Search & Replace S04E14: Adam Vibe Gunton

It took Adam Vibe Gunton hitting rock bottom, where he found himself at the beginning of a powerful transformation. On the outside, everyone saw a high-achieving sales professional, but Adam was secretly battling a heroin addiction. He journeyed from a successful career to the depths of homelessness, and his ultimate path to sobriety is both harrowing and inspiring. Discover how Adam overcame his darkest moments, found a renewed sense of purpose, and now helps others navigate their own recoveries. Tune in to hear how he turned his life around and learn valuable insights on resilience and faith.  

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialists at Johns & Taylor. More information follows this episode.  

[00:00:11] Joe Taylor Jr.: What if what you thought was rock bottom was really just the start of something more?  

[00:00:17] I’m Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace.  

[00:00:20] Adam Vibe Gunton considered himself a high achieving sales professional. He enjoyed a flexible schedule, lived in a big house just minutes from the beach. He loved his job, and his bosses showered him with support.  

[00:00:40] There’s just one thing nobody knew about Adam’s life at the time; he was addicted to heroin.  

[00:00:47] Adam Vibe Gunton: Addiction is a really progressive disease, and it happens so quickly. Sometimes you don’t even realize that you’re addicted, even if you’re using the hardest drugs out there. 

[00:00:58] I was being coached by some of the world-renowned leaders while I was sticking a needle in my arm. I was making six figures, you know, doing sales going door to door and working, like ,20 or 25 hours a week being coached by these incredible, incredible people that weren’t able to get me sober, that weren’t able to coach my way into recovery.  

[00:01:26] The scary thing is that even with these incredibly powerful people coaching me on a weekly basis, my disease continued to progress. And it was almost as if it was overnight I went from a 2400 square foot ranch house with two cars and a motorcycle in California to homeless and 86 from a homeless shelter. Because that actually was in less than nine months. I went from this real nice place, girlfriend, dog, to nothing and no one around me.  

[00:02:04] Joe Taylor Jr.: Adam wrote a book about his experience in which he describes what it really took for him to get sober. 

[00:02:09] Adam Vibe Gunton: You hear a lot in America that you need to let the addict hit rock bottom, but rock bottom is a myth. I thought that it was rock bottom when I lost that ranch house in California. And then I thought it was rock bottom when I was looking around the homeless shelter at all the other homeless people where we’re in a room with 50 of us there on cots. So I thought that was rock bottom.  

[00:02:31] And, at the end, I was 148 pounds, and I’m 215, 220 right now. The rock bottom is, you just have to stop digging. And this is for people, whether you have struggled or are struggling with addiction, or if you struggle with depression, or anxiety, or, you know, any of these things that take people out. 

[00:02:50] This moment right now can be that rock bottom. I wanted to die, but I couldn’t. And when I was at the end, I was so willing to give up everything about myself. That’s when I was finally able to find that willingness to do whatever it took.  

[00:03:09] I thought to that point that I was doing whatever it took. I thought that going to meetings was enough. I thought that going to church was enough, but. Everything was so tightly in my grasp for my plans on how I was going to stop using. And as soon as I got to the point where I understood that, that’s when I actually had this seed of hope for something greater than myself to actually come in and help me. 

[00:03:34] Joe Taylor Jr.: Adam describes a moment in the first few days after getting clean when he could truly visualize a life of sobriety.  

[00:03:42] Adam Vibe Gunton: On day five, clean and sober, I was at International House of Pancakes with my best friend Brendan. I was eating french toast, and I got a text message on my phone from my dope dealer. He’s like, hey bro, I just got some new stuff, it’s fire. I’ll give you a free 20 to try out. 

[00:03:55] And right when I read that text message, something came in through the top of my head, all the way through my body. My toes were tingling, my fingers were tingling. I lost my peripheral vision. All I could see was the phone and then my thumbs just started texting back and it was in like King James. It was like, you shall not text me again. Thou hast texted me for the last time. And then at the end of the text message, I feel that thing leave me like go up through my head. I was like, what the heck? I was like, dude, that was not me. I pushed send and I’m putting it in my pocket. The entire restaurant had completely disappeared. I immediately knew it was happening. I said, thank you, God. Thank you, God.  

[00:04:24] Joe Taylor Jr.: Adam also faced a hard realization about the power of faith. And the steps he’d still have to take on his own.  

[00:04:30] Adam Vibe Gunton: I believe that God has the power to miraculously heal people instantly. Didn’t happen for me. I was really, really sick. I was shaking in withdrawal. And what I learned in this period is that even though God is always with me, there’s a lot of work that I have to do. 

[00:04:47] So for the next 20 days, I am withdrawing, I’m sick, I’m craving. The only relief I got was through the 12-step work. I had a sponsor that came and picked me up every morning at 6. 30 a. m. in his 1983 mailman Jeep, and we would do the work.  

[00:05:02] Then on day 25, he came and picked me up. We went to do my fifth step, which is Where you, kind of, confess everything to somebody, to another human being, and God, and to yourself. Nothing miraculously happened.  

[00:05:14] Next morning on day 26, I’m looking at this beautiful sunrise to the right of me, and I have a spiritual awakening that for the first time since I was 12 years old, I had no desire to drink or use. In that moment, when I actually felt that change, I knew that it was my purpose to help others find that. 

[00:05:31] Joe Taylor Jr.: Adam says that his experience taught him to embrace his imperfections and to put his trust in a bigger plan. 

[00:05:38] Adam Vibe Gunton: It’s not about thinking your way out of anything. It’s not about knowing your way out of anything. A lot of people know what they have to do, but they just don’t.  

[00:05:48] Doesn’t matter who you are, what you believe about yourself, you are here for a bigger reason than yourself. Period. 

[00:05:58] And once you’ve experienced somebody’s life changing in front of you, where a light turns on and you watch that happen, there’s no greater dope. There is nothing better than watching someone in front of you have the same experience I had on day 26. My life is a spiritual experience now. I’m not pretending like I am doing it perfectly in any way shape or form, right? But having that thought process about wanting to continue to progress, It’s so freeing.  

[00:06:32] You know, I’m able to just do one day at a time, do the best I can today, and then the outcomes are what the outcomes are.  

[00:06:41] Joe Taylor Jr.: That’s author and speaker Adam Vibe Gunton. We’ve got links to Adam’s work in our show notes and on our website at  

[00:06:48] Search and Replace was produced by Nicole Hubbard with support from Connie Evans, Amelia Lohmann, April Smith, and Podcast Taxi executive producer Lori Taylor. Our theme music was composed by Alex Rufire.  

I’m Joe Taylor Jr. 

[00:07:03] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production.  

[00:07:07] Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns & Taylor, user experience specialists serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work.  

Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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