For people trying to quit an addiction, enrolling in programs with a “sponsor” is common. But often leaving addiction behind isn’t the only step to moving forward. Just as college students have counselors and life coaches as they make their transitions, so to do people battling addiction.

(Photo Courtesy of Cali Estes)

(Photo Courtesy of Cali Estes)

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Many have Cali Estes on their side. A noted addiction therapist with offices in California, New York and Florida, she is also a life coach, recovery coach and wellness guru. She blends cognitive behavioral therapy, psychology and life coaching as she unlocks the cause of addiction.

Cali came to this field through criminal justice. Now along with her degrees, she’s earned 15 certifications, including California Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors.

Please share your decisions leading up to choosing criminal justice.

“I had wanted to be a FBI agent when I started school for psychology. I did my internship in a male prison – State Correctional Institute Rockview – and loved it. I studied forensic psychology and wanted to continue into it; however, there was no program at the master’s level at that time so I chose criminal justice.”

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What are you glad to have in your “toolbox” skill set? What do you wish you would have learned? 

“I am glad I received body language training, how to read the cues. I wish I would have had more hands-on experience in school, not just in the classroom.”

Do you have any advice for aspiring students?

“Do as many internships as you can. Get hands-on work, volunteer and learn, and get a mentor.”

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Carol Terracina-Hartman is a freelance writer based in Sacramento. She covers all things environment. In 2012, she received the Outstanding Service Award from the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. See her work at