Today we discuss the impact of addiction and the many pieces of the addiction recovery process that are necessary for a successful transition into a substance-free life.


Did you know that drug and alcohol addictions affect people from all walks of life? Of course, you do! But, you may not know this… According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 80,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths each year in the United States.

On top of an already staggering alcohol problem, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says that 1 in 10 Americans has a drug problem, with drug overdoses alone killing about 72,000 people in the United States just last year.

I’m dedicating this episode of our show towards bringing more awareness of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and its impact on our society as a whole so that we can work together to change addiction in America.

My first guest, Kay White, is a spiritual life coach, certified yoga instructor, and the executive director at Villa Kali Ma, which is a recovery program exclusively for women. She joins me today to share her personal journey of healing and learning to love and value herself after three decades of suffering from alcohol, drug, and relationship addiction. Kay shares how she was able to change her story from one of a victim to a true survivor.

My second guest, Deni Carise, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist that has been part of the recovery community for over 30 years and is currently Chief Scientific Officer of Recovery Centers of America. She joins me today to discuss the transition from her own recovery into helping others recover from their addictions, and shares why a full continuum of care is crucial in supporting the likelihood of any successful recovery.


We Discuss:

  • Becoming aware of the signs and symptoms of people struggling with drug or alcohol abuse
  • Why emotional pain and unhealed trauma often contribute to addictive behaviors
  • The important elements of a successful recovery program that create fundamental change
  • The norms and stigmas in our society today that stop many people from seeking recovery
  • The main contributing factors of the extreme opioid epidemic in our country today
  • Different options for treating opioid problems and why withdraw today is extremely difficult
  • What Fentanyl and Carfentanil are and how they’ve severely impacted the opioid crisis
  • The evidence-based practices being used in recovery centers to aid in a successful recovery
  • What to look for in a treatment program and why people shouldn’t fly away for treatment
  • What a “full continuum of care” looks like in substance abuse treatment and why it’s crucial


“Addiction allows you to just keep numbing the pain, and the problem is, it also numbs the joy. It numbs your soul, your spirit, your life – and you can’t heal.”  –  Kay White


About Kay:
Image of Kay White

Kay White is the Executive Director at Villa Kali Ma, a Spiritual Life Coach, and a Certified Yoga Instructor.

After three decades of suffering from alcohol, drug, and relationship addiction, she had finally reached her so-called “bottom”.

Kay had reached a point where she was so ashamed of herself and so full of self-hatred that she could not go on. She had lowered herself to participating in the most pathetic lifestyle she could ever have imagined.

Most of her friends and family had given up on her. They were tired of her selfishness and all her excuses. Kay’s children had lost all respect for her and were extremely angry for what she had put them through. Kay could see her youngest daughter, who was 15 at the time, was following in her footsteps and she blamed herself for her self-destructive behavior.

So, Kay ended a dysfunctional, addictive, and abusive relationship that had lasted five long years, and checked herself into rehab. That was the beginning of her journey into healing and learning to really love and value herself for the first time in her life.

Kay discovered the spiritual path of Yoga at her treatment center in Malibu, California. Her teacher’s name was Gabriella Nagy. She was the first to show Kay that there was a spiritual way of life through the teachings of Yoga. It would calm her mind and allow her to feel hopeful about the recovery process that she was undertaking.

After 30 days in treatment, Kay moved into a sober living home for women. She had no idea what she was going to do with her life, she just knew that she was never going to have fun again and that nobody would want to be her friend now that she quit drinking. Kay lived there for 4 months and practiced yoga 3 days a week. She also attended AA Meetings daily but did not get a sponsor or start working the steps because she did not have a “higher power,” which she believed she needed in order to work the 12-steps authentically.

As the months passed, Kay continued to feel that something was missing. She was still feeling a longing for something more meaningful in her life. She was still broken-hearted, full of guilt and remorse, and was not ready to return home and face the wreckage of her past.

Then, an acquaintance told Kay about an online course called “Inner Engineering,” taught by a spiritual yogi from India called Sadhguru. This course taught her how to let go of the past and live in the present moment accepting what is and taking responsibility for her life. Kay learned the importance of a daily ritual and knew that she needed to have a commitment to a daily meditation practice if she wanted to grow spiritually.

Not long after this, she came across a book called “Yoga Bitch” by Suzanne Morrison. In the book, she goes on a spiritual journey to Bali and has a profound spiritual awakening. Kay knew that was what she needed!

So, she packed up her things and checked out of her sober living house and went to Bali for what was going to be a 2 week trip before heading back home to San Diego. Instead, she ended up spending two months studying, practicing, and learning from many teachers from all around the world.

At 48 years old, with sciatica down both legs and debilitating back pain caused by degenerative disc disease, Kay signed up for a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training course from the Yoga Alliance Accredited School of Sacred Arts that would be held at The Yoga Barn in Ubud.

The course was 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 30 days. Kay knew it would be the hardest thing she ever did, but she couldn’t not do it. Something inside her was not letting her say no. She was led to this, the door was open, and all she had to do was say yes to it. So she did!

It was during this course that Kay actually experienced a spiritual awakening. She was finally in touch with her higher power! It was a gradual realization that came to her as she listened to and spent time with the wonderful teachers who were so passionate in showing her the way.

Through meditation and other Yoga practices, Kay became aware of her soul, her spirit, and her true divine nature. Then, suddenly, one day on the mat, she realized that she loved herself! For the first time ever in her life, she truly loved herself! She was filled with an enormous sense of gratitude for life and tears of joy poured from her eyes. She could now see that her past experiences were lessons, which had brought her right to where she was at that moment, right where she needed to be.

Since then, Kay’s life just keeps getting better! She found out that she could have way more fun than she did when she was on the rollercoaster of drugs, alcohol, and drama. She could be high on life every day! Kay loves her life now and has amazing friends who love her for who she is.

Immediately after her spiritual awakening, it became clear to Kay what she wanted to do. She wanted to help other women who were struggling with the same issues that she had suffered from. So, Kay created Villa Kali Ma – A Place for Transformation. She truly hopes that you will come with an open heart and mind, as she did, and embrace all the tools and teachings that will be available to you to truly heal yourself and totally transform your life forever! 

Kay’s goal is to make this an amazing experience for you, so that you can discover your own beautiful soul, your own true path and purpose in life, and learn to follow your bliss! This program is inspired by the Hero’s Journey and offered to all women who want to learn how to be the hero of their own life.

Kay continues to work a program of recovery, which includes attending AA Meetings, Refuge Recovery Meetings, being of service to others in recovery, and practicing the 8-limbed path of yoga.

She has been able to repair her relationships with her friends and family. Although it may take years for them to completely heal from the pain of growing up in a dysfunctional environment, Kay’s daughters have forgiven her and their relationship keeps getting better.

She is now being a good example of how to live and love in this world, and how you can change your life if you want to. Kay is excited to share everything she’s learned with every woman who comes to Villa Kali Ma to heal and transform their lives.


About Deni:

Deni Carise, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist and part of the recovery community for over 30 years. 

She is currently Chief Scientific Officer of Recovery Centers of America (RCA), a start-up company that has opened 6 treatment/recovery campuses in the past 3 years, offering detoxification, residential, partial hospital, intensive and traditional outpatient, and family services.

Dr. Carise has served as Deputy Chief Clinical Officer of CRC Health Group with over 140 programs in 33 states, and Chief Clinical Officer at Phoenix House, a non-profit with over 100 programs in 10 states. 

Dr. Carise was an NIH-funded scientist and Director of the Treatment Systems Section at Treatment Research Institute.

At TRI 16 years (1994 to 2010), she made significant advances in the quality of substance abuse treatment through the development, application, and research of new interventions, systems, and technologies through receipt of numerous NIH and other federal grants.  She has published over 100 articles, books, and chapters.

Dr. Carise is currently an Adjunct Clinical Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine (since 1997). She earned both her B.S. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Hahnemann (now Drexel) University and completed a NIDA Post-Doctoral fellowship at the Center for Studies of Addiction in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania from 1993-1996. 

She has worked extensively internationally, with treatment providers in Nigeria, Mexico, Thailand, Egypt, Greece, Singapore, Brazil, China, and numerous other countries. 

Committed to the accurate portrayal of addiction, treatment, and recovery in the media, Dr. Carise consulted on Martin Scorsese’s film, Wolf of Wall Street, working with the primary actors on depicting characters who are abusing cocaine and other drugs, and has been instrumental in other movies and screenplays, accurately depicting drug abuse, treatment, and recovery.

She has been featured in segments of Nightline, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, CBS, and NBS evening news, Access Hollywood, New York news, and many Federally-funded Web-casts. 

Dr. Carise is quoted regularly in popular newsprint media such as US News and World Report, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Weekly, Huffington Post, and others.


Check out the video below to watch our interview:


“The reality is, we’ve created whole communities – even generations of families – who have become accustomed to reaching for prescription opioids for any type of pain, or just for pleasure.”  –  Deni Carise, Ph.D.


Resources Mentioned:


Visit to pre-order Ken’s new book, The Courage to Change Everything: Strategies and Wisdom to Transform Your Life One Day at a Time

Learn More About Host Ken D. Foster


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