Alcohol & Drug Addiction: An Exhausted Resource

exhausted resource

In episode 287 of the Elevation Recovery Podcast, Matt Finch discusses how alcohol and drugs are used as resources for confidence, euphoria, and socialization.

The alcohol and drug use can easily accelerate and can be abused quickly. When the consequences begin to heavily outweigh the benefits, the substances become exhausted resources. 

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Matt Finch: Now, all of a sudden, they're drinking just to avoid getting sick. They're drinking, and it's just costing them a lot of money. It's destroying their health. They don't have any relationships left. Maybe they lost their job. Their eating is horrible. They're spending all their money on booze. They can't pay their rent; 10 out of 10 pain and negative consequences. Now, all of a sudden, addiction is not only an exhausted resource; it is a massively exhausted resource.

Announcer: Thanks for tuning into the Elevation Recovery podcast. Your hub for addiction recovery strategies, hosted by Chris Scott and Matt Finch.

Matt Finch: Episode 287 of Elevation Recovery. Thanks so much for joining me. My name is Matt Finch. I'm going to be your solo host for today. We're going to discuss alcohol addiction and drug addiction viewed through the lens and mental model term of viewing it as an exhausted resource.

Matt Finch: When I was in my early 30s, I was recently off drugs and alcohol, and I was at Mueller College, going to school to become a certified substance abuse counselor. We had lots of required texts to read for that, and worksheets, and movies we watched, and films. I also was so hungry. It was basically an insatiable hunger to learn as much as I could about the phenomenon of addiction, treatment, recovery, and everything that goes around with that, so I read a lot of books that were not required.

Matt Finch: I would go to the bookstore. I would order things online. I came across this one book called something like, Alcoholism, or it was like Neurolinguistic Programming, NLP, and the Treatment of Alcoholism. I had already learned a bunch of NLP, actually, from Tony Robbins and from a few other books that... I just loved NLP. It was like, before learning about that, I didn't know how to use my brain, and I viewed NLP as kind of like a roadmap of how to use your brain, how to be able to critical think about things, and I got a lot of value from it.

Matt Finch: Anyways, in this book on alcoholism being treated with NLP, I read that book at least three or four times. In fact, I even did an hour and a half live, in front of the whole classroom, presentation on NLP in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. I got a perfect score on that. I got a standing ovation from everyone in the class, including the teacher, as well.

Matt Finch: All right, so let's dig right into this topic. Before we even get to the point of talking about what it means when I say addiction is an exhausted resource, first, let's lead up to, well, how does a drug or substance like alcohol become a resource in the first place. Here's how. Let's go into story time.

Matt Finch: The first time I ever tried alcohol, I was, I think, 14 years old. I was a freshman in high school. I was 14 years old, and it was... I went to a pre-party, or it was a party that was pre-concert. It was a pre-concert party. I was 14, and two of my buddies were with me, and they were both 14, as well.

Matt Finch: We were hanging out at my older brother's friend's house, or it was an apartment, rather, and we were going to go to this concert, which was Metallica, Body Count, or sorry, not Body Count; Metallica, Candlebox... I saw Body Count with Metallica the first time I ever saw them. Metallica, Candlebox, and Suicidal Tendencies, that was the lineup for that show.

Matt Finch: Before the show, we're at my brother's friend's apartment and a bunch of his buddies, they were all approximately 10 years older than us, so a bunch of 24-year-olds, 23-year-olds, 25-year-olds, and there were some of the girlfriends there, as well. They had alcohol. They had beer, and they also had marijuana.

Matt Finch: I didn't smoke any of the marijuana. I didn't start smoking marijuana until I was 15, so I turned that down, but one of my buddies took part in it. Anyways, I wanted to drink, for whatever reason. It was super hot out, and I wanted a cold drink, and they had beer. This is the first time I ever drank, and I drank six beers probably in the span of an hour and a half, a little tiny shrimp, 14-year-old. I was sucking them down. They were going down so smooth.

Matt Finch: I appeared to have an innate, natural high tolerance for alcohol, being that I was so little, weighed so little, extremely skinny. I noticed that the alcohol made me energetic. It made me euphoric. It made me confident.

Matt Finch: It made me so confident that I was actually flirting with one of the girls that was like 10 years older than me, a 24-year-old, approximate, female and I was 14. I had never been able to talk to women before, let alone a beautiful woman 10 years older than me. It just made me feel like there was no problems in the world, that everything was okay. Like I said, it made me energized and confident and happy. It was just like, where's this stuff been all my life? I didn't know it was this amazing.

Matt Finch: Here's how... This is a real predeterminer of potential future alcohol problems. After those six beers in approximately 90 minutes, we ran out of beers, and there was... I asked them, "Is there any more beer?" They said, "No, but I think there's some liquor in the freezer," so I went in the freezer, and there was some scotch, so I took a couple swigs of that, and that was not good. I was doing okay on the beer, but after I had the beer and then the liquor, I think I remember saying, "Beer, then liquor, you've never been sicker." Well, that was the case for me.

Matt Finch: Once we left the party, the traffic on the way to the concert was insanity. I think it took us two hours to get there, and it should've only taken 20 minutes. Without traffic, it would've been maybe a 20-minute drive. With traffic, it took about two hours. It was stop and go, and for a lot of the time, it was totally stopped. I don't have great memories of it, although I have good enough memories of it to tell you this story.

Matt Finch: I got so sick that I noticed that I had to vomit, and I couldn't even roll down the window and put my head out the window and vomit out the window, so instead I puked all over my lap. I puked all over the car seat. I puked all over my shoes and pants and the floor, and my friends in the back were like, "Oh, no, he's puking!"

Matt Finch: I was riding shotgun, and my brother was driving his girlfriend's car at that time. Then I looked back at my two buddies, and I had a little bit of vomit... This is what they told me later on. They said I had vomit trickling down my lip, and they said I had this really pathetic face. I looked at them, and I remember saying this, but I didn't know what I looked like. I looked at them and I said, "I puked."

Matt Finch: They made fun of me and teased me about that for life ever since then. I've never stopped hearing about it. My poor brother is going from car to car, asking, "Does anybody have any paper towels? Does anybody have any napkins? I've got to clean up. My brother just puked all over the place."

Matt Finch: Anyways, since I got so sick from it, I didn't drink again for a couple of years. Then it seemed like every time I would drink with some buddies, which was pretty rare... By that point, when I was 15, I got into marijuana. I really liked marijuana. It didn't make me sick. It made me feel really good and seemed to make everything enhanced: surfing, hacky sack, video games, skateboarding, watching TV, eating. It just seemed to enhance everything. I was an enhancement smoker, I guess you could call it.

Matt Finch: It seemed like that, on the rare times that I drank throughout high school, I just didn't like it. Oftentimes, my friend would steal liquor from their parents or something, and it would be cheap vodka or just kind of like it just didn't agree with me. Then, drinking with just one friend home alone, it was nowhere near as fun as drinking at a party with loud music and girls, and so it just never really had that magic again for the next several years. I just didn't really care too much about it, but at the age of 22, that's when I really started to fall in love with alcohol.

Matt Finch: I had a new friend group, and we would surf, and we would party, and we would drink, and we would go hang out with girls. Alcohol was my liquid confidence. I was a drug dealer at the time, so I didn't have to worry about waking up and going to a job. I worked from home. I had an entourage of people that would do things for me for free drugs. They would go get me food. They would go do deliveries for me. I had a really easy life at that point, and so I would just drink and have fun without any kind of knowledge that I was quickly going to go from alcohol use to alcohol abuse to alcoholism to alcohol physiological and psychological dependence to full-blown severe alcohol addiction to the point where it only took, maybe at the most, four to six months to go from recreational alcohol use to several months of abuse and then finally to full-blown addiction.

Matt Finch: My alcohol addiction progressed quickly once I was in this new environment. Before, I had never really had friends that were alcohol abusers. All of my friends were stoners, like I was. We would do psychedelics every once in a while, and we would usually go camping, so it was a much healthier form of using drugs than alcohol abuse, at least for your brain and body.

Matt Finch: Of course, it's not a black and white thing, but my alcohol use was really unhealthy. But it was a resource for me. That was a long way of saying alcohol gave me the liquid courage and confidence that I didn't have sober and that I certainly didn't have on cannabis. When I was smoking weed, that took away my confidence when I was with females and when I was with people that I didn't know that well.

Matt Finch: When I was with my close friends, I could get as stoned as I wanted to, and we would just laugh, and we would go to the movies, and we would go hiking. We would go do lots of fun things, and I was really comfortable with that group of friends. There was three friends that I had all throughout high school, so there was four of us, a crew of four, that were really tight. We did a lot of things together. That made high school really cool, having that crew.

Matt Finch: Then, like I said, age 22, now all of a sudden, I'm selling drugs. I'm hanging out with all the popular people that I never hung out with in high school, because I was not popular. I was into heavy metal and smoking weed, and the popular people were into football and reggae and Sublime and sports, mainstream sports, going to parties, drinking beer, doing cocaine sometimes. I was definitely not with that crew.

Matt Finch: Alcohol was my resource for confidence, euphoria, mostly just to be able to socialize. It was my socialization at the young age of 22, then 23 and 24. It was my resource for hanging out with other people that were also drinking. It was basically just to fit in, and I didn't know that there was another option back then. I mean, I guess I did, but it was so fun. It was such a blast when I had a healthy liver, and when we were having such crazy adventures and experiences from that. It was really, really dangerous a lot of the time, but I was a maniac back then. I was a complete adrenaline junkie, experience, like high sensation seeking junkie. I didn't care about the negative consequences enough to stop drinking for very long periods of time back then. That was a resource.

Matt Finch: The same thing with opioids. When I tried opioids the first time, I was 22, and for the next eight years, I never got addicted to them. I never got into abusing them. There was a few reasons. Number one, because I just didn't feel like doing them every day. That was the main reason. I just didn't feel like I needed them or wanted them every day at that point.

Matt Finch: Number two, they were not available all the time. I only knew where to get them here and there. People would get prescriptions for a month or two or a couple months, and then they would not have them anymore, or they would find someone that would buy them all wholesale, or a lot of the times, I wouldn't have much money or any money, so I would either not get any pills when they were around, or I would just get one or two or a handful or 10 or maybe 15 or 20 at the most, but that was typically a lot. I think, typically, it was more like three to 10 pills that I would buy, 10 being not even that common. It was more like two or three, and I would do them, or maybe I'd do five or six or maybe more, but that would be it.

Matt Finch: I'd do them for a day, usually, sometimes two days. Maybe I would go on a three-day run of pills, but that was pretty uncommon. It was usually just a day or two. Then, when I was 30, I became heavily addicted to prescription opioids for years, and then years after that, I got heavily addicted to smoking black tar Mexican heroin off of aluminum foil, chasing the dragon.

Matt Finch: It was a resource for me for eight years, an amazing resource, an amazing resource. It gave me energy, confidence, much like the alcohol, euphoria, able to talk to girls, able to socialize without fear, able to just feel super good and relaxed, like life was good and everything was okay. Whenever I took them, it was just like, boom! They turned my brain on in ways that were just fantastic, and I didn't have the side effects of alcohol, where I would break out in handcuffs and get arrested.

Matt Finch: A lot of times when I drank, I would get a drunk in public. I had three different DUIs in two different states. I would get beat up, or I would get choked out, or I would do something horrible, blacked out, to a girlfriend or to a friend, and then the next day or two days or a week, I would be totally afraid to even show my face, because I had so much shame, so I'm like, I'm never drinking again, but then the shame was so bad and the nervousness and the nerves, the anxiousness and the shame and the guilt was so bad that the only way to make it go away was to drink.

Matt Finch: Of course, there was, at that age, early 20s/mid 20s, that's all my social group did back then. This was before the technology boom, so we were... We did drugs and alcohol. Nowadays, the kids are addicted to smartphones and, yeah, there's still people who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, food, all that, but now it's like you get such a dopamine hook and fix from technology that that's just another addiction option, which we didn't really have back then.

Matt Finch: When I was 30, and when I became addicted to opioids, I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil, situational stress, and I needed lots of energy. I was exhausted all the time, because I wasn't sleeping, because I had a newborn daughter, and she was up all night.

Matt Finch: She would go to bed for an hour or two at a time, and then wake up crying, and I'd have to go feed her. I wasn't together with my baby's mama at that time, or any time after she was born, so here I am, trying to work as a full-time cook at a fast-paced restaurant in Upstate New York, and they called me a zombie-man, because I would drink a whole pot of coffee throughout my work shift, and I was still a zombie. Then I was able to hook up and get some OxyContin pills, and it was the energy and the confidence and the euphoria and the relief of anxiety and depression and loneliness that I was so longing for.

Matt Finch: I didn't really want to use alcohol for it, because I had had so many problems with alcohol in my 20s, and so I didn't want to get back into doing that all the time. I knew that wasn't a sustainable option for me, by that point, but I knew pills I could sustain, or I thought I could sustain pills, like I had done from the ages of 22 to 30. After I got those OxyContins, the person that I got them from and the person that helped me to meet the person that I got them from, between those two people, one of them was my friend, and then my friend introduced me to the dealer. Well, between those two people, that unlocked a whole bunch of different people that did pills and that sold pills in that small town, population 7,000, in Upstate New York. Norwich, New York, is where I lived, and there was a huge pill problem.

Matt Finch: This is when the opioid epidemic was at full speed ahead, but it was still mostly a silent epidemic. It was many years before it got the national attention that it needed and that it deserved, but so it was a silent epidemic for a long time. The town that I lived in was just overrun with OxyContin and Percocet and Vicodin and Norco and morphine and Dilaudid and Darvocet and you name it, like tramadol. You could get pretty much anything in that town, depending on the day.

Matt Finch: Since I had constant access, and since I was really needing energy badly to work and to take care of the baby, and since I was really struggling emotionally, a lot of that was from lack of sleep, but there was certain psychological and situational things going on, too, so hey, it was a resource at the beginning, just like alcohol was. Energy, euphoria, confidence, hypomania, just feeling like I was able to take on the day, take on the week, take on the month, take on the fucking world like Superman, kicking ass, taking names, only with opioids.

Matt Finch: Alcohol was a resource for only a few months, and then it started to turn into an exhausted resource. Opioids were a great resource for eight years, for the benefits that I was getting, the subjective benefits that I appreciated and longed for. Both of these substances that started off as a resource, a resource, a physical resource that I could administer into my body, that would change my brain chemistry, that would change my physiology and outlook on life and like the lenses through which I viewed reality and my lifestyle and everything, gave me seemingly superpowers, at least subjective superpowers.

Matt Finch: At the beginning, they both gave me lots of benefits, right? Lots of pleasure, lots of benefits associated with the opioids or the alcohol in these examples, but as time went on, the more I used this resource for making my life better, multidimensional resources these were, because they affected my body and my mind and just so many different benefits. They were totally multidimensional. Why would anybody want to stop drinking or stop using opioids when they're getting mostly benefits and pleasure with very little negative consequences and pain, right? There's no point.

Matt Finch: There's no reason to quit anything, if it's giving you a net surplus, a massive net surplus, to your overall quality of life. That's what I had with alcohol, for not very long. That's what I had with cannabis, for a very, very, very long time. That's what I had with opioids for eight years.

Matt Finch: Then, so here's the equation that I like to view. When something is giving you... Let's say, for instance, you're getting a 10 out of 10 subjective rating of pleasure and positive benefits, and only a one out of 10 subjective negative consequences and pain associated with that substance, so you've got a 10 out of 10 awesomeness and only a one out of 10 crappiness, right? There's no way you're going to get anybody to quit something that's giving them that much amazingness in overall their quality of life.

Matt Finch: That's why so many people are able to use alcohol responsibly. I mean, yeah, there's a lot of people that become addicted to it, that abuse it, but that's not the norm. The norm is the majority of people that use alcohol, it's a resource for them for their entire life. It's more common for people to have it as a resource where they can go out and drink socially. They get some positive benefits, some pleasure from it, and yeah, there's a little bit of negative consequences and pain if they drink too much, if they drink too much and get hungover, but if somebody just has one drink a week and that's it, and they really enjoy that one drink a week, and they don't have any negative consequences other than it's dehydrating and it's not healthy for the body, but I mean, if it just makes them feel great...

Matt Finch: Let's say they have a cocktail every Friday night or something, or every Sunday when they watch football, they have an ice cold beer or something with their lunch, for example. Well, and then they do that for decades and decades. Well, that's a resource for their life. There's no negative consequences from that. It's giving them all benefits and pleasure, or it's giving them so much benefits and positive consequences and pleasure in comparison to the super-minute, minuscule intensity of negative consequences and pain, that it's just maintained as a resource. It's a resource for the person's life. They can use it when they want to, and overall, it improves their quality of life, at least subjectively.

Matt Finch: But then, let's look at the reverse of this equation. Let's say that it starts off like a 10 out of 10 pleasure and positive benefits and a one out of 10 pain and negative consequences. Let's say, over time, over the span of a few years, for an example, the person becomes addicted to the substance. Let's use alcohol for this one.

Matt Finch: The person becomes addicted to alcohol. They go from using it once a week to twice a week to three times a week. Pretty soon, they're drinking every evening. Then eventually they're drinking every afternoon, all the way until the time they go to bed, seven days a week. Then it progresses to their waking up, and they have to drink it every single morning and even wake up in the middle of the night and drink it, because now they need to drink it just to avoid going into a potentially fatal alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Matt Finch: Alcohol and benzodiazepines are the only two substance, typically, that a person can die from the withdrawal from that substance. Now, all of a sudden, they're drinking just to avoid getting sick. They're drinking, and it's just costing them a lot of money. It's destroying their health. They don't have any relationships left. Maybe they lost their job. Their eating is horrible. They're spending all their money on booze. They can't pay their rent.

Matt Finch: Well now, let's say, for this example, their amount of pleasure with drinking, let's say it's a one out of 10 pleasure and positive benefits, subjective, and then it's a subjective 10 out of 10 pain and negative consequences. Now, all of a sudden, addictions if not only an exhausted resource; it is a massively exhausted resource. It as resource, a substance, or any other behavior, is typically a resource if it's giving you a substantial amount more benefits and pleasure than it is negative consequences and pain.

Matt Finch: If it's overall, subjectively, adding a lot to your quality of life, overall, it's an exhausted resource if, overall, it is making your life a lot worse. If the use of the substance or the behavior is leading to a net, a huge, especially a huge net deficit to your overall life, that's an exhausted resource. It's not giving you what it gave you anymore, and so addiction is a resource gone/exhausted.

Matt Finch: Addiction is an adaptation to our environment that has been overused for too long, too much for too long, and now we have exhausted that resource, just like here on earth we have renewable resources and, well, guess what? This one maybe can be renewable, but more often than not, from what we see, Chris and I, when people overuse the resource of a substance, like alcohol or drugs, it can become depleted and depleted. Pretty soon, the scale, the balancing scale starts tipping to the other side, where the negative consequences and pain that one derives from the use of the substance starts to, first, outweigh, and then eventually, commonly heavily, and more heavily outweigh the positive benefits.

Matt Finch: You can imagine a balancing scale with two sides. For eight years, if we're talking about opioids, for eight years, the side of the balancing beam of positive benefits and pleasure was huge. It was like it weighed a lot. It weighed so much, and it totally overweighed. There was almost zero negative consequences and pain subjectively that I associated with those pill substances. I used heroin a few times in those eight years, but only a few times. Mostly, it was pills.

Matt Finch: Then, all of a sudden, at the age of... In my early 30s, now, all of a sudden, the weight switched. All of a sudden the positive benefits went down, and pleasure went down to almost nothing. I was just using them to avoid getting sick.

Matt Finch: They were really expensive. I was lying. I was stealing a little bit here and there. I was pawning musical equipment. I was becoming a shitty person to avoid getting sick, because I'd gone through the withdrawal once or twice before, and I didn't want to go through that withdrawal again. It was like it almost makes you want to jump out of a 10-story window and commit suicide, rather than endure the synergistic combination of the physical and psychological acute and then post-acute opioid withdrawal symptoms. The same could be said in many cases for alcohol.

Matt Finch: All right, so again, addiction is an exhausted resource. This is just one way of looking at it. This is the way, one of the ways, that I look at it. It's kind of... I look at addiction as a multidimensional phenomenon. I looked at those substances back then as multidimensional resources for me. Not all the substances I used during my addiction were multidimensional resources and long-term resources.

Matt Finch: Methamphetamines, I didn't... Those weren't multidimensional resources for me, and neither were most of the drugs I tried, but... Papaya, would you quit doing that? My gosh, you're driving me nuts. Sorry, my bird is like just... It's like she's running a marathon around my back and shoulders. She can't sit still, and it's bugging me, so stop that, Papaya. Stop it.

Matt Finch: All right, where was I after Papaya started... Now, she's chilling. Now she's kissing my ear. Thank you, Sweetie. That's so nice of you. Sorry to get all riled up, but you were driving me nuts.

Matt Finch: Anyways, opioids and alcohol really agreed with my biochemistry. You might have heard before the term drug of choice. Well, I have a different take on that. I think, well yeah, it's a drug of choice, but I don't think we choose the drug. I think the drug or the substance chooses us, and it chooses us, depending on our brain chemistry, specifically on our neurotransmitter deficits.

Matt Finch: I likely had deficient GABA and deficient endorphin, the really calming, relaxing neurotransmitters that we produce naturally in our brain. Since I was probably low in these, then when I drink alcohol, which binds to the GABA receptors, now, all of a sudden, I don't have a GABA deficiency anymore. Matter of fact, I don't even have a regular GABA. I have excess GABA. You go from a GABA-deficient state into a GABA, super-optimized, euphoric enhancing state. Then, all of a sudden, well yeah, of course, you're going to choose that to be your drug, if other drugs don't make you feel that good, because they don't light up your brain in the unique way that offsets your deficiencies and maybe even, for some people, decreases their excesses, like excess glutamine.

Matt Finch: With opioids, when I took those, those boosted... Those bind to your mu-opioid receptors. Ooh, when I took those, I liked them even more than alcohol. It was like way better than alcohol for me, for my brain chemistry, but like I said, without the blackouts, without getting arrested, without all the guilt and shame. They were like a nootropic substance for me. They're CNS depressants, like alcohol is.

Matt Finch: Alcohol is a sedative hypnotic CNS depressant, and opioids are a pain-killing CNS depressant. Alcohol would be like a hypomania inducer. Opioids would be a hypomania inducer combined with nootropic focusing abilities and just insane multidimensional resources. Of course, of course, I chose them. Of course, they are my drugs of choice, my substances of choice.

Matt Finch: They chose me, when they came in and made my brain to balance out and get all lit up in the way that I needed to choose to keep using those substances. I had always, well, for many, many, many years, struggled with things like low confidence and low self-esteem, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, intermittent panic attacks and depression. I was a sensitive guy. I was deeply intuitive, very emotional, very highly prone to mood swings, big, giant mood swings back then, and I honestly felt like everyone else in the world had something, that specific something that I just seemed to be lacking, like everyone else had that certain something, but I didn't have it.

Matt Finch: I was lacking whatever it was, and so I couldn't be comfortable in my own skin, in my own body, in my own life, without alcohol or opioids or other drugs, depending on what time of my addiction life it was. I felt different, very different, and I never felt like I fit in. Alcohol and opioids and benzos and other drugs helped me to offset that alienation, that not fitting in, that loneliness, that sensitivity and over-negative emotionality. Like I said, they made me feel superhuman. Multidimensional resources for superhuman capabilities, subjective, that came in the form of an alcoholic beverage or a pain-killing prescription pill, and eventually, like I said, black tar heroin, chasing the dragon off aluminum foil.

Matt Finch: Let's talk about hypomania. What I've noticed is that a high percentage of people get, that I work with, that become addicted to alcohol or opioids typically, they get the opposite effect. The alcohol or the opioids, instead of making them real tired and sedated, gives them energy, and not just energy and confidence, hypomania.

Matt Finch: A person with bipolar II disorder experiences two... It's alike a biphasic disorder where, on one end is hypomania, the other end is depression. Hypomania is less severe than the traditional mania, hypermania, or mania, experienced with someone with bipolar I. The manic episodes of individuals with bipolar I disorder can be completely debilitating. If you've ever watched the movie called The Silver Linings Playbook, starring Bradley Cooper, costarred with, I think, Jennifer Lawrence and also had Robert De Niro in there, I believe. If you've ever watched that movie, he had bipolar I, and his mania episodes, he would be sleepless for nights. Those energy manic symptoms were debilitating. You couldn't function like that. He needed to be treated well with medicine or with some type of treatment to get rid of the debilitating effects of hypermania.

Matt Finch: Now, hypomania is typically not, in fact, debilitating. Actually, it can be a very desirable state to be in, for a lot of us. Some of the common symptoms of hypomania are things like elevated mood; reduced need for sleep without feeling tired; grandiose thinking, meaning unrealistic thinking about your powers, talents, and abilities; feeling intensely driven, seriously driven to accomplish specific goals, whether it's making a certain amount of money, buying a certain thing, getting a date with a certain person, other things like that; unusual talkativeness; excessive involvement in activities associated with high potential for negative consequences, things like spending sprees and gambling and sexual indiscretions and sexual promiscuity and risky financial investments, you name it.

Matt Finch: When at least three or more of these symptoms are present in an individual, they can be diagnostically classified as experiencing hypomania. Alcohol gave me several of these symptoms, so I could have been classified as having hypomania. Opioids gave me, basically, all of them, near 100% of the time, for those eight years before I was dependent on them, super-hypomanic. I call this the opioid energy addiction connection and the alcohol energy addiction connection. Not everybody that gets addicted to opioids or alcohol gets the energy, the hypomania, from them, but from my experience, it appears that a very high percentage of people do.

Matt Finch: All right, before we close on here, I want to go into deeper a little bit more on what I meant by multidimensional resource. Opioids, for sure, were my most multidimensional resource. The word resource has a few definitions that could be applied to it. The one I'm talking about, in the description of substance use, specifically, that we're describing as a resource, it means a possibility of relief or a source of support.

Matt Finch: For me, opioids were my resource for self-medicating anxiety and depression, for giving me the energy to work full-time as a single dad with a newborn baby that was not sleeping very much, and that was very demanding with my attention. I wanted to have the energy and the good mood to be able to care for her in the way that she deserved, even if I had to or even if I chose to take a bunch of pills to be able to have that energy and that good mood to fulfill my fatherly duties, parenting duties. Opioids were also a resource for making my job fun instead of stressful. My job sucked, low-paying, very stressful, very demanding, but if I was on enough opioids, it was absolutely fun, amazing. I loved people, all of a sudden, and I could talk to people. I could just... I could do all the tickets in a row for cooking. It was just a completely different world, completely different place to work, if I was swallowing or snorting pills before and during my shift.

Matt Finch: They were also a resource for numbing my emotional pain and for dulling, basically, my fear of life and my fear of people. Opioids were a very valuable resource for me, albeit a super unhealthy resource, which did lead to more pain and suffering than I was experiencing prior to becoming a daily user, but it was a resource, nonetheless.

Matt Finch: Essentially, opioids and other drugs can quickly become valuable assets in two main categories: physical resource and psychological resource. Opioids, for example, can be a resource for pain relief, energy, and delayed ejaculation. Those are physical areas of resource. Opioids can also help a person to not feel anxiety, depression, loneliness, guilt, shame, and other emotions, so in those circumstances, opioids are acting as a psychological resource.

Matt Finch: Depending on the person, the same could be said, all those same benefits, with alcohol. It just depends on the person's brain chemistry and what's going on with their life. What I've noticed is that the people that get addicted to a substance, not just use it recreationally or start to abuse it here and there, but the people that get really addicted to a substance nearly always get both physical and psychological resource benefits in ample quantities. Dr. Gabor Mate says, "All addiction is to treat pain." One of my favorite quotes by Dr. Mate is, "Do not ask, why the addiction? But, why the pain?"

Matt Finch: Dr. Gabor Mate, author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, writes, "The attempt to escape from pain is what creates more pain, and whether a person is using a substance as a resource for treating physical pain, emotional pain, to self-medicate mental disorders or trauma, to help them be a better lover or a more productive worker, more energized and more creative entrepreneur, or whatever other resources, it's all for the same purpose. They are using that substance as a resource to make their life better. Unfortunately, for many of us, it appears that the positive benefits from using substances as a resource typically begin to fade away, and in their place often come the negative consequences. First, they start to weigh the same as them, and then eventually they can lead to outweighing the positive benefits, and then heavily outweighing them, and then totally tipping the scale over."

Matt Finch: This is devastating and, in many cases, which are all too common, eventually it becomes something entirely different than a resource. It becomes an exhausted resource. People's substance use, whether it's drugs or alcohol, usually often starts off so innocently. I mean, when it comes to me, I had no idea that opioids could cause things like tolerance, independence, and withdrawal. This is the same for so many others.

Matt Finch: In conclusion and summary, let's do the formula again. When the negative consequences of substance use outweigh the positive benefits, I consider it an exhausted resource, because if the negative consequences outweigh the positive benefits, then mathematically speaking, the substance use is creating a net deficit to your quality of life. The short form of that would be, negative consequences greater than positive benefits equals net deficit to quality of life. The long form version is you get more negative consequences than positive benefits, which results in continued substance use, causing a net deficit to your quality of life, with this caveat. You may still be getting some benefits from the substance, but if you're getting a lot of negative consequences that override the benefits, such as you're spending too much money, or it's causing pain in your relationships, or maybe you're not as present of a parent, or maybe you're lying or stealing, et cetera... fill in the blank, these different negative consequences can begin to outweigh and then heavily, significantly outweigh the positive benefits. When this occurs in neurolinguistic programming, NLP, we call it an exhausted resource.

Matt Finch: It's also an exhausted resource if you haven't received the good benefits in weeks, months, or even years, and you're basically just using the substance to avoid getting sick and to prevent the withdrawal syndrome from coming on. Once addiction has become an exhausted resource, the longer a person continues life on that substance, typically the more negative consequences and difficulties they will experience.

Matt Finch: To me, I'd say this is a life of pain and suffering, massive suffering in some cases, which ranges from mild to moderate to severe, depending on the situation, but it's always pain and suffering. Additionally, it is so much easier to get yourself addicted to a substance, typically, than it is to un-addict yourself to them. However, for anybody listening to this, it doesn't have to be nearly as hard as it was for me to recover from addiction.

Matt Finch: I didn't know what the heck I was dealing with, back then, and it was a long and hard process of pretty much stumbling my way to success and failing my way forward, slowly but successfully. Eventually, it was a combination of things like luck, good timing, grace, and the universe, which all lined up. Fortunately, I used that opportunity to get the job done.

Matt Finch: For the past almost 11 years of my life, I've been dedicating my professional life to helping people recover from substance use and addiction issues. With that being said, thanks so much, as always, for listening. Take good care of yourself, and I hope this episode was helpful for you. See you next time.

Chris Scott: Hey, everyone, Chris Scott here. If you liked the information on today's episode regarding supplementation and empowerment strategies for addiction recovery, then please subscribe to the Elevation Recovery podcast, and leave us a rating and review on iTunes. If you benefited directly from this information, I'm confident in saying that you'll love the information-packed online courses that Matt Finch and I have created.

Chris Scott: Matt Finch's Ultimate Opiate Detox 4.0 is a six-module, 30-activity course that contains video lessons, written lessons, PDF downloads, worksheets, audios, and much more. It has everything you could possibly need to know to conquer opioid addiction in the easiest and most comfortable way possible.

Chris Scott: My own course, Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0, is the most cutting-edge resource for anyone who wants to transcend alcohol and build their best lives. To get these courses, to learn more, and to read testimonials, simply go to opiateaddictionsupport.com/ultimate; again, that's opiateaddictionsupport.com/ultimate. For Matt's course or for my course, go to fit-recovery.com/course; again, that's fit-recovery.com/course. You can also go to elevationrecovery.com to see the show notes for this episode.

Author

  • 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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