In episode 293 of the Elevation Recovery Podcast, Matt Finch interviews Chris Engen, founder of Nutrition 4 Recovery. They discuss Chris’s personal journey of alcohol addiction, the importance of amino acid therapy, nutrition, and other helpful strategies for addiction recovery.
Chris is a cum laude graduate of UC Santa Barbara. She is Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (BCHN ™) and holds a Nutrition Consultant Certificate (NC) from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts. Chris also holds an Advanced Certification as a Recovery Nutrition Coach (CRNC2) for Nutritional Therapy / Amino Acid Therapy from The Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition. (www.aminoacidtherapy.com).
She is a past board member and currently on the Advisory Board for the Alliance for Addiction Solutions (www.allianceforaddictionsolutions.com) Chris implemented Amino Acid Therapy into a rehabilitation program in Northern California in 2018, which unfortunately was short-lived but she continues to pursue the Alliance’s mission to get nutrient therapy into rehabilitation programs.
Links to Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
- Can Nutrition Help People With Alcohol and Other Drug Addictions Stay Sober?
- 7 Steps to Feed Your Recovery
- Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0
- BioRebalance Restore
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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: Hey friend, welcome to the Elevation Recovery Podcast. I'm Matt Finch, your host, bringing at you today, Episode 293. Yes, that's right. We're coming up very soon, in a couple of months on Episode 300. That'll be a huge celebration. Thank you so much for tuning in.
And in today's episode, I'm interviewing Chris Engen, who has been on the podcast a couple of times before. Chris herself quit drinking many years ago and some of the most helpful strategies for her were amino acid therapy and nutrition-specific strategies for biochemical restoration therapy. Since then, Chris Engen has gone on to become a Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition. She holds a Nutrition Consultant Certificate from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts, and she holds Advanced Certification as a Recovery Nutrition Coach for Nutritional Therapy / Amino Acid Therapy from the Academy for Addiction and Mental Health Nutrition. Chris is the founder of nutrition4recovery.com, where she has amazing online courses, articles, and a really awesome email VIP newsletter that I'm a part of, where she sends epic free tips direct to your email inbox.
And in this conversation you're about to hear, I guarantee, we're going to bring up statistics and foundational truths that are going to blow your mind. You're in for a real treat. Chris is really intelligent, creative, passionate about helping others. And without further ado, let's get to the interview.
All right. And thank you so much, Chris, for coming on the show. This is our... You and I, now, our second time doing this. And I know Chris Scott has interviewed you a few times. You have some very exciting new developments. I'm trying to figure out how to navigate this thing. I think what we should do is at least another version, a short version of your story of struggling with alcohol, what you tried. It doesn't have to be the long-form version like we've done in the past, but this is going to be... A lot of people are going to be brand new to you. And so probably, best to share, and people are searching that on YouTube all the time and on Google, stories of people overcoming alcohol or alcohol recovery stories. There's a lot of people looking for that. And I used to watch that type of stuff too. I was like, "Whoa, look at this stuff, so cool." So we'll do that at first, and then we'll come into the new exciting developments.
I've been getting your emails on your business email list and been reading them. They're always awesome, full of great free advice. You're actually pretty prolific on sending out emails, and we'll talk later about the resource that you sent me from your school, which I probably spent 45 minutes already this morning studying it and taking notes, taking screenshots because... And this was like, I think you said 2018, and it's like brilliant and you were just on fire.
That was like soul-based creative writing. You just knew. There was a deep part of you that knew. So now, it's all gone full circle. You went to the stepping stones through training with other people, being on the board of directors, this, that, and the other. And we could talk about that, but how did it all start? At one point in life, you were able to control alcohol. It's not like the first time you ever drink. You went on a four-day binge and made a bunch of bad decisions. So it went from a resource for you, and then over time, it became more of an exhausted resource, more of alcohol abuse, addiction. And then there's new language too that you're going to train me up on. We could do that later on too, or whenever it comes in. So anyways, how did it all start?
Chris Engen: How did it all start and how can I explain that in what, five minutes or less we're talking? So, [inaudible 00:06:05].
Matt Finch: 10 minutes if you want. You could do 10 minutes.
Chris Engen: Oh, I don't know about that. I don't know if you want to hear all that. Well, for me, really, I don't think I was ever a normal drinker. I was an occasional drinker, and I could control it sometimes. But dating back to high school, I definitely was a binge drinker. I liked to drink and get smashed and not have to be present for my social interactions. I mean, I definitely realized even at that time, "Wow, this is so great, I can drink and then just be this other person. I'm not so conscious." It didn't bother me that I blacked out as a teenager. A lot of my friends actually blacked out. We thought it was funny. "Oh, I don't remember what happened last night. Do you? Oh." The whole next day recap. There was no shame or guilt or anything.
High school, college, post-college, it was usually just because my friends were drinkers and you surround yourself in that environment. And so, if everybody's drinking to excess, if you're in a group, and the goal of the party is to drink a lot, to get drunk, to play quarters, to do upside-down keg stands, I definitely feel like... I felt that in order to be popular, I had to drink. And I was popular and I drank. Actually, I never really did drugs though, which is interest... That's another whole topic.
Sometimes I wonder drug of choice and how that all comes about. Very likely just because growing up, I watched alcohol every day in my house be consumed, and I didn't know that adults could do life without alcohol. It's just alcohol was downstairs, we had a wet bar and fully stocked and I didn't... Just the five o'clock cocktail and the wine at night, and entertaining always involved offering people a drink when they came over, no matter what time it was. That was just very much like the culture that I grew up in also.
I had lots of early warning signs. I'm not the person that drank without consequence at all. I won't go into it. But I've had consequences as early as age 19. But because number one, never every day, definitely only a binge drinker, which I think arguably is worse. And I was just talking with somebody about this the other day. It's super dangerous rather than a maintenance kind of one-bottle-a-day person. But you get yourself in some pretty bad scary situations when you drink to black out. I just lost my train of thought on what was I going to say.
Matt Finch: Well, while we figure out what you... We'll back you up. Binge drinker, right? My code word or my term for binge drinking is ticking time bomb.
Chris Engen: Totally, yeah.
Matt Finch: Ticking time bomb. You could have a week, two days, two months without any alcohol, then all of a sudden the time bomb. And you never know what the timer is at, so as soon as you're done with a binge and you clean yourself back up, then there's this ticking time bomb that's in your brain or wherever, and you never know whether it's going to go off in two days or a month or... So that is, in a lot of ways, much more dangerous. But yeah, you were talking about your negative consequences, 19, binge drinking.
Chris Engen: Yeah. Now also, just what you put up with or what you accept for yourself as okay when you're drinking like that it's just, in hindsight, really upsetting. I mean, I've got teenagers now, and they actually don't drink. So I feel like... I know. I feel like I've really passed that on. And meaning the awareness that I teach them now, I don't tell them not to drink, but they know. I mean, they saw how I struggled here towards the end of it. And it's not a secret. I think when you're living in a house full of secrets that makes things really hard.
Matt Finch: Yeah.
Chris Engen: Don't talk. What is it? Don't speak, don't feel, don't something else, anyway. Yeah, so it just continued with every step. Oh, I know what I was saying before. It was that, also because I was doing really well in school, I had a full scholarship to UC Santa Barbara, academic scholarship, maintained my 3.8 GPA all throughout, and still, it was so... Because it's binging, right? I was like, "Okay if I drank every day, how would I do that?" Plus different athletic endeavors and whatnot and caring about fitness and how I looked and that kind of thing. So it didn't turn into an everyday physical dependency ever.
But the mental dependency part and the obsession piece was really daunting. And also just even when I wanted to stop and when I knew it was doing a lot of harm and I was trying to moderate that, I could moderate here and there, and I would think, "Oh wow, I finally got this." And then like you said before, I was like-
Matt Finch: Ticking time bomb.
Chris Engen: Yeah. And it just would be another horrible experience. And my tolerance for those horrible experiences is probably way more than the normal person. I think if somebody experienced three of my negative consequences or even one, they would probably be done forever, but not me. I think sadly, it's what finally as they say is, "You got to get off that elevator. You can get off anytime it's going down." And I got off because I'm here. Right? But somebody else would've gotten awful a lot earlier, definitely.
And for me, I guess, to wrap that up, again, I wouldn't want to go into all the details. Maybe one day if we go in some retreat or something, we can talk about it. Mostly, I definitely had consequences for my drinking and I worked very hard for three, four, five years using all the modalities that were recommended. Of course, the 12-step program, that one that we all know about and are now learning that perhaps isn't the best model for everybody.
Another thing to mention, probably that will resonate with some listeners, I was monitored for a while on the car as well as with the breathalyzer, handheld breathalyzer. That was for custody issues. So I mean, we're talking really-
Matt Finch: Significant negative consequences.
Chris Engen: ... really serious stuff. And that's like... When that started, when it got to that point, that was when I realized, because that's my bottom. And I realized that if I still had that urge to drink like that and if I couldn't get in front of it, there was something else going on. It was more than we say willpower, "Okay, now you're being monitored four times a day you have to blow into this thing and have a third party. It has to be within this one-hour timeframe and if you're more than two minutes late." There are all these rules. And then if I missed a test, I had to do the urine test.
And what I really put myself through on that and fighting back and saying I didn't have a problem, would've saved myself so much pain if I would've just caved in earlier and surrendered. So anyway, back to what was available as programs in IOP. I never did an in-house rehab, but an IOP through my healthcare provider, 12-week, and then another 20 weeks after that. Heavy AA recommendations, life ring, I did all the therapies, and we've talked about this before, but any three-letter word, you name it, I did it. I mean, cognitive processing therapy for trauma, seeking safety for trauma. I did brain spotting. It's like in the EMDR category because I do have trauma in my background.
I've done cognitive behavioral therapy. I've done dialectical behavioral therapy, and I've done acceptance and commitment therapy. Okay. And I'm a student. You've already heard this, right? I do things. I want to get the A. I told you about I got an A plus on that paper. I do these programs. I have binders and binders and binders and notes and notes and notes. And that was where, coincidentally, or maybe it was a divine intervention from the universe or my higher power that I went back to school after 20 years in advertising as a senior broadcast negotiator partner media at a huge ad agency, and decided I was going to change my career and go back to school for nutrition. And I'd always been interested in nutrition and psychology. So nutritional therapy was really just the intersection of nutrition and psychology.
And that's where I was introduced in one tiny little chapter in my textbook. I was reading it and I was being monitored at that time when I was in school studying for nutrition. And I just had the hugest aha moment ever. It was like, "Whoa. I have to learn everything I can about this. I think they're speaking my language." It was blood sugar regulation and it was neurotransmitter systems. And I started Googling everything. I found Julia Ross, who lives across the Bay from me. I called her. It was that focus. And I want to say that was 2016. So I started in 2016. So it was probably early 2017. And I called her and I called the alliance and I was just fearless. I was like, "Wow, this is it." And I used myself with nutrition, with food, and then later with the amino acids and obviously, proceeded to get my two certifications, including my advanced certification from the academy.
And I was practicing with clients already before I was even done with that. It was just...
Matt Finch: That's so cool.
Chris Engen: Yeah. So I guess I've rambled on long enough, but that was just... You can see from my face. I mean, that was my turning point. I wrote that paper almost effortlessly. It was a lot of research. That stuff's pretty tedious. But as far as the message, it was just a no-brainer. And I'm so clear with what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, which was help people out there understand that it's more than talk therapy and it's more than spirituality or praying or both of those pieces are important. But this nutritional piece, it's the foundation. It's the foundation. I mean, if you've done 10 therapies like I did and you're a straight-A student and you're still binge drinking, right?
Matt Finch: Missing.
Chris Engen: Something else is still missing.
Matt Finch: There's something missing. Yeah.
Chris Engen: Yeah. Yeah. So that's my story. I guess that was more than five minutes. That was probably 15 minutes. Hopefully, people aren't too bored.
Matt Finch: No, this is great. Like I said, people love hearing the stories. I never get sick of it because I'm obsessed with transformation. So I could hear the same transformation story a hundred times and still enjoy it because it's high-vibration communication and articulation. And it's cool too, how you, myself, and Chris Scott, we all had very similar paths in regards to many things actually. But in regards especially to how we all remember reading something where we're learning about hypoglycemia, neurotransmitters in our brain, drugs mimic them, deplete them, and you can't make them. There's amino... Something inside us went, "Oh. Aha, this is it." We had been searching for trying AA, trying this kind of therapy, trying counseling, trying whatever, and then continuing to binge drink. I was mostly a binge drinker too. I was physiologically dependent a few times. But for the vast majority of my alcohol using, was binge drinking, like a ticking time bomb.
It was, I'd have my together, I'd be healthy, I'd be into fitness again, I'd be doing great, and then all of a sudden, be like six months or a year of no drinking, just doing great, and then for whatever reason, that time bomb would just decide to go off. And within a matter of days to especially one or two weeks, I look like a different person. Alcohol binge drinking destroys people's health. And those of us that are more sensitive and with not as robust constitutions than some people, the binge drinking is exponentially more devastating to us.
I was reading End Your Addiction Now by Dr. Charles Gant, which I saw in your paper. You had quoted one of my favorite quotes by him. I forget what Chris was reading. It might have been Seven Weeks to Sobriety, or it might have been The Mood Cure. But anyways, we all ended up in our early recovery periods where we're trying to figure shit out, getting that missing link, that missing puzzle piece that we didn't know what it was, but we knew there was something out there. And then as soon as we all learned about that, we're like, "Oh, light bulb." It's like, "How come people don't know about this? It almost seems like... There's like..."
Especially nowadays, is there some type of conspiracy to where this is not supposed to be hush-hush because we don't want people's... One of the notes I took from your paper, and then you can actually tell the audience listening in or watching, how you got the idea for this paper, why you wrote it, when, et cetera. But one of the notes I have right here, out of all the research that you post in there, several different studies from several different people and doctors and treatment programs.
I wrote, "Most biochemical restoration-assisted recovery research shows similar results of about 80 to 85% success rates." You had a bunch of different research in there. And it's like, "Well, AA might have a three to 10% success rate. Traditional mainstream treatment that is 12-step based. Typically, you'll hear a lot of stuff, but usually what we see is maybe one in 10 people that it's a really, really good fit for." But everybody has a brain and everybody that uses substances negatively changes their brain physiology and transmission, and that's just one of the organs. Not even talking about the intestines and the endocrine and how everything's connected.
But regarding the nutrition, you have gone super niche into this. Chris Scott and I are both generalists, so we love nutrition. We love supplements. We love positive psychology. We love this woo-woo spirituality. We love these systems. We love these self-help productivity. We like this time management. We like these essential oils. Here's our Chinese herb tea. Here's our animal organs. Here's where doing an inhaler-type of glutathione and we're inhaling it with a gas mask on type of thing. It's a nebulizer. When I visited him, we were doing his infrared sauna. We were doing steam rooms. We were doing the cold pool. We did MMA workouts. We nebulized glutathione powder and water. We drank Yerba mate. We have blue eggs every single morning basically for breakfast, like half a dozen blue eggs each. So anyways like...
Chris Engen: Well, let me stop you just for a second there. But maybe the listeners... I'll interview you for half a second here. Do you feel like you still need to do all of those things that you listed because you still have... Because my clients ask me that all the time, and I'll say like, "I actually barely take any supplements anymore." And that's not to say if you are still taking supplements and doing hot and cold showers and eating blue eggs and nebulizing glutathione and all of those things, not that that's bad. But yeah, I guess I'm just curious. Because at this stage, you guys are four, five, or six years sober. Yeah?
Matt Finch: 11.
Chris Engen: 11?
Matt Finch: Yeah. Well, that was more biohacking in the four days I visited Chris than I probably have done in the past two months on my own.
Chris Engen: Right. Right. Right. So you guys were probably just doubling down and how many... Let's see how we can...
Matt Finch: It's a game for us.
Chris Engen: It's like what, it's fun, and you're together.
Matt Finch: Yeah. Well, that's what we like to do for our hobbies. So when he comes to visit.
Chris Engen: He's here. Yeah.
Matt Finch: When he comes and stays in Phoebe, we'll go swimming in the ocean in the cold water. It's typically cold. We'll go in his hot tub. We'll go to this bar and grill type thing, and they got these really good juice shots where one's immunity, one's something else, like digestion immunity. So the first time he visited here, we went body surfing, hot tub, and he is like, "Hey, want to go to this bar and get some shots?" and I was like, "What?" And then he was like, "These juice shots." And then we recorded a podcast. But if Chris isn't visiting or if I'm not visiting Chris, I haven't even barely worked out three times in the past two weeks.
Chris Engen: No.
Matt Finch: Yeah. Yeah. So that is way more biohacking. And nowadays, I meditate. That's the main thing I do now. I just meditate. Yeah, yeah. But yeah, no, to answer your question, no, we don't need to do all those crazy things. Otherwise, we're going to relapse.
Chris Engen: True. Right? Yeah. No, my daily medicine these days is actually, I'm back to running and absolutely loving it. That's always my first. I would say running... I didn't run... This is typical of my personality. I've never run more than like... I'd never even run a 5K, actually. Up until when I was 28, I wasn't a runner. I was a swimmer. I think like you, you're a swimmer. Yeah. Chris is a swimmer too, I think. So swimming, hiking, tennis, normal exercise. And I saw a flyer for Team in Training in the Missing Sock Laundry in San Francisco, which is on Hyde and Union, if anybody knows where that is, it's super cool. Anyway, there was a flyer for Team in Training marathon in Honolulu or Sacramento, but of course, you know. And I took it, and I was like, "Huh, I think I want to run a marathon."
Having never run more than two miles informally in my life, the very first run I ever did in my life was the Honolulu marathon. I just didn't even do a race until I did that marathon. And it was so awesome. I loved it. I loved it. And I crossed the finish line and I wanted to do another one the minute I crossed the finish line. By the way, that's how I was after I had a baby too. And I don't think too many people do that. So I am an endorphin person. Right?
Matt Finch: Yeah.
Chris Engen: It's like, "Right. I want to do it again." And so nobody would do a marathon with me back then. It was 1997, and it was unusual to do a marathon. Now everybody's into it. So that's when I decided I would do triathlons because it was a really long way to run by yourself. The camaraderie of the training was really good.
But anyway, so then I started doing triathlons and had all that. But now I'm back to running after at least... I haven't run more than six miles in four years and I'm up to 10 and I'm doing a half marathon next weekend. And I just signed up for a marathon in May, a full marathon. And hadn't done one in 11 years. So, yeah.
Matt Finch: Yeah. I swear the people that adopt exercise, it's not just a habit, but kind of a new part of their character, their personality, their identity. It was like when you had said when you were binge drinking, you had lowered your standards in a lot of areas. You're just naturally super smart and creative and could probably cram for tests in high school and breeze through it, gets almost straight-As pretty much.
But yeah, lowering your standards then all of a sudden exercise, when we make exercise our new standard, like your new standard is, this is all the running you're doing, and here's the race. So that's a much higher standard than my fitness... My meditation standard lately has been intense in journaling. But my fitness, for whatever reason, it's just been cooler, cloudier weather. And I don't know, sometimes I go on. When you and I were talking about this a little bit earlier before we started officially, how there's these waves that you get in life, a wave of creativity comes, but it's the wave of where first it's downloading into your mind and you're thinking about it, and then... But you're not into the phase of working it yet, creating the content, or doing the project.
The same thing for some people for writing songs, like writing songs. Oh, for two months they'll just be creative outlets. Then all of a sudden nothing. I'm like that with pretty much everything except for parenting. I have to be stable in parenting. But even with my diet and even with my exercise, sometimes, I'll just not really care about making big, huge, fancy meals. I'll still eat healthily, but it'll just be really low, where I'm just cranking out work, lots of caffeine, the bare minimum of food, but then all of a sudden for a couple of days, I'll pig out, and I'll do a lot of exercise and rest on Sundays. And so I feel like these energetic... Part of it's kind of not stable energy daily too.
But anyways, all this stuff we're talking about is so fascinating. It's working out. You were talking about endorphins, biochemical restoration therapy, nutritional rehabilitation. I had never even thought of it in that exact term before, but I learned a lot reading your paper twice now. Thank you for that. So where did you get the idea for this paper? Because you had told me earlier before we officially started, but this is... Where can people find this? What was the inspiration? And then we'll talk about the most exciting new things after that.
Chris Engen: Okay. Well, the inspiration, as I said, was when I was in school at Bauman College here in Berkeley, California, that I had that aha moment as I was struggling myself with binge drinking, and when I read this section on neurotransmitters and food and amino acids, and even then there was textbooks, I actually went into class, in-person, now it's probably all online. But my aha moment was, "Oh my gosh. I need to learn everything I can about this." Because there was a small section on addiction, and of course, it's mood too because your mood causes cravings.
I always try to clarify that with people where if you're like us and if you're talking to everybody, you're talking to no one. So you need to niche it down to who's your audience. But at the same time, all the time, people are saying, "Well, I really like your program but I don't have any addictions. Would it still work? And would it still be helpful?"
I'm like, "Yes, it would absolutely be helpful." And usually, most people do have some repetitive behavior that they'd like to eliminate, or at least the negative moods. Julia Ross writes about, more formally referred to as depression and anxiety which I don't want to segue too much here. But getting diagnoses and labels after your name, before when you're drinking and being shoved suggestions for pharmaceuticals, when really if you just stop drinking, a lot of that anxiety would go away. Some of that panic attack would go away. Some of the doomsday suicidal thoughts might not be there. And then they give you pills because they're like, "You're struggling. You must have depression. You must have generalized anxiety disorder. You must have panic disorder." And I'm like, "Oh my God, I didn't know I had all of these things. What?" You quit drinking and take supplements, and you're like, "I don't have panic disorder. I don't have... I mean, I don't have all these labels after my name." And I don't know if you've ever like... Have you ever seen the Seinfeld where Elaine sees her chart. I'm so going off on the [inaudible 00:32:54].
Matt Finch: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Chris Engen: I was like that years ago. I was looking. I was trying to see what my chart said, and I'm like, "What?" It's like major depressive disorder. And I'm like, "No, I don't have a major..." You don't have to keep this for the interview if you don't want.
Matt Finch: No, this is great stuff. This is amazing.
Chris Engen: Is it?
Matt Finch: I could totally visualize that. Well, you brought up something too that I wanted to talk about in the notes. I'm just, where the heck is it? Here we go. Part of your paper was saying how people self... It's like a self-medicating painful moods or painful affects.
Chris Engen: Yeah. Yeah.
Matt Finch: What you could tell people for, "I don't have an alcohol problem.""Well, is your mood exactly how you want it? Do you have a hundred percent of an awesome mood a hundred percent of the time? No. Then you could use this information."
But in the paper, it's self-medicating drug and alcohol use as a form of self-medicating, painful affect or mood states as a result of nutrient deficit disorder, viewing the process of binge drinking or physiological dependence, alcohol, or opioids as self-medicating nutrient deficiency disorder and how our body's starving for elevated GABA levels, for example in one person. Another person starving for dopamine and endorphins for another person. And then, once those neurotransmitters are spiked through alcohol and/or drugs, then they're like, "Oh, okay, I feel normal now or I feel good." Self-medicating low neurotransmitters, yet you and I know, this isn't talked about.
Traditional rehabs, hardly ever, if ever. And so it's up to people like Julia Ross, one of the biggest pioneers or the biggest pioneer in this whole field of neuro-nutrient therapy. I can't think of a more rockstar celeb in neuro-nutrient therapy than her. And you have done so much work with her, and we've interviewed her I think twice on this podcast now. I interviewed her once, then Chris interviewed her. The video that he interviewed her, I think has 8,000 or more views now. So this stuff works. This stuff works. And so you have been recently really refining your system. You've got a website and you have free content on there. You have a great email list. I'd recommend everybody to get on your email list. And you have Facebook groups I think too, or at least one. You're always networking. You have courses. So I'll shut up.
Basically, what is it? I'll bring up some things like soul foods, cleansing diet, the building diet, Amino Acid Therapy, and animal studies, given the choice between alcohol and water, animals chose alcohol more frequently when they were nutritionally deficient than when they were well-fed. And the researcher, this is directly from your paper. Research was able to shift alcohol consumption up and down based deliberately on tweaking the nutrients, subtracting or adding vitamins to their overall feed. I mean, if that's not compelling research, I don't know what is. That's like me. That's like my... I wasn't the animal and there was no researcher. I was the researcher and the animal at the same time, treating myself but not knowing what was going on. It was all just this huge enigma where you and Chris Scott and I all had that enigma resolved in our own little separate paths when we learned about this missing component.
Chris Engen: And yeah, I do realize that I didn't answer your original question when I went off on the Seinfeld, Elaine tangent. And what you had asked me was about what this paper, that I imagined we're going to direct everybody to, I just posted a blog on my website written in 2018, was my final research project. And they give you a format on how this paper is to be written. And so, I've followed that format with an introduction, problem statement, definition of key terms, et cetera. And what resonated with me and what I told you before we started recording was that in the last four years since I started my business, Nutrition for Recovery as a result of my aha moment that I need to do nutrient repair with myself so I can stop binge drinking because that's the only thing I haven't tried. It is the missing piece.
And that I was able to put this research paper together and pull everything I could find into the structure of the paper, which was perfect because it's nice to have an outlined structure. So instead of altering it at all, I just put it up. And for me personally, with where I'm at four years into this business, I realized that what I wanted to do, I wrote everything I wanted to do back in 2018, very specifically. I even have a business plan I wrote very specifically.
But like anybody, we're all human, and different things have come in front of me and I've had to pick and choose which direction to take in my business. I worked with a functional medicine doctor for about a year. I certainly spent a lot of time with the Alliance for Addiction Solution, time for them that I could've spent on my business. But I don't regret a minute of it because it's like I looped all around. They say recovery's not a straight line. It's this... zigzag, zigzag, zigzag. And then, I'm right back. And I use the cheesy analogy of, "You're right back at home like Dorothy. You go out and you go on this big adventure."
Matt Finch: A hero's journey. You come back with the special [inaudible 00:39:14].
Chris Engen: [Inaudible 00:39:14] thank you.
Matt Finch: ... to share with the people. You're back home and now you got the magic something that you learned, and then you can share it with the world and help. Yeah, you did the heroes journey part of it and now you're helping other people create their own heroes' journey regarding their addiction, regarding their negative moods, regarding how that's screwing up their relationships and their ability to earn income and be better parents to their kids.
The work that you're doing is so needed, so, so, so needed. Too many people get burned out as substance abuse counselors, the traditional ones, the counselors, and therapists because their patients and clients for the most part aren't getting better. Even close to the amount of rates that you and I and Chris Scott all see, and Julia Ross and Christina Veselak, et cetera. Because we see this nutritional biochemical restoration. It's more like eight and 10 people or eight to nine out of 10 people typically doing these protocols customized for them, that's the missing link. All of a sudden, then all the other stuff works. So I mean it's funny that still so many people don't know about this and you've been talking about it for years. Julia Ross for decades, Christina for decades, me for probably 10 years, Chris Scott for probably seven years or something like that. But still, this is not common knowledge.
Chris Engen: I find it's just people want to argue with it sometimes too. I mean... And it's like, I'm not in the convincing business here. That's the worst place to be, is trying to convince somebody. It's more like, "Here's the material I've done the research. I've got this evidence. It is eight out of 10 people at the very... Eight out 10 respond to amino acids favorably to the extent that they don't have cravings anymore." The other piece, we'll say eight out of 10 people never had a drink again. I mean I can't measure that. I don't know who's telling the truth or who's not. And also just that there's a separate piece to it, which is, I can help with the biochemical piece with eliminating the cravings. The other piece is the other work, which is the habit, the neural pathways because you're wired to want to drink at 5:00 or want to drink at 6:00, or want to drink at a ballgame.
And I come up across that all the time where they'll say, "Chris, I don't have a desire to drink anymore. My cravings are gone, but I still want a drink." Not because it's a craving like, "Oh my gosh, I can't stop this." They know they want to stop it and they're able to think and they are balanced but they still take the drink. And then, I just feel like that part, the suggestions I give for that part aren't scientific necessarily other than to continued experiment with the different... And you and Chris Scott's weekend of cold hot and all of that. Maybe something else will help. But really also just changing... They say like, "What do you have to change?" Well, everything. But changing who you spend time with and rearranging your environment. You don't have to move. You don't have to do a geographical. But rearrange the furniture, move the chair that you drink in to the other side of the room. Get rid of the wine glasses. Get rid of all the paraphernalia and triggers that are in your immediate environment.
And if there are people that aren't accepting that you're sober, then unfortunately, those people aren't your friends, and you will rebuild your life as a sober person. And I think it just depends on how much somebody wants it really. Just at the end of the day to admit it and really do that work beyond the biochemical. And then, I'm not at a place to measure... I mean some people just correct the biochemistry and that's all they needed. Other people do need to rewire like I just explained. Does that make sense?
Matt Finch: Yeah, absolutely. So basically what you're saying is, the biochemical restoration is the foundational pillar. There's this three-legged-stool concept that Julie and Christina have totally mastered and you have mastered and then developed your own cool new spins too, based on your eclectic other knowledges as well. You got the biochemical stool, the psychosocial, and the spiritual. Well, the biochemical is just one of the three legs of the stool so you need the others too. Biochemical is a missing link for a lot of people. But just because it's the missing link, that doesn't mean that it's the only link. It is an integral puzzle piece into everyone's own personal recovery jigsaw puzzle. Some people, their jigsaw recovery puzzle is a thousand pieces. I think mine was 10,000 pieces for my person. I had missing links. Biochemical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, environmental, relational, financial, and then some.
Chris Engen: Yes, absolutely. And everybody's recovery does look different and everybody's nutrition looks different. So I know we all talk about that too. So with me, so discovering, uncovering this paper that I wrote four years ago and realizing that my vision is intact, that's my vision I had then, and how can I dig in now and continue to spread the word? As you said, "Look, we run up against roadblocks in this space where we are." I worked at a rehab for four months, an inpatient doing Amino Acid Therapy, and saw great results. And then the owner decided he'd rather spend his money on something else and he owned a restaurant and wanted to feed them garlic bread and tiramisu. And just the budget wasn't there and all of that. And it's a difficult space to be in, but it doesn't mean that we don't persevere.
What I realized was, in reviewing the work I've done over the last four years, and rather than I am a content creator, I like writing. I like new things. But to go back and say, "Okay, don't keep writing, Chris. You don't need to write more articles. Use what you've already done." Even my Facebook group, my Facebook group would be like a book. I mean the content in there is incredible. I'm sorry I'm tooting my own horn.
Matt Finch: No. It is. It is.
Chris Engen: All anybody would have to do is go to the beginning of my Facebook group and read up, and you probably have free course the way there. But for me to take all my content and put it into this new course that I have called... And again, this was the easiest thing I've ever written in my life because I've been working on it for four years in my head, and it was like Seven Steps to Feed Your Recovery.
Matt Finch: I love it.
Chris Engen: It's the nutritional foundations and it's the missing piece. Hello. So the seven steps are, first, the supplementation, the biochemical repair. Not everybody's going to need the same amount of repair, not everybody's... I suggest supplements. If you're not a supplement person, if there's a reason why you can't take these vitamins, you can use food. I have food suggestions every step of the way. Because again, I can anticipate every argument anybody would want to give me at this point. So it's like, "You're not a pill person, okay, Eat these foods with the B vitamins. Eat these foods, they have magnesium. Eat..."
Matt Finch: I'm not a food person.
Chris Engen: Right. That's okay. So that's the first step. And I do have different degrees because there's different levels of where you're at in recovery. If you're... Well, of course, the warning too, which we didn't say. I'm not a doctor. I don't diagnose, cure, treat any disease. If you are actively drinking, make sure that you're... I mean, if you've never gone a day without drinking, I really suggest that you check with your doctor before trying any kind of supplements and make sure that you're not going to have a negative reaction or seizures. It can be very dangerous to go off alcohol suddenly. So that said, there's different ways of eating depending on how much you've been drinking. And I go through that.
Then step two is literally my entire Amino Acid Therapy course that I sold as one thing is now just step two in this monster course that I've written. And that just details everything from trialing amino acids, figuring out your unique biochemical dose, deciding which ones to use, writing a schedule, what happens if they don't work. I'm a total if-then person. I feel like I just anticipate. And if anything does come up with anybody who's experiencing my work or going through my courses and has questions, I mean, I'm ridiculously available too to say, "Hey, oh, that's a mistake," or, "Oh, let me clarify that for you."
Okay. So one is supplementation biochemical repair. Two is Amino Acid Therapy for brain rebalancing. Then we have step three, blood sugar regulation, crucial, we've talked about that a lot. So everybody listening here should have some idea about how important that is for making sure your brain stays online. And then we have gut health and digestion. There's a lot of situations like leaky gut syndrome or candida that people can experience after abusing alcohol, drugs, or even sugar, environmental toxins that can incapacitate your ability to digest and thus assimilate and utilize the supplements in food that you're eating. So that might be a problem. Then I have Eat Real Food, and that's a course in and of itself.
Matt Finch: Wow.
Chris Engen: I'm going to keep going.
Matt Finch: No, this is a mega course. Keep going. Keep going.
Chris Engen: Eat Real Food. And then food allergies, because that's another thing. So when I teach Eat Real Food to people, it's what real food is. You'd be surprised how people don't know what real food is. I'll tell you what it isn't. It's not alcohol, sugar, processed food, or artificial sweetener. If you take out those four things, the rest is real food. And I have so much fun teaching that course. I used to do it as a fixed-state course. But again, in my vision for this was that people will want to do that course as they're going through it. And I'm willing to talk about it throughout the year that people will get when they buy the course. And the step-by-step, I have videos for each module also-
Matt Finch: Wow.
Chris Engen: ... that explains all of it. And then the very last thing is... Wait, did I say food allergies?
Food allergies because if you're eating real food, you might have gluten or dairy intolerance. Those are usually the top two. Sometimes eggs, sometimes... I mean people with nut allergies usually know that, but the intolerances. But you don't have to start off gluten-free. You don't have to start off dairy-free. You don't have to start off keto. You don't have to start off intermittent fasting. You just have to start off eating real food.
And then the last one is exercise. So those are the seven steps. And I just explain it so thoroughly and it's up to like 45 modules within those seven steps. And then I have case studies where I want people to be able to see themselves in the case study. And then, of course, an introduction, a conclusion, and then I have resources, got you in there as a resource. I've got Chris Scott as a resource. And of course, all the references from all of these studies that are out there, that are sadly though pretty dated.
Matt Finch: Yeah.
Chris Engen: Pretty dated.
Matt Finch: Very dated.
Chris Engen: Well, yeah.
Matt Finch: Well, that course sounds absolutely phenomenal. What a creative project to be doing this kind of remarkable stuff. I want to point people to, and then we can figure out where we can get this course, et cetera. But I want to point out again, animals in research, when they're depleted in their nutrition, they drink alcohol more than the water. The more optimized their nutrition is, the more they prefer the water over the alcohol. That is just mind-blowing. So yeah, could you not take any supplements and eat crap and still not drink or still not use drugs? Absolutely. But if you want to have a good mood, a good physical, mental, emotional state of beingness, a good kind of... And I'll do a little testimonial here to the power of amino acid and nutritional therapy.
Before this episode, really rainy, beautiful weather, but I've already been up early with Willow with school a bunch of stuff. So before this, just for these types of occasions when I don't want to get all jacked up on coffee or caffeine this time of day, I took a few 500-milligram capsules of DLPA. I took a capsule of glycine, 500 milligrams, a capsule of taurine, 500 milligrams, and I had some Tulsi Holy Basil Green tea, real low caffeine, and all those together boosted my dopamine, my endorphin, dynorphin, enkephalin, maybe even a little bit of serotonin too, not sure. So anyways, I'm looking out the window. Now, the sun came out. I noticed that when I take a few capsules of DLPA or tyrosine can do this too, the sky becomes more... Like if it's sunny out, which it is now, this is like sunshine after the rain. And I'm looking out there, and it's like, "Everything is more brilliant, the blues, the greens. I'm more calm and euphoric when I look at birds flying by. I'm more present."
Even to this day, I use amino acids. Not every single day and not throughout the whole day, but I have amino acid supplements for days or even phases, maybe for a whole week or two, I need a certain amino acid or blend of amino acids. And this is one of the best skills that I learned in recovery and life in general. Being like a... Having a history with mental health issues, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, knowing how to eat for yourself and your goals and your needs, and knowing how to have a big collection of different supplements, so then you have those, and then developing a lot of experience using them, learning a bulletproof proven system so you don't have to go figure this stuff out all on your own, which is where your course comes in.
But making this an area of mastery of life. Learning how to take care of your body and your paper that I keep quoting, it was talking... In the conclusion, you were writing about, "When we feed ourselves these real foods, not edible food-like substances, and we feed ourselves real foods, take the quality micronutrients we need for our needs," then all of a sudden it's like the ultimate self-care. And we usually treat our pets. A lot of people will treat, myself included, really will treat our pets better than we treat ourselves. And that's sad, but it's as the realest as it gets right there. So anyways, where can people learn more about you? How can they enroll in this course? Yadda yadda yadda.
Chris Engen: And yadda yadda yadda.
Matt Finch: Yadda yadda yadda.
Chris Engen: My website is nutrition4recovery.com. And it's a number four, not F-O-R. So nutrition, number four, recovery.com. Again, my name is Chris Engen. And my course, this course is called Seven Steps to Feed Your Recovery. And it launches November 10th, and I'm pre-selling it right now. The first two modules are available. There's a free question and answer I'm hosting on Friday, day after tomorrow at 12 noon Pacific Time. And you can find that information... Well, I just sent it out in my newsletter. But you could email me directly at [email protected] And it's also on my Facebook page, which I'm sure Matt will post. So that's the free question and answer. I also have a replay of a webinar that I gave, describing it. And then like I said, the first... So the one... A couple of important things to let everybody know about this course is that, first of all, it's only $497.
It's a whole year. Whenever you start, your year starts. So there's no stress in trying to finish it by a certain amount of time. It's yours for a year. If you want to download all the materials and keep it, obviously that's fine. And it includes 20 live calls, which is every other week. And I vary the times because I do have people overseas, so it'll be mornings and then late afternoon so everybody in all time zones can participate. And the sessions are such that you... Well, the course is such that you can start wherever you want. So if you've already done Amino Acid Therapy with me, you can start with Eat Real Food. The order is the suggested order if you're literally starting from scratch. But if you've been sober for three years and you don't feel you need supplementation and biochemical repair from the damage of drinking, you can skip number one or you can pick and choose.
And then those calls are for anybody wanting to... All questions and answers, everybody in the course, if nobody has questions, I'll present something and see what people want me to talk about. There's-
Matt Finch: Wow.
Chris Engen: Wait. No, there's more. There's more.
Matt Finch: This isn't your assistant. This is you doing these calls.
Chris Engen: It's all me. Yeah, I have no assistant. It's just me. And we are going to talk. Then it's in the HIPAA protective portal, so there's a group chat. We're not doing Facebook for this. And that was important to me because this is sensitive information, so it's HIPAA protected. People can use just their initials. They don't have to put a picture if they don't want. But it's an ongoing chat where, for me, just to scale this in a sense that I want to reach so many people, this is the way I can do it.
Then we start talking the same language so it's not just one-on-one, me and somebody else, and then I have to repeat myself to somebody else. And this is what my vision was from the beginning was that we're all working on it together. And if it does grow, that much bigger, then certainly I'll bring people on. I mean, that would be wonderful. And then another important piece of it is that you can create your own payment plan. So I'm not charging anymore if you can't pay 497 upfront. You can divide it. I think it's 46 a month. You can do three payments of, I think it's 165, I had a couple of people do. Just design your own payment plan and I'll plug it in and I trust you. Yeah, because that's the thing, is I want it to be available for everybody, and I know money is an issue. And I'm not a person that's trying to... It's sometimes trying to take advantage of this, I was going to say disease, but it's not a disease. I'm not trying to take advantage of addiction.
Matt Finch: You're trying to take advantage of people that are suffering. It's like...
Chris Engen: Right. I mean, that's a hard thing. Isn't it, Matt? It's like when people start saying those things to you, and it's like... I don't hear it that much, but when I do, it's like, "No, I'm trying to get the word out about this in a way that's affordable for everybody so I can also feed my kids." That's it. Right? Yeah.
Matt Finch: Well, when people say that to me, I don't respond to it ever. I'll just delete. But when I used to respond to those things, I would... And I was kind of a punk back then. This is years ago. And I would respond something like, "Oh, sorry, my 300 free articles, 200 free videos, and three free online courses that I spend about $20,000 a month for all the softwares to give out for free and my free email newsletter. Sorry, my investment in $20,000 out of my own pocket and thousands and thousands of hours that I've spent to research and create all of this free stuff and pay this fortune to give it out for free, sorry, that's still not enough for you."
Now, I don't respond to that. People that say, "Oh, you're just making money off people that are suffering." It's like, "I'm showing people a way out, and almost everything is totally free."
Chris Engen: Exactly.
Matt Finch: Just watch the videos, listen to the podcast, read the articles. You don't need to sign up for one-on-one coaching to beat addiction. Some people want to outsource, and it'll be easier for them, and they have the money. It's a wise investment. We're not here pressuring people. "Buy this, otherwise, you're going to stay addicted and you're going to be..."
Chris Engen: No. Yeah, exactly. I mean, that's what I just... It's only happened a couple of times to me and it's like, "Wow, that's..." Like you said, I mean, the amount of money spent on the schooling and the certification and the research and the writing and all the moving parts, and just the... It's really just when it's a labor of love like this and it's so close to the heart, it's definitely... Yeah, I mean, I love it. And then I also sometimes have to kind of, "Whoo." It's so personal sometimes, you have to take a deep breath and reset because it's really draining to work with people that are still struggling and leaving. I guess there's another way to say it is that a couple of times I've thought about, "Wow, actually, someone just sent me this from Annie Grace's group. It was so good."
It was like Annie Grace, probably everybody knows who that is. When she thought, "Oh, I think I'll just be a barista." I was literally like two months ago, I was like, "Ugh, it sounds so good to just work in a coffee shop." Right? I mean and be paid for an hour, to execute work and get paid. That just sounds really appealing sometimes instead of working all the time because you're living it and then trying to figure out how you can survive and help other people.
Matt Finch: You're sure taking advantage of people. Sometimes you don't know if you're going to have enough money for all the food and all the bills in the way that would be... Like it's really, they're coming from a place that's just not well-informed. They're just quickly triggered and just their first response, just a ego projection. But anyways...
Chris Engen: Anyways.
Matt Finch: Nutrition4recovery, the number four, .com, and in the show notes for this on both the YouTube version and the elevationrecovery.com version, and it'll be on the fitrecovery.com for the show notes and transcript and video embedded. We'll have all your main links with all the stuff that you've been mentioning. So people can just go right there and click on it. If they don't want to remember what we're saying by listening, just probably look below this content that you're listening to or watching or reading. Some of the people read the transcript. So if you're reading right now, you can't hear my voice doing this funny voice. But I am. Now the person transcribing it, that's going to go into the transcript. Well, thank you so much. What do you got planned for the rest of your day? And really appreciate you coming on again, being so generous with your time, and energy and passion, which I love.
Chris Engen: Thank you so much. And one last thing that we didn't touch on that I think is important very quickly is we were going to talk about the different words that people are using right now for-
Matt Finch: Oh yeah, thank you.
Chris Engen: ... recovery. And just because, of course, I don't want anyone to get rattled by if they do read this blog post, that is my actual research paper that I wrote in 2018 where even the word relapse now, they want us to say return to use, and alcoholic is now alcohol abuse disorder. Wait, alcohol use disorder. Alcoholic is alcohol use disorder. Binge drinking, binge drinking disorder, I mean, I prefer that over alcoholic any day of the week because it sounds more like me. But yeah, I had some therapists help me because I didn't want to alter how I originally wrote it, but actually, a lot... There has been some progression there in terms of not making... Apparently, relapse versus return to use is a little softer. That return to use, or what was the other one? Recurrence. Anyway, there's just different ways that I guess are more acceptable too.
Matt Finch: Yeah, I'm all for that. I'm a huge fan of changing language. And when I read it, I was like, "Oh yeah, that's..." Anything that I wrote in 2018 too. I was using the same exact language... Now, with the progression of the language, and I learned a bunch of rad stuff from that. And then how it has progressed it's like, "Well, things going in the right direction." So that means that since they're changing the language, not only is it meant to be more accurate, but it's also meant to be softer, like you were saying. And not like coddle people, but more accurate, simultaneously combined with less stigma attached, typically no stigma. So it's reducing the stigma too. By changing the language, it's changing the stigma and lowering it. By lowering the stigma, it becomes more normalized. Eventually, it's totally normalized. And then people don't have to have the shame attached with it anymore.
Chris Engen: Exactly. Exactly. So thank you for having me on the show. And yes, it's... What day is it? It's Wednesday. Oh, I've just got a lot more work this week and then the usual volleyball with the kid and going to Humboldt County to look at colleges with my daughter. So, enjoying-
Matt Finch: Life is good.
Chris Engen: ... every minute of not having hangovers and being present with my kids.
Matt Finch: Eating real food.
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