Perhaps there’s another way. A path that relies less on will power and more on leaning into our true nature of innate health and well-being. In episode 2 I had a conversation about this with Greg Suchy, and today I talk to his co-host of the Addiction, Alcoholism and the Three Principles webinar series, Harry Derbitsky.
Harry Derbitsky’s book Evolution of Addiction Recovery is out now and has testimonials from psychiatrist Dr. Bill Pettit and psychologist Dr. Amy Johnson. This unique offering by an early student of Sydney Banks provides a roadmap to the spiritual and psychological nature of the Three Principles for addiction recovery.
It includes indigenous or native American chapters and is available at Amazon and in certain bookstores. Harry and recovery coach Greg Suchy co-host the bi-monthly webinar and YouTube series called Addiction, Alcoholism and the Three Principles.
You can find Harry at ACTTraining.biz
You can listen above or on iTunes or your favorite podcast app. Below are the show highlights and full transcript.
- How Syd Banks defined jumping the boundaries of time
- Why the 3 Principles appeal to those looking for a spiritual-psychological answer about addiction
- How the field of addiction recovery is evolving
- On the involvement of insight in addiction recovery for those like Bill W.
- The restriction to mental health of labeling oneself as having a disease
- How the Three Principles work as a health model, rather than a disease model
Transcript of Interview with Harry Derbitsky
Alexandra: Hi everyone, I’m Alexandra Amor from StopSufferingAbout.com and I’m here today with Harry Derbitsky. Hi Harry.
Harry: Hi. Nice to see you.
Alexandra: Nice to see you, too. Thank you for being here with me. Let me introduce you to our listeners.
Harry Derbitsky’s book Evolution of Addiction Recovery is out now and has testimonials from psychiatrist Dr. Bill Pettit and psychologist Dr. Amy Johnson. This unique offering by an early student of Sidney Banks provides a roadmap to the spiritual and psychological nature of the Three Principles for addiction recovery.
It includes indigenous or native American chapters and is available at Amazon and in certain bookstores. Harry and recovery coach Greg Suchy co-host the bi-monthly webinar and YouTube series called Addiction, Alcoholism and the Three Principles.
Welcome Harry, it’s great to have you here. Greg was on the show for episode two, I think was his episode and so now I’ve got the other the other half of that pairing.
Harry: Well actually because the talk that you did with Greg was so fantastic. I’m going to use that word. I really felt that Greg had described the human experience in relationship to the Three Principles clearer than I had heard anyone.
And so because of that I thought I would like to come on this show as well because of that because of that that type of energy. I highly recommend everyone to take a look at what Greg and you created. I hope you know I have a little bit different twist to it and maybe we’ll blend together with that one.
Alexandra: Exactly. I’m excited to explore this with you especially because of your book.
The book has evolution in the title. Tell us what that means to you.
Harry: Well because I’m an early student of Syd Banks, everything that I talk about, which is a little different than the Three Principles world, is spiritual first, psychological second.
Most people are approaching it as psychological first and then that leads them to peace of mind. And if they want to go a little deeper into the spiritual reality of life. So evolution from Syd’s definition, which is always my framework of what I’m doing. Whatever I do I always have this bottom-line question, “Would Sid be pleased with this?”
It’s a really good question for me because sometimes in our own personal minds we go into our own personal likes and so on. But would he be pleased with it.
He defined evolution as jumping the boundaries of time. And he used the example why take 20 years to learn something when you can get it just like that. That’s evolution. So there’s a natural evolution of the intellect or status quo or way of thinking which moves at that pace.
And then there’s the world of insight, which can jump you like that. Someone like Greg, which is what one of the reasons I like working with Greg, is he actually was a heavy alcoholic and had a spiritual insight that no one in the AA world could accept, but he knew he had experienced it. So he jumped or evolved in his own development from severe alcoholic to being totally free of it.
Of course, most people will go a little bit more nuts, they aren’t quite as lucky. But any movement is an evolvement. Now I’d like to read from my book two quotes, if you wouldn’t mind.
The first is the first lines in my book. It comes when Dr. Keith Blevins read something that Syd wrote about his enlightenment from his unpublished book.
This is what Syd said. This is evolvement.
What I found that day was so simple yet so powerful it boggles the mind. This is the missing link and the answer that psychology and psychiatry were searching for. This is the answer that could heal millions of people who were suffering needlessly.
OK now I’m going to read one more quote and this really defines evolvement from our perspective of the Three Principles. Remember we’re not talking about three principles that you memorize and repeat like a parrot. What we’re talking about is truth. Fact. Inside you. That’s all that the three principles is just the form to arrive at what’s inside you.
So you don’t have to know any words like what are the three principles et cetera. It’s just that when people are searching for truth in addiction they’re looking for it in different ways, Alexandra, and some people want a system with a lot of fellowship or a lot of people around them. So, of course, the twelve steps might be the best for them.
Other people want a cognitive answer to their question. So smart recovery might be the answer for them.
But for those who are looking for a spiritual, psychological answer to their addiction, the Three Principles is the way. So that’s the type of person who’s trying to connect that whole picture, like you are. And when you connected a part of that picture you said hey there’s fact here. It’s not just an assumption or maybe a better idea.
So listen to this. This again is from my book but it comes from Syd’s last talk, The Ultimate Answer.
The Three Principles are mental healing. They are an evolution. Whatever your teachers were taught and what you were taught was in absolute good faith and innocence. But now we are coming beyond that evolution to a brand new way a look of looking at human behavior.
So that’s why evolution is such an important word and I loved it. I went through a little bit to try and find the title for my book.
First, I had The Teachings of Syd Banks. Elsie said, “What are you doing you piggy backing on his words?”
I said no, Elsie I’m just trying to draw a comparison. And through that discussion I came up with evolution of addiction recovery and it turned out to be in my mind a very good title because that’s what we’re talking about in addiction.
There is a status quo way of approaching it now. If the results were increasing and the alcoholism addiction and the opiate crisis was going down then we’d have to question our statements that there needs to be an evolution or need for it. But they aren’t going down. The end the results are getting lower and lower and the costs are going up and up.
Then we have to take a look at maybe there’s something a little bit higher and I’m actually going to read one more quote from Bill W.
Even good principles can sometimes be displaced by the discovery of still better ones. Only God is unchanging.
That’s from Bill Wilson, founder of the twelve steps. So he himself recognized that he had broken through with his spiritual insight. Nobody could hear what he was talking about. And then he started to develop a framework but even he could see there was more.
Alexandra: I love that you touch on that. That’s fantastic because one of the things I wanted to ask you about was this: we talk about the Principles being a health model and that differs quite a bit from the 12 step approach.
Can you compare and contrast those two for us?
Harry: Well, first of all, one of the benefits of writing a book about addiction is you have to evaluate your own tone of how you discuss things, especially when you’re not in total agreement with the other approaches and the status quo. And that helped me to see the beauty in the benefits of the 12 steps and to see it from a perspective more of a positive perspective. And the stage of evolvement, rather than a condemnation. Or, as I said in my book, we’re better than you are.
That doesn’t work. We know that if you have kids that it’s my way or the highway usually it’s the highway. You know it’s just they’re not so.
That helped me to see a more of an evolution of how it works because you have to remember Bill W. had a very big spiritual experience. Huge.
And that spiritual experience carried him. And when it began it had high success rate, but it was Christian organization. It wasn’t a 12 step. It was a Christian church based type of thing. But Dr. Bob evolved it. He wrote the twelve steps to try and create a form, something like the Three Principles. If you want to take a little bit of a peek at that.
And as the evolvement went, they went more away from the spiritual. A lot of people would say no, they mentioned higher power but and more towards the system.
And within that, in the 1970s the United Nations declared alcoholism was a disease. So what became a fac. A world fact not a spiritual fact, not a true fact, but a myth fact. And the reason they did that was because the only approach that the system had was to throw people in jail. So it was, they’re a drug addicted or an alcoholic, throw them in jail.
And of course that produced zero results. And so, it was better to call it a disease where they could start to doctor it and so on.
So that was an evolvement but it led to, in our understanding, a myth. And the myth is quite harmful because I deal of course with many indigenous people in many non-Indigenous people and they’ve been free of drinking for twenty-nine years but they still call themselves an alcoholic.
That becomes a restriction in their mental health because they’re carrying a disease lie in their head. Now other people will say to me it isn’t a lie. This is the way it is. And when I meet those people, I say you have found your way for your peace and contentment. You should stick to that. I’m not here to tell you what you should believe or not believe. That doesn’t work at all.
So we have the disease model, which unfortunately carries a thought within that. And I’m going to describe a person for you that might help you see the benefits and also the restriction of it.
This man is one of the nicest men I have ever met. Very productive, incredibly happy, very solid in his understanding. And he believes he is an alcoholic even though he hasn’t drank for let’s say twenty five years type of thing. He’s carrying that thought and that urge that he says he has to deal with almost every day.
So right away you see a big difference between that and the Three Principles because the idea you forget, you forgive and forget type of thing. Now within the confines of talking to him he’s one of the wisest human beings in the universe.
But you get outside of his comfort zone, outside of his beliefs and he gets he gets rattled because it doesn’t fit his belief system.
In the health model, it’s a piece of cake because you’re just talking to the health of the person and you’re not getting caught up in all of those innuendoes. So we have a tremendous amount of people who are caught in the past.
We have the leading drug and alcohol person in Vancouver, Gabo Mate, who says it’s all caused from childhood trauma. So he took it away from the disease model.
That’s an evolvement, but he’s still stuck in what we understand to be a death sentence. The death sentence is healed by insight. So it’s not actually a death sentence, it’s only a set of beliefs that you’re holding on to.
We walk in and we deal with the people who are with us. They are healthy right from the beginning or spiritual is the way I look at it.
So innate health is our is our model. I don’t use that word. I don’t like it so much I like that’s a psychological word you know type of mind is a psychological word mind is a psychological word for God. And health is a psychological word for spirit inside you or soul.
When you’re dealing with people on an equal level they can feel it. Like kids, they always can feel if the parent is talking down to them or the teacher’s talking down to them versus with them. So we’re with the people knowing that we have addictive behavioral problems.
When my mind gets too speedy I go right to the fridge. And what I eat is ridiculous. And the more speedy I get the more ridiculous the eating gets. Of course I should know better. But I’m a human being. And that’s the equal thing. So let me give you an example of why that’s so important.
I’ve I had a lady client. She was taking 22 pills for schizophrenia, bipolar, multiple sclerosis for her physical.
And my initial reaction was, “Do I want to deal with anyone like this?” And then I saw that as long as I saw that I was higher or more healthy than she was all I was seeing were problems.
As soon as I saw was how beautiful she was. She was a beautiful person, incredibly beautiful, beautiful feeling and so on. And she saw life very simply. But she was caught up in a set of beliefs that the psychiatrist or psychologist. In her case psychiatrist and doctors were feeding her and these 22 drugs were reacting like crazy within her whole system. So you can see the at the problem with the belief system that she had.
Once I started just seeing her for what she is. I was at her place and I could see she was flipping out. I just went up to her in her ear and said, “Why don’t you just calm down”.
She ran to her bedroom and stayed there for five minutes it came out totally calm and said that would have been two weeks. Two weeks of that type of experience. And she had an insight. It was simple. She is simply better. Just boom it hit her.
All I have to do is calm my little mind down. I wouldn’t have to go through all of that stuff. Now you can see it’s if you can catch it at that level or at Greg’s level that changes who you are.
All of a sudden she became a calm person and then she invited me to see to visit her with her shrink or her psychiatrist and I said well OK if you want me to come I’ll come. And she went and I knew what type of life she was living, which was fantastic. And she started talking about her problems and we walked out of the first meeting and I said, “Why don’t you talk about that you’re having such a good experience?”
I thought that’s what I’m supposed to do. Talk about my problems.
I said No, you start with a positive feeling. Talk about your grandson who you love. You have such a good time with him. So we went again and she did that. You know what happened? This psychologist started to relax. Years dropped out. Perfect. She hadn’t had a good story in eons and all of a sudden there was this person talking about love of her grandson.
So then I said could she go get a little lower drug use. And she said yeah. Well that seems to make sense. Anyway the moral of the story is all 22 drugs disappeared.
I didn’t do any of it. I just pointed in certain direction but because I was looking at the health of the person you can do that. You can head in that direction if you’re looking at there’s something wrong with my kid.
I label it as something like that or mental health issues or addiction issues. That’s the problem. The label is the problem and they’re carrying that label. So as long as you’re tearing that label that I am the than you are.
That’s why we’re talking about spiritual psychology is so healing because we’re dealing with the fact that mental health or the innate health is a spiritual connection between you and me. I am not better than you on the outside. I’m a man and you’re a woman. I may be stronger than you or I may be less or more intelligent than you. Those are those are outside quality.
Inside you and I we are one and if we deal with that as a reality it provides a healing to the person because they can feel that. See that’s why the words are not important, Alexandra, because it’s not the words. It’s the feeling.
You can you pick up on the feeling. If I said words that were memorized it would sound good and certainly from the intellect people would give it a checkmark but from a feeling perspective, which is what human beings are, it doesn’t resonate. It doesn’t register and when it registers what happens is we step into a different space.
Alexandra: You’ve mentioned insight a couple of times.
For our listeners, if there’s anyone who doesn’t understand, can you explain what insight is and how it works, and in addiction recovery specifically.
Harry: Well first of all Bill W., Syd Banks, Harry Derbitsky and Greg Suchy all agree that insight is the healing force of addiction.
Dr. Amy Johnson had one statement that I really like. It’s a no willpower approach. So that’s why I like that because there is a tremendous amount of, “I can do it” [clenched] and that’s what drives them to the addiction even more. I could do that with the fridge too.
So this non-willpower approach means that there’s some other way. And that’s the insight which is really the evolution or George Pransky calls it a defining point. But what it is is your little mind is controlling your world. But the problem with a little mind is it’s boring, it’s repetitive and it has no answers. The intellect doesn’t have the answer. It’s kind of chasing its own tail type of thing.
And it has support from your memory, your habitual conditioning, your patterns of behavior and what happens is you notice that you don’t have a good feeling. It’s useful for knowing your name and playing chess.
It’s useful if you’re going to do a podcast as we’ve been talking about to know some of the technical sides of it which is much more considerable than I expected.
So it’s useful, but the power of insight is that doesn’t hold the answer. So what does. That’s an important question. What does it do?
The answer is inside you. That’s Syd’s message. I only know it’s true because I’ve found it to be. So what happens is this becomes stagnant boring repetitive and creates more and more lousy feeling that lousy feeling is a signal and sooner or later your consciousness becomes aware that it’s a signal the moment it becomes aware. Consciousness is a healing power.
For a second or longer, it quiets, at which point you’re just as the Indians would describe you’re hollow bones. Fools Crow described healing as hollow bones.
From God inside you to wherever this whole thing comes through you without any interference and that produces Oh. Aha. That’s the truth. That’s the fact. That’s what happened. It’s not time related. And then you know.
You can see sometimes on your show someone’s been around for a lot longer than you. But you could see that they’re still stuck in certain areas or something like that. That’s one of the beauties of being on the show. It’s not a time related type of thing.
The beauty of insight is several things. It’s the only healing power there is. It’s you with the spirit hollow bones without interference of the intellect type of thing.
The other thing is ,that any person can let’s say we started this interview and let’s say I was at a higher level of consciousness and let’s say you had an insight you could easily not only just jump a little ahead quite a bit ahead because Syd did it. From nowhere to everywhere. It was over three days, but you know it’s still basically that is he says two or three or four seconds really. Light came in and so it might be five.
We have the power of spirit or oneness. If you don’t like Spirit or we have the power of mind. Elsie Spittle brought a phrase that I quite like, it was called ‘mentored by mind’. Life mentored by mind in an indigenous sense mean spirit talks.
You start to listen, you start to recognize spirit when it talks, versus little mind when it talks. And the moment you do that you’re basically free. It doesn’t mean like Of course I’m not enlightened so I’m not as free as Syd. But I’m free of all of this stuff to the point that I always can flow through it.
And if I get stuck in it I can flow out of it. And that allows me to dance around psychologically in the human experience freely, not afraid. And that freedom starts to build because the more it works, the more you have faith in it. And at a certain point you don’t question it. You hear it.
Now in my case, coming from a strong indigenous background, I was lucky to hear spirit in a different way and a more mystical way. I needed to get that. That was what I needed.
You don’t have to do native spirituality obviously to experience what you experience but in my case it was useful because as a pipe carrier, as a man of the spirit in the Indigenous world, doing ceremony once in front of 200 Indigenous people and one white guy and the white guy me was leading the ceremony.
That’s empowering experiences but I learned to listen to Spirit in a different way. And so when I actually was ready to hear the Spirit through the Three Principles it felt natural. And I had certain teachings in the indigenous way that’s augmented my need for clarity in the Three Principles because I was attached. And guess what I was attached to? Sydney Banks. Attached is attached and I can tell you he hated it and it held me back for 40 years.
Alexandra: If someone’s in addiction recovery, is there a way to cultivate insight?
Harry: Well first to cultivate insight means to be aware that insight is there is possible.
So the moment you’re aware that insight is possible you’re always going to have a more positive approach to everything. I psychologically, until I had my breakthrough, and to see how the psychological the spiritual world were one I was psychologically confused because I didn’t understand about thought. So I had a weakness. An Achilles heel. I did not understand. My insight was spiritual one but did not include thought. So of course you can see psychologically I was going through a lot of this until I actually saw what thought is.
But the point I’m making to your question is I was always positive. I was always optimistic because I was spiritual. It was just so I would be able to throw away a lot. All that stuff I was going through and still come up with a positive feeling. So to be aware that insight is the answer or the possibility is cultivating it.
It’s an ‘I am-ness’ Alexandra. The more I am spirit, the more alive spirit is in you, the more you are confirming with prayer or with whatever way that you do it becomes more and more real until it becomes obviously true.
And then of course the moment it becomes obviously true you had an insight.
Alexandra: I love that.
Harry thank you so much for being here with us today. Why don’t you let our listeners know where they can find out more about you and your book and your work.
Harry: Sure. The book The Evolution of Addiction Recovery is on Amazon. That’s the best place for that, whichever country you’re in.
The addiction, Alcoholism and Three Principles webinar series, which I really love. We’re making it a podcast, by the way. Theoretically anyway but we’re moving. That is generally on the first and third Sunday and just google it. The YouTube channel has a lot a tremendous videos, over 60 full length.
We also have a free resource course on addiction called the golden moments course. And now we put on third party pop podcasts with Greg and I as well talking and so on.
But it’s a group discussion format. It’s different than any other Three Principles group out there and that’s why it’s been going so long. It’s two and a half years and we’re getting closer and closer to a million minutes view. I don’t know exactly how much but we’re piling them up there.
And my web site is ACTtraining.biz and that has a source of information and so on. But if you want to understand about addiction and its relationship to your mind, my advice is to use Greg or myself. We’re ahead of the curve in many ways. If you want a psychological explanation of it then you there are other Three P people who will really help you tremendously but.
But there’s a story that I love. Syd said a dog that barks up the wrong tree is not much of a hunter. And that’s what I’m suggesting with addiction. If it ain’t working, stop barking and find another tree.
Alexandra: That’s great. As ever, I’ll put links to everything you’ve mentioned in the show notes and thank you again. Thank you so much for being here with us today.
Harry: Sure. My pleasure was a lot of fun. Bye bye.
[Mountain top image courtesy Samual Clara and Unsplash.]