In part 3 of a 3-part series,the Coleman Institute's executive director, Amanda Pitts, and National Medical Director, Peter Coleman, join Cindy Stumpo on her podcast "Tough as Nails" on iHeart Radio to discuss addiction, treatment, and long-term recovery.

Stumpo and her team contacted the Coleman Institute after hearing about a patient's Alcohol Detox experience at Wellesley, MA, location to hear more about his journey. This patient realized that people might not know that an outpatient detox treatment program is available to them. This podcast episode share's the patient's drive to ensure those suffering from Substance Use Disorder or Alcohol Use Disorder have the information they need to make an informed decision about what treatment program is best for them to live a life free from addiction.

Have you missed part 2? You can catch up here.



 

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Tough As Nails Podcast: Dealing With Addiction On The Job Part 3

Announcer:

Cindy Stumpo's a general contractor. Look. Whatever happens between the roof and the foundation. For 25 years and counting, Stumpo's been building houses and shattering stereotypes. Building a home and building a life. This is my show and this is where we're going. Cindy Stumpo is Tough as Nails.

Cindy Stumpo:

And welcome to Cindy Stumpo, Tough As Nails, on WBZ NewsRadio 1030. And we are going down a third evening, a third Saturday night of talking about dealing with addiction on the job, dealing with addiction in life, just dealing with addiction. I'm happy that Rob Zavaruka could come back again. My daughter Samantha, is always here, my right arm, Amanda Pitts and Dr. Coleman. And we need to end this because we did one episode, we didn't get to a final, the second episode, we didn't get to the final, and we probably won't get to a final tonight, either, but at least we'll give more information to more people.

I left this off with you, Doc, last Saturday night that I felt the system of drug, alcoholism, and all these that we have is a flawed system. And right up our backyard here in Boston, there's the Coleman Institute, right?

Tell me this, why is the system so flawed? What is the problem that people don't want to put money behind this? I know when I'm out raising money for battered women and children and drug addiction, for 35 years I've been doing that. It's been the hardest way to raise money. Now it's not, but it was for so long. It was like a taboo, no one wanted to give to those, but they'll give to breast cancer, they'll give to this, the politicians, but no one wanted to help this. Tell me why the system's so flawed.

Dr. Coleman:

The main reason, I think, and I don't even know that the system is as flawed as you're saying, but all I know is that the main problem with drug addiction and alcoholism is we're dealing with the most primitive part of the brain that wants to get dopamine. So our natural brain wants to get dopamine when we eat food and have sex. That's for survival, that's for the survival of the person and the survival of the species. Those are so deeply ingrained, it's like breathing. It's like keeping your heart beating. It's automatic. Drugs overpower that. They are so strong, they're five times as strong as the brain was ever meant to get.

More like this: What Is Dopamine & How Does It Keep Me Using Opioids?

And so, when a person who's genetically vulnerable gets that dopamine spike, they will pretty much do anything to keep it going. And so, we're battling against that. And when you look at the problem of people battling obesity, you see how difficult that is, even though they want to stop eating. Cigarette smoking is the same way. So, it's really hard to help people get off drugs and stay off drugs. Patients need to put a hundred percent commitment into their recovery. If they don't put a hundred percent commitment, they usually fail. That might be this week, it might be next month, it might be a year or two, but it's really hard.

And part of the problem we were talking about, the other addiction, sex addiction, and gambling and stuff, those things don't actually poison your brain with chemicals. When we're talking about drug addiction and alcoholism, you've got the very chemicals that your brain is craving and can't stand not having are also poisoning your brain to damage brain circuits, damage memory circuits, damage stress levels, damage your ability to deal with emotions and stress. It's really complicated.

And, in some ways, it's a miracle anybody stops drinking and taking drugs. So that's part of the problem. And up against that, we put all of our treatment programs. And treatment programs can do a lot, they can educate, they can motivate. As you said, they can lead horses to water, but they can't make them stay drinking the water, so it's a very difficult nut to crack.

More like this: Detoxing off Opioids: 5 Things That Could Stop You

Cindy Stumpo:

Well, I love that delivery, because that was about as honest and as authentic as it gets, right? It really is. And most doctors don't talk that way. They would be saying, "Oh, come to the Coleman Institute. We're going to get you clean, and we're going to pump you up. It's time to pump you up," and make you believe like this is never going to, it's going to go away. So, your honesty and your transparency are really awesome. You made a remark and I'm just trying to educate myself, a dopamine spike, what does that actually mean? Like just something spike-

Dr. Coleman:

That means is that-

Cindy Stumpo:

... spikes in the brain that says...

Dr. Coleman:

Yes. Yes, yes. When people satisfy those basic needs for food and sex, their brain in this, what's called the ventral tegmental area, the nucleus accumbens, but I just call it the pleasure center. Your brain actually releases dopamine and that feels amazing. I mean, frankly, that's what an orgasm is. That's what it's like when you've been on a diet and you eat a Ben and Jerry's ice cream. I mean, it feels amazingly good. And drugs, all addictive drugs, release dopamine in the pleasure center. That's why they're addictive. That's how we know they're addictive.

If a new drug's coming out, the FDA will do tests to see, does it release dopamine in the pleasure center? And if it does, it's an addictive drug. If it doesn't, like antidepressants, Prozac, stuff like that, it's not an addictive drug. So all addictive drugs give you that dopamine spike. That's what we like about them. They feel amazing. You talk to someone who's used IV heroin or fentanyl or cocaine, they will tell you that it's the most amazing experience they've ever had in their life. There's nothing that will compare to it.

And so, that then immediately sends messages to the thinking part of the brain, to the memory circuits, to all the other parts, that says, "I value this. I want to keep doing this. I don't want to be stupid, I don't want to go to jail, I don't want to overdose, but I sure want keep doing it." And that's what addiction is. It's that a vulnerable brain that was born with a little deficiency of the dopamine gets that dopamine spike, and then the brain, the thinking part, the decision-making part says, this has a lot of what we call salience is the word that we use, meaning we value it a lot.

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay, Doc, so you explained what a dopamine spike is. So my next question is, so look, we can go back to 1978, 1980, where they said cocaine was not an addictive drug, right?

Dr. Coleman:

Right.

Cindy Stumpo:

It was a mental stimulator. You're never going to become addicted to it. Well, that turned out to be wrong, right? Because cocaine is another drug that is addicting. But when does the brain say, when does a person say to themselves, "I could die now in 2022 snorting a line of cocaine," were in 1979 or '78, that was probably next to impossible to do, unless you already had an underlying problem. Right? When does the brain say, "If I have these drinks, I get drunk and I get behind the wheel of a car and I kill myself, my children will be left without a father or a mother." Where's that part of the brain kick in?

Or, as you said, the gambler is not physically addicted to something that's going to cause them long-term effects, but they'll go broke and they'll lose everything they have. And I once read an article that people that play slot machines is like doing cocaine. Now, I don't know if that's true or not, but it's something I read. It's the same feeling. But I'm asking, where's the part of the brain that triggers up and says, "Okay, this isn't good." Does that part of the brain just go away for addicts? I mean, explain that to me. There's a right and a wrong, there's a moral compass, right?

More like this: Fentanyl in Cocaine: The Deadly Pairing

Dr. Coleman:

Right. The brain gets damaged by the chemical use that you're, that the person's using. And we know their creativity starts going down, their options start going down. They start seeing the world with a more of a singular focus, like, "I want to keep drinking because it feels so good." And then withdrawal starts kicking in, so I start feeling horrible if I don't have it. And so, when little thoughts come in, like, "Oh, this is hurting my wife, or this is, I'm drinking on the job," yes, it's there, but it's pushed to the back because it's like, "I can't stop. I don't want to stop. I like this too much."

So, little voices can come in. And one of your earlier questions was how does that eventually get through to your brain that this is horrible. And it's really hard. There was a book called, I'll Quit Tomorrow, because people were always just saying, "Well, yes, it's bad, " but it's what we call minimizing. It's like, "It's bad, but it's not that bad and I'll stop tomorrow," or whatever they tell themselves. So the human brain has an amazing capacity for rationalizing stuff and explaining away things, and it's often not till they stop and look back and they go, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe I used to think like-

Cindy Stumpo:

All right, hold that thought for minute. We're just going to break, break, break, break, break, break. I'm Cindy Stumpo. You're listening to Tough As Nails on WBZ News Radio 1030. Be right back.

Cindy Stumpo:

And welcome back to Tough As Nails on WBZ NewsRadio 1030. And I'm Cindy. I'm here with Sammie, I'm here with Rob, I'm here with Amanda, I'm here with Dr. Coleman. Dr. Coleman finish what you were saying. I'm sorry.

Dr. Coleman:

Yeah. So the process of somebody coming to terms with the fact that they've got a problem and that it's totally serious, and they've got to deal with it, it's almost one of surrender. It's an interesting process. It's almost like someone, maybe an abused wife, has got a very abusive husband, and it's horrible and she gets beaten, but she always forgives him and goes back. But at some point, she takes the courage that it's going to be less painful in the future than... I mean, she's got to put up with the pain of leaving and the loneliness and the potential of how, all that sort of stuff. And for everybody, that's a different process.

One of my favorite stories is a friend of mine who's a surgeon, and he was drinking too much and it was really horrible. And his wife was upset and he was starting to affect his job. And he got pulled over for driving drunk. And he said, while the cop was walking to his car, the only thought he had was, "Thank God. Now I've got to stop." He was so happy to get that DUI because he knew he would have to stop. And he couldn't have done that on his own. And that was just really instructive to me.

On a personal note, I've been in recovery and 1984. I had a drug overdose and went to rehab, and because I was a doctor, I had to stay there for four months. I had never once thought to myself, "I drink too much," or, "I do drugs too much." I just thought I was a party animal and I was totally in control. When I was in rehab and got the education, I had to look honestly at my life and my brain started cleaning out a little bit, I could look back and see all this evidence that was crystal clear that I'd been messing up for years. I was 28 and I'd been over-doing it since I was 18, but I'd always got away with it. I always had reasons or all sorts of excuses.

Fortunately, I had to stay in rehab for long enough and I had a clean enough brain at that point to see reality, where I could realize not only was I incredibly unhappy and that drugs were never going to make me happy, but I could also see the other side, which is, that if I just gave up one thing, getting high, that I could have a fabulous, happy life. And here I am 37 years later just having, it's been fun. You know? So, what allows people to get to that point, I don't know. That's one of our big jobs that Amanda and I try to help our patients is, how can we help them see that reality that life is going to be so good if you don't drink and drug, and it ain't going nowhere if you do.

Cindy Stumpo:

And for kids, young kids, out there, parents that are listening, it's for me, as a mom, has been the scariest thing, worrying about if my kids are going to get into drugs and alcohol. Sammie, do you ever think you're an alcoholic?

More like this: 5 Things To Remember If Your Kid Is Using Heroin and The Myth of the ‘Functioning Alcoholic’

Samantha:

No.

Cindy Stumpo:

No. You here with us?

Samantha:

Yeah.

Cindy Stumpo:

But you'll drink.

Samantha:

I've maybe been drunk once in the past four months.

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay. So, what's drunk to you?

Samantha:

When, I mean, I don't drink a lot, so more than three and I'm drunk.

Cindy Stumpo:

And do you like that feeling?

Samantha:

No.

Cindy Stumpo:

So, why do you do it?

Samantha:

It's an in-the-moment situation?

Cindy Stumpo:

It's an in-the-moment situation, Doc. Is that a normal answer? Because I've never had a drink in my life, I don't know. I'm being sincere.

Dr. Coleman:

It is for the 90%-

Cindy Stumpo:

I'll let you know when I'm not being sincere and being very cocky.

Dr. Coleman:

Yeah. That's-

Cindy Stumpo:

So-

Samantha:

[crosstalk] population.

Dr. Coleman:

... a very normal reaction for people who don't have the genetic vulnerability. They just don't like it that much.

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay. And my attitude is, if you don't try it, you'll never know. So I've lived my life like that. I'm 57 years old and I've never had a glass of alcohol. And I worked the nightlife. My father owned nightclubs, I worked the nightlife and I just watched how people behaved, and I said, "Well, that's not going to work for me." So, I always said to my kids, "If you don't try it, then you won't know if you like it or don't like it." But I guess they don't listen. They're going to do what they want to do. But for parents that are listening, does the Coleman Institute work with teenagers or just adults?

Amanda Pitts:

Just adults.

Cindy Stumpo:

So it's just adults. And when they call about their... Well, what's an adult by the way?

Amanda Pitts:

18.

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay, so 18 is an adult, right? 14, 15, 16, we can still punish them and do, "You're locked in your room. You can't come out, whatever. You're punished," whatever. But 18, you do take them. Is it harder to get somebody at 18, 19, 20, in their early 20s, mid-20s, to get them clean over somebody that's in their 50s or 60s? Or it doesn't matter at that point? Because-

Dr. Coleman:

No, it's a lot more difficult.

Cindy Stumpo:

... I would be in the 50s and 60s, you're getting tired of being tired. Which way is more difficult?

Dr. Coleman:

Yeah. It's a lot more difficult when people are young. In fact, the sweet spot is late 20s. Because-

Cindy Stumpo:

Oh, thank you.

Dr. Coleman:

... when you're dealing with a teenager or early adult, they're young enough, they haven't accumulated enough negative consequences where they can really look and say, "Wow, this is an obvious problem," and their brain hasn't fully matured-

Cindy Stumpo:

Don't have a lot to lose, if anything either.

Dr. Coleman:

... yet, which tends to happen around age 25. But in the late-20s and 30s-

Cindy Stumpo:

What happens at [inaudible]?

Dr. Coleman:

Yep.

Cindy Stumpo:

I lost you. What happens at 25?

Dr. Coleman:

There's a lot of evidence now that the frontal lobes, decision-making, and other parts of the brain aren't fully formed until age 25. And so, someone said it the other day, when you're a teenager, you've got all the accelerator to, and the drive to want to go fast, but you don't have the brakes too, and the wisdom to not to.

Cindy Stumpo:

And then what happens 28, 29 30, do they start looking at their lives like it's time to grow up?

Dr. Coleman:

Yes, yes, exactly. At that age, you can see the pattern pretty clearly and it's time to grow up. And you also know that if you get this right, if you do this one, give up this one thing, which is getting high, alcohol or drugs, then you're going to be able to figure out pretty much everything else. And everything else is going to go pretty well, a good job, good relationships, everything.

Cindy Stumpo:

And that the adult, they're just so tired of being. They get to an age in their 50s and 60s that they're just tired of being tired.

Dr. Coleman:

Yes. There are good success rates all the way. Maybe, eventually, people in their 70s and stuff like that, maybe start giving up because what's the point? I've certainly seen that a few times. But with some good rehab and good treatment, most people can still, even if they're getting older and their life expectancy isn't that high, they still would much rather live it sober than be drunk. And you're also hoping, of course, that there isn't enough accumulated brain damage from that, those years and years and years of drinking where it's really hard for them to get into recovery.

More like this: Over 60? 3 Great Reasons to Stop Drinking Now and Over Sixty, Finally Sober: An Interview With An Alcohol Detox Patient

Cindy Stumpo:

Doc, before I let you go, I'll finish up with Amanda and Rob, and I know you got to take a phone call. My last question to you is this, how much damage to the brain does alcohol do? Long-term effect? Alzheimer's, any of that? Slows down the brain or just destroys the liver? I mean, what does it do? I know it does the body physically, what does it do to the body mentally?

More like this: Alcohol Use Disorder: Easy to Meet Criteria

Dr. Coleman:

Yeah, alcohol is a very toxic substance. It's the sort of thing that cowboys would dip their knives and alcohol to kill all the bugs, and we use it to wipe down and get rid of viruses and bacteria. And in high doses, it damages liver cells, pancreas cells, brain cells, nerve cells, and everything. And so, the amount that someone drinks and the length predicts how much brain damage there is. Most people tolerate it incredibly well.

I always heard growing up that you kill a hundred brain cells every time you drink. And that's probably not too far from the truth. Most people are born with overcapacity of their brain, so if they lose 10% of their brain, they don't even notice because the brain's an amazing organ. But over time, that starts getting worse and worse. And so, when people are in those later decades, then we will see a form of Alzheimer's, called alcohol dementia, and that's really hard to come back from because-

Cindy Stumpo:

So there is alcohol dementia? That was my question.

Dr. Coleman:

Yeah.

Cindy Stumpo:

So it does, it does. It can cause dementia, just like any other drug out there.

Dr. Coleman:

Yes. Yes.

Cindy Stumpo:

And especially if that runs in your family, that can fast pace it. All right, Doc, I want to finish up with Amanda and Rob. I'm going to let you go. I know you got to get up to your meeting. Thank you so much for everything. And we're going to finish off with, like I said, Amanda and Rob. And we're going to go off to break. I'm Cindy Stumpo and you're listening to Tough As Nails on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

Cindy Stumpo:

And welcome back to Tough As Nails on WBZ NewsRadio 1030. And I'm Cindy, and I'm here with Sammie, I'm here with Rob, here with Amanda. And Dr. Coleman, I'm sorry, had to take a call where?

Amanda Pitts:

Oh, he's somewhere in Asia.

Cindy Stumpo:

Oh, okay. Okay. Because I'm like, well, five hours ahead, that'll bring us to 2:00 in the morning, but people have meetings all the time. Okay, anyways, Amanda, let's take off. Let's go where we left with Rob, okay? Let's go back to Rob. Rob? After all this talk three, we're going on a third Saturday night, do you want to leave and go drink or do you want to stay clean? When you last told us.

Rob Zavaruka:

Of course, I want to leave and stay clean, but I wanted to reiterate and piggyback what Dr. Coleman said that the work really begins after you got clean. Coleman's does a great job getting you there and they do a great job staying with you. But unless you put the effort in to stay clean and you make that a priority, you're not going to ever do it. And-

More like this: Taking the First Step in Your Recovery Journey

Cindy Stumpo:

Well, how do you do it?

Rob Zavaruka:

I go to my AA classes.

Cindy Stumpo:

And how many times a week?

Rob Zavaruka:

I go three times. I do three at night, and three in the morning.

Cindy Stumpo:

So, wow. Hold on, you're doing six classes a day, I mean, a week.

Rob Zavaruka:

A week, correct.

Cindy Stumpo:

Still?

Rob Zavaruka:

And that's still not enough, to be honest with you. If I wasn't in business, I should be doing it more.

Cindy Stumpo:

Really?

Rob Zavaruka:

Really. And it's the only way that... I mean, you can go, you can take all the medicine in the world, it doesn't work. It helps you, but the effort is in making it your number one priority. And for me, it's so hard for me to go out the door at 5:30 to go to my AA class when I got a pile of customers that are looking for me to make phone calls back. What I wanted to say, too-

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Cindy Stumpo:

Well, I want to ask you that question, how do you sit in that meeting at 5:30 in the morning, 6:00 in the morning, knowing you got a-

Rob Zavaruka:

No-

Cindy Stumpo:

... a bunch of guys out there working, hold on, and you got billing to do, and you got to talk to, and you got a wreck, and it's a 45 and collects money. I know everything you got to do, Rob. And you actually go in that meeting and turn all that off and just listen to the speakers or speak?

Rob Zavaruka:

You pick and choose what you want to listen to, and that's one thing you learn at AA. Not everything works for you and not everything, you don't understand everything.

Cindy Stumpo:

No. My question was this, you're an owner of a company, right?

Rob Zavaruka:

Do I shut it off?

Cindy Stumpo:

How do you, especially. I know construction at 6:00 in the morning, and our brains are already ticking at 300 miles an hour. We got to place guys, the snow, call a day, rain, move, go inside, go outside. You're moving around guys like chess, like if you're playing chess. How do you go into a meeting that early in the morning and just shut it down?

Rob Zavaruka:

I don't. I have to keep... My mind works the same as yours. I'm thinking, but I'm trying to get what I can get out of that particular moment. If somebody says something interesting, I have to listen to it. And I know I can go back to my work. But you know-

Cindy Stumpo:

So my question is when you walk in that meeting-

Rob Zavaruka:

Yeah.

Cindy Stumpo:

... does Rob Zavaruka, the union guy, the guy that owns a union company, the guy that's in the union since I don't know, 18 years old, the guy that's running crews out there, the guy that's doing it all out there, when he walks into that meeting, does he shut the world off behind him to be able to stay clean from alcohols?

Rob Zavaruka:

Not completely, and that's the struggle I have.

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay.

Rob Zavaruka:

Okay? But one thing I wanted to also say is, on one of the previous segments was that if you... Status has a lot to do with sobriety, too, and in admitting your disease. For me, it was status. Rob Zavaruka, never be the guy that drank or never the guy with a problem. Well, Rob Zavaruka finally had to come out of the closet, and that was the very hardest thing I think I've ever done in my life.

And once I did that, even though I've had a few relapses, it's enabled me to put up my hand and said, "I'm not giving up. I'm going back. I'm going to make myself healthy." Had I not ever come to that point where I admitted it, God knows where I'd be today. So it is all about effort. It just never, ever goes away. From all the people that I deal with 30 years sober and everything, they tell you it gets better. I haven't got to that point, obviously, nor will I ever.

Cindy Stumpo:

Why do you say that?

Rob Zavaruka:

Maybe I will maybe I'll make it to a hundred. But the point is that it's, I had to learn the hard way, and the hard way is until you are ready to make a complete conviction to making yourself healthy, you will never get there, and that's just a fact. It's a hard fact, but it's a true fact. And you have, you can use everything. You can use the professionals, like the Coleman people, you can use AA and all that stuff, but you have to have the will to survive.

Cindy Stumpo:

It's like going and eating right and working out. And if you don't, you can talk about it all day long, "I want to lose 10 pounds, I want to go to the gym," but if you'll and implement it and don't make it part of your everyday life, it's never going to happen, right?

Rob Zavaruka:

Right. And what Dr. Coleman said about that book, I'll Do It Tomorrow?

Cindy Stumpo:

Yeah.

Rob Zavaruka:

It's always, that's so true.

Cindy Stumpo:

But here's the problem I have. You and I are so built so much alike. There's no tomorrow with you and me. We don't even like the word tomorrow. We've always been getting it done today out here. Let's get it done today. I don't want to hear about tomorrow. Tomorrow, we're going to have another laundry list of problems. Get it done today. But you don't take that advice. You don't run your personal life the way you run your business life.

Rob Zavaruka:

I tried-

Cindy Stumpo:

And I run mine either, by the way.

Rob Zavaruka:

No, I try to, Cin, but the problem is work-

Cindy Stumpo:

That's how you know he's known me for a long time, he calls me Cin.

Rob Zavaruka:

Yeah.

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay, go ahead.

Rob Zavaruka:

But work is, even though it's an addiction, it's not the same type of addiction.

Cindy Stumpo:

Oh, am I addicted to work?

Rob Zavaruka:

You absolutely are.

Cindy Stumpo:

Are you addicted to work?

Rob Zavaruka:

Absolutely am. I'm addicted to work and I think part of my addiction is work and has caused my alcoholism to continue because I think it, at the end of the day, when everything is really built up, the pressure, uncompleted things, customers not paying me, chasing money. Easiest thing to do is go after that dopamine and that's the alcohol.

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay. But when that pressure gets too much on you, you tell me maybe an antidepressant when... Amanda, that doesn't help people that are under so much stress the way he is under a lot of stress? He's not the guy that goes to work from 9:00 to 5:00 and comes home and, "Hey, the day's over." Doesn't work that way. I know, I'm in the same industry, just a different field. Right? And I was in the industry with him. We could go till 10:00, 11:00 at night and keep going. And we'd want to go until our desks were cleared off, after being in the field all day.

So, our boots are on the ground, then they're in the office doing paperwork. And trust me, Rob can go seven days a week, seven nights a week and the work still never catches up. You're never going to get caught up. And I think that part of knowing Rob the way I know Rob and me is that we're both also control freaks, so that doesn't help the situation either, right? So now, you have a person that's a control freak. No one does anything... like Rob. Rob's going to be there to do everything and then take care of Rob. So don't antidepressants help with a guy like Rob, or not?

Amanda Pitts:

Well, to back up, I mean, I think it's about retraining of the brain, right? So, Rob-

Cindy Stumpo:

No, it's actually hard to retrain brains at our age.

Amanda Pitts:

I mean, Rob has used alcohol at that at the end of the day, after a really high-pressure job, the alcohol use for him is like that relief, right? It's numbing the feelings, the anxiety, whatever's going on for him. We really try to help people to come up with different coping strategies, and healthier coping strategies so that you can still find that sense of relief by doing it in a different way.

Cindy Stumpo:

Give me an example.

Amanda Pitts:

Well, some people like to take walks, they like to go to the gym, and they like to practice mindfulness.

Cindy Stumpo:

He's always used to go to the gym. I don't know now, but he was always a workout nut. Now?

Rob Zavaruka:

No, not so much.

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay. How many-

Rob Zavaruka:

Not because I don't want to. COVID played a lot on this, too. You get away from the gym, but I'm slowly getting myself back on my bike and refocusing and using that, retraining my brain, so to speak. So, I'm getting back into it, because I'm working on the program and understanding that if I get back into top shape like I used to be, it's going to make my recovery a lot easier going forward. So, there are so many little tricks and deviations. I'm still flying my plane a lot. So, if I want to give up, if I want to continue to drink-

Cindy Stumpo:

Thank God I have never gotten that plane with you. I didn't even know you were drinking back then. So that was good. I'm afraid of planes. I'm glad I didn't get on that plane with you.

Rob Zavaruka:

No, I really wasn't at that point. But so what-

Cindy Stumpo:

No, it seems like the best days of your life, when you were hanging with me, okay? I'm not taking any credit here, but like, let's call it what it was.

Rob Zavaruka:

Sure. But no-

Cindy Stumpo:

I'm playing.

Rob Zavaruka:

... so, if I want to give up on flying, I cannot be drinking, obviously. So I'm using every tool in my bag that is like Dr. Coleman said, sobriety is a much better life. And when I have been sober, my life is 10 times better and I'm happier, healthier, and sleeping better. It all, it's just, it's a trade. What do you want? Do you want to be successful and healthy or do you want to be living miserably? It's just a trade-off and you have to cross that line and say, "It's time. I got to do it, and if I do relapse, I got to get back on my horse and do it again."

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay. All right, hold that thought, everybody. I'm Cindy Stumpo and you're listening to Tough As Nails on WBZ NewsRadio 1030. Be right back.

Cindy Stumpo:

And welcome back to Tough As Nails on WBZ NewsRadio 1030. And I'm here with Sammie, I'm here with Rob, and I'm here with Amanda. Amanda, I have a good question for you. Is there any correlation between alcoholics that we have found and drug users? Is there some personality besides the lack of dopamine that we talked about? Do you ever see a correlation after talking to certain people? Let me set you an example.

I have panic attacks. I meet people with panic attacks. There's nothing, I have nothing in common with them. They're not outgoing, they're not... I can't find somebody that I can say, "Wow, that's me," or read a book and go, "Wow, that's me." I'm waiting for that moment to happen, but it hasn't happened yet.

But I do see that people that have them, when I read these books and I listen to their stories, I can see the common areas of their personalities, what they're like. And some are very introverted, it seems like, a lot don't know how to express themselves, they don't know how to release and tell how they're feeling. Is there anything that you guys have found besides the dopamine aspect of alcoholism and drug addiction? Is there a personality trait?

Amanda Pitts:

I mean, outside of the genetic piece?

Cindy Stumpo:

Right.

Amanda Pitts:

I think that you see all different personality types.

Cindy Stumpo:

Doesn't matter.

Amanda Pitts:

No, it doesn't discriminate.

Cindy Stumpo:

There's no puzzle.

Amanda Pitts:

Not that I'm aware of.

Cindy Stumpo:

That you're aware. Okay. And Rob, how long has it been since, the length of time that you've stayed clean, what's been your longest length?

Rob Zavaruka:

Completely clean, little over nine months.

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay. Now, if Rob decided to smoke pot now and not drink, would the Coleman Institute say, "Well, that's bad to do, because you're going from one to another."

More like this: Is Pot Safe?

Amanda Pitts:

We would provide education on any type of a substance that people are using, especially if they're using it to numb feelings or they're using it in a maladaptive type of way. So, would absolutely look at that as education. Would we say we would no longer continue to see Rob? Absolutely not.

Cindy Stumpo:

No, but what I'm saying, they say, they're doing a lot of studies now with mushrooms and psychedelic drugs, right? I've had some guests on that, doctors that are saying it's the gateway, these psychedelic drugs, the gateway out of alcohol and drug abuse. Again, I don't know. I don't want to walk around on mushrooms myself, but also great for depression, and panic anxiety. But I guess you got to be given this at certain levels. I don't know if you follow that one or not. But Rob, you said you've gone how long in between? Your long-

Rob Zavaruka:

Little over nine months.

Cindy Stumpo:

Nine months has been your longest time being clean. In those nine months that you stayed clean, is your life better? In all honesty, is it really better?

Rob Zavaruka:

Absolutely.

Cindy Stumpo:

So what makes you fall off the wagon if your life is better for nine months?

Rob Zavaruka:

That's the question that remains unanswered. You just, something just pops in your head. That's why all these 30-year-old, these sober alcoholics will tell you, and I just started the show the other day, telling you that it's like what some of these guys will say, "What's the worst thing that can happen to an alcoholic in a day? Pick up." It just happens.

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay. I have a personal question. When you look back on the years that you and I were together running a business, I would have so much compassion for drug addicts, right? You saw that, you knew that. Terribly.

Rob Zavaruka:

Absolutely.

Cindy Stumpo:

And you were bumping me along the way on that one. We were always banging heads on that one. Were you... You would say things like, "Never going to get straight, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, whatever." When you look back now, do you regret some of that, the way you looked at that world?

Rob Zavaruka:

Oh, of course. I wouldn't be here if I didn't look back. But you got to remember, too. I'm a lot more mature, 63 years old. I've been through a lot more, and I look back and see what's happened to me and how vulnerable anybody can be. It doesn't matter what level you're at, but of course, I'm compassionate and I feel awfully bad and I wouldn't be here speaking and admitting my addiction. If I didn't feel bad, I'd just keep saying what I said before, but I have to, and I feel like I have to come out and talk about this.

Cindy Stumpo:

I mean, you know that just in those few years we were together, we lost a lot of guys in a short period, in that period of time to now, that we both knew, to drugs, right? Did you ever, in all your years of running guys, and now that you're sober and clean, and I'm sure you have a lot of their phone numbers, some have come and gone. Have you ever wanted to call any of them and say, "Hey, listen, I might've been really tough out there and I apologize, and I didn't really understand addiction?" Have you ever taken that?

Rob Zavaruka:

Well, yeah-

Cindy Stumpo:

That leap?

Rob Zavaruka:

I have. Part of recovery is to look back and make amends to people. And I continue to do that just in regular life. I mean, look-it, that's a tough world that I came from and it's hard to not be tough. You know-

Cindy Stumpo:

For Rob to call, make a phone call and say, "Hey, I'm sorry that I..."

Rob Zavaruka:

I have run into old friends that have problems. And most of them still have problems, and I've reached out. As a matter of fact, I have pamphlets from Coleman's that I go out, if I know a guy's struggling, I say, "Hey, just read this, and if you need to, make a call. Any questions, call me." Is Rob going to pick up the phone to everybody that I irritated or treated tough? I don't think that way.

I, just trying to do the best I can now and make amends by being here with you and Dr. Coleman and Amanda, and just to tell you my story, and hopefully, it hits home with people out there. And the only advice I can tell people is you have to just do it. And there's no in between, there's no, yeah, tomorrow, no tomorrow. And if you do screw up, just raise your hand again, because there are millions of people out there that are willing to help, and getting it off your back is the best medicine you can, it's the best cure you can make.

Cindy Stumpo:

I want people to understand, that this man that's in my studio right now has had levels of success in my industry that most will never get to half the ladder that he's climbed up. And I always say this, getting to the top is the easy part, but can you sustain, right? Because there are a lot of things that can knock you down. Sustaining a business, and somehow, you still manage to sustain and you make a great living, obviously. And this comes in all shapes, sizes, forms, and colors, doesn't matter, right? Alcohol is alcohol, drugs are drugs. But like you said, you just got to keep getting back on the horse that throws you off. But isn't that what we all do in business every day that want the best for our families and go out there and push that rock up the mountain every day?

Rob Zavaruka:

Every day, I mean, we continue. The only thing I will say is addiction is that rules, that rules, Cindy, and it has to be a priority. In order for me to continue to be successful at this point in my life-

Cindy Stumpo:

I just want people to understand the levels of success you have achieved in your career.

Rob Zavaruka:

Well-

Cindy Stumpo:

Okay?

Rob Zavaruka:

It's hard work, and that's a personality trait, too. Everybody's not built the same, and we take things to a different level.

Cindy Stumpo:

Now he's lecturing me. I used to do this 20 years ago to him. What the hell happened here? The tables have turned on us. My God, okay, go ahead. He's empathetic now, and I'm like, "Hey, come on. Let's go, let's move it." Go ahead.

Rob Zavaruka:

No, I mean, believe me, I'm still Rob, and I still get into it with my men, every day, but there's a respect factor there now. And I know when I shouldn't be crossing the line. So, at my age and with my experience, I know now that, hey, this guy's suffering and I can tell. And I'll pull him aside and say, "Look, if you need time off, take the time. I want you to be healthy and want you to be happy."

Cindy Stumpo:

Wow, that's a different Rob than I knew. That would be, you getting a layoff check if you did that, okay, Rob, be like, "Send out layoffs checks, okay? Let the guy go." And I'd be like, "Rob, do we have to let the guy go? He might be dealing with personal issues." "Cindy, go run your residential business." All right, literally, like... And now, it's a whole different Rob sitting here 15 years later, because now you get it. Now we understand it. That's why, if you're listening out there, please stop spitting in the water you may have to drink one day. It could be any of us.

It could be any of our children. It could be your mother, your father, your sons, your daughters, whatever, your future grandchildren, help people that need help. Don't knock them. No one decides that they're going to wake up one day and become a drug addict. No one decides they're going to, they want to grow up to be an alcoholic. It's just something that happens, okay? And genetically, we've learned, we know it's in the genes, we know it's in the gene pool.

If you have a problem, it's a good chance one of your children might have a problem. You got to jump in front of the problem before the problem happens. And yes, depression, anxiety, and panic do play a role in substance, and I really believe that. No one will ever spin my head on that one, and it's getting us the help we need. And the only way to get the help we need is to help each other, so reach out to where Amanda?

Amanda Pitts:

Well, you can call 804-294-2212, or visit us at www.thecolemaninstitute.com.

Cindy Stumpo:

And we'll be back. This is Cindy Stumpo and you're listening to Tough As Nails on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

And welcome back to Tough As Nails on WBZ NewsRadio 1030. I'm Cindy. I'm here with Sammie, here with Rob, I'm here with Amanda. First of all, I like to thank you, Rob. I love you. Okay? Have a long history together, and for you to come out on my radio show, that's awesome. Can I have a fist bump, please? Thank you, buddy. I'm proud of you. Okay?

Rob Zavaruka:

Thank you.

Cindy Stumpo:

If it means anything or not, I'm very proud of you. Amanda, thank you so much for coming in. Thank you for explaining to us about the Coleman Institute, right? And Dr. Coleman being on here. Did I say right, the Coleman Institute?

Amanda Pitts:

That's right. The Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine.

Cindy Stumpo:

Go ahead.

Amanda Pitts:

And we're in Massachusetts. And if you want to learn more about us, we're at www.thecolemaninstitute.com, and the telephone number, is 804-294-2212. And again, if you or a loved one is looking for outpatient detox for alcohol or opiates, that's where you can find us.

Cindy Stumpo:

Have a great safe weekend. This is Cindy Stumpo, and we'll see you next weekend.

Conclusion

Looking for the rest of the series? Check out part 1 below:

 
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About Cindy Stumpo and “Tough as Nails”

On “Tough As Nails” radio, Cindy Stumpo talks about anything that happens between a roof and a foundation. Building a house, and building a life is what our show is about. In sum, we are a lifestyle show. What separates us from other lifestyle shows is Cindy’s raw, unvarnished view of the world, keeping the show, fun, fast, and interesting.

Laughing and learning makes for a broadcast that educates while entertaining. That being said, sometimes we cry and we’re ok with that. Cindy was the only woman in the room when she took and passed the General Contractor’s exam about 30 years ago. She has been building homes and shattering stereotypes ever since. C. Stumpo Development primarily builds luxury homes in Newton and Brookline, MA. www.cstumpodevelopment.com FOLLOW Cindy on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram.

Show Idea or want to call in to the show? Text our producer, Tricia Bradley (339) 222-6955‬ or email tricia@seriousfun.tv “Cindy Stumpo is Tough As Nails” airs on WBZ News Radio, Boston following the 8pm News, and is available on the podcast wall immediately after the show. https://wbznewsradio.iheart.com/featured/cindy-stumpo-is-tough-as-nails/ SOLD OUT SHOW: Our show is currently sold out. Contact Ross Dananberg for future opportunities. 617-787-7169 RossDananberg@iHeartMedia.com FAN ARMY: With a loyal social media following across multiple platforms, Cindy connects with listeners during and long after the show is over.

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