Episode 32: Dr Charles Flores – Breaking the Chains of Addiction: Recovering your Life

Episode 32
dr. charles flores, ph.d
breaking the chains of addiction
and recovering your life

Dr. Charles Flores, a true pioneer and trailblazer in the Integral approach to treatment, has facilitated healing and recovery for people with a wide array of addictions, from drug and alcohol abuse, to behavioral and interior neurochemical addictions, including sex and love addiction, abandonment patterns, sexual compulsions, gambling, internet addiction, and workaholism.

But recovery doesn’t end with getting sober. Once the acute withdrawals have subsided, and the honeymoon phase has passed, the root causes of the addiction begin to emerge. Effectively integrating and healing these patterns, tendencies, traumas, beliefs, and more is where the real work of recovery begins.

This deeper level of healing work is where Dr. Flores shines. His unique education and upbringing in the South Bronx, as well as the insights he’s garnered by working with clients of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic classes, religious beliefs, and sexual orientations, have informed and expanded his Integral approach to psychotherapy, where he treats the anxiety, depression, trauma, and other underlying psychological issues that often appear only when the veil drugs and addictive behaviors has lifted.

Using a truly Integral synthesis of psychological, spiritual, and healing modalities, Dr. Flores combines Arnold Lazarus’ multimodal approach, Ken Wilber’s AQAL map, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Buddhist psychology, family systems (genograms and constellations), as well as brainwave entrainment, biofeedback and other technologies.

At the heart of recovery, we find an opportunity to develop a new relationship with spirit. By fostering and encouraging a direct and personal experiential spiritual practice, Dr. Flores helps people learn to turn on the light inside themselves, empowering them to recover and discover their lives.

Learn More about Dr. Charles Flores:

Episode themes:

  • Integration of spirituality and psychology
  • How a wide variety of perspectives and paradigms create a more comprehensive approach to treatment
  • Infusing life into the recovery and psychology worlds by revitalizing solid ideas and presenting them in a way that resonates with a wider array of people
  • Taking advantage of the opportunity to cure root causes of addiction that emerge after recovery’s honeymoon phase
  • Why therapists and mental health professionals need to focus on keeping themselves well through deep self-care and meditative practice
  • How the use of binaural beats and brainwave entrainment technology are a wonderful tool for addicts (and everyone else), both in early recovery and beyond
  • Empowering people in recovery by enabling them to experience a direct, personal, non-dogmatic interior spirituality
  • Switching on the lights and addressing the awakening inside to restore purpose, connection, meaning, and hope

Episode Resources:

Paths Beyond Ego: The Transpersonal Vision (New Consciousness Reader)
Integral Recovery: A Revolutionary Approach to the Treatment of Alcoholism and Addiction (SUNY series in Integral Theory)
The Religion of Tomorrow: A Vision for the Future of the Great Traditions-More Inclusive, More Comprehensive, More Complete
Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution, Second Edition
Profound Meditation Program
Profound Releasing
Stealing Flow: Complete Brainwave Suite for Flow State Mastery (iAwake Technologies and Doug Prater)
Deep Recovery – a guided meditation from iAwake Technologies

In this episode:

[0:55] An introduction to Dr. Charles Flores, Ph.D., an Integral pioneer in the recovery field. Charles treats a variety of addictions, from the chemical to the behavioral, and is also a psychotherapist who works with people to skillfully process and integrate the other issues and the underlying causes that are revealed when the fog of addiction lifts.
[3:45] Why finding an Integral approach to the treatment of all addictions is more important now than ever as we continue to battle an opioid epidemic that is spreading across the country and the world at an alarming rate.
[4:21] The history and backstory of Dr. Flores’s upbringing in South Bronx in the 70s and 80s, and how that context influenced his education and his journey.
[5:35] Taking advantage of a rare educational opportunity, and (warning: author’s editorial) how so many of our most brilliant minds are overlooked due to circumstance and lack of opportunity and never given the opportunity to thrive and contribute their genius and their gifts to the world.
[6:26] How a focus on “people’s empowerment” led to the realization that people who are involved in making a difference externally also have a strong need to cultivate and care for their inner worlds. The emergence of the insight that “if I change myself, that changes my reality, and changes my ability to impact the world.”
[8:24] Dr. Flores’s first experience with psychology: Why it’s important for our healthcare providers and mental health professionals to stay engaged and be living examples of psychological health in order to connect, and how the failure to do so can lead to a great deal of harm.
[9:30] Why we need to inject vitality, enthusiasm, and life to the traditional presentation of psychology, especially in academics and education (wherever it’s found.)
[9:52] Transpersonal psychology: how psychology can and must expand to accommodate the dimension of spiritual experience in order to be a complete science of the human mind. The monumental contributions of Charles Tart, Stanislov Grof, the spiritual teacher Sri Aurobindo, and of course, Ken Wilber.
[11:15] The benefits of studying transpersonal psychology at a Jesuit university, and Dr. Flores’s deepening dive into family counseling, Buddhist psychology and mind/body work, before continuing on to his doctoral program.
[13:45] The transformational explosion of Ken Wilber’s landmark book, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality.
[14:35] How Dr. Flores came to recovery work through a focus on healing trauma and PTSD.
[14:50] The use of biofeedback to measure the effects of meditation to illustrate the connection between the mind and body, and how this influenced Dr. Flores’s personal and clinical practice through the discovery of biological and psychological correlations
[17:30] East meets West (coasts, that is). How Dr. Flores’s upbringing on the East coast trained him to think critically, and how this skill was an invaluable addition to the orientation and culture of experimentation on the West Coast.
[18:47] Our maps – all of them – are only good insomuch as they can free us from psychological, spiritual, emotional, behavioral, and relational “lockdown”.
[19:49] There’s no need to get stuck in all the disagreements, just take what’s useful to you. That’s an important factor in the Integral Concept of “true but partial”, and it’s an important concept to addicts, who often tend towards “all or nothing” thinking.
[21:00] To illustrate, addiction is a complex disease that can’t be reduced to a single quadrant solution. Thus, to say “it’s all about social” is to reduce addiction to the lower-left intersubjective “we” quadrant. Addiction is related to the relational quadrant; the idea is true but partial.
[22:15] How thought leaders in recovery, philosophy, or spirituality can project the ideals of their own Ennegram types into their ideal vision of their system, and why it’s more beneficial to take unique typologies into account.
[23:45] The problems with the reductionist approach in psychology, recovery, and spirituality
[25:00] How Dr. Flores, through not only a diverse educational background, but through working with diverse clients from different backgrounds and cultures, was able to notice and include wider perspectives in his approach to treatment
[27:30] The Integral discipline of communication and speaking to others based on their unique AQAL psychograph of level, type, and more
[28:14] What’s happening on the frontlines of treatment? Marijuana legalization, the opioid epidemic, the growing amphetamine epidemic
[29:15] Working with youth using aggression replacement therapy, and how Charles was able to add the model by bringing Colberg’s levels of development into the mix, using simplistic summary phrases, to teach complex concepts in relatable ways.
[32:40] The emotional bank account, and how traumatic experiences and life circumstances can jeopardize our ability to successfully transition into adulthood.
[33:40] Family constellations and familial inheritances and how the baggage from previous generations, like incarceration or drug addiction, can put young people at a severe disadvantage for developing healthy life strategies, coping mechanisms, and the emotional skills necessary to thrive.
[34:45] The impact of cannabis on the developing brain, and why it’s not as harmless as the popular narrative would lead us to believe.
[35:35] The phases of recovery, from early recovery and withdrawal, to the “I’m cured! I feel great!” honeymoon period, to “the wall” and the emerging challenges and root causes that begin to surface when the substances can no longer mask the underlying issues.
[36:50] Why hitting “the wall” is a tremendous growth opportunity and a chance to work with the underlying causes of addiction.
[38:10] How does Dr. Flores take care of himself, and how can other treatment providers, healthcare professionals, and anyone who’s working to make a difference in the world deal with the chronic stress to avoid burning out? How can therapists and SUD counselors protect their boundaries, avoid over-identification with their clients, and (especially) avoid relapsing themselves?
[39:45] Recovery is an ongoing developmental process, and a therapist can only assist her clients if she is continuing to assist and develop herself.
[41:05] Going deep in the well of wellness, and how doing the deeper work of self-care is necessary to mitigate the potential stressors of the world, and why is this is particularly critical to those in the mental health professions
[42:28] Meditation is the baseline essential practice, and whatever gets your butt in the cushion is helpful. Why it’s important for therapists and recovery counselors to walk their talk and do the practices that they recommend to their clients
[43:45] Meditation is all about grounding and getting past the surface of our experiences and challenges. In recovery, meditation is invaluable in helping us uncover and heal the root causes of addiction.
[44:10] The binaural and brainwave entrainment meditations of iAwake can be especially helpful to addicts because they can be felt immediately. The substances used by the addict tend to be powerful and fast-acting, and binaural beats and brainwave entrainment meditation provide a similarly powerful and fast-acting state change, unlike many of the traditional therapeutic psychotropic drugs, which can take weeks before any effect is felt.
[46:10] How psychoacoustic technology can help people overcome their deep-seated anger at and resistance to religion by showing them a powerful first-hand experience of contemplative spirituality that is beyond dogma and deeply personal
[46:47] Bring the true but partial principle of Integral Theory to AA and NA meetings in order to take what works and throw away what doesn’t work for you. How working with psychoacoustic meditation can help the work done in 12 steps meetings “click” by engendering a deep, personal, transformative experience that gives a new perspective on what “higher power” and spirituality mean.
[48:30] The genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous was Bill Wilson’s personal spiritual transformative experience, and the twelve steps are a distillation of the work that followed. Using binaural beats and iAwake Technologies as part of a recovery practice can catalyze that elusive mystical experience to make recovery more effective.
[50:22] Why getting iAwake Technologies into treatment centers would give those new to sobriety and beginning the journey of recovery a powerful tool to take with them in aftercare that helps revitalize the brain, replenish depleted neurochemical stores, reduces stress both psychologically and physiologically, and is a powerful tool for relapse prevention
[51:10] Why, despite their efficacy, alternative treatment modalities don’t always get the traction they deserve in most current treatment environments.
[54:36] Dr. Charles Flores’s message
[55:15] The search to switch on the light – the sense of purpose, connection, meaning, and hope that a therapist needs to instill in their clients to make recovery possible and address the awakening inside. Recovery is recovering your life.


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09/29/2017, 58:18, 40.04 mb (Audio)

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