 — with an abnormal heart arrhythmia; the severity of which had never been seen by the hospital staff in somebody so young and seemingly healthy. Eight months and one open-heart surgery later, I was “fixed” and back to Bakersfield I went. However, not even a health scare as alarming as my heart condition was enough to quelle my drinking. I continued to drink without a second thought of the long-term damage that I was causing . . . up until my thirties.
Shortly after marrying my angel, Sarah, I was diagnosed with pancreatitis. The doctor told me, “Look, if you want to stay alive, you really need to quit drinking.” He made a convincing case, but I wasn’t convinced that I could stop; it was too much a part of me at that point. Could I cut back? Sure. But stop altogether? Not likely. Fortunately for my drinking — but unfortunately for the rest of my life — I was given a prescription for Darvocet upon hospital discharge, and my need for liquor was quickly replaced by a love of painkillers. (It’s worth noting that Darvocet was recalled in 2010 due to severe, and sometimes fatal, heart conditions. Not exactly a winning combination for somebody with my medical history.)
In the beginning, my opioid use was simply a pill here and there to “take the edge off,” but as my wife and I continued to grow our family and I advanced myself professionally, the pills began to accumulate. As with most addicts, my addiction crept in quietly because I was, after all, a contributing member of society. I was educated, successful, and the type of individual that others believe had it all.
The summer before my doctoral program, I had begun consuming a steady mix of benzodiazepines — mainly Xanax and Valium — but I still believed there was little downside to my prescription abuse. The pills were working. I was numb when I needed to be numb, there was no funky smell on my breath for others to notice, and, most importantly, I had little to no anxiety about mine or my family’s future. (I suppose it’s easy to feel relaxed when you can’t feel anything at all.)
I wish I could tell you that I remember my first benzodiazepine “blackout,” but they’re called blackouts for a reason. While working toward the completion of my Doctorate (a program that I failed to finish and you’ll soon know why), I had the honor of speaking at a conference as the American representative to a group of respected, high-ranking Coptic priests visiting from Egypt. According to the newspaper that was published the following day, my speech went great, but I couldn’t tell you whether or not that’s true because, to this day, I still have no recollection of perhaps the most significant event of my doctoral studies. At this point, I was what many would call a “functioning addict.” I toed the line between function and full-blown addiction like a man walking a highwire with no safety net.
Was this blackout enough to wake me up? Nope. It wasn’t until I nodded off, totaled my car, and was arrested that my eyes, and the eyes of those closest to me, finally opened to the severity of my problem. There was no more denying just how dependent upon opioids I had become. I decided to quit cold turkey and let my willpower guide me — I suffered a seizure almost immediately. Paramedics rushed me to the hospital, where a doctor informed me that I couldn’t “just stop” taking Xanax, my body was too reliant to live without it. I was handed a fresh prescription to prevent another episode.
In my deranged, half-medicated, post-seizure mental state, I sought treatment, but everything was either too expensive or too basic for what I needed. Thank God for my wife; she never stopped trying. After countless phone calls, she found a place in Orange County that would take me. I spent exactly 28 days in treatment, and I’ve been clean and sober ever since. But rehab was simply the beginning of my journey, I was able to maintain my sobriety due to significant life changes, the rewiring of my subconscious mind, and steadfast goals with a high degree of personal accountability.
Once my mind had been cleared of addiction, I was flooded with gratitude. And, this newfound appreciation for living led to my decision to dedicate the remainder of my life to helping others overcome their addictions as well.
I returned to college to study addiction, the brain, and anything related to the science of making a positive change. I was captivated by the idea that we could rewire decades of pathways and completely change the structure of our minds. I became a Master’s Certified Level-4 Addiction Treatment Counselor, a Nationally Certified Mental Health and Addiction Intervention Professional, and received an additional Certification in Alcohol/Drug Addiction and Trauma.
However, these degrees and accreditations were just one piece of solving the puzzle of my addiction. The missing piece that many fail to address is our own subconscious. In my opinion (and experience), understanding our subconscious mind is the capstone of lasting recovery.
To rewire my own mind, I developed a morning routine of dedicated reading, thoughtful prayer, and devoted meditation. Alas, there was still “something” missing. Then, one morning, while in a deep meditative state, a specific thought captivated me: “How can we move from where we are to where we want to be? And how can we make that our natural state at all times?”
To answer this, I read every book, scientific study, and article that I could find in the fields of anatomy, psychology, and quantum physics. I was laser-focused on solving this; not only for myself, but for everyone I intended to help. It was during this time of intense research and discovery that I began to understand the true power of our subconscious mind. Our subconscious mind is our operating system of belief, which means, 95% of the time it’s running the show. Meaning, anything in our subconscious that we are not aware of is something that can sabotage and/or control us, despite how much work and effort we are putting into our recovery.
Fortunately, there is a way to change these programs; there is a way to quite literally “rewire” the subconscious mind to align with who we really are — and, most importantly — who we want to be. This realization is the foundation of my Vision and Future Focus Program.™
Over a course of many months, I developed the Vision and Future Focus Program as a template to rewire our subconscious to serve as our ally, rather than our enemy, allowing us to focus on our future goals without falling back into our old, unwanted programs and belief systems.
To test my new program, I set three goals and gave myself three months to achieve them. These goals were so huge that — if accomplished — I would have empirical evidence that the Vision and Future Focus Program had effectively rewired my subconscious. It only took 60 days, not 90, for me to achieve all three. Case closed. I had the proof I needed.
Now, with Vision and Future Focus™ entering its sixth year of transformative treatment, I have helped more than 150 clients take their lives to a whole new level, regardless of their goals or aspirations. But, to this day, the most important case study for Vision and Future Focus™ is my own story. I owe my life to this program, and I will forever be grateful for the second chance that these techniques have given me. I was able to pull myself from the depths of addiction and remove the weight of some deeply rooted childhood programming. I have become successful in ways I never thought possible. And, I will tell you this, if I can do it, there is no doubt that you can do it too. Together, we can kick ass and take your life from wherever you are . . . to wherever you want to be . . . period!
Post Graduate Studies:
Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.
Master of Arts:
Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN.
Bachelor of Arts:
California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Associates of Science
Oxnard College, Oxnard, CA
Full Member Association of Intervention Specialists
Pennsylvania Certification Board
CIP (Certified Intervention Professional)
Pennsylvania Certification Board
CATC IV (Masters Level Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor)
California Association for Alcohol/Drug Educators
SDUCC (Substance Use Disorder Certified Counselor)
National Commission for Certifying Agencies
Addiction and Trauma
Oxnard College, Oxnard, CA