Synopsis: Chris Scott & Matt Finch share stories about working very stressful jobs or careers and how they used either alcohol (Chris) or alcohol and drugs (Matt) to mitigate the ‘suckiness’ of their workdays and their lives in general. Many people today are in similar situations. It’s easier than ever to drink alcohol or use drugs while working from home as you don’t even have to leave your home.
Chris Scott: I would go to the liquor store. I'd walk to the liquor store, get a handle of vodka. I would start sipping it out of the paper bag as soon as I left the store, because that would make me feel, instead of like hell, I would start feeling euphoric. The pounding in my head would go away a little bit. My stomach would seem to loosen up, it was usually in knots before that. The cold sweat would stop. The shaking in my hand would stop.
Matt Finch: I'd go get two tall cans of Budweiser and Brown bags. I'd get them and then, I pull up to the restaurant and I was always the opener, and I would chug, I would just chug the first tall can as fast as I could, that would get, okay, I can do this now. And then I'd go into work, and I would crack open the second tall can of Budweiser. And I put it in a 32 ounce Pepsi plastic cup. So it looked I was drinking, fountain drink.
Announcer: Thanks for tuning into the Elevation Recovery Podcast. Your hub for addiction, recovery strategies, hosted by Chris Scott and Matt Finch.
Matt Finch: Welcome to episode 183. I'm Matt Finch, here with Chris Scott. We're going to talk today about working stressful jobs or careers or owning a business and how that ties into drinking too much alcohol or using too much drugs or combining alcohol and drugs in addictive ways. Because that's such a huge thing, I think there was research, Chris, that said 80% of Americans are either unsatisfied at work or actively disengaged. It's huge percentages. Most people don't like what they do. When I look back in my own life in the past, it was often, very stressful, low paying jobs for myself, that led to me just hating my life so much, because 40 hours a week. If you're somewhere 40 hours a week that you hate, or that's very stressful and you're not even getting compensated that well, it made me think, well, this job sucks so much, my life sucks so much. I'll use alcohol or I'll use pills or I'll use both to get through it.
Matt Finch: A lot of the times I would find that, hey, if I'm on alcohol, then work is much more fun. Eventually it came to the point where I was cooking at a restaurant in New York, upstate New York, really fast paced restaurant. This is one of the most popular restaurants in town. I was in charge in the morning of opening the place up, doing all the morning prep, getting all the catering stuff ready, and then just cooking people food like crazy, ticket after ticket. I found that pills, opioids, for that job made it actually fun. I would snort pills, whether it was, Percocet, Oxycontin or Norco or even Suboxone tablets back then. I would snort pills throughout work. And afterwards they allowed me to feel more empathy for other human beings. I was more euphoric, in a better mood. They produced opioid induced hypomania.
Matt Finch: I had lots of energy and excitement. That is one of the biggest reasons my addiction lasted so long, was because I hated all the places that I worked. None of them paid very well, because I didn't really have many skills that paid well. I'm sure this is with you too, I've talked to so many clients and so many people, I know I could quit if I could only just get two weeks off of work or three weeks off of work or a week off of work. So that responsibility of not being able to take time off or working a very stressful job. I know with yours, with finance, I've never worked any job as stressful as the career that you had.
Matt Finch: I'll just open it up with that. I'm sure we'll tell some pretty crazy stories about what we did during our stressful careers, so people can see like, yeah, it is possible to make changes in your life. If you're working a job that you hate and you've wanted to leave for many years, well, maybe this will give you the inspiration to start building new skills, checking out new opportunities and start making a plan to exit, so it doesn't go on any longer.
Chris Scott: I was telling you before we started this episode that I had some fragmented memories return to me. That whole phase of my life when I worked in finance and I was hooked on alcohol, it was a weird, mostly bad and often horrific dream that is blotchy, and I can't really place time, particularly well with events that happened. And so things still come back to me, nearly seven years later. The other day I was like, wow, that was weird. This thing that happened, that I totally forgotten. Basically what had happened was, I worked at glamorous yet for me on fulfilling finance company in New York, in Manhattan. I lived in Midtown, I'd walk to work every day, right through Times Square. I didn't have the best relationship with my boss who was a tough cookie, to put it lightly and I think kindly towards him. And may have had his own issue with alcohol by all accounts, but somehow managed to hold it together.
Chris Scott: I only had one person that I really liked. I had a mentor who is actually still in finance, he's doing great now, but we were in a tough spot in that company. We got along really well. He taught me most of what I knew about finance. A lot of it. I looked up to him. He was a West Point grad, he'd served for six years in, I think Afghanistan. Got his MBA and then started, he was about, I don't know, eight or nine years older than me, but we were similar personality styles, unlike all of the other people in our group who were disagreeable, put your head down and crunch numbers and curse at people when they don't do what you want them to do.
Chris Scott: We weren't those types of people. He ended up getting let go, for reasons that I still don't completely understand, but I could guess mostly product personality differences. After he got let go, I was like, this sucks. I'm here. I hate the people. That's what I was thinking at the time. Hate is a strong word, but I really did not like anyone I was with. I dreaded going into the office every day. That's the point at which I had this phase where, I was like, to hell with my 5:00 PM rule. I had this rule, don't drink until 5:00 PM. Occasionally I'd break it. But then I could get myself back on track. At that point, I started drinking first thing in the morning. I was like, well, I don't have to drive to work, so it's fine.
Chris Scott: If I was able to take a break in the morning from my work, I would sometimes go and get a fancy breakfast at a hotel somewhere in Manhattan, because I was like, I deserve this, because my life sucks. I just need some me time. I need some reward time. And then inevitably with the fancy breakfast, I'd be like, hey, by the way, I'll have a mimosa or, bring me a martini, anything to get my mind off of my life situation at that point. And so this started, eventually it got to the point where I was sick from breaking my 5:00 PM rule, starting that ridiculous blood sugar rollercoaster early in the day. I didn't understand that. I thought I had just had this horrible anxiety that alcohol always used to fix, but for some reason it just wasn't fixing.
Chris Scott: It was getting more and more intense. I just figured it was work. It couldn't have been the alcohol, the alcohol was what helped me, that was my resource for helping with the anxiety, and for some mysterious reason, it wasn't working as well as it used to, and I needed to drink more and more and more often. What was me? It's just this mysterious baffling thing. Of course, I didn't understand any of the biochemistry of what was going on or anything I could proactively do to fix it. I just drank and drank. I got to the point where I'd take a day off. I would be so relieved, I actually had a Blackberry at the time, I wouldn't even call my bus. I would send a message, an email to the receptionist, usually with my shaking hands.
Chris Scott: I'd be like, they can't see me this. If I go in today, I'm going to get fired. I need some me time, some self love and healing, whatever, with alcohol. I'm just going to take the day off. I'm going to escape and hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow, somehow. I'd send this email to the receptionist and I would say, hey, can you tell my boss, I'm not going to make it in. Maybe I have a mono or something. I don't know what's wrong, but I'll go to the doctor, we'll figure it out. But this has been going on as you know for a while. It's anxiety and mono, I think, I don't know. Then I would go to the liquor store, I'd walk to the liquor store, get a handle of vodka.
Chris Scott: I would start sipping it out of the paper bag as soon as I left the store, because that would make me feel instead of like hell, I would start feeling euphoric. The pounding in my head would go away a little bit. My stomach would seem to loosen up. It was usually in knots before that. The cold sweat would stop. The shaking in my hand would stop. This horrible feeling for me, I had a withdrawal symptom that was like dizziness. The whole world was moving and I wasn't moving with it. It was scary. It was being on a roller coaster when you didn't want to be on a roller coaster, all the time. And that would start to go West. So things start to stabilize. I'd be like, wow, all right. I'm on planet earth and it's not, I mean, I guess we're always going through space, but it didn't seem to be whizzing through space without me, if that makes sense.
Chris Scott: I was somewhat neurotic. Then I would call up this deli, have them deliver an egg sandwich, with shitty white bread, eggs cooked in whatever, stead oils they cook eggs in probably, American cheese. I would have that delivered to my apartment so that I could relax, of course, take my day off and enjoy my day off. I made lots of money. So it wasn't a big deal to pay an extra $15 for a $4 sandwich to be delivered. I would sit there and I would usually mix the vodka with cranberry juice or something, with a lot of sugar. I'd get a huge insulin spike and I would crash. I'd be back to the cold sweats and shaking hands in a few hours. So I'd have to drink more and more.
Chris Scott: I had these giant glasses and I got to the point where I was filling two thirds of it with vodka and just a little bit to top it off with the cranberry juice, mix it around a little bit, taste it, put on some mindless TV and sit back in my couch. By the time that evening came around, I wouldn't even check my work emails. I'd have all these emails coming, Chris, we know you're at home, but can you please do this, not looking at it. I'm stuck in this weird alternate universe, but I'm feeling pretty good by the time that evening came around. And I'd look at the handle of vodka, like, wow, that's two thirds gone, that's crazy, but my anxiety is gone. It must be working. It's doing something good.
Chris Scott: This is my medication. I don't want to take drugs from the doctor. And that's the only other option I thought I had. I'm just going to keep drinking this. So then I would order some dinner for delivery again. It would come and I'd eat dinner and then I'd end up finishing the handle. It sounds crazy, I drank a handle a day. It gives you a vision of someone sitting down, just aggressively chugging. That's not what was happening. It was slowly throughout the day, because I started drinking in the morning and when things started getting worse and worse and worse. By the time I would go to bed, I'd be feeling pretty confident, because I'd be like, hey, I feel good now.
Chris Scott: I think hopefully I can keep feeling this good, and this is just my permanent state. This is my new homeostasis and I'm going to feel good tomorrow. I just want to feel like this forever. And then, as baffling as it is, I would wake up in the morning with cold sweats and shaky hands feeling like hell, my stomach's in a knot and the universe is moving. I can't handle it. I look out, I was on the 34th floor of an apartment building. I would look outside and get scared, because I was so high up in there and I'd have to have a drink. That was my state of mind for a while. I blamed it all on work. But looking back, if I had understood the biochemistry of what was actually going on in my system, I'm not saying it would have been easy to change right then and there, but at least I would've had a chance.
Chris Scott: I would have known what was going on when I drank the alcohol. I would've known about systemic inflammation, the blood sugar rollercoaster I was on. The nutrient and neurotransmitter deficiencies that I was creating at a rapid pace. The disruption in REM sleep. REM sleep is our evolutionarily built in emotional therapy. I couldn't even process say the firing of my mentor, who I respected and missed, without REM sleep. I basically was developing some mild PTSD and everything was just bad. I had no idea what could be done. These are the kinds of things that we try to help people fill in the missing gaps with. If you're in that situation, it's not hopeless.
Chris Scott: Obviously understanding the situation is not going to cure you. You have to take action, you have to be proactive. And for some people there's a lot of trial and error. I will note that I did not stop drinking after that experience. I ended up leaving New York, going to Atlanta, and for a while, I was able to re-institute my 5:00 PM rule. I actually got to the point in Atlanta, at which I was only drinking two glasses of wine a night. But by then the alcohol deprivation effect had kicked in. I had this stubborn, strong neural pathway, or probably a series of neural pathways that associated alcohol with pleasure, relaxation, confidence.
Chris Scott: And so I could use willpower for periods of time, to only drink two glasses of wine, but I was still technically actively addicted, because I didn't break the neural pathway and I didn't rebalance my biochemistry. I sure as hell didn't try to forge a new identity beyond alcohol. That would have just sounded bizarre. I didn't do any of that work. It was really torturous to work all day then in Atlanta, where I actually liked the people a lot more. They're great people, even though looking back that just wasn't the career for me, I'm not good at sitting in an office, I'm too restless.
Chris Scott: But I liked being there with the people, but I couldn't even be in my own skin by the time I was in Atlanta. I couldn't even relax on my couch, even though I was choosing to drink less. It was just, my mind was dominated by alcohol cravings all the time. It's crazy that I did have a period of like a month or a month and a half, when my body must've detox a little bit, but I had no supplements. I had no plan, no strategy, just grit. You're only having two glasses of wine a night. I would come home from work then, and I would have two glasses of wine. And it was the best thing I'd ever tasted, done, felt, experienced. Just amazing. I smelled someone's glass of wine like a year ago. I was like, it smells not good. It's a little sour.
Chris Scott: How was this the elixir of the Gods for me when I was dependent, but it was. Basically a totally different substance, same substance, but totally different perception. I'd have this wine at night, and then it would just be 24 hours of craving it again. I was drinking less, but I didn't get better. It wasn't until I made a decision to stop and give my brain time to rewire for an extended period that I could break that neural pathway and then develop and rebalance my biochemistry, all of these things, but also develop an understanding of what was going on. I spent seven years or so in a career, five, six, I don't remember. As I say, it's all fragmented. Let's say I spent about six years in a career at different companies moving around, without having enough self-awareness to realize that it's not a big deal. I was just doing the wrong thing.
Chris Scott: I so underestimated my own abilities to figure out what could be the right thing that I stayed stuck. I find that even with people who don't have alcohol addiction, they tend to underestimate what they're capable of doing. They assume that if they leave their current job, the only inevitable outcome is that they're going to starve or they're going to run out of savings. It's going to be a huge disaster. Now, that's not to say that if they leave their current job, they're going to be self made multi-millionaires overnight. There's usually a process, but you can embrace the process. You can downsize. You can learn how to be happy in your own skin. You can get your fitness back. I worked part time as a trainer, making very little money, actually racking up a little bit of credit card debt on food.
Chris Scott: That was my biggest expense. But looking back on it, it was worth doing that. So that I could catch up on the sleep, repair my body, reorient myself, figure out what I wanted to do. And then it took years before I could do what I really love to do, which is help people in my old shoes and make a living doing that. But it has happened. I find that when you do make the necessary proactive changes on all levels, from biochemical recovery, to trying to figure out who you really are, give yourself space, figure out what you want to do, how you want to spend your time in this world, take a step back, let go of things that are really ego driven. I don't mean crushing the ego. I think the ego as I've said many times, can be harnessed towards good things, but if you're stuck in a job because you think you need it for social status, that's an ego problem.
Chris Scott: And that was the case with me in finance also, in addition to selling myself short and not thinking I was capable of doing anything else. Once you do all of those things, give yourself some time, take a deep breath, step back, learn how to relax without alcohol. Then a totally different world opens up and you might start to see that things that you thought were impossible to solve before, you were in a malevolent universe, actually had pretty basic and easy solutions.
Matt Finch: Wow. That was epic, Chris. I love it. I knew this topic was going to be fun and I needed more of a structured type topic today too, because I did not sleep good last night for whatever reason, but anyways-
Chris Scott: Probably not, because of vodka and cranberry juice though.
Matt Finch: Definitely not because of that. I didn't go in the hot tub last night. Maybe that's why. Although, two nights ago I slept really good. We went in the hot tub, that was overlooking these desert mountains here in Palm desert. While the Wolf Moon, the March full moon is known as a Wolf moon. The native Americans used to call it that, because it's around this time of year, that the earthworms start to come up closer to the top soil because there's food there. And so we're watching the Wolf Moon rise and it was huge, and it was this deep orange. I slept really good that night. But the first time I ever started to use substances addictively while at work, was when I was a cook at a Philly cheese steak restaurant, where mostly all I did was, I was on the grill and I was just going through tickets, cooking up cheesesteaks, chicken cheesesteaks, Baja cheesesteaks, and a bunch of stuff.
Matt Finch: Anyways, that was when I was in my mid 20s. And that was when I was still drinking and partying and doing drugs. And like you around that age, I didn't have a lot of awareness. A lot of times I'd go to the bars or parties on the weekend and even weeknights too. And then I go into work the next morning, maybe on two hours of sleep or three hours of sleep or maybe four hours of sleep, if I was lucky. I'd wake up just like, oh my gosh, I feel totally sleep deprived. Not only not getting enough sleep, but just totally drunk while you're sleeping. So it's awful sleep on top of that. Waking up, hung over. And what would I do? Well, here in San Diego, California, they have stores where you can buy alcohol pretty early in the morning.
Matt Finch: Some of them even six or 7:00 AM. That's what I did. I went to a store, on all those mornings when I felt that, I'd go get two tall cans of Budweiser and Brown bags. I'd get them and then, I pull up to the restaurant and I was always the opener and I would chug, I would just chug the first tall can as fast as I could, that would get, okay, I can do this now. And then I'd go into work. I would crack open the second tall can of Budweiser and I'd put it in a 32 ounce Pepsi plastic cup. It looked like I was drinking fountain drink. I would just sip on Budweiser the whole rest of the shift. And that would get me through it. Looking back on that, oh my gosh, it's just such torture, such self-Induced torture to yourself.
Matt Finch: Lots of different times that happened. And then it was fast forward, the last job I ever did that at, was another cooking job at a restaurant, the one in upstate New York. By that point, I was drinking a lot less alcohol in life because I was on opioids daily and taking benzos, whenever I could find them. By that point, I was totally physically and psychologically addicted to opioid pills. But the thing that I liked about those, was they helped me get through work and tear it up. Whereas alcohol, I would try to do my best, so no one knew that I was intoxicated. No one could smell me. I would do the least amount of work possible on alcohol. I would just do hardly anything and try to get away with it, do the least amount I could.
Matt Finch: On opioids, I would go above and beyond what I could normally do, because by that point opioids gave me lots of energy. Some of my friends that would take them, the opioids would make them really tired and spaced out and nauseous, some people would puke. Whenever I did opioids from the very first one I ever took when I was 22, at my friend Morgan's house, on Del Mar Avenue, a half block away from the Pacific ocean. He took a Vicodin, because he hurt his shoulder and got Vicodin prescribed. Never had it, neither did I. We're hanging out, he goes, "Hey, you want a Vicodin?" I'm like, "What's that?" And he told me it's for pain, but it gets you high. I was like, yeah, let me get one. We both took one 500 milligram hydrocodone, 45 minutes later Morgan was like this drooling, 99% asleep or 100% asleep, drooling.
Matt Finch: I was jumping up and down with energy and confidence, and euphoria. The sky was a new shade of blue. Substances for many years were a resource for me. Number one, to be able to lower anxiety or get rid of anxiety. Number two, to be able to raise confidence, and number three, to actually love people and love, because I wanted to be in a good mood at work. I don't want to just five days out of every week, that's such a huge part of your life. I didn't want to be miserable. I thought the only choices I had were either be miserable or use substances to make this job not miserable. Now looking back on that with much more awareness than I had back then, it's just really funny that any human, really any human that's an adult, would make decisions like that.
Matt Finch: But a lot of times people in their 20s are still just big kids, not really quite fully functioning adults. I'm sure it's different in other countries, but in the US, and especially within the last maybe 15, 20 years, people are taking longer to grow up, with people not moving out of their parents until they're in their 30s, or never moving out. It's happening a lot. There was a video I watched this morning too, and I'll show that. It was this guy talking total hit about the self-help industry. It wasn't a fair pros and cons, it was just totally on it, big time. And I was thinking, huh, well, before I got into self-help, which I to call personal and professional development, before I got into it, I was working jobs that paid $10 an hour or less.
Matt Finch: I think the most I ever made was $15 an hour. Usually $10 an hour less though. I didn't have confidence. I wasn't good with girls. I was chronically neurotic, chronically low self-esteem. I'm sure glad that I started to read those types of personal transformation books, because within a few years of doing so, I started my first business and within a year of starting that business, I was making much more doing that for a living than I was as a certified substance abuse counselor making $15 an hour. I'm very glad that that industry's around, because it helped me a lot. It helped you and it's helping a lot of people. There's success porn where it's like, all you got to do is just grind, grind.
Matt Finch: I'm against that for myself, but certainly personal transformation by reading books that other people have written, that have done awesome things in life, and they've condensed what they've learned from that into a book. And then you can read it and get all their best strategies in a couple of hours. This video was shitting on that. I was like, thinking, wow, I guess nowadays to get the most traffic, you just have to do that type of stuff.
Chris Scott: I think I have a unique perspective on that, because I was fortunate to have a pretty high level official education. Even a lot of the books behind me now are high brow intellectual type books and I would have dismissed the self-help industry for sure. Even when I was drinking a handle of vodka a day. A, because I didn't think I had a problem. Well, at some point I realized I had a problem, but I didn't think there was anything that someone like Tony Robbins or Wayne Dyer or any of those guys could do about it. And B, I just thought it was all low level, made for peasants, I guess. I had sort of elitist worldview back then. But those books definitely changed my life. They are some of my most prized possessions, although I give them away and I have to reorder them from Amazon, because I realized I gave them to someone, a friend last year, and I'm out of it and I want to peruse it again.
Chris Scott: But reading self-help was hugely helpful. I don't really love the term self-help, it's somewhat cringe-worthy. I find the term sobriety to be cringe-worthy for some reason. I don't like it, but, I guess that's what we do. We're in the self-help. At the same time, self-help does imply that you're an autonomous individual with freewill or at least some level of it and that you can change your life. I find that to be uplifting. I don't know how you could shit on the idea that someone can change their life for the better. That seems odd. But to each their own, I think something I wanted to mention as far as high stress jobs or working jobs you don't like and attempting to use substances, including alcohol to make your existence doing those jobs more fun, or at least get some relief while doing it, is that, there's a certain subconscious fear that gets generated in a vicious cycle by the substance.
Chris Scott: I don't think I was aware of, but I've realized in retrospect, the alcohol doesn't make you more competent. It makes you more incompetent, even though it makes you feel more competent temporarily. As soon as it wears off, you have this creeping realization that you're actually incompetent or you're increasingly incompetent. So then maybe you missed an email from someone, maybe you overslept, maybe you were drunk in a meeting. Maybe your hand was shaking a meeting. You start developing this feeling, and I think this is even applicable for people who are working at home. It's worse probably if you're going into an office, now we have all sorts of people working at home. You can still miss emails. You can miss Zoom calls. You can not do something correctly. You can make typos, you can make numerical errors.
Chris Scott: Alcohol is pretty good at causing you to do stuff like that. I'm pretty good with attention to detail, but I was not my best on that front when I worked in finance and finance is not an industry or at least high finance where you can get away with making mistakes. You get fired real fast. And so I had this fear and this was part of my malevolent universe complex, that the very thing that made me feel competent to do stuff and that gave me a reason for continuing to grind, was also the thing there was making me stupid and making me careless and potentially putting my whole career at risk. And that generates some serious cognitive dissonance. I didn't realize that there are other things you could use besides alcohol, exercise is obviously one of them. I did exercise, but the combination of alcohol and exercise is depressing, because you're just going there to get a little endorphin high.
Chris Scott: Your endorphin receptors have already been desensitized by the constant drinking or the heavy binges. And so you get less out of the workout. It doesn't feel as rewarding. You know that you should be working out, but your workouts are pathetic. I would go and do a set of bench and then a set of squats, and I'm like, I'm going to hit the steam room. At the time didn't even understand the utility of the steam room. I stay in for probably four minutes, and then be like, I feel I'm going to suffocate. I'm going to take a shower and go home. That's not the kind of exercise that can get you out of addiction. It's best to detox first. But anyway, I digress. I think in order to deal with that fear, you do have to go through a process of proactively fixing the root cause of what's going on, beginning with your biochemistry.
Chris Scott: Now I realized that what I really wanted aside from the things I wanted as a result of that downward spiral, feeling like I could get my hand to stop shaking in the morning. The first thing I wanted from alcohol, early in my career was just to achieve that relaxing, dreamy, ethereal sensation. At night before I went to bed, to make my day feel like I owned part of it. Otherwise I was owned by the company I worked for and a boss that I didn't particularly like. That was my me time. I didn't realize that I could have gotten that without alcohol. I could have found ways to do it. Now I have some spring dragon, dragon herbs, adaptogen tea. I'm really optimized. I get a sweat in every day, whether it's from the sauna or from working out, obviously there's no alcohol toxins clouding my workout.
Chris Scott: I get a good night's sleep every night. My neurochemicals are high. My GABA is in a good spot, so I'm able to relax, so I can achieve that sleepy, relaxed, dreamy feeling before night, before I go to sleep just by reading a book or hanging out with my dogs, being present. I can achieve that by being present rather than by using something that helps you to escape everything. It takes a massive shift for people to realize that this is what's going on. People have different reasons for using substances, but at the end of the day, quitting a substance does not mean quitting your only possible mechanism of feeling good. It doesn't mean a lifetime of grinding and embracing the suck. Although sometimes you can't embrace the suck.
Chris Scott: I found that after I quit drinking, I could embrace the suck sometimes. It would be a more enjoyable thing. I'd feel more of a reward after doing that, for certain periods. You need periods of relaxation as well. But when you do that, you get rid of the subconscious fear, that complex that I talked about with the substance simultaneously being your coping mechanism for bad things and causing the bad things, the vicious cycle. You also start to open up the possibility of discovering other things that are much more useful for doing that, than alcohol or opiates or whatever it is people are using.
Matt Finch: Repeat that last sentence one more time, or that last point.
Chris Scott: That was a long sentence. I don't know where you want me to start.
Matt Finch: You said, and correct me if I'm wrong, using a substance to take care of a problem, which the substance is itself causing.
Chris Scott: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Matt Finch: When I was working at that restaurant job in upstate New York, I used to joke with two of my coworkers. I got the skills that buy the pills, because they'd seen my pill dealers come in, in the morning there sometimes. I'd go out back, they knew what I was doing. They didn't know that I used pills every day. But they knew that I liked pills. They were fine with it. But I joke around like, I got the skills that by the pills, I think I was taking home after taxes, $1,200 a month working full time as a cook at that restaurant. I'd say probably 600 of it or 700 of that went on pills. Luckily in my rent there was like $400 for a two bedroom, very cheap in upstate New York in certain places.
Matt Finch: But it dawned on me. I did have the awareness to realize that back then, I got the skills that buy the pills. The reason I couldn't get off those pills, was because I had to go to work five days a week, sometimes six days a week. And the reason I couldn't stop going to work is because I had to keep buying those pills. I was using pills at that point, so I could go to work and I couldn't quit that job, because I needed money to buy those pills, to go to that job. But I didn't want to quit that job and then detox, because then I'd have to go look for another job. It was just hell, addictions hell.
Chris Scott: What ended up happening?
Matt Finch: I ended up leaving that job, giving two weeks notice to move back to California for the final time. I was moving back to California with my then girlfriend, the mother of my child and her new boyfriend, and we all moved back to San Diego. The mother of my child and her boyfriend were staying with my parents and then eventually my girlfriend and I were two. And then they stayed somewhere else. I gave two weeks notice at that job. And then I was going back to California. That's when I was going to get off opioids. No job, I could just get off opioids, be fine. You know what I did, Chris? We drove in three days from upstate New York to San Diego. The last day we started off in East, Northeast, Texas, and we did that all the way to San Diego in one session.
Matt Finch: Once we were about two hours away from home, I started to text old pill dealers. Before I even got to my parents house to go unpack and everything, after driving, I think 18 hours that last day, I went and spent a bunch of money, I bought a bunch of Valium and I bought a bunch of Norco. And then I think a month after that, just randomly, I found someone that sold heroin, fucking game over after that. Full blown heroin addict, easy to switch from that to pills. But then that's when I OD'd like five or six months later on methadone and Valium. Then I didn't have to [crosstalk 00:37:48].
Chris Scott: It's not dissimilar from my experience then, because I had a period of reducing my intake, whether by choice or not, it's not important. And then later on the shit hit the fan. I'd gone to another place just like you. I don't want to necessarily discount the possible utility of moving to a new place, because that can be hopeful, but you have to move to a new place with a new mindset and understanding of what's going on in your body and your brain. I find that people have this mystical quayside, religious view of what's going on in their brains and bodies. It doesn't fully make sense, and therefore it's less compelling, rather than understanding the actual science of what's going on. That helps you to be proactive. If you can do that, as I said, the knowledge itself is not enough.
Chris Scott: There has to be proactive commitment and concrete steps and strategies that you're going to use and often support from other people and all of these things, that's why we talk about the biopsychosocial-spiritual hierarchy of recovery. It's not why we say, you're just, here take vitamin D3 and you'll probably get better. Maybe that's a part of it, but you have to have an all encompassing blueprint for recovery. And you have to have that inner fire, that inner spark, which for a lot of people comes from pain, in order to really be committed to it. You might stumble, you might fall down. Whether or not you stay in the job that you're in, is up to you. I've had some people who've been private clients of mine, or who have been in my online course, who love their jobs.
Chris Scott: They're in the thing for them. For some of them, they make plenty of money, for others they don't make a huge amount of money, but they don't care. But the job is not the problem, not even part of the problem. But for a lot of people, the tragedy lies in the fact that they never found what they wanted to do, because there were so afraid while caught in that vicious subconscious cycle with the substance, that simultaneously seems to be their only hope and the thing that's holding them back from full, well, not just health, but self realization as well. I think, I'll leave it at that for today, because I know we're going to keep it short and sweet, but feel free to add anything you like.
Matt Finch: I'll just add that I've noticed at least with my private coaching clients, the ones that are, typically when you're detoxifying off alcohol or drugs, the older you are typically the harder it can be. That's definitely not a rule, but it's very typical. But oftentimes the people that I work with that have the highest success rates, are the ones that are retired. Many people, in this category, that I've worked with, they don't have any careers anymore. Their kids are grown up. A lot of them have a a supportive spouse too. And so when you can commit 100% of your time, energy, whatever it takes on getting healthy. That makes it a lot easier. Now, real quick too, when I was at that job, I did detox from opioids while I was working at that place.
Matt Finch: I did Suboxone taper, a short Suboxone taper, and I took a three day weekend and I took a few Oxycontin per day for the first three days. And then for like a week, for four days or five days, I took benzos. I took low dose Valium throughout the day and that got me off. I didn't have a bad acute withdrawal, but my post acute withdrawal, for the first two weeks, this is probably at age 30, maybe. For the first two weeks going to work was nuts. My legs were exhausted. I was anxious. I was depressed. I was painful everywhere. Opioid post-acute withdrawal just sucks. The first two weeks, every day, I pretty much collapsed when my shift was over and I went home. I'd collapse into my lazy boy, put my feet up, put on whatever season of Dexter I was catching up on.
Matt Finch: But I was able to do it, and I stayed off at that point for four months. And you know what, Chris? I was not out of post-acute withdrawal, even at four months in, at the age of 30 years old, after only being on pills at that point for maybe a year. I had a consultation with a new alcohol recovery client yesterday, who I'm going to coach to help come off alcohol. She was saying, she had a year off alcohol. Her psychiatrist gave her three days worth of Librium to do an alcohol detox. But she said, that's all it was. She said that whole year, she thought she was going to be starting to feel better. But the whole year she still didn't feel good. She still had anxiety. She still had depression. She still didn't have a lot of energy or focus, but meanwhile, she was off alcohol.
Matt Finch: Then she said, well, maybe I'll just drink a little bit. I need to just be able to drink a little bit. Since she wasn't feeling good, the alcohol made her feel better, but then she would use it more. Then all of a sudden her brain needed alcohol just to feel normal, let alone better. And then all of a sudden now she's been on this long relapse. She was saying, the reason she wants to do the Fit Recovery coaching program, is because it looks it takes care of the rest of the phases. You have aftercare. It's the detoxification to come off alcohol, then repairing all those neuro-transmitters, inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, endocrine dysfunction, getting her brain optimized as fast as possible, to get over pause fast, plus the psychological strategies, coaching, accountability support.
Matt Finch: That's the common thing, you got to traditional treatment, they detoxify you, but they don't not address the chronic brain dysfunction. When you're using alcohol, drugs daily, and then you get off, there is chronic brain dysfunction that continues for at least, for most people, at least a few weeks, if not a few months, to at least some degree. Some people two years or longer, can have the chronic brain dysfunction post-acute withdrawal. I've seen people, three years they're still in post-acute withdrawal coming off of 20 years of methadone, cold turkey in jail or something.
Matt Finch: That's all I wanted to end with, was that, I did actually do an opioid detox at that place, but then I got back on. One night, four months later, my old dealer texted me. I had deleted his number, said he had oxies. I can just do a little bit now. I'm not dependent anymore. I can do a little bit here and there and have fun. I was snorting pills that very night, the next morning, the next afternoon, the next night, then I was calling my tattoo artists in Albany, New York and telling him, that I need to reschedule my upcoming tattoo appointment to get this New York cool, my favorite artists right there. And I didn't tell him the real reason, the real reason I was rescheduling for two weeks out, was that I had spent all my tattoo money on a few days worth of pills.
Matt Finch: And then I rescheduled it again after that. I just want to end with that. It's like, I could have stopped all this stuff so much earlier had I known what fuck to do. I didn't know what to do, everyone that was giving me suggestions didn't know what to do. They were clueless. It was the blind leading the blind-
Chris Scott: [inaudible 00:45:33] real quick. I hate to interrupt but-
Matt Finch: No, [inaudible 00:45:36].
Chris Scott: The unfortunate reality is that the traditional treatment system consists of putting people in a state of so-called sobriety, that is actually a protracted state of alcohol or drug deprivation. That is why you don't see people recover. That is why, well, people really recovering. They're not repairing their bodies and brains. If they were to drink alcohol, just to try it or take a drug, for whatever, let's say you got hit by a Mack truck, you need to take pain pills. You wouldn't necessarily get addicted, because you're not in a state of deficiency anymore, because you've prepared your brain. I've been served accidentally several times. It doesn't even seem the same substance. It's like a weird anesthetic sleeping pill that makes me drowsy. And I'm like, I don't want to feel like this, totally different effect from when my brain was in a state of deficiency.
Chris Scott: And then all of my neuro-transmitters and endorphins and dopamine would go up like a pinball machine. I don't get that anymore. Could I get re-addicted? I'm sure if I worked at it, I could, but I'd have to work myself into a state of deficiency in order to do that. It's not talked about at all. There are signs that things are going in the right direction. But it's a good place to start, studying the biochemistry. You don't even have to take it from us, you can read the works of Dr. Kenneth Blum, Julia Ross, Joan Mathews-Larson. So many studies out there, increasingly somewhat in mainstream publications, at least they pay lip service to biochemical repair. I think there is hope. If I had known about that, that would have been the perfect springboard for me to say, all right, I need to detox. I need to do biochemical repair. I need support.
Chris Scott: And then I ultimately would have ended up working on the psychosocial-spiritual aspects of recovery, even if I wasn't prepared to admit that I had psychosocial-spiritual problems at the time. I just wanted to put that out there. Your story, I think it's awesome that you and I have such different stories in some ways. I was the finance guy. You were an alcohol guy. You were the everything guy.
Matt Finch: I was undiagnosed bipolar II, polysubstance, self medicator, I guess.
Chris Scott: Exactly. [crosstalk 00:48:01]. Whether you are an executive and I wasn't an executive in finance, but I've had private clients who are, whether you're an executive in finance or whether you're working in a deli, there's hope. Whether you like your job or you don't like your job, but especially if you don't like your job, I hope that people have taken something valuable away from this conversation. But there's definitely hope. And there are just basis to be proactive recovered. Unfortunately, the mainstream doesn't tell people what needs to be done.
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