2022 Virtual Sinclair Method Conference Theme Reveal
Claudia Christian, David Belenky, and Kali Lux join the stream as guests to publicly reveal the theme of the 3rd Annual Virtual Sinclair Method conference to be held June 10-12, 2021.
Transcript (lightly edited)
Voiceover: Welcome to the Options Save Lives weekly live stream, where we spend an hour each week exploring life improving topics through the lens of alcohol recovery, and the Sinclair Method. Every week we take on a new question, topic or common challenge to empower people to either build a better relationship with alcohol, or to eliminate it completely. Episodes are filmed live on Twitch at twitch.tv/cthreefoundation, and the audience is encouraged to ask questions and engage with the host and guests. The Options Save Lives weekly stream is hosted by Executive Director Jenny Williamson, and is produced by the C Three Foundation with the support of R Street Institute and other generous sponsors. For more information about the C Three Foundation, or the Sinclair Method, visit our website at cthreefoundation.org.
Jenny: Hello, everybody. Thank you for tuning in to the Options Saves Lives weekly live stream. As always, I'm Jenny Williamson, Executive Director at the C Three Foundation and your host for the next hour. How is everyone today? Where's everybody watching from? Go ahead and put that in the chat. We are broadcasting live here from the C Three Foundation office in Fort Myers, Florida. And if you are new and a first timer to the stream, make sure you introduce yourself. Say “Hi.” So thank you and welcome to all of the amazing people who have either subscribed last week or renewed their subscriptions. We had eight new subscribers last week, which was wonderful. And then joining me today I've got C Three Foundation’s CEO and founder Claudia Christian, our amazing conference production assistant David Belenky, and Kali Lux, the Vice President of Marketing for Workit Health, a returning co-headline sponsor for the conference. So everybody, go ahead and say hello so we can make sure the audience can hear you.
David: Hello. Happy Holidays.
Jenny: How’s our sound guys. I see a lot of hellos in the audience but… All right, well I'm going to guess we're sounding good. I think our delay on our chat has gone back up and I'll have to look at that after the broadcast. So for those of you who are participating with us live, just make sure that you keep commenting, talk to yourselves, talk to each other, talk to us, and we will do our best to get to as many questions as you have along the way.
So before we dive into today's topic, let me introduce our three guests here with me today. So first, we have Claudia Christian, our founder and CEO. She's an actress, producer, author, advocate, coach, motivational speaker, and so much more. For 1,000s of people on TSM, she has been a source of light in the darkness for more than a decade. And let's face it, she is my favorite co-conspirator. We might work on different coasts, but it rarely feels like it. Next we have David Belenky, who is also out on the West Coast, and David was an invaluable volunteer for C Three’s second annual conference, so we were thrilled that he agreed to return this year as our conference production assistant. David's work as the point person for wrangling all of the abstract and panel submissions, plus his assistance with speaker scheduling, helped make our last conference the success that it was. And finally we have Kali Lux from Workit Health. Kali and I first connected through social media almost three years ago, which was actually quite some time before Workit even started implementing the alcohol treatment into their slate of telemedicine services. So, from the beginning, Workit Health has been a wonderful partner with C Three Foundation. And as one of our returning co-headline sponsors for the upcoming year we are thrilled to have their help again, to help the conference be available for free to the general public. So we are glad to have you all here.
Kali: Glad to be here.
Jenny: So I know everyone is eager to find out what our theme is. That is why we're all here. And we're going to talk about the story behind it. But first let's start with a quick icebreaker. So this is for all three of you. If you were able to time travel, would you go to the past or to the future first. Claudia, I can't hear you. I think you're muted.
Claudia: For me, I think a lot of people know I'm an edged weapon collector and a Ricardian. I've gotten that card. So, history for me baby. Backwards, not forwards.
Jenny: How about you Kali?
Kali: This is a tough icebreaker. I would probably go to the future. I would want to see what is upcoming and how everything has changed. That's what I would do.
Jenny: And David?
David: I would go to the future, and specifically I would see how C Three is doing in 10 years, and see how many lives it’s saved.
Claudia: God bless you. You're so cute David.
Jenny: I would probably go farther than 10 years into the future myself, but I think I'd probably go future as well.
Claudia: I just want to go back to when the air was clean, and there was abundant lobsters on the East Coast that only the poor people ate, so I can just go and eat lobster all day long.
Jenny: Alright, well that was fun. So let’s go ahead and dive right in. As some of you know, we are always thinking and planning ahead. So it really shouldn't be that big of a surprise that we settled on our theme for next year's conference about a month before this year's conference even happened. Claudia and I were discussing a few weekly stream topics, and we were trying to figure out what would be good to lead into the last conference, when she mentioned a conversation that she'd had, and it led to a further discussion about the difficulty that many people face when it comes to using harm reduction techniques like the Sinclair Method and moderating alcohol consumption. As we traded ideas and thoughts back and forth, trying to distill it into a single cohesive topic, we realized the complexity would be better served by hearing a variety of voices speak on the conference. So with that, before we go any further, here's the moment we're all waiting for. I'm going to play you a quick little video that unveils our conference theme for 2022.
Conference Theme Video plays
Jenny: So, Redefining Recovery, that is going to be our next theme. And so, audience, in the chat area let us know what you think of the theme Redefining Recovery. So Claudia tell us why this theme is so important to you.
Claudia: It's been a constant battle for a dozen years trying to explain to people that it's not one size fits all, that it's not my way or the highway, that not one particular treatment works for every single person, that there's also a wonderful array of things that you can mix together. And to redefine recovery, people have this preconceived notion of it being one thing, and recovery, as we all know, is a process. It has stages. It's an evolution. You can reach higher and higher levels of recovery. So I think hearing from a myriad of voices chiming in to give us ideas of how they define recovery, and also to understand that it is really – it's so personal. And when I look back at my recovery, it's had huge stages. And I don't think I would have gotten there with one thing only. So I think that these tools that we have, medication assisted treatment, we have six or seven great medications that can deal with a myriad of side effects and cravings and sleep issues and you know, medications for AUD that people simply aren't utilizing and we know that. It has been a real uphill battle just educating people on it. But there's also peer support. There's also different types of peer support. There's Smart Recovery, there's 12 Step programs, there are, you know, we have TSM peer support in lots of different fashions. There's private support, there's public support, there's camaraderie, there's, you know, with every human being, being made up differently, how can we say that this is the way to do it? You know. So I'm really excited about the broadness of the subject, but also defining it and really sharing ideas as to what it means on a personal basis. So I'm excited about this theme. I think it's important to remind people that things are changing, and that science is a really viable option for people and that we need to start redefining recovery.
Jenny: And if I recall, initially, the topic came up when someone had questioned your recovery. Because a few years ago, you stopped drinking entirely, but you mentioned to this person that if in the future that changed, then you would drink again, but following the Sinclair Method protocol. So describe the mixture of feelings that that brought up.
Claudia: It was really...it was extremely...it was a great lesson. Bottom line. I was, I wouldn't say defensive, but I was very angry and I didn't understand my anger, because I had had nine years on TSM, going three years abstinent and they're questioning my recovery as if it's not solid. And for me sitting in my recovery, saying I have zero cravings and zero desire to drink, I have come even further than when I started TSM. So how dare you question my recovery. And then I had to really sit there and think, wait a minute, you know, I've dated people who are in recovery using 12 steps, and they don't cook with wine. I cook with wine. Now that's a huge difference. They won't have a bite of tiramisu, just in case it might have some booze in it. I can have a bite of tiramisu; it's not going to trigger me. But that's not to say that everybody can do that, or everybody's the same. So I think my reaction was one of like, how can you be so, you know, this tunnel of vision, of saying, hey, what works for you doesn't necessarily work for me. And it really made me understand that I have to be more open to everybody's idea of what recovery is. And that might even involve when people say, I mean, look at the argument with Cali sober you know, okay, somebody is not killing themselves by drinking four bottles of wine a day, but they take the occasional whatever, gummy with five milligrams of THC in it. Now, am I going to question that that's not sober. You know, you've got to weigh things and say what is less damaging to the individual. Once again, we go back to harm reduction. Think of those words. You're reducing harm. So I think it brought up a lot of anger for me because I know what I've been through, and that individual didn't mean it probably as a, as something that was as deep of an insult as I felt. But that's also something that I had to work on and just being comfortable where I am, and not comparing it to somebody else. And also respecting their idea of recovery. If that individual, who I had that conversation with, cannot be near alcohol, that's where they are in their recovery. If I can be around it, and it doesn't bother me, well, that's great for me, but not for her. So it did bring up a lot of feelings, and when we talked about it, you know, I just remember saying, we need to have a really strong conversation about not judging the other person's recovery, but also explaining, getting more deep inside what that means, you know, where you are comfortable. And you know, what's good for one person might not be good for the other person. That's why it's so important to have people that work personally with you, like Kali does, you know. And David knows there's many, many levels of recovery in your experience, that most people would say, “What do you mean you went to AA and now you do TSM?” you know, so, but it works for you. And that's all that matters. So I'm excited about this.
Jenny: And Kali, as a returning sponsor, you were one of a select few people who was sworn to secrecy, but who got a preview of the theme and the logo, several months ago. What was your first reaction to the theme, Redefining Recovery?
Kali: So yeah I think it's a great theme. It's such an important topic. I think my first reaction was that this is so important to do. It's so vital to redefine recovery, because this very strict and narrow view of recovery, which is very much the mainstream, right, it's this common idea of going away, abstinence for life. That is keeping people really sick, because that's not the solution that works for everyone. And so the more we broaden kind of the spectrum of recovery, and we really allow these other pathways in, and we support harm reduction, the more we're going to help people get better, so I see it as a really vital part of the conversation, and at Workit Health we're really devoted to changing the narrative around this. We do a lot of you know, kind of blogs and webinars and things about expanding that view, and how people can achieve recovery all sorts of different ways, with or without medication. And it's okay if your recovery doesn't look like someone else’s.
Jenny: Well, you've kind of segued into my second question for you, Kali, which is, Why is this conference a good fit for Workit Health to be involved in as a sponsor?
Kali: Yeah, so Workit Health was founded by two women in recovery, Robyn and Lisa, when they both got sober in traditional systems of care. They both worked, you know, technology jobs in Silicon Valley. And they saw when they went through kind of these recovery experiences, they saw a lot of friends falling through gaps in care, and a lot of people that they thought should be making it just weren't in the strict definitions of success for recovery. And so they decided to create something that was easy to access, accessible, and harm reduction based, which means that, you know, you aren't kicked out for doing something like smoking weed. You're not considered not sober if you might use one substance or not another one. If you decide to use the Sinclair Method, you know, we're supportive of that. And so we started out as opioids specifically and then we really saw that there was not a lot of dialogue around expanding kind of what it looks like for alcohol recovery. And that was when we launched our alcohol program about two years ago now, and we can help people who have different paths in recovery. One of those is moderation, people can use the Sinclair Method. People can just try and moderate their drinking and get, you know, counseling, support and therapy support for that. So I think that we're really, any voices in the space can be so impactful, because there aren't a lot, right. There aren't a lot of voices speaking out for this different type of recovery. And so the work that we're seeing the C Three Foundation doing, kind of expanding awareness around medication for alcohol is so important. I mean I was in recovery for probably nine or 10 years before I was ever made aware that the Sinclair Method existed, and it's just so important to raise awareness about all these different options because not every option is going to work for everyone.
Jenny: Agreed. And that's why we appreciate so much the work that you guys do and your support. David. So, first of all, again, I can't even begin to express how relieved I am knowing you're on the team this year. So first of all, thank you again, but you've actually been involved with all of our conferences so far, having been first a panelist at our initial conference and now serving as a critical volunteer. So what does our theme Redefining Recovery mean to you?
David: Well, just linking back to what Claudia and Kali have been saying, I think the theme is everything to my experience and my journey. I mean, I've been on TSM almost four years now. I'm someone who is now a moderate drinker, and I have gained the life that I always in the back of my mind wanted with respect to alcohol, but that seemed elusive and unattainable. But in order to get to that point, it took a lot of physical work, and it also took a lot of mental gymnastics to get to that place. And I owe everything to TSM for that. You know, I was someone who was in traditional recovery for two and a half years. I feel like enough time to make a qualitative judgment in that it was not for me, and it was not working. And I think when you get to that place, when you realize something isn't working, you need to make a change. Well, there was nowhere else to go and that, you know, that is the sort of like that's the mothership for why I’m sort of a visible activist for TSM because, you know, that space of knowing something isn't working and needing to make a change, and that change is to better your life, not to make it worse. It's a very lonely place to be in, especially if you don't think you have options. So my activism stems from that space, which is if there are people out there who something isn't working and they want to make that change, that you know, TSM is an option and you're not alone. And you know, I put a lot of work into that. It wasn't just like something I did flippantly. It was a fairly terrifying transition for me, but it worked. I think the first couple years of TSM was just like, you know, making sure that it was legitimate, because, you know, I never doubted for a minute, Claudia, you know, her work and the activism that she put forth. But, you know, it's a scary concept to wrap your head around, the idea of engaging in the very activity in order to recover yourself would work. And you know, I think, for me, the evolution of TSM is constantly evolving, like, my relationship to my recovery looks nothing like it did in the beginning. It looks nothing like it did after year one, after year two after year three. And so I feel like it's this thing that just evolves. And, you know, just to kind of, you know, say one last thing about what we do in TSM and how we have to sort of manage our recovery is that I think it's a twofold process for us. There’s the actual process, using the medication, activating all the services that are available, making sure your program is solid, and then there's managing other people's response to you doing TSM. You know, people in traditional recovery don't have to deal with people's questions about the legitimacy of what you're doing. And, you know, I think it takes a while to get to that place where you feel confident and build that self-esteem. And that takes a while. So, you know, I think those two things make TSM I wouldn't say challenging, but there is, you have to have a certain awareness that, you know, what we're trying to do is make people more aware of something that a lot of people don't know is out there. So, you know, I think, for me, you know, just to sort of button it up, Redefining Recovery is a personal thing for me, because that is what, you know, I've had to do on my personal journey with TSM. But sort of on a macro level, I think, you know, it's just getting the word out there that we as a community of recovery people, whether it's AA or Smart Recovery or TSM or what Kali’s work is doing, that we all need to be compassionate to what everyone's doing here, which is we all want to be better. We don't want to be worse. And so I think it's a great theme for this year, and I'm very excited for it.
Jenny: What do you hope will be the result of this year's event, David?
David: Well, you know, I think, more sponsorship, meeting new people and, you know, other forms of recovery. I think engaging with some of the more recent communities of recovery, and, you know, just more members who are wanting to participate and just be a part of this growing community.
Jenny: So this next question is going to be for everyone. So I'll let you all decide which order you'd like to take it in. So SAMHSA, which is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has a working definition of recovery, and that definition is: A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. Now this formal definition of recovery is pretty broad and it leaves a lot of room for individual interpretation. So why do you think so many people define recovery as achieving and maintaining sobriety and abstinence?
Claudia: Well, I think it's because it's the method that has been in, starting with Marty Mann putting it in film and television. That is, you know, putting AA meetings in the public mind and in magazines and newspapers, media, you know, that's always been, it's been the one go to method and that is what every doctor tells you to do, and that, you know, it's the easy way out, go to. Just quit drinking. It also keeps them from the responsibility of telling someone with an alcohol use disorder to drink, which they have a very difficult time wrapping their head around that. So a lot of doctors do take the easy way out. That's a matter of education, of, you know, finding different ways to tell your patient saying, “Look, I'd love you to be abstinent, but if you think you're going to be in a risky situation, here's a medication you can take an hour before.” You know, I mean, all these different ways around it, but it's simply a lack of education. I think that, as David said, you know, nobody challenges you when you're saying, “Oh, I'm in AA.” It's like, “oh, okay, he's sorted,” you know, even though the success rates dictate that this doesn't work for the majority of people who try it. So why do we keep saying that's the legitimate one and we question science? This is, you know, this is constantly, “What do you mean, you're taking a medication?” People take medications for everything, plaque psoriasis, I mean every single day. This is the most overly medicated country in the world, but we don't believe in medications for alcohol use disorder? It's insane. But it's just literally a lack of education and familiarity. You have this familiarity with, you know, oh I'm in the program. Well, all that vernacular and everything just hasn't been established for MAT. It hasn't been established for TSM. You know, we are this tiny, tiny organization that's trying to shout out to the world, and yet you still run into the majority of people who say they went to rehab and not one person there mentioned medications. Why do they want to do that? Well, my theory, a la Michael Moore is, because their business model is based on a revolving door. Come on back for the fifth time. Mortgage your house. So you know, it's a very broad question there, but I believe it's time. You have 100 years of people using one particular method for AUD, and now you have this new one that, even though it's been around since, you know, the medications been around since the mid-90s, we're now just really, really talking about it. You've got maybe five years of people talking about TSM. In 50 years, let's hope it’s as common as AA, you know, that's my goal. I thought it would take 10, but looks like it's gonna take a little bit longer to let it sink into people's heads.
Jenny: Which of you wants to go next?
Kali: Yeah, I can hop in. So I think that one of the really reasons that kind of Claudia called out, is this separation of addiction from medical treatment and medical care, and for the past 100 years they’ve really been seen as two separate issues. So you have recovery, which is kind of, it's housed in this moral failing department, right. So if someone is failing, they're in active addiction. If someone is succeeding, they're, you know, back on the wagon and working their program. And I think that we don't look at other medical conditions that way. If we looked at diabetes that way, every time someone needed an insulin shot, or every time someone with diabetes ate sugar, there's not that moral failing part attached to it. When you go to a doctor with symptoms of, you know, diabetes or high blood pressure, they don't refer you out to get God. They're not like, “Let's go solve this with a spiritual solution because you're morally bankrupt”. I think that we've traditionally done that for addiction. It's really only in the past few years that the Surgeon General's come out and said addiction is a chronic brain disease that is changing the way our brains function. And it's that kind of conversation that allows that medical piece back in, and that medical understanding and gets clinicians involved, like we have clinicians at Workit that are able to prescribe, you know, the medications that are needed and kind of evaluate people's recovery and their craving level and everything. And that's traditionally just been left out of the conversation. It's really wild to think about these very, very pricey inpatient treatment centers that I went to in my 20s didn't have a lot of medical intervention or medical supervision. They had, you know, horseback riding and pools and you know, kind of acting drama out and healing that way. But they really left off the medical piece, and I think that that is finally changing because of the results, because people are seeing how, what an impact getting your cravings under control, and how what an impact naltrexone can have, you know, the Sinclair Method, things like that. And so it's finally opening the doors that we really need to open with studies and research about the impact, and I hope with that kind of understanding, the definition changes.
Jenny: How about you, David?
David: Yeah, I mean I think Claudia and Kali, pretty much said it. I would just add, you know, I think, for me, recovery begins when you have the question “Is this working for me?” That's the beginning point of what recovery is. And I think for most of us, when we're at a crossroads with something that isn't working in our life, you know, we have to sort of examine what are the tools that are available to us. And I think, you know, I am a huge supporter of the traditional mode of recovery, but you know, I think it does keep people – this is my personal opinion – but I think it does keep people sort of in their addiction longer because of fear of knowing that abstinence is just sort of waiting for them. I think it keeps people sort of not wanting to reveal where they're at with their drinking or their using for, I think, far too long. I think, you know, in my life, you know, acknowledging that this doesn't work anymore, and having a doctor or someone, a licensed professional, say, “You know, there are lots of options here. There's a way we could catch you. You know, we can try this this way, you can try it that way,” whether it's, you know, TSM or the work that Kali does. You know I think having that early intervention, I think is a more softer landing for most people who are at the beginning stages of a recovery. I think I would like to see that change. I would like to see that evolution, because I think when people get to that place where there needs to be, you know, another serious intervention like, you're just too far into your addiction to even have those options. And then you’re thrown an option and maybe it's the one that you need ultimately. But for me, I was a high functioning person, and I’m not saying that puts me in a superior place to anyone who’s low functioning, but it’s just, I feel like there are tools that I could have been, should have been offered that I think would have helped me get into active recovery much faster. So I don’t know if I answered the question, but that's because I feel like Kali and Claudia said it, so I’m just sort of personalizing what they do.
Jenny: That’s fine. So this one is also for everyone. When thinking about people who are using the Sinclair Method, what are the benefits of individuals embracing their own idea of what recovery means?
Claudia: Why don’t you have David go first.
David: Yeah, well I think I've said it already. I think it's just an easier sort of entry point into your recovery. I think what Naltrexone offered me even though I kind of did it backwards is that, okay, I don't have to completely give up something that, you know, I’m not ready to give up. But I can, as crazy as it sounded when I heard it, it will naturally, organically, undo the wiring in my brain that put me in the place where I couldn't control it, whereas it put me back to a place where I was indifferent to it, you know. I could take it or leave it and, you know, that's a very bold, interesting idea. And it's a gentler way of just getting active with your recovery.
Jenny: Well, and you mentioned that your personal definition of recovery changed throughout your time on TSM.
Jenny: So what were the benefits of your individualization of what recovery means to you? How did that help you on the Sinclair Method?
David: Well, it required of me to need to have an open mind about what recovery could be, you know, abstinence wasn't the sort of gold standard, or the North Star. That I could have a community of people and deal with issues that surround alcohol use disorder, reasons that we drink. That I could participate in fellowship, but this was something I didn't have to deal with on my own. Because I do think having a community of people that I take from traditional recovery is everything. I mean, there's nothing like sitting with people and having a shared experience that helps sort of alleviate the loneliness and anxiety of alcohol use disorder. So I felt being able to say I am in recovery, though I am not sober. That was a huge game changer for me because I was able then to participate in my own wellness.
Claudia: You know, when you take away the one reason why you're relapsing, you can fix the one reason why you're relapsing, and for me, that was cravings. So if I can fix that one reason why I continue to relapse, then everything else falls into place. The magic pill to get rid of the psychological and physical cravings for alcohol then allowed me to think about, why? Why did I drink? Why did that person trigger me? Why did that fall into place? So to be able to give someone that gift, that gift of saying look, you keep trying this one method and you keep relapsing, let's address why you're relapsing? Well, because I can't stop thinking about drinking, I can't be around alcohol, all my friends are drinking. So let's get rid of that issue. It just makes so much sense. You know, and when you think about that, it's just, it is more gentle, as David said. It just makes more sense, it’s more humane.
David: It also feels, it also just keeps it more simple too. When people are relapsing or something's not working, the offering is, in my estimation, doesn't really make sense. I think it's more biological. I think there's many factors as to why a person relapses. I feel like, you know, there's a million and one ways why something doesn't work for one person. And I think the solution that's offered to people at that point, you know, pray more, more community activism, things like that. That feel not mutually exclusive to what I think there's something that's happening biologically. There's a great divide I think, and I don't think that's necessarily helping the patient. I think that adds more confusion, more stress, more anxiety. And I think it keeps someone further and further away from what I think Claudia describes as the ability to be able to sort of compartmentalize you know, what is something that is physiological or biological or genetic, and what is something that has to do with the why this is happening to me, and be able to sort of parse out the varying issues. I think, for me anyway, it just kept it clean, it kept it simple, and once I was able to sort of really understand what the alcohol deprivation effect was, and how that had nothing to do with a moral failing, that cravings is not because I wasn't going to enough meetings or it wasn't I didn't have enough sponsees. That, from a science standpoint, made sense to me, and I was able to sort of like, take a deep breath, because I was able to sort of stop punishing myself.
Claudia: Even the worst doctor in the world doesn't keep throwing the exact same treatment at a patient if it's not working. And yet, that’s exactly what we do. We just keep throwing the same exact treatment at the individual hoping that, you know, “Well if you try it 12 times, maybe it'll work the 12th time.” Even a crappy doctor doesn't do that. They go okay, this isn't working, let's try a different medication or let's try something different. I mean, it's just remarkable to me that that we're so myopic in our focus on that one thing.
David: When my mother had cancer, you know, it was like, alright, we're gonna do chemotherapy and the chemotherapy was so aggressive. There was remission, but then it came back. The doctor was like, alright, let's try radiation. And then, you know, there was just a menu of options that, like gave her the ability to make the choices that she needed to make that were medical and not, I think, personal or sort of got somehow messaged as a moral failure, and I feel like that should apply here as well.
Claudia: You just said it, menu, and I look at how telemedicine companies now and they literally have a menu, you know, to treat the various side effects or symptoms of withdrawal or whatever. And that is what we need more of.
Jenny: So, Kali, so your last on this question then. What are the benefits that you see when someone embraces their own definition of recovery?
Kali: Yeah, at Workit we have each member start off their recovery journey with their own mission. They set their own mission. They say, we ask them, what recovery would look like to them? Who do they want to be? What are the goals that they want to achieve? And then that really becomes their definition of recovery. And I think it's so powerful to embrace that and have pride around what you're doing. It's so unfortunate that people feel like they might not be embraced by certain other people in the community if they even talk about a program that's working for them, right? If someone's on naltrexone, or someone's not in abstinence based recovery, you're doing the Sinclair Method. Just having, just knowing that you're having the best solution for you and what you're doing is working, there's a real sense of pride in that. There's this recovery movement, right, of all these recovery advocates that are sharing their story and talking about the difficulties they've overcome. And that's a very powerful movement to take part in, but it needs to be widened to everyone. You know, it needs to be widened to people who are using the Sinclair Method. And so I think, also to stem off of what Claudia and David were saying, I relapsed all the time in my 20s. You know, I would continually return to drinking, and they would continually suggest abstinence based recovery for me. No one suggested medication at that time. And it's frustrating that we have people who are failing in this one type of recovery, and then when they fail we tell them, it's them. They're not working hard enough. They're doing something wrong. They, you know, weren't doing this or that. And like Claudia said, there's no other, you know, issue where we kind of, if someone has this chronic relapsing disease like cancer, when the cancer comes back, we don't say, “What have you been doing? You failed at this?” You know, we say “Let's get you treatment. Here are the options. Let's look at your lifestyle and see what might work for you”. And I think that it's about, it will help people own their own recovery more if they can define it and feel confident around it. You know, not have to feel any kind of societal shame or judgment.
Claudia: And by the way, that recovery might change.
Claudia: My goal was exactly drink safely, and lo and behold, now I'm abstinent by choice. So you don't know what you're, but to have the first initial step towards a goal is important, and if the goal isn't so strict as “wow, okay, abstinence and I'm 25 years old, and I'm gonna have to be sober for the rest of my life,” that is just so overwhelming for so many people. So to be able to say, “Okay, let me reduce the harm. Let me cut down on drinking. Let me get my off button back. Let me, you know, rediscover who I am, my hobbies, what I love to do, start seeing friends without drinking”, you know, all of that. And you never know what's going to happen when you get older. But that one little goal is so important, and to accept the patient, when you have your clients come in and tell you what they define as recovery. And you accept that and work with them, which I think is such, so different than what we had in the past.
Jenny: And once again, Kali you have unintentionally segued into my next question, because you mentioned the concept of shame. And let's face it, we don’t need to speak too much about how much shame and judgment are pervasive in the recovery industry and communities. So, to what extent do you feel, and this is for everybody to weigh in on, that embracing a personal definition of recovery can help someone in achieving lasting success, when thinking of that in the context of the shame and judgment that also comes parallel with trying to make yourself a healthier person.
Claudia: You guys go.
Kali: Sure. Yeah. I think we know that addiction is a chronic relapsing condition. And I think that there's still such shame and stigma around alcohol use in our society, and around having problems with alcohol, and the more we can talk about recovery, not as a moral failing, but as a normalized condition, sometimes at Workit we say “normalized recovery,” because it's really something that we need to talk about just like any other chronic condition that people can recover from. I think there's a lot of all or nothing beliefs that go into that shame, right? Like I've heard a lot in treatment, “to drink is to die.” And just internalizing that statement, to drink is to die, I think, really leads people to, “I'm going to drink, I'm going to just not even try. I'm going to give up entirely because I'm a loser because I'm drinking. They told me I'm going to die.” And I think that that is incredibly harmful and incredibly damaging to people. And when you look at it like that, like I'm either succeeding or I'm absolutely failing and I can't talk about it with anyone and I can't say “Hey, is there a way I can reduce my alcohol consumption or is there a way I can drink and drink less?” Just, when we have this all black or white, we don't consider meeting people in this middle ground where a lot of people really thrive, you know. So yeah.
Claudia: I have great hope because of what's happened with mental illnesses in the past decade. I think that people are, I don't want to, they say, they state their condition with pride. I have a lot of friends who say “I'm bipolar, and that makes a lot of sense to me now. You know, yes, I've gone off medication, because that's part of the condition. It tells you to go off of the medication,” but it's an open conversation. There's not that stigma and shame that has been so prevalent in the past. So I hope that that translates toward substance use disorders as well, in the future. And I think we're getting a little bit more into that with celebrities coming out. You know, I mean, gosh, to see Brad Pitt on the cover of GQ magazine saying “Yeah, I'm an alcoholic” was like, wow, okay, you know, getting a little bit more mainstream here. People identifying as alcoholic or people identifying with saying, quite openly, “Yeah, I abused opiates. I did this. I did that”. I think the more we have that conversation, the less stigma and shame that is going to be attached to it. You know that's why I've been doing this since I could start talking about it, because I'm like, “Why should I be ashamed? I didn't ask for this to happen”. And I think Kali hit it on the head. Why is there, there's no punitive damages for a diabetic patient or a cancer patient, so why are there punitive measures? Why are we the ones failing? And so once that's removed, once doctors start saying “Okay, no, hey, relapse is completely normal. Let's find a different medication. Let's try Acamprosate. Let's try Baclofen. Let's do this, let's do that. You know, let's work with you, because clearly that's not working.” And once that becomes normalized, then we reach as a collective whole, as a society where it's not embarrassing. I mean, look what Betty Ford did, as the First Lady to come out. That, I mean that in that day and age, that was unbelievably bold and brave, and what a gift to society to try and normalize that, and yet it still didn't stick. It still didn't stick. This is the First Lady of the United States of America saying “Yeah, guess what, I'm an alcoholic. And here's what I'm going to do about it.” I mean, my God and yet still people have this, you know, we continue the shame and the stigma as if it's a choice. So it's a road but it's getting a little bit better. We have to recognize that it is getting a little bit better, and the more people in the spotlight speak out about it, the more sports stars and celebrities and everyday people just talk out, speak out about it as if this is saying “You know, I broke my leg.” “Yeah, you know, I relapsed.”
David: For me I'm sort of a closer. I like to sort of, when issues come my way, I like to tackle them and close them and then move on. You know, when I started my journey in traditional recovery, like the five most terrifying words that I heard was, “one day at a time.” And my response to that was “Yeah, but what about tomorrow?” you know, like “What about next week.” “This is going to be with me for the rest of my life?” And I understood the sentiment, but when two years later, my cravings did not go away, and then I was presented with one day at a time and like every day like this? This is my life every single day? You know, I know happiness is a choice, but when I have something like you know, physiologically that's keeping me suffering, then that's very depressing for me. And, you know, the alcohol deprivation effect needed like a swifter intervention, and I feel like with TSM, it sort of kind of came in and fixed it. And like what Claudia said, then one day at a time was less daunting for me and I was able to sort of get into the sort of the why, because the other component was completely obliterated and that was everything for me. And so, you know, like a diabetic, it is something that you deal with for the rest of your life. But the solution to it is, you know, you take your insulin and move on with your day and you don't forget it. For me, it's like I'm going to drink, I take my pill, I wait an hour and then I’ll have a drink. But, and that's what, that works for me, because then all the other anxieties and the stress, they just, they're just out there anyway. So you know, that's to me, that's what my recovery looks like, along with the therapy, and all the other unpacking that I need to do.
Claudia: The greatest thing to see about you David is that you, because in the beginning with the three ring binder and all the questions, and the questioning of the science, and the are you sure this is going to work, and the fear, the fear, and oh my god, are you sure this is gonna work? Where’s the research? Where’s the clinical papers blah, blah, blah. Now you are so much more relaxed while still remaining fastidious about compliance, medical adherence. You are so much more relaxed into the groove of being a long term person on TSM and I just love seeing that. It's completely changed. That anxiety has sort of just dissipated and I love seeing it. You really are, it's a beautiful journey that you've been on for the past four years.
David: Thank you. Thank you.
Jenny: Well, it looks like we are almost out of time. So audience definitely get in any of those last minute questions or comments. But you have been wonderful as always out there. So thank you for spending the last hour or so with us here today. And also in the chat, please let us know what you think of this year's conference theme. So the conference. We're expanding it a little bit this year. It's going to be on June 10 through the 12th. And while that sounds like three days on the calendar, the first night that Friday is just going to be a kickoff, and Claudia is going to give us a keynote speech which may or may not be live, or may or maybe not be recorded.
Claudia: Jenny. Jenny threw this at me. She said “Oh and by the way, you're doing a 45-minute speech”. And I was like, “Are you out of your mind? When am I gonna write this?”
Jenny: It wouldn’t be the first speech we co-wrote.
Claudia: I understand, but it's a little daunting. So I figured I've got a long flight coming up to London so maybe I’ll noodle around some ideas then. It might be a little cut and pasting from other speeches. I don't know Jenny. I can't promise everything's gonna be all fresh and new handwritten for 45 minutes’ worth. It might even be 30 minutes, who knows. I'll do my best to sum up the TSM experience since 2010 when I first started talking about it. Yikes.
Jenny: So, audience please join me in thanking our wonderful guests, Kali Lux, David Belenky and of course, Claudia Christian. The three of you, do you have any last words for the audience before we log off?
Kali: Yes. If you're interested in finding out more about Workit Health, we're at workithealth.com or you can download the Workit Health app, and thank you so much Jenny, and Claudia and David for having me and Claudia, you know, it's always inspirational to see you and hear you and the work that you're doing.
Claudia: Kali, I'm just so thrilled that there are people like you now. You know when I started there was nothing, and now just to see and it just fills me with so much joy to see somebody so actively trying to help people in, you know, with science based methods and alternatives for their recovery. So thank you for being on the show. Thank you also for your sponsorship. It means the world to us. We couldn't be doing these things that we're doing without the support from people like you so thank you.
Jenny: Any last thoughts, David?
David: Yes. Just thank you Jenny for everything you do. You know, these, this even felt like a recovery meeting for me. It’s like I don’t have my therapist appointment until two o'clock today. Shall I call him and tell him I’m good. This is to me, like this is everything. Claudia again, you know, you’re a lifesaver literally. And all that you do and you know your activism and you know putting the word out there. And Kali, like Claudia said, it's just, it's so needed. There are so many people, especially with everything going in the world and the pandemic, it's just, you know, it's a challenging time, and we need these voices and this activism. So thank you all.
Claudia: Look, we're taking on a very established thing, and it's just going to take time, but all of us with our energies together and anybody listening out there, remember, if you tell one person, they're going to tell somebody else and eventually it's going to get to the ears of the people in need. This is all, I mean I do believe in fate. When you speak at a party and you say “Oh, I watched this Twitch session and have you ever heard of naltrexone?” you're going to reach the people who need this information. So that's your job as a Hero to get out there and to just talk about the Sinclair Method. Talk about medication assisted treatment. Educate people. Educate your own doctor, your medical professionals in your life, your gynecologist, anybody. The more you talk about this, the more we normalize it, the less stigma and shame, and the more people hear the information they need. So that's what I ask of you, is just get out there and talk about it. Put it on Facebook, put it on Instagram, whatever, talk to your friends, talk about it, but especially over the holiday season when people are drinking to excess. That's when you can say “Hey, Uncle Bob, listen, you should watch One Little Pill” or be like, you know “Look at C Three Foundation. Here's a TED talk you can watch.” Anything. We have the resources ready for you, use them. Thank you.
Jenny: So audience, if you came in late and you want to share or watch the stream again, we will have today’s video up on our website, hopefully by the end of the day, and as soon as we're able to, we will add the transcripts and closed captioning as well. Next week, we're going to be joined by Stuart Fisher, our amazing volunteer developer who has made our TSM drink log app what it is today, and we're going to talk a bit about the history of the app and walk through some of the new features that are coming out. As always, we'll take your questions and suggestions. Start thinking about those now or you can join the lively ongoing discussion in our Discord group and you can find the link to that in our Twitch profile. If you found value in this broadcast, we hope you'll hit the donate button in our profile or head to our website and make a contribution at cthreefoundation.org/donate. You can also follow our channel to get broadcast alerts and subscribe to our channel to go ad free and get some bonus emojis to use. If you're an Amazon Prime member, you can subscribe for free, but you're going to have to manually renew it each month so don't forget. You can also gift a subscription to other viewers, share, drop bits, etc. If you'd like to suggest a guest or a topic for future broadcasts, we've got a link to a Google form that should be dropping into our chat soon, and that's also available on our main Schedule page on our website. If you're on the Sinclair Method and looking for more peer support, or if you just want to join our C Three Foundation community we've got you covered with groups on Facebook, Discord, and our Options Save Lives forum. So that's it for today. Have a wonderful weekend everybody. Be gentle with yourself and with others and I'll see you again next Friday right here on Twitch at noon Eastern.
Claudia: Thank you everybody.
Voiceover: You've been watching the Options Save Lives weekly live stream hosted by Executive Director Jenny Williamson, and produced by the C Three Foundation with the support of R Street Institute and other generous supporters. For more information about the C Three Foundation or the Sinclair Method, visit our website at cthreefoundation.org. If you have a question you want answered live on air, to make guest suggestions, or to support the show, let us know. You can reach us through our website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or on Discord. Join us each week as we continue to discuss more ways to help you build a better relationship with alcohol, or to eliminate it completely. Because recovery from alcohol use disorder is not a one size fits all process. Options are available and options save lives.