Maximizing Your Alcohol Recovery – Featuring John Umhau, M.D. & Katie Lain

In episode number 257 of Elevation Recovery, the format has a novel twist that you’ll love. It’s hosted by Katie Lain, the co-founder of Thrive Alcohol Recovery, a program for helping others get back to a balanced relationship with alcohol. She interviews Chris Scott of Fit Recovery and Dr. John Umhau, who has decades of experience researching and treating alcohol addiction, as well as researching nutrition and infectious diseases at NIH.

About John Umhau, M.D.

John Umhau, M.D. worked at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health for over twenty years. Here, he conducted research on alcoholism, nutrition, and medication. Dr. Umhau is also an expert on the Sinclair Method and other modalities for alcohol recovery.

About Katie Lain

Katie Lain is the co-founder of Thrive Alcohol Recovery. After struggling with addiction in her twenties, she realized that traditional 12-step programs were not for her. She did not want to give up alcohol completely but wanted to regain control of her life and have a balanced relationship with alcohol. Through the research of methods outside of 12-step, such as the Sinclair Method, Katie was able to start her journey to recovery.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Here are some ways to learn from this episode:

John Umhau M.D.: One of the ones that I wasn't anticipating that I would enjoy helping folks with was the alcohol problems. And I had to go to alcoholic synonymous meeting, every week, a different one. And I really became enamored with the nice guys and girls that were really working on the recovery. I really admired their sticktuitiveness and their character development. And these were nice, fun people. And I just really thought, "Hey, these are cool folks to work with and try to help them along in their process.

Katie Lain: I would always listen to sober stories from people in AA or other people who had found their way out. And I would get inspired by them, but that inspiration would fizzle out, and the craving would kick in, and I would return to drinking again. So that one particular day that I found Claudia's TED Talk and learned about Claudia Christian, learned about the Sinclair method, and it took me a couple months to find the medication. And once I started on it, I saw an immediate difference within the first week.

Speaker 3: Thanks for tuning into the Elevation Recovery Podcast, your hub for addiction recovery strategies, posted by Chris Scott and Matt Finch.

Katie Lain: Welcome everybody. It's Katie with Thrive. And I'm here today with two very special guests. I'm honestly super excited for this conversation because it's my true passion when it comes to overcoming problem drinking. And so I have with me today, Dr. John Umhau from Alcohol Recovery Medicine, and Chris Scott from Fit Recovery. So just want to thank you both for having this conversation with me today.

John Umhau M.D.: Great to be here.

Chris Scott: Great to be here. Really excited about this. You two of my favorite people just generally and in this niche, for sure.

Katie Lain: Yes. That's awesome. Well, I think what we all... Our expertise and knowledge in the space of helping people with alcohol problems combined, Chris, I think you and I have talked about before, that would just be the ideal solution for people, tackling it from a real holistic perspective that's also science-based and been clinically and tested to be proven effective. So can I just start then with John or Dr. Umhau, you giving us a brief introduction of your background in the space of alcohol recovery and helping people who are in need of that.

John Umhau M.D.: Yeah, thanks Katie. I was really interested in my training in keeping people healthy. So I did a clinical preventive medicine residency at John's Hopkins. And the idea was to see if you could nip some of the problems in the blood that really made people unhealthy as they got older. And one of the ones that I wasn't anticipating that I would enjoy helping folks with was the alcohol problems. And I had to go to an alcoholic synonymous meeting, every week, a different one. And I really became enamored with the nice guys and gals that were really working on the recovery. I really admired their sticktuitiveness and their character development. And these were nice, fun people. And I just really thought, "Hey, these are cool folks to work with and, and try to help them along in their process." Of course, back then, we didn't have anything like we do now in terms of medicines to help folks.

John Umhau M.D.: And what seemed to make sense at the time was, "Well, perhaps nutrition could make a difference. And I ended up working with the homeless and a lot of alcoholic folks in the missions and so forth in D.C and Baltimore. And I got more and more interested in some of the problems of alcoholism, and violence, and nutritional things. And fortunately, I ran into a buddy who got me hired at the National Institutes of Health Program at the National Institute of Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse. So I spent 20 years helping folks with alcoholism from the research standpoint. So I got to do a lot of really interesting research, but they also let me do research on nutrition as well as help run the detox unit there at an NIH. And after I left the government, I thought I could use my knowledge to maybe there'd be a need for someone who's focused on just the alcoholism.

John Umhau M.D.: And what I ended up doing was finding that the first medicine that we have approved to treat alcohol craving, the naltrexone, really makes a big difference for folks, particularly when you use it in a targeted fashion, like Dr. Sinclair recommends in his method. And it's been really a fantastic opportunity to help folks combine with what we know about nutrition for people with alcohol problems. And I'm very optimistic these days that we can help just about anybody that that comes our way when we consider the medicines for craving, plus the nutritional part, plus the traditional, spiritual, psychological help that people have gotten through 12 step meetings and other places too. So that's why I'm so excited about this podcast and other opportunities to tell people that, "Hey, alcoholism, doesn't have to be your fate. You can repair your brain so that you're not craving alcohol."

John Umhau M.D.: And like we've talked about before on this program, Scott, if you're doing the Sinclair method, you don't have to stop drinking, you just have to want to get better and not drink to excess, not to get drunk all the time. And then you've got the freedom to take a drink or not. And you've got the clarity of mind to live your life the way you want to, instead of being overwhelmed with the desire to drink and thinking about alcohol all the time. So that's my story. And it's been fun to find folks like Katie and Chris who are motivated to help people in the same way. So that's why I like to do all these podcasts.

Katie Lain: Yeah, absolutely. And I love your work, John, because you're so knowledgeable just with the background you've had in this space as a researcher for so long and using medication therapy combined with what you know about your research and nutrition too. So it's just a powerhouse, what you can offer to people. And Chris for you, why don't you tell us a bit about you because you focus on really the nutrition piece though. I know we're going to talk a little bit about your hierarchy of recovery concept in this chat as well, but why don't you tell us a little bit about your approach to tackling problem drinking?

Chris Scott: Sure. Yeah. Well, first of all, thank you again, Katie, for setting this up.

Katie Lain: Yeah.

Chris Scott: This is really great. And that was an awesome and succinct bio by John or intro, so I'll try to keep it as short as I can. Where to start? So I guess the easiest way for me to explain my approach is to talk a little bit about my experience. I spent 10 years as a pretty high functioning person in college first, that's when I got hooked on alcohol, really. I noticed signs of physical dependence. And then when I worked in finance in New York City, wearing a suit every day, doing martinis after work, red wine after that, and then I have my 5:00 PM rule that I'm breaking all of a sudden, or don't drink before 5:00 PM, and then my hands are shaking, horrible social anxiety, which I had never had before.

Chris Scott: I certainly couldn't sit in a chair like I can now and just feel at peace or centered. My mind was spinning at all times. My ears would ring. I had tinnitus. And the withdrawal symptoms got worse and worse. So I ended up going to a very strict 12 step rehab center. There was a lot of good stuff they had to offer, including meditation. And they had some really nice counselors. They were really great people, but I felt that there was something missing. And I was befuddled when I realized that I was beginning to feel much better from my workouts and from the tubal glutamine that I bought to promote muscle recovery, which is an amino acid, which incidentally helps to stabilize blood sugar and is a precursor molecule for some neurotransmitters like GABA, which is the primary calming neurotransmitter in the brain.

Chris Scott: I didn't know any of that at the time, but I was like, "Why do I feel better after my workouts and after taking certain supplements than I do after say AA meetings?" Which in the beginning, it was great to go to AA and feel supported, feel like I wasn't alone in the universe, have people who were nice who were telling me things that I understood, that I could relate to. But at some point I was like, "There's something missing." And so that began a long, intellectual and physical and healing journey for me, which culminated in Fit Recovery, now We have 200 free blog articles, a number of free YouTube videos. I have an online course called total alcohol recovery, 2.0, which is the centerpiece of Fit Recovery at this point. And the approach centers around what you mentioned, what I call the hierarchy of recovery, which is the biopsychosocial spiritual model.

Chris Scott: I did not invent that model, but I adapted Maslow's hierarchy of needs to Dr. Aman. I can't remember, is it Daniel Aman or... But a brilliant psychiatrist named Dr. Aman who uses the biopsychosocial spiritual model in assessing people with behavioral issues to see whether or not they can use brain scans to find some physical abnormality in the brain that can be addressed. He might use supplements. He might recommend exercise or stress reduction techniques, which is in contrast to the status quo, which has a huge plethora of drugs that can be used. But often, they don't look at the basics first. So I'm not even against drugs at all. I'm a huge fan of medication-assisted treatment, in particular, the Sinclair method, which I wish I had known about when I quit. And I have some articles on the Sinclair method. And I try to direct people to you and to Dr. Umhau as often as I can.

Chris Scott: I'm not an expert in the Sinclair method. Interestingly, I was prescribed naltrexone from that 12 patient rehab center, but it was not in a targeted fashion, and it was not explained to me how I was to use it. So they simply said, "Take this every day and definitely once or twice a day, and it'll decrease your chance of relapse." Which may or may not be true. It seems the literature's a bit mixed on that. But what was certainly true was that I was not getting pharmacological extinction. So I was not taking it while drinking. The last thing they wanted me to do was ever drink again. So it mystified me as to why they would take that or have me take that. So I ended up stopping that, but when I learned about what I should have been doing years later, I was a little bit upset, and that added motivation, the inner fire I had to keep researching alternative methods.

Chris Scott: So for me, nutrient repair, utilizing the amino acid precursors for feel good neurotransmitters, co-factors like vitamins and minerals, fatty acids that can reduce inflammation, help repair the gut, liver, brain access. All of these things are overlooked. That's the centerpiece of my approach, but I also like to focus on the psychosocial spiritual elements as well. And so we do a lot of work with people, which we don't put it in contrast to say AA. I have some personal views, and I'm pretty transparent about my own belief systems. And I try to inspire people when I can, but I like to have an open-ended approach. So we actually have a lot of people who are doing AA or smart recovery, or even moderation programs, who we welcome into the Fit Recovery community, because we want this to be an open-ended way to get support and maybe fill in those missing links in that hierarchy, but not some dogmatic system.

Katie Lain: So well said. I think the more options we can have, the better. And I know you mentioned Dr. Aman, which I know Dr. Umhau has talked about before because of his research on how important it is to repair the brain. And I wonder, Dr. Umhau, if you wanted to talk about that, because I know you and I talk regularly, and you've showed me that picture of what a brain with alcohol use disorder looks like versus a healthy brain. So did you want to talk a little bit about that and the importance of repairing the brain? Which maybe what Chris is calling the nutrient repair, and repairing the brain and body, but particularly talking about the brain Dr. Umhau.

John Umhau M.D.: Yeah. Thank you Katie. Thanks Chris. I'd love to hear your story over and over again. It's so inspiring to hear folks like yourself that have just really worked through. And we want to hear Katie's story too, in part of this podcast. But the other thing that Katie mentioned just now is really something that I think is really... It [inaudible 00:12:36] whole perspective on folks that are trapped in alcohol, because they feel guilty. They can't get it together and they can't stop. And people blame them for not stopping. They say, "Why don't you just stop drinking?" But then you look at these brain images of the folks. The Katie's thinking of a picture that I have of a 43 year old man who's an alcohol abuser, heavy drinker. And his brain is smaller. It's shrunk compared to somebody who's healthy in the same age. And their brain is full in their skull.

John Umhau M.D.: And you can just visually see how can this person with alcoholism think straight? How could they possibly have the same insights and be able to figure out they have a problem, or figure out not to go to the bar when they're craving. And so when you look at these pictures, you recognize that there really is a biological problem with alcohols, whether you call it a disease, or a condition, or disorder, the issue is clearly that the brain is got a problem. What's fascinating though is some recent research that shows that if someone stops drinking, six weeks later, they do another brain scan and their brain has increased in volume by 2%. That's a huge amount of growth of the brain. Think about it, how do you get that much growth in the brain? That's the kind of growth that you'd be doing if you're a little baby in a mother's womb.

John Umhau M.D.: And that growth turns out to be related to the connecting fibers of the brain, which makes sense because people, when they're drinking, they don't lose their ability to do calculations, their visual abilities continue, they can still... Their body still functions. But what they can't do is they can't connect the frontal lobes, the executive function or the willpower area of the brain with the part of the brain that's driving the drinking, the craving part, the subconscious lower part of the brain. It's more survival mode. And it's that part of the brain that is driven to drink alcohol to excess. That's the part that gets addicted. That's the part that drives humans to do automatic things that humans are designed to do. So once we heal the brain, the connections improve and people can take that willpower, and it's enough to stop the behavior of drinking too much.

John Umhau M.D.: I mentioned that the brain volume increases by 2%. And so what my study was at... And you can't see, it's blurry back here, but there's a picture of the brain that was on a magazine cover that a Journal of Lipid Research that I was my five minutes of fame when I was an NIH researcher. And it shows that the brain uptake of the omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, one of the long chain fats that's critical for brain function is just sucked up like crazy when somebody stops drinking. That's one of the nutrients that the brain really needs to recover.

John Umhau M.D.: And of course, if you're aware of some of the nutritional theories today, people are often really deficient in omega-3. They don't eat enough fish, and they eat too much of the other kinds of fats that interfere with that. So that's one of the things that I've always found it's so helpful for folks is to eat excess amount of omega-3 to make up for the last decades of lousy eating. And that allows people to connect their frontal lobe, their willpower with their craving centers. And that sometimes is really helpful for recovery. So that's a nutshell. Katie, that answer your question? I got long-winded because it's so much fun to talk about, but-

Katie Lain: No, it does for sure. And I always promote your knowledge and research about the high dose omega-3s. And one question that's coming up for me that I know a lot of people ask me is, "Well, what about the mercury?" I know that's been-

John Umhau M.D.: Oh yeah, yeah.

Katie Lain: What's your thoughts on that?

John Umhau M.D.: So it's hyper. It's blown out of proportion. Sure, there's mercury in fish, unfortunately. But the other thing in fish is selenium. And selenium helps protect against mercury toxicity. Fish is so important for our diets, that to look at one component of it and say, "This is bad, makes it... It's not really a realistic way to look at it. So we could stop drinking water because there's pollutants in the drinking water that we have. It doesn't sense. You can't stop fish. And what the studies show is that when you look at omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular health in men, for instance, it's associated, more omega-3 in your bloodstream, the more likely you are to survive a heart attack or not to have a heart attack. Well, if you look at mercury, the more mercury you have in your bloodstream, the more likely you are to survive also.

John Umhau M.D.: And why is that as well? Because the people that have been eating fish, they get the omega-3, also have been eating the mercury in the fish, so it's crazy. But the mercury is a bad actor and we should recommend people not pollute with mercury. That's why we are concerned about some of the pollutants that contain mercury. It's definitely bad on childhood development, but the dose in most fish is outweighed by the benefits of the omega-3. So the study that was really seminal in making people worry about giving, for instance, pregnant women fish, comes from a study in the Seychelle Islands, where people were eating pilot whale, which is a carnivorous fish that eats lots of smaller fish. So you got high concentrations of mercury. And even with the high concentration of mercury in the diet, what they found was not that the children were retarded in some way or had some obvious deficit, what they found was that the children, when tested with sophisticated neuro psychophysiological test, they could detect a difference in the children that had lots of mercury. Okay?

John Umhau M.D.: It was not something that was obvious to people. And then the recommendation was based not on not eating that much fish, but eating 10 times less fish than that, because of the safety factors that are put into dietary recommendations. And so the recommendation came out, well, women shouldn't eat fish during pregnancy, or maybe max one fish meal, which is, sure, it's safe. You won't get mercury, but you don't get the omega-3s and the other nutrients in fishes, all kinds of nutrients in fish, and seafood, and of course the baby brains are made of the omega-3s, that's what they need for development. And so that's why I think it's overblown. Maybe that's more information than you needed to know, but that's where we are with the mercury story.

Chris Scott: If I can chime in real quick, John.

John Umhau M.D.: Sure.

Chris Scott: Dr. Unhau, I started-

John Umhau M.D.: John is fine, Chris. That's fine.

Chris Scott: I like calling you Dr. Unhau, but I'll call you John every now and then. After our last talk, when I had you on the podcast several months ago, and we talked a lot about high dose fish oil and omega-3s.

John Umhau M.D.: Right.

Chris Scott: I started consuming more fish. And obviously. I'm not in, or I don't say I'm in recovery from alcohol addiction. I'm seven or almost eight years out of that trap, but I'm in perpetual ongoing, never ending optimization. And I do sometimes work too hard. I get sleepless nights that I shouldn't have for... I like to stay up and do work. And life's exciting. I don't want it to end. So I end up sometimes with brain fog. And I found that high dose fish oil in this case, I think it's Nordic Naturals. And I have no affiliation with their brand actually.

Chris Scott: It comes in a glass bottle. It's really annoying to open when I get it, but I'm excited because I think it's anchovies, and maybe herring, and other smaller fish with lower mercury content. And from what I recall from my own research, and you can tell me if this is true, but if you stick to sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and herring, then you're maybe minimizing your mercury. And obviously those aren't the only fish to be eaten, but as a rule of thumb, they tend to have lower mercury than say, sword fish, or big tuna, or other predatory giant fish. I love fish, so I also started eating more fish as well.

John Umhau M.D.: Right.

Chris Scott: And I noticed my brain fog dissipated, my mood, I mean, I feel like super human most of the time. Of course there's always confounding variables, so who knows? But I definitely appreciated that. And I think I recall our friend, well, I've not met her, but we've discussed her work in the past, Dr. Ronda Patrick, discussing at some point that one of the reasons cilantro may be traditionally served with fish is that there are compounds in it that may bind a heavy metals, and perhaps remove them from the body. So I try to get cilantro when I can. Some people hate cilantro for genetic reasons, I suppose, but I lucked out there. And also I do take spirulina and chlorella as little tablets. And I have no idea, there's no short term effect, but I had also read that that may be hopeful in binding to heavy metals. So I'm not sure. I haven't really dug into the research there, but that's my own recent experiment on increasing omega-3s. And even almost eight years alcohol free and addiction free, at this point, I notice a benefit.

John Umhau M.D.: The brain fog is what people describe going away with fish oil. Over and over again, people say, "I just think clear doc." And that was my experience when I started using omega-3s, when I did of research. I was not into supplements at all when I started at NIH, because I just felt like, "Well, we get enough good nutrients in our diet. I eat pretty well." But after I realized, well, we've been Americanized. Our diets are full of omega-6 fat, which is what you get in anything that's fated in the feed lots in Chicago, or anything that comes in a jar that has soybean oil in it. I realized that that kind of fats really made my need for omega-3 supplements go way up. Now I think the best advice is eat lots of fish.

John Umhau M.D.: Supplements are great, but there's other stuff in fish that we can't really... We don't know about yet. We know there's selenium and iodine, all kinds of healthy things in fish, and certainly the spirulina. You can have other phytochemicals and so forth, and the spirulina, and the cilantro, and so forth. So I recommend just eating the best diet you can. Unfortunately, Americans get so much omega-6 fat that their bodies are overwhelming. This fat is interesting because the omega-6 and omega-3s are almost identical and they go to the same places in the body. So if you eat a lot of soybean oil, and animals fed soybeans, and corn, your tissue is going to be made of omega-6 fat versus if you're eating lots of omega-3 fish. If you're an Eskimo, if you're a Japanese person, your body is completely different composition because it has a omega-3 instead of the omega-6.

John Umhau M.D.: So you can actually take someone from Japan and take someone from Iceland and tell where they come from based on the muscle composition of their body. And since we are more like the folks that have lots of omega-6, we need much more omega-3 to make up for the years of omega-6. So the halflife is two and a half years. That's one of the things that I measured in my studies. And that means that you can eat lots of omega-3 today, Chris, but you'll still be seeing a benefit for 10 years or so, something like that, which is [crosstalk 00:24:45] different than other things that we do for nutrition.

Katie Lain: That's so fascinating. So John, what do you see with the patients who are on the Sinclair method, who add fish oils, just adding fish oil to that protocol. What's common patient experiences that you've seen?

John Umhau M.D.: Well, what's really fascinating is I've seen all kind of folks that are suffering from alcohol problems. When I was working with homeless, the diets were so lousy, nobody ate fish. So they would not be able to see me on my private practice. People who look up the website, and they find me, and make an appointment they're folks that are pretty high functioning. They got their emotions and their brain working pretty well. And those people eat really well relatively. So they've already on a good path, but sometimes if they don't eat any... Well, most of the times when they come to me, they'll still benefit from the omega-3. Their brain will clear. They just feel like Chris had the brain fog lifts. But also what happens is that they may be doing the Sinclair method. Oftentimes they're doing it very carefully. They're not missing doses. They may be been doing it for years. But if I talk to him carefully, I say, "Wait a minute, you don't eat very much fish. Why don't we try omega-3?"

John Umhau M.D.: It's some of the doses that we've used for bipolar disorder, which is a lot higher than is recommended for just normal supplementation. And if those doses, sometimes people all of a sudden just reach extinction. He said, "I don't need to drink today. I'm fine." Or they just are able to cut down rapidly. It's fascinating. I've been amazed. I thought that the omega-3s were helpful, but I didn't know how really powerful they can be sometimes, until I started my private practice and recommended these high doses. So unfortunately, we don't have the research to really back that up directly. We know that omega-3s are important. We know that they're deficient in people who drink too much. And we know that they're harmless, but unfortunately, we don't have the data that should that high doses will stop craving or help people get to where they want to in their goals.

Katie Lain: Yeah. Yeah. And okay, so Chris, I wanted to jump back to you because you said something earlier as you were describing your experience with going from AA to more of a Fit Recovery type approach. And you mentioned that you just felt better. And so I was curious if you could describe what was happening for you when you were in AA and as you transitioned over to more of a health, and fitness, and wellness type recovery path. Because as you and I both know, one of the biggest challenges people have with alcohol use disorder is the craving issue. And that oftentimes leads to relapse. So what happened for you on your path as you started to feel better? And what were your first steps and what were you doing?

Chris Scott: Sure. So I was doing a lot of stumbling and bumbling in the beginning. I knew that I wanted to get back into shape as soon as I was done with my benzodiazepines script in detox. And I was an inpatient rehab for two months. I had a lot of brain fog then, so I don't even remember. Maybe it was six weeks, but it was a significant period of time. And luckily, we were bused to a local gym that was right next to a GNC every other day, maybe. I had a foggy memory, I can't recall, but I had some workout partners who were also in the same program. And all I knew was that I wanted eventually for my physique to be a symbol of my victory over alcohol, which is not terminology that would be welcomed in at least the AA circles that I was familiar at the time.

Chris Scott: Ego is a huge problem. And I was always thinking like, "What if I could harness my ego and use it to help me win? And then I can explore what else the universe has to offer." And that's what happened. I had a somewhat egotistical approach and maybe resentful in the beginning towards alcohol, not was people. And I think that's a crucial distinction. I was mad at alcohol, the substance. I was mad at what it had done to my brain. And for me, the best outlet for my anger and negativity was the gym. And I would find that I could leave my negativity and anger in the gym. I think it should be said that there are different flavors or types of AA meetings, different vibes. The ones that I found myself in are perhaps not representative of the majority or of a lot of people I've talked to who enjoyed AA.

Chris Scott: The meetings I went to were very dank, and dark, and depressing. And I could not really, after a period of time, after I started to feel a little physically better, I found myself no longer feeling inspired by the people who were there, which again, sounds arrogant. And I'm sure I'd be accused of that, but these were particularly depressing meetings. It's hard for me to overemphasize that. And so actually it turned out that at certain point, the AA meetings made me want to drink, and my workouts made me want to conquer the world. And so that became something that I focused on, more on health and fitness. And I found that my cravings would go down, especially as I added supplements, but I didn't understand why. And so I stumbled upon a book called Seven Weeks to Sobriety by the late Joan Matthews Larson, who is one of the pioneers of nutrient repair or biochemical repair, biochemical restoration.

Chris Scott: There's a number of terms for it, but it's essentially just the targeted use of nutrition and supplements. So diet and supplementation, but especially supplementation in order to help rebalance your biochemistry to undo some of the damage that the drug has done. And it's used mostly for alcohol because alcohol is a particularly deleterious drug. And at the same time, it can be used for opioids or cocaine, et cetera, other drugs. But alcohol is a really bad one. It's potentially the most toxic drug that we have in some ways, and just causes a cascade of imbalances in the body. So it stood the reason for me that these compounds that we evolved with for millions of years might be useful in healing myself physically from alcohol addiction. And I thought, "Well, then if I can rebalance myself physiologically, then maybe it will be easier for me to stop being so egotistical. Maybe I can become enlightened. Maybe I can focus on other things. Maybe I can improve my relationships and meditate."

Chris Scott: And that's actually what ended up happening. So I'm not saying I'm fully enlightened. I'm not. I can't levitate. I can't meditate for three hours and have visions. Maybe I will someday, but I'm a lot wiser than I was at the time. Each year that I left alcohol in the past, by one more year, I became a bit more balanced and more stable. And I found things happened. I think in AA, they talk about the miracles or the promises of sobriety, which is that's another term I don't really use, because I don't like to think about the absence of alcohol or define my life in those terms. I like to think about what am I present with? And so I definitely was at one time an active alcoholic, but now I'm a dog-owning, mixed martial arts practicing, yoga doing, a pretty healthy diet having entrepreneur who likes to do podcasts and try to help people out.

Chris Scott: And I'd rather define myself that way than by some inanimate substance, which I no longer believe has any power over me whatsoever. So with all of that said, it was a slow process and an incremental one. And I don't mean to imply that it's going to be the same for everyone, but I hope that by telling my story and by sharing some of the things that I have found, that may be universal, such as just a blanket need for some biochemical rebalancing, that people will actually find what they need and hopefully start their own adventure.

John Umhau M.D.: Chris, that's neat. Chris, I want to ask you about your experience with exercise. Were you having a group with you? The exercise, was it by yourself or were you with other folks? And did that constitute an AA support group?

Chris Scott: It did. So that's a great point. And what ended up happening was I went against the advice of the rehab counselor to not go to sober living. I didn't want to go there because I had a hunch about what goes on there. And there's a lot of drug use and alcohol use at sober living facilities. And also I've always been a homebody. So I was like, "I've done my thing here at rehab. I'm going to go home. I'm going to rearrange my furniture, make it unrecognizable, have a fresh start." What ended up happening was I had to move out of that posh, fancy apartment that I had in my finance days, because I had to become a personal trainer. I ended up moving in with a couple guys who still worked in finance, who were acquaintances, who were actually social drinkers, but very light by my standards at the time.

Chris Scott: And we ended up having one of the best years of all of our lives, where they would come back from work like 9:00 10:00 at night, which if you work in finance, it's a pretty good time to get home. We would go to the gym, and it was a cheap 24 hour fitness place around the corner. We'd go there, a lot of camaraderie, a lot of lifting, a lot of joking around and laughing, come back, have a late 11:00 PM dinner, and then the next day they'd be at work. I'd be trying to figure my life out and studying for the personal trainer test or doing whatever I was doing, reading books. And then we'd do it all over again each night. So it did become a support group for me. I think I was with them for a year, a year and a half.

Chris Scott: And then at some point, I moved to Savannah. I was in Atlanta at the time, but we still... I actually saw them. I went through Atlanta last weekend and hung out with all of them. And it's lifelong friends, and they actually respected the journey that I was on, because I was open with them. I had heart to hearts with them. And they thought it was cool that I wasn't trying to hide it. That I was... It is what it is was my attitude. And here I am and here's what I do. And I think a lot of people who have a sense of shame or who struggle with the stigma of addiction could benefit, fuck, by having confidants or just a couple close people.

Chris Scott: In my experience, it's always been better to have a couple really close friends, or confidants, or a support group than a huge number of peripheral friends, which is something I had during my finance years. I knew a lot of people, but I would not have wanted to be on a desert island alone with them. So that's my written missed test, the desert island test. And they pass that. And in my experience, people who pass that test often end up being lifelong friends.

John Umhau M.D.: Chris, what you've experienced is great. That is what Dr. Sinclair would call rewiring your brain. See, what you've done is you've been... These are what we call in the Sinclair method, alcohol free days. And you fill those days with things that induce endorphins. So as you all are aware, there are these endorphins, these natural opiate chemicals in the brain that are released by alcohol, but are also released when we do strenuous activity like working out, particularly with other humans, other people. And so your experience describes exactly what we would hope everyone would do, who's struggling with alcohol, that is to get another source of endorphin that's really healthy. And that's exactly what you did with your friends, joking around laughing around the table, eating a nice meal, which induces endorphins, but particularly with people. So you've got this wonderful source of pleasure in your brain that makes neurons grow because you're eating healthy, and makes them grow in the direction of healthy behaviors like hanging around with your good friends and going to the gym and working out.

John Umhau M.D.: And that's where humans are designed for relationship. And without that, it's really hard to get the endorphins that someone needs to overcome the craving to drink. And that's one of the reasons physiologically or neurochemically why alcoholic exosome works is because you're with other people and you're having a nice time, but if you're not having a nice time, it doesn't work, right? And that was your experience, it sounds like.

Chris Scott: I spent many nights and years prior to that drinking alone on my couch, because I was too tired to try to set up plans. I had a long day at work, and I figured I deserved this because I struggled through another hard day. Not realizing that the day was hard in part because I woke up with withdrawal symptoms or at least a bad hangover, so that amplifies your sensations of negativity. But yeah, it crowded out having those friends and working out with them, crowded out the need for alcohol. And I think it also may have helped that I was working out with them and having feasts with them essentially at the same time of day that I was typically drinking the most. Now I was drinking almost all day by the time I quit, but it was always hitting it hard at night.

Chris Scott: And so for me it was really helpful. I feel like there's some circadian or Arcadian rhythm going on that I haven't looked into research, but I know there's something there. And for me it was correlated with sleep as well. I used to have sleep anxiety. And I would think, "Well, I need to drink a bottle of red wine if I want to sleep tonight, like duh." And then of course I'm exhausted after this workout with these guys, and my endorphins are at least as high as they were, probably way higher than they ever when I drank. So it crowded it out. And yeah, I think I was able to rewire my brain.

John Umhau M.D.: Katie, why don't you tell us a little bit about how you got healed through the Sinclair method and how you rewired your brain to be happy when you're not drinking?

Katie Lain: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I was a daily drinker, a bottle of wine during the week, and then weekends usually just free for all, all day, both days. And Mondays were always really, really rough. And was always looking for an answer. I literally tried to quit drinking probably dozens of times, and I'd make it a few days, or a couple weeks, or a couple of months. Once I made it six months. But when I was quitting all of those different times, I always knew in the back of my mind that I would drink again. If I'm honest with myself, I knew it was just a matter of when it would be. Believing that if I was able to prove to myself that I could be sober, that like a lot of us we think, "Oh, okay. Yeah, I can moderate my drinking now."

Katie Lain: But I kept trying to quit and would always return back to alcohol. And it seemed to just be getting worse with every year that I was stuck. Chris, you called it a trap. I love to call it a trap as well because it's really what it is. And I just keep... It was getting worse year over year to where I was doing riskier things, putting myself in riskier situations, drinking harder alcohol, I was turning to whiskey a lot more often or wine and whiskey. And so it was just getting worse and worse. And earlier in the call, John, you mentioned about how people who might feel like their fate is alcohol addiction. And that's honestly what I felt right before I got to this Sinclair method was, I guess I'm just going to be an alcoholic for the rest of my life. I can't get out of this. I've tried so many different times. There's people in my family.

Katie Lain: I was just thinking, "Well, maybe this is my fate in life." And I was accepting it. But then one hungover morning, I was scouring the internet once again for some answers, and I would always listen to sober stories from people in AA or other people who had found their way out. And I would get inspired by them, but that inspiration would fizzle out, and the craving would kick in, and I would return to drinking again. So that one particular day that I found Claudia's TED Talk and learned about Claudia Christian, learned about the Sinclair method. And it took me a couple months to find the medication. And once I started on it, I saw an immediate difference within the first week to where previous to the Sinclair method, alcohol free days were very hard for me. And I would usually force them, and white knuckle them, and just do them out of a sense of guilt, like I need to have a day without alcohol because it's been weeks or months.

Katie Lain: But that first week I was able to have my first alcohol free day. That was uncomfortable. I could have still drank, but that craving was much less. And I took myself after work. I lived in a coast town, so I went to the beach and I just was like, "This is crazy. I'm not drinking tonight. And it doesn't feel like I'm totally tortured by it." And just from there, it just kept improving little by little by little. And that's the thing with the Sinclair method. I think sometimes people get on it thinking it's going to be this overnight shift, or this pill's going to fix everything, but I was on the method for a full year. And it was just week over week, these gradual improvements. I would see that I was thinking about alcohol a little less often. I could no longer finish a bottle of wine, or a few months in, I no longer wanted to drink at home alone anymore. I only wanted to drink socially. It just didn't appeal to me.

Katie Lain: And so over the course of a year, my alcohol kept gradually reducing to the point where at a year, I ultimately stopped drinking just because I had genuinely lost all interest in alcohol. But throughout that time, I was also actively seeking out things in life that would give me enjoyment and meaning, because what I realized was alcohol was my purpose. I was living for that drink. And I didn't even realize it, but I was thinking about alcohol starting at 11:00 AM every day, looking forward to that wine ritual every night and truly just living for it.

Katie Lain: And so as became a smaller part of my life, I realized, "Oh my gosh, I've got to fill this with something because I still have this choice to drink." Which I see people on the Sinclair method, they'll drink out of habit. Even though they don't really want to, it's like they don't know what else to do with their time, or they're bored, or they're sad. And so they just keep turning to alcohol, but we've got to proactively challenge ourself a little bit to try new things. I didn't even know what my likes were, or my enjoyments were. So I kept trying all these things. I went to the store and literally got paint, and was just painting a picture.

Katie Lain: I'm a terrible artist, but I was like, "Well, this is what I did when I was little, maybe I'll enjoy it now." But that is such a crucial part of this process, because I think one of the biggest challenges I see with of people on the Sinclair method is they get the medication and then they're only taking the medication, which is a crucial, crucial part, but they're not doing the other side of it, which is truly creating this life that we no longer want to run away from with alcohol, because by the time I reached extinction, which was about eight months in, I was still drinking once or twice a month, but it was to have a glass of wine out with dinner. It wasn't because I had a bad day, because by that time I learned new ways to cope with bad days.

Katie Lain: And so that was my journey through the method. And why I appreciate both of your perspectives so much, because it is this holistic approach to it. Because we don't develop alcohol use disorder in a silo, it's something that interferes and interacts with all areas of our life. And alcohol is a very useful, temporary coping tool and a habit of that was one of the biggest things I realized too, how much I was drinking habitually. And so it's more complex than just taking a pill, and kicking back, and letting it do all the work. But the Sinclair method, I don't think I would be sober today if not for that, because like I said, I tried dozens of times over the course of a decade. It really did repair my brain and my craving to where today, it's been three and half severe since I drink. And if I smell alcohol, I somewhat gag in my throat. I'm just so repulsed from it. And as opposed to like. "Oh, wishing I could have it." So that's my story with the method.

John Umhau M.D.: Katie, that's really wonderful. My patients that take naltrexone, they oftentimes will get a response, but they won't keep doing it for the eight months. How did you get the encouragement to take it for eight months? How did you get the other helps that you need besides just having the prescription? Was it just things that you read on the internet? How'd that work for you? Was there a community that you knew of that could help you?

Katie Lain: That is one of the biggest challenges I see with the Sinclair method community and people on it, is that they'll get on the medication, it's working and then they stop taking it, or they're not 100% consistent with taking it, which is crucial to the method. And so I see people have that challenge, and then they stop taking it a few times. And then they're finally ready to commit. So it is possible for them to get it to that place. But for me, I would say the things that were driving me most were my internal motivation to change. I was genuinely becoming afraid of what alcohol was doing in my life. I almost got a DUI. I'd wrecked my car here and there, hitting curbs and stuff, drinking and driving. I would do that. When I was sober, I would say, "Oh, I would never do that." But once I would drink, I would not have the right judgment.

Katie Lain: So I was generally afraid of the consequences that were happening in my life. And I focused on those every day. I've made them a very big part of my reality of like, "This is what's going to happen if you don't get this fixed." And then I was also really excited about my future. Alcohol had always felt like this major barrier to all of these dreams that I had deep down inside me that I really wanted to do, small and big things, like being energized on Saturday morning and going to get coffee at a coffee shop, and just little things that alcohol was preventing me from doing.

Katie Lain: And so for me, it was constantly keeping in my conscious awareness the life I wanted to have and the reality of what would happen if I didn't change. And through trying to quit dozens of times, I did have tools, just psychological tools. I'm an avid reader and learner, so I'm constantly consuming information to inspire me and help me improve a lot like Chris. And so that is the piece of it that I think is so important for people and that sometimes people miss. It's like if we're not thinking about our future and getting excited about it, or really honest with ourselves about the reality of what's going to happen if we don't change, then in those moments where we're feeling tempted, or exhausted, or angry, or whatever, we can just decide to, "I'm not going to take the pill today." But it's those tiny decisions that really they add up to huge change and improvements, or they add up to, quote unquote, failure in my opinion.

John Umhau M.D.: So one of the things that I am so thrilled to be with the two of you is you two have helped hundreds of hundreds of people. I have no idea how many people have benefited from your work to help them. And I would think that that would help you maintain your desire to live a healthy life and to be free. Is that really been the way it's been? Am I just assuming that Chris and Katie?

Chris Scott: Yeah. I mean, I'll say it's totally surreal to me. And I don't know an exact number, I hope it's substantial at this point, but yeah, it's one of those things where when I'm having coffee in the morning, watching the sunrise, just facing somewhat East, so it's a great place to be in the morning. The dogs come in, I got two rescues, little pit bull mixes are basically stuffed animals and they hang out, and I'm sipping my coffee, and I'm thinking, "What a contrast from when I used to work in a job that wasn't for me." I'm not going to put down finance. I have friends who are cut out for finance, I'm not. I'm not very good in a lot of things. I don't hear well, actually. If I were a waiter, I would get fired, I would mess of people's orders.

Chris Scott: So it's totally surreal to me that I even have a career, so to speak. But of the matter is that it's not about me at all, which really takes off a lot of pressure. Because back then it was about me and about me counting beans, and essentially what I was doing in a glamorous way. And it was stressful. And now I get to think, "Well, at least I get to have peace with the universe. I feel a sense of alignment with the cosmos. I know that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do, and I can get into a flow state and try to live in the space of intention." As Wayne Dyer used to say, Matt Finch recommended his book. It might be called Intention. It's the power of intention. And I've been reading that.

Chris Scott: I like to read a good self-help book every now and then to stay energized. So it's a process for sure. But at the end of the day, there's so much alignment when you're helping other people. I think a lot of people are successful. And I've had a lot of clients, private coaching clients with huge amounts of money. And they'll throw it at the problem. And that's fine to start with, but if you don't have fulfillment, which you can only get, in my opinion, by helping other people, then you're missing out. And so I think there are all of these metrics of success and happiness that I was obsessed with before I quit drinking, where at the time, if you'd ask me, "What does success look like?" I'd say, "I'd be on a beach, drinking a margarita with millions and billions and trillions of dollars in the bank. And wouldn't have a care in the world."

Chris Scott: And the reality of the situation is even if I had achieved that, my liver would be having a hard time. I'd have brain fog. Even if I had a trillion dollars in the bank, I wouldn't be able to go get a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning and feel good, unless I put a bunch of Irish cream or whatever in there, and then had go home and take a nap and just have horrible sense of... Very bad sense of well-being. So at this point, I'm just extremely grateful. I think that's a... I'm sorry for this long-winded answer.

John Umhau M.D.: No.

Chris Scott: But that's how I feel about it. I have fulfillment doing what I do. And it's totally surreal to me, as I said.

Katie Lain: No, I just wanted to-

John Umhau M.D.: How about you, Katie?

Katie Lain: Yeah. I just appreciate that question so much, John, because absolutely having my YouTube channel and just being able to help others, like Chris said, it gave me such purpose and meaning in life, where I never had that before in my different career paths either. And so I totally agree 100% what you said Chris, about helping others is where we get our most fulfillment. Whether you're a mother, or a volunteer, or your career allows you to do that, I think that's such an important component. I read, Man Search For Meaning by Victor Frankel. And that just, while I was on the Sinclair method, and that really hit home for me about the importance of having meaning in our life and purpose. And I can genuinely say for nearly 10 years when I was struggling with alcohol, I didn't really have that. And so if we don't have that meaning, or purpose, or direction, it's so easy to stay stuck in the alcohol trap. Did you have meaning before that Chris? Or fulfillment, or hobbies? Or was drinking your hobby?

Chris Scott: It was very odd because I had very close friends who some of them are still my best friends to this day. Now I had a lot of drinking buddies who I had to dispense with. But I say that because I think the closest thing I had to meeting before was those relationships. And I still believe that quality of your life is the quality of your relationships. So that meant something. But apart from those friendships, which were very deep and I've always had a great relationship with my parents, I'm adopted, and that's a whole nother thing, but I always felt lucky. And there had to be a purpose to life, but I had no idea what mine was. And like you, I was starting to accept the alcoholic label. When you were talking about that before, it occurred to me that one night I was on Google, what if I drink too much? And all these things that maybe we type in. How much is too much? Trying to find countries where the drinking guidelines were higher, so maybe I could move there and be normal. And that's actually what gave me the impetus to start a blog at some point? Because I was like, "Those search results suck. And I ne I want to make something that's more informative for people."

Chris Scott: But back then I was like, "You know what? Maybe I'm just an alcoholic. My purpose in life is to suffer, who knows? And maybe I get a fleeting high at the end of each day, maybe that's good enough." That was all I had in terms of purpose. And then the material things that I didn't get to that point. I mean, I was still in my twenties when I quit finance. And I was looking at all of these people who were somewhat role models, making ridiculous sums of money. And I thought, "Well, maybe when I get there, I'll figure it out." Which is the classic fallacy when you're trying to define your own happiness.

Chris Scott: So it was really, in retrospect, the scariest thing I ever did was quit drinking and enroll in that detox center, because I knew it would mean that the people at my job would not have me back, and that's exactly what happened. But at the same time, it was the most important thing I ever did, because it simplified everything. It stripped away all of the superfluous elements of my life. So that could finally start at least earnestly seeking that which would make me fulfilled later on. And it took a while. I didn't feel fulfilled maybe four to six months after quitting, but I felt like I was getting closer. So I think there is a huge persistence aspect there.

Katie Lain: What's the secret that kept you committed? That's the code I can't crack with people. It's how to get them to that place where they're committed no matter what to find that fulfillment or purpose.

Chris Scott: For me, I like to call it internal spark or internal fire. And I don't know if it can be defined in a blanket way or universally, but it's the same sense of sacredness that I think people can understand when they think about their children or their relationship with their best friend, or their relationship with their parents. Whatever that sacred quality is, you have to be able to apply it to yourself. And from that, you can start to do things that might seem, as my ethics professor in college would say, like a super interrogatory act. Something that can't rationally be demanded of someone as a content obligation, something super human. You can come up with an effort that could be described that way only if you have that deep, sacred sense of your own worth, really. But it's deeper than your own worth. It's maybe a leap of faith that there is a reason that you're in the universe.

Katie Lain: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I just want to say something that came to mind as you were talking about that is, what I realized in part of my healing journey through the Sinclair method was when I was drinking, I genuinely didn't have respect for myself. And I used alcohol as a way to punish myself in some sense, or just show the lack of respect I had for myself. And so I remember on this journey, getting to this mindset, what helped me was like, okay, treat yourself like someone you respect. And so day-to-day, in order to practice self-care or just focus on making progress on this journey, it was like, "Okay, how would I treat my mom, or my sister, or my best friend?" And I would treat myself that way as a way to learn how to be kind to myself as opposed to these self-destructive cycles that were going on forever, because I still turned to those a lot. And I literally had to learn how to be respectful toward myself because I had never really done that before.

John Umhau M.D.: Well, you both have done a fantastic job of helping people. I have people that come to me in my private practice all the time that tell me they've been helped by Chris, your podcast, or Katie, your videos, or your group that you've started. Tell us a little bit about your group that you're starting, Katie.

Katie Lain: You mean with Thrive or?

John Umhau M.D.: Yeah, the Thrive. Yeah. It's a unique Sinclair method group as I understand it.

Katie Lain: Yeah. It's the only comprehensive program for the Sinclair method where it's online platform that people can plug into to get essentially all of the support and resources they will need to be successful with the method, because one of the things that I've found as a coach the last few years is that to give someone a step by step guidance for the method, I was sending them over here, or over here, or read this, or watch this. And nothing was in one location. And so that's what this platform is, is we've got courses, resources, live events, coaching, every anything in one place for people to come and get support through this method.

Katie Lain: And with our memberships, people have lifetime access, because as we've seen with people on the methods, some take longer to see results, some see them more quickly, but I just want people to have access to everything for as long as they need. So I'm really excited about, it's like the platform that I wish would've existed when I was on the method because I had to piece everything together. And a lot of people say it's like you're guessing. And I've had clients come to me who are six months in and they're missing a crucial component that they should have had in week one. And so that's what we've created with our community.

Chris Scott: I think that's really awesome, Katie. Sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off, John.

Katie Lain: Go ahead.

Chris Scott: But I would love to tell my audience about that as well. My people, I don't like saying audience. But I would love to spread the word because I think that's much needed. For a long time, I've had a Sinclair method section or a medication assisted treatment section for the Fit Recovery course, but it's not enough. And I'm really glad you're doing because that's its own rabbit hole, but a really worthwhile one that people can use support for, as you mentioned. If compliance is the biggest reason that people have issues with the Sinclair method, which seems to be the case because it works so well when people use it, then the obvious solution to compliance is to have a community of people all committed to the same goal.

John Umhau M.D.: Absolutely. And I recommend it to every patient that I see who's on naltrexone. It's very helpful to get that community support, because there's so many questions that arise, and everyone thinks, "Oh, well this is going to fail for me." But then they get into the community, so there's lots of people that have the same issue and they're able to work through it.

Katie Lain: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think it was humbling for me because I honestly got on this method thinking, "Oh, I'll just take a pill and it will fix my drinking. That's all I need." Because I was a little naive to all of the reasons that why I was drinking. And so as I was on it for a few months, and emotions started to surface, and memories that I had been burring with alcohol, it was like, "Oh this is more than just a pill. And it's a healing journey that lasts a lifetime truly." And so I think I've heard people who reach extinction on the method. And that's one of the things that I hear over and over again. They're like, "Yeah, it's the pill's about 50% of it, and I've got to do the other 50%." It's a crucial component, but it's not the whole story. So I'm excited to offer these resources to really guide someone through it. And Chris, did you want to tell us about what you offer too with your program and courses?

Chris Scott: Sure. Yeah. My online course is called Total Alcohol Recovery, 2.0. I do want to mention that I've been collaborating recently with an awesome person named Chris Angel, who is board certified and holistic nutrition. She's an amino acid therapist with some letters after her name. And she has a course called, it's targeted amino acid therapy for alcohol addiction and alcohol recovery. And so we're actually working on an upcoming course. It's not yet officially named, but we might call it transcendence for people who are done with the detox and quitting phase and want to focus on that lifelong and continuing optimization adventure. But until then, and really in the foreseeable future, I'll be focusing a lot on total alcohol recovery, 2.0, we have over 2000 people who have been in that course since 2017. And we have a private Facebook group. There's 20 hours of video lessons featuring me, which I can't watch because I can't watch myself in video, but I'm glad people seem to like it, and written lessons, discussion forms, customized support for people.

Chris Scott: So that's really the best way for me to help people. I also do have a team of coaches at Fit Recovery, myself, Matt Finch, Tana Pico, Zach Reader, Briana Thoreau. And we do one on one calls. We can set up free 20 minute calls with anyone who's interested. And yeah, I have a book called Drinking Sucks that's been on Amazon. And the best way to, I guess, stay in the loop though is to go to, sign up. I have a free challenge, a free 10 day alcohol freedom challenge at the moment, which I'm not sure how much longer that'll be up. But it's free daily coaching for 10 days, no commitment whatsoever, but just trying to give some inspiration and some concrete help.

Chris Scott: And I also have a free training that's up for a very limited time. We may take it down soon, but that's with Chris Angel, my collaborator, on how to use supplements for alcohol recovery. It's about an hour long. And yeah, the podcast is called The Elevation Recovery Podcast. My co-host is Matt Finch and we have one episode a week out now. And also we try to put as many as we can up on the Fit Recovery YouTube channel.

John Umhau M.D.: All my patients get a link to your podcast, Chris.

Chris Scott: Excellent. I appreciate that. Thank you.

John Umhau M.D.: No, it's really good. So there're going to be some people listening who failed. Okay? So maybe they're doing great now, and they've had some sobriety, or recovery, or they were almost... They were extension, and then they drop off. I just want to encourage those folks, the nature of this alcohol problem is that it can recur. It doesn't have to, and hopefully it never will for you, but if it does, it's okay. That's part of the deal. Just get back on the horse and try some new things, and learn from your experience. It's not the end of the world. And it doesn't define you. By all means, you're human, made in God's image to live life to the fullest.

John Umhau M.D.: And so what if you make a mistake a few times here and there? You're working on getting your life together. And that's the thing that I find so invigorating about working with folks that have problems with alcohol, is they just have learned to work on themselves, and to live life better. And it's a very positive experience to see people who keep at it. Most people do well on the Sinclair method, but if they don't then that's okay. We could just start all over again. And I just wanted to make sure people know that you don't have to have this perfect trajectory to get recovery.

Katie Lain: Yeah. That's such an encouraging message, John. I totally agree. And in my opinion, those mistakes that we make are the most valuable learning experiences and help us going forward if we just view it as a learning opportunity. So I think it's such a positive message for people.

Chris Scott: Yeah. I think it's a non-linear transformation, adventure, journey, whatever you want to call it. And then it's really... I can't remember who called it this, but data points I think is the best way to think about that. You get new information, you get feedback every time something like that happens. And really, I think it's important to reiterate. At least in my view, it's not a moral failing, so not... I don't even like... I feel like the word relapse is so charged with stigma. Maybe even more so than alcoholism is. A relapser is like an alcoholic that fails. And I guess we could say you fail, or we could say that you have a learning experience, as Katie said, you get feedback. And also, if it is the case, which I believe it is, based on my experiences that a life without a routine of drinking each day is superior to a life where you're physically dependent on alcohol. Then it's really, it's just a reminder that it's a no brainer.

Chris Scott: And it's practically good. It's may be morally good, depending on maybe every time you drink, you get a DUI, in which case morally, maybe there's some something there. But I think for a lot of people, it's just a practical epiphany. They're like, "Whoa, it's actually better and more desirable inherently to not drink." Or for some people to not drink all the time. There's such a spectrum of this. And I've had people, clients, and of course members who their goal was to cut down, and they cut down. And now they have a glass of champagne on new year's. who cares? And so I think it's important to make the point that you made. And I also make sure that John, you tell people where they can find you, because I know that my people will want to hear that again.

John Umhau M.D.: So I'm a physician with a private practice on telemedicine in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia and Maryland right now, and maybe Tennessee. But the website is designed for people everywhere to learn as much as they want to about alcoholism, and treatment, and naltrexone, and all. There are other medicines beside naltrexone that can really be helpful for folks that can't take the naltrexone. And my website is, is where people can read about my practice and learn a lot about alcoholism, that I try to share with folks from my experience in the Alcoholism Institute at NIH.

Katie Lain: Yeah. Both of your websites, they send people there for information on the nutrition, or the medications, or supplements. You both have such good information and resources on there just for people to learn more about. And I'll link everything below as well in the description box, so you can have links to Chris and John's website, both. All right. Is there anything else you guys wanted to leave the viewers with? One last word of wisdom or thought before we wrap up?

John Umhau M.D.: Keep at it, you'll live a happy life. It's just that's what it's all about. And Katie and Chris are some of the happiest people that I know. And I think it's a real testimony to what they can teach you when you hook up with what they have to offer.

Chris Scott: Yeah, I think when in doubt, get a sweat. A sweat a day is my mantra, but also do it with people that you enjoy being with, have confidants, have community, have a tribe, as I like to say. And again, thank you both so much for doing this. This has been a lot of fun. And I hope we can have future conversations like this.

John Umhau M.D.: Absolutely.

Katie Lain: Yeah. Loved it. Thank you both.


  • Chris Scott

    Chris Scott founded Fit Recovery in 2014 to help people from around the world dominate alcohol dependence and rebuild their lives from scratch. A former investment banker, he recovered from alcohol dependence using cutting-edge methods that integrate nutrition, physiology, and behavioral change. Today, Chris is an Alcohol Recovery Coach and the creator of an online course called Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0.

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