Synopsis: Matt Finch interviews Ken Starr, M.D. on benzodiazepines (eg Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, etc.), the withdrawal syndrome, and protocols for quitting benzos safely and more comfortably.
To listen to part one of this series on why your doctor doesn’t know anything about addiction or detox, click here.
To listen to Dr. Starr’s first interview on NAD+ and other biohacking protocols for detox and recovery, click here.
About Ken Starr, MD
Dr. Starr trained in emergency medicine and worked full time in the ER for almost 20 years.
- Around 2010, he relocated from Eugene, Oregon to California.
- It was around this time that he started to become more and more interested in addiction medicine.
- It soon became apparent to Dr. Starr that in his community there weren’t enough choices for people to get treatment for substance use disorders.
- When a friend of his in Portland told him he had been prescribing Suboxone in his psychiatric practice, Dr. Starr’s interest was piqued.
And when Dr. Starr’s older brother died from an overdose, it just became crystal clear that he needed to be focusing on drug and alcohol treatment.
Dr. Starr started doing Suboxone prescribing around 2011 to prevent people from overdosing and dying on heroin.
The Birth of Ken Starr MD Wellness Group
Later he teamed up with a woman he met that was a counselor, in recovery, and had experience with programming and running groups, and they created a company together with the goal of expanding services beyond simply prescribing Suboxone for opioid use disorder.
Ken Starr MD Wellness Group grew quickly because they were really the only people doing it in the area, they weren’t expensive, and they took great care of people.
And that’s how things started.
- Fast forward 9-10 years, and now they’re the largest drug and alcohol program in the county, and it’s possible that they’re the biggest in all of the three surrounding counties as well.
- They currently have a 4,000 square foot building, hundreds of patients, and a great reputation.
Over the years, Dr. Starr has become board certified in addiction medicine twice, he became a fellow in the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and their company got CARF-accredited and state licensed.
Dr. Starr got started with and continues to use the traditional treatment pathway, but several years ago their main focus became “Bio-Hacking Recovery,” giving people alternative treatments like NAD+ Therapy, IV Nutrient Therapy, as well as educating patients on nutrition, exercise, meditation, supplementation, and other alternative modalities for addiction recovery.
Dr. Starr has even taken the biochemical domain of recovery a step further by formulating a line of premium supplements called CLEAN, which can help patients accelerate recovery and feel their best faster.
- Click here to visit GetCleanSupplements.com, and Dr. Starr created a special coupon code for podcast listeners to save 10% off their entire order.
- Simply enter the coupon code Elevation while you’re checking out to get the discount.
Dr. Starr’s treatment facility is unique in this respect because there are not a lot of people doing what they’re doing.
There simply isn’t a lot of money in it, as the main way to make money is in residential treatment, which some people absolutely need, however, there is also a superabundance of people that do very well using outpatient or intensive outpatient treatment, which is what Ken Starr MD Wellness Group offers.
Here are some of the main topics discussed in this episode:
- Benzodiazepines (benzos) overview
- 30-day benzo prescriptions
- “It’s quick and easy to get hooked, not quick and not easy to get unhooked”
- Benzo withdrawal syndrome
- Benzo withdrawal symptoms
- Short-acting vs long-acting benzos (eg alprazolam vs clonazepam)
- Protocols for getting off short-acting benzos safely and more comfortably
- Protocols for detoxing from long-acting benzos safely and more comfortably
- Some of the best prescription medicines for treating benzo withdrawal symptoms
- Tapering strategies for slowly reducing benzo dependence
- Supplements for getting off benzos
- NAD+ Therapy for benzo detox
- Wim Hof Breathing for activating the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system and turning off the sympathetic (“fight-or-flight”) nervous system
- Benzo withdrawal treatment guidelines
- The post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) from benzo detox
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Ken Starr MD Wellness Group on Social Media:
Ken Starr, MD: Benzo withdrawal is completely unclearly defined. You know, it's tinnitus, it's hot-cold, it's ringing in your ears, it's vertigo, it's occasional palpitations, occasional panic attacks, and sometimes you're fine. Chicken skin, thermoregulation, weird. Just headaches, visual disturbances. I mean, all that. Just crazy nonsense. If you go to tell your doctor, they are just going to think you're crazy. They're not going to believe you for a second. So that's, again, trying to wrap this up full circle, because benzos also causes weird, unpredictable, uncharacteristic withdrawal syndrome that you better have really good respect for.
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: This is Episode 153. My name's Matt Finch. Today the topic is how to get off benzos safely and more comfortably. The guest is Ken Starr MD, who is twice board-certified in addiction medicine and the founder of Ken Starr MD Wellness Group in California.
This episode is part two of the Ken Starr MD feature series. If you haven't listened to Episode 152, that was part one of the series, and it's titled Why Your Doctor Doesn't Know Anything About Addiction or Detox. For today's particular show, it was a very eye-opening conversation about benzodiazepines, prescribing of these, dependence, withdrawal, as well as detox and tapering strategies. I learned so much in this episode, interviewing Dr. Starr on this topic. So excited for you to hear it, so let's get it started.
Ken Starr, MD: It's very easy to start to give somebody a prescription for some Adavan because they're anxious, they're going through a difficult time, they're getting divorced. I mean, there are all sorts of whatever reason, right? They're very helpful. But a lot of people, a month goes by, two months goes by now, and you're done. Right? That person is taking Adavan every single day or whatever and it's just a slippery slope, you know?
Even Ambien, if you look at the prescribing guidelines for Ambien, it says you can't take it more than like five days or something crazy. It's like, well.
Matt Finch: They're getting pretty strict on one now.
Ken Starr, MD: Who gets a five day prescription for Ambien? Nobody. You get 30, right? You get 30. Why? Because doctors don't want to be bothered in five days to give you another five day prescription or whatever. Right?
Fortunately, not all of us have that trigger and not all of us have the addiction tendencies. I'm the guy who can eat one potato chip, so I can take Ambien twice a month or once a month or something, and I do. But you could see how a lot of these things just get turned on and they don't get turned off.
But benzos are the next opiates, right? I mean, that's the writing on the wall. It's like the opiate epidemic has been well-defined and boxed now and prosecuted, and here's the bad guys and here's the good guys and here's the treatment, and the next one to fall is benzos, how overprescribed, how dangerous. In fact Purdue's first blockbuster drug was Valium, and that was very successfully marketed and got out there before opiates.
Then now with the new stuff coming out about how they increase your risk for falls, they increase your risk for learning problems, they increase your risk for Alzheimer's, and they decrease the quality of your sleep and they diminished how long you're in REM sleep. You know, all these things that affect that. I think it's just going to be the next bullseye. Now we're going to start prosecuting doctors and being more cautious with benzos. So they're going to take that from you, too.
Look, I have patients who are on benzos. I'm not saying that nobody should be on benzos. I've got several patients who I prescribe benzos for. They came into my practice on benzos, they're going to go out of my practice on benzos, and they're happy with it, I'm fine with it. It is what it is. But I'm just saying that for the person who they are causing horrible life complications for and there's a lot of patients who desperately want to get off these medicines who are desperately looking for solutions and they're not always making good decisions.
I think I have a YouTube video about that on my channel about what do you do, why would you go into a detox program for benzos? You need to understand a lot more about it, you know? Let's sit down and talk before you sign up for your holiday on the beach, $10,000 a day, whatever, view of the ocean, and you want to get off benzos. You're not going to leave there in a good state.
But anyway, I want to finish this full circle. It's like why your doctor doesn't know is because they don't know. They just don't know it. We never learned it. There was no class about opiate withdrawal in med school that I remember, or emergency medicine residency, or anything, really. Not until I started studying for my boards in addiction medicine did I see any sort of reasonable people start talking about how to detox people safely.
Matt Finch: When I was, let's see, it was recently after I had turned 24, I was working at a retail surf shop full-time. My friend, Brittany, was my manager.
I was an alcoholic back then. I had tried opioids a few times, really liked them, but I didn't have access to them all the time. I didn't want to do them all the time. They were just fun every once in a while. I was a big time binge drinker, and I was binge drinking mostly because that's the main age. My social circle was all big time partiers. I didn't have much confidence and I had social anxiety. It wasn't labeled that. I'd never seen a psychiatrist.
So my friend, Brittany, that I worked with, had got on a drug called Remeron, Mirtazepine, and it totally changed her life. I was like against, at least for myself, getting on any meds, but she just convinced me. "Just go do it. Go do it."
So I went to go see this doctor, who's now retired. He was pretty old when I saw him. I told him, basically, I'm drinking too much. I'm depressed. I'm anxious. I don't want to live like this anymore. This is a family practice physician and he gave me a bottle of 90 Valium.
Ken Starr, MD: Okay. Right?
Matt Finch: Right off. Three a day for 30 days, right?
Ken Starr, MD: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Matt Finch: He also gave me some free samples of the name brand Paxil-CR 12.5 milligrams. He said, "So here's the one for depression and anxiety, and until that kicks in in several weeks, the Valium will help out."
Well, the only problem was taking three five-milligram Valiums a day for a whole 30 days straight, once I stopped after they ran out, I started to go through serious withdrawal after a month on them.
Ken Starr, MD: Oh, yeah.
Matt Finch: That was 90 in 30 days. Then for a couple of years, I would take my whole Valium prescription in seven to 10 days and then I would binge drink the rest of the month, then I'd quit with the Valiums. He kept prescribing them to me. Every time I called in a refill, he would prescribe them even if I hadn't seen him in six months. It was just gnarly. Benzos were hard.
Some of the hardest clients that I've had recovery coaching are people that have been on benzos Very long-term, especially people that have been on it over 10 years. It seems to be one that takes very long to recover from. Very long post acute withdrawal.
Ken Starr, MD: Years.
Matt Finch: Years.
Ken Starr, MD: Yeah. Yeah. We have patients coming to the clinic who have been benzos for a year and are still plagued by horrible symptoms.
Matt Finch: How do you help people to get through that? Because my things are like, well, let's see, Gabapentin, Lyrica, then obviously supplements to rebuild the brain. But even those things, for the post-acute withdrawal phase, it just goes on forever.
I just recently had a client that she had been off benzos for a few months, but she had been on an SSRI for like six or seven years or something. She had came off of that and she had been on benzos for probably 14 years maybe, and she had recently came off of that. So like no matter what supplements or nutrition thing, she was just fear all the... I definitely had her email you. You might know who I'm talking about. We won't say names, obviously.
But I just feel bad when people are going through withdrawal for so long, because I remember myself going through withdrawal for months, still being in PAWS and going like, what the hell, and then just getting back on the bottle or getting back on opioids, whatever it was. I didn't know anything about supplements, nutrition, or anything for post-acute withdrawal. While I didn't know that stuff, I never quit. It was only when accidentally I got the right supplements delivered to my house from a family member, knowing what I was going through, that I got better. That was finally the thing that did.
So how can you help people with benzos? I get a lot of clients nowadays to help them come off opioids that they're on benzos. A lot of them have been on them for very long-term and they say they don't even do anything for them, they just prevent them from dying, basically, if they got off cold turkey.
Ken Starr, MD: Well, to use your example, so the patient has been on a long-term benzo use. I really feel it's important to just do gradual small reductions as an outpatient. Right? So get them on a long acting benzo. So if they're already on Valium or Clonazepam or something, that's good. If they're taking Xanax, which I usually try to get them on something longer so they're not having interdose withdrawal. But really try to just do a small 5% or 10% reduction every couple of weeks, once a month, and I think that's the safest and most effective way to do it when possible because the benzos are just so sticky that the changes that they incur on those GABA receptors are just like mud, man. They just don't let up.
So that's my preferred treatment. Now, if somebody comes in in post-acute withdrawal, like say they got off benzos already a month ago or three months ago or six months ago, then that's the magic of NAD. Right? So the answer to that question, that's an easy answer and I'll just try to do 10 days of IV NAD.
Now that is very, very helpful, but that has a price tag to it. Not everybody can afford that. It's very expensive. You're looking at a thousand bucks a day, so that's not available for a lot of people.
I like Gabapentin. I like Clonidine, actually, quite a bit, because that whole hot-cold, and autonomic dysregulation, and tinnitus, and weirdness, that that whole sort of autonomic instability seems to be more regulated by Clonidine. So I like that.
I do like Gabapentin. I think that's pretty helpful.
Matt Finch: It's like the miracle medicine that seems to be like helpful for opioids, alcohol, benzos.
Ken Starr, MD: Well, it's a sedative. I mean, it's working on a GABA receptor, right? So it's a CNS depressant working on the GABA receptor. It's a different receptor on the GABA system, but it's still part of that same fork. So that's why that's helpful.
I think that there's a lot to be said for sort of Wim Hof breathing and activating your parasympathetic nervous system. To take that a step further would be cold water immersion. I know it sounds crazy, but for people who are already in that camp when you can really start to access your parasympathetic nervous system, that helps reset your brain, too.
But medication-wise, I'd say NAD, Clonidine, Gabapentin, phenobarbital, if we get into that situation. We'll use phenobarbital if I really have somebody who's difficult to manage, I'm trying to keep them out of the hospital. If there's any vital sign abnormality, or I'm concerned about a seizure, or we need to do a more accelerated detox for some reason, then phenobarbital is totally safe. That's a sedative that targets both the glutamate and GABA system, and I think is very helpful for suppressing some of those symptoms.
So I think those are probably all my go-tos. Obviously, we do some nutritional infusions that I think help restore some of the underlying nutritional problems, like the Myers Cocktail and the nourish. We'll give pretty good doses of IV vitamins and minerals and zinc and some essential oils and so forth. So I like that. I think that in healing brain, I like to try to get people off of statins, temporarily, at least, and supplement with Omega fatty acids. I think that's pretty good for brain health.
I think it's good to have a high fat diet. I think that helps. A lot of people are just like my 17 year-old son who runs on carbs, they're just nervous Nellies because their system is so overstimulated. So part of it is decreasing inflammation in your system, right? Which is a whole different, obviously, conversation, but it plays over, right?
If you're anxious and you're nervous and you have restless legs, like I learned what did that to me. I had that. I would come home from these ER shifts and, I mean, I did this for years, dude. It's like, what the heck was I thinking? I'd come home from these evening ER shifts and my legs would just be jumpy and anxious. I just, what happened? Like I couldn't even sit in the car.
I finally, after years, figured out that it was because in the ER, in the break room, there's chips and there's cookies and there's candy and there's cake. I exercise a lot. I'm thin. I work out. I was like, I eat what I want. I would eat all this stuff, but I completely felt all that inflammation that was just jacking my system. Ever since I figured that out, restless leg syndrome went away.
Matt Finch: I can only imagine if, concurrently with the-
Ken Starr, MD: And now I'm taking Adavan. My doctor prescribes benzos for my restless legs. Now I'm eating junk and I'm addicted to benzos.
Matt Finch: I can only imagine if you got addicted to opioids during that part of your life and you are going through withdrawal, already having an RLS situation and then going through withdrawal. I don't think any amount of Gabapentin would have calmed those bad boys down.
I'm glad that you brought up all that stuff. This is all really good stuff for anyone on benzos or just in general, too. I had heard of the drug phenobarbital. That's one of the much older ones, right?
Ken Starr, MD: Yeah, yeah. No, it's an older drug. It's primarily used for alcohol withdrawal, but we use it for benzo withdrawal too. Like if somebody came into the residential detox on high doses of benzos and you don't really have the room or timeframe to taper them, then phenobarbital is usually a pretty important ingredient in that cocktail.
Matt Finch: Nice. Yeah, the carbohydrates thing, you just named pretty much, not the restless leg part, but my life. As soon as I quit eating all the carbs and snacks, mostly carbs stuff, which is a few years ago now I started to get really focused on nutrition permanently, but it's so much better. It's mostly protein and fat. I hardly do any carbs throughout the day, and then at night I'll have a big old dinner with sometimes carbs and stuff. So I'm not keto, but I'm close to it. It's more like a kind of low-carb cross between-
Ken Starr, MD: You found out what helped you feel good and what helped fuel your energies more sustainably. Yeah.
Matt Finch: Exactly. It reduced inflammation. My skin's way better. My gut's way better. That's the hardest thing for a lot of people is to learn and adapt not just for a week or two or a few days, but permanently adapt to eating habits that actually fit their biochemistry, fit the issue that they're undergoing, whether it's like for me, I've had all sorts of issues, or whether it's addiction or anxiety.
Supplements are so much easier as the first approach to getting someone healthy. Because especially if they're used to taking benzos or opioids, if you're used to taking something to change how you feel, you already have that habit, so supplements people can pop or rub the gel in or something and then usually they'll start to feel a little better and then hopefully start to eat more nutritious foods and stuff.
Ken Starr, MD: But going back to benzos, when people who are benzo dependent do these reductions and they get symptomatic, it's just a much more prolonged agony than most opiates or alcohol. Right? Because I can turn around an alcohol patient in a week and really just get them feeling better. Right? Short-acting opiates, my fentanyl patients now, my heroin patients now, I can get them turning the corner in a week, too, if we do everything right. Not perfect. I mean, they're not, you know?
Matt Finch: Not 100%.
Ken Starr, MD: They're not jumping for joy, but I certainly can get the worst behind them in like eight days or so and really start getting them to feel better, launching them towards recovery. But you just can't turn around a benzo patient in seven days. Again, you've got to understand that.
So if the primary care doctor is saying, "Oh, just stop that. You're not really on that high of a dose," or "Just cut in half for few days, and then cut that in half for a few days," oh my gosh, that's the worst advice. Do you know what I mean? This person might need two years to taper off that, you know?
So it's just really having respect. Benzo withdrawal, as you know, is so different than the other two. It's really a lot of central nervous system chaos, right? Like opiate withdrawal is much clearer defined. Alcohol withdrawal, very clear defined what happens, how you feel, right?
Benzo withdrawal is completely unclearly defined. You know, it's tinnitus, it's hot-cold, it's ringing in your ears, it's vertigo, it's occasional palpitations, occasional panic attacks, and sometimes you're fine. Chicken skin, thermoregulation, weird. Just headaches, visual disturbances. I mean all that, just crazy nonsense. If you go tell your doctor, they are just going to think you're crazy. They're not going to believe you for a second.
So again, trying to wrap this up full circle, because benzos also causes weird, unpredictable uncharacteristic withdrawal syndrome that you better have really good respect for. So a lot of times what we'll do is maybe do a little bit of reduction and supplement that with some medications. Maybe they just need a couple of days of Gabapentin or Clonidine or phenobarbital or something while they're acclimating to that lower dose. Maybe they can just use it temporarily and then they're okay for a few weeks and we'll just kind of set it and forget it and let people get adjusted and then go down to the next step.
So, yeah, there's different ways to do it, but it's crazy. It's crazy what people do. Like I say, you get these emails and calls, too, and it's just crazy what people have to put up with and how much they've suffered and how few people are out there helping them.
Matt Finch: Then to be the person in that situation and to contact your doctor and say what's going on and they're looking at you like you're crazy, like, hey, it shouldn't have caused all that. When I first went through Valium withdrawal-
Ken Starr, MD: That's why I left talking to you about that. I left talking about that because you've gone through. You can talk to me about your alcohol withdrawal, your opiate withdrawal-
Matt Finch: Benzo withdrawal, nicotine withdrawal, clonidine withdrawal, cannabis withdrawal, anti-depressant withdrawal, methamphetamine withdrawal, sugar withdrawal, and caffeine withdrawal. But I assure you, that is it. Anyways-
Ken Starr, MD: I drink because I think it going to protect me from COVID.
Matt Finch: Tie in those polyphenols, especially when you put your butter in with it and blend it up.
Ken Starr, MD: And vitamin D.
Matt Finch: What's that?
Ken Starr, MD: And vitamin D.
Matt Finch: Yeah, the vitamin D.
Ken Starr, MD: I like taking vitamin D.
Matt Finch: I need D, probiotics, then zinc pretty regularly or I'll get sick.
But 24, going through Valium withdrawal. At that point, it was only, like I said, I was on it a month. I was vomiting and I wasn't going to go through that all day. I was like, I wonder if alcohol will make it feel better. So my doctor didn't tell me. I was a total newbie with the pharmacology of drugs and withdrawal. I didn't know anything. My doctor didn't tell me, hey, Valium has a cross-tolerance with alcohol, so you can take alcohol for Valium withdrawal or benzo withdrawal and vice versa.
So I didn't know any of this stuff so I just guessed. I was like, I wonder if alcohol will help, and then of course it did and it stopped it.
The next time I went through a different benzo withdrawal was several years ago, living in Hawaii. I had a huge breakup with my fiance at the time. I was doing really bad so I got on a short round of Paxil and Klonopin from my psychiatrist there that I got. I was only on both for a few months, and I knew how to taper off stuff by this point. I've been years off of heroin and I'm past all that stuff.
But even though I did a good job tapering, I was only on Klonopin for three months. I started off at one milligram, tapered down to a half, then a quarter. I tell you what, I was visiting here, San Diego, visiting family on vacation, and then when I go to the airport, this is like my third day after coming off of Klonopin altogether.
So it was day three. First two days, nothing, didn't feel anything. Day three, I'm at the airport and I'm going to get food. I'm like holding my Pepsi like this. Remember, day three, coming off of only three months of Klonopin, Clonazepam. Shaking my Pepsi. I'm starting to get blurry vision.
I don't have any anxiety. I'm not vomiting. I'm like, this can't be Klonopin withdrawal. When I came off of Valium all those times, I was like vomiting and then I drink alcohol. This didn't feel like that. I felt great psychologically. But here was like this blurriness. It was too dangerous to drive. I was afraid that I wasn't going to be able to get on an airplane. So I called my psychiatrist and said I think I need to taper a little bit longer. So he just gave me some Gabapentin. I was like, well, thank goodness. He gave me a week's worth of that and then I was fine.
But what you were saying earlier about there's so many different protocols you can do, and you now see it in such a strategic way to where based on all the things you've learned, all the things you've done, all the things that have worked, all the experiences people had, now you've got this biohacking withdrawal playbook for so many different substances. You're still learning more and more, like you don't know everything now. So that, all you listeners, is why your doctor doesn't know anything. Because even nowadays, we're still learning. There's always more stuff to be learned. There's always great stuff. But Dr. Starr is the ultimate recovery biohacker.
The lady I was talking about earlier on benzos-
Ken Starr, MD: That's going to get better, too, when psychedelics get approved.
Matt Finch: Oh yeah. You think that's going to happen?
Ken Starr, MD: Oh, yeah.
Matt Finch: I sure hope so. [inaudible 00:24:55].
Ken Starr, MD: I do. Again, this is probably going into another podcast. We probably should have a whole nother podcast on this. But psychedelics are making their way into the mental health treatment, right? As we develop more effective treatments for anxiety and depression, I think we're going to help reduce the burden of substance abuse.
Matt Finch: With all the access to the telemedicine treatment now. MindMed is the company that I've been following for probably a year now, maybe a little bit less, but yeah, they're bringing that 18-MC ibogaine derivative that doesn't have the neurotoxicity side effect, I think it was, and the hallucination side effect. They're bringing that through trials.
They're bringing something called Albert. Project Albert. Not sure if you've heard of that. It's like not only psychedelics for mental health and addiction, but also in conjunction with a specific type of counseling system with these psychedelics, and I think it's all going to be online.
So you think that's really what could happen in the future is online treatment, where you're prescribing people these cool designer kind of psychedelics without the psychedelic effects, helping them to rewire the brain like supplements?
Ken Starr, MD: Yeah, or prescribing psychedelics, too.
Matt Finch: Psychedelics, too. Even ones that are-
Ken Starr, MD: You can do home prescriptions now for ketamine.
Matt Finch: Nice.
Ken Starr, MD: You can do home prescriptions for, well, I guess in some areas, for low dose menial microdosing psilocybins. There's a company called Delek, Delek, and they're on the forefront of this. They have a informational website called, I think it's called Rainbow Sandwich, that's just a lot of-
Matt Finch: What state are they in? Are they in California?
Ken Starr, MD: California.
Matt Finch: That makes sense.
Ken Starr, MD: I think some of their stuff is out of Canada, with the psychedelic research and manufacturing.
Matt Finch: Have you read, recently, there's a California law maker that's trying to instead of bring it to-
Ken Starr, MD: Reality Sandwich, I think is what it is.
Matt Finch: Oh, Reality Sandwich.
Ken Starr, MD: I think it's Reality.
Matt Finch: This person is trying to pass a bill to decriminalize psychedelics in all of California. I know they did mushrooms decriminalization in Santa Cruz, but this California lawmaker, literally trying to get a bill passed to where it'll be in the regulations. Decriminalize that kind of stuff, which is really bizarre that California's getting there.
I like the idea of being able to get prescribed psychedelics specifically from you. If I was listening to this podcast right now, if I was still in my addiction and listening this, I would be like, that's going to be my doctor right there. This guy is talking about prescribing psychedelics and supplements and Wim Hof breathing.
Are you sure you're an MD, because there's not many MDs in addiction that are talking about this stuff. They don't know, or maybe could it also be that they're kind of afraid of what their peers will think of them, their other MD colleagues? Like, "Oh, look at this guy is getting into holistic medicine, snake oil." Is that part of it too?
Ken Starr, MD: You know, that might be part of it. I think a bigger part of it is that most docs are still in this broken insurance model where they have to take health insurance and do everything in this book of codes and see a new patient every five minutes, this nonsense.
We take insurance for our counseling and our groups and our detox program, actually, but like medication management and doctor visits, we tried, we just couldn't do it. Because I have to sit down with people for a half-hour or an hour, and we'd go bankrupt on getting paid 30 bucks for that.
There's more and more doctors doing cool things now with functional medicine. Like my primary care doctor is a lady, who's a family practice doc, who started something called direct primary care. It's a new thing. It's kind of like concierge model, but it's not quite as Gucci. Like concierge model is you pay your doctor $3,000 a year, and then they're your doctor.
This is $50 a month per person. I paid for everybody in my office, all my employees, too, because we have a high deductible health plan. So I paid $50 a month, all my employees have unlimited direct access to his primary care doctor. She'll see you right away, text you, call you, email, whatever. Super cool, down to earth lady. That way people have easier access to just general stuff and they're not worried about going out of pocket for the urgent care at an ER for a minor complaint.
So I like that. She's a DO and she does a lot of functional medicine. She has adjusted, manipulated, my wife's back and helped her a ton.
Matt Finch: A DO?
Ken Starr, MD: Yeah, she's a DO. It's great.
Matt Finch: What is a DO?
Ken Starr, MD: A DO is a doctor of osteopathy. Same thing, today. I think there was a difference years ago, but they're doing regular allopathic residencies and stuff.
Matt Finch: Great service.
Ken Starr, MD: I hope that there's more docs just start to just do addiction medicine. Because like these emails and calls from all over, it's like isn't there somebody in your community or your state or your town who can prescribe benzos and help you taper off this. The answer is no. A big city, like LA, I get calls from LA. Two and a half hours south of me is LA. I have so many patients from LA because there's no one in LA who wants to try to work with them to help them get off something. Really? How many millions of people are in LA? There's no doctors in LA that will do this?
Matt Finch: They're all plastic surgeons, Dr. Starr.
Ken Starr, MD: I don't know, man. That's crazy.
Matt Finch: That's where the money is in LA.
I think you just made a very compelling statement, right there, which is so now the addiction epidemic is getting so much worse. This pandemic accelerated so many different things, addiction included. We'll end in a minute here. But one thing accelerated is alcoholism, opioid addiction, just internet addiction, TV addiction, phone addiction, the addiction rates are going so much up that I think this is a really perfect timing for other doctors that are looking to specialize or that have some heart into this. I think there's so much room. I wish we could clone you and put you in all different states all over the place.
Ken Starr, MD: It might be happening.
Matt Finch: Yeah. When you were talking about that, I'm like I could see Dr. Starr coming up with some type of system, with my help even. I could give you some [inaudible 00:31:47], too, to be able to develop a program where you teach other people how to. Because there's such a huge need. People with SUD, I think it's probably one of, if not the most underserved population in the country. It's like now the country's waking up to it more and more. This is a huge problem.
Ken Starr, MD: Well, it's just gotten worse, too, right, with this whole pandemic.
Matt Finch: God it's so much worse. So now I think it's in all of our faces, all day, every day. So I think this is the perfect time for you, because I don't see anyone else doing it, to be able to train lots of people to do this stuff. I'm not sure what that would look like, but that would certainly help a lot of people.
Because if people are in LA and they can't get good addiction help from a good doctor, then I don't know where else they could get it from. I mean, that place is so crowded. Every time I drive up there, I get neck tension for the whole day because I'm like, ugh, so many people.
Ken Starr, MD: Yeah. I try not to go down there.
Matt Finch: Yeah. Where can people find you Dr. Starr? This was a great podcast episode.
Ken Starr, MD: Oh, yeah. Thanks for having me on. Well, the website is kenstarrmd.com, with two Rs. KenStarrmd.com. You can email me, I think, from that website. It describes some of our services.
Matt Finch: Yeah, great.
Ken Starr, MD: Oh, and our supplements store is getcleansupplements.com, which I think they're going to be able to access from your website pretty soon, right? We're going to set that up.
Matt Finch: Yes. This'll be on the show notes page of this episode, too, all of these links.
Ken Starr, MD: So we have some NAD supplements. We have the nasal spray. We have the sublingual. We have some theanine. We've got some B-complex. We've got some just stuff that I'm not trying to get into the business of just selling all supplements to all people, but there's a few things that we really target recovery really well for alcohol and benzo patients, and we try to focus on that.
Matt Finch: I'm using several, actually, of your Get Clean supplements, and I love all of them. They're very pure. They all taste good, the ones that are powders. So what I've been doing at nighttime is putting, and I'll just end with this, your glutamine powder, which is great, with the magnesium threonate powder.
Ken Starr, MD: The neuro restore?
Matt Finch: Neuro restore, yep. Neuro restore with the-
Ken Starr, MD: Magnesium threonate, yeah.
Matt Finch: Threonate.
Ken Starr, MD: Right.
Matt Finch: Threonate. One of those words like DL-phenylalanine with a weird pronunciation. I'm mixing the glutamine with the neuro restore with a teaspoon of glycine from NOW Foods, I think, and I'm taking the NAD nasal spray and the NAD sublingual melts. These supplements are awesome, man.
Ken Starr, MD: Take some theanine with that at night, too, and it will knock you down.
Matt Finch: Yeah, when you mentioned theanine, I'm like, I've got to get the theanine. That's like prescription strength, and zeolitic. It's like comparable. If you take a good dose of theanine, it's kind of like taking a little bit of Adavan or something, but it feels better.
Ken Starr, MD: Yeah, it's very calming, actually. Yeah, I like theanine a lot. I used to use it with Kavinace, but they stopped making Kavinace because the [crosstalk 00:35:01].
Matt Finch: That's the alkaloid from GABA?
Ken Starr, MD: Well, it had phenylbut in it, which the FDA decided you can't sell over the counter.
Matt Finch: Yeah, GABA B agonist. I've heard that you can get a dependence on that.
Ken Starr, MD: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, we have people coming in on that.
Matt Finch: Wow. Well, all right. [Crosstalk 00:35:24].
Ken Starr, MD: Okay, great. Thanks for having me on.
Matt Finch: Kenstarrmd.com.
Ken Starr, MD: Kenstarrmd.com.
Matt Finch: Getcleansupplements.com. Also, the Ken Starr MD Wellness Group YouTube channel.
Ken Starr, MD: Yeah, thank you.
Matt Finch: Yeah, that's really good.
Ken Starr, MD: We need more subscribers. I want to try to get to a 1000 subscribers.
Matt Finch: Let's see if we can get him to a thousand subscribers off this episode.
Ken Starr, MD: Like my video. No, more importantly, email me topics that you want me to talk about on YouTube and we can just do a short video and try to address your questions. Because the questions I get are good and usually other people have them, so we're always looking for content, right? Always looking to make new videos.
We haven't done any new videos in a while because we got so busy with COVID. My engineer, my YouTube guy, kind of went and hibernated somewhere. But we'll get some YouTube videos back going. We haven't done any in a bit. I need to build that up a little bit more.
Matt Finch: We're going to get you some emails in there. You're going to have a whole bunch of videos to do.
Thank you so much, Dr. Starr. I can't wait to do this with you again. We should make it more of a kind of regular or semi-regular thing, because you're just a great wealth of information. We have a blast.
Ken Starr, MD: Thanks. Yeah, we'll do another topic. Let's do another topic here in the next couple of weeks.
Matt Finch: Okay, sounds good.
Thank you for listening. If you'd like to learn more about Dr. Ken Starr, you can go to his website at kenstarrmd.com. You can check out elevationrecovery.com/podcast to check out the show notes page of this episode. See you next time.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.