After a summer full of sunshine and warm weather, it is now officially Autumn… and already both the total hours and potency of sunlight is diminishing. This is important because sunlight is the primary way we create vitamin D. This essential vitamin acts more like a hormone and research has suggested that nearly half of U.S. adults are deficient in vitamin D.
Many individuals get seasonal affective disorder during the fall and winter.
This is often due to not getting adequate sunlight and can be exacerbated further by lifestyle elements such as not exercising, not eating healthily, not getting enough sleep, and much more.
In episode 235 of Elevation Recovery, Chris Scott and Matt Finch address this topic along with other relevant concepts and action steps for either quitting negative addiction habits or sustaining recovery and mind/body/spirit health during the fall and throughout the rest of the colder and darker months of the year.
Vitamin D For Addiction Recovery
There is a “Silent Epidemic” going on right now. Nearly half of all Americans are deficient in vitamin D, and it is causing unnecessary suffering in millions of people.
Why are so many people deficient in vitamin D?
Basically, it’s due to the massive differences between how we evolved and our current lifestyles.
We evolved in the sun.
Our hunter/gatherer ancestors spent a lot of time outside under the rays of the sun, which provided them with an abundance of vitamin D, as this is one way we obtain this essential nutrient. Nowadays most people in America work 9-5 indoors, then drive away from work inside cars to go spend time in their home which is also indoors. Many recreational activities are also indoors. People go to the movies, the mall, restaurants, and many other places where they don’t get sunlight.
And further still… countless individuals put sunscreen all over when they actually do spend time outdoors, thus blocking the sun from hitting their skin in the way needed to produce vitamin D. Additionally, the Standard American Diet is not providing us with adequate levels of vitamin D, which is another way we get this essential nutrient.
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble steroids that are responsible for many important biological functions. The most important forms of this nutrient are vitamin D3 and vitamin D2.
Vitamin D can be obtained from these 3 methods:
Vitamin D occurs naturally in a few foods, the most common being fatty fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks. Along with the foods that have naturally occurring vitamin D, fortified grain and dairy products commonly have vitamin D added to them.
Due to the sun being able to hit our skin and make us produce this nutrient, vitamin D is commonly referred to as the “Sunshine Vitamin”.
Vitamin D has several important functions, the most common being:
- Regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorous
- Facilitates normal immune system function
- Growth and development of healthy bones and teeth
- Improves resistance against certain diseases
- Modulates chronic inflammation
Many factors can affect your ability to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D through the sun alone. As stated previously, our current lifestyles are typically preventing us from getting sunlight in the amounts needed for physical and psychological health.
These factors include:
- Being in an area with high pollution
- Spending more time indoors
- Living far from the equator
- Living in big cities where buildings block sunlight
- Having darker skin. (The higher the levels of melanin, the less vitamin D the skin can absorb.)
- Using sunscreen
Furthermore, the typical American diet does not contain adequate levels of this nutrient.
Stories of Alcohol Addiction
After discussing vitamin D and more, Chris Scott and Matt Finch share real-life stories from their alcohol addictions to showcase just how severe their cases of alcoholism were.
It’s important for people trying to recover from alcohol or stay sober after quitting to hear these types of stories and know that it’s totally possible to turn a life around… no matter how bad it has become.
A common theme in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is “What it what like, what happened, and what it’s like now.”
And this episode of Elevation Recovery follows a similar structure although this was not intentional and it just developed this way.
Overcoming Negative Addiction Habits
If you’re struggling with alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, or literally any other addiction like porn, shopping, gambling, food, etc., this episode is for you.
By watching, listening, or reading the episode you’ll be much more equipped to transform the areas of your life that you’re working on.
You’ll receive inspiration, education, entertainment, empowerment, and resources, tools, strategies, and tactics to help you take positive action forward in the face of adversity.
Here are some ways to learn from this episode:
- Watch the video
- Listen to the audio
- Read the transcript
- Right-click here and save as to download this episode on your computer.
Matt Finch: I know how hard it can be to get stuck in that subconscious program, autopilot, that our brains are designed to make everything easier. That's why we don't have to think about it when we brush our teeth, when we get dressed. These are all kind of unconscious, outside of our awareness, easy to keep up habits even if they're bad habits like drinking.
Chris Scott: You don't have to wait for the seasons to change. So I always say, "If you didn't quit in the fall or if you didn't quit in the winter, don't think that you have to go out day drinking in the spring and suffer throughout the summer being dependent on alcohol, feeling toxic and miserable. You can quit any time you want. It's all a matter of perception and interpretation."
Announcer: Thanks for tuning in to the Elevation Recovery podcast, your hub for addiction recovery strategies hosted by Chris Scott and Matt Finch.
Matt Finch: Welcome to episode 235 of Elevation Recovery. My name is Matt Finch and Chris, it's good to see you again today. My friend and cohost, you've got the beautiful sunny weather in the background in the golf course that you live at. While you visited here it was really sunny and beautiful, 80 degrees, we got a lot of sun, but for the past four days it's been totally overcast here and I've already been noticing ... You know, my mood's still good, but I've already been noticing less Vitamin D, so I've been supplementing with it.
Matt Finch: But I can already notice the trees and the sky and everything around is just darker, right? There's not as much brilliant colors. That warmth is gone. It's been a little bit cooler, not like freezing cold, but it's been cooler temperatures now that we're into fall. We're moving into a phase where it's going to be getting darker earlier. It's pretty soon, coming up, and it's going to start getting colder and colder, particularly in places in the Midwest the Northeast, Canada and all sorts of other places.
Matt Finch: That is when a lot of people will start to drink more or will start to use more opioids or stuff like that ... will start to eat more pizza and comfort foods because the declining total sunlight is number one, less duration throughout the day and number two, less potency and the power, and number three, that colder weather can tend to make people want more comfort foods, bundling up in blankets and watching more Netflix and stuff. So what do you think about all that? And good to see you again, man. Papaya's happy to be here too.
Chris Scott: Hey, great to be back. It's always good to be with you and Papaya. I've got the dog's there somewhere lazing around here. We went for a couple mile walk this morning. It has been really nice and actually, I love this time of year in Savannah because it cools off enough that I don't have to wash my clothes every single time I take the dogs out to pee or just walk outside. It's still humid but it's a little bit cooler and I've been sitting out on my patio trying to do some work out there and just getting some fresh air. It's nice.
Chris Scott: I guess I try to bring the sunny weather with me wherever I go. I definitely don't associate San Diego with being cloudy ever except for pre-10:30 AM when I'd wake up in the hotel and I would see people out on the beach and they're surfing in this mist. It was kind of like a mysterious cool mist and then of course it would dissipate and turn into the most beautiful day you'd ever seen, but I believe you, that you do have some overcast days, although you look like you have some pretty good color.
Chris Scott: But this actually brings me back to before I quit drinking. Two months before I quit drinking I was on the beach in Cabo with my girlfriend at the time drinking all day, and all night, and in the airport on the way there and in the airport on the way back. I think one of the last pictures I remember ... I actually don't know where this picture is. I wish I could find it, be one of my before pictures. But it was in the airport coming back from that Cabo vacation, I think, and I had this giant beer. I had ordered a beer at the airport, there was like one of those one liter beers. It's funny how hammered people are always getting at the airport. I guess if you have a limited imagination and you don't read books, or if you do read books but you'd rather drink alcohol, or if you're dependent on alcohol, it's just like, you know, you'd go there and you'd get hammered and pass out on your flight. I guess it's an easy thing to do until you get a hangover or withdrawal or toxify your body.
Chris Scott: I remember getting those giant tabs. I'd look at my credit card bill and it'd be like $184.34 from the airport. I'm like, "What the hell? Did I buy a sport coat or something?" Nope, I was sitting there drinking beers. Of course, after the sunny weather went away, well, after I left Cabo, went back to the Northeast which is where I lived at the time, the day started getting shorter, I had to go back to work, I would have the Sunday scaries, which was apparently a thing people ... Apparently people who aren't necessarily hooked on alcohol refer to the Sunday scaries as a thing where you don't want to go back to work, you kind of dread Mondays. You've had Friday and Saturday and maybe Sunday brunch and you've been pumping your body full of alcohol using that artificial toxin to get artificial euphoria and then you end up getting a little bit shaky, your nervous system goes into overdrive, you have a bit of a glutamate rebound.
Chris Scott: These things that we talk about all the time, these biochemical underlying root causes of the misery of withdrawal or even hangovers for people that aren't addicted, this is something that would have liberated me if I had understood how I could actually fix that. Of course there are nutritional ways, supplemental ways, lifestyle ways to not deal with that. The best one, by the way is quitting drinking, which is kind of why we have a podcast, quitting drinking or drugs, but the Sunday scaries of course looped me in and I remember going back to work and thinking, "I'm not going to make it this time." And I don't know what that meant. I didn't necessarily think I was going to die, but I thought things could get pretty bad.
Chris Scott: All of a sudden it's like the exact opposite of being on the beach in Cabo. The sun starts going down 7:00 PM, 6:00 PM, 5:00 PM and soon enough eventually I threw my hands up and I'm sure I was deficient in Vitamin D caused by alcohol flushing nutrients out of my body but also relatively poor diet compared to today and not getting enough sun, not ever considering that I might feel weird if I didn't get any sunlight exposure for a week in a row or seven days in a row. Things just got bad real fast.
Chris Scott: Then of course that fall where is when I ended up in that detox facility and in-patient rehab and I've seen the same thing happen for a lot of people. There's like a seasonality here. Kudos to whoever quits alcohol ... I'm not sure if there's a seasonality for drugs, opiates or other drugs, I would assume there might be for the same reasons, but kudos to anyone who can quit in the beginning of the summer and stay quit. At least they get to learn how to naturally enjoy their summer especially if they use nutrient repair. But a lot of people ... I'm sorry. I have not quite figured out how to turn off my notifications from my computer. A lot of people will quit in the fall and it has something to do with the fact that the days are getting shorter, it's getting a little colder, it's no longer day drinking time on the beach and it's time to ... you feel like you have to get your life together.
Chris Scott: Of course, then there's the winter and the people that didn't quit in the fall then want to quit in the winter. There's always a reason to quit. You don't have to wait for the seasons to change. So I always say, "If you didn't quit in the fall or if you didn't quit in the winter, don't think that you have to go out day drinking in the spring and suffer throughout the summer being dependent on alcohol, feeling toxic and miserable. You can quit any time you want. It's all a matter of perception and interpretation."
Matt Finch: This is really resonating with me so much. It's a pattern that I did. I'd say I probably got into problem drinking maybe around 22. By 22 I was definitely seriously abusing alcohol and then by 23 I was physiologically dependent. For many years in my twenties, starting at 23 literally all the way throughout all my twenties and even into my early thirties, but specifically the years from around 22 to maybe 26, before I moved to upstate New York, I was unable to stay sober off of alcohol or anything else for that matter during the summer.
Matt Finch: I mean, Chris, you know where I live, I live ... And back then I was a half a block away from the ocean. I lived in South Ocean Beach, which is probably about three miles from Pacific Beach where you usually come to stay. So I was on this street called Bermuda Avenue right on the corner of that and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. Sunset Cliffs Boulevard's a really busy street that takes you all the way through Ocean Beach and then it hugs the cliffs, the place called Sunset Cliffs, which is about a half mile strip or longer where on the left there's all these multimillion dollar mansions and beach homes, vacation homes or people live there year round, some of them. And on the right side as you're driving south, it's just the Pacific Ocean and running trails, dog walking trails, and you know, it's called Sunset Cliffs, rated one of the most beautiful places in all of California to watch a sunset.
Matt Finch: So I lived maybe two blocks just before on the right side it's the ocean and a half block away from where I lived, you'd walk west and it was like this kind of private beach that you take these steep stairs down to. In the summertime a lot of people go to the main beaches, right? Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach. Well, I went there sometimes but a lot of the times my friends and I would go to Bermuda Beach down those specific stairs. A much smaller beach than the public beach, no bathroom, but you could bring dogs down there and it was gorgeous. There was cliffs on top, there was these coves and it was just paradise.
Matt Finch: It was the locals only beach because tourists didn't know about it and I would just drink there. I would have so much fun drinking there with my buddies, playing bocce ball, playing frisbee, body surfing the shore break, going for swims and then we'd just party at nighttime. There'd be parties or we'd go to bars. At that age, all throughout my twenties with that beautiful weather it was really hard, impossible for me to quit drinking in the summer. So every summer I knew I wasn't going to be able to do it.
Matt Finch: What I'd do is, okay, as soon as it comes to September 1st, I'm quitting drinking. And then that never happened, man, it'd come to September 1st and I'd be like, "Okay, I'll just ... Another week." Meanwhile, here comes October, here comes November and I'm still drinking. Typically, I'd be able to quit drinking around November because by then the weather started to get much colder, much darker out, but while the weather was nice, June, July, August, September and October, those five months for me and my buddies were like drinking season.
Matt Finch: I know a lot of people nowadays are kind of doing the same thing. Maybe not drinking at the beach, but they're drinking or using drugs and they're telling themselves, "Okay, as soon as I get this done, as soon as this event happens, or as soon as I get this certain project done with, or as soon as I'm finalized with the divorce, or as soon as I get through selling my house or paying off the mortgage." Whatever it is, there are so many people kicking the can down the road like you were saying, extending the goalpost and then extending it and then never actually making that start date and keeping it.
Matt Finch: Making the start date, it takes a decision, a commitment and a resolve. Then it takes a start date and a strategic plan and hopefully accountability and support and other resources. Then, when it comes time to that specific day and time to actually implement the plan. It's hard for people to do that but when they start to do that, even if they fail when they go through the plan, then they can go back to the drawing board, write a report of okay, what went well? What didn't go well? What did I learn? Now, how can I make the next start date and plan better using what I've learned from this and then to just keep trying and keep trying. With that cycle people will eventually do it.
Matt Finch: A lot of people are stuck for a long time though because they're not doing that kind of initial footwork of getting a calendar, putting the start date, really preparing for it so you work yourself up for the best chance of success and then trying it. Maybe it doesn't work out but I mean, as long as you keep doing that, it's just a matter of time before all the stars are in alignment, the timing's good, for whatever reason you can break through but it's when people keep, like I said, kicking the can down the road, not making any concrete commitment and start day and plan to where it's just easy to keep going. You just get stuck in that automatic habit of continuing to do the same shit.
Matt Finch: I've been stuck in that even many years after quitting drugs and alcohol with like trying to change my diet or getting back to working out or watching less TV or something. So I get it. I know how hard it can be to get stuck in that subconscious program, autopilot, that our brains are designed to make everything easier. That's why we don't have to think about it when we brush our teeth, when we get dressed. These are all kind of unconscious, outside of our awareness, easy to keep up habits even if they're bad habits like drinking. Drinking too much.
Chris Scott: Yeah. Well, I think the anger that gets generated from procrastination can be utilized. It can be harnessed to force that change and I had the same thing as you. With me, I actually don't have sleep problems. I have lots of supplements that work for sleep. I have a problem of wanting to go to sleep. I don't have a problem anymore of like, my head hits the pillow and it's five hours until I get to sleep. That almost never happens unless there is a serious problem that needs to be resolved, in which case I know being proactive, which is the opposite of procrastination, being proactive and at least doing everything I can to fix that is going to let me relax, reduce anxiety and go to sleep.
Chris Scott: So, that's one of those things. I will occasionally just not want to go to bed until 2:00 in the morning because I have so much exciting stuff going on. I remember seeing, I think it was like a YouTube montage of who's the crocodile guy? He was unfortunately killed by a stingray. I'm blanking on his name as I often do, but he was super pumped up in this video. He was like, "I love nature." He was like, "This is my life's purpose is showing people about nature and it is a tragedy that I have to go to bed at night." He was like, "I hate going to bed. I just want to do this all the time." So, sometimes I feel like that, which is the exact opposite of when I used to use alcohol as a method of escapism which would then keep me from going to bed even if I had to get up early the next morning. That was a problem.
Chris Scott: But all of this is to say that you can use procrastination that you get from getting angry and I occasionally will say ... I'll wake up in the morning and go, "Why did I stay up doing X, Y, and Z?" which were not horrible things to do, way better than drinking obviously, but why did I stay up until 2:00 in the morning. After five or six days of that or a couple weeks of it, maybe with some interspersed nights where I did make myself go to bed at 10:00, then I'll say, "All right, tonight we're going to bed at 10:00." You just make a choice. You have to remind yourself you can actually choose to change your habits even if they're in that realm of the subconscious autopilot.
Chris Scott: You don't have to keep doing what you're doing. It's the most natural path. It's the path of least resistance. It's the path you'll do by default if you don't make any changes, if you don't make a decision. But if you do make a decision, you can and you will change it. Now, you have to keep making that decision over time if you want it to be sustainable and that's where a lot of people slip up.
Chris Scott: But I wanted to say a word about, you were saying people have conditional reasons for why they're going to tackle their addictions or quit drinking or quit drugs, and seems to me those people have the problem and solution in reverse. They put the cart before the horse. If you say, "I'm going to quit drinking when I get my dream job." I mean, why don't you quit drinking so that you can get your dream job?
Chris Scott: Or I'm going to quit drinking once my marriage gets better. That one is a ... I mean, you almost always a sign of self-delusion because 99% of the time when I have a client and I always say I'm not a marriage counselor, but 99% of the time if I have a client who has serious marital problems and they're a drinker, the alcohol is contributing to that situation. So quit drinking so that you can resolve the marriage problem or figure out what the best option is. I mean, that's a complicated one because often you have people who will sober up and then realize that they might have chosen the wrong partner or have other painful realizations. But a lot of the times if they really want to work on it, they can decide to work on it and figure that out.
Chris Scott: You know, I'll quit drinking once I stop being depressed. That's another one. The alcohol causes depression over time. Chronic alcohol exposure increases inflammation in the body, reduces your natural levels of feel good neurotransmitters. You're not going to magically become undepressed as long as you keep drinking. But there is a very good chance that if you excise alcohol from your life or other drugs and you start a program of nutrient repair and you start living a better life and you pay attention to the basics like fresh air and food and water and sunshine and earthing, then you'll be able to ameliorate your depression or you might realize you're not inherently depressed.
Chris Scott: I spent years thinking that I had innate anxiety and depression and insomnia. Those were all symptoms of chronic alcohol exposure. Now obviously it's not random exposure, I chose to drink. I chose to start drinking and I chose to keep it up and at some point the neural pathways connecting alcohol with pleasure and relaxation and bliss and social norms and everything else became overwhelming. It was like trying to walk up a mountain with a 500 pound boulder on my back to stop doing that. As we know, there are ways to make that much easier. So all I had to do was make the decision that I wasn't going to do that anymore and make a commitment to myself that I was going to figure out how to make it not feel like I was carrying a 500 pound boulder up a mountain, which ultimately I did.
Chris Scott: You know, you tend to find what you're looking for and that's one of my favorite Tony Robbins quotes. I think it applies to alcohol or addiction recovery. It applies to entrepreneurship. It applies to relationships. It doesn't mean that you always get what you deserve. I mean, obviously either one of us could get hit by a Mac truck later today. We weren't looking for that, so obviously accidents happen, problems occur, but it does mean that you're more likely to figure out a solution for something if you decide to start looking for it.
Matt Finch: Right. Yeah, I've heard Tony talk about that a lot in his audio programs, his books, and of course my favorite is his live seminars. And he'll often say, "People will say, 'Oh, it took me three years to make this change like to leave a relationship or to start a new career. Oh, it took me all these years.'" He'll say, "No, bullshit. It was one decision that just took you three years to come to that moment to make that decision to do that." Decisions equal power. It's in the moment of decisions that your destiny is shaped.
Matt Finch: Just everything you're saying it's just bringing me back to kind of the days of drinking and drug using and addiction versus now reminded me of something that Zach brought up when I had a session with him, I guess Friday night that was. He was saying how one of the goals for recovery that he gives for his clients is intentionally and strategically visualize and come up with a plan to create a life without using alcohol or for people who want to moderate, moderate, but imagine a life that you would actually want to show up for and be present for. I'm paraphrasing, but it was so powerful.
Matt Finch: Back in the day when I was going through my alcoholism, at many very stressful points and you know, doing lots of drugs as well, I would be so depressed, more than depressed, I'd just be so hopeless and fearful, very anxious, very scared, upcoming things that I was facing with people, with the law, based on bad decisions that I made, feeling guilt and shame, knowing that consequences were coming, just not wanting to deal with it. Pounding alcohol, popping sleeping pills and benzos with the alcohol and painkillers because I just wanted to just be numbed out. I didn't want to be present for a single second of my life, at the life that I currently had that I had created and I wanted to be asleep a lot of the time.
Matt Finch: There was one phase where I had just broken up with a girlfriend and even though it broke her heart, it broke my heart too. You know, I'm really empathic like that and even though I broke up with her, it was my decision, I went on a huge drinking bender afterwards. I had been off alcohol for three weeks. I broke up with her because our relationship was just tied around alcohol, just drinking all day. After I had three weeks off I was like, "What am I doing with this girl? This is just a drunken relationship." So I ended it and she freaked out, said all these crazy things that just made me feel horrible.
Matt Finch: So, I felt so bad that I just went and got hammered. There was a beach party that day, a keg party down at Sunset Cliffs at this beach called No Surf and on an empty stomach from about noon until sunset, I was drinking a keg of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Then we all go to some party out in East County and I'm drinking Jack Daniels and Pepsi. All of a sudden, I black out and I wake up in the hallway of the hotel where the party was at and I'm like in this hallway, who knows what time it is, 3:00 or 4:00 AM, I start pounding on the door, no one's letting me in. I'm like, "How did this happen?"
Matt Finch: So, I go walk out of there, find a bus stop, the bus isn't running, and I just sit there at the bus stop. There's a 7-Eleven close by. As soon as 7-Eleven opens, I go in there and buy a 40-ouncer of Mickey's Malt Liquor and I buy a V8 and I make a poor man's Bloody Mary. I brown bag it and I take it back to the bus stop and I start chugging it. The bus comes, I get on the bus, get all the way home back to Ocean Beach, get in my house, finally, and I asked my roommate, "Can I have some of your sleeping pills?" He's like, "Yeah, go ahead." I popped two or three of them. Finished off the mickeys and then for the next probably week straight, Chris, every time I woke up I would just take a few more sleeping pills and drink five or six beers. For about a week, I was sleeping about 22 hours a day.
Matt Finch: That's how depressed and not wanting to deal with life I was. That was around the age of 25 probably. So, going from that, a life that not only I didn't want to be present for, but I didn't even want to be awake for. I wanted to just be asleep all the time because every time I woke up, I was like, "Oh, fuck this. Let me get back to sleep as soon as possible." To now be at a place where, like you but not to the extent as you because I love to go to sleep, but there are many nights where I don't want to go to bed because, not only do I love to be present for this life, but I wish that I could be similar to a vampire to where you don't have to sleep at all and you have tons and tons of energy. Of course, then you couldn't get sunlight and all those things, so I wouldn't want to be a vampire, really. But wouldn't it be cool if you didn't have to sleep at all or you could if you wanted to but you didn't need to.
Matt Finch: That's a completely different life to one where you don't want to even be awake, let alone be present, to one that you don't even want to go to sleep because you just want to keep being so present and just sucking all the juice and joy out of life and helping people and learning new things and being creative and having fun and being in love. Completely different lifestyles. One, for me was drugs and alcohol and this one is Chinese herbs and essential oil crystal candles and essential oil diffusers and exercise and natural sunlight and barefoot walking and you know, dozens and dozens of other things, most of which I wasn't doing back then.
Chris Scott: Yeah, as you were telling that, and you're a great storyteller by the way I feel like I'm watching a movie or something when you're talking, I was thinking about my experience when I lived in New York. I had several phases of drinking, you know, relatively light, heavy and then horribly heavy. I remember by the time I got to that extremely heavy phase I would try to figure out how many sick days I could actually take and I would do this subconsciously, but I would figure out when it was an okay time for me to take a sick day. I would just check out and I would wake up in the morning, of course I would convince myself I had the flu, because I had probably a cytokine storm from all of the alcohol that I had consumed the night before.
Chris Scott: So, my subconscious mind would lead me to drink an insane amount and stay up until 5:00 in the morning drinking, God knows, 25, 35 drinks. Sometimes out, sometimes in my room and I would literally incapacitate myself such that I could not go to work even if I wanted to. So I would have to, quote, have to, take my sick day. I would call and, "Hello. Yeah. I can't make it. I have the flu again." It's been three weeks but I have it again. And that's out of the way, throw the Blackberry that I had at the time into the closet so no one could reach me. I would have a deli deliver an egg sandwich that they probably made with like shitty seed oils or whatever and like an orange juice, just a ridiculous breakfast. And then I would open up a bottle of vodka that I would have well prepared. I was always well prepared with that, had it in my freezer, and just start drinking, have mindless TV, wait for that artificial buzz to reach a certain level, look out my window, it's such a wonderful world, this is great but it was all fake.
Chris Scott: It was fake, toxic, artificial bliss and then as it started to go down I hated the feeling of alcohol wearing off. I hated it. It was probably because I was such a hypoglycemic too. So my blood sugar was either up here and I felt amazing for 20 minutes that felt like two hours and then it would start crashing down. So I could either drink more, or if I couldn't drink more, which there was a point which I couldn't drink more despite my enormous tolerance, I would then lay down and pass out for like two hours.
Chris Scott: And then I would get up and feel actually sick again and groggy. I would sometimes maybe have another drink so that I could at least walk around. It was very odd but when I was in that state, a drink or five, would like restore my vision. So I'd be going from extremely groggy to being able to see, my posture would get a little bit better, have a few drinks. That was my body's physical dependence on the alcohol for energy which a lot of people can't understand. When you get to that point that's what it's like.
Chris Scott: So, then now it's stroll around the city. I lived pretty close to Times Square but I'd walk down to Chelsea. I would look at the Equinox gyms with their beautiful giant glass windows and the modern plants and foliage and people who were super fit, you know, girls in pink sports bras and spandex and guys fucking jacked with their sleeveless shirts, sunglasses, eating something healthy outside and I'd think those people look like they had figured something out that I haven't figured out. Isn't that weird?
Chris Scott: Walk by restaurants, people are hanging out eating food, unfinished glasses of wine. I would think to myself, "Why aren't they finishing their wine?" Like fuck the food, I just want the wine, but they seemed to take it or leave it. I would always come back to my place, have a few more drinks, forget about that and somehow not break that cycle. But hidden in that very depressing story, if illustrative, but still depressing, is that I actually had the power to change at any point and I never made the decision to change.
Chris Scott: Now, a big part of that was that I didn't understand biochemically what was going on, what set me apart from other people, which as I later learned, the distinction between so called addicts or alcoholics and so called normies, the distinctions are pretty slim, which is not to say that you can't become physically dependent on a drug, including alcohol, and have your life be extremely impacted by it, but inherently you might have some genetic predisposition for something but predisposition is not destiny. You don't have to live like that. You can transcend it. You can move past it. You can make it a phase of your life. You don't need to struggle forever.
Chris Scott: As we know there are some people who spend a certain amount of time or a certain phase of their lives in severe addiction and later on they become a occasional, sporadic, minimal user of various substances, including alcohol for some people. So, I think it's important to remind people that you do have free will. Your subconscious mind runs the show by default and it's actually useful to have your subconscious mind run things. I don't want to have to think too much when I go to the bathroom to take a pee or when I walk my dogs. I have a very set routine, I need to be thinking about other things. The subconscious is useful. It's not always trying to sabotage you, but if you engage in things that are self-destructive to the point that the self-destructive activities become part of your subconscious autopilot, then it will seem as if you can't change, but you can. You can rewire your subconscious brain. You can rebalance your biochemistry. You can restore the free will that you've had all along.
Chris Scott: Addiction is really the illusion that you don't have free will, which is not to say that it's not very hard. You and I have both been through it. We're the same people now that we were in those stories that we just told of our former selves. Well, I should say past phases of our lives, not really former selves. We've forged new and better identities but we're still fundamentally the same people that we were. You were still Matt Finch, you know? So, this is something that was extremely hard for me to grasp.
Chris Scott: When I reached that point, I transitioned from reading the depressing recovery memoirs to the self-help stuff and the Tony Robbins. I started realizing how our psychology worked. I read all sorts of books on neuroscience and nutrition and psychology. Started realizing, oh, there's a body brain system. There's a mind body system. There's a subconscious mind and then of course, there's a rational mind and there's free will. All of these things can be healed together and you can actually learn a lot from the depressing phases of your life. It doesn't have to be some kind of albatross that you carry with you forever.
Matt Finch: Oh man, that was all epic stuff. It also reminds me of, not just with alcohol, that phase that I was talking about where I didn't even want to be conscious, I wanted to be asleep. When it came to getting really addicted to opioids, I liked how they gave me energy and made me more creative and adaptable and euphoric. But there were various points where I was on opioids where, you know, maybe I found out that my girlfriend cheated on me or something. This happened a few times.
Matt Finch: Things like that, and getting cheated on by a band member, someone that's supposed to be one of my best friends that was in the band that I played in. Then all of a sudden my girlfriend and a member of my band, that's like ... You're looking out for potential dangers, but you're not really necessarily looking at the person that you live with, that you're in an intimate relationship and someone you're in a band with, that's like the last people on your list that you think would back stab you, that you think would do something that would cause you so much harm.
Matt Finch: So, in instances when those types of things happened just really violated, just so ... And back then I was very, very sensitive, much more sensitive than I am nowadays. I'm still sensitive, but I've been through so much shit and gotten through it and I'm 42 now. So, I mean, back then I was still kind of new to life and didn't have a lot of adaptability and resilience and stoicism and spirituality and spiritual strength and free will. When those types of events happened, instead of just taking a regular amount of opioids to be able to have energy and get to work.
Matt Finch: I wanted to obliterate my consciousness. I would take a shitload. I'd go get heroin if I could and Ativan, Xanax and I wanted to take as much of a dosage of an opioid as I could with as much of a dose as a benzodiazepine as could because I wanted to be able to lay back on the couch, or go to the park. It's called the nod. I wanted to be nodding to where you're nodding in and out of consciousness. It's this feeling where it's like it's so much physical, emotional, mental, spiritual euphoria. It's like you're halfway in between the dreamworld and halfway in between reality. All of your emotional pain is gone and it's just like okay, but you're in and out of consciousness.
Matt Finch: I remember this one guy that used to buy weed off me when I was probably 24. His name was Nick. He would make fun of his friend. He'd bring his friend with him to buy weed from me sometimes. This was before I got addicted to pills and his friend would be on a whole bunch of like Vicodin and Klonopin and his friend would be kind of nodding out, that same nod I'm talking about. Me and the guy getting weed, Nick, we'd be smoking weed and laughing and getting all giddy and he'd just be on the couch, just kind of like nodding.
Matt Finch: Then what Nick would do is he would slap the guy's knee really hard and he'd be like, "Oh, oh," and then we'd both start laughing and then he'd start a second or two later he'd go back to that nod. He's like, "What a idiot man, he's taken way too much." But looking back on that, and I was making fun of him too, never ever judge a person or the behaviors that they do until you've walked a mile in their shoes or lived in their shoes. Since he was doing that and wanting to nod out, my guess is he had a lot of trauma that he was either currently going through, or expecting to come up.
Matt Finch: Most normal people that are really enjoying their life and passionate about it, they don't intentionally do that to themselves, right? Nowadays, if someone came over and would be like, "Hey, you want to take a bunch of pills and combine them so you're nodding out and you're like barely even conscious?" I'd say, "Absolutely not. That sounds horrible." So, I mean, but back then it was very desirable at many points. Not wanting to deal with life, live with life.
Matt Finch: Another thing is the momentum, and then I'll let you take off here or anywhere you want. When you have so much negative momentum from the thoughts you've been thinking, the things that you've been doing, and the words that you've been saying, when there's so much negative momentum, you're overweight, unhealthy, drinking too much, using too much drugs or whatever, working a job you hate, for example, that's a lot of negative momentum built up to bring you to where you are.
Matt Finch: Of course, stopping all of that negative momentum and then making some changes and then building a bunch of positive momentum, that's a process. There's inertia at work there. But once you get all that positive momentum such as you and I have these days, dude, we're like freight trains. Any obstacles that come up, typically, we're going so much faster, we have so much momentum that we just break through those walls. So I want people to know that that's one of the big things. It can be hard to change everything because of all the momentum that you have going in the opposite direction of where they want to go.
Chris Scott: Right. I think as far as nodding off and achieving that, if you can call it achieving, that state of bliss, half dream, half reality, totally blissed out. That's something that I would achieve with alcohol sometimes. I wasn't quite nodding out but it was like I was kind of floating. I was basically high on ethanol and none of the negative stimuli that I could have paid attention to mattered. Where we're coming in, positive things I could think about. I would be a combination of giddy and super relaxed, didn't care if I was disoriented because it was fine. That state was preferable in a certain phase of my life. I know what it feels like, but I can objectively say that that state is not preferable to the feeling that I have on a day to day basis nowadays.
Chris Scott: It was all I knew back then as far as bliss, but when we started talking today I said, I feel pretty blissed out because I went on a three mile walk with the dogs. I'm in good enough shape that it feels like I'm floating when I'm walking with the dogs. It's a nice day. I'm actually present with the trees and the nice breeze. I can appreciate the weather. It's kind of cooling off here which means it's only 80 instead of 100, and I've got the dogs and I'm thinking thoughts of gratitude and I'm focusing proactively on positive things rather than using a substance to biochemically and harshly and artificially and toxically make it easier for me to focus on those things. I don't need it. It's an exhaustive resource.
Chris Scott: So I think people have this view of, say, heroin as, and I don't know, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but they think of heroin as something that no one should ever try who's a, quote, normal person, because that one for some reason is so powerful, that drug, that it'll turn you into an addict because the bliss you will experience will inevitably ruin your life. I'm not sure that I believe that.
Chris Scott: My only positive experience ever with opiates ... I had two experiences with opiates. One was Percocet, which I hated. I almost puked all over the floor, it made me disoriented and nauseous. I had to take it ... Well, I had to ... I decided to take it as prescribed when I got my tonsils out in college. It was kind of late to get them out. Painful. But I wished immediately I hadn't taken that Percocet. I couldn't even stand up. The room was spinning around. I felt horrible.
Chris Scott: And then there was another time, I think actually related to that same tonsil issue I had in college until I got them removed, where ... That's right. I had an emergency tonsil ... I don't know what you call it, but they had to stick a scalpel in my throat and slice my tonsils to drain them because I couldn't breathe and they had four doctors holding me down. I managed to throw like two of them against the wall. It was terrible. Yeah. So anyway, this was one big saga which led me to my only experiences legally with opiates.
Chris Scott: At that point they had a morphine drip and I had this little bell or something where I could ring it to get more morphine and I rang it like five times and each time the nurse came would give me more morphine. I know that morphine is molecularly similar to heroin. It's an opiate. I don't know how much stronger heroin is. I know there's fentanyl, never had that, but that was pleasant. I actually liked the morphine drip because it kind of put me in this ... It felt like I was in some combination of a comedy and some heavenly bliss. Things were funny for some reason and I was happy and I was joking around and just feeling really lighthearted. That was my experience with morphine.
Chris Scott: Apparently I had a lot of it. The nurse kept coming back. It's amazing I didn't overdose. I mean, I don't know how many refills you're allowed to get but I'm sure I maxed them out. As far as I know I didn't have any kind of opiate withdrawal after that. I was, during this time that was the early phase of me developing a problem with alcohol, but I wouldn't say that that state that I experienced on the morphine, which I remember pretty well, is something that would be preferable now to what I have on a daily basis here. It's not preferable to ... And neither are the feelings that I got from drinking alcohol.
Chris Scott: It's not preferable to how I feel after a hard MMA workout where I have camaraderie and highly skilled people who are taking the time to show me things and I'm learning and I get a great endorphin high. I mean, really, it's like, would I ever rather have something that's artificial and toxic instead of something that's natural and good for me and sustainable and won't make me feel like shit later? No. I wouldn't.
Chris Scott: So I think that part of the calculus for people who are recovering and or recovered, or for whom addiction is a past phase of life is often overlooked by the status quo which tends to think of addiction as this chronic, long-term, incurable, lifetime disease. The assumption there, which is what I'm getting at, which I think is incorrect, is that you and I go through life longing for those amazing experiences but ruminating on the negative consequences of them enough that we don't do it. But that's not true. We're actually obsessed with the positive consequences that are in fact better from newer things that we now do in this phase of our lives and we don't want to detach from reality.
Matt Finch: No, just like the title of the last episode with Zach and I, we have outgrown alcoholism, and in my case I've outgrown alcoholism and drug addiction. We simply outgrew those preferences and that lifestyle. It's all about growth and in life you grow the most through suffering. That's why the ex Navy SEAL David Goggins is so big on you've got to suffer, you know, intentional suffering and he makes a lot of sense. When things are really comfortable in life, how much are you growing? You might be growing, but when you go through big, huge phases of suffering, even if it's self-induced, then you're able to heal from that, overcome that, transcend that, come out of that the other side. Always there's huge amounts of growth if we're willing to do that work to get it.
Matt Finch: Eventually, yeah, you can either continue to go through life as a perpetual addict or alcoholic and you can always define yourself as that. 40 years later, "Hi, my name's Bob and I'm an alcoholic," or "Hi, my name's Janet. Alcoholic and my problem is me." If you want to continue to reiterate that identity day in and day out, then that's fine, people can do that. But for people that have tried that and don't necessarily think it's best for them or for people that have been told AA's the only way, 12 Step's the only way, or total abstinence for life is the only way from everything. If that doesn't resonate with them, if they have a soul inner knowing that, wait a second ...
Matt Finch: Well, you and I are living proof as well as so many other people, not just us, we didn't invent this. We're not unique in any way because so many people in their own way have outgrown a phase of substance abuse, whether it was a year, six months, five years, twenty years, there is so much research on it nowadays that the vast majority of people that have ever had any type of problem drinking or problem drug use or even dependence, do recover and a lot of them do it by the time they're in their mid-thirties or maybe 40 years old. So a lot of people when they're in their twenties and thirties will drink too much, have abuse, could like be labeled by the labelers as having alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder. Most of those people don't seek any type of professional help and most of them outgrow that phase of their life and they don't bring in any of the terminology of recovery or anything like that.
Matt Finch: I personally know and am friends with or even related with so many people having gone through exactly what I've described. The first person I think I learned about it was one of my friends. I won't say anybody's names but yeah, he quit heroin and he was drinking, he was a total alcoholic and he was shooting heroin. Then all of a sudden he quit heroin and he quit alcohol and he got really, really healthy, but then nowadays some beers here and there, some weed here and there, maybe some ayahuasca here and there. Never any type of traditional path at all but that was a phase of his life. Had he gone to NA meetings and really loved it then maybe he could go that route, but he just did what seemed intuitive to him.
Matt Finch: I think there's a lot of room, there's a lot of room for people to get really creative and to really kind of harness your own intuition. Nowadays with this podcast and with all the other podcasts, books, YouTube channels, websites, blogs, there are so many different addiction recovery tools, so many ways to frame substance use, so many paths that you could take regarding abstinence or moderation. You know, use these substances, not that. I hate people ... Well, I don't hate people, I hate the idea of stigmatizing anybody that uses any types of drugs or specific types of drugs.
Matt Finch: Because a lot of times drugs can really offer people, and even alcohol, altered states of consciousness which when either used responsibly or medicinally can be a net highly valuable resource for their life. It's only when the negative consequences start to greatly outweigh the positive benefits that resources become exhausted and then they've kind of abused that resource and now it's depleted and move on. But when things are still a resource, I think the more resources a person has in their life that can add value to it, the better, even if they're shunned upon by mainstream society.
Chris Scott: Right. Yeah, I think the subject of moderation with alcohol comes up a lot and that's a term that it doesn't make a huge amount of sense because it's either the average of all people who drink, in which case the average is being pulled up by the minority of people who drink most of the alcohol that the alcohol companies rely on their sales forecasts for, or I guess if you include the obstinate people in that average then maybe they cancel each other out, I'm not sure, or it means safe. So we have studies that say no level of alcohol is safe, which is not the same thing as saying you should never do it.
Chris Scott: I mean, I don't know if there's a level of motorcycle riding or jet skiing or kite surfing that's safe. I don't have a desire to ride a motorcycle, mostly because I do know of too many people who have had accidents, but I don't judge anyone who does. I also love jet skis and I love ... Well, hopefully soon we'll love kite surfing. I'm still in the lesson phase of that. So I do risky things that could be bad.
Chris Scott: I'm not one to judge, but it seems to me that when people say, "Oh, I drink moderately," or they ask often, "Hey, I have X number of drinks per week. Is that moderate?" I have no idea how to answer that question, but I also don't want to be confused as the person who is a prohibitionist because I don't want to be telling people what to do. I don't have a moralistic tone, I hope, as far as drinking goes. I think of it as suboptimal. I think of it as kind of gross.
Chris Scott: I know that I have friends who are personal trainers who have never had a problem with alcohol who tell me, "When I go out to dinner with my girlfriend, I have two beers and then I feel like shit the next morning. So, I just don't drink. Maybe once in a blue moon I forget that I feel like shit, so I'll have two beers again and then I remember, oh, I feel like shit." These are highly tuned machines, these types of people, and I know a lot of them. My MMA training partner doesn't drink. He's a competitive fighter. He obviously has never had a problem with alcohol, but for the same reason because it is a toxifying substance. That's a much different thing than saying that you should never consume it.
Chris Scott: People have their own reasons for doing all sorts of things. So rather than have like a moralizing, knee-jerk tone, someone had a drink, oh my god, they relapsed back to square one, starting over counting days. I'm not even moralizing about those things. You want to count days? That's fine. A lot of people in my course count days. I counted days for a while until I lost count and then I don't really need to expend energy figuring out how many days or weeks or whatever it's been. But it's a personal choice.
Chris Scott: I often say to my clients that my goal is not necessarily for alcohol to never touch your lips again. That might be a really good outcome, but my goal is to help you build a life that's so fulfilling and healthy and happy that alcohol becomes a moot substance. Whether or not that means that alcohol is a moot substance that you almost never use or that you never use, that's totally your call. I don't see how something can be a moot substance if it's part of your daily routine. That's another reason that I ... Again, I'm not moralizing, it just doesn't make sense. If you have two glasses of wine every single day for the rest of your life, it seems like kind of an odd thing to do. I wouldn't do it, but again I know people who do that.
Chris Scott: My grandfather actually had his scotch every day at 5:00 PM and he would flip out if he didn't have it even when he was in his mid- to late-eighties. I don't know whether or not he had an issue with alcohol. It doesn't matter because I don't need to moralize about that. I think sometimes maybe he drank more than he should have from a health perspective but he lived pretty long.
Chris Scott: My goal is to help people maximize their overall level of well-being and health. I don't think that you can use words like sobriety as a proxy for someone's happiness. Obviously there are extremes where someone can say, well, the level of alcohol that makes me happy, or the level of heroin that makes me happy is some gargantuan amount. I need 45 drinks a day to be happy. I think I read somewhere, I don't know if this is true, but that Kim Jong-un in North Korea has like six or ... No, maybe it was 13 bottles of wine a night. I'm thinking, wow, he outdid me. I don't even know how that's possible. So the question then is well is it possible that you need to be an alcoholic to be happy? If that's the case you probably have some biochemical disorder symptoms that need to be addressed if you want to be as happy as you can possibly be.
Chris Scott: But on the other side, I know personally too many clients who have sought help and were drinking way too much, had a long period of rejuvenating their biochemistry, rebalancing their brain body system, reconditioning their minds and they decide at some point that for whatever reason they're going to have a glass of wine and oftentimes they say that it doesn't produce the same pleasure as before. So, that was like a worldly experiment in their case. Now for someone else who's not ready or for someone who's been off of alcohol for a week and a half who's thinking that what I'm saying in encouraging, which by the way I'm not. I'm not encouraging and I will never encourage anyone to drink, nor will I promote alcohol. But if you're thinking, "Oh, maybe I'm ready to experiment," probably not after a week and a half. It's probably not the case.
Chris Scott: If you've had severe neurotransmitter imbalances or health issues from alcohol that might be invisible such as inflammation or for whatever reason you have not experienced your body's full potential and your brain's full potential to bring you natural euphoria and pleasure then it's probably not a great time to go see if alcohol helps you because it may provide that illusion for now.
Chris Scott: All of this is to say that everyone's individual and unique and there's no one size fits all. I think that that is objectively true from a health and mental health optimization perspective. The question of whether it's best to give people the full, unfiltered, nuanced truth or whether it's best to give them black and white cliches is another issue, but I think that most people in our audience are smart enough to figure that out, otherwise they wouldn't have found us.
Matt Finch: I'll just end with this is I really believe in lots of different spiritual stuff and I feel like you and I came together and found each other, what was that, four, four and a half years ago maybe even longer ago now. I really think that this was destined or orchestrated or somehow manifested to be able to provide the masses with types of addiction recovery, alcohol and drug recovery strategies, ideas, concepts, solutions, tactics, resources that are not black and white, that are very nuanced, that are very holistic because the paradigm needed to be blown up, the paradigm of just the one path recovery doctrine, the kind of mainstream recovery backdrop cultural backdrop matrix.
Matt Finch: I really feel like that's what we're here to do and what a great, meaningful and purposeful life because there's so many other people that are a lot like us in their goals of I don't want to label myself as this, I don't want to go to these meetings, I don't want to be on that medication forever, I don't want to do this. There has to be another ... So now it's fun for this podcast and the other things that we do to introduce people to things like this book that you turned me on to. Evolutionary Herbalism: Science, Spirituality, and Medicine from the Heart of Nature, and like this stuff is not talked about in the mainstream stuff.
Matt Finch: Someone commented on one of my YouTube videos yesterday and she said that she asked her doctor what types of vitamins and diet and exercise stuff could help her to rebuild her brain. I'm coming off Suboxone which is a long-acting opioid medication. Her doctor said none. There's nothing that's going to help. Only tapering off Suboxone and then waiting through time. She said it made her furious because she said that she listened to both you and I on this podcast regularly and she watches the YouTube videos and stuff.
Matt Finch: It's fun. It's fun to give another side of the story. There's one story which is black and white, one paradigm, one narrative, and it's fun that we're teaching people, not only what we do, but also here's how to customize it, here's how to create your own narrative, here's how to follow a path or create a path or forge a completely new one and here's how to do it as safely as possible, as comfortably as possible. Here's how to grow as much as possible. Here's kind of the nuts and bolts of things, ideas and then giving people the power to be ... And also the responsibility of taking control of your own life versus a lot of people that have been so programmed by mainstream media, by the cultural norms without ever really stepping outside of it and listening to other ideas and critical thinking.
Matt Finch: I mean, you and I do this stuff naturally but other people that's not their strong suit, but then it's fun to kind of wake people up to ... Because so many people have found us and have been like, "Oh, this is making so much sense. I was totally programmed by this fear-based model of addiction recovery. It's so liberating and freeing and fulfilling and gratifying. My freedom ..." Freedom's the biggest word. They feel so much more free and then all of a sudden this path of overcoming their addiction and healing from it. Now they're excited about it because it's completely more creative, it's more freeing and it's more customized and unique based on that they're a sovereign being like you were just saying. It's not one size fits all recovery, not one size fits all medical treatment for various things that people are afraid of right now. One size fits all is a scam, it's a fraud and anyone that says otherwise is a scam or a fraud.
Chris Scott: Well in that doctor's defense, I don't think that there's a randomized placebo control study showing that you need to breathe air in order to survive, so I don't know what recommendations he could have given.
Matt Finch: Right. Well, do you got anything else to say, Chris? I think I'm out of ...
Chris Scott: We'll save it for next time.
Matt Finch: All right and Papaya, you got anything to say? She's like put me back on your shoulder. Right on. Well, thank you ladies and gentlemen for checking out this episode. We love you guys and we'll see you next time.
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