Synopsis: Matt Finch and Coach Tana discuss different scenarios such as how to not relapse during the upcoming holidays if you’ve already quit, how to start quitting with a taper or different strategy, how to quit drinking before 2021, and how to come up with a powerful “Why” to stop drinking, how to reframe alcohol as an undesirable substance, how faith can help you quit and stay quit, and much more.
Whether you are still on alcohol or have already quit, there are many helpful strategies for navigating the holidays.
Here are the main topics discussed in this episode:
- “To drink during the holidays, or not to drink? That is the question…”
- Why it’s so easy to drink during the holidays
- Why so many wait until January 1st to quit drinking
- How most New Year’s Resolutions typically don’t last past a few weeks
- How to figure out when the best time to quit alcohol is
- How to “burn the ships” strategically to quit drinking
- Tapering vs cold-turkey alcohol recovery protocols
- Faith for alcohol recovery
- Find out your biggest “Why” and focus on it to help you quit alcohol for good
- Fitness for alcohol recovery
- Supplements for alcohol recovery
- Reframing alcohol as an undesirable substance
- Finding other resources that release stress besides alcohol (and healthy ones)
- Total Alcohol Recovery 2.0
Coach Tana: And you know what go into the holidays and say, this is a perfect time for me to overcome the holidays and create a new habit of not drinking, because guess what? Next year, December is going to roll around. And if it's not something you've been doing, you're going to do what you've always done, because that's what we always do. We do what we've always done. We stick with our habits. We go down the path of least resistance.
Matt Finch: Here's my thing, without a concrete plan that is written down, that has a starting date, it's so easy to just keep kicking the can down the road, put it off, put it off because you said the culprit. We are basically a collection of automatic responses and habits, and it's hard to break out of that daily autopilot but it's definitely possible. It just takes super awareness to focus on, okay, what am I doing today? And what am I actually supposed to be doing? What should I be doing?
Coach Tana: Thanks for tuning into the Elevation Recovery Podcast. Your hub for addiction recovery strategies hosted by Chris Scott and Matt Finch.
Matt Finch: Hey, this is Matt Finch here and in today's show episode 154, Coach Tana and I discuss the topic, to drink during the holidays or not to drink? That is the question. We play out different scenarios, such as how to not relapse during the upcoming holidays, if you've already quit. How to start quitting with a taper or different strategy, how to quit drinking before 2021 and how to come up with a powerful why to stop drinking, how to reframe alcohol as an undesirable substance, how faith can help you to quit and stay quit and so much more. So without further ado, let's begin.
Coach Tana: Hi, welcome to Elevation Recovery Podcast. This is episode 154, and this is host Tana, and I'm here host Matt Finch. Hey Matt, how are you?
Matt Finch: I'm doing really good. I slept absolutely amazing last night, I started taking this new tincture from Dragon Herbs, it's called Zizyphus dreamzzz drops, and it has an ingredient which is a Chinese herb, Zizyphus sativa, I guess it is. And so this is a very powerful, natural anxiolytic, and it's really good to take before bed. I've been on and off having troubles with insomnia lately. Although the last several days I've slept really good and especially last night. So I'm feeling super fresh. How about you Tana?
Coach Tana: I'm feeling good as well. I slept well, I didn't take what you just said. How do you say that, do you have to be able to say it to take it?
Matt Finch: Nope. You just have to be able to buy it to take it.
Coach Tana: Say it again.
Matt Finch: It's Zizyphus sativa.
Coach Tana: That's the first word?
Matt Finch: Yes, Zizyphus. I like it. Well, I found out about it from there is a herbal supplement called Heantos-4, which comes from Vietnam and it's been shown in multiple studies over in that country to be very helpful for opioid withdrawal. And so I've studied a lot into this product and one of the main ingredients has either 12 or 13 organic Chinese herbal extracts in it, and one of them is Zizyphus sativa. That's the one that helps people actually sleep through opioid withdrawal. Imagine being able to just relax and kick back and be mellow during withdrawal. I'm not sure how well it would work for alcohol withdrawal, but I also assume it could work quite well for that. So that's how I found out about it Tana.
It's just Chinese herbs. You know me and Chris have been going crazy about those lately, but I'll email you a link to that supplement to check it out, because even though it's called Zizyphus dreamzzz drops, you don't have to take it before bed. And it's something, melatonin would be a sleep supplement that someone would only want to take at night before they're getting ready to bed. But this one, even though it says dreamzzz drops, you can actually take it anytime throughout the day. It's just basically a very powerful, natural sedative. And it's an extract to now, this is an alcohol extract. And so this is probably a perfect segue to start talking about our main topic, which is on alcohol and whether a person wants to quit before the holiday is coming up or whether they don't think they'll be able to do it and they want to wait till January 1st and all the different types of scenarios that could be happening, but this is a tincture.
And so tincture is an extract that's an alcohol form. So it does have a little bit of alcohol in it. And that's kind of, part of my story was years after I quit alcohol opioids, benzos, I quit everything. Nine years ago is when I ended my addiction but I'd say it was probably about two years in and I had rewired my brain. I had done so much great stuff for my brain health and for my psychology and my spirituality and my relationships and everything. So I was like, you know what? I want to start taking tinctures again, herbal tinctures. And I really just, at that point, I was like, there's no way this little tincture is going to wake up my alcohol cravings. And so I started taking these tinctures, not enough alcohol in there to make you feel anything of the alcohol. It's a very little amount just as a kind of a form to help, to make the herbs more powerful and consume them.
So as soon as I did that and had no cravings, I remember my mom freaking out, what are you doing? Those have alcohol in them. You're going to turn into an alcoholic again. And at that point, I didn't believe in the once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic thing anymore. At least for myself, I was like, when I started taking opioids daily in Upstate New York probably 12 years ago, something like that now, it kind of just ruined my care for alcohol. As soon as I realized that I could feel good and energized and not be anxious and feel confident and be good with women. As soon as I found those in pill form opioids, and even especially combined with benzos, it was almost like it cured me from alcohol just then it was like, okay, I used to have this liquid that I would drink to get confident and to be good with women and to not have generalized anxiety and social anxiety, but there was a good chance I was going to get a DUI or a drunk in public or blackout and do something really stupid and lose a bunch of friends or something. Or wake up really hung over and have to keep drinking, which happened all the time.
So soon as I realized that I could feel really great on pills and then not wake up with a hangover and not blackout, not do anything stupid from that point on, I just stopped really caring about alcohol. I would still do it from time to time. But anyway, so that's my experience. It's been so long now since I've been addicted to alcohol and have even cared about it, that coming up to these holidays right now, especially Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year's are the ones that my family and I celebrate. It's not going to be any trouble at all. There's going to be, my aunt will be drinking. My dad will probably drink, my family's not a bunch of big drinkers. We got a lot of alcoholism and mental health and drug addiction problems in our family tree line on both sides, both my dad's side and my mom's side. So coming up to these holidays.
And whenever I go anywhere, alcohol just doesn't speak to me that way anymore. It doesn't go, Hey, we could have some fun together. Hey, if you drink me, you'll feel like you fit in with everybody. Hey, if you drink me, then you can have fun just like everyone else. Then you can feel worthwhile and you can actually have good conversations with people. And that kind of thinking it's so foreign to me now, it's kind of almost hard to even put myself back in that place. What about you, when we were talking about this stuff earlier, you can maybe repeat what you had told me before we started this episode, which was your stress, basically stress management stuff.
Coach Tana: Right. And I don't know if this is similar for you, but this is how I explain it, because I don't know how else to explain it. As for me now, drinking alcohol would be like smoking a cigarette, which for people who are addicted to tobacco, it doesn't bother them. But for people who just don't have that desire that need, they don't like the smell of it, they have no desire. There's no way ever that they're going to be like, I'm just going to have a drag. So for me, drinking alcohol would be like smoking cigarettes. So when some people can't wrap their head around, are you sure you're going to be okay with alcohol around? I'm totally fine with it. I am absolutely fine with it. And I tell them, Hey, it would be like, if your husband or your friend or you were smoking, I probably wouldn't be in the line of fire from the smoke that you blow out, but I would have no problem being around you. And that's how it is with me with alcohol.
But it is a progression everybody's recovery is different. So for me, it may have taken longer than somebody else to overcome and get past that. I remember after I got the supplements in and I started taking them, I believe in my progression was about six weeks when I finally, I call them milestones. So it's like, you stop counting the days. That's a milestone. And then I get to the point where, Oh, I was around alcohol and I did crave it. I'm not craving alcohol anymore. That's another milestone. But then there's still those triggers that come up. And I remember in early recovery, in the first year I had several triggers, which my triggers are mainly stress where one I bought a bottle of wine and I poured the glass. Thankfully I didn't drink it. Another time I sat for, I don't know, it felt like hours at a wine bar. I got out of my car. I even walked halfway up to the wine bar, I never went in, went back to my car, contemplated it. I felt insane, but I did it. I didn't want to drink I knew that. And I overcame that.
And the more and more than I was able to overcome those triggers with healthy alternatives. I think the first time when I bought the glass of wine, I went for a walk instead, and I took a bath. And then after the wine bar, I think I just went home and went to bed. The more and more that you overcome them with healthy alternatives, the more proud of yourself you feel, and the more confident the next time it comes around, you are to say, no, I'm not going to do that. And I've been thinking a lot on this lately, because recently I had a very stressful situation. I think we're all having stressful situations with everything going on, but I sat there and as I'm kind of crying from my situation, I'm thinking, gosh, how lucky am I that alcohol is no longer a part of this? So even I wasn't even tempted. I didn't think, Oh goodness, it's not worth it. I should just drink anyways. Which is what I used to think. Instead, I'm truly grateful in my time of struggle, that alcohol is no longer part of it.
And I felt so much stronger. I felt like I can conquer this. I've conquered this in the past. And now I don't have alcohol to bring me down either. And I think that kind of goes into what we're talking about here with people struggling. Well, do I drink there in the holidays? Do I wait until the New Years and personally Matt, I don't like New Year's resolutions. They last, what? About 15 days on average. I mean, if you know that you are not living up to your full potential, what does it matter what day you start? Start today, burn those ships and go into the holidays and say, this is a perfect time for me to overcome the holidays and create a new habit of not drinking, because guess what? Next year, December is going to roll around. And if it's not something you've been doing, you're going to do what you've always done, because that's what we always do. We do what we've always done. We stick with our habits. We go down the path of least resistance. And so you might as well just start now.
And you know what? Say, if I do go into the holidays and I fall, I fail because it's not failure, I should give up. Then I'll just pick myself back up and I'll keep moving forward. And that's okay because that's giving you learning points to move forward and keep moving forward. But I think so much that we focus on a new year's resolution because we think that's going to be the end all be all. But at the end of the day, it's having the self-worth to say, I'm not living up to my best potential. I need to start today because I care about myself. And if I need to lose weight or I need to quit drinking, whatever it is, then I need to start today. January 1st, isn't going to make the biggest difference because I'm still the same person then as I am now.
And I'll tell you this story real quick. I'm sorry. I don't know why this is the only thing I remember from college. Right after high school, I went and talked to a college counselor and this is the only thing I remember. I don't know why we had this conversation. I don't know why college counselor told this to an 18 year old, but she told me Tana, if you wait until your life is perfect to have kids, you'll never have kids. And it's so true, but it's not just with kids. It's with everything. If you wait until January 1st, you're still not going to be perfect.
Matt Finch: I've always hated New Year's resolutions. Not for other people. I mean, that's their life, but for myself, I just never saw the point in it. It seems like a very arbitrary date, well, okay. Just because it's the start of a new year. So I love all the stuff that you said and going back to when I was an alcoholic, big time alcoholic, let's see. This would be when I was 23 big time. That's when it all really started at the age of 23. And so I remember partying with my friends all summer. So imagine me at 23, I'm all tattooed up, shaved head, goatee playing in a reggae rock band. The lead singer, he was a Blood, which is the Gangs, the Bloods and the Crips. He was a Gang member and he was in the Bloods and it a really gnarly environment that I was in and social group. And back then in San Diego, you could drink alcohol on the beach legally, and you could smoke cigarettes on the beach legally.
Now we would go all summer. A lot of the nice days, we'd go down to the beach and we'd bring a keg and we'd bury the keg in the sand. And we get hammered at the beach all day and go swimming. And then at nighttime, we'd either go to parties or have parties or go to the bars. And so I remember being so ready to quit drinking by the end of the summer that I was like, okay, I'm done. As soon as the summer... mine was never I'll quit on January 1st. Mine was always the summers for many years, from 23, 24, 25, I think even 26, the summers I would binge drink like crazy. I just could not stay away from alcohol with that social group that I was in, in the summertime here by the ocean in Southern California. So what would happen was I go, okay, as soon as the summer is over, I have to quit. Well, the end of August would roll around and I was still drinking, September would roll around and end and I was still drinking. October still drinking, typically November, even still drinking.
Usually I would actually quit far before January 1st. I'd always planned to quit by the end of the summer. And usually I'd be still getting messed up well into the fall and sometimes even early into the winter, but I would dry out a lot for the winter, even for early spring. But man, as soon as summer started getting close again. So I was one of those drinkers that I was only physiologically dependent a few times out of all those many, many, many, many years of drinking. And most of the time I was actually off alcohol for weeks or months or even several months at a time, one time, even more than a year. Now during these times, sometimes I'd go to AA. Sometimes I would stay off alcohol by just taking Valium and smoking weed sometimes and kind of just staying away from that social circle. But it was always just a matter of time before I started hanging out with my buddies again, who were all drinking and doing drugs. And that's what would always take me back to it.
So I know nowadays that's not the main problem anymore because at least here in California, the bars are closed. They were open outdoors for a while, but they've closed again. So I'm sure there's probably some other states like that too, where people can't even go to bars. So now it's really more like people are drinking at home for the most part. And that's a kind of different animal than what I was. I was never someone that liked to drink by myself. I mean, I would, but I usually like to be around people. So that was crosstalk.
Coach Tana: I always tried to hide myself because I knew I had a problem.
Matt Finch: So for the people that are listening this episode right now, I like what you were saying Tana about why wait until January 1st. So if there's people that are waiting for January 1st, that's when they're going to do it. It's a good thing to consider. What about starting a taper now? Or what about using supplements that they may have purchased now and started going on some type of plan? I mean, here's my thing, without a concrete plan that is written down that has a starting date, it's so easy to just keep kicking the can down the road, put it off, put it off because you said the culprit, we are basically a collection of automatic responses and habits, and it's hard to break out of that daily autopilot, but it's definitely possible. It just takes super awareness to focus in, okay, what am I doing today? And what am I actually supposed to be doing? What should I be doing?
If someone's been sitting there for four hours watching Netflix, not at nighttime after work or business has been done, but just throughout the day just kind of drink and just not moving around a bunch, not consuming great foods, not consuming, great supplements, not moving their body around. There's so many people now that are just on the couch, sedentary, snacking on lots of snacks. And I think we've all, a lot of people have gotten to a place where they've lowered their standards. Meanwhile, a lot of people have actually raised their standards during the pandemic and improved things a bunch, but yeah, January 1st is arbitrary. So maybe we could do a little challenge for the people that this is resonating with. And that is if you were planning on quitting January 1st consider trying to quit right now, or even soon, maybe not today, but in the next few days in the next week, just think about it.
Everyone's situation is totally different. And so some people are going to be like, well, that's a horrible idea. How can I just quit tomorrow? I'm drinking two bottles of vodka a day or something. Well, in that case, that's not for you. I guess I'm referring to the moderate drinkers that are maybe just having a few glasses of wine at night, or maybe even a full bottle of wine a night. That seems like it'd be more manageable to do a one or two week, three week taper or something like that. And then to be off by January 1st and to maybe even be feeling somewhat better or quite better.
Coach Tana: Right. And your story is so great about the beach, because that just goes to show that starting now somebody is saying, I can't start now because of the holidays, I'm going to start January 1st. Well, just as your story showed, you haven't burned the bridge, the ships yet, you haven't burned those bridges, there ships whatever you want to call it. And so you're not really dedicated because there's still that part of your life that, Hey, I still want to drink and guess what? That time is going to come again next year, just like the summers came every year and you're going to do what you've always done, what you want to do because you haven't burned that ship yet. And I really do like the idea of having a challenge for everybody to say, Hey, I started today because this is important to me. This is important to my health. This is important to my family.
And I really do. I like that idea of a challenge. I think anybody can do this, no matter where they're at. Just say, Hey, this has been a hard year. I can start now. And it starts with knowing your worth to know I am worth more than alcohol or drugs or whatever it is. I'm going to take that step forward. And I'm going to take this opportunity to quit. I don't care that the holidays are coming up. I don't care if I might fail. It's okay. I'll pick myself back up if I do, and I will learn from it. But at least I'm saying I know my worth. And I know that there's something better for me and I'm not going to wait until next year, because next year may not come. I'm going to start today to be the person who I want to be.
And that also that comes with, since we're coming up to the holiday season and spending time with family and friends, being able to have the boundaries for yourself, setting those boundaries and saying to people I no longer drink alcohol, or I'm no longer putting sugar in my body or I no longer am doing those drugs and I'm doing it for me. And I would appreciate if you didn't even ask me, I don't care if you do it but right now, I just want you to respect me and my decision. Because a lot of times we get worried about, Oh, well, what are they going to think if I'm not drinking or they're going to ask me and how am I going to say no? And for that with my clients, I always say, visualize it first, visualize going to the party because it's going to happen, but visualize yourself saying no, because if you've already done it in your mind, it's going to be easier to do when you get there. But sometimes we do have to set those boundaries with people.
And I look at it with my son. I tell him all the time, Hey, if you're standing up for what is right, and you're standing up for yourself, don't worry so much about what other people are thinking. Why are we so worried about what people are thinking? If we say, no, I don't drink. We shouldn't be worried about that. Especially when it's to benefit our health and our minds. So, I think this is going to be a great thing to start a challenge and see who steps up to the plate and says, I'm burning the ships< I'm going through the holidays without alcohol and starting before January 1st, because I want this to be an ongoing thing. I'm a very extreme person, when I make a decision I'm all in, I'm all in starting today. I'm buying all the materials, I'm going for it. And you know what I found? I do that and it's never perfect. It never is. I take steps back. And, but then I learn from those mistakes and I moved forward, but I know that the success that I've had and the things I've done comes from me being that extreme person who dives in right when I say, Hey, that's what I want.
Matt Finch: I'm so glad you brought up that story about burning the ships. It goes back to Hernan Cortes and his Spanish Armada, I believe where they were on a great conquest, brought the ships to a new frontier to conquer. And I'm not agreeing with what they did if this even really historically happened, but he ordered all his men once they arrived on the beaches of this new land to burn all their ships, meaning they either needed to win and take over or they were going to die. So it's a very powerful method of either burning the ships or burning a bridge. And so I'm wondering how someone can really burn the ships completely when they sell alcohol all over the place. And it's legal and it's accepted. What do you think, Tana, maybe it's more of a thing to where you burn the ships in your mind and your kind of visual imagination gym.
Coach Tana: Exactly. So I've had people come to me and say, I really want to quit drinking. It's bad for my health. I do all these stupid things when I'm drunk, I'm mean, I'm making mistakes and getting in trouble, but I can't quit until after this performance or I can't quit until after the holidays. Or maybe if I could just have a glass of wine or so with a friend, that's not burning the ships because you're making excuses, you're justifying, you're trying to put a box around alcohol and that just doesn't happen. I always say there is no reset button. You can't stop drinking and then say, Oh, I'm just going to have one or two or whatever it is. At least I've never heard of that happening or seen the research on it because there truly is no reset button.
I've had a couple of people come to me, saying, Hey, I quit. And one person even had 10 years under his belt. And then he thought, Oh, well, I can have a drink now. And now he's worse off than he was the first time he quit. And so it's not necessarily the point of just getting rid of alcohol shops and never going to the grocery store again. It's more of the fact of saying the holidays are coming. And I know that I'm going to be around a lot of people who are drinking, I'm burning the ships starting today. I'm going to tell all those people I'm around. I don't drink anymore, burning the ships.
Matt Finch: There we go. Yeah. That's epic. It's very powerful too when people can tell your body language, the tonality, the words that you use, all those types of communication, and they can tell when someone says I'm a non-drinker, they can tell when someone really means it and they can tell, or at least a lot of people can tell if the person saying that doesn't really believe it themselves, or if they're not quite sure, and a lot of people don't understand addiction, don't understand alcohol use disorder. And so of course they want, Oh, why can't you just have a little bit. I wouldn't even entertain anybody in any of those conversations. I'd just be like, alcohol is nasty, I don't drink that shit. This stuff makes me tired and dehydrated. And when you talk about alcohol like that to other people like, Oh, you're not drinking? No, that shit just makes me tired and nauseous, that's just the grossest stuff in the whole world when people have other alternatives or what I think makes it the easiest.
So for instance, a lot of people don't have other alternatives to feel more comfortable in their own skin, so to speak. So alcohol is really either the only, or one of the only kind of escapes right from the stressors of life that a lot of people have. It was my first escape. Well, I guess marijuana was my first escape. Then it was alcohol. But over the years it turned into, well, I can escape with benzos and with opioids. And I just kept trying all these different things to see what I liked best. And that was definitely the combination of opioids and benzos. But yeah, for many years now, I have so many different things that I can do now. Saigon Tai-Chi meditation, go work out, eat a great healthy dinner, do some binaural beats or a guided meditation. I've been playing my mom's classical nylon string guitar every single night for hours and hours. Really, I'm getting back my chops from the old days. And I just have a never ending list of awesome things that I'd rather be doing than pouring poison into my body.
It's so crazy, right? Tana, once you've been off of it for long enough. And once you've really restored your health and transformed your life, the thought of drinking something that's so unhealthy for you when you drink copious amounts of it, really even one or two drinks a day. If someone's doing that consistently, that's just a cellular dehydrator, depletes B vitamins and other nutrients, gets your brain needing it to be able to relax and so much more. It's just such a, I see alcohol is probably one of, if not the most inferior drug out there that everyone's just loving. It's like, it's because they haven't found other ways to feel good. Alcohol is really a horrible one for that, for people that are stressed out, man, heroin is so much better. I'm just joking.
Coach Tana: We're not advocating heroin.
Matt Finch: No. And there was something on the news the other day and this lady had committed suicide. And I was thinking, man, suicides for people that just haven't figured drugs or something. Don't you know there's at least get onto something before that. I like to be comical about things too. But so for people coming up, I want people to listen to this part too. There is a video, I'll put it in the show notes for this episode. It's a Will Smith, the famous actor actually. And it's a video that went viral on YouTube. It's on self-discipline and it's Will Smith comparing self-discipline to self-love. He said that the way people attain self-discipline is by learning to have so much self love, to love themselves so much. And then when that happens, when you're coming from a place where you just love yourself so much, well, then you don't really need to use active discipline anymore because coming from that state where you love yourself that much, you're probably not going to do many things that are going to hurt your body because your body's your temple.
Someone that really, really loves and cares for themselves, isn't going to do things that are excessive. They're not going to excessively drink. They're not going to excessively use drugs. It's usually from a place where we don't love ourselves enough and that's when we will start putting that stuff in there. And sometimes we do love ourselves enough and it's just way more biochemical and the cravings are just too hard. I know how alcohol can skew people's brains like that, to where it changes your personality. It changes your thought processes, it changes everything. It just rewires your brain and destroys health in so many different ways. So it can be hard to have that self-love.
Coach Tana: Right. Yes. And I'm so glad you said that and that you're going to post that video from Will Smith because, just like in the beginning, when I said you have to know your worth, you have to know that you are valuable and that you are worthy to make these changes and to have a better life, to have a better health. Actually, if you don't mind, if I read this verse, the Bible, because a lot of people say, well, how do I get that love for myself? If nobody around me is loving me or I haven't loved myself for a long time. It really just goes back to knowing that you were made perfect and the ways of this world have told you different. So if you don't mind, I'm going to read this real quick.
And this comes from the book of Matthew 6, that is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life. Whether you have enough food and drink or enough clothes to wear, isn't life more than food and your body more than clothing. Look at the birds, they don't plant or harvest or store food in barns for your heavenly father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life. So that's verses 25-27. And I love that because we forget why we were created. We lose sight of why we were here. We forget about that we have gifts and talents, and I love walking around the Lake. I run around the Lake almost every day because my favorite part is that there's ducks out there and there's birds, there's even these chickens, which I never thought of a chicken to be at the Lake. And inaudible, swans.
I love watching them because every day they're not rushing around trying to get as much food as possible or trying to beat each other or whatever. They're just content. They're eating, they're swimming. I often think why am I not a duck? Because it just like seems the life. I love it. I have to know our worth. And we have to say, I'm here for so much more when we take that focus off of our flaws and put it onto something else. And I know we all probably have a past, I know I have a past, and sometimes it's hard for me to overlook that past. And actually recently my sister made a comment of your life is literally like that art, that Japanese art form kintsugi, I believe where the pottery breaks and they put it back together with gold and they think of it more valuable every time it breaks and is put back with gold.
We have to realize that we're broken, but we can put ourselves back together. And when we put ourselves back together, we grow stronger. We grow better and our value just increases. And so it starts with knowing our worth and saying to ourselves, I am valuable. I am worth not putting alcohol on my body. I am worth taking this step today for a better life. In fact, our challenge should become your life can be better and it could be better today. That should be our challenge.
Matt Finch: You probably don't know this. I don't think I've told you this before, but when my parents were coming up for a name for me, when I was in the womb, my dad wanted to name me Harley after the motorcycle. So my name would have been Harley Finch. I'm so glad that my mom looked through the Bible and said, well, we're going to name him Matthew. So my name actually comes from the section that you just read off. And I really love that. It's like life is school. We're here to express love and compassion and learn things and get through struggles. And that's part of the deal. Part of the deal. At least for most of us, there's some people that have easier lives than others, but we're all here to learn and grow and to serve and to kind of have our own unique experience. And there's also a Japanese proverb, by the way, I've never heard about that type of Japanese. So what is it? Ceramics making.
Coach Tana: It's art. It's the art, just when pottery break they put it back together, they don't throw it away.
Matt Finch: That's one of the coolest things I've ever heard. And it goes along with life so much, there's also a ancient Japanese proverb that kind of goes, feels like it fits with that. And it's something along the lines of get knocked down six times or fall down six times get back up seven times. It kind of goes along with that, the more times you fall down, all you have to do is get back up one more time. Then you fall down and just not fall down again, but you know what? Life is life. And so even if it's not with alcohol, once people transcend that there's going to be all sorts of other problems. You've probably heard me talking about once I ditched all the substance addictions, how I've gone through food addictions and internet addiction and caffeine addiction and sugar addiction. But now I've conquered all those. Even email, even checking email too much the way I just conquered that was one simple step. I was like, I'm not going to research this. I'm just going to do intuitively feels the best.
And so several days ago after Chris and I did the last session together, I had mentioned on that podcast that the last bad habit that I have is just checking email more often than needed, way more often than needed. So what I did was I set alarms in my phone, the night before the next day, and to go off every two hours. And so now the alarm goes off every two hours and that's when I check my email. Now, if I want to send somebody an email, I just get on and send it. But so this is like scheduled times. And so now in between those couple of hour things, I'm not like going, Oh, I need to check my email, see if someone emailed up now that obsession compulsion is gone just like that, just from taking one little step.
And so now I feel super free. I'm like, wow, I don't have currently knock on wood. I don't have any bad habits, certainly not any addictions, but I mean, here I am nine years later after first quitting substances and then working through a bunch of other stuff. So it's kind of like this fun, never ending process. That's not always fun. And that is sometimes hard, sometimes really difficult. But now I got my life in a lifestyle and businesses and family in such a way that I really, really, really love where things are at. And it was just the faith in the process. A lot of turning it over to God, to guide my thoughts and guide my emotions, and also to guide me to the ideas and the people and the experiences and the situations that are going to be the purest and most congruent with my path.
I actually did a video, probably a few months ago, and it was on why I say the third step prayer every morning. And so I don't do the AA program these days. Haven't for over nine years, more than nine years, but I love that third step prayer. And I say it often, very often, not every single morning, but I say it a lot. And when I turn over my life and my will to God or the oversoul, the creator, the mystical source of everything, I don't know God, whatever you want to call it. That Supreme intelligence love being that created all of this. When I turn it over to that, when I turn over my life and let that guide me, Oh man, it's just feels like things go so much smoother. But it's taken a long time to get to this point. So some people that are quitting a substance, they're not going to have near as much other type of work in life that as I did, I really had a lot of work to be done on myself.
So there's probably so many people listening to this that are in good life situations. They just can't get rid of the alcohol problem. And it is a big problem. What are some cool supplements Tana? Or some cool first steps that you want people to know about if they are going to quit tomorrow or in the next few days, or start a taper plan to be able to accept the challenge and at least start making some little milestones, as you were saying, towards becoming totally alcohol free, what are some recommendations that you would give them right off the top of your head?
Coach Tana: Right. Well, Matt, first of all, what I say is I love that you're always working on yourself and yes, it's a hard journey. It takes hard work to work on yourself, but it is so worth it. And you've built such a great life for yourself. And I know you'll continue to work on yourself as well. For those out there who are looking to quit, first of all, I would say, join quick recovery, join the course, the total alcohol recovery, 2.0 course, get coached. Those are important, don't do this alone. Community is big. If that's not an option for you, diet is a big thing. And I don't think we've realized how food affects us, how it affects our mood and our blood sugar. And that alone can cause a relapse, that alone can cause a slip.
And so making sure you're eating every two to four hours to high protein diet that high fiber, high nutritious fruits and veggies, and just staying away from sugar as much as possible. I know glutamine, L-glutamine is really great for sugar cravings, alcohol cravings. It feeds your brain that glucose that it's needing, helps repair your gut. So many of our neurotransmitters are created in our gut like serotonin. And so if our gut isn't healthy, then how are we expected to produce those healthy neurotransmitters that make us feel good. So getting your diet right is so important, staying away from the sugar, limiting caffeine, that's the first step, getting on a good multivitamin, taking your fish oil every day, probiotics, vitamin C. To this day, I still take 3000 milligrams of vitamin C a day. And my kids sometimes take 1000 milligrams a day.
So vitamin C is not going to hurt you for the most part. Vitamin D is important, and research the amino acids and see what works best for you. I know as coaches, we're able to help you target that but everybody's need is different. Everybody has different medical conditions. So I can't necessarily just recommend stuff like that. But do your research, do your due diligence or get a coach, Those are very important. And then making sure you exercise, you're not going to get motivation to exercise by sitting there waiting for it. Motivation comes from progress. It comes from results. It doesn't just hit you one day in the head and you're motivated. You have to earn motivation. So get out there and exercise. And I hate running, well, actually now I love running, but I used to hate running. And then all of a sudden I started running every morning because I needed to, for my mind it helps my mind stay clear, keeps me from going into negative thinking patterns.
So I said, I'm going to run every day. And there's barely been a day that I missed running and I just run like 10 or 15 minutes. I don't run very far. But now I love it. And I miss it if I don't do it during the day, but I didn't have that motivation in beginning. And I know Chris says, don't be a hero in the gym. You don't have to go hit it hardcore. I'm working out with a very good friend of mine, my sister, and she's like, Oh, you're not going to push me anymore. And I'm like, no, I want this to be longterm for you. I want you to come every day for the rest of your life. Well, maybe not every day, but most days of the week for the rest of your life, I don't want to kill you and you hate it. I want you to love it. Those are very, very important to getting your foot in the door.
And then after that, once your body is not, I call it, in chaos mode when it's seeking those feel good neurotransmitters, those feel good chemicals. The reason we turn to alcohol physically, when your body is not screaming at you, it's much easier to see the bigger picture. It's much easier to see why you're mentally addicted to it. It's much easier to see, Oh, my friends, this is who I hang out with. And when we go out, all we do is drink. Well, maybe you need new friends or your spiritual, maybe you're not your spirituality, maybe your faith, isn't where it needs to be. But it's hard to tackle those if your body is in chaos mode.
Matt Finch: There is a assessment tool. I'm forgetting the name of it off the top of my head. I will put it in the show notes page. It is amazing. I'll also send it directly to you Tana because it's that good. I think it's called, I'm pretty sure actually it's called the Holmes and Rahe Stress Assessment, something along those lines. It is free and it is online. What this is, is it's an assessment tool to gauge, to be able to measure numerically on a scale of, I guess, zero all the way to 600. And it could even go above potentially. It's a stress scale. So the higher you score, the more prone someone is to a serious illness. And that is because of all the stress. So for instance, there's tons of different life situations that could happen. And you just check off, you fill in all the bubbles of everything that has happened to you on this list that has happened within the last 12 months last year.
So some of the things you'll find on this are the death of a spouse, a changing in your living situation. It could be a divorce. It could be the death of a child, which is probably the highest stressor on there. It could be a change in your where you're working. So it could be the same place that you work at, but instead of going to the office, you're working from home, it could be so many different number of things. And when I first found this, well, I didn't find it. I was first showed it. I was at DUI school or the DUI program. And it was for my second California DUI. And it was a fricking 18 month program. It was so long, but I had a really great counselor who I loved. She was this older woman named Gail. And she was absolutely amazing. Out of all the therapists and counselors I've had over my life. She was by far the best for me personally, everyone in our group just loved her. She was really good at what she did, but she presented us with that.
And this is back when I was God, how long ago was that? Now this was after I had got off drugs and alcohol and everything, but I was still trying to clean up the wreckage of my past. And that meant doing this program, getting it over with. So I could actually have a legit driver's license and not be driving around on a suspended license. So I did that and she showed us this test, I scored really high, you are chronically stressed. And I just took this thing again maybe a month ago, maybe six weeks And I still scored pretty darn high. I was in the moderately stressed apartment. And it's just because I've got a few different businesses, a kid, bills, and there's been a lot of stuff happening with this pandemic as far as changes.
And so, yeah, I scored pretty high, but since I'm taking so many Chinese tonic herbs and animal organs and other nutritional supplements, since I'm really focusing on diet and since I'm exercising, that score is not leading to illness and it's not leading to total devastation. So I really encourage a lot of people to visit the show notes page for this episode of elevationrecovery.com/podcast. You'll see it pop right up there. I think it is called the Holmes and Rahe questionnaire, something like that. Have you ever heard of that assessment Tana?
Coach Tana: Not until now. And I'm going to go fill it out after this. Is it the Holme and Rahe stress inventory?
Matt Finch: Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Coach Tana: Stress scale, that's really interesting. It's hard because you think of those stress and a lot of times they create trauma in the brain and having to not only effectively keep healthy, but also to heal those past traumas is important too.
Matt Finch: The trauma is a huge one. I don't even like to talk about my childhood very much because for the most part, it was really great, but there were several, not just one or two or three, more than a handful, maybe even around 10 very traumatic memories. When I think about my early childhood, most of my memories are those traumatic ones that left such big imprints on me. And that definitely rewired my brain and not a good way too, and this is all backed by research and popularized by doctor Dr. Gabor Mate, author of, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and boy, that stuff, you can even have microtraumas. Tana, for instance, if you're a little kid and your parents forget to pick you up from school one day and you're out there for 45 minutes alone, everyone's gone and you're crying even that is a childhood trauma. Even when your parents, say you're five years old or three years old, four years old, and maybe your dad or mom raises a voice real loud, gets real angry. And it's all that.
Before the age of six, arguably we're mostly in theta waves, theta brainwaves, and that's the subconscious programming a brainwave system. And that's what we're in our first several years of childhood. And so we don't have that analytical beta wave conscious mind, really to be able to kind of judge things and see if they're true or not. No, we're straight and theta for all those first several years. So every piece of information, every anger, every trauma, everything that happens, that's stored in our memory, big time, we don't have a filter to be able to decide for ourselves or judge, things like that. And so a lot of us get fucked up in our childhood. And then unfortunately we repeat the pattern, buck our kids up in their childhood and so on and so forth.
Coach Tana: It's time to break that pattern.
Matt Finch: I did, it took me a long time. I was a single dad for the first several years, and I did have girlfriends at times, helping out, which was very helpful. And I'm very appreciative of all the women that I've ever helped to care for Willow. It's been a few but I would raise my voice. This is when I was still active, undiagnosed bipolar II disorder. And so I would grow my business or businesses when I was on the hypomanic runs, the up, and I would also get really irritated, impatient, sometimes even display aggression, as far as you could tell, like, Oh my God. And I started to realize, I'm like, Oh man, I can't be like this as a dad to a sweet little girl. And so I just read this book called, I think it was called, Behavior. Anyways, it was a book based on using behaviorism and positive reinforcement for raising children. So I think Willow was six at this time.
And after I read that book, everything changed, I stopped criticizing her. I stopped bringing up negative stuff. I stopped raising my voice. And since then, I've just been really sweet, really loving, really present, really patient. And every time I see her doing things that I am appreciative of, I either give her compliments or I give her a prize or something. I'm always rewarding a behavior that I want to increase instantly when I see it. And barely, rarely ever saying anything like, Oh, you forgot to do this. And I'll bring it up kind of in a cute way and stuff. So that's one of the biggest transformations that I've made. And I wouldn't have been able to make that transformation if I was still drinking alcohol, if I was still using pills or other drugs. And certainly if I was using all that stuff.
And it saddens me that there's so many kids out there today and they're either one parent or both parents have substance abuse, current issues. And it just makes me sad to think about that. It makes me sad to think about all the little kids that are stuck at home. I have empathy for adults too. Don't get me wrong. But when it comes to little children, animals, and very old people that are just so, so much more helpless, I have deep empathy.
Coach Tana: Yeah. Well, being a parent is hard, Matt, as you know, but being a single parent is so, so tremendously hard. And so, it's so awesome to hear what you've done as a father to your daughter. And I'm sure she's your why, just like my kids are my absolute why of why I keep going every day of why I want to be better every day, of why I quit drinking, of why I'm overcoming my recent diagnosis of bipolar, which is as you know difficult because you can't quite understand it or what's happening with it. But at the end of the day, my kids are my why. And they are the biggest blessing I've ever received. And they're so innocent and they love you no matter what. So for any of those listening, just find your why at the end of the day. And I'm so thankful for my kids to be my why. And also realize the impact of what your actions have on them. I know growing up in a household with parents who drank a lot as much as I hated it, I hate some of the memories that I have from it.
I remember when I would drink, when I went out on my own, when I was living on my own, it almost gave me a sense of home which is incredibly screwed up because that sense of home really, really affected me in a negative way. So the only sense of home that I had was drinking alcohol. I don't want to give that to my kids. I want them to have a sense of home that's love and that's forgiveness and that's sober-minded, and we work hard for what we have and we eat dinner together and I want those to be their memories. And even we see mommy struggle. We see her fall down and guess what? She comes in, she apologizes to us. And it's amazing when you apologize to your kids, because they say, it's okay, mommy, we all make mistakes, but that allows them to know that they can make mistakes. And when they do, they come in and apologize too. And when they do, they see me loving them, despite what has happened.
Matt Finch: Yeah. You called it. Willow was totally my why when I woke up, came to in the hospital and my parents and the doctor told me what had happened, which was a near fatal encounter, I took too much methadone, too much Valium. When I took them together, overdosed, they saved me. I was one or two minutes away from being dead when they gave me a naloxone shot and brought me back to the hospital, saved my life. When I came to, they told me what happened. And I was like, Oh my goodness gracious, Matt, you dumb shit. You have screwed up so many big times. This is the ultimate screw up. You almost left your 17 month old, beautiful little toddler girl without a dad for her whole entire rest of her life. She wasn't even two years old. And her mom was on heroin at the time and kind of homeless, really living at the beach with her boyfriend. It was a bad situation.
Had I woke up from that overdose and not had a kid. Let's say that I didn't even have a kid at the time. I honestly do not believe at all that I would be talking to you right now. I don't even think I'd be alive. She was my why, as soon as that happened, I probably would've got right out of the hospital and maybe within a few days or a few weeks, been using opioids and other drugs and alcohol, again, I don't think it would have taken long, but since I woke up and realized that I got a second damn chance to be a dad in this life and to do it right time, I felt like that was some type of divine intervention or miracle somehow that was, for me to live through that. So many perfectly, synchronistic events, all just had to align together for my life to be saved in the way it was.
And so instead of having post-traumatic stress of that, instead of getting back on drugs right afterwards, I was like, all right, here's my second chance. I'm going to do things differently this time. Now I had a new goal. My first goal was I wanted to dampen the hardness of life. I was always very sensitive. I wanted to use substances to be able to feel comfortable in my own skin. I had a new goal when I woke up in the hospital and it was to become, to outgrow that old me so much to become the strongest, most responsible parent that I could be. And just citizen of San Diego, of the nation of the world, I wanted to do things way differently. And then all of a sudden things started to line up. Like the perfect book was all of a sudden in my lap and I was reading it, which got me on the path of personal development.
And then the perfect supplements were being sent to me from family, from a family member saying, Hey, you're coming off of these drugs and alcohol here, take these supplements. And so if that wasn't God or higher power, whatever anybody wants to call it, if that wasn't some type of divine intervention boy, all that stuff sure was coincidental. And then I had post-traumatic growth. And from that traumatic growth, I made so much progress in such a short amount of time that I've kind of written that initial huge burst of momentum for all those first several months. I just got it going so fast that even despite challenges along the way over these nine years, it has seemed to only get easier and easier.
I remember it maybe two years in, seeing somebody passed out in their truck in the parking lot of Target, him and his girlfriend were passed out and one of them had aluminum foil in their lap. And there was heroin that had been smoked off of it. And there was still some heroin. Their window was down. Part of me thought about that part of my brain woke up and it started to, I wouldn't say crave, but it really thought about how easy it would be just to take that foil and go smoke the rest of it in my car. That was two years afterwards. So it takes those brain pathways for some people very long time. Then fast forward to seven years after addiction. And I dropped my friend Mike off from a beach walk that we did together. That was like six miles. And he was all happy. He's like, yeah, I'm going to go buy a half gram of heroin. I started to like to smoke it. I'm like, be careful with that stuff. You shouldn't do it.
But here's what didn't happen, the part of my brain that used to wake up and go, Ooh, wonder if I could easily buy some heroin from him. I could just, Hey, get me a half gram to shit. Hey, get me a gram. I could just smoke this one time or a few different times, and then just never do it again. And nope, that conversation didn't happen in my brain. If somebody was looking at my brain with brain imaging, I can almost assure you that not any of those spots of addiction would have lit up like Christmas trees. I didn't feel anything, if anything, all I felt was massive pain for my friend for fooling around with that stuff. And he of course became a daily user and addicted then I had to help him get off using, but then that was luckily easy because he was only on heroin for a month.
But yeah, that was my why was her and she still is to this day. And so that's a great one. Find your why, if people find their why, whether it's for their kids or because they want to do something incredible, the bigger the why, the more momentum and drive it'll give you not really momentum, but the more drive it'll give you to create that momentum. And once that positive momentum gets started, especially, but then gets bigger and bigger and bigger. Then you got all this positive momentum and all these different life areas. And that just like the negative bad habit or addiction momentum is hard to stop that positive momentum in the direction you want your life to go can also be hard to stop, particularly if your life philosophy and your attitude and your biochemistry and your mindset, you're all optimizing those and working on it.
Coach Tana: That's all powerful stuff right there. Well, Matt, I've really enjoyed this conversation with you, and I hope that everybody got something out of this and are ready to burn the ships and start their journey today and find their why. I have to go and make lunch for my two little whys here. Soon, we're going to have meatloaf and green beans and sweet potatoes. So maybe if anybody's wondering what they should have for lunch, it's delicious. But before I go, I just want to remind everybody that just because you overcome your struggles, your addiction, whatever it is doesn't mean your life is going to be perfect. It just means that you get stronger. And actually one of my favorite Bible verses in Ephesians 5:16, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. So find those little opportunities today and jump on them and be grateful for the things you have. It's about changing that mindset and finding your why's and taking the first step.
Announcer: Thanks so much for listening. See you next time and take good care of yourself.
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