How To Rise Above & Overcome Addiction By Cultivating, Disciplining, & Focusing Pure Desire

In episode 259 of Elevation Recovery, Chris Scott and Matt Finch discuss using the force of will and pure desire. They also talk about how to harness, focus, and strengthen this will and desire to overcome a substance abuse disorder. In an age where distraction is at an all-time high, it’s necessary to focus the will strongly on what we want and block out a lot of the distractions in order to recover from addiction and achieve other challenging outcomes.

Will or Pure Desire

Matt starts off the episode with a reading from a book discussing the Will or Pure Desire. And it’s this metaphysical force of will, of pure desire intention that creates universes, that creates planets that we use as co-creator. So one aspect of this equation is developing that, cultivating that, increasing the quantity and magnitude of this will, this pure desire, and then the next part of this equation is the aiming, the focusing of that energy towards an aim, towards what we want.

A lot of people just keep focusing on what they don’t want. They might think about what they want here and there, but a lot of times people are ruminating about what they don’t want, stuck in the past, worrying, which is negative goal setting about possible future outcomes that may or may not come true rather than being in the present moment.

However, we have this force of will that’s the strongest metaphysical electricity of anything in the universe that enables us to be co-creators and we can grow this will within ourselves, and we can aim this will on our desires. And then that can help us to actually manifest and create the life of our dreams by visualizing what we want and taking action over and over again.

Links to Resources Mentioned in this Episode:

Here are some ways to learn from this episode:

Matt Finch: People have work, when they have kids, when they have responsibilities, when they have the mortgage, when they have bills, when they have stressors, when they have financial problems, when they have health problems, it can be so difficult to really, really crank up their attention and focus in time and energy to invest in overcoming alcohol use disorder, a drug use disorder, and other challenging goals.

Chris Scott: In my case, I used what little reserve of will power I had to figure out that nutrient repair existed, to figure out that NLP existed and reframing existed and to figure out all the things that we talked about in this podcast, that's in my course Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0, and over a period of time, because I didn't fix myself immediately, but it did take an initial shot of pure force of will to get there.

Announcer: Thanks for tuning to the Elevation Recovery Podcast, your hub for addiction recovery strategies, hosted by Chris Scott and Matt Finch.

Matt Finch: Thanks for tuning in to this broadcast of Elevation Recovery. My name's Matt Finch and across from me here is Chris Scott, my friend and co-host. And today we're going to be discussing a topic that I don't know if we've discussed this before Chris, I have this book that I'm going to refer to just to set the session off, just to get us thinking about this term, this topic, this concept, because I believe that this is probably the most important thing when it comes to either transitioning off alcohol permanently or one day at a time, and the same thing for drugs and other addictive behaviors. And that is the force of will, the spiritual will, which is kind of interesting. It's kind of different than like physical willpower. They liken it to pure desire. So I'm going to just read off a few of these quick passages and then this episode's going to be on how to harness and focus and strengthen the will or pure desire to overcome, transcend a substance use disorder.

Matt Finch: And I'm sure this has Chris Scott written all over it, this type of stuff. This is like one of your specialties. So without further ado, here we go. The human desire has the strongest and highest electricity metaphysically speaking, which is available upon the planet earth in third density at this time, thus the will, the heart, and the soul of humankind is far more powerful than any problem, any disease or any natural phenomenon. When desire has been disciplined and focused, it is the most powerful force in creation. It is that energy that moves the mountain. It is that energy that creates miracles and it becomes more and more closely allied with those mysterious words of faith and will.

Matt Finch: Will is called pure desire and is frequently used synonymously and even interchangeably with desire. These are not just energies of third density entities. However, the universe is saturated with will and desire. These qualities so thoroughly permeate everything because they are present at the cosmological conception of the creation. Everything arises out of the first impulse of the infinity's will or desire. These most primal of energies are perhaps those agents responsible for seeding and birthing the creation itself. Cultivating desire itself is a powerful way of developing the will. Desire is an energy that wants, that moves, that seeks its fulfillment, whether in the desire to reach or the desire to be reached, the strength of any given desire will channel the will to fulfill itself and achieve its intended aim. This is why desire must be careful, consciously cultivated and aimed toward serving others and seeking empowerment for those upon the positive path. As with muscles in the body, will as a faculty that is strengthened by repeatedly using it and invoking it. Following is one example. Let's see.

Matt Finch: To use strengthen the will, one must focus it. When speaking of the possibility of reprogramming during the course of the incarnation, Ross says, there is about one technique for this growing of nurturing of the will and faith, and that is the focusing of one's attention. And nowadays with all the distractions, with our low attention spans with, scrolling on social media and YouTube and news media and dings, pings, rings and alerts on our smartphones and other devices, there seems to be this inability for so many of us to really focus and aim our desire and our will and our attention on the object of our pure desire strong enough and consistently enough to see these hard challenges through to the end.

Matt Finch: We did an episode previously on the four burners effect, the technique. And when people have work, when they have kids, when they have responsibilities, when they have a mortgage, when they have bills, when they have stressors, when they have financial problems, when they have health problems, it can be so difficult to really, really crank up their attention and focus in time and energy to invest in overcoming alcohol use disorder, a drug use disorder and other challenging goals. So I'll just open it up with that. Chris, how did you like those quotes on will and pure desire?

Chris Scott: I thought they were excellent and this is a very nuanced topic. So there are a bunch of different angles that I'm considering attacking from. So I'll try to condense it and hopefully keep it concise here. But this reminds me of something I've talked about for a long time, which is the necessity of having that internal spark, the internal fire. That for me, was something that I developed by becoming fed up with alcohol, with the short-term negative consequences of drinking and also at the same time, the long-term, bright future vision that I knew could be in store for me if I could transcend this damn thing. And I say short-term negative consequences because for all of the talk about negative consequences from alcohol, the ones that are the most long-term and the most abstract and the most distant from our immediate primal urges, in other words, well, alcohol might make me have a divorce, or alcohol might make me get fired, all these hypotheticals. Or so and so doesn't like it when I drink.

Chris Scott: A person in the state of alcohol dependence, either physiologically or psychologically is impaired in their ability to work through those abstractions or to attach that much meaning to them, I've realized. What ultimately did it for me was getting to the point where I felt like crap when I drank and it didn't alleviate my withdrawal symptoms, which is not to say that everyone needs to get to that point. It's often said that you don't need to reach rock bottom to quit, but to the extent that you can frame your short-term negative consequence or long-term, if you're capable of doing that, I was not capable of balancing all of these thoughts about what could or should happen because of my drinking.

Chris Scott: For me, it was like, my liver hurts and my head's pounding and I'm going to keep going through withdrawal and drinking as an endless cycle until I stop this. That pissed me off. And in a sense, that's a short-term and a little bit of a long-term negative consequence visualization, but what really did it for me more than anything was like, I realized I have a long, healthy, potentially happy life in front of me if I can stop doing what I'm doing. And that gave me what they call the psychic change at some point to enroll myself in medical detox, because I was at that point and I needed it. And then once I was there, it gave me the impetus to keep going beyond that. And when my withdrawal symptoms became protracted and I went through PAWS, Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, it gave me the motivation, the fire to try to independently figure out what the hell was going on in my body and my brain that my perspective was not being adequately described or resolved by the mainstream rehab cliches and prescriptions that they have there.

Chris Scott: So I was never lacking for internal fire in early recovery, in part because of how much I had suffered and what I'd done to my body, making my body and my brain sick and being sick of that, and also in part, because I could visualize the kind of perfect day that I wanted to have, that I knew I could have at some point it in the future. And I would kind of go there. It was like, kind of like a bright horizon or sunrise in my mind. I could go there for a second. I could imagine what it would be like to wake up free of a hangover, free of withdrawal symptoms, actually feeling good in the morning, feeling like I was living life in full color, which is a phrase that I use often in kind contrast to the sort of black and white darkness and drabness of my life while I was addicted to alcohol, allegedly having all this fun, getting drunk all the time, right?

Chris Scott: That's what a lot of people think that people who are addicted to alcohol are just having a blast and they need to stop it and grow up. I had a severe physiological dependence by the time I quit. In the beginning, there was some of that in college for me. And if you had told me in college that I would one day develop an internal spark, an internal fire, a force of will, that would help lift me out of addiction, I'd be like, "I don't know what you're talking about." Like, I'm having a great time. This is awesome. I don't know why anyone would not stop. I don't know why anyone doesn't drink all the time. I literally thought that in college, I was like, "Why do people go off and work? Why don't they serve martinis in the office all day?" And of course, I go work in finance and they don't exactly serve martinis in the office all day, but it's not unheard of to go get some martinis at lunch and then have some more, bottle of champagne at dinner, depending on what you're doing, especially in sales type jobs.

Chris Scott: But anyway, I think the force of will... Another nuance I wanted to touch on is that willpower alone won't carry you. It's an important thing to have, but it's something that has to be augmented by, in my view, an understanding of what's actually going on. So willpower help you summon the resources that you can use to not have to use willpower a hundred percent of the time. In my case, I used what little reserve of willpower I had to figure out that nutrient repair existed, to figure out that NLP existed and reframing existed, and to figure out all the things that we talk about on this podcast, that's in my course, Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0, and over a period of time, because I didn't fix myself immediately, but it did take an initial shot of pure force of will to get there.

Chris Scott: And I think anyone who's lacking that's going to have a hard time. We both have known of individual cases where a person has all of the resources arrayed around them ready for use. And yet maybe they link a one out of 10 pain level to the idea of continuing to drink or engage in their addiction. And that's not to say they're a bad person at all, because we've all been there. But it can be a shift of perspective that gets someone from realizing that actually the pain level's a little more than one out of 10 to continuing to engage in the addiction. And maybe it's actually a seven and your minimizing it, maybe you're biased. So that's where perspective shift comes in as well. And that's different from willpower. A lot of people will talk about how you can change your desires, you can change your inherent need to do certain things by simply changing the way that you look at them. And that's true. Perspective is everything.

Chris Scott: I think one of the fundamental and defining characteristics of our species is that we have free will over our focus, which is something touched on at the end of your quote there. As awesome as Papaya is, the little bird sitting on your shoulder and my dogs are, they don't... I mean, this is questionable. I don't know. I'm sure animals are way more competent in many ways cognitively than we give them credit for it, but as far as I can tell, they don't have as much power over what they focus on as we do. I can choose to focus on the saddest, most depressing thoughts or most disempowering thoughts. And I can and choose to put myself in the past or in the future, engaging in disempowering behavior or ruminating about things or creating fights and arguments with loved ones, that's then going to affect how I actually act later on, or I can choose to do the opposite of that and focus on empowering things, focus on things that lift me up, and try to have patterns of thought that are conducive to the kind of world that I want to create for myself.

Chris Scott: And so I really think that we can create the realities for ourselves that we want to live in. We can't do it instantly, but we can create that perspective shift instantly if we realize and practice using that particular power. So I think that's another example of maybe like the transmutation of the force of will into something that's real via a power that is not necessarily willpower. If that makes sense. In other words, you're using your willpower to work on changing your perspective, which then makes your life a lot better and a lot easier. Or you use your willpower to learn about things like nutrient repair or targeted amino acid therapy or meditation or exercise or time-restricted eating or whatever, keeping your blood sugar stable. You use your willpower to figure that out. And then as you begin to accumulate strategies that help you, your whole sense of wellbeing snowballs into a much bigger thing. And your sense of self-efficacy improves as well, which then kindles that spark, it turns it into a fire. And I really think that's the key.

Chris Scott: So it's not abnormal to feel like you're force of will in the beginning has been shredded or that it's been diminished, or maybe you feel like you don't have anything. I was totally lost and I felt totally powerless at the beginning of that journey with the exception that I know it was possible for me to figure it out. So like that internal spark I had was tiny, it was dying. It was at risk of going out. And I was able to... Through some of the methods that I just discussed or tried my best to describe, I was able to fan that into an actual flame that then made it effortless for me to do much harder things later on.

Matt Finch: I love it. And I loved everything you said so much that ideas started to pop into my head and I had to start writing down this significant constellation of concepts. Maybe you can help me parse these out. So have you heard of self binding strategies before?

Chris Scott: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matt Finch: Yeah, so I wrote these different elements down. Motivation incentives, pain associated with the substance use or behavior, physical proximity and ease of getting the substances, drugs or alcohol, willpower and discipline. So I'm imagining these types of relationships. I work with a lot of clients that have a 10 out of 10 motivation to quit. And the ones that seem to do the best are the ones that are able to do effective self binding overall strategy and then tactics underneath that. For example, this one client that was trying to get off of opioids. She kept running out of her prescription, not every month, but most months she would run out of her pain killer prescription, anytime between one day, two days, sometimes up to 10 days early. And thus having to go through an acute withdrawal for all those different days until her prescription was filled again.

Matt Finch: This particular client, their significant other didn't know to the extent at which they were hooked on these painkillers. And so the self binding strategy they used was to simply leverage the power of their significant other, have total honesty and communication and vulnerability into, "Hey, here's what's going on with me." And then having the significant other take control of the painkillers as a form of self binding. So now all of a sudden then she was able to get stabilized and make it to the end of the prescription without running out, and then to start tapering when somebody else is in control of the pills. When I was finally getting off opioids and alcohol and benzos, I was physiologically dependent on opioids, pretty addicted to alcohol and benzos, but not dependent at that point, at that one point. And I was like, "Screw this. I am so done." Like you, Chris, I was angry, I was pissed off. I was like, "This has to be the time that I quit all this shit."

Matt Finch: It was the perfect timing. All the stars were in alignment as far as situations being ideal for detoxing and escaping, unhandcuffing myself from all those substances and being addicted to them. I gave my mom my painkiller prescription, it was methadone to assist in the detox after I had overdosed and winded up in the hospital, almost died. So every morning I'd wake up and I'd go up to my mom's room. And she had a good hiding spot for the methadone tablets that I was using for detox. Had I had the whole bottle, I wouldn't have had the discipline or the will, even though I was motivated to quit, had I had that bottle of methadone, 10 milligram tablets in my possession, oh, I don't... You take your morning dose. And then by the afternoon, I really don't want to deal with all this homework. Oh, the kids crying and being difficult. I'm so tired. I'll just take a few extra pills. I'll just take one or two extra pills beyond my taper amount.

Matt Finch: And so that's hard to do. With alcohol, it's even more difficult, way more difficult than painkillers. How do you do a self binding strategy when most places in this country alcohol's for sale everywhere? So that's why you did probably the most effective self binding strategy, which was to go to an inpatient treatment. Back in the day, probably more than a hundred years ago, maybe less than that, alcoholics and people going through withdrawal, they'd put them in a straitjacket and they put them in a mental asylum. And they'd do electro shock convulsive therapy, all that kind of stuff. So they don't use most of those types of self binding strategies today.

Matt Finch: So when a person has a 10 out of 10 motivation, that's obviously the first step. They have to want to change. And then, like you said, addiction, whether it's alcohol or many of the different addictive drugs that boost dopamine and other neurotransmitters, that can erode free will, that can make your strategizing and your mood and your belief in yourself lower. So in that case, it's all about harnessing the will. Well, how do you do that when, if it's alcohol, for example, it sells everywhere? And we're so conditioned to view it as like this wonderful thing and it's available everywhere. How do people do that? To quit alcohol or to quit painkillers or to quit benzos or meth, high motivation and the less self binding strategies a person has, the more will and discipline, the more they have to want it, right?

Matt Finch: So let's talk about physical proximity. Let's say somebody goes to a rehab in another country, in a property, a piece of land that's all nature. Let's say it's in Costa Rica and there's like 30 acres of land, you don't have a car, you're in this 30 day detox treatment center that's out in nature, it's like got all this natural stuff, but you have no ability to get any drugs or any alcohol anywhere, and you're there for 30 days. That's going to be the most effective way to guarantee that you're going to quit. Because the main thing that keeps people addicted and the main thing that gets people addicted is not stress, it's not genetics, the main thing and this is statistics out of the new book I'm reading or listening to, Dopamine Nation by Dr. Anna Lembke, proximity and ease of obtaining the substance.

Matt Finch: And so here we have liquor stores everywhere, there's tons of drug dealer. You could get pain prescriptions, other prescriptions from certain doctors. There's a lot of different drug dealers. People can order stuff from India, order stuff online from shady websites, the ease of getting substances nowadays, at least in the majority parts of America, it's hard. So if you're going to be in proximity, physical proximity in a way that's easy to keep obtaining alcohol and or drugs, then that will, that harnessing and directing of the will is so important. It seems like what you are talking about is, and correct me if I'm wrong. First, start to harness and focus the will on changing your perspective about things, on changing your attitude from a victim mindset to a victor mindset, from a disempowering perspective and belief system, I can't, to a very empowering one from using the will-

Chris Scott: [inaudible 00:22:45] to interject. I'm sorry to interrupt, but some conscious beliefs about alcohol or whatever your drug is and about yourself. So you have certain beliefs that you might not have examined before, such as well, alcohol is necessary if I'm going to XYZ. Call my friend on the phone so we can actually have fun talking, because I don't enjoy them much unless we're talking, but I have to call them, that kind of thing. The brain's very good, the primitive brain's very good at coming up with flawed reasoning that seems totally irresistible, right? Or, well, I'm having spaghetti bolognese tonight, so I need to have a glass of Chianti with that, obviously. Now, I would have things like that all the time. You don't need to use willpower to explode that. You can use logic, and you can examine alternatives and visualize alternatives. Well, what if I had some Gerolsteiner or Socosani? One of my other recent favorite water brands, sparkling water.

Matt Finch: [inaudible 00:23:45].

Chris Scott: Which, by the way, there are water sommeliers, which I did not know about. And probably sommeliers for all sorts of things, shrubs, a vinegar drink, kombucha, there's all sorts of kombuchas, there's all sorts of teas. There's more functional beverages in whole foods or any other market now than ever when I was in early recovery. Why not one of those things with your spaghetti? I don't know. So if you can't visualize something, you're not going to do it. And everything that you do, you visualize first, right? Whether it's good or bad. I used to say, "You know what?" And I'd be in a willpower state. And I would say, "I'm not going to the store to buy alcohol. After I get out of work, I'm driving straight home." And then I would catch my brain visualizing the route to the store and walking in there and oh my God, the handle of Captain Morgans or whatever gross thing I decided. I drank everything. I went through phases.

Chris Scott: And I would see myself doing it. And without thinking about it, I would do it. And it was like being driven to the liquor store. But what people don't realize is that that same phenomenon can be recalibrated towards something good. You can ruminate, I suppose is a good word about things that maybe you wish that you wished you would do, if that makes sense, or you wish that you wanted to do. So maybe it's yeah, going and... This, by the way is a beautiful, it's a little bit pricey, but sparkling water, it's way less than a bottle of wine. You can find it at whole foods, at least most of the time seems to be sold out a lot.

Chris Scott: And I'll mix this with fresh limes and lemons from the garden. My parents live 10 minutes away, have like a orchard of sorts, not an orchard, but they have a bunch of different trees with stuff. So now it's like a no brainer. I will visualize without even thinking about it, going and getting that, and that's what I'm going to have with my dinner tonight. But it used to be something else. So I now have a totally different set of subconscious beliefs about the desirability of drinking. I live close to stores that sell alcohol. I could go buy beer or wine or whatever. I've actually bought beer and wine when I'm having get togethers. I don't think I could even drink beer now. I think my stomach would reject it, but I've bought alcohol. At no point in time have I actually been tempted to partake in that kind of stuff.

Chris Scott: And it's like I'm in a different spot now, but that happened very gradually. And I mean, I don't even think that if someone forced me at gunpoint to drink something, I don't think it would rekindle the physical addiction at all. If anything, at some point, depending on how much they made me drink, I would have a toxic aversion to that substance. So that wasn't the case back when I needed it like I needed oxygen physiologically to regulate the amount of GABA and dopamine and endorphins and other things in my brain. But the point is you have certain subconscious beliefs about alcohol and its necessity and subconscious beliefs about your own ability to do certain things. So I used to think like, I'm unable to sleep unless I drink a bottle of red wine. And I need to open it at 8:00 PM so I can be asleep by 11:00 or something like that. That was a disempowering belief about me.

Chris Scott: So if you can use logic and reason and alternative visualization via alternative courses of action, then you can actually decrease the inherent desirability of drinking alcohol. And again, this applies to opioids or anything else, any other behavior that you want to stop doing that you wished you would want to stop doing. And I think that can be very powerful because then you're not totally reliant on willpower alone. You're not totally relying on force of will. There's always some force of will, some energy expenditure that we have to invest in, make mentally or physically in order to do anything or make any sort of change, especially a change in habit or a change in neural pathway. But I think that if we can shift into that state of questioning what our preferences are and not what they ought to be morally, but what would we be most optimized as conscious beings doing, is it poisoning yourself every night? Or maybe there's another way. Now, even that basic question can open up space for progress.

Chris Scott: So it's not all pain and grit and will. For some people it will be more than others. And it will be to the extent that you can't reframe your subconscious beliefs. And it also will be to the extent that you don't rebalance through biochemistry naturally and holistically with diet improvements and targeted supplementation and lots of sleep and the basics, sunshine and vitamin D and air. You make it easier on yourself, you lower that burden of willpower when you introduce all of that. So I apologize for interrupting there, but I wanted to clarify something I'd forgotten to put in.

Matt Finch: I'm glad you did. I was leading into that so you could clarify because I'm so interested in your thoughts on these topics, because this is really some of your fortes. When you're driving home from work, I'm not going to go to the store and get alcohol. I'm not going to go to the store and get alcohol. You are not only driving down a path, a road, but then your brain started to go by conditioning and triggers, condition stimulus basically, Pavlovian classical conditioning, something happened, then all of a sudden, a neural pathway activated, and you had fired those circuits together, those neurons so many times, when they fire together, they wire together, creating these roads, these pathways and these super highways. So despite how much you didn't want to go stop at the store and purchase alcohol, those super highway neural pathways that support and are like the super freeway to relapse, to slip, to continued drinking, to continued using, despite not wanting to, those things are very difficult to abstain from the use of drugs or alcohol with those neural pathways.

Matt Finch: And those things take a while to fade. And then it takes a while for new ones, pathways and roadways, and then finally super highways of addiction recovery, recovery prosocial, pro-recovery habits and routines, addiction in vulnerability, like the anti-relapse immune system with these new neural pathways. So until somebody develops those pathways, it can be so easy to get triggered from, oh, I'm driving past the liquor store on the way home from work. Oh, I really don't want to drink, but there's those triggers, resentments. A lot of the clients I've been working with lately, resentments theme seems to be a theme that has been coming up a lot. Resentments, relationships, relapse, and recovery. It's funny they all start with R. So these resentments, when I used to drink, for sure, that was really the start of my addiction post-cannabis. My cannabis addiction was... My first real, gnarly addiction was alcohol.

Matt Finch: And I would drink so hardcore over resentments that I had mostly with relationships. It was mostly resentments with girls that I was dating or friends that screwed me over, it was mostly resentments at myself for things that I said, thought or did or didn't think or say or do. And those resentments drove me to just, "Oh, I'll show that person." Meanwhile, poison myself. And with opioids, that was almost like my naltrexone, [MIC and CLA 00:31:50] method for alcohol because when I was on daily opioids, then I could drink most of the time every once in a while. And I could control it most of the time because I was already getting the benefits I wanted confidence, energy, not hating my job as much, actually not minding going to work if I snorted enough Oxycontin, for example. So since I was getting those benefits mostly from opioids, then the alcohol just lost its luster to me. I didn't worship it like... I used to call Budweiser the elixir of the gods.

Matt Finch: Once I got on daily opioids, I could take it or leave it. I could have one or two because I was getting so high, at least in the first few months on opioids. And then past that, I was still getting the energy most of the time. And so I think what happens with a lot of people is they just keep going down the alcohol pathway or the kratom extracts pathway or the methamphetamine or Adderall snorting pathway, because they don't have a bunch of other things that they can go to, simply because they just haven't built those new neural pathways. In which case, harnessing the will and focusing the will on finding alternate solutions, Chris, when you and I were overcoming addiction, we didn't have all this information that we do now. So we kind of almost got lucky in a sense. It was just good to timing. You went to treatment. I went to my parents' house for inpatient treatment, basically. Home treatment at a herb school.

Matt Finch: I think what happens with a lot of people and then I'd love your input on this. It can be so difficult to get long-term health away from addiction. And I see so many people making half measures towards that goal, quarter measures, three quarter measures. Do you think that for most people with at least a moderate or severe substance use disorder, do you think they can get the kind of goal achievement outcome that they desire with a quarter measure, a half measure or even a three quarters measure? Do you think it takes a full measure? Or do half measures avail us nothing, like the saying goes?

Chris Scott: I think it depends how we define half measures. I don't think that everyone needs to go away to inpatient rehab, but some people clearly do. So if that's the standard of half measure, a lot of people do outpatient, a lot of people do online courses, a lot of people read books and some people spontaneously quit. The miracle of spontaneous... Which, by the way, there was a statistic or study done, I think maybe a decade or two ago that showed that mindbogglingly more people were able to quit drinking spontaneously through inpatient rehab, which costs like $30,000 or more every month, depending on where you go. That's an appalling statistic. But I would say the miracle of spontaneous resolving, I don't want to say remission because I don't believe addiction's a disease. I think it's a biochemical disorder or a collection of symptoms that are in common. But the miracle of spontaneous quitting is just accounted for, by what you said, which is you find other things, become cross addicted to things that aren't self-destructive.

Chris Scott: In my case, it was exercise. That was my first cross addiction. And it was one of the best addictions I ever developed. Now, I'm being a little bit facetious because by definition it can't be an addiction if there are no negative consequences. All the consequences of exercise for me and working out, doing my dead lifts, eventually getting back into MMA, the consequences were more comradery, better health and fitness, not needing to go to the doctor, having a better immune system, sleeping better, all that, et cetera. So if you find things like that, and you don't get cross addicted oxycodone or to meth or whatever, if instead you're developing new neural pathways that lead you towards behaviors that enhance your life, that's a recipe for just almost effortlessly moving on.

Chris Scott: Now, not everyone can do that. And I couldn't effortlessly move on because I was so physically addicted to alcohol. Even if I'd quit a year or two before I did, it would've taken some serious work for me to unglue my mind to alcohol. Excuse me, carbonation in my beverage's getting to me. And as I say, I still have a drinking problem. I drink all the time. I just don't drink alcohol. I'm double-fisting right now. I have my dragon herbs tea. I have my Gerolsteiner water. I very much have a neural pathway. I kind of panic a little bit. Like, if I'm traveling and I get on an airplane, which somehow every year that goes by, I feel like they give you fewer things on airplanes. It's harder to even get a bottle of water.

Chris Scott: If I get on an airplane and I haven't brought like a huge bottle of spring water, I start to freak out. It's almost like I have low blood sugar or something. I need to sip on things. But now, all the things that I consider sipping on that I dream of sipping on are actually good for me. So that's a good thing. Can you remind me of the question that you asked? Because I digressed again.

Matt Finch: So it was about half measure. So I'll give another example. I didn't mean to half measure in the way that the AA program and probably the NA program talks about. Not a full measure of doing the steps, unless that's what people are doing. So whatever recovery treatment the person is thinking about doing, in the process of doing has some momentum in it. A full measure, meaning a hundred percent of your kind of focus, time and energy or is close to... Like you're all in. It's basically the resolve. Like, I'm doing this, this is my resolve. Okay. So a half-ass attempt, a half measure would be kind of a half-ass attempt, detoxing from alcohol, for example. Or a lot of people will, "Okay, like I want to quit," but when it comes down to operationally in their life, they're so busy and they're so stressed out and there's so many things going on that they only do like a half effort towards it.

Matt Finch: They could go so much bigger. They could go so much more all in. They could make such better strategic plans and start dates and enlist the help of other people, but it's like, okay, they do these kind of like half-ass attempts, or maybe they give that kind of a solid attempt, but then they give up a few days into it because they have work the next day, the weekends coming over. So not saying that any of these people are weak or anything, because I pretty much hold the prize, in my own opinion from the past, I was the wimpiest, whatever words you want to call it. I didn't want to experience any levels at all of discomfort. And even to this day, I've really increased my distress tolerance, but still to this day, there's people, so many more people, humans, that have a higher distress tolerance than me.

Matt Finch: I think being a highly sensitive person, HSP, just makes that cap on how high I can make my distress tolerance maybe a little bit harder to reach than people like David Goggins, who just has done so much work in that area. So that's what I meant. Do you think people can really get a handle on drinking by quitting or drugs by just giving a half attempt? Like, trying, but not... Like, you went all the way to inpatient rehab. I was like a month off of school, unemployed at the time, living at home with parents, had really good withdrawal remedies. So you and I were in like the perfect situations to put our all into it, to really dedicate all of our time and energy. And I think a lot of people are unable or unwilling to do some of those things that it takes to carve out a month off. "Oh, I can't get this time off."

Matt Finch: You know what? If you were going to die tomorrow, if you kept drinking or kept using, you could make the time, you could make the changes. Most people are just too afraid of what people will think of them for taking that time off to themselves. And I get it. I totally understand.

Chris Scott: I think there's... So to try to succinctly answer that, I think there's two factors at play or two standards by which we can judge that. The first is what's the severity of the problem? And the second is what have the half measures so far availed them of? Have they worked? Because if you say, "Yeah, I kind of half-assed quit drinking five years ago and I haven't really thought about it since." Then good for you. Like, sincerely. But for some people, that's not enough. And how do you know it's not enough? Because they've half-assed for a long time and the problem either stays the same or gets worse, or it goes dormant for a while and then comes back. In which case, maybe it's time to invest in yourself fully and make the conditions of your life conform to what needs to happen in order for you to live your life in the best possible way, or in severe cases, in order to keep living. Period.

Chris Scott: I had consulted a psychologist whose idea it was initially that I'd go to inpatient rehab. I thought it was absurd. And I said, "I can't do that. I have like meetings. I have to go to work and stuff. I can't go to rehab. Who has time for that?" And then of course it became apparent to me after I walked into his office in full blown withdrawal and he [crosstalk 00:41:41] spoke to me. After I came out of detox and inpatient rehab, and I still wasn't feeling amazing, but I looked like a different person, if only from excising alcohol from my body and brain for two months. And he said, "I didn't want to tell you at the time, but I was pretty sure you were going to die when you walked into my office like that."

Chris Scott: I mean, I was shaking, my hair was, I had hair at the time. It was frazzled. And my face was bloated and just dripping with sweat, my eyes were beady little things, like darting around, I was saying things, but they didn't make any sense. I probably like walked into the side of the doorway when I came in there and plopped down, just really, really bad. Probably on the verge of having a seizure. And so yeah, if you're like that and you're saying, "Well, I can't solve this problem because I have a work vent or something and I have to drink," people die like that sometimes. So it's a serious problem. And so you have to know where the line is. Everyone's different, everyone's unique, biochemically, psychologically, socially, spiritually, and self-knowledge is one of the most important things that we can use in order to try to heal. And also one of the most important things we gain through the process of healing.

Chris Scott: I have so much more self knowledge now than I did, and even six months or a year after transcending addiction or beginning to transcend, beginning to process, I had so much more self knowledge and I was inherently calmer. And I think it's really after you make some hard decisions, if you have a severe problem, you're going to make hard decisions. There's going to be some force of will, it could feel like there's some sacrifice, but ultimately there's not, because sacrifice is giving up something of higher value in exchange for something of lower value. If it seems like a sacrifice for you to maybe lose your job so that you gain your life, that's painful, but I would argue that's not a sacrifice. And that's essentially what happened to me. It was kind of a mutual decision. But I came out of that predicament extremely grateful that I no longer worked in that career. And I wouldn't be talking to you today if I had half-assed. I literally could be sitting, living some guilted life basically, if I had survived.

Chris Scott: Now, my drinking problem was particularly bad, but assuming I survived, I could be somewhere weighing 260 pounds of not good mass, feeling terrible, going through withdrawal right now, sitting in an office, crunching numbers, wondering what my life could be like. And I haven't necessarily done everything perfectly. I have lots of goals and things on my bucket list and things to check off, but the last week and a half now, I've been waking up at about 6:30 in the morning, going to the gym, doing sled pushes and pulls, jumping in a cold pool, getting in the steam room after that. That's how I start my day. And I've actually framed that in such a way that... People think I'm crazy, I'll jump in a 53 degree pool and do a bunch of sled pushes and pulls early in the morning. But I find that to be an extreme luxury.

Chris Scott: Like, I'm so grateful and I feel so lucky that I have a gym that's only 10 minutes away where I can go do that, that has a sled and a... It's not a cold plunge pool unfortunately, it's just an outdoor pool that happens to be cold somewhat in the winter. And they have a steam room, which is amazing, extremely luxurious. It's not that uncommon. A lot of gyms have steam rooms, but always in the morning, I think of three things I for. And often it's like my dogs, the fact that I get to sit in that steam room after my sled pushes and pulls, and the fact that I get to eat six eggs after that, and I'm going to feel amazing.

Chris Scott: I'm doing different diet experiments as well, but I get to do all of that and as surreal as it is, try to help people with something that I know intimately for a living. And if I had never made that sacrifice of losing my job for saving my life, then I'd either be dead or I'd be extremely unsatisfied somewhere, never having resolved the problem. So I think it's very shortsighted to assume that making a leap to better yourself or making a big investment to better yourself is actually a sacrifice. It might seem that way. And it might cause pain in the short-term, but you don't really know what it's going to do for you in the long-term. But it's extremely rare in my experience for people earnestly do everything that they can to try to tackle a problem or better themselves or better their lives or seek fulfillment, it's very rare for those people to have it all blow up in their face in the end.

Chris Scott: For the people for whom things blow up in their face in the end, those are the people who do what I did when my entire life seemed to be blowing up in my face, which was push the can down the road.

Matt Finch: So I think we're nearing a close here. That's probably a beautiful spot to conclude. I'll just say, kind of a summary for people or my idea of what this is we're talking about. We have this metaphysical force of will, and we can grow that. Imagine like a tank, an imaginary tank that goes from zero to a hundred points, or maybe it's unlimited, who knows? It's unlimited. And it's this metaphysical force of will, of pure desire intention that creates universes, that creates planets that we use as co-creator. So one aspect of this equation is developing that, cultivating that, increasing the quantity and magnitude of this will, this pure desire, and then the next part of this equation is the aiming, the focusing of that energy towards an aim, right? Towards what we want.

Matt Finch: A lot of people just keep focusing on what they don't want. They might think about what they want here and there, but a lot of times people are ruminating about what they don't want, stuck in the past, worrying, which is negative goal setting about possible future outcomes that may or may not come true rather than being in the present moment. So that's kind of my idea on this whole topic, just to simplify it for people. We got this force of will that's the strongest metaphysical electricity of anything in the universe that enables us to be co-creators and we can grow this will within ourselves, and we can aim this will on our desires. And then that can help us to actually manifest and create the life of our dreams by taking action, not just by sitting and visualizing things like visualize, visualize, you also have to take action. Visualize and take action. So that's all I got, Chris.

Chris Scott: Absolutely.

Author

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

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