Katie Lain & Chris Scott: Biochemical Repair During Alcohol Recovery

This episode was hosted by Katie Lain, the co-founder of Thrive Alcohol Recovery, a program for helping others get back to a balanced relationship with alcohol. She interviews Chris Scott of Fit Recovery, and they discuss the importance of biochemical repair, nutrient repair, and lifestyle changes in regards to recovery. 

About Katie Lain

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

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Katie Lain: When we're dependent on alcohol or stuck in that, it really deceives you into thinking that you need it and for me, there was no conversation. It was just like I really believe that I needed alcohol to have fun and I needed it to be socially fun to be around or to cope with this or that. It deceives you, and I think we can be stuck in that trap for so long and to even start to get a glimpse out of it, that's where we can start to really see the change or the possibility of the future.

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

Katie Lain: Welcome, everybody. It's Katie and I are here today with a special guest. I have with me, Chris Scott. Chris is someone that I've known for probably a couple of years now or so, or at least I've been aware of who you are and I always go to your website Fit Recovery for information, because you have such a great library of information on there about different natural supplements and ways to overcome problem drinking. I know that's a big part of your story and is what you offer at Fit Recovery and why you started Fit Recovery. So did you want to just start by telling us a little bit about where did Fit Recovery come from and why did you start it?

Chris Scott: So, first of all, really glad to be talking to you again. We had a really great discussion with the distinguished Dr. John Umhau, always a lot of fun recently, and yes, I've been following you for quite some time as well. I want to commend you on your work with the Sinclair Method because that's something that was the first thing I learned after I quit drinking that pissed me off that I hadn't heard of it when I actually quit drinking. I wanted to try it, but it was too late. I had already been abstinent for a few months by the time I figured that out. As far as Fit Recovery, that began as a humble little blog project. I just decided that I would get some distraction and maybe some fulfillment from writing down my thoughts. As my thinking about alcohol recovery evolved, I had spent time in inpatient rehab and professionally detoxed. I had been drinking up to a handle of day of hard alcohol. By the time I quit, that was a process of gradual increase that started when I was in late high school, early college.

Chris Scott: Daily drinking became the norm for me after probably six or seven years of doing that. Now, I had spans of drinking daily, but then I had stopped for a while and I'd be like, "Well, I'm fine. Whatever." Then I got to the point where if I didn't drink first I was bummed out, just emotionally down. Then if I didn't drink, my left hand would start shaking, always my left hand for some reason, then both hands, and then everything would start to shake. Then I ended up having hallucinations, potentially seizures, the whole periods of blur, brain zaps, terrible symptoms, terrible withdrawal, so I had to medically detox. But for me, the traditional 12-step oriented AA program was not enough, and I needed biochemical support. So I gradually figured out how to use nutrient repair to resolve the imbalances and deficiencies that were lingering from years of abuse. I should say, it's not just people like me who drank so heavily who need biochemical repair, it's arguable that I needed it more than someone who was maybe having three glasses of wine every other night. However, there's a spectrum of alcohol use disorder.

Chris Scott: There's a spectrum of deficiencies and imbalances, and it's potentially the case that someone who's been drinking a bottle of wine a night for 30 years was in a worse spot than me, because I had a relatively short duration. Ten years in the grand scheme of things is not that long compared to the amount of time that a lot of people spend drinking. I have a lot of private clients and course members in their 50s, 60s, 70s even 80s and 90s who have joined my program, and a lot of them have been drinking since they were 15. But most of them, almost no one, I say almost, but almost no one drank the amount that I drank by the time I quit. So I figured I had a unique perspective because I had gone through all of the alleged types of alcohol addiction, the binger, self-styled wine connoisseur, heavy social drinker, solo drinker, someone who drinks in isolation, and really, all-day drinker by the time I quit. So I understood all of those perspectives.

Chris Scott: I don't necessarily think it's true that everyone will progress through all of those phases for various, probably complex biochemical and psychological reasons, some people stay stuck for life in one phase. For some people, it's not that progressive, it's just really detrimental over time. For a lot of people though, it does become worse over time and there are reasons for that. That's one of many things that I try to explain on my blog, in my course, in my podcast, the Elevation Recovery Podcast. So to answer your question more succinctly, a fear of recovery came from just my desire to, at first, distract myself and then hopefully become fulfilled helping other people. It really follows a series of epiphanies that I had about what I felt were the missing links in traditional or mainstream approaches; the first of those being fitness, just the simple epiphany that I felt better after I worked out and yet when I was in inpatient rehab, a lot of the counselors would actually actively discourage working out on the grounds that it could become a cross-addiction.

Chris Scott: Anything that brood dopamine is inherently suspicious in their view, so that led me into questioning other things. They actively discouraged supplementation because they didn't want you to get cross-addicted through protein powder, which in retrospect, is ridiculous. You need lot of protein to repair your liver, and protein contains amino acids that you need as precursors for the neuro-chemicals that make you feel better. So there are all these things that I was learning that were missing links, missing gaps, and I just wanted to share those with people. So ultimately, that turned into my book, Drinking Sucks, which I can't read it anymore because there's so much I want to add to it, so I have to keep myself from looking at it. It's 164-page manifesto, mostly just a optimism and motivation boost, but with an introduction to why nutrient repair is necessary. A lot of my beliefs about addiction have evolved since I wrote that book, but a lot of people still find it to be a helpful intro to Fit Recovery and the way that I think about these things.

Chris Scott: Fortunately, the Zeitgeist has kind of followed me through this, so it was interesting. While I was building Fit Recovery, we had all these articles come out for a so-called normies, the normal people, about the importance of gut health, the importance of reducing inflammation, "Oh, my God. CBD is great. All these things, and I was like, "Well, why does there seem to be like a gate and a moat around the so-called addicts? Why aren't they getting this information? They need it more than anyone." You can talk to Dr. John Umhau, about the prevalence of leaky gut and dysbiosis in people who have been drinking toxic alcohol that's literally eroding their digestive tract and causing inflammation, inflammatory cytokines in the liver, inhibiting neuro transmission in the brain and yet, so the normal people are doing all these things that, or the so-called normal people, I don't really think there's that much of a distinction, but they're getting all this awesome some info and it's just somehow not really making its way in a specialized way, which it should, and in an emphasized way for the people who I thought needed it most.

Chris Scott: But it is nice to see, finally, I think two years after I wrote some articles about the importance of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids for alcohol recovery, an article on Healthline appeared, which is a very well-regarded medical blog. I don't remember the headline verbatim, but it was something like, "Scientists find that supplementation can help with alcohol recovery," and I was like, "Yes, finally. Maybe this will cause a change in the institutional models for rehab centers." In my opinion, all it really did was cause them to pay lip service to the concepts such that they could then rope people in who are searching for these things on Google and then say, "Okay, well, come to our place. We'll detox you and we'll bus you to free meetings." Well, where's the biochemical repair? "Oh, well, don't worry about that. We already got you, so you'll be fine. Just pray," or whatever.

Chris Scott: So I think that the appeal for a lot of people of my course, Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0, is that it's a vast amalgamation of these things that I've discovered over the years, and not just me. Now, we have a great team of people at Fit Recovery, Matt Finch, Tana Peaco, I could go on, but there are a number of really cool people who have had similar epiphanies, and also I've learned from like Dr. Umhau, like you and Claudia Christian who've been really helping people discover and use the Sinclair Method. So it's like an open ended non-judgmental system with nutrient repair as the cornerstone, because I do believe, personally, and if there is any piece of so-called dogma in Fit Recovery, it's that maybe one of the primary lessons you should learn from having an attachment with a toxin that you've been putting into your body is that it matters what you put into your body. So why don't we try to put other things into your body that help to heal you from all of that time that you spent disrupting it?

Katie Lain: So well explained. So on the most basic level, can you tell us, for someone who's brand new to this concept, what is nutrient repair and what happens if we're not focused on that as we're drinking less, let's say, on the Sinclair Method, or even if we've quit drinking, what is nutrient repair and why is it so important that we focus on that?

Chris Scott: Nutrient repair, it has other names, biochemical repair, biochemical restoration, it's simply the use of targeted supplementation and diet changes, and you could argue lifestyle changes as well, but we'll say targeted supplementation and diet changes to promote healing and recovery and by biochemical balance. The root of the issue is that people who are imbalanced or deficient in crucial nutrients have a hard time summoning the energy and the optimism to function normally or to recover proactively. So it's really hard to sit in a meeting or to sit in therapy or to improve your relationships or heal trauma if you have a severe deficiency in GABA, which would be the primary calming neurotransmitter. I definitely had a deficiency in GABA, that's why my hands were shaking. I didn't know it at the time, but alcohol, for example, I think GABA is a good neurotransmitter to focus on it.

Chris Scott: I'll try not to get too into weeds, but when you drink alcohol repeatedly, you're increasing GABA activity, but you're actually depleting your long- term reserves of GABA. So when you drink, because ethanol structurally is similar to the molecules of natural GABA that your brain would create, your brain says, "All right, well, this keeps coming at 5:00 PM every day or all day or whenever, every two days, so that's going to simulate our GABA receptors and make us feel calm, so we can just turn the dial down on natural production." Now, GABA works in concert with another neurotransmitter called glutamate, which does the opposite. It's not bad, but glutamate increases electrical activity in the brain and GABA dampens it. So the situation you have when GABA is turned down is that you have an excess of glutamate, you have too much electrical activity in the brain. You can get the shakes. You can have seizures. Seizures are caused by an excess of glutamine and a deficiency of GABA.

Chris Scott: So that's a short-term deficiency that usually is addressed by giving someone a benzodiazepine like Ativan or Librium or Xanax, although that's shorter acting and not ideal, but so benzodiazepines typically would be subbed in. You would be tapered off of those and a lot of people assume that the problem's fixed, but there's something called post-acute withdrawal that can last for up to a year after you quit drinking, which for many people involves a deficiency of GABA among other things. So they're not at risk of a seizure from low GABA, they've started maybe to produce a little bit more. They've maybe broken the acute attachment to alcohol, and yet they're feeling anxious. I know I had this because I found it difficult to walk into a grocery store and look the clerk in the eye for three weeks after I got out of inpatient rehab, because I was nervous and I was shaky. I never had social anxiety before I drank, and so this was a biochemical phenomenon.

Chris Scott: I think one of the risks of allowing biochemical imbalances to persist is that you begin to mis-attribute the cause of your suffering. So I might have gone into therapy saying, "Look, I have terrible social anxiety," and then we identify something in my childhood that maybe I've blown out of proportion and we focus on that. Meanwhile, the GABA deficiency persists, I don't make any progress and I conclude that I'm just screwed up and that could cause a downward spiral. So it's not to say that someone shouldn't also utilize therapy or maybe AA if it's good for them, or the Sinclair Method, or other modalities, tapping. EFT has been helpful for a lot of people or yoga, whatever. But I think that since it's so easy and these supplements are so benign for the vast majority of people, it's worth giving it a try to see if you don't feel better. When you feel physiologically better, when you fix these invisible, yet very real biochemical imbalances, you make progress with every single aspect of your life.

Chris Scott: So that's just one molecule that we focused on, which is GABA. The other neurotransmitters, which have amino acid precursors would be endorphins, dopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, and there are more. Then also, there are issues like inflammation that alcohol contributes to. So there are other supplements that can help reduce inflammation. There are vital minerals and vitamins that are co-factors. In other words, they're required for the synthesis of these bodily hormones and neurotransmitters. Magnesium is one of them. So GABA, for example, requires magnesium, vitamin B6, and glutamate, which you can get from L-glutamine. That's a confusing one, but magnesium is required for that. When I started taking magnesium taurate at the time, now I take magnesium threonate, but magnesium taurate gave me the first full nine hours of sleep that I'd had in eight years without alcohol. My sleep with alcohol was not sleep. It was not restorative, regenerative sleep, it was unconsciousness and I didn't feel great afterwards, but I remember the day that I first took magnesium taurate, so that was a missing link for me. That's not to say that it's the missing link for everyone.

Katie Lain: Yeah.

Chris Scott: But we know that one drink for anyone really can increase the rate of excretion of magnesium by three or four times the normal rate. So you imagine what happens when you're drinking a handle of vodka a day for days on end, and magnesium's involved in 300 different bodily processes, so it's not just the production of GABA. So all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. Those are a few examples that I hope convey the importance of nutrient repair. I also want to say it's not the case that someone can't quit without nutrient repair, just as it's not the case that someone can't quit and remain miserable. I know a lot of people who have quit drinking and not achieved happiness, they just decided they just reached their low with alcohol. It never gave them a high again. Maybe they switched to something that was better or something that was worse. But in my view, it's not optimal to quit without trying to pursue happiness or to pursue balanced health. So it's one of those things that if you value your experience of life, it's worth looking into at the very least.

Katie Lain: Absolutely. Something that's come up for me is people I work with who are on the Sinclair Method, for example, a common challenge is they're on the medication. The medication is working. They're seeing their cravings decrease. They're drinking less often, but then they can be stuck in this habit of perhaps daily or almost daily drinking still, but the new habit is just taking the pill beforehand. Often, I find it's because they don't have something else to live for in life, or look forward to, or other hobbies to plug into, they just keep turning to alcohol for that endorphin hit and aren't really giving their brain a chance to experience other pleasures and things like that. So I'm curious if you would think that might be contributing or caused by, I guess, a nutrient deficiency or something, because what I've seen is sometimes their motivation lacks or they're just indifferent to, "Well I'm drinking less, so that's good. It's not as dangerous as it used to be, but it's still more than I want, but I'm in this limbo of I don't really want to do much else right now." Like what would you say if that type of person came to you in that state?

Chris Scott: Right. So correct me if I'm wrong because I'm not the expert on the Sinclair Method, but I think one of the things that I've seen is that people who do best, and this is just something I personally noticed with clients and course members, people who do best on the Sinclair Method take to heart that it is to be a targeted medication. So they're taking it an hour before they drink and yet, on days that they're not taking it, they are doing endorphin stimulating activities, so maybe they're playing intramural sports with their friends or maybe they're working out; maybe they're pursuing a passion, maybe they're painting their house or just doing something they wanted to do. So I found the people who have that kind of stuff that ultimately begins to crowd out the drinking, they're getting endorphins and they're starting to pharmacologically learn, I guess, that these other non-drinking experiences are possible. So then, they do achieve the pharmacological targeted extinction with the Sinclair Method and alcohol and yet, it's not just a negative, they also have the positive.

Chris Scott: So they're being repelled from the negative, the drinking on naltrexone. You're like, "Well, all right. Maybe I'm starting to unlearn the pleasure here," and yet it's not just that. It's at least doubly powerful because they're doing these other things that are entirely subjective. I listed a few things that maybe people are doing, but for me, I had a list of things that I wanted to do, a bucket list. I started making it when I was in inpatient rehab and I still haven't crossed off all of the things. I just started furiously writing things down. I would wake up and my new high for a while for better or worse, and there are pros and cons to this, was coffee in the morning because I hated mornings when I was a drinker. So I decided I used to get high at night on alcohol and that was my me time, and I feel like I deserved it. Now, I feel like I would start bouncing out a bed at 6:30, which I'd never do when I was a drinker.

Chris Scott: I would be like "Time for coffee," and I would start furiously writing things down, and I was visualizing what my life could be. That's a perspective shift, and it started making me crave and want things that I hadn't done that were actually incompatible with alcohol. By the time I quit drinking, I couldn't go to a museum because I'd be shaky unless they served alcohol and I could walk around with a sippy cup or something. But I realized how limiting and confining the alcohol had been for me, and so I started putting things on my bucket list, and some of them were frivolous. I'm not a Saint at all. One of them was like, "I want to jet ski. I want to jump waves," and that was one of my earliest accomplishments. I saved up and I got to used jet ski. I had more fun on that jet ski than I ever did drinking, and so if I had been on the Sinclair Method, I would think, "Well, all right.

Chris Scott: So I can take the naltrexone if I want to drink, but maybe I'd rather go out and jump waves and I'm certainly not going to take naltrexone before I do that." So I think the targeted nature is very important, and it's also something that was not explained to me. I should say I was prescribed naltrexone, but incorrectly when I was in inpatient rehab. They said, "Take this every morning and maybe every night and it'll reduce your chance of relapse." That was all they said. They never said, "Pharmacological extension, take it with alcohol, if you drink." They just said, "It might help you avoid relapse." What I found was that I felt very flat naturally, because the endorphins from eating food, from working out were blunted and that's not an ideal situation. So I wouldn't say that there's necessarily willpower involved, I think it's more perspective with the Sinclair Method. The whole point is that you don't have to use willpower, but compliance does seem to be something that's the biggest challenge for people who do that. I would think just intuitively that the more things on someone's bucket list that are endorphin-inducing and fun and imaginative, then the better they're going to do.

Katie Lain: Yeah, no. You're absolutely right on that. It's like the extinction sessions on naltrexone are vital, obviously, but it's like, what are you doing on the alcohol-free days? Those are also vital. I think sometimes I see people, they're like, "Oh, I had to have an alcohol-free day because I was busy all day or helping this person." It's like that wasn't really something fun, and so these alcohol-free days aren't necessarily associated with pleasure and excitement and, "Heck yeah, jet ski." I want to jet ski now. That's so fun.

Chris Scott: Well, no, totally. I think there's a puritanical saintly residue than most of the traditional programs. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to be a good person, certainly help your friends move in where then fulfillment is one of the best paths to pleasure. I didn't really discover that until after I quit drinking. But at the same time, you need to have time for yourself and you need to do frivolous things that you like to do, whether it's playing with your dogs or getting outside or going to one of these gyms. I know depending on where someone is, if things are open in this pandemic/post-pandemic world.

Chris Scott: If you go to Orange Theory or a Barry's Bootcamp. I went to one of theirs in Chicago years ago before the pandemic, and it was like a club in the morning and people just running and doing the kettle bells. The vibe was very much like a party, but not only were they not drinking, you couldn't drink in there. If you did, people would be like, "Why are you drinking? This is a workout thing," but it was like that party vibe, and I felt like I just had a night out without intoxicating myself after that. So there's all sorts of things that people can do and it's highly subjective.

Katie Lain: Yeah, it really is. Yeah. There is one more thing I wanted to ask you in our time that we have together, because there was this really awesome video you made about the six ways alcohol depletes your body of nutrients. I know we've talked about that a little bit, but is there more, you wanted to say there about the havoc that can be wreaked on the body for drinking over years, or decades and for people to be aware of that because they don't necessarily manifest, obviously, like the mental issues or the health issues or the gut issues and they may come about slowly? So what else could you say there about that? I'll link that video below, by the way, because it is a great video that describes this.

Chris Scott: Thank you. Yeah. I haven't revisited that video in some time, except I can say that there are way more than six ways that alcohol wreaks havoc on the body that causes nutrient deficiencies. So I could talk for hours about this, so I'll try to limit it down. One way to understand it is something that Dr Umhau talks about, which is the gut liver brain axis. So that's basically the idea that when you are drinking you cause inflammation in the gut and dysbiosis, which is the wrong proportion of good bacteria and bad bacteria, the bad bacteria tend to take over. Sometimes you have candida, even which research shows might even control your brain, and lead you towards sugar. We can have cravings for alcohol. In part, they linger because alcohol is one of the most efficiently and quickly absorbed sources of energy.

Chris Scott: Now, it's toxic false energy, but it absorbs really quickly through the stomach, and so when you cut that out, you start craving sugar instead of alcohol, because it's the second most efficiently absorbed thing and alcohol is a highly refined sugar. I had a two liter, no, it was probably one-and-a- half liter soda per day habit while I was an inpatient rehab, and I didn't understand it. I was the guy that never ordered dessert and I felt superior about that decision. I'd be sitting there with my triple scotch saying, "I don't eat desserts or desserts are for soft people." Then as soon as I quit, I'm like, "Why am I drinking soda and I want an ice cream sundae?" It didn't make any sense, and there could have been some candida overgrowth. Fortunately, I don't think that was a huge deal for me, but I definitely had that substitution effect where once alcohol was out of the picture, sugar was in.

Chris Scott: Of course, the least appealing things, instinctually, to someone who's in that state would be healthy lean proteins or good fats, because they're absorbed much more slowly. Now, junk food for some reason does seem to be appealing, so sugar and junk food, which is kind of disastrous. So there's that continued hijacking, for lack of a better term, of your brain to crave things that aren't good for you. You can put an end to that pretty simply. If someone's listening and they're saying, "Well, how do I address these complex issues?" One of the simplest and best supplements to look at first would be L-glutamine, because L-glutamine is converted to glucose. It's an amino acid. It's converted to glucose in the brain without causing an insulin spike. So the problem with sugar after you quit drinking is that you'll eventually have an insulin spike to reduce the blood sugar and it will overcorrect.

Chris Scott: You'll not just wipe out the sugar, but you'll wipe out the amino acids and your bloodstream, which can then precipitate depression or anxiety because you're deficient and there's amino acid precursors for serotonin, dopamine, GABA, et cetera, endorphins. So L-glutamine a great thing to take and it can help you end that cycle. Let me go back to the gut liver brain axis. So when you have this virus and inflammation in the gut, you then end up with potentially leaky gut, things go through the gut lining that shouldn't be there. They end up causing inflammation in the liver, and when you have inflammation in the liver, which by the way, is already taxed because alcohol is a toxin. A lot of people don't know that when you drink, pretty much every thing you eat with the alcohol gets turned to fat, because the liver goes into emergency mode and it says, "All right screw everything else. We need to turn this alcohol into more benign compounds."

Chris Scott: So it turns it into, I think water, acidic acid and acid aldehyde. Now acid aldehyde will actually kill you. It's still not that it's better than having ethanol floating around in your system, but if you were to drink pure acid aldehyde at a relatively low dose, it would kill you. So it still has to get out of your system, and there are ways to expedite. There are compounds that have been found that help you get rid of the acid aldehyde. Now fortunately, most who have quit drinking days or weeks or months or years ago, they don't have acid aldehyde in their system, but they might have DNA damage from acid aldehyde, or from ethanol even because alcohol damages every cell in your body. Actually, it's been linked to at least seven different cancers, and that list, I would say, is probably going to grow over time.

Chris Scott: So similar to putting on some toxic sunscreen and sitting in the sun for 10 hours, you're causing inflammation and problems that could stay with you for years or decades, which I think is another reason to try to rejuvenate yourself with the compounds that we evolved with for millions of years, because if you have that inflammation and exposure and potentially DNA damage, then you don't also want to have deficiencies in the nutrients required for cellular renewal and repair for the rest of your life. It's just a bad situation. So going back to the liver, you end up with inflammation there. Inflammatory cytokines get produced, which have been shown in studies to at least inhibit serotonin in the brain. Serotonin's important because you need healthy levels of serotonin to not be depressed and to feel relaxed and confident, and that's just one of them.

Chris Scott: For all I know, it could also inhibit GABA or dopamine. So that's just a very basic picture of the damage that alcohol does and some of the deficiencies that it creates, but there are a bunch of different layers of it. So there's the immediate deficiencies because alcohol is a diuretic and it flushes out vitamins and minerals, especially water soluble ones from your system, but then there are the lingering issues caused by chronic imbalances of neurotransmitters, caused by more systemic damage maybe to the endocrine system. So a lot of men who I've coached have low testosterone a lot earlier than they should. I, myself I've taken things like Fenugreek. I've tried things like tribulus terrestris and I'm not opposed to eventually one day doing something like testosterone replacement therapy if I notice a sudden drop in testosterone.

Chris Scott: So I notice I try to monitor that, because I've had a lot of friends and clients who have noticed endocrine system disruption even years after they quit. It's also really common with drugs, and most of the people with the most severe cases are multi-drug users who also had an alcohol addiction, so I think maybe that's one reason avoided that problem so far, but that's something else to think about. Then there's also, as far as the brain is concerned, brain scans show that people who drink for extended periods of time have a brain that's shrunk, and so there are many reasons for that. Dehydration is one in the short-term, but also the gray matter decreases. So I think we discussed this maybe the last time we talked, but high-dose omega-3s and eating more fish can help to increase that gray matter over time because the brain loves omega-3s. That's the building blocks for it. We used to think that only kids had neuroplasticity. In other words, their brains were able to remold according to new experiences and rewire easily.

Chris Scott: It turns out adults have neuroplasticity as well, and so there's a lot of hope I think. I've had a lot of clients and course members who are in their 60s or 70s or later who have experienced, and I don't have the brain scans to prove it, but just from their sense of well-being at baseline, when they came in and then six months or a year later have experienced a total renaissance and their sense of well-being and the things that they're interested in. You can tell that they have new neural pathways, they're using new language, they have new frames through which they view alcohol and themselves. They have a renewed sense of self-efficacy and self-esteem and relationships with other people. So I think everything's connected from the gut to the liver to the brain, to the relationships, to the fun things we do to the fulfillment that we pursue. You can focus on one thing at a time, but that's why I talk in terms of what I call the hierarchy of recovery, the biochemical and psychological, social and spiritual pillars. I didn't invent that concept, but for anyone who's interested on fitrecovery.com and other places, maybe in some blog articles, I have an infographic that shows that little pyramid there.

Katie Lain: Yeah. I love that pyramid. I'm so glad that you're speaking to all of this because I'm just reflecting back on my own experience, because I was on the Sinclair Method for a year and then went sober. I was taking supplements here and there, but I was not aware at all of how much I was potentially depleted from my 10 years of heavy drinking. I remember becoming almost sober on the method and I always looked at sober stories out there and had this belief that, "Oh, as soon as you stop drinking, you're going to feel amazing and there's going to be rainbows, and butterflies and your mood's going to be amazing, and your sleep's going to be." While there were so many benefits, there were also I was not feeling as good as I thought I would or that I could.

Katie Lain: I was taking pretty good care of myself. I'm like, "What's going on?" That's when I started to look into supplements more. I think that's around the time I found your stuff, but it's just making me reflect back on my own experience of how taking alcohol out of the equation, I believe that that was the thing that would do it, but there was so much more I had to do. That's when I started on nutrients or paying more attention to my diet, getting on supplements, and it's just been a game changer for me in so many different ways.

Katie Lain: I used to experience regular bouts of depression. I was never diagnosed, but it would come and go and anxiety, just waking up with generalized anxiety, and that's basically non-existent in my life now. That was just something I thought was normal for me, so just so grateful that you're sharing this information with people because I think it really is the missing link for a lot of people and it may make them stuck in drinking more on this Sinclair Method than they really want to, or even I've had clients who reached extinction and were basically done with alcohol, but then a stressful life event happens and they return to it again, because perhaps they're not repaired in other ways to where they have that self- efficacy or ability to handle life's challenges.

Chris Scott: That's amazing. Actually, I'd be interested to hear about which supplements you think might have helped you. Everyone's different, so I always try to say, "Take with a grain of salt what I say." For me, magnesium, DL, phenyl alanine, and L-glutamine were huge, but there were a lot more. I have thousands of dollars worth of supplements in my cabinets. I keep them as an insurance policy in case I need them. So this kind of knowledge is really useful for the rest of my life. I could have a bout of depression in 10 years, and at least I'll have some natural ways to deal with it. But out of curiosity, what seems to have helped you?

Katie Lain: Magnesium was a big one, taking zinc and high doses of vitamin C as well; taking a mineral supplement that has selenium and iodine in it just realizing that I didn't have all of these key nutrients and knowing that our soils are so depleted of those nutrients, which are essential to our well-being. Lemon balm is one that I've taken a lot. I used to take it daily, but I just find that it helps my nervous system relax in the evening time, and I'm not all wound up from the day and same thing, I have shelves full of supplements, so there are other ones that I've altered in and out. Lysine is one that I found has helped my skin after my alcohol problems, because when I stopped drinking, my skin was still really unhealthy and I was like, "What's going on?" So lycine was something I added, B vitamins for sure, B vitamins. Pantothenic acid is one that really helped repair my skin. I could go on.

Chris Scott: That's interesting. That's all great stuff. I have everything that you mentioned and lemon balm is something-

Katie Lain: And Fish oil-

Chris Scott: And what?

Katie Lain: Fish oil, like you and I have talked about with Dr. Umhau.

Chris Scott: I love lemon balm. I had a lemon balm, passionflower chamomile trio every night and I still drink chamomile tea most nights. I have a couple of different sleepy teas. I have a mushroom raw cacao blend called Coco Tropic, which is on Amazon. It's expensive, but I love it. For anyone who likes hot chocolate, but doesn't need the extra sugar, I guess you can add Stevia or monk fruit or sugar or whatever. I just drink it straight. I like the bitter. I've always liked strong tannin type flavors and it's really good and relaxing. Actually, I had a client recently who said it was a game changer for him and he looks forward to taking it the way that he looked forward to drinking and yet, there's no deleterious effect from taking that.

Chris Scott: Actually there's some literature on raw cacao and there's someone, he's an influencer and I don't remember his name, but he has a whole thing about how chocolate raw cacao basically healed him from addiction and I believe it. Chocolate has theobromine in it, which is a mood-boosting compound and a bunch of different antioxidants. So all of these things, it's like we always had so many natural compounds at our disposal and yet, without a knowledge of what to do, it can be really overwhelming. So that's the essence of what I try to do is try to help people simplify that. But that's really cool to hear that it dovetails with this Sinclair Method as well.

Katie Lain: Yeah. Earlier you mentioned candida too, and I did do a candida cleanse because as I got off alcohol, like you were experiencing, I was just craving sugar, same exact thing. I was like, "I don't eat dessert," when I was drinking a lot. But then as soon as I started drinking less, I was craving dessert every day, and so doing a candida cleanse was a big thing for me as well.

Chris Scott: Well, one thing I wanted to touch on, because I think we're going to share this on both of our channels, and I think on our podcast as well as an episode. So a lot of my people, for lack of a better term, I don't like saying audience, a lot of my tribe, there is definitely interest in pursuing the Sinclair Method and also nutrient repair simultaneously. So if you could talk a little bit about your program Thrive, I've already messed up the name. I'll let you talk about it though, because I think it's something that people need to hear and I really encourage anyone who's been listening to me or Matt Finch for a while to check out all of your stuff, the Embody Daily Instagram. You have a great Instagram page, by the way. It's an inspiration for me as I try to post more and YouTube and now your program.

Katie Lain: Yeah. Absolutely. So I used the Sinclair Method myself starting in 2017 and it was just the game changer after I tried quitting drinking dozens of times, the old way of just like, "Quit drinking and then figure everything out from there." So the Sinclair Method really changed my life. And the first week I was on the method, I knew. I'm like, "This is going to work," and it was a longer road. It took time to really unlearn my behaviors of alcohol addiction and establish new habits and coping tools and all of that. But what was so empowering about this method is that every week or even every day, I would see little bits of progress. I'm someone who always drank at least a bottle of wine every night and within a couple of weeks, I couldn't even finish a full bottle.

Katie Lain: I was just like, "I don't want any more," and it was really amazing to see myself become empowered over alcohol and have the option to drink also, because at the time, I really didn't want to go totally sober. That seemed like an unrealistic solution for me. But what happened for me over the course of the year on the method, my drinking just continued to decrease, and by the end of a year, I was drinking about one glass of wine once a month. I had just gotten to a point where drinking wasn't really doing it for me anymore. I just didn't really enjoy it. I would feel a hangover the next day, even from one glass of wine, because I was hardly drinking anymore at all, and I kept going month after month without drinking. I'd go a month and then two months, and then after four months of not drinking just simply because I had no interest in it. Not that I was trying to will myself or tell myself I couldn't drink, it didn't occur to me to drink anymore and I decided to stop drinking.

Katie Lain: So that was over three-and-a-half years ago now, and with the Sinclair Method that I feel totally cured. I know that's a heavy word that they don't like to use for this type of treatment, but I really feel cured. My brain feels restored to the state it was in before I had alcohol problems. I don't think about alcohol. I can be at a party where every drinking and they're even offering me drinks and I'm just like, "No, that's okay." It's pretty amazing how the method works. So basically, after I was on the method for a month, I started a YouTube channel to just document my experience, because there weren't any people out there at that time really testifying to it outside of Claudia Christian's TEDx Talk. I started a YouTube channel and then that kind of naturally grew into me coaching people and mentoring people one-on-one. Then this last year, I've been partnering up with another gal who used the Sinclair Method who's a certified health and wellness coach. We've started Thrive Alcohol Recovery.

Katie Lain: So this is really a comprehensive online platform that includes video courses, exercises, group support, one-on-one support, daily, just practical tips and guidance for anyone who's on this Sinclair Method. We really specialize in the Sinclair Method on this platform because as the founders, we both went through it ourselves. We both have coached people through it one-on-one and so we have a solid understanding of all of the nuances of the method and what it means to be successful, what goal setting looks like on this method and what to expect, because with this method some people get on it and see changes like I did in the first week. Maybe you're not where you want to be, but you see these big changes and others, it takes longer. Sometimes people can get discouraged if they're a few months in and they're wondering, "Am I seeing changes in my drinking? I don't know." So what you and I both know, Chris, through our own experiences is that there's more to it than just simply taking a pill and letting that do all the work.

Katie Lain: There's so much more that can be done with the behavior and the biology and nutrition and all of that. So we guide people through, through the process of changing their drinking habits through the Sinclair Method. Most of our members have a goal to drink moderately. Some people like myself, they have that goal and they go on the method and after a while they accidentally stop drinking. But it's a one-stop place for people to get guidance and support from literally day one all the way through to extinction on the Sinclair Method. The program comes with video courses and exercise and all these practical things, but it's also this private community platform and it's just amazing to see how people are connecting and supporting one other on there. It's cheesy, because it's called Thrive, but it's like a thriving community, and so it's really awesome to see that coming to fruition as well.

Chris Scott: That's wonderful. Yeah. I think since compliance can be the biggest obstacle to something that otherwise has one of the best, maybe the best success rates as far as methods and medication-assisted treatment out there, then community is the natural way to support people with that. I think even with nutrient repair, compliance can be an issue. I've had clients who have signed up for coaching because they I'll say, "I have all the supplements, I just don't take them." It's like, "Well, they'll do they'll do a lot of invisible work for you if you take them." They're like, "Yeah, I you need to tell me to take them." So there's some of that and that's natural, and accountability can be a huge missing link no matter what you do. So it's nice to have something that really works, but as long as there's some action that needs to be taken consistently, it's great to have a community around that.

Chris Scott: I also wanted to say, it's funny you say that. You could have a glass of wine tonight, and you could take naltrexone beforehand, no guilt, no shame, whatever and I love that, and yet one glass of wine will give you a hangover. I was talking to two of my really good friends, one of whom is a fitness trainer and the other of whom is just a super fine-tuned machine who's either keto or carnivore or paleo all the time and doing absurd lifts and muscle ups and stuff. I asked them just about, we were talking about drinking and my friend who's a trainer said, "If I have one-and-a-half beers, I will feel really bad in the morning." He was like, "So I don't really like it." Then my other friend said the same thing. He literally said verbatim, he said, "I could have a glass of wine, I guess, but I'd be hung over tomorrow."

Chris Scott: If I had heard that years ago, I think it might have changed my perspective, especially when I was drinking multiple bottles of wine, which I had a wine face. I went wine tasting once, I drank six bottles of wine in an afternoon. That was after the wine tasting because of my girlfriend at the time had purchased bottles that she wanted and she took a nap, and literally in about two hours, I drank all six bottles. I felt great the time, or at least I thought I did compared to my baseline, which was a negative five. I probably reached a five out of 10, but now my baseline normally is an eight out of 10, and the next day I felt particularly bad. Six bottles of wine is absurd. So to hear someone say, "If I have a glass of, and I'm going to have a hangover," so that gives you a sense of how adaptive the body is, but also when you're a fine-tuned machine, you really won't miss a toxin.

Katie Lain: It's so true. You gain such a new perspective. I like how you said it, like we're looking through new frames or something back at alcohol and that is so true, because when you're in it, it truly feels like a trap and you're just like, "I need alcohol." It becomes this crutch and you can't imagine life without it because it's hijacked our brain essentially and our pleasure centers. But as we get out of that, and even just with the Sinclair Method, then you get little glimpses of it. You're still drinking. You're probably still craving alcohol for a while, but you start to see what life could be like when you're truly free from alcohol, which may mean that you drink sometimes, or it may mean that you're alcohol-free, but you start to see it for what it is and how good you can feel without it and how good life can be without it. I really feel, there might even be a book with this name, but alcohol robbed me of my joy, and I realized I couldn't feel true joy.

Katie Lain: I would feel happiness when I would drink, I guess, because of the endorphin hit, but it wasn't that true and lasting joy that was not conditional. So getting out of that trap of alcohol and experiencing true joy and just appreciating these little things in life, it's like nothing, no high can replace that. So it's really amazing to get out of it, and I think that's why you and I are both in the work that we do because it's like we just want to help people like, "Hey, there's there's a much better way to live life, and no, you don't have to feel shame about it." You can take the of understanding why alcohol use disorder sets in the first place and realize you can do something about it with like what you offer through nutrient repair and physical fitness, and then what we do too with the Sinclair Method. There's no one exact perfect way, but I'm so happy that there are more options than just, "Quit drinking and be strong." That was the approach I took and it didn't work.

Chris Scott: Something else I love about your approach, and I share this as well is, and this is something actually that's evolved since I wrote Drinking Sucks, for example, but the tendency to avoid moralizing the drinking, people need to process to not to drink as a trade off. So like, all right, so what you had one glass of wine? Well you can't change the fact that you might feel crappy the next morning, that's a reality. The significance that you attached to that is up to you, right? So you can say, "Well, I'm a horrible person because I had one drink. So now I'm going to go have 10 drinks," and that's a process that happens for a lot of people. If you're a horrible person you may as well not even bother, then why not go have 10 drinks? I think that happens a lot. T.

Chris Scott: Here's like a self-fulfilling prophecy aspect to relapse with the fire and brimstone approach. It's like you're moral if you don't drink you're immoral if you do, so someone if has a little slip, and I don't even love the term slip or relapse, but if someone drinks and then they give up, and so we all know what happens. But if someone can instead have the freedom to make a decision and then have the epiphany that, "Yes, I have the freedom and here are the objective consequences that I can't escape," unlike the rationalizations or the moral significance that you're attached to it, which can be malleable, then they're more likely to decide to quit for themselves. When you decide to quit for yourself, it's much different than deciding to quit because there's some categorical imperative that you shouldn't drink anymore because you're a so-called alcoholic, whatever that means.

Katie Lain: Nice.

Chris Scott: That's how I view it as well now. I've been served accidentally enough times to realize I'm a fine-tuned machine and it doesn't really agree with me. But if I ever have had a drink again, I often say, and this confuses people like I haven't sworn off alcohol forever. I haven't sworn off drugs. I don't know. Maybe I'll do magic mushrooms. Why not? I don't care. I've I'm not opposed to marijuana. I've taken kratom recreationally. I've taken phenubit recreationally, never developed a problem with those things. I feel like I also have a huge dose of caution and hopefully, wisdom because of my experience with alcohol that actually makes it less likely for me to develop an attachment going forward.

Chris Scott: But I just know that without having to delve into the long-term hypothetical ways in which one drink might lead to 10, which might lead to a thousand, which might destroy my life, rather than doing that. I'm just like, "I'll have a glass of wine, but I want to feel good in the morning." That's a way simpler thing and I'm doing that for me. One of the universal common denominators at all of the traditional programs I've found is that there's the ideology and then they always say, "You have to want to quit for you." I'm like, "Well, that's it. That's the whole thing." If you get that part, then you don't really how you decide to do it is up to you, and what you decide to use for support is up to you.

Katie Lain: Yeah. Yep. Absolutely. That's the freedom that can come, of course, I don't know what your experience was like, but I know through nutrient repair and exercise, you basically were able to heal yourself of alcohol cravings, to my understanding. So that's what the Sinclair Method does too. It gives us that space because I feel like before this method, I was always obsessively thinking about alcohol and it was so easy to say yes to it when I was intensely craving it. But when you lose the craving or diminish the craving, it gives you that space to be like, "Yeah, I could drink, but I want to get up in the morning and go to the gym. So, no, I don't really feel like it." And that's what happened to me. The longer I was on the methadone with lots of people, it's like you have that space to think about it. Then you play it out and you're like, "Is it really worth it?" Sometimes it is, sure, but then it's like, "No, I don't really feel like it," and you move on instead of white knuckling it and telling yourself you can't drink for the exact reasons you're saying like, "I'm an alcoholic. I just can't have a drink."

Chris Scott: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Katie Lain: So it's like [crosstalk 00:52:58]

Chris Scott: Yeah. I'm glad you said that, because I want to correct something. I said, "They do say you have to want to quit for you." But I think more accurately, what should be said is you have to get to the point where you choose not to drink in any context that you formerly would have chosen to drink. So in any given moment or in any given situation that you wanted to drink, then you should be in the position of saying, "Well, here's my visualization of that," and it's actually a suboptimal choice. I think that makes more sense than saying that, "You have to commit to a lifelong abstinence religion for you." That's not what I meant when I said that. It's more like ideally you get to a point where the trade-off is in the favor of your health and your fulfillment and your happiness, which you no longer see as totally dependent on alcohol.

Katie Lain: Yeah/ absolutely. That's one of the things too. I feel like we could talk hours. We were supposed to be done 20 minutes ago. We just keep talking.

Chris Scott: My bad.[crosstalk 00:54:01] my fault.

Katie Lain: The last thing I'll say is just when we're dependent on alcohol or stuck in that, it really deceives you into thinking that you need it. For me, there was no conversation. It was just like I really believe that I needed alcohol to have fun and I needed it to be socially fun to be around or to cope with this or that," and so it deceives you. I think we can be stuck in that trap for so long and to even start to get a glimpse out of it. That's where we can start to really see the change or the possibility of the future. But for some people I know, I'm just thinking of clients that I work with that are still kind of stuck in that trap, and we have this belief that alcohol, in our brain, it's our go-to. It's what our brain goes to for pleasure and coping, and it's like that pathway's been so worn down, it's the number one thing we keep turning to. So we've really got to start experiencing other pleasurable things or other helpful coping tools in order to undo that pathway, but it's totally possible. As soon as you start to see that it is, it's just really, really exciting.

Chris Scott: Well said, couldn't put it better myself. Thank you very much, Katie. This has been a lot of fun.

Katie Lain: Thank you so much, Chris. Yeah. I'll talk to you again soon.


  • Chris Scott

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

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