Heather and Amy are identical twin sisters that both developed alcohol use disorder when they were 30 years old, which occurred approximately four months after they tragically lost both of their parents in a car accident.
Prior to the accident, the twins both had generalized anxiety disorder and Heather also struggled with intermittent depression and migraine headaches.
After the traumatic loss of both of their parents, Heather and Amy began drinking more often and it quickly escalated to:
- consuming too much too fast
- occasional blackouts
- and eventually physiological and psychological dependence
Heather was living with her husband in New Jersey and Amy was living in Florida. They both were in regular contact with each other during the year following the loss of their parents and they both decided to get help for their alcoholism at the same time.
The twins opted to use the buddy system for accountability and to emotionally support each other throughout the process of recovery.
They started on January 1st… together.
- Medical Detox For Alcohol Withdrawal Then 90 Meetings In 90 Days Of AA To Stay Sober
- Lorazepam 3-Day Protocol For Alcohol Detox Then Individualized Treatment Plan With Biochemical Restoration Foundation To Stay Sober
- Disparities In Twins’ 90-Day Alcohol Recovery Outcomes
- Heather’s 90-Day Alcohol Treatment Outcome
- Amy’s 90-Day Alcohol Treatment Outcome
- The Moral of the Story?
Medical Detox For Alcohol Withdrawal Then 90 Meetings In 90 Days Of AA To Stay Sober
Heather went to a brief medically-assisted alcohol detox where she was overseen by doctors and nurses and administered medications to mitigate alcohol detox symptoms.
She was also administered intravenous (IV) electrolytes, B-vitamins, and other nutrients.
Heather stated that it was “a mostly easy detox – although she was exhausted and emotional.”
Then she returned home with a few days of alcohol-free time and attended her first AA meeting, as this was suggested by her doctor at the detox program she had just been a patient at.
Per the treatment plan’s written action steps, her goal was to do the recommended “90 AA Meetings in 90 days” protocol, find a sponsor (who had to be female), get a Big Book and start reading it, and take suggestions from her sponsor and stay sober.
Lorazepam 3-Day Protocol For Alcohol Detox Then Individualized Treatment Plan With Biochemical Restoration Foundation To Stay Sober
Meanwhile, Amy in California was prescribed 3 days’ worth of lorazepam (brand name Ativan) from her psychiatrist to detox from alcohol safely at home.
The small dose of this alcohol withdrawal-attenuating medicine 3-4x per day was plenty strong enough and assisted Amy to feel decent and even get some sleep, too.
After Amy’s alcohol detox using the 3-day benzodiazepine approach overseen by her psychiatrist, she was also supposed to do the 90 meetings in 90 days method of staying sober from alcohol.
However, Amy’s intuition was sending her strong messages that “AA was not the way for her.”
Amy is a highly introverted person and intuited that spending the next 90 days around groups of strangers would not be the ideal recovery plan for her, personally.
She was afraid to tell Heather, yet after a little procrastination, Amy called her sister and told her that her gut was telling her not to use the AA method.
And to Amy’s pleasant surprise, Heather’s response was totally chill and she was on board with a different plan.
“What a relief!” Amy shouted.
“Well, what are you going to do for treatment instead of AA?” Heather asked curiously.
Amy smiled, took a deep breath, and shared her ideas with Heather. “I was looking for recovery podcasts and found one that talks about biochemical rebalancing and how it’s the missing link to alcohol and drug recovery. I guess they use things like supplements, diet, and exercise plus other stuff to help your brain repair from the damage alcohol or drugs did to us. It sounds awesome!”
“So my plan is to listen to episodes of their Elevation Recovery Podcast Monday-Friday as there are hundreds of episodes for me to catch up on, order some of the alcohol recovery supplements like B-complex and amino acids, etc., and use a new journal to write out in detail a new vision for my life, a plan for the next 90 days with biochemical repair, addressing my anxiety disorder and grief plus alcohol recovery treatment with my therapist, and hiring my best friend to help me get fit as she’s a personal trainer.”
“That sounds great, sissy!!!” Heather exclaimed.
Disparities In Twins’ 90-Day Alcohol Recovery Outcomes
At the end of those 90 days following Heather and Amy’s alcohol detoxes, the twins were still alcohol-free. However, that was pretty much the only similarity of their individual outcomes.
Heather’s 90-Day Alcohol Treatment Outcome
Heather, who utilized the 90 AA meetings in 90 days approach (along with ‘working a strong program’) to staying sober was experiencing severe anxiety and on the times her anxiety was under control, she often had depression.
Heather’s energy was low most of the time and her mood swings were all over the place. Her sleep was on and off and she was chronically stressed.
She was also self-conscious about her looks as her skin was dry and red and she had gained 12 pounds in 90 days, which she attributed largely to craving processed sugars, carbs, and high-fat foods and drinks on a daily basis (and giving into most of these cravings).
Thus, Heather was three months sober from alcohol but the state of her physical, mental, and emotional health was suffering terribly.
She had attended 106 AA meetings in 90 days yet also:
- didn’t exercise
- binged on carbs and sweets and fats
- didn’t take supplements
- didn’t drink a lot of water but instead drank lots of AA coffee with packets of artificial sweeteners and flavors
- partook in all of the celebratory cakes, cookies, brownies, muffins, danishes, cupcakes, doughnuts, and more
- smoked a half pack of cigarettes per day while attending AA meetings and hanging out with her sponsor at a coffee shop after meetings
The majority of other AA members at the meetings Heather attended engaged in the above-mentioned habits and within no time flat… Heather had adopted these habits, too.
Amy’s 90-Day Alcohol Treatment Outcome
Amy, on the other hand, who was also three months sober from alcohol, had a much different health outcome.
Along with her twice-weekly sessions with her therapist to work on anxiety, alcohol recovery, and grief from losing parents, she had been:
- working out three days a week for an hour and getting trained by her best friend in cardio, strength training, and stretching
- getting a full-body 60-minute deep tissue massage once monthly
- Taking seven different supplements per day that included things like amino acids, botanicals, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, enzymes, and probiotics
- drinking plenty of alkaline-ionized reverse-osmosis water per day
- ending her morning showers with freezing cold water for two minutes
- taking hot Epsom salt and botanical essential oil baths three nights per week
- sweating in the steam room at her gym a couple of times per week
- attending a yoga class every Sunday morning
- eating a mostly ketogenic and organic whole food diet with high micronutrient density
At the end of those 3 months, Amy’s mental and emotional health matched her outside physical appearance.
She was fit and confident.
She was still grieving the loss of their parents, however, the healing process was flowing as it was supported by her biochemical restoration foundation of treatment.
Since Amy addressed and supported her biochemical restoration foundation of treatment with supplements, diet, exercise, and several other therapies, her post-acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms subsided quickly and her generalized anxiety disorder followed suit by stabilizing shortly after that.
Within six weeks post-alcohol detox Amy’s nervous system had stabilized and she was really starting to feel like her old self again (and optimizing her physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness).
It also seemed like Amy was getting daily compliments from friends, co-workers, Facebook friends, and even strangers on how healthy, radiant, fit, and confident she appeared.
That consistent positive reinforcement helped Amy to keep going with it and it also helped to support and strengthen the new empowering identity she was growing into (through the adoption of new habits and behaviors she was doing consistently).
The Moral of the Story?
The first moral of this fictional story is: Regardless of the treatment approach, a person utilizes for substance detox and recovery – if you don’t focus on supplements, diet, and fitness (what I call the ‘Key 3’) at a minimum, it’s entirely possible to be sober yet be miserable for weeks, months, or longer.
And since at the four-month milestone Heather finally had enough of feeling so bad and got drunk on wine then proceeded to drink daily again from the next day onward…
The second moral of the story is: If you don’t utilize biochemical restoration in your drug or alcohol recovery plan, it’s entirely possible that you won’t have the willpower to stay sober long-term when going through life with a neglected brain.
Matt Finch is the founder of Opiate Addiction Support, co-founder of Elevation Recovery, a Certified Strategic Intervention Coach and Fit Recovery Coach, author, an instructor of online addiction recovery courses that thousands of students have taken, a former Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor, and a Professional Member of the Alliance for Addiction Solutions (AAS).