In episode 281 of the Elevation Recovery Podcast, Chris Scott and Matt Finch discuss some of the most common myths associated with alcohol, addiction, and recovery. They also offer ways to combat these myths about alcohol with proper knowledge and information!
Here are just a few of the myths about alcohol and addiction covered in this episode:
- “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic”
- “If you don’t go to AA but you’re abstaining from alcohol you’re a dry drunk”
- “If you stop going to AA meetings you’ll end up in jails, institutions, or dead”
- “Alcoholism is a lifelong spiritual disease that can only be arrested and never cured”
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Chris Scott: Whereas if they had repaired their biochemistry and their gut and their liver and their brain and maybe taken a more bird's eye view of their life and the infinite possibilities that we all have and changed course and got themselves cross addicted to better things such as exercise, taking care of yourself, getting a lot of sleep, and of course taking some nutrients, at the very least making your diet better so that you can get the macronutrients to repair and the micronutrients to repair. If you do all that, then you have a pretty good chance of healing and looking back on addiction as a maybe mysterious or silly or unfortunate phase of life, but also maybe something where you have a lot of positive feedback through the pain, and you learn from it and you grow from it.
Announcer: Thanks for tuning into the Elevation Recovery podcast, your hub for addiction recovery strategies, hosted by Chris Scott and Matt Finch.
Chris Scott: Welcome, everyone, to the Elevation Recovery podcast. Slightly different setting here today. Matt Finch is visiting me. And I'm Chris Scott, in case you haven't seen us before. Visiting me in Savannah. And it's good to be in person. It's good to be slightly dressed for dinner or for brunch.
Chris Scott: And yeah, we're looking forward to talking today about myths about alcohol, common myths, because there are so many of the myths that people just believe. I hear things all the time from people, just it's like, "I want to quit drinking, but if I do that, then I won't be able to go to restaurants anymore. I won't be able to go out and meet friends. If my friends want to meet at a bar, I can't do that. What do I do about brunch? I always have mimosas." To the point where I've even had people say, "If I don't have wine, I won't fall asleep." And some of the funnier ones, which I've mentioned before, "If I don't drink red wine, I won't even have normal bodily functions." I'll leave that to your imagination.
Chris Scott: But basically with addiction, your neural pathways become hijacked to some extent, not intractably or permanently, but powerfully temporarily. And you can break the cycle, but you start to associate alcohol with everything that you do in life. It's a progressive process. It might just be that you associated with going to parties first, then you have a tough, stressful period of life, and suddenly you're associating alcohol with going to sleep. And then suddenly, you're associating alcohol, as I once did, with just relieving stress whenever needed. And so I got to the point where I was drinking to avert panic attacks, which I didn't realize were actually caused by alcohol withdrawal. I would duck out of my office at 2:00 PM to go to a bar to have a quick shot of some horrible well liquor and duck under the bar in case my boss walked by. That's when I lived in New York. Because I thought alcohol was the only thing you could use for stress.
Chris Scott: And ironically, I didn't want to go get a prescription for benzodiazepines because I thought, well, no, those are addictive. I don't want to be addicted to anything. And I was in total denial about being addicted to alcohol. Now, then again, it's probably a good thing that I didn't get benzos at that time because there are more natural ways to rebalance your biochemistry over time. Obviously, they can be helpful in the short term, but probably best that I didn't have a dual addiction to alcohol and benzodiazepines, which stimulate the same system in the brain, the GABA system.
Chris Scott: With that said, I'll pass it off to Matt. As you can tell, we're both very relaxed. Matt's been here for a couple days. We've had a super optimized weekend, total opposite of the lives that we both used to live when I was addicted to alcohol. Matt was addicted to alcohol and opiates and God knows what else; pretty much everything. Nice little smorgasbord of mind altering things.
Matt Finch: That was garbage.
Chris Scott: Exactly. And this is nice too, because now we're not talking over each other in the same way that if we're on Zoom or if we're using another software and we're on opposite ends of the country, we have to patiently wait for each other to talk.
Matt Finch: Here, I could just cut your ass off.
Chris Scott: He can just hit me if he wants.
Matt Finch: Shut up. My turn.
Chris Scott: We got some MMA training the other day, we got some shooting at the range in, had some really good food, had a nice big steak last night, so yeah.
Matt Finch: And then some.
Chris Scott: Off to you.
Matt Finch: What do I want to pop this off with? Myths, common myths. I guess the biggest one or maybe the biggest two that pop into my head are, number one, the dichotomy or the myth along the lines of... And there's probably several smaller myths within this main genre of myths, and that is that people that don't go to recovery 12 step meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, other types of 12 step programs, there seems to be... And I think this is going down slowly over the years, but there seems to be, at least among many people, probably the backdrop of the mainstream recovery culture at large that seems to be embedded into the very fabric of our culture, is that if you quit drinking but you don't go to meetings, you're not working a program with your sponsor and reading the big book and doing service work and working the steps and going over the principles and all that jazz that works very, very well for many people, actually... I'm not sure the percentages, but if you think about in the 1930s, AA came out, so since then it's been getting close to a century. I know for a fact how many people that program has saved and helped and transformed is countless and countless and countless.
Matt Finch: But the point is, that's not the only program on the block. There is self-recovery, there's self-management and recovery training. That's smart recovery. And I think what Chris and I did when we quit drinking is both of us attended AA at the beginning in our early recovery when we really needed the most support and the most help, but then both of us just... And we didn't know each other back then, but both of us knew intuitively in our guts that that program wasn't for us long term. You see some people that they just live and breathe and love the program. They're that passionate about it, so of course lifelong membership could be a great idea for a lot of those people. For us, we just were like, something about this just doesn't feel right. I don't want to do this forever. There has to be another way.
Matt Finch: But so many people in society and at rehab centers and counselors, friends, and family, "Oh, you got to go to AA, otherwise you're going to go back to drinking." In fact, I've heard so many clients say, "Oh man, I'm doing great. I don't want to go back to AA. My wife," or my husband or whoever it is that's a loved one really wants them to go back to AA because they have some sobriety in the past with it. I see why people have this fear, well, you're going to relapse if you don't stick to the meetings. It's just a matter of time before you slip or before you relapse.
Matt Finch: And what's funny is that's just simply not true. If you think about it, how long has alcohol been around for on the planet earth? How long have humans been consuming alcohol? How long have people had the ability to become physically and mentally and emotionally dependent and adapted in need of alcohol? It's been so long.
Matt Finch: AA only came around in the 1930s, and even then when it first came out, for a long time, it wasn't all over the place yet people still, for so many ages, been able to quit drinking without going to AA, such as before the program ever came out, such as even modern day, say somebody lives 300 miles away from the closest AA meeting. That seems to be one of the biggest myths. And like I said, there's minor mess underneath this big myth is that if you don't go to AA, you're a dry drunk. That's one of them. If you don't go to meetings and worker program, you're a dry drunk and it's just a matter of time before you likely slip, relapse, end up in jails, institutions, and debt.
Matt Finch: I think one thing that we've proven and we've heard from so many other people that have proven it for themselves too that you don't need... Well, I'm not saying you personally, but not everyone needs not only not needs AA, but doesn't even need any type of organized either fellowship program or self-help program. Some people can quit drinking permanently and fully recover with just a therapist and maybe some lifestyle changes. Other people, maybe they need more intensive stuff like they need a really good counselor and a psychiatrist and a really great family support system and maybe a few other things. Depending on somebody's severity of alcohol use disorder, their length of time, their lifestyle, their personality, their beliefs, their genetics, their individual biochemical profile, their physical environment that they live in, their cultural and environmental upbringing, how many toxins they're putting in their body or they're breathing in, there's so many different variables. It's such a nuanced topic.
Matt Finch: One thing that Chris and I like to talk about a lot is one of the things, whether people are going to AA or not, or whatever they're choosing, the hierarchy of recovery is the bio, psycho, social, spiritual, environmental program of holistic recovery. The base of that pyramid, that hierarchy is biochemical, bio rebalancing, biological, physical, biochemical, physical brain, physical organs, physical digestive system, all physical things that when we optimize these and heal them and rebalance them and recalibrate them and regenerate them with physical things, whether you're moving your physical body such as high intensity interval training, or whether you're taking physical nutrients in the form of supplements or healthy foods, healthy water, you're getting the sunlight into your physical body and absorbing it.
Matt Finch: We are just joking around before this when we are testing the setup here, and I was saying if you're unbalanced, you need to rebalance. Chris even has a supplement company called Bio Rebalance Restore. Everyone that drinks, to at least some degree, is not as balance as they could be. And more often, they're probably very unbalanced such as needing alcohol to get that nice GABA boost and dopamine boost at a minimum. And depending on somebody's biochemical individuality and genetics, some people when they... There's a toxic byproduct of alcohol, which creates these, exorphins, these artificial endorphins. Some people, alcohol gives energy. Some people they drink alcohol and it's like a major sedative sleeping pill for them.
Matt Finch: There's lots of reasons to drink alcohol, but what we found through many years of lifestyle optimization and alcohol free lifestyle is that you can feel so much better than you do, one does under the influence of alcohol with only positive consequences, positive effects, no negative consequences. We've been doing things like infrared sauna. This is just in the last few days. Infrared sauna, steam room mixed martial arts gym training, fish tacos, outdoor nature walks with the dogs, cuddling, petting the dogs, tourist sight seeing, going up on that huge tower and looking at the view, sunsets and clouds, going for drives in nature, going on the shooting range with firearms and ammunition and target practice having great conversations, going out to eat, making food at home, eating blue eggs, drinking DRAM Adaptogenic CBD beverages.
Matt Finch: We have probably done more biochemical rebalancing optimizing strategies just in the last few days than I probably did the first year alcohol and drug free because now our referential index of all these different things we can drink, we can eat, we can think, we can do, places we can go, things that we can... These strategies and tactics that we can stack together, biohack stacks, noningestible and ingestible biohacks and stacks. You can get an abundance of dopamine, endorphin, GABA, serotonin, and you can also... So much brain derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, miracle growth for the brain.
Matt Finch: We have been feeling so good this whole time. I even was jet lagged when I first got here, didn't sleep much the first night, but then Chris got me a 60 minute massage from a woman that was probably either the best massage I've ever had or tied for the best massage. And then that night, I slept crazy good. I slept how many hours? 11 hours.
Chris Scott: 11 hours.
Matt Finch: 11 hours of sleep. And then I'm thinking, what if instead of all the things we did like mixed martial arts training and the massage and the tacos, yada, yada, yada, sunshine, what if I didn't do any of that but instead we went to a bar and drank a whole bunch? My sleep would've been horrible. The next day, I would've woke up feeling jittery, feeling shaky, feeling hypoglycemic and just sympathetic nervous system overdrive fight or flight. And thus, I would've likely wanted to drink some alcohol or take a benzodiazepine or two or three to calm me down. But the thing is that once you learn how to really take care of your body, your personal body, your personal brain for your personal personhood, your individual situation, all the variables I talked about earlier, it can be a fun process.
Matt Finch: You've talked about this a bunch, Chris, for people to become not only involved in their own health... Don't just take a doctor's word for it, like, okay, I'll just do everything that they say. Yeah, by all means have a doctor and do what they say. But also, it's when people take not just an interest but they take a passion, they have a passion of learning constant and never ending improvement of how to take care of themselves, how to take care of their brain, how to improve their mindset. This never ending improvement in all the different, important domains of life, that's one way that people can not only get recovery from addiction and sustain it but eventually, for a lot of people, we've seen this so many times, the more time and effort and qualitative and quantitative benefits and positive changes you make over the years, you can outgrow addiction, not just fully recover from it, but outgrow it so fully and so powerfully and so permanently that alcohol or drugs or whatever it is, shopping, gambling, overeating, pornography, it's no longer an issue. You've outgrown that.
Matt Finch: When we're little toddlers and babies and stuff, we go to the bathroom in our diapers. We don't know how to do that. We outgrow that. At the beginning, we can't even lift our necks up. We outgrow that. For a while, we're crawling but we can't stand up. Well, we outgrow that. Eventually, we start to walk and then we can learn to jog and then we can learn to run, then we can learn to sprint, then we can learn to lift off, fly and find that you can soar like an eagle. From that high vantage point looking down on everything, you get a much wider perspective of everything. And one comes to realize that alcohol should only be a phase of life. If people are addicted to alcohol or drugs or whatever it is, that shouldn't be a lifelong, immutable identity or archetype. That's a health disorder, a lifestyle disorder that is heavily biochemically based. And it just should be a phase that most people outgrow. Most people do.
Matt Finch: Most people that have problems with drinking or drugs, it's typically when they're younger. They start when they're younger, whether they're teenagers are in their 20s. They've done extensive research on this. Most people outgrow this by the time they're in their 30s, or most people outgrow the addictive phases without any type of professional or formalized or organized treatment, whether that's AA, inpatient or outpatient rehab, et cetera.
Chris Scott: Yeah, so what tends to happen a lot of the time is that people hit a bottom and they're unable to get the same benefits from alcohol or drugs that they got before, and so they begin to outgrow it. The problem in the vast majority of those cases is that they've done some biochemical damage that they never repair.
Chris Scott: And so what also tends to happen, not always, is that they will experience some so-called cross addiction to something else, either temporarily or for a bit of time maybe they'll return to alcohol at some point later in life. And it can seem like a perpetual struggle and it can seem like they have some disease, whereas if they had repaired their biochemistry and their gut and their liver and their brain and maybe taken a more bird's eye view of their life and the infinite possibilities that we all have and changed course and got themselves cross addicted to better things such as exercise, taking care of yourself, getting a lot of sleep and of course taking some nutrients, at the very least making your diet better so that you can get the macronutrients to repair and the micronutrients to repair. If you do all that, then you have a pretty good chance of healing and looking back on addiction as a maybe mysterious or silly or unfortunate phase of life, but also maybe something where you have a lot of positive feedback through the pain, and you learn from it and you grow from it.
Chris Scott: It's not the case that everyone outgrows addiction. It's also not the case that everyone experiences addiction and they're done with it by the end of their 20s. I'm pretty sure that had I not discovered nutrient repair, which we spent a lot of time talking about in this podcast and in my course, Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0, and private coaching for fit recovery, that if I had not discovered that, I would still be in a cycle well into my 30s of relapsing and periods of white knuckling abstinence and not knowing what was going on, not knowing why I had this visceral obsession with alcohol that may come and go for some people; they're more the binge type rather than the steady daily type. But that's still obviously a dysfunction of your neural pathways, and your brain has been hijacked. The evolutionary mechanisms that were meant to reward you for pleasurable things like eating and community, sense of tribe and getting out in the sun and being healthy and sex and everything else that you're supposed to be rewarded for for the perpetuation of the species, alcohol gives you a quick, artificial hit, and so that starts to replace everything. It starts to monopolize those neurotransmitter systems.
Chris Scott: Some people don't experience that until they're in their 30s, 40s, even 50s. I've had clients who haven't touched alcohol their whole lives, and all of a sudden their 65 and they retire, and suddenly they live maybe in a golf course style community and they're drinking way too much. And they never had made alcohol a priority in their life until then, and then suddenly it becomes a priority. That can happen later. It doesn't always. But even those people have... It's never too late. There's still time to reroute the obsessions in your life, your passions, your hobbies, whatever it is, your sense of purpose and also to kick start it with nutrient repair beginning with paying attention to the basics in your life: your sleep, your diet, your exercise, your sense of purpose, your sense of family and close friends or tribes, so to speak, because we are tribal creatures. Even if we're introverted, being in isolation is not a good thing. Especially in the last few years, there have been a lot of people who, due to the lockdown induced isolation, have started spending more time maybe on FaceTime or Zoom or talking on the phone and getting obliterated while they do it, and that becomes a habit.
Chris Scott: But yeah, I want to return to some of the myths about alcohol specifically, because that is the big myth about addiction recovery is that there's only one way to do it and it was invented in the 1930s, and before then, no one recovered; everyone was to drive drunk. I guess by that definition, I've been a dry drunk for eight years. Since 2014, I've been on a pink cloud. It's been the best phase of my life. And I can't imagine not being on this pink cloud. But good thing that it's not actually a pink cloud and I'm not actually a dry drunk because the way I would actually define a dry drunk is someone who is not actively drinking but they're actively obsessing about alcohol. They have discombobulated lifestyle, so to speak, that maybe they're going from sugar high to sugar withdrawal, because alcohol is a highly refined sugar so it's very common to switch from alcohol to sugar, that they never resolve the hypoglycemia. They have deficient levels of GABA, which is the calming chemical that alcohol stimulates. They have too much glutamate, which is the counterbalancing electrical activity inducing chemical in the brain and low levels of dopamine. And all of their dopamine laced neural pathways are associated with bad things.
Chris Scott: In my brief little abstinence periods back when I drank, if I was taking a break from drinking, I wanted other bad things, so I had to distract myself by going and getting three giant cheeseburgers at Wendy's, doing other terrible things. Not terrible, but not optimal things, we'll say; staying up too late. Drinking coffee at night was something I would sometimes do just to get a little dopamine hit. And I was addicted to coffee. I'd drink a pot and a half a day after I quit drinking. And I would also drink a liter of soda a day after I quit drinking, which was gross. I had never had a sweet tooth before that. You do need to normalize your biochemistry. It's not all biochemistry, as we know, because there's also the psychological, the social and the spiritual pillars.
Chris Scott: But to return back to the myths about alcohol, I think one of the big ones is that it's necessary to drink in order to have fun or to make other people interesting. It's very common for people to feel awkward going out to dinner or to a wedding or to a social event after they have quit drinking, or maybe they're taking an experimental break. Maybe they've just done three months in a residential rehab and they're going to AA all the time, and here they are at this event. Maybe they drag their sponsor along, or whatever. And the elephant in the room is that's alcohol everywhere.
Matt Finch: Why aren't you drinking?
Chris Scott: Yeah. And people are asking the question, and a lot of that is a result of projecting unease. If you didn't know about any of this alcohol addiction stuff, you'd never had more than a glass or two of wine and you're at an event where people are having a glass or two of wine to relax and someone is looking like they're shaky and uncomfortable, it would seem only natural to say, "Well, why don't you have a little bit of wine?" And of course that makes it more uncomfortable for the person.
Chris Scott: But what I found is that... And this sounds so cliche, but we talk about reframing alcohol, we talk about reframing your sense of self and your identity, rewiring your brain over time by accumulating new experiences with a new mindset, life is really about perspective. And I think one thing that unifies all of the various myths about alcohol, whether you think you need it to sleep, whether you think you need it to go out to an event, to make other people more interesting, to have energy, to do your chores... I used to think I needed alcohol to empty my dishwasher because it was boring. When I lived in New York, I needed to drink alcohol before I got in the elevator to go somewhere because what if there was someone there and we had an awkward conversation? Really social anxiety.
Chris Scott: Which also, I don't naturally have social anxiety. That was a revelation to me, that the social anxiety was created by the deficiency of GABA and the overactivity of glutamate. I was just always in the state of anxiety. But that of course infused all of my social events with a sense of unease. And so I concluded, well, I must have clinical social anxiety. Of course I didn't go get a diagnosis for that. If I had, they may have put me on some drugs, which could have been a bandaid solution but still wouldn't have fixed the root of the problem which was this neurotransmitter imbalance that can be fixed with the amino acids and then of course with reframing alcohol and starting to live a new life just practicing first with training wheels, and then eventually you start getting into a flow state where you're living a life that's totally different from the one before.
Chris Scott: But it is about perspective. Life is all about perspective. And it's easier to intellectually grasp something than it is to understand it on an experiential level, to have a visceral sense of how possible something is. When I worked in New York and in finance and I thought alcohol was necessary for everything from folding my laundry to going to a social event to solving a panic attack midday to going to sleep to making other people interesting, going out to dinner with colleagues that I didn't necessarily enjoy or I didn't like, all of that, the unifying theme was that I had a very confined view of my own self, of my own life, of the range of possibilities that I had at my disposal, when in reality, I should have taken a bird's eye view for all of those situations that I thought alcohol was necessary for, and I could have seen that we actually all have infinite possibilities, infinite courses of action.
Chris Scott: And I had to obliterate those objections to that bird's eye view, which would've been my life is I wear a suit in the morning. I put on a suit, I go sit in my cubicle in somewhat glamorous building in New York, and they pay me money, and then I have to do what they say. And I can't move because if I did, I would be homeless. And I can't do things that might be fun because I would not be at work, and then they would fire me and then I would be homeless, and so I'm stuck, I was stuck. I was stuck literally in a suit most of the time doing something I didn't enjoy.
Chris Scott: And a unifying theme for a lot of people who are addicted to alcohol or other drugs is that they feel trapped, they feel hopeless. And that's a psychological theme. I've almost never coached someone who didn't at least subconsciously feel trapped by something.
Chris Scott: Now, you don't necessarily have to be trapped in a suit working in finance. You can be trapped in a bad relationship. You can feel trapped consciously or subconsciously by isolation in that no one in the world wants to talk to me. I have no friends, and it's unbearable, and so therefore I need to drink. That would be another assumption that you would need to identify and reframe.
Chris Scott: And reframing is not just a process of changing your thoughts. That's the first step. It's also a process of changing your actions. You change your thoughts, you change your actions, you change your experiences, you change things from intellectual possibility to real experience. You accumulate those experiences with a new mindset and hopefully a new and increasingly rebalanced biochemistry, and that is the entire secret to changing your life.
Chris Scott: And depending on how much damage you've caused on a cellular or organ level or brain level from alcohol, you may need more intensive biochemical strategies. I had a client recently who was having some very severe symptoms. I couldn't tell if it was withdrawal or whatever, but very severe panic attacks, full body cramps, all of that stuff. It was mysterious. And then it turned out she had heavy metal poisoning after a number of tests. And to her credit, she went proactively and got tested and found out this is what's going on. When you have heavy metal toxicity, you can't efficiently absorb supplements or a lot of drugs either. And once she did a protocol to remove the heavy metals, supplements started working a bit better. She started doing much better. It was like she switched into a different plane of existence. It's like a detective case and you have to figure out what is the missing link that I'm not addressing?
Chris Scott: And for me, I don't think I had heavy metal toxicity, although I'm sure that my organs were not as healthy as they could have been. I definitely had alcohol and acid aldehyde toxicity, acid aldehyde being the number one most toxic byproduct of alcohol, which if you were to take it in isolation in a pretty small dose would actually be fatal, but that's what's floating around your body the next day after you drink. It's an inevitable-
Matt Finch: Yummy.
Chris Scott: ... result of drinking. Yeah, exactly. I was not biochemically optimized. I had inflammation in my gut, inflammation in my liver, inflammatory cytokines going to my brain, binding to receptors, keeping serotonin and GABA from functioning the way that they should. Probably a number of other things. Thousands of different biochemical processes. We don't have to identify all of those things to know that we can make some big changes that will filter down, have a cascade of positive effects.
Chris Scott: And so suddenly, eight years later I'm living a totally different lifestyle. I'm probably still doing things consciously or subconsciously to make up for the fact that I might have a slight deficiency, genetic perhaps, in producing things like GABA, and so that's why I always thought that I needed alcohol. Now, in high school, I would have a little bit of trepidation about some social events, and I quickly discovered that alcohol fixed that temporarily, obviously with too great of a cost, ultimately.
Chris Scott: But now, we've got the CBD sparkling water. We've got several different brands of that. I probably have one or two cans, sometimes more every day. I have a deep tissue massage every... Well, I should say whatever her specialty massage is that you experienced the other day every two weeks. My body will tell me. If I haven't gotten a massage in like three or four weeks, my body will say, while I'm trying to fall asleep, I'm like, there's something off. Oh, that's right, I haven't had the massage in a certain amount of time. I have these new neural pathways and these new mini withdrawal things for healthy things. If I haven't been out in the sun and gotten at least sun in my eyes, because a lot of the vitamin D that you get from the sun is activated by getting it in your eyes. Not by staring at the sun, but at least some peripheral contact. Of course, I'm not saying go out and stare at the sun or get eye problems. You want to be moderate with that. But it's very important to do that.
Chris Scott: And we were talking about the ultimate podcast studio the other day, which I would love to construct at some point, having in the backdrop things that I would love to use on a daily basis such as the infrared sauna. So many benefits for reducing inflammation, improving mood. And then a cold plunge pool, maybe an Aerodyne bike there. And so I get up in the morning, right before the podcast do all out on the Aerodyne bike, which is exhausting. I've only done that once. I have a buddy who has it in his garage that he turned into a gym. And I had to lay down on the floor. I was heaving afterwards. And I have a pretty good cardio capacity. Resting heart rate's 45, 46, something like that, so pretty good. But still, all out on that bike for one minute, totally changed the course of my day. It was like leaping into a different plane of existence just from that. And I was euphoric for two hours afterwards.
Chris Scott: And you don't have to have a bunch of fancy equipment to do this. I had a call the other day with someone who lives near a lake up north, and he started to tell me over the course of the conversation, "You know what, actually, maybe I take for granted how beautiful the place is that I live. And I'm right next to a lake." And I was saying, "Yeah, go jump in that lake every morning. That's what I would be doing." I would jump in the lagoons around here in Savannah, except there are alligators in them so I have to take the jet ski somewhere where there's no alligators.
Chris Scott: But anyway, I digress. The unifying theme for all of these alcohol myths, regardless of what you think, whether we've mentioned your myth or not, I think the most common ones are that I need it to be more interesting, I need it to make other people more interesting, I need it to be confident, that liquid courage. Which is really a weak mindset, if you think about it, that you need to ingest something, to give you an artificial state in order to be brave, that itself is not a brave thing, although both of us succumbed to that myth at one point in our lives. Whiskey Finch, I think is what you said. Whenever you would drink whiskey, you'd go crazy.
Matt Finch: When I would start drinking Jack Daniel's whiskey particularly, it wasn't long before I'd black out. And then there was a demon, I believe, that took over. Since I was unconscious and since the whiskey affected me the way it did, made me so rowdy, I firmly believe that I must have been possessed by some demon because the stories I heard of myself... And when it first started to kick in, before I would black out, when it first started to kick in, I remember I'd go to the bathroom if I had to go to the bathroom real quick while I was drinking, and I would do this thing with my eyes where my eyes would be like popping out of my head. And I would whisper to myself. I would look into the mirror myself and look all crazy. And I would get off on it. I don't want to give you nightmares.
Matt Finch: But that wasn't just alcohol stuff, that was demonic possession, either literally or figuratively. I have no idea how it works. Maybe it was just part of my unconscious mind. Maybe it was my id, my child getting... And he hadn't played enough, and then all of a sudden you let him out.
Matt Finch: Anyways, whiskey Finch did the worst things ever. And the reason that I drank back then was mostly due to social and generalized anxiety. It was due to wanting to fit in and it was due to not... Big part of it was not feeling comfortable nor confident nor even just okay in my own skin, in my own life, in my own brain, and so I wanted alcohol to give me that alcohol induced hypomania symptoms of energy and confidence and just more belief in my ability to have good conversations with people, to make an impression on the opposite sex.
Matt Finch: And to also, because I was so introverted back then, and still am, but in that age that I was in my early 20s, mid-20s, as much as an introvert as I was, I was with people all the time. I hardly ever hung out by myself. I was just always doing stuff with other people in that age group, going to bars and parties, yada yada, yada. That was not conducive for a healthy lifestyle for me as such an introvert. Yeah, so there's a lot of huge things.
Matt Finch: I also wanted to mention the myth of if you can't control your drinking, then it's a lack of willpower. That myth is going down, but it's still rampant all over the world in some places more than others. But if you can't control your drinking, if you can't drink responsibly, you have a character defect and you have a lack of willpower. Why can't you just stop after two beers? Why can't you just have one glass of wine? How come you can't control it?
Matt Finch: So many people still to this day just don't understand. And when they look at somebody, whether it's a loved family member or a friend or a coworker, when they see this inability to control drinking behavior, or when they hear about it, or when they see or hear about the negative consequences of the person not being able to control the drinking, a lot of people just don't understand and they think it must be a moral deficit, must be a character deficit, must be just a lack of willpower. There must be something off about them.
Matt Finch: That's a myth, though. It is not a moral deficit, character deficit or defect or any of those things. It is definitely an area that one would probably want to get a hold of, fix it however they can, but it's not... And it might be a temporary deficiency, weakness of some kind, but most of that is biochemical, because it's not like people are drinking it for the taste. "Oh, I just can't control by drinking because it tastes so good." If it tasted the best thing in the world but it didn't bind to those GABA receptors and boost those mood boosting neurochemicals, people probably wouldn't drink it, or wouldn't drink it very often. I know there's non-alcoholic beers and beverages, and so those don't boost the GABA, dopamine, et cetera. But you don't see people, "Oh, I can't control my O'Doul's."
Chris Scott: You have 20 O'Doul's.
Matt Finch: I just went on an O'Doul's bender and it's because, while it may taste quite like other beer, it has what? Just micro doses, not enough alcohol in there to get a psychoactive effect, psychoactive buzz.
Matt Finch: The whole main thing here is brains. We have brains. Anybody that has a brain can get addicted to alcohol, to drugs and anything else. Anyone that has a brain. That's the only prerequisite. There's no demographics or psychographics or anything else that are 100% or even close to it in people with addictions. The only thing that's 100% is they have a brain. It's the only thing you need to have. You have a brain, then you can get addicted. Now, genetic vulnerabilities and other vulnerabilities can definitely increase people's chances of getting addicted to drinking or drugs.
Matt Finch: But just wanted to throw that out there. And I know we've talked about that a lot is it's not a moral deficit. I remember feeling so much guilt, so much shame, like I was so weak, like I was so deficient, like I was so defective. That's a really difficult combination of feelings to feel and feel on a regular basis.
Matt Finch: I wish I had someone back then to tell me what was going on in my brain, what was going on with the neurotransmitters, what was going on with hypoglycemia and all these other things with the prefrontal cortex and the midbrain and the amygdala. Since I didn't know any of that stuff, not even one of those subjects or topics or even parts of topics, alcohol was cunning, baffling and powerful. And I was under its spell. I was under its orders, and I would obey and hit my head on the wall, "I can't believe I relapsed again. I can't believe I went on another bender." Just how does this keep happening?
Matt Finch: Well, what we're teaching you today is knowledge therapy. The more knowledge you have about alcohol or drug addiction and recovery and treatment approaches, naturals, semi-synthetics, fully synthetic approaches, professional, on your own, free self-help, there's so many things. The more you can learn about this stuff with the foundation of treatment and recovery of biochemical restoration... Like I said, we all have brains. Alcohol and drugs are physical substances that create physical changes and physical symptoms in our physical organ, physical side effects, physical withdrawal effects, physical physical, biochemicals, biological. Lots of different ways to say it, but it's not just a lifelong, spiritual malady. And it is definitely heavily biochemical for some people more than others, and for some people less than others.
Chris Scott: Yeah. And predisposition, genetic or otherwise, trauma induced perhaps, is not predestine. The seeds of addiction won't take root if the soil is healthy enough to prevent that nasty weed from growing in the first place. And vice versa is true. If you have really optimized soil, in other words, environment, biochemistry, sense of self, psychology, sense of spirituality, then you can allow the more beautiful seeds to blossom and take root over time and crowd out the nasty weeds of addiction from growing. I think that's a useful way of looking at it and also a useful way of looking at the amount of power that you actually do have over your own life. I don't believe that anyone is powerless.
Chris Scott: Now, if you are in the throes of a nasty withdrawal addiction spiral, then it may seem as if you're powerless. And indeed, you do have to address your biochemistry and address the whole bio psychosocial spiritual pillar to some extent, but you can get out of that trap. I know exactly what it feels like to think that I need alcohol more than I need air or water because it does neurologically get embedded in your brain and in your psyche on the same level as those things that you do need evolutionarily and in order to survive. But that's a deceptive trick. You don't need it.
Chris Scott: Now, of course you can have complications from alcohol withdrawal, severe alcohol withdrawal. And a lot of people ask me about this. And I've had some private clients who drink two glasses of wine a night, "Am I going to have a seizure if I quit?" Most of the time, no, probably not if you're drinking at that level. But everyone's different; always best to have a plan. Consult a doctor if you have a medical emergency before quitting because I know a lot of people will listen to this and they'll get really pumped up, but I don't recommend cold turkey as the best way to quit. Absolutely, it can be a medical emergency.
Chris Scott: But after a couple days, usually, sometimes up to a week... I think I was on a tapered dose of Ativan for a week. I was able to get my brain back. Everything was foggy and black and white and I was a bit depressed and I still had some anxiety, but at least I knew that I was in the clear to the extent that I could start rebuilding my life and allow those better seeds to start growing, plant them and protect them from the nasty addiction neural pathways that wanted to take over my brain again. And so, yeah, I think it's really about taking a bird's eye view of your life and the range of possibilities, because it's so easy to get stuck and have a myopic sense of who you are, what you do, what your routines are, who you associate with, where you live, and all of these things you have the power to change.
Chris Scott: And of course your biochemistry you have the power to change and I can see why in the 1930s people would've thought... This is before we knew about the biochemistry. We knew a little bit, but not what we know today. We didn't know about amino mass therapy, we didn't know about the vital role of minerals and vitamins and helpful, calming herbs and other things that we can use to defeat that nasty seemingly baffling and cunning biochemical component. Vack then, it seemed like just a terrible immutable characteristic perhaps, or disease, permanent disease. But I don't think that's the best way to view it now that we have other tools that can help.
Chris Scott: And unfortunately, modern society is not helpful in the context of addiction, especially the last several years with economic dislocation and lockdowns and everything that's going on. Seems like all the news cycle goes at the speed of light. It's easy to see a headline and start freaking out. I highly suggest that if you are trying to make this change, try to control your focus and focus on things that are empowering and helpful and calming for you. Don't get caught up in our insane society and everything that's going on. As tempting as that is, focus on things that are productive for you and make you happy. In order to change the world, anyway, you have to focus on yourself first and be in a good spot.
Chris Scott: It's really important to control your frames, control your focus, and try to cultivate a perspective that's radically different from the one that you have but in a positive way, because at the end of the day, if you don't see alcohol as offering any benefits or solutions to the things that you've thought you needed it for because you've accumulated all these experiences, you've gone to parties, you've realized, you know what? I don't have to stay past the reception for weddings if there's no one there I like being... Or you know what? It's okay if there's only one person that I enjoy talking to at this party. And if they have to go home, I'm going to go home. Or you know what? I actually realize that I can discover a sober charisma when I'm with other people, and I'm cultivating that.
Chris Scott: And if you do that, which is something we've done, then you'll realize that it's so rare for people to actually have charisma in the absence of alcohol. Even the so-called social drinkers can be somewhat psychologically dependent on alcohol at events in certain contexts because they think they need it to break the ice, but then you realize that, in fact, it's like when you're a little kid and you go to a slumber party and there are 10 other little kids. Everyone spends 10 minutes looking around at each other nervously. And an hour later, guess what. People are wrestling and laughing and making jokes and having a great time.
Matt Finch: Without alcohol.
Chris Scott: And they didn't have alcohol to do that. That's a human nature. That was a little epiphany that I had about me being interesting or other people being interesting to the point where sometimes I would show up slightly late to events, or fashionably late, not because I wanted to appear cool but because I wanted to wait until people had broken the ice so I could just slide right into the party and not have to deal with the beginning, the first 10 or 20 minutes when people are... The alcohol gives the illusion of breaking the ice, but we're social creatures. The ice gets broken.
Chris Scott: And then of course, I've had certain events where I didn't necessarily want to be there or I wasn't a huge... the people weren't my kind of people. And I said, "You know what? I have control over my life. No one's forcing me to be here. I'm not going to go to jail if I go home. I can go back to the hotel and go in the sauna or just go to bed, whatever, or I can go home and hang out with my dogs. That's okay, too." There tends to be an illusion of lack of control, where in reality, there is no lack of control, there's actually more control than but you haven't exercised it. And that unifies a number of the myths.
Chris Scott: But again, it's all about perspective and experience that's garnered with a new mindset, with a, if not rebalanced, then consistently rebalancing biochemistry. And all of the things that you and I have done the past few days are now part of my routine. And in some sense, I'm lucky to live in a beautiful place. I'm lucky to be able to do what I do and I'm not tied to an office chair all the time wearing a suit.
Chris Scott: And I've had, actually, some people... This is a not uncommon objection. They'll say, "Well, Chris, your method of recovery was starting Fit Recovery so that you had more time to do other things." Now, there's a couple follows with that. The first is I work harder now than I did in finance, I just do it on my own time. The second thing is that it's not necessary to start something like Fit Recovery or even to be an entrepreneur to recover. We've had tons of clients and course members who don't do that or who already love their career paths or their jobs or have a sense of purpose if they're retired or whatever it is. There's an infinite number of things that anyone can do, and it's your job... The only person who can do this is you, is to find what's your optimal life path? What are your optimal day-to-day routines? Keep tweaking, keep experimenting, because everyone's different. Everyone has different biochemicals, psychological, social, and spiritual needs. Some people are introverts, some people are extroverts. Some people seem to be wired to need exercise more than other people. Some people are endomorphs, some people are ectomorphs, and so on and so on.
Chris Scott: I feel like the whole process of life and living a fulfilling life rather than some cookie cutter thing or rather than some old ultimatum or dictum about attending a certain number of meetings or whatever it is that is the cookie cutter thing, it should just be keep experimenting. It's a constant and never ending process, as Tony Robbins might say, of improvement, but also of experimenting with how you can be so healthy and happy and fulfilled and well rested and optimized and energized and motivated and disciplined and channeled into doing something that gives you a sense of natural euphoria that something like artificial intoxication with alcohol just begins to feel totally obsolete.
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. And if you've 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. And it has everything you could possibly need to know to conquer opioid addiction in the easiest and most comfortable way possible. 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.
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