Addiction has become an epidemic of massive proportions. Whether the addiction is to drugs, alcohol, painkillers (especially opiates), or even something like food, one thing is clear – addiction does affect your health and energy levels and can wreak havoc on the family.
Today, only 11.2% of people with an addiction end up receiving treatment and the chances of relapsing are great. Some people might say that people who are struggling with addiction just don’t have enough willpower or it’s character issues, but this simply isn’t true. is that true?
In this episode, I am speaking with Erik Kerr, founder of CLEAR Health Technologies (Coalition for Life to Eradicate Addiction Relapse). In this episode, Erik talks about the REAL causes of addiction and the truth about how to fix it. If you or a loved one suffers from addiction to anything (whether alcohol, drugs, painkillers or anything else), this is a MUST LISTEN.
Erik has seen friends and family suffer and die from addiction and has seen how it addiction affect not only the addict but also their surroundings. His experiences led him to found CLEAR Health Technologies and the Healing Addiction Summit, which has 30+ experts on addiction and how you can use a holistic and natural approach to treat addiction and prevent relapses.
Also, make sure to sign up for the Healing Addiction Summit – Free access between (Oct 25-31) (Sign Up HERE): Before we get into the podcast, I also strongly recommend that you sign up for Erik Kerr’s Healing Addiction Summit. It’s packed with great content and features some of the greatest experts in the field of addiction. They will uncover the natural and holistic approaches to overcoming addiction.
In this podcast, Erik Kerr will cover:
- The definition of addiction and some of the things you can get addicted to (some of these will likely surprise you)
- Common belief – ”it takes willpower to overcome addiction”. True or False?
- The reason why many addicts relapse after they have been to treatment facilities
- The main factors that drive addiction
- Do nutrition and lifestyle play a role in healing from addiction?
- Erik Kerr’s top three things to be aware of when dealing with addiction
- How the addict’s relationships affect their chances of recovery
- What makes us addicted to food and alcohol
- Why natural herbal approaches to treating disease and addiction are banned in most countries
- The main factors to healing and overcoming addiction naturally
Download or listen on iTunes
Listen outside iTunes
The Healing Addiction Summit – How To Treat Addiction Successfully And Naturally with Erik Kerr – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hey there, this is Ari Whitten, and welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. Today, I am speaking with Erik Kerr, who is the founder of Clear Health Technologies, which is dedicated to eradicating addiction relapse and is the founder of the Healing Addiction Summit, which is dedicated to gathering the leading and most progressive thinkers in health, science, nutrition, and parenting to help those who suffer from addiction. So welcome to the show, Erik. Such a pleasure to have you on.
Erik Kerr: Thank you for having me. I’m really honored to be on and certainly appreciate the topic and your willingness to participate in the conversation around the addiction and relapse and healing addiction.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Why… I think this is a very important topic. I mean to everyone, but certainly people who struggle with health issues and fatigue. There’s, there’s quite a bit of overlap with addiction, suffering of various kinds of addiction and this is not something that I’ve covered before. So I’m excited to dig into this with you.
So first of all, to kind of give a broad overview of this, how did you get interested in addiction in the first place? What led you to start Clear Health Technologies and, and the healing addiction summit?
Erik Kerr: Yeah. Thank you. Really good question. So I have had a number of people in my life who have either died from addiction, gone to jail because of addiction. My sister is raising two of her grandchildren that she’s had to adopt because I’ve had nieces who have essentially disappeared because of their addiction and no longer were capable of managing as a parent and taking care of those kids. I have a cousin who is in the jail for being a drugstore cowboy. And while she was in jail, the father of their three kids died from a heroin overdose and in jail you would think that things are clean, but actually there’s a very high amount of fentanyl patches, drugs use in prison. So when she came out, she just got back into the same thing again because she was never fundamentally clean. Even after six years in prison.
And so then her brother had to take her three kids and is raising them. So for whatever reason, I’ve gotten a lot of that in my life and friends that have died. The opiate crisis is becoming an ever growing problem here in the United States. And so it seems like we’re always managing from a crisis state, right? So either we’re going to the ER or we’re going to prison or somebody is overlapsed or we need, you know, Narcan now is the solution and we get to keep people from dying.
And I had an experience with my dad and my sister. Where my sister, my father, we were playing cards and my father was about 87 at the time. My sister’s a registered nurse, ER nurse has been for a long time and she noticed that my dad’s hand was flipping in, that his speech was slurring and that he kept dropping cards out of one hand and she said, ”dad, you’re having a stroke. I’m going to call 911”.
While he didn’t realize he was having a stroke, I didn’t realize he was having a stroke, but because she knew what the whisper signs of stroke or what the early indicator signs were, she was able to call 911 and we had another year with my dad. He would have died that night had I been with him by myself or had he been by himself.
So the fact that she was able to identify those early indicators kind of got me thinking with… you know, how people say, how did, how did you get to where you are right now? It’s a series of experiences. Right? So because of my experiences with people in my life around addiction, I started thinking, is there any way for us to really manage and identify the early warning signs that lead to relapse so that we’re not always managing from a crisis state?
And so I started investigating and talking to people and they say yes it is. And then they said, well, once you identify it, then what? Because I had just assumed that the system was good enough that it would take care of the individual.
Well, the fact of the matter is, it’s not. Right. Most people who go into treatment centers will actually relapse within 30 to 60 days fully. So getting clean is not getting healed. So the question was how do we, how do we heal the body and the addicted body and the brain, and that’s what led to the summit.
What the term addiction means
Ari Whitten: Gotcha. Very interesting. So I think this is kind of a broad landscape, what we’re talking about addiction. There’s, there’s a lot encapsulated here and obviously there’s hardcore drugs and meth and heroin and crack and there was also alcohol and cigarettes. And there’s also, I think people also talk about things either more loosely and this is kind of debatable territory where some people say it’s addictions have people don’t but things like sugar addiction or food addiction and there’s food addicts anonymous and that sort of thing. And lots of sugar addiction detox programs online.
When you talk about addiction, what do you mean and how do you define that term? And what specific substances are you generally referring to?
Erik Kerr: I’m fundamentally… you’re talking about addiction is something where you are driven to… You were driven to a behavior regardless of consequence. Right. And I was talking to a friend, Susan Pierce Thompson and she is an expert in it and she’s one of the guests here and she does a Bright Line Eating and now it’s kind of making it an association to, well, we all fundamentally kind of having addictive behaviors and… I was trying to say if I have somebody who is an addict to my life, I want to try to support them by saying, ”Hey, I’m going to have to, I’m going to try to stop to stop drinking diet coke. Right? Or eating a candy bar a while. You try, try to stop using heroin.” Right. And I was trying to make that connection. She said, let me just stop you right there.
We don’t all fundamentally have addiction because Susan has been severely addicted to cocaine. she currently struggles every day with a food addiction. And she says, addiction is when… food addiction is something where you know that you shouldn’t be eating the doughnut and you’re sitting there crying and bawling because you know you shouldn’t be eating it, but at the same time you’re shoving donuts into your mouth, right? There’s a total lack of. And so what we’re fundamentally talking about here is a behavior that is driven by the brain, because I interviewed Dr. Nora Volkow, who is the leading neuroscientist in the world on the addicted brain.
And so there’s a big debate is, is it willpower, right? Or is it a disease? Is sugar addictive? Is food addictive? And fundamentally, the answer to it is all yes, right? Sugar is, is scientifically proven to be as, or more addictive and powerful than heroin.
It has the same chemical components. So sugar is highly addictive. And what that means is, is that when somebody gets into an addictive state, fundamentally their brain chemistry changes because you’ve got, and this is one of the new scientific findings that Dr. Volkov, who is the director of the National Institute on Drug Addiction, they have a $1,000,000,000 a year budget under the National Institute of Health to study addiction, right? That’s what they do. And so we have two parts of the brain.
We’ve got the frontal cortex and we’ve got the Amygdala, right? And so I call it the brain mullet because the Amygdala in the back is the party, right? That’s what drives our fundamental behaviors. And you know, Dave Asprey says ”fundamentally the brain and the body are programmed for three basic rules, run away from a kill or hide from scary things, eat everything you can, and reproduce”, right? And so that’s the job of the Amygdala.
So if we smell something I’m like, and we smell hamburger and we want to eat it will, it keeps us from eating 50 hamburgers right now is the frontal Cortex, right? That’s the parents’ side of the brain. It’s the rational side of the brain. So that balance between I’m hungry and then being able to control it through the frontal cortex, the parents’ side of the brain says, all right, I know you’re hungry, but we can wait another six hours.
What happens when you become addicted is that brain chemistry is changed. The neurotransmitters are highly overloaded with dopamine when you’re using heroin, when you’re eating sugar. And so they shut down. And so the communication, essentially the communication between the prefrontal cortex and the Amygdala is turned off. So it’s just the Amygdala that’s driving everything now because the Prefrontal Cortex is offline, right? So when you’re addicted, all’s you have is the party side of the brain, the side of the brain, that haircut, just saying, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat. Right.
Which is why Susan said, you’re just shoving donuts into your mouth even though there’s a side of your brain, your brain saying, I shouldn’t be doing this, but you don’t have it because the brain is offline. You don’t have that control.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting that you brought her up as. She’s actually a close personal friend of mine. I just was on the phone with her yesterday, so I’m very familiar with everything she talks about.
Erik Kerr: She’s an amazing woman. Really.
Is it willpower that determines whether one can overcome addiction or not?
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Yeah. So, having said all of that, why, why is this a topic necessary to have a conversation about it and that maybe seems like a very obvious kind of almost common sense question, but you know, addiction has been around for a long time. Why don’t we have good answers to it at this point. You know, we can put a man on the moon, but it’s really hard to stop somebody from smoking or are drinking alcohol or some using some of these other hardcore drugs. Why is that?
Erik Kerr: Well, let me, let me kind of ask the question back to you a little bit like with, with what you cover, how much more do we know about nutrition and the science of nutrition versus what we knew 10 years ago?
Ari Whitten: Certainly a whole lot and that the science is always evolving, unquestionably. And there’s still much to learn.
Erik Kerr: Yeah. So that’s part of the answer is that we have more data around it. Fundamentally. And there is a large belief now that addiction is a willpower problem, right? It’s a failure and moral character. But now we know what the science, what Dr. Volkow says, because that discovery between the communication process between the frontal cortex and the Amygdala, that’s a new discovery, right?
We thought everything was highly dopamine driven, which it is, but the brain gives you dopamine hits with the tracks and the breadcrumbs to the big addiction hit whether it be sugar or heroin, but it doesn’t do it long term.
It doesn’t sustain you when you, when you take the big hits. So it’s constantly driving for the big hit. So the question is, you know, a lot of parents, and we talked to parenting experts on the summit as well. We’d be on the summit. We take everything from parenting to nutrition to the neuroscience, mindfulness, meditation. And it’s a complex issue, but fundamentally it’s not a willpower anymore, you know, the brain.
It’s kind of like when somebody says to somebody who has had a stroke like my dad did that stop slurring your speech, right? The brain’s broken. Can we heal the brain? Science has proven with neural plasticity that we can heal the brain, but Dr. Care said, and she actually uses a pain management protocol and a certain protocol to heal naturally heroin addiction and what we’re looking at are, there are a lot of fundamental poor pieces of the foundation.
It’s a, you have to find a lot of it has to do with inflammation. And where does inflammation come from? It comes from our diet, right? Our digestive health, nutritional supplementation, controlling systems, symptoms of withdrawal, hormonal balancing, stress reduction, exercise, mindfulness, social connection is huge. And sleep improvement. So those are the core foundational components to healing the addiction and overcoming that anxiety state. Because the brain is going to drive, drive, drive for that shit, whatever it is, whether it be food or sex or gaming is proven to be one now as well.
And so again, it’s a behavior that you continue to do regardless of consequence, right? So if you’re eating, even though you know that you’re going to have like hard searcher, are you going to need heart surgery? Are you going to die 10 years younger or your wife is begging not to eat or that you continue to gain 10 pounds a month because of your behavior that’s doing something regardless of the consequences. If your life, if your wife is gonna leave you, if your husband is going to take your child away from you and you continue to do that behavior, that’s addictive, right? It’s, there’s a certain level of willpower, but at a certain point the brain is just jacked up.
Why relapse rates are high
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Why are relapse rates so high? And, and can you give some statistics on that? Because heard you talk about this elsewhere and the statistics are just kind of nuts as far as how high the percentages of relapse after people are in rehab centers for treatment. What, what, what’s going on there? Why is this? Why are the rehab centers so ineffective as far as helping people get off permanently?
Erik Kerr: Well, if you think about how relapse center is structured, right? I’m essentially your, if there’s, it proves a lot of valid points, but here’s where it fundamentally breaks downs. So 11 point two percent of all people who suffer from addiction even get into a treatment center, right? So that means almost 88 to 89 percent of people who suffer from addiction have, don’t have that support center or that mechanism, right? But the people that do get into the treatment center, usually it’s 30, 40, 60 days, right? Sometimes it’s just two weeks. And the goal of the treatment centers essentially is to teach new skill sets and to get clean. But there’s a big difference between being clean and being healed, right? So if you can take a pain pill and then all of a sudden your broken arm doesn’t hurt anymore. Well, does that mean that your broken arm is fixed?
No Way. You know, and the doctor’s not going to go and tell you to play football again because if that’s where you broke it, right, but essentially that’s what we’re telling people to do. After they go through the treatment center, they were out in the front lines of life or they became addicted with the community, the social community that they got addicted with. With the stress factors they got addicted to whether it be parents, home environments, some kind of trauma, and after they go through that treatment center and they get ”clean”.
As soon as they go back home, the brain is going to fire up. As soon as they see all the visual. Smelling all the stimulants, hey, we remember that. That’s going to lead to that hit. That’s going to be as committed as they are within the treatments that are. Because of their out of the environment. They have a new social environment. They’re eating better. They go back to their old habits and essentially the front lines again and they’re going to get hit again because the brain is going to fire off like crazy as soon as the brain smells the smells sees, the faces, right? It makes associations and that’s why the relapse rate is so high.
The main factors that drive addiction
Ari Whitten: Gotcha. What are some of the biggest factors that drive addiction in the first place? And I’ve heard some experts as mentioned things to the effect, and I, I’m sure that you know this better than I do and I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on addiction. But I’ve heard some experts say things to the effect of addiction is keeping people use addiction as a way of dealing with some sort of past trauma that they’ve had. It’s, it’s sort of a way of dealing with some very specific trauma or sort of thing that’s happened to them prior in their life. What’s your take on the legitimacy of that sort of perspective?
Erik Kerr: That’s absolutely correct. You know, and we have to understand that trauma is different for everyone.
I have a friend that got shot on the front lines when he was in Afghanistan and went flat line, right? And that’s a level of trauma and, and the, the friend he was with Josh Mantz, he’s a speaker on the summit, you know, he got, he was shot by a sniper, killed, and brought back to life, but the buddy who was with died and so he has that level of trauma, but trauma can also be when I was interviewing Tucker Max. Trauma can be, you know, your mom holding you, at two years old and having a very, very just all out argument with her husband, your dad. And in the meantime, Tucker was being held with… in his diaper and his mom was wearing this big belt with a big metal piece on it and she didn’t recognize that he was slipping out of her arms and his skin was stuck on that piece of metal as he continued to slip.
And this was at two years old, right? And so, but the brain remembers that trauma. So that’s, that’s a certain type of trauma you could have had parents that were arguing all the time. So Gabor Montay, who’s a good friend, he’s written the book in the realm of hungry ghosts and he dealt most of his career as an addiction specialist and psychologists in Canada among the homeless. And he said, fundamentally, most of these people came from very traumatic situations. And so the question that he suggests we all ask is not, we shouldn’t ask somebody, why do you have the addiction? It’s why do you have the pain?
Ari Whitten: Hmm.
Erik Kerr: And because people use fundamentally to feel normal to get out of an anxiety state, right? If you think about just when you do get hungry, right? If you drink a lot of if you use a lot of caffeine, or if you work out every day, do you feel differently if you don’t,
Ari Whitten: certainly.
Erik Kerr: Right. And so you just take that level. It’s the same fundamental philosophy and science around the addiction is the anxiety state becomes so high that people need to take a drink or take a hit of heroin or eat the doughnut just to feel calm and normal again. So it isn’t really just, I’m just, I just want to go out and party because they’re thinking like Susan was crying and shoving a donut and your mouth and saying, this is horrible for me with all your loved ones saying, why are you doing this? And then just looking and saying, I don’t know why, it’s because they want to feel normal or they don’t want to remember the pain. Right. And so that’s a big part of it.
Ari Whitten: Gotcha. Is it also the case, like, you know, I’m thinking of there’s a real big issue now with opiate addiction. Like people are getting addicted to prescription opioids, you know, maybe they have an injury or they have a surgery or something like that. They start taking opioids, then they get addicted years later. They’re still taking them. There’s also a process on a physiological, on a neurological level of, of central sensitization. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that concept, but basically the, the idea is that when you take opiates chronically, the brain becomes desensitized.
Or let me phrase that differently. The brain feels that it’s not sensing pain well enough so it becomes hypersensitized to pain and then you actually become more sensitive to pain when you’re no longer on the opioid, so then you continue to take them because you continue to feel in pain and that’s your way of getting out of pain and so it kind of fosters this vicious cycle.
So I’m just wondering, in addition to maybe is the bulk of addiction issues kind of people with sort of past traumas or-or things that have made them feel anxiety or tension that they’re trying to avoid, but maybe also there’s another subset of people that especially maybe with opiates that just kind of get prescribed them and then just get addicted and can’t get off, but don’t necessarily have any past trauma.
Erik Kerr: Oh, of course. Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s a, that’s a really, really important point. We did a little mini-documentary on this kid named Malcolm Graham and I met Malcolm’s mom at North Northern California opiate conference and it was meant for medical professionals and I’m a court manager and you know, all the quote-unquote experts for their right. And so, as in one of these breakout sessions, and there was a woman who raised her hand and said, you know, this is all great, but my son died from a heroin overdose two months ago. And so basically she told her story and essentially what her story is that her son, played for what’s the high school Bishop O’Dowd high school in Oakland, California, which is extremely competitive and good football school, right? It’s a Catholic school. And he was one of the star players and he at 17 years old, had a football injury.
And at that time his doctor prescribed him 120 OxyContin for two weeks. Now, he didn’t necessarily have any trauma, but when you prescribe that level of essentially synthetic heroin, right? High-level grades, heroin, and you consume that your body just naturally because of that chemical is going to get hijacked, your brain is going to get hijacked.
And so that, that’s what’s happening with the… an opiate addiction is that it’s being prescribed or was being prescribed and they’re doing a lot to fix this. Now it’s not fixed because it continues to go. But, doctors would prescribe very, very liberally opiates as a way of pain management. And in the early nineties, opiates were only used for one percent of the pain management cases. And that was for patients lifecare, right? People who are dying, people who had cancer, and they were on their way out and was just to make them more comfortable.
But the pharmaceutical companies came out and told the doctors that did, they were letting their patients suffer needlessly. And that opiates, hydrocodone, OxyContin are not addictive. And they referenced a little minuscule nonscientific based New England Journal. And so it really just came down to marketing. And so the doctor started prescribing in a very liberal way. People became addicted. And, you know, the doctors, as you’ll hear in the summit, I talked to a lot of doctors, Dr Jamie Hope, who is one of the, in one of the busiest ers in the country in Detroit.
Dr. Mary Cara who is a physician and when they went through medical school, the motto was, and still is for doctors, when you go into the hospital, they managed by level of pain. Right. How comfortable are you? So we’re managing pain. We’re not trying to heal right. When my son, my 14-year-old son two years ago, went in for a very, very just small day surgery on his nose. He was 14 and they prescribed him opiates and they get, I think they gave him 30 pills of hydrocodone at that. They called it something different. I don’t know if he can get hydrocodone and oxycodone. They don’t call it the same thing anymore, but essentially it’s the same thing. It’s synthetic heroin.
And so he was able to manage just on Tylenol and I asked, why are you prescribing opiates, opiates and hydrocodone to a 14-year-old? And they said, well, we don’t want, we don’t want to use Tylenol because it’s bad on the liver. That was their reason.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. So
Erik Kerr: It’s sad and they’re all. I mean, you just started eating a lot of sugar as a kid. you’re going to get addicted to sugar and sometimes it isn’t a trauma situation. Sometimes it’s just your body becomes so used to it that it’s just driving for that behavior. So it’s not always trauma based. You’re right.
Alcohol and food addiction
Ari Whitten: Gotcha. one other type of addiction that I think is often neglected or as, and maybe I’m wrong about this, but people often think of addiction, like in the context of some of these more hardcore drugs.
Alcohol in my opinion, is a really interesting one because it’s so widely accepted and normalized in our culture that a lot of people really don’t even think of it as a drug anymore. And it’s just like, it’s so normal and acceptable to have a drink here, a drink there, or even many drinks here, or even to be drinking significant amounts every single day or every night.
I personally have seen, not in my own family, I’m fortunate that I don’t have this issue and in my own immediate family, but I’ve seen in my wife’s family, her father as well as, my, my brother’s wife’s mother. I have a severe alcohol addiction issues.
And in my, in my wife’s Dad’s case, it really ruined the family. I mean, it, it tore the family apart. He, he became abusive, neglectful, and was just not there emotionally for his family anymore. And then after you got clean years later he ended up just terribly regretting the whole thing. But at that point it was too late for him.
He already did so much damage to his body. He was in kidney failure basically and died at way too young of an age, I think in this mid-sixties. And my brother’s wife’s mother is, we’re, they’re starting to see signs of dementia and neurodegeneration where she’s just, she’s paranoid, she seems kind of crazy.
She’s not, she’s just of jabbering on and not speaking or thinking lucidly and communication is becoming a nightmare. And I mean, it’s just, it’s a mess and I think alcohol addiction really can cause nightmares in people’s families and I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts on, on alcohol as well, especially because it’s so normalized into our society
Erik Kerr: yet. It’s, I’m sorry to hear about that first of all. And it’s something that is very normalized in our society and I think there’s a lot of different reasons why it’s normalized in society. I think it’s the same thing that I asked around, you know, the food and food addiction these days and how little really nutritional value there is in anything that you buy off the shelf these days.
And I actually asked Dr. Hyman, Mark Hyman, I said, who’s at fault here? Is it the food industry or is it our lack of making is, or are we just making bad choices around our food? And he says it’s absolutely the food industry because their marketing, they have scientists who are… every hour of every day testing our dopamine responses to from our taste buds, from things that we put in our mouths. So that we will want them again and again and again, so that really hijacking our taste buds and our, and our, our neurological response to this.
Fundamentally, that’s kind of the same thing that happens with alcohol. It’s big industry, right? There’s just too much at risk. And one thing that’s really important to understand is I have a neighbor who, they have a daughter who was adopted and she came from parents who suffered from addiction and so she was genetically predisposed and we know that this is true because we’ve all heard about crack babies, right?
So those genes, and it’s called epigenetics, but those genes can literally be passed down from generation to generation. So alcoholism you can have a predisposition to alcoholism. so there’s a lot that you have to understand about yourself. It comes down to blood type too. Like what kind of blood type will determine how predisposed you are to addiction. So you said that you’ve never suffered from addiction. Have you ever had any alcohol? Have you ever had a drink?
Ari Whitten: Sure. Yeah.
Erik Kerr: Yeah. Right. So you can just say I’ve had a drink the same, you know, early on I drank just as much or maybe more than some of my friends who suffer from alcoholism are suffering from addiction right now. It’s because they are predisposed. Maybe they had some other trauma.
But it’s just really Russian roulette and that’s why you have to really educate friends, family, you have to educate your children if you have them on the genetic history and on the history of addiction and substance abuse within your family because they will fundamentally be predisposed to those kinds of behaviors.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. A real quick side point, I’m wondering if you have ever heard of this on a, on a personal note. My parents were never big drinkers for whatever reason. When traveling. My mom used to always get a beer if we were at an airport when I was a little kid. It was like the only time she ever drank beer. I have no idea why she did this, but she would get a beer. This was like, this happened maybe two or three times a year. She drink a beer while traveling at an airport. I remember this happening when I was a little kid. I must have been five or six years old and I was curious about what she was drinking so she let me smell it and try a little bit and I remember trying a little bit of beer as a five or six-year-old and absolutely being disgusted with it.
And to this day, beer disgusts me like that.
Erik Kerr: That’s not a great flavor.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Well some people think it is apparently, but you know, to this day for me and I don’t know if it’s from those experiences this happened a few times as a little kid where I did something similar to that. but beer always tasted horrible to me because of that. So I’m just wondering if maybe that’s a strategy to avoid a alcoholism at least.
Erik Kerr: a well, which, which is a strategy to give your kids a taste?
Ari Whitten: Yeah. To give them a taste when you know they’re gonna find it horrible.
Erik Kerr: Well, some won’t, you know? a lot of times it’s not about taste, it’s about firing up that meant that genetic memory within their brain. And so you may be opening up Pandora’s box, you know,
It’s really interesting because there’s a lot at play there, right? And I’m not a scientist, I’m essentially with the summit. I’m the guy who’s, who’s out asking all the questions, why is this happening? And so it’s interesting in my opinion that your mom would drink when she traveled, you know, and that’s an environmental reaction probably.
She probably has some kind of good memory when I travel, I drink and I can let my hair down. Right. And that’s kind of, it ties back to somebody getting out of treatment. Then using, again, it’s their environment. So Benjamin Hardy wrote a book called ”Willpower doesn’t work” because we can’t just, you know, mentally be tough about what we’re doing and whatnot, what we’re not doing because the brain is really the one that’s in control in our environment and our circumstances and the people that we hang out with and being in, just being in an airport. Right. All of a sudden your mom thought, well, I’m okay to have a drink now, for whatever reason, who knows?
She probably could have told you why if you’d asked her.
Ari Whitten: Right. I’m sure she could tell me now, but yeah, but no idea what the reason is.
Erik Kerr: Yeah. But it’s interesting that, that that’s where she did it. And so really it’s, it’s not her thinking. I think I’ll have a drink now. It’s the brain saying, hey, we’re in an airport. You can have a drink now.
The biggest factors in overcoming and healing addiction
Ari Whitten: Right. Interesting. So when we’re talking about healing addiction, obviously we’ve covered. We’ve covered the fact that it’s… addiction is sort of by its very nature because it’s so addictive on a neurological and physiological level, it’s hard to overcome this. What are the biggest factors in overcoming addiction and healing addiction?
Erik Kerr: Well, fundamentally, our gut and the microbiome in our gut. 80 percent of the energy and the food that our frontal cortex gets, comes from our gut, the microbiome in our gut. So nutrition is huge because when we think about when we get really hungry, you know, people who suffer from addiction and go, there’s and go through alcoholics anonymous or you know, they’re struggling with heroin, they have this term called halt, right?
And so whenever they feel a craving or the relapse starting or the anxiety levels getting really high, they go through the halt sequence, which is, am I hungry? Am I angry? Am I lonely? what is the ”t”? I can’t remember what the tea is, I’ll think of it, but, but fundamentally am I hungry? I’m angry in my lonely. Oh, I wish I could remember the t right now and people listening to what?
They’re probably screaming at me right now, but that is all about just stopping and recognizing and saying, all right, if I’m hungry, get something to eat.
Ari Whitten: It’s Tiredness, by the way.
Erik Kerr: Tiredness, right? Yeah. So tiredness. If I’m tired, I will… Thank you for that. If I’m tired, take a nap, right? If I’m lonely, reach out to somebody for people. That’s why a sponsor is so huge because almost, I’m part of this group online called I’m a ”happy addicts” or ”grateful in recovery.” And I posed this question. I said, what are you doing when the cravings start coming on? And everybody said, call your sponsor, use halt, and they also say something called play the tape til the end because our brain is trying driving for the behavior now, but it doesn’t play the tape all the way to the end.
So if you are tempted to use heroin and your brain is saying we want that hit at that $5 bag of heroin, you need to play the tape all the way to the end. You know where that’s gonna go and you know the consequences that’s going to lead to so stops you.
So that gets into the whole mindfulness conversation, right? And being able to identify what your body and your brain and what your emotions and what your cravings are telling you right now, and just putting, just kind of a pause button on and saying, okay, why is this happening? What can I do to avert this?
Ari Whitten: Gotcha.
Erik Kerr: Did I answer your question? I can’t remember if I answered your question.
Why social support and community is essential to the success of an addict’s recovery
Ari Whitten: You did. Well, what other factors are there in the process of healing addiction? Like for example, where does a community and social support figure into this?
Erik Kerr: Yeah. So community is actually were, and it’s interesting because Dave Asprey is being on this Dr. Volkov of is big on this and she says ”fundamentally we are a, we were in a state of, of tribes and small communities much longer than we were in our current state, in the modern society”. You look at how much progress we’ve made in the last 200 years just in science and progress and technology and so forth. But before that we were, you know, our ancestors come from just small tribes where we as communities, we protected one another and we supported one another.
And so having community, we are not meant to be alone. It is not a healthy state. And so when we have positive relationships that will support us in our time of need and essentially be there to protect us, then that makes all the difference in the world.
I mean, you’ve probably heard this 100 times and I have too ”you are essentially of the makeup of the five people you hang around the most”.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Erik Kerr: So if they’re happier, you’re going to be happier. If there are people that are negative and use all the time, you’re probably going to be negative and use all the time too. And so there are people who will fundamentally change. And this is what a Benjamin Hardy says in his book, Willpower doesn’t work. If you want real change to happen, you have to change the environment and the people that you’re around potentially. Because we will fundamentally our brain chemistry, our body chemistry will change by the interactions, the personal and social interactions that we have.
Why nutrition and lifestyle are key to overcoming addiction
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Well said. how does nutrition and lifestyle figure into this and one aspect of addiction that I was hoping you’d talk about, and I know we chatted briefly about prior to the interview is how fatigue and energy relates to this and kind of it’s, it’s also part of the halt, you know, acronym is that tiredness part of things. so how does that figure in and then I don’t know if you want to tie in the nutrition and lifestyle component to this answer or if we treat that as a separate thing.
Erik Kerr: Yeah. And again I’m not you, you know more about this tonight to you. I would say I’m probably, but we know fundamentally and the experts talk about this and go into great detail on this. Digestive health is huge. Nutritional supplementing is huge. and that all ties in our ability to manage anxiety and essentially the more a cortisol we produce because of our anxiety states, the more energy the body and the brain have to use to fight that response.
And so the better balance we are nutritionally and supplemental wise, the more power we’re going to have to really fight off those states of anxiety. Fundamentally, that’s what it is. And you also look at sleeping patterns. have you ever gone into sleeping patterns now? Nutrition and sleeping patterns are connected?
Ari Whitten: Certainly. Yeah. And you know that, that’s one of the things that I’m, I’m sure, I don’t know if it’s even been studied, but I’m curious if people have looked at the relationships of circadian rhythm and Sleep Habits in relation to nutrition habits in relation to the process of overcoming addiction.
I mean it just, I can only imagine that if it were studied, it would certainly be proven to be hugely beneficial, but I don’t know.
Erik Kerr: It has been studied and that’s why this is one of the core foundations is sleep improvement, hormonal balancing, controlling systems, nutrition, supplementation, digestive health. Those are all, you know, addiction and all these things. That’s why there’s not one pill to solving this. That’s why the treatment centers don’t do a great job at doing this. They get them clean, but they don’t heal them. So in order to heal the body and the brain, we have to look at what’s going into our mouth.
Dr. Hyman goes into that quite a bit on the, on the summit, a Dave Asprey goes into it quite a bit on the summit, and it comes down to good fats, right, nuts, proteins, the right proteins. Those really give us, and fortify, our brain and our body to fight the cravings and the anxiety states that are going to drive to the addiction.
And we’re actually, but these are a lot of good questions in the truth is, there aren’t a lot of great answers right now, which is why we’re going. We actually partnered with the aura ring, and this is a, essentially a wearable that will study sleeping patterns and track sleep patterns that will track anxiety states, mood states and so forth.
And so we’re actually having a lot of treatment centers participate with us in this study. And essentially we’re just out to gather data so people who are going through treatment and getting clean. And then 60 to 90 days post-treatment, they’re going to wear the ring, we’re going to be surveying, we’re going to be looking at what affects nutritional supplementation, has, what are, what are their sleeping patterns like while they’re getting clean and in the treatment center versus having a good nutrition.
And there was a sign, there was a study done actually with, it was in a youth corrections, a facility where 200 of the can’t remember the exact number, but half of the kids who were putting up CBO and half of them were put on new supplementation, vitamin supplementation and the rate of aggression and anxiety and conflict went down by 30 percent just by changing supplementation.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Erik Kerr: You know, vitamin B, 12, all the basics. So that again, just tells us that when we’re in a weakened state, it’s harder.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Erik Kerr: It’s harder in everyday life if you’re not eating right.
Ari Whitten: Right. How have you seen any specific research on exercise and the process of curing addiction?
Erik Kerr: Yeah, actually exercise. That was one of the big things that came up when, when I asked the question to the community is, what do you do when the craving start and almost half of them said hit the gym. Right. And so there is a lot of positive science around the chemical boost that you will get from exercise. it will essentially distract the brain and spike those chemical responses within your body and the brain that are healthy responses that give you the dopamine and the really positive boost in the chemicals that are gonna help you not have cravings, right? You are just more fortified against addiction.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. to more specific things or I guess it’s one, one more. We can treat it as one. I’m curious if you have seen or you’re a fan of any of the research you’re excited by any of the research around either ketamine or Ibogaine in anti-addiction treatments.
Erik Kerr: I am excited about it actually. There’s a lot of science that is proving that that’s highly effective. I’m very good friends with, some of the… Well, Dr. Dan Engle, who’s also a speaker on the summit, had runs, has I think a managed thousands of Ibogaine treatments down in South America. So I’m hopeful and the reason I sound kind of hesitant is… What I’m looking at is, you know, there are very, very few people like, I mean if you look at 11,2% of all people even get into treatment centers, as crappy as most of them are, right? How many are going to be able to have access around Ibogaine? So there’s a lot.
I know that psychedelics are scientifically been proven to be very, very helpful. And in places like Canada and Europe and other countries, they’re opening up the regulations, but right now in the US, you know, those things will not be accessed legally in the, in the foreseeable future. It may be, gosh, a decade or two decades. but I actually asked that of Dr. Volkov of the National Institute on Drug Addiction. I asked her about psychedelics and she says, well, we don’t have enough science yet to prove that it’s going to be something that’ll make a big difference.
Ari Whitten: I wonder, and this is just my kind of with a little bit of. I’m definitely not a conspiracy theorist by any means, but as one little shred of a, what a conspiracy theorist might say is I wonder if that attitude would be different if the same compound were created by pharmaceutical companies and there was research showing and it was being used in clinics around the world with remarkable anti-addictive results.
I mean, getting people clean of heroin or I forget what morphine and some of these other serious drug addictions, with just a few treatments. I mean, I have to imagine that if this, if that kind of result was being created by a drug made by pharmaceutical company, people would be hailing it as a miracle drug and being like, we got to rush this through FDA approval to get this widely used by people. But who knows, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe that’s just conspiracy theorist.
Erik Kerr: I don’t think it’s conspiracy theory, I think that I’m just…. look at what happened with the opiates. I mean that’s the answer is obviously yes. I think the battle that they have against these kinds of drugs and these kinds of solutions around psychedelics is historically as a country we’ve got some very bad press from the sixties.
And because a highly conservative state we were in in the sixties when everybody was kind of open free love and everybody was dosing and you know, just going to the extreme. We know that psychedelics and LSD were used in government testing, right? And military testing and they had really bad results because they didn’t know what they were doing and so it’s Kinda like asking with what we know now around opiates are opiates bad?
No, if managed and distributed properly, but they haven’t been right. And so in the sixties it was available but we didn’t do it right and it all blew up.
So that’s kind of like asking in 10 years, do you ever think that we’ll go back to opiates if it ever gets, you know, pull off the shelf? Well, the pharmaceutical company is fundamentally won’t let that happen because we have ever more powerful opiates like fentanyl patches, just a whiff or a little powder on your arm can kill you now. But that’s being distributed. So I, I think that historically as a country, the US is going to be very tightly gripped on that.
But if there’s a way, I think fundamentally the pharmaceutical companies will figure that out, but there’s a very big groundswell around out of all the experts that I interviewed, everybody was fundamentally on the same page around nutrition, around community, functional healing, you know, and back, you know, a couple of years ago, this was all really woo woo stuff.
But we’re talking to people who, the National Institute on drug addiction, we’re talking to people at Harvard talking to people at Stanford. They’re studying mindfulness. They’re starting to talk a lot about psychedelics. There’s, I mean, so this is not a, it’s, you know, it’s coming. It’s coming for sure.
Three things to be aware of when dealing with addiction
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Do you have, is, is there any other key factor that you want to mention as thing and being role here and maybe you can wrap up because we’re coming to the end of our time here. You can wrap up by kind of giving maybe your top three sort of things to be aware of or top three factors for people to be mindful of if they are currently dealing with addiction either in themselves or someone very close to them. What are the top three things that you would like to communicate to that person?
Erik Kerr: Addiction. First of all, thank you for the question. Thank you for the time. This has been really a lot of fun and I certainly appreciate this. Hopefully this has been useful to you and your audience.
Ari Whitten: Definitely.
Erik Kerr: And fundamentally it’s, you know, you’re probably recognizing this is the same stuff we’re already talking about, right? we know what the healing natures are. We know how our brain and our body will respond to certain things. This is just a highly extreme state of that, right? It’s, and so we can manage it and we can heal. I would say fundamentally the purse, if you have somebody, the summit, the healing addiction summit that, that we put on is for family members and loved ones of people who suffer from addiction. Because if you look at the number of people that actually get at the treatment centers, and then the number of people who will relapse, everybody goes back home.
Everybody’s home, right? So largest healthcare support population are family members and loved ones of these people who are suffering, they don’t know how to do it. So I would talk very specifically to them and I would say you have to, as much as you possibly can, don’t take things personally. Right?
You have to have empathy, love and patience. But that doesn’t mean I’m empowering them or supporting them in their addiction either. But just understand that fundamentally this is a broken brain, right? This is something that is like somebody who’s had a stroke. And the sooner you can identify patterns that show addiction, which is reduction in social interaction, you know, maybe some lying, these, these are early warning signs. You know, if somebody is going to do something to the extent that they’re trying to sneak it, or you know, it’s like a kid going down saying he’s going to bed, but then he plays four hours gaming at night, right?
Are they doing that with food? Are they doing that with alcohol or they do and you know, these are the early indicators. And don’t be afraid to have the conversation, right? And have love and empathy for them because I promise you the individual who’s suffering is really beating themselves up right now.
But the end of the road, particularly if it’s a drug like heroin or particularly if it’s a drug like opiates, these are very, if nothing is done, the end result is death. They’re going to die. And that’s just something that is happening every day. It’s happening with high school kids. It’s happening with moms, it’s happening with dads. It’s not in the inner city anymore.
This is happening every day and every part of our culture. It’s happening to governors, daughter’s kids. so it’s everywhere, but you have to have empathy, you have to have love. And we talk a lot about that on parenting skills. We talk about empathy conversations, how to have the conversation, how to forgive, what nutrition looks like. There’s so many that you have to. So many things that you have to take into consideration.
The Healing Addiction Summit
Ari Whitten: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well said. you have a summit coming up that is the healing addiction summit. I’m going to be promoting this. I’m going to be sending out an email to everyone in my audience, but also for everyone listening, we’re going to have a link to sign up for that summit at theenergyblueprint.com/addiction/. can you talk a bit about why people should attend that summit and also what does it cost anything? Is it free? What’s the deal with that?
Erik Kerr: Yeah. So some of it is absolutely free and we have 38 of the world’s leading, literally the world’s leading experts on addiction. And this is everything that we’ve kind of talked about that I’ve talked to the extent that I can talk about it because I’m not an expert, a deep expert in everything. I essentially played the role that you played with me with actual people who are super, super good at the conversation and know all the science behind it. But does is parenting have to do with it? What does nutrition have to do with it?
We talked to Kevin Briggs who was a sheriff in his beat, was the, the Golden Gate Bridge. And we talk about how do you have a conversation with somebody who’s on the other side of the rail. Who just needs to let go and drop 400 feet to their deaths. Like how do you get them back over out of 200 people, he got 198 people to come back over the rail on their own. So we talked them down. So we talk about what happened with the two conversations where somebody like goes. And what it fundamentally comes down to is the lack of human connection, making that reconnection and also establishing some level of hope for that individual because in a very, very dark room, one pinprick of light will make all the difference and can give direction. And Hope,
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Erik Kerr: So we go into things like that as well. So, if you’re a parent, if you’re a friend, if you’re somebody who’s in Redux, you know, recovery, if you’re a clinician who is trying to support individuals, clinicians, they don’t have a lot of resources on family, on parenting, on communication. And we go into all of that.
Ari Whitten: Wonderful. Well, it sounds awesome. I’m going to be watching and listening inattentively. Thank you so much. As a parent myself, you know, I, I think that gives me extra incentive. My son is two years old and obviously he’s not addicted to anything yet, but I think it’s good to know in advance the aspects of parenting that are going to help my son avoid any sort of addiction.
At least certainly the most harmful ones. Maybe he’ll be addicted to video games or something like that, like I was as a teenager. But, this has been an absolute pleasure, Eric, and I highly recommend that everyone go and sign up for your summit. We’re going to have the link again at theenergyblueprint.com/addiction. Thank you so much eric. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I look forward to having another conversation with you sometime soon.
Erik Kerr: Thank you. Really, really appreciate it. It was a real pleasure to participate and if I help people attend the summit, it’ll be very helpful. Just in general. If you’re a human being, there’s a lot of good information there.
Ari Whitten: Most definitely. All right, take care. Thanks again.
Erik Kerr: Thank you. Bye. Bye.
The Healing Addiction Summit – How To Treat Addiction Successfully And Naturally with Erik Kerr – Show Notes
What the term addiction means (4:52)
Is it willpower that determines whether one can overcome addiction or not? (10:30)
Why relapse rates are high (14:45)
The main factors that drive addiction (17:20)
Alcohol and food addiction (27:00)
The biggest factors in overcoming and healing addiction (34:53)
Why social support and community is essential to the success of an addict’s recovery (38:04)
Why nutrition and lifestyle are key to overcoming addiction ( 40:04)
Anti-addiction treatments (45:30)
Three things to be aware of when dealing with addiction (50:37)
The Healing Addiction Summit (54:34)