Ep. 24 Tyson Dixon: A Story of Heroin Addiction and Redemption

Ken Krogue: Hello everybody. This is Ken Krogue, Thom Harrison with EternalCore. Today we’ve got with us Ty Dixon, CEO of Renaissance Ranch and some other pretty cool projects that he’s working on. We had a beautiful experience just the other day with Ty. We’ve got to know Christian Smith and some of the team there. But we got to talk to Ty about his own personal story, and why he’s doing this. And I was bragging to Thom about him and said, “Hey we need to get him here and get on this show.” And today, you know, he brought his friend with us this morning and we’ve already had a beautiful experience here in the studio. But Ty, you’ve been with Renaissance how long now?

Ty Dixon: Well yeah, I went in first as a patient or client.

Ken Krogue: Oh that’s right.

Ty Dixon: As we call us. A client in September 2008.

Ken Krogue: Gotcha. Wow. And that was the story that…

Thom Harrison: So about eleven years.

Ty Dixon: That’s my… Everyone has a personal and everyone has a professional story, right, and mine overlap. So it’s hard to tell one without the other, but yeah, I’m an open book. And I just want to, you know, anything I can do to use my experience to do good.

Ken Krogue: You know we’ve seen that be a common theme in especially in the recovery profession. That in fact, my own personal experience, you know to really help someone, you’ve got to have walked in their moccasins a little bit. You’ve got to been through it. And you’ve been through it.

Ty Dixon: Yeah.

Ken Krogue: Do you mind sharing your story with us.

Ty Dixon: Absolutely not, I guess. I mean, “Do you mind?” It’s like, “Absolutely.” It’s like, “well that…” No, I was raised in, I mean by amazing parents, in a middle class family, you know, the mean streets of Draper, Utah. The suburbs you know. But growing up, my parents were awesome. And my dad was a convert to the LDS church, and had some growing up just some experiences that didn’t quite give him I think a stable father figure to kind of know how to model to be a father. My mother, they both went to, met at, BYU. My mom was a cheerleader when Steve Young was there, and they’re winning championships and all that.

Ty Dixon: But I grew up an older brother and two younger sisters, a younger brother. So there’s five of us. I kind of had the personality of just always, you know, “Don’t do something. Don’t do that.” I would do it. I was always the kid in class that needed attention and was doing whatever it took to get it, and I didn’t know why. And then I got older, I found myself wanting really to do whatever it took to fit in, to be accepted. And I didn’t know it, but I wasn’t accepted at home. I was loved at home. I was cared for at home. But I felt like there was always this measuring stick or this ruler that I was never going to live up to. My father had not done anything wrong in my perception. Anything positive I did was expected. It wasn’t acknowledged that much for my father.

Ty Dixon: My mother, everything was great and wonderful always, and the most beautiful thing in the world, right? My dad was… It was this is what he expected. And if I didn’t do well, didn’t measure up, 90 percent of energy was put on that, I feel, and not a ton on what I was doing well. And not to be a victim, just to kind of make sense maybe of what may have precipitated me becoming a heroin addict and wanting to take my life, you know? From being raised in an LDS home and environment and community wondering what happened? How did this, right? And I’m still kind of putting the pieces together over a decade later of continuous sobriety and recovery.  I’m still connecting some of the dots, but my mom was always overly positive.

Ty Dixon: My father, he was an amazing man. He’s my rock. Today, he’s one of my greatest, dearest friends. So we talk openly about this stuff today. We have emotional, honest conversations today. We express our feelings today. We can take feedback from each other today. We respect each other today. We respect each other. We may think differently, feel differently, and we seek to understand one another. And we work together. My relationship with my father is one of the most dear things that I hold. So I can speak of this, and I’m sure he doesn’t mind, as he shares our family’s story, “I had two sons that were drug addicts, and let me tell you, you know, being in the same room with that.” It’s interesting, right, because I feel that there’s a light and darkness in this side and darkness always will try to instill shame or fear.

Ken Krogue: Yeah.

Ty Dixon: And I think the more that we talk about things and we’re honest, the more it dispels shame, and casts out fear, and gains clarity, and allows us to connect and unify, and to work through things. Pops was a workaholic. He worked extremely hard. His family at times lived in poverty and he saw horrific, he saw very difficult things within his family because of lack of money. And my father, if anyone knows him, he is an extremely motivated hardworking. If there’s a task that he wants done, it’s gonna get done. Period. End of story. And I felt like I could never be like that. I grew up, you know, for one.

Ty Dixon: But for two, from a religious perspective, as I started to have questions about things about sexuality or about drugs and alcohol. They never said don’t talk about this stuff, but it was just implied through body language and communication. It’s like, “That’s bad. We don’t think about it. It doesn’t exist.” Ergo, “If it doesn’t exist, you certainly aren’t going to be involved with it, because those people are crazy, right?” And or, “That wouldn’t happen to my family.” I think my mom and my dad were afraid of different ways of thinking or different things in the world and unconsciously judged people without knowing that they were doing so, if that makes sense.

Ty Dixon: And I remember, we were young, and there were people with tattoos and earrings in a Taco Bell, you know. They came out, and we were in the car, and he said, “You will never, never get tattoos or earrings. Promise me you will never do that. People will never look at you the same you’ll never…” And so many different instances that are associated with, I think, a religious culture that are so unseen or that are unaware of consciously. I think pride in general is a very misunderstood sin. Ezra Taft Benson, one of my favorite prophets and talks of all time is his talk on pride. And because I never struggled with it, so I study it right? No. But, I mean, I remember on a drive I listened to it three times in a row. It’s just money. And I got some very different, and more, out of it each time. And I’m listening to this, and I’m like, “We should just play this every week in church and we’d be done.”

Ken Krogue: Pretty close.

Ty Dixon: Let me be clear, I mean, I love the church with all my heart. I love, I embrace, and I’m a proud member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But I’m not a Mormon; I’m not. I love people, I accept people for who they are. I have values and beliefs that are consistent with eternal families, and love, and light, and beauty, and greatness. For me, that is what the gospel is. That’s what the church is about. It’s about positivity. It’s about goodness. I think the greatest thing in the world is the ability we have to change and not just a little bit but completely and entirely. And I learned that through the recovery process, because if I didn’t, I would die. I would physically die.

Ty Dixon:  Backing up I guess a little bit more though. My family, awesome. Love my siblings. Amazing. Very close, we’re very, very close. My brother and I in early years would cover for each other when we started sneaking out, and we started chasing girls, and started using drugs, and start experimenting with drinking. And knowing I was not making the choices that I had been taught to or felt were right, but I had a greater desire to fit in. I had a greater desire to be accepted. Again, I thought I was accepted at home. I didn’t put the two and two together. I didn’t realize I was reaching out for external solutions to an internal problem. So, if I objectified a girl or girls in school, if that was a cool thing to do, I was going to do that. If drinking or drugs, buying and selling drugs, if that was cool, I was going to do that. If it was football, I was gonna do that.

Ty Dixon:  I just will never forget the overwhelming need to do whatever it took. And I feel that the majority of my peers were in the same boat. We were just adolescent kids. We thought we knew a ton, and we didn’t know a whole lot at all. So what I’ve learned about addiction is that there’s two parts. There’s a genetic part and there’s then it’s nature and nurture, so, the environmental and the genetics. The genetics, my great grandfather was an alcoholic. So when I started using drugs and alcohol my genes went, “Yep, this is good. Drink some more.” When I started smoking weed, “Yep, this is good, use some more.” Objectifying women, and what that leads to, “Yep that’s… Do that some more.”

Ty Dixon: And because I was going off track so much from who I had been taught to be, I started creating a different identity. And I kind of was two different people. I was a whole different person at home and with my parents, and a whole different person when I’m with my friends or with people. And this person started to take over, and I can remember getting, 17 years old, caught by my dad at church sloughing church. And which, I mean, “How could I do that?” And I’d kept doing it and, “Tyson, what’s going on man? You’ve got to be at church. That’s what we do in our family.” I’m like, “I know, but you know what” feeling like I was going to stand up to him finally, and I couldn’t do the lying anymore. I couldn’t lie to the bishop anymore. I couldn’t pretend to be someone who I wasn’t anymore.

Ty Dixon: My choices and the stuff I was getting caught for is not adding up. And so I’m just going to own it, and I remember saying, “Dad, I don’t care to know if the church is true. I don’t care to know if there’s a God or any of that. In fact, I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe what you believe” is what I said. And he’s like “Why not?” And I’m like, “I just don’t care to know.” And then he said, “Mark my words, one day, you will have to know.”  And I said, “Ok” you know “Sure dad, there’s plenty of people in the world that know, don’t know, they’re just fine. People that subscribe to religious beliefs, spiritual beliefs, are conning themselves into wanting to just feel a little bit better.” Like, “You say drugs are bad. This is bad.” Like, “This is awesome. I’m having lots of fun.” So, you know, right on. And that happened.

Thom Harrison: And so still about 17?

Ty Dixon: 17. But, to speak a little bit to the context of the shame, what we’ve come to understand it as a shame based family system that we didn’t understand that we were. And a lot of the unhealthy beliefs and traditions that had really been passed down from generations before. And or how things had been mutated to not just my family, but we’ve come to see thousands and thousands of families that are operating in this context. I think that… when I was 15. The second girl I had sexual relations with when I was 15 years old. Parents did not know I was kissing anyone. She thought she’d gotten pregnant. And I’m 15, but I think just barely 15. And she comes over to my house screaming at me, “Are you ready to be a father?” You know, “Let’s come in. Let’s sit down.”

Ty Dixon:  We sit down with her, my parents; my siblings are upstairs watching what’s going on. “Are you ready to be a father?” “How could you do this? How could you do this to our family, son? Haven’t we? We have taught you better. How could you do this to me?” My father and mother taking things personal, my decisions personal to their parenting. They’re worried about what neighbors are going to think. What they’re going to think of? And because that was so far from, not only what they had taught me, what they believe what happiness… Believing so much in the Gospel, in happiness, and the promise of it. They unconsciously were trying to motivate by fear. And I think with a lot of us, our authenticity repulses that, and it causes us to go the other direction.

Ty Dixon: And I just remember being so overwhelmed and so much self-hate and embarrassment. My whole life is, “I’m gonna be a father at 15. I can barely take care of myself. I can’t take care of myself. I don’t know how to tie my shoes. I don’t know how to have a job, I don’t know…” Right? I mean, all these feelings of my life. Like, “How can I let my family down?” I had the thought, “There is a shotgun upstairs.” My dad had taught me how to shoot. You know, I’ve learned it in scouts. He had a shotgun under his bed probably in case an intruder or something. He had shells by it. Sitting in this, and I couldn’t take the shame, it was like an overwhelming tangible bubble of darkness, hotness.

Thom Harrison:  Were her parent also in this meeting?

Ty Dixon: Just her mother. She was a single mother, who, she got pregnant when she was 16. She was like the cool mom. So I was friends with her until now. I mean, and the lid had come off, and it’s game over. And she was preparing to… Her daughter was 14 and I’m 15. She’s preparing to be a grandma at thirty-two or I don’t know, I’m not a math person. And this darkness, and all I knew is I had to get out of it. All I knew is, I had to get out of it. And just like that, it’s like, “I need to kill myself immediately, and I know how.” Just like my dad, “If there’s something needs to get done.” I know I find the will. And I find it, and I get it done.

Ty Dixon: Well I went upstairs and I’m like, “I gotta do this quick, because they’re probably going to follow me.” I Grab the shotgun, get the shell, load it in.” You know. “Oh, the safety’s off, fully intending to pull. Just end it” within 20 seconds, right? From, this ends in 20 seconds, go. And went up, got the shotgun, put it in my hand and my finger. And I couldn’t, I couldn’t reach the trigger. I couldn’t squeeze it. So, if I take my socks off maybe if I use my toe. That’s… Oh, it’s against my side. Maybe if I… Oh, here’s how you.

Ty Dixon: And then my dad walks in. “Son, please put the gun down,” and he grabbed me. He held me, and we cried together. And our spirits broke, and there was a feeling of, “There’s something really wrong here in our family.” And we didn’t know what it was. Couldn’t put it to words, because you need to feel it. You need to feel it to heal it, and we were taught to not feel; that feelings were bad. They were taught that. Their parents were taught that. That’s the way it was. I think it worked well in the early nineteen hundred, eighteen hundred, kind of thing. In our society, with those traditions, it is killing us.

Thom Harrison: It is.

Ty Dixon: It is killing us emotionally and spiritually. And, until we figure out a different way to motivate people to change, a different way to communicate that, as God’s people, we stand on our feet. We show who we are. We talk about what’s going on. We discuss the problems. We discuss our sins. We communicate how the adversary tricks us. And when we screw up, we work together on how we apply the atonement to overcome the challenges that we cannot overcome on our own.

Thom Harrison: It separates that intellectual component, that cognitive component, with our emotional quotient. And when we do that, we’re not functioning fully. That’s one of the major tenets of eternal core. But you’re right; they were taught this for decades, for almost hundreds of years.

Ty Dixon: I think those of us in this who, in the context professionally, relying on what’s effective way to help people change, you have to look at knowing what the problem is. And when you really know what the problems are, it’s not drugs, it’s not alcohol, it’s not eating disorders, it’s not pornography, it’s not depression. It’s the underlying causes and conditions causing emotional dishonesty and despondency and the feelings that precipitate grabbing external solutions for internal problems so the depression, anxiety, trauma, self-hate, shame. Shame I have learned is the driver. So those of us that screw up, that have religious views and beliefs that we can’t shake, because we have experiences we can’t deny. And it’s not going anywhere. Period. It’s solid. It’s in there. It’s who we are.

Ty Dixon:  And no matter what we do, we can’t get rid of it. And shame is the gasoline on a fire of guilt. Guilt is I did something bad. Shame is I am beyond bad, and because I am beyond bad, I’ll just continue in this behavior and repent later. Or I’ll just change; I’ll change later. I’ll rely on my strength and intellect, because I can’t rely on God, because what I’ve done is I’ve screwed up too bad you know. And, if everybody knew what I really did, they would agree with me that I should probably suffer. So I’ll just keep down this, and what happens, and that’s when the claws set in. And that’s when we come down with a disease that affects us neurologically, our physical bodies. And we come down with a disease that no amount of human power, medicine can solve, can cure. It has to come from a power much greater than this earth. There has to be something greater or else we’re toast, or else I was toast.

Ty Dixon: So I ended up in the Salt Lake County Jail at 19 years old. Nine months previous to this, I was running back at Jordan High School, and a linebacker, a fairly good football player. And nine months, just out a high school, used pills. I went from drinking, partying, using heroin. I prided myself, I wanted to use every drug out there darn it, so I was gonna do it. And heroin was a cool thing to do, “So let’s see what this is about.” Hooked. I was already addicted to stuff but this; this was it. And again, my parents were wrong, and this is awesome. And I didn’t know what physical addiction really looked like until I became addicted to opiates. And the addiction just escalated and compounded greater and greater, greater in a very quick amount of time. I became a thief in that period. I did things I never thought I would do. Stealing from people, from places, lying, manipulating, and burning every friendship bridge I had.

Ty Dixon: My brain resorted to a primitive state. And I didn’t know what was happening, but I was developing the disease of addiction to the point in early April. Early April 2006 to the point where I’m trying to steal things from a convenience store. And the store workers followed me and held me down like a rabid animal until the police came. Literally rock bottom getting held down in a parking lot, and rightfully so, for what I had become. I went to jail, and it was like an alternate reality. And I knew I was headed for an immense amount of pain from the withdrawal. I was one hundred and twenty probably one hundred and fifteen pounds at this time. Nine months later, 190 pounds. One hundred and fifteen pounds. I didn’t really realize how close to death I was. Eating a couple of times a week because I wasn’t hungry. My brain required the substance more than anything. If I had ten dollars for food or drugs, I needed drugs. And it’s like, “How did I…” It feels like a different lifetime.

Ty Dixon: And I empathize with normal people, as we call them, who don’t have the disease who go, “This disease? This is choice. This idiot started to make,” you know like, “All his choices. Plain and simple. Next case,” right? Look a little deeper. And this is a simple way, when I speak to young people this is how I explain it. You ever jump off a high dive, let all your air out, and your ten feet under the water, and you’re like looking up like crap. Does anyone else do that? Because I do that. I mean crap, you know, out in the water. You’re in a panic. You’re not thinking about working things out with your relationship. You’re not. You’re not thinking about. You’re not thinking about what’s for dinner. You’re not thinking about any. You’re not thinking about if you do this, if you get up and take a breath of air, that you could lose your kids. You could go to jail. You could… right? Don’t rob that bank. Don’t rob that sweet old lady. You could go to jail, you could die. It’s like, but if I…

Ty Dixon: In the human brain, at that point when you’re looking up, the amygdala is saying, “If you don’t breathe, you will die. My job is to keep you alive for the next five seconds, I’m taking over. We’re getting up. We’re going on.” When someone develops the disease, just like the need for water, for food, for air, those things that we just need to survive. When someone develops an addiction to porn. Same thing with pornography happens in drugs and alcohol to where you need it. You develop an additional need biologically that trumps anything else, the need for water. I mean if you’re in the desert, you’ve got a backpack with a billion dollars, a treasure chest with a billion dollars worth of goods, and you haven’t had a water bottle in three days. Someone’s like, “I’ll swap you.” “Done.” How does that make sense?

Ty Dixon: An addict’s mind can’t comprehend consequence. In that state, they can’t. And because of that fact, it’s a neurological disease. We understand it to be much further manifest, a bigger deal than just a physical illness also. We believe that we’re not physical beings that have spiritual experiences briefly on Earth, but that we’re spiritual beings having a brief human experience. And this disease attacks the entirety of who we are on every level. So I was thankful to go to a place that, even though I didn’t want any sort of churchy religious sort of thing, right. I just maybe wanted to see if they could show me how to drink like a normal person, then I’d be good to go. Luckily I was able to after jail well…

Thom Harrison: So I just want to fix the addiction. I don’t want to fix all the other stuff that I have to do.

Ty Dixon: Because it’s still fun. I just don’t want my life to be unmanageable.

Thom Harrison: Not being able to see the corollary. You know, not being able to see that this, all of this, has something to do with it.

Ty Dixon: Which is I think where the emotional and spiritual disconnectedness, kind of, that’s where that that lies. But we, my parents arranged you know with the District, the attorney that we had and the judge, to go, “If you went to jail, or if you went to treatment, you can get out of jail. And you could stay out of jail, if you completed it. If you don’t complete it, you go back to jail.” So I went to this treatment center called the Ark of Little Cottonwood. And, “What is this crap about?” You know, my brother went there. He wrote me from jail. He’s a different person, you know, talking about all sorts of who knows what. I remember I said before I went in there I’m like, “Bro, just tell me whatever I got to do to just, you know, get through the hoops, and then we can get back to partying.”

Ty Dixon: And my brother who, if he didn’t choose to recover and get it, I don’t know if I would be here; if we would be here. And Pres said, “Ty.” He’s like, “The only thing I’m going to tell you man is just surrender, just surrender.” I was like, “What? Might as well be speaking Japanese.” And, I mean, I had no idea what that meant. And I went to treatment and what we do in treatment. What we do at the ranch, it was the same, very same therapeutic model that I first had was a process of humbling an individual. First, showing and extending an immense amount of love and support. Acknowledging that they’re sick. Putting up with their sickness, and looking through it, loving them despite it. And when they knew that, when I felt that I was loved and cared for. When I heard all the crazy feedback about me. And there was nine other people telling me the same thing, and I was the only one disagreeing, it was pretty powerful.

Ty Dixon: I was like, “I’d better take a look at my conceptions, because they’re right. They have not served me.” And I was very humbled. And that night, this was about 3, 4 weeks into treatment, where I didn’t really want to be there. I was still trying to, right? And I had this experience in group where they helped me become really aware of the powerlessness I really had in my addiction and the unmanageability. And they said, “Unless you really feel it, and embrace it, and know that you’re screwed despite your best efforts. No matter what you do, you can’t think yourself out of this one. This one’s too big.” I’m like, “What? Yes huh, I’ve been told my whole life if I choose right I can get out of it. What you’re saying isn’t adding up” and so much confusion and chaos and internal chaos.

Ty Dixon: What I didn’t know was my ego was cracking, and I was getting ready to take the next step, which is the step towards change. The first step is the hardest step for any one of us that can take years and years and decades for others. And until someone really, fully hits 100 percent of embracing step one which is we admitted we were powerless over drugs, alcohol. It made our life manageable until we really embraced that. When people relapse, I see it’s they’ve always forgotten that. They have not, they’re not, they didn’t live it that day. You know, I’m 19 years old; I thought I had the world figured out. Obviously I didn’t. I’m in this rehab with nothing and no one. And I remember feeling like I need to pray. I’d prayed right, grew up in an LDS home, prayed hundreds of times, maybe thousands. And never praying with this, you know, not really believing anything was there. Just doing it to do it, because that’s what we did.

Ty Dixon: And this time, I prayed with this. This was the first time where I prayed just hoping against hope that man, there’s something out there. There’s gotta be something out there that put earth just far enough away from the sun to not blow up, but be close enough to be warm enough and not far enough away that we freeze and causes a day and a night and they’re like… Right? It’s like, “Hey guy that did all this, and maybe created me, and maybe is my father, that’s the stuff I heard. I don’t know if you’re a he or she. I don’t care. But are you there? And do you care about me? Do you know who I am? Do you know where I am? Because if you’re not there, I’m gonne die. I’m gonna die, and I’m not scared of dying, I just can’t live like this anymore.

Ty Dixon: I want more than anything to keep using drugs and alcohol. And if my brain, if I don’t change my perceptions, I’m going to end up in prison, end up homeless, and or dead.” And I just finally realized that, from the treatment process, no one could tell it to me. I had to feel it and experience it from my peers, people that had been there. Professionals that skillfully aided me through the process of pre-contemplation of change. And I prayed. And I specifically prayed to see things the way that you see them, God. Because the way I, or a different way, because the way that I see is broken. Obviously, I’m convinced of that now. And I just, I mean I cried from saying that prayer, feeling that over and over that night.

Ty Dixon: And, for me, it’s hard to believe. And if we don’t believe it, whatever. But I, the next day, I felt completely different. And from that day on, I became like a sponge. And anything that everybody said I was just, I absorbed just so much light. And it was like, have you seen the matrix? You’ve seen the matrix. No, the matrix is like an alternate universe. “Hey, we need to teach you to learn how to fly a helicopter.” And “Quick John, download the helicopter thing.” “All right let’s go. I can fly a helicopter.” It was a lot like that in that I came to feel and understand it as a power greater than myself. The power of God as or we know it or call it changing who I was. And I was accepting the change. I wanted to change. I needed to out of survival.  And then I realized this is more than about survival or approval, this is about happiness. This is about enjoyment, fulfillment, and I started having fun without drugs and alcohol.

Ty Dixon: I started connecting to people, establishing meaningful relationships without drugs and alcohol. All these things came to me that I could do with my life. Now I’m not captive by an addiction. And what I could do with my life, who I could be. It’s like, “People have got to know about this. People gotta know that you could change. You don’t have to live life at a two; you could be at a 9, 10. And I haven’t stopped since. I had a relapse a year and a half in, and that’s when I went to Renaissance ranch in September 2008 and met a conglomerate of extraordinary men and one extraordinary woman. As a recovery family, they supported me in changing my life, and I did what I could to support them. And I do everything I can today in my life’s mission to bring us together to accomplish a greater goal of helping heal others. And have the same experiences we have had to experience goodness and light and find out ways how to pay for it, so we can survive in this temporal world that we’re in.

Thom Harrison: Right.

Ty Dixon: I think it’s amazing what you’ve done, what you’re doing with EternalCore. Bringing many of us together in different areas of the profession, because we are all united in this. The traditional fear or scarcity mentality that exists within the human condition. But I believe that if we come together as one heart and one mind focused on a divine objective of happiness within all of us, and all of those who are lost, that we can do it together. We can, and we have to. And what an amazing goal, purpose, to aspire to. And I’m blessed to work with dozens of people who are genuinely about that and live their lives day in day out. The ranch, where a community of men and women who are a fellowship and a family, who have a great network within the community to assist the one.

Ty Dixon: We have a saying that it takes a village. We laugh like, it takes a village you know after our team meetings, and we just got done working through different resentments or wedges or issues. And after we sit down and there’s this problem that’s way bigger than our capability to handle and somehow we come together and we work it out. And a family’s benefited and an individual’s benefited, the group has benefited, it’s humbling to be a part of. And it’s humbling for me, it’s extraordinarily humbling for me to have so many people that trust me in the leadership position I am with all my weaknesses and with my pride, and with my stuff. And they teach me every day. And I hold so important the feedback in the open, honest communication that they give me, because it allows us to work together to more effectively accomplish what it is that we’re undertaking.

Ty Dixon: So we’re trying to do our part in this corner of the world to instill some real and sincere change. We’ve been doing these (I’ll just be a couple more minutes) that I think is really remarkable and really coincides with the problem that we’re seeing in our state right now specifically. And it crossed with the schools, with the suicides, and the addiction rates, and the prescription stuff, and the stuff we’ve all heard about. Well, we’re one of the largest mental health and addiction treatment programs in Utah. And we’re a community-based program. We don’t fly a ton of people in from out of state. Most people, eighty-five or so percent come right here from the Wasatch Front, because we take them through the entire process. From the detoxing process, to the residential, to the transitional, into real life. We incorporate the family through the process, extended healing and care. We do medication-assisted treatment through the process. We do, there’s fitness and life coaching and all this stuff right?

Ty Dixon: And we try to bring everything that we can to help someone. And there’s no one size fits all either. There’s a ton, most of the people that we see have co-occurring disorders severe depression, anxiety, trauma, and suicide, and everything, and bipolar and everything in between. And the people that, when they come in they fill out a survey, and it evaluates these things. And it lets us know how severe they are, so that we can know where and how to help them. So each week they fill this out, and they fill it out at the end of treatment. The company that we use does this, and incorporates this, across the country to measure effectiveness and treatment and so forth. We use it every week to identify what clients we need to focus the most on, and what ones are the most severe, and then game plan strategies to help them.

Ty Dixon: Well we’ve identified for one and compared to the national average, our clients which is in Utah, the Wasatch front, overall have a 15 percent higher than the national average of the other 49 states combined. 15 percent higher in anxiety, depression, trauma symptoms. It’s a massive difference than the national average. Also, you look at the suicide risk assessment when they come in. The national average, individuals when they come into treatment, they attempt suicide in previous 30 days is 6 percent. Our program, 13 percent, more than twice the national average. People are attempting suicide before they get to us, which coincides with the statistics we know about that we’re two times higher.

Ty Dixon: There’s been a lot of blame on the church. It’s not the church. It’s the people, it’s our culture, it’s us. And if we’re going to get through this, we got to take a deeper look into ourselves or we’re not going to, it’s going to get worse. The neat thing is there is hope, a great deal of hope. It was amazing because we also saw completion rates, success rates. We saw client satisfaction rates. Across the board, we have a 15 percent higher success rate than the national average. So we’re taking people that are 15 percent worse off. So you think we would have a lower than average success. We have a higher success rate. It’s a 30 point swing than the national average. Which is, I think for me, that’s awesome. But if it’s still like, it’s unacceptable. I think that’s not… What we’re dealing with is extremely complex, and I’m very proud of what we have. But we’re always striving to be better.

Ken Krogue: What do you attribute that to?

Ty Dixon: What do I attribute that to? Many things.

Ken Krogue: You’re the only openly, that we’ve seen, that mentions God in your advertising. I mean you guys come on out and say, “Here’s who we are.” And you get hit by it a lot.

Ty Dixon: Yeah, I mean. To say, in traditional professional treatment, it’s not acceptable to say, “Hey, we talk about God in treatment, like in your therapy.” It’s just not. It discredits all the stuff they learned in school. Because they don’t like… Right? Or if you just need God, then why do you need professional treatment? Why not both? What if God… “Is it too much to have both of this going on?” And that’s what we do.

Thom Harrison: We’re all hard wired to seek for the divine, and that’s how our brains start. But then we hit adolescence, and then the adolescent brain goes, “I don’t need to listen to the heart anymore.” And just what you said is when that crisis hit you in your life, and you went, “I want to reconnect with my heart.” And you said, “I didn’t pray from here anymore, I prayed from here.” You reconnected with that God-centric structure. It’s when the heart and brain come together, and that’s where we become altruistic. That’s when we move into service. That’s when we move into caring about others other than our self. We move out of that ego and move into more of that sense of, I want to include others in it. Your examples here today are the exact same process, which the EternalCore is based on. And we appreciate so much your willingness to come in and share your story and help people see. And, you know, you plotted it out so beautifully of if you offer them good therapeutic treatment, also with the sense of we’re hardwired to seek for the divine. And we combine those two; it’s amazing what happens, people get better.

Ty Dixon: Yeah. They get better, and they stay better, and they don’t need us any more. That’s what we want. And furthermore, we want them to do the same thing, to help others. The most powerful staff that we have had have been those that have come through the ranch. And I think throughout the next 10, 20, 50 years, if things go that long, then we will continue to do that. We study multiple areas and avenues. I don’t want to also get the idea that we just talk about God and pray and that’s it. We have studied many forms of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, EMDR specifically with trauma treatment.

Thom Harrison: It’s a wonderful combination when you bring them together.

Ty Dixon: Yeah, there’s a ton of amazing stuff out there. And when we all understand and respect each other’s differences and experiences, and allow them to have everyone’s own, and understand that everyone’s on a different journey and a different path. Not everybody needs to be a certain religion, or certain belief, or certain… We just need to love them. We just love them, and then where it goes from there, it goes.

Thom Harrison: Right. And when you bring that divine structure into the therapy, you absorb that therapy in a different way than when it’s not connected. You see it differently. You process it differently. It sticks differently.

Ty Dixon: And there’s scientific evidence of that in brain scanning. Where they identify where the spiritual area in the brain is, and when they utilize spirituality in the context of therapy and treatment. And how the whole brain, the prefrontal cortex, lights up. And there’s a lot of science behind it also. It’s not just hokey.

Thom Harrison: So that’s why they’re doing better than other programs because of that combination.

Ken Krogue: Yeah, I like his last little mission statement; it’s not hokey.

Ty Dixon: Yeah, it’s not the hokey pokey.

Ken Krogue: Ty, this has been amazing.

Thom Harrison: Yes, thank you Ty.

Ken Krogue: This took a lot of courage. Have you shared this this openly before?

Ty Dixon: Not really. You know, I never wanted to be like a look at me kind of person. I have in certain context. I kind of felt, I don’t know. I feel like I could do a great good with my story, my family story, but I just haven’t felt like the right time or had the right resources to effectively do it justice until some other things that are going on. And I think this is a good platform to do that. But, you know, I have nothing to hide. I think that the silver bullet in all this is vulnerability and honesty. Just in church on Sunday I applauded a young man and we were talking about, why is it hard for people to stay connected to the church? And we put down you know all this stuff that no one wanted to talk about.

Ty Dixon: And then I said a couple of things. And another gentleman said, “Well I’m attracted to men and women and all kinds of stuff. And I don’t know what to do about it. I mean, because I’m not supposed to talk about it. It’s not, I can’t go to the temple if I feel this way or I don’t act things or do. But I know that, I know I love God and I know I love the church. I know the church is true. I know, but I don’t feel accepted.” And then another man, right, “I lost my wife three months ago. My little boy is contemplating taking his life. I’m here in church, man.” Like, “How would I ever sign up for this pain?” And when people talk about what’s really going on, and we have the boat, it brings it out, and it connects us. It allows us to see who we are. It allows us to love each other, and to support each other, and get through this freaking thing we call life. Thanks for having me.

Ken Krogue: Thank you, Ty.  And thanks everybody for joining us. Ty Dixon, CEO of Renaissance Ranch shared his story of redemption and recovery and it’s just beginning.

Ty Dixon: It is. We’re just getting started. For real, we are just getting started. Anybody and everyone who would like to help. The way I look at it, we are constantly training our future. Those that come into us, and that are a part of this. We’re part of a much bigger plan I think than we even can comprehend, and it’s just cool to be along for the ride.

Thom Harrison: Well, there will be those that will hear your story and say, “He did it. I can do it. I’m there. I can move out too.” So thank you so much.

Ty Dixon: Hope so.

Thom Harrison: Appreciate it.

Ken Krogue: Can we bring you back on later episodes?

Ty Dixon: Sure.

Ken Krogue: Thanks everybody. Thanks for joining us. Ty Dixon, Renaissance Ranch. This is Thom and Ken. Look for you again soon.

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