"I'm very enthusiastic about the Crestone Freedom Project, because it has placed emphasis on a scientific foundation. The Radical Freedom Program transcends the old thinking and comes into a quantum view of the new biology, and that's where the answers come from."   ~Dr. Bruce H. Lipton ~


The Crestone Freedom Project mission is the illumination of a path to freedom for adolescent youth who have been confronted by the effects and challenges of addiction, to bring hope where once there was despair, unconditional love in place of alienation, and total acceptance as an alternative to judgment.

Our program has been uniquely formulated to serve the cause, utilizing an evidence-based treatment protocol, harmonized with ancient wisdom traditions, and backed by cutting-edge scientific research. Now more than ever, innovative strategies for deep emotional healing and fresh approaches to old questions are demanded by the epidemic-level crisis of substance abuse that our juvenile and adolescent youth face at an alarming rate. The Radical Freedom Program is nothing short of revolutionary in its delivery of real, substantive, and lasting transformation. 

Congressman Valdez has joined the Crestone Freedom Project board. We welcome the leadership and focus he brings to the work that lies ahead. Join us today with your personal support as we pursue excellence in bringing solutions to the epidemic substance abuse issues our children face in the great state of Colorado. 
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About Dr. Bruce H. Lipton - Read his CV here.
Read his biography summary here.

Dear Reader,

I'd like to share with you an important part of what I've discovered through personal experience and research, that has led me to this place, at this time, to fulfill the purpose for which I was born. There's a lie in our culture, a lie that behaves like a virus, infecting and crippling the mind and spirit of people everywhere. The lie is that there is no lasting resolution for addiction. It stipulates that once one is diagnosed as an "addict," that individual is doomed to a lifetime of struggle. This lie is particularly evil and destructive. However, its propagation continues for the apparent purpose of further enriching an already wealthy therapeutic machine. The proposition is not valid. Freedom is within the grasp of anyone willing to do the work required to achieve it.

The cure for chronic substance use disorder isn’t found in treating addiction but in treating the cause of addiction — pain, buried by those too young to know what to do with it. The path to freedom is through the shadows. As a civilized and caring society, we can, and we must, rise to the challenge before us, abandon greedy and broken systems, proven to be ineffective, and save our children who cry while we sleep. The latest statistics from the Center for Disease Control reports that in the year 2017, in the United States of America, every seven and a half minutes, someone died of a drug overdose. That’s a total of 72,237 people. Almost half of them was one of our young, between the ages of 15 and 25 – one who had an entire lifetime of potential ahead. An equally harsh reality is that if the lifestyle alone doesn’t kill them, it promotes future criminality, and many will likely be incarcerated at some point in their life.


Famed psychiatrist and addiction research scientist, Dr. Gabor Mate, upon completion of a twelve-year study conducted at his drug abuse treatment facility in Vancouver, British Columbia, published in his findings that 100% of the addicts treated throughout the entire course of his study suffered from either trauma or deeply painful experiences, primarily having occurred during childhood. As a society, we have, through the power of our collective genius, mastered flight, put a man on the moon, discovered the nature of quantum mechanics and with it, how to blow ourselves up with a single atom. We’ve managed to cure the disease of polio, wipe out tuberculosis, and all but eradicate the effects of an autoimmune deficiency known as AIDS. We are indeed a brilliant species with an ostensively infinite capacity for learning. What does it then imply that we have yet to effectively treat the root cause of malignant despair in our own children?


More than thirty years ago, while still just a boy, this question became an enduring fixture in my mind, yet all satisfying resolutions evaded me for years to follow. It would be through my own personal struggle that the process of discovery would eventually unfold. After years of searching, I was led, once again, to the silent stillness abiding within – an embracing space, dimly recalled from earliest youth – a place with no description other than “warmth of love.” In time I would be introduced to Dr. Bruce H. Lipton, who became for me, a wayshower of the profound nature of reality, a personal mentor, and the most valued adviser of my life. Working together as co-creators, the Radical Freedom Program emerged from that relationship. Today I come with good news - there is a solution to the issue at hand. The solution requires a significant measure of dissolution – a dissolving away of methods proven ineffective, and a conscious opening to that which seeks to emerge from the shadows – freedom!


Dwayne Vanderford

Executive Director

Crestone Freedom Project







The Radical Freedom Program is founded upon three core principles. These principles, listed below, are the three phases of the Project’s residential treatment program. Each heading is a link that leads to a basic overview of how these three principles in healing have become the program stages of the Radical Freedom Program. 


Note: The Project operates clinically from a Cognitive Behavior Therapy Protocol, and its programming elements are initiated and run on a continuum through all three stages of the Radical Freedom Program, though not explicitly addressed in the brief stage overviews linked below.


A mission that creates radical freedom will affect the entire human race!

 The responsibility to make it happen belongs to each of us.

After spending some time reviewing the details of the Crestone Freedom Project's mission to bring hope and recovery from mental illness and addiction to those who need it most but can afford it least, we extend an invitation for you to contribute to this effort in some way. Every donation, regardless of size, is a tremendous help and is greatly appreciated. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and it is our goal to turn no one away whom we are called upon to serve. We can do that only through your support. We are right now at a critical moment in the implementation of the program, a time when an extraordinary effort is required if we are to produce extraordinary results. Please consider joining us in our fight to alleviate the suffering of so many adolescent youths bound by the effects of substance use disorder and mental illness. If you would like to partner with us but have questions, please contact me directly at Dwayne@CrestoneFreedomProject.org. I will be delighted to speak with you by email, phone, or personal meeting. Thank you for your time and consideration.



Executive Director


Dwayne Vanderford


Partner With Us Today!



Our philosophy is fundamentally rooted in firsthand experiential evidence, discovered directly by our founders, counselors, teachers and therapists and secondly in treasured ancient wisdom teachings of masters who have given selflessly over thousands of years to the advancement of awareness and to the realization that each of us are self-creators, manifesting and becoming that of which we have conceived. Scientifically speaking we embrace contemporary discoveries in the new science of epigenetics. Within this field we acknowledge the work of Conrad Waddington who, in a 1956 article published by the journal Evolution, introduced a skeptical scientific community to genetic assimilation, stating that acquired, as opposed to inherited, cellular behaviors are initiated by the environment rather than genetics. Waddington opened an early door for today's growing acceptance of genetic development outside the institutionalized doctrines of Darwinism. Dr. Waddington's research lays a foundation for our strong position that addiction and behavioral disorders are the direct results of influences outside of heredity.


Even more significant to the direction of our program development, is the work of former Professor of Anatomy at both the University of Wisconsin and St. George's University schools of medicine, famed stem cell research biologist at Penn State and Stanford University Medical Center, a pioneer in the field of new biology, best selling author of The Biology of Belief, and personal supporter, Dr. Bruce H. LiptonHis research and discoveries, since the 1980"s, have been integral to the growing momentum in evolving human consciousness and to the overall understanding that we have never, neither individually or collectively, been a victim of genetic inheritance but rather, slave to thought - captive to nothing more than perception. Dr. Lipton's website has published that "in 1982, Dr. Lipton began examining the principles of quantum physics and how they might be integrated into his understanding of the cell’s information processing systems. He produced breakthrough studies on the cell membrane, which revealed that this outer layer of the cell was an organic homologue of a computer chip, the cell’s equivalent of a brain. His research at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, between 1987 and 1992, revealed that the environment, operating through the membrane, controlled the behavior and physiology of the cell, turning genes on and off." 


Dr. Lipton's research unquestionably establishes that one can change human behaviors, physiological disorders, and even so-called dis-ease through a shift in perception. Nothing stands out as more definitive of the Crestone Freedom Project philosophy than this inexorable truth for which we will always be respectfully indebted to Dr. Bruce H. Lipton. Our many thanks go to him for his tireless efforts in the field and for so generously giving of himself and his findings to the race. It was his influence and continued selfless support through the most challenging chapter of my own life that, many years ago, became the impetus for real and lasting change on a deeply personal level. His work and his commitment to the truth has continued to be a causative factor in the manifestation of our effort to bring freedom to the young people whose lives it has become our mission to touch.


Our core principles are further refined in the first-hand developmental research of world-renowned addiction therapy, behavioral science, and childhood development expert, Dr. Gabor Mate who lays out a new and compassionate perspective on the origins of addiction in his groundbreaking and award-winning tour de' force, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. Dr. Mate's work spans two decades, with 12 of those years being spent in the trenches of Vancouver, British Columbia's Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core drug addiction, mental illness, and HIV, including at Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site. His most relevant findings may be best summarized by a direct quote taken from an interview with The Fix in 2016 in which he states, "Whether we are talking about the emotional pain and the shame that’s at the heart of addiction or whether we are looking at the brain physiology of addiction, which is very much influenced by childhood experiences, we are looking at the impact of trauma. To go back to the original quote about doctors, if we actually understood that all behaviors are for the most part coping mechanisms for emotions that we are not able to deal with, then the focus could shift not just to changing behaviors, but actually understanding the emotions that underlie them. That’s what I think is missing from medical practice. Whether it's addictions or whatever it is, we are not seeing what’s driving it and what’s underneath it." 


Through Dr. Mate's extensive efforts to bring into consciousness the harsh environments in which the children of our world are often born and the real-world traumas that shape their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical realities, we have come to adopt a program ideology steeped in the expression of unconditional love, compassion, non-judgment, and the connections that can only be found within a fully developed and authentic community based therapeutic care facility. Connections break down walls that prevent healing. It is from this awareness, from this loving frequency, that we consciously chose to begin our process.


We assert, through the core principles  of our philosophy that, while there is obvious and well-studied value in the conventional substance abuse and behavioral modification treatments and therapies routinely practiced in the west, these standard clinical approaches alone do not constitute a treatment of the "whole person." This issue was recently taken up in an article on the "Science of Drug Addiction" published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Additionally, the treatment environments in question do not fully and adequately address the causative factors at play in the numerous addictions or the myriad behavior disorders afflicting those to whom we are commissioned to bring healing but rather focus more directly upon symptom repression methodologies. The result is that the subject of such treatment is left in a perpetuated state of "recovering," ad infinitum, as opposed to the more coveted complete, total, and permanent state of having recovered. One need look no further for proof of the phenomenon of perpetual recovery than the recommended years of repeating an "I am an addict" mantra that typically follows the "completion" of such programs. This belief further becomes factualized in national relapse and recidivism statistics, which verifiably expose conventional methodologies as deficient in overall efficacy.


In an article published by Phycology Today, Dr. David Sack, Addiction Psychiatrist and CEO of Promises Treatment Centers, states that the relapse rate for young adults and juvenile addicts who have been released from conventional treatment programs rise even higher than the national 40 - 60 percent reported for adults completing the same types of programming! Furthermore, numbers reflecting behavior modification rehabilitation efforts from the Department of Corrections and the Department of Justice, grow even more dismal. In 2018 the MST (Multisystemic Therapy) Services organization reported on information collected in a 2015 study from the CSG (Council of State Governments) Justice Center and stated that juveniles were far more likely than adults to re-offend after release from conventional corrections based facilities across all states. The highest reported recidivism rate for juvenile offenders was 76% within three years, and 84% within five years. 


From each of these traditions, discoveries, studies, and statistics a new thought emerges into final coagulation under the banner of a unique and innovative project - the Crestone Freedom Project - a marriage of conventional substance rehabilitation models with a holistic blend of ancient spiritual traditions and authentically loving therapeutic community connectedness. Such a program might have been assembled in just about any far-flung corner of the earth, but it has chosen to bring itself into form here in the epicenter of the most powerful vortex of healing energy on the planet, here among the upthrust snowy peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and in the company of an astonishing community of twenty-three direct-lineage spiritual centers, representing practically every theological school of spiritual thought still actively practiced on earth. Such a community has been made possible thanks to Maurice and Hanne Strong who have mindfully fostered the prophecy of an old man known as "The Crestone Prophet" and have thus provided immeasurable service to advancements in the evolution of human spirit and the coming into form of a higher consciousness.


Each individual participating in this program will immediately, upon arrival, be welcomed as a valued, respected and accepted member of a loving therapeutic community. Every participant will be patiently guided upon a unique path of healing and recovery, customized to his or her personal needs, preferences, and evaluations consisting of some or all of the elements of the overall program - some of which is spotlighted in the following basic overview.

I.  THERAPEUTIC COMMUNITY MODEL - The therapeutic community (TC) is an intensive and comprehensive treatment model developed for use with adults that has been modified successfully to treat adolescents with substance use disorders. TC’s for the treatment of addiction originated in 1958, a time when other systems of therapy, such as psychiatry and general medicine, were not successful in treating alcohol or substance use disorders. The core goal of TC’s has always been to promote a more holistic lifestyle and to identify areas for change such as negative personal behaviors (social, psychological, and emotional) that can lead to substance abuse. Residents make these changes by learning from fellow residents, staff members, and other figures of authority.

II.  COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY PROTOCOL - The Crestone Freedom Project utilizes a comprehensive overarching Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Model infused with Mindfulness-Based Awareness Practices. The protocol employs a practical application of the Stages of Change, Compassionate Communication, and Relapse Prevention principles throughout the program within a Therapeutic Community (TC) environment (please see NIDA description of TC above). The Radical Freedom Program has adopted this recovery orientation primarily because it emphasizes research-based as well as best-practices methods which allow for proven therapies to be enhanced by the latest science. In this way, the program can adapt and evolve with emerging knowledge while having a stable and logical treatment schema. The greater community has an undeniable need to address today’s young adults experiencing substance abuse and harmful behavioral disorders. These challenges require innovative solutions. Our integral approach combines practical elements from:

    •  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    •  Modified Twelve-Step Program Facilitation

    •  Motivational Interviewing

    •  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

    •  Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy

    •  Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

    • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention


The work of real and substantive change, skill-building, and learning how to learn is supported from inside out and outside in. Through Self-Study, Individual Counseling and Group Counseling, and adjunct activities in nature, clients gain knowledge and experience in self-regulation while having fun!


Brain-Based Learning builds upon background universal educational principles. The ability to change is reinforced by a strong emphasis on relationships through the Therapeutic Alliance (a collaborative approach between staff and program participants which creates a safe container of empathy and trust that lowers potential resistance to positive change).

Throughout the course of applying the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Protocol, participants move through the following stair-step skills adaptation progression:


     Phase I – Identifying Cognitive Distortions and Self-Defeating Thought Processes, which are detrimental to the development of           Critical Thinking Skills | Prosocial Behavior Development | Shared Community Values | Ethics | Moral Reconation Therapy


     Phase II – Trigger Recognition | Identifying High-Risk People, Places, and Situations | Enhanced Personal Awareness | Effective             Emotional Self-Management | Understanding Criminogenic Needs


     Phase III – Realistic Goal Setting | Vocational Considerations | Healthy Lifestyle Skills | Sustaining Recovery | Meeting Everyday             Challenges | Enlisting Ongoing Community Support

III.  HOLISTIC THERAPIES - Addiction affects physical as well as mental health, behavior, and relationships. Holistic Recovery recognizes support of the whole body-mind-spirit complex, which is a requirement for lasting change.

•  A Whole Foods Diet helps rebalance body chemistry and mood.

•  Nutritional Education, including how to grow, shop for, and prepare healthy food, empowers the recovery client as a consumer.

•  Physical Fitness Programming, Yoga, Conscious Breathing, Meditation, and Stress Reduction Training introduces powerful                    centering tools for self-care.

•  NADA Auricular Acupuncture and Biofield Therapies (e.g., Qigong, Reiki, etc.) assist in strengthening the basic physiology of              human functioning through influencing the biofield.


•  Earth & Wilderness Education Programming establishes our participants in a broader knowledge of nature and how we are                  coexistent and codependent with it for life.

•  Earth Restoration Corps Curriculum is the original work of Hanne Strong, of the Manitou Foundation and provides an                            understanding of each individual’s connection, responsibility, and duty to stewardship of the earth as well as education on                    methods of executing such a responsibility.

•  Supervised Solo Vision Journeys give time for self-evaluation and an opening where new ideas about what is important and how        to move forward into a new reality, may emerge, take root, and become the new perspective.

•  Native American Sweat Lodge Therapy & Healing Arts are to be implemented ONLY by indigenous tribespeople who have been        traditionally trained by tribal elders to operate faithfully within the art of their respective lineage. The authenticity of the practice        is critical.

•  BLM Wild Horse Gentling and Adoption Program places each participant face-to-face with a force of nature that does not                    cooperate unless and until the manipulative nature of coercion has been diminished, and authentic cooperation has emerged in        its place.

•  Forty-Day Wilderness Experience Conclusion Project results in a “sealing” of the vast array of resources provided to our students        throughout their seven and a half month-long experience of treatment.



•  High School Diploma or GED Completion is made available through the DELTA Center.

•  Job Search Skills Training provides graduating participants with a list of pre-qualified potential employment opportunities,                   interview and presentation training, and a working resume.

•  Hands-On Vocational Training is made available in a variety of residential and industrial skills.

•  College or Technical School Entry Preparation serves to register participants re-entering society, into education programs                    available and suited to the goals. Additionally, we do the work to qualify our graduates for available loans, grants, and                          scholarships.

•  Reintegration Housing Support is an integral part of successful reintegration. We work to locate appropriate housing situations          for our graduates in keeping with the new environment they seek to cultivate on a continuum.


•  Love & Acceptance™ Programming is heavily integrated into our philosophy from day one throughout the program’s duration            and leans heavily upon an understanding that disconnectedness and the unmet need to be loved unconditionally is the very root        of addictive behavior causation.

•  Musical Expression™ Programming allows students of the program the opportunity to share their story musically, through lyrical        expression, and ultimately transform their pain into song.

•  Trauma Recall Writing™ encourages full and honest exploration, discovery, and expression of deeply guarded pain held within          the emotional body, most commonly stemming from early childhood experiences. The goal is to share these writings by reading        them aloud among peers who have experienced trauma of their own and to at last begin to feel the acceptance and                            understanding for which many of them have longed.

• Vision Journaling™ is a technique that combines the insightful mindfulness practice of Vipassana, innovative goal setting                     strategies, journaling across a structured platform, and advanced visualization skills for the purpose of cultivating conscious                 awareness into the process of life-development. This process is in direct opposition to the typical reactionary decision making,           which commonly ends in an infinite series of random, unpleasant, and destructive outcomes.

Community Work Programs foster experiences of feeling a part of something greater than the individual self and of receiving             positive feedback for a positive action. Such reward-based activity establishes new methods whereby the participant may gain             recognition within the context of a law-abiding community, whereby effectively eliminating the impulse toward attention-seeking       behaviors through negative actions. Such changes occur over time, as new thought processes mature and perceptions evolve.


We recognize, and deliberately hold in conscious awareness, the truth that authentic, significant, and lasting change is possible, in fact, that change is inevitable through right understanding and right action. We further affirm that recovery is only possible through deep healing, and healing must begin in the hidden place where our pain first took root and that addictions and behavioral disorders of every variety are symptoms of the dis-ease of emotional trauma. We firmly maintain that those challenged by substance abuse issues are not victims of heredity, doomed to a life of defeat, plunging headlong into the pit of one relapse, or out-of-control pattern of adverse behavior, after another.


In conclusion, research and experience have repeatedly shown that having been properly equipped, we may experience deep healing, develop a new perception, and deliberately choose the life we wish to live Our core principles are true and they are proven: healing the heart makes possible a change in perception and thus opens a gateway to the revisioning of a brand new life. When recovery is approached with this understanding, we will find ourselves treating the cause instead of the symptom. We will find ourselves having become a beneficial presence on the planet, surrounded by more good than we could have possibly imagined.


Dwayne Vanderford

Executive Director 

Crestone Freedom Project


Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

May all beings be happy and free and may my life be a giving to that happiness and freedom for all.