My father is a 52-year old recovering alcoholic and current tobacco user (snuff chewing tobacco). He has been in recovery for about five years and has had mixed success...some streaks of "clean" (relative term for Paleohacks - in this case meaning no alcohol), some returns to alcohol, and tobacco use all the while. He is on Wellbutrin 300-350 (not sure) mg for depression, recommended to aid in his recovery and to "normalize moods" and avoid getting to a low point. When he does relapse on alcohol, it is clear that he reaches a very low emotional low and "gives in" to an extremely strong craving.
His experience in recovery has obviously been much better than pre-recovery, but my wheels are always spinning about where this all fits into a paleo context. He is usually a heavy caffeine consumer - coffee, tea, RED BULL, etc. - and believes it has little effect on him, so will even consume it close to bedtime. Not the best sleeper (clearly) - due, from my belief, to stress and caffeine. He definitely has a sweet tooth and loves candy, fruit juices, chocolate, ice cream, etc.
Recently, he has become more open to the paleo lifestyle. He has been doing it at maybe about 60% (even though I know percentages mean nothing...) for the past few months. He dropped a lot of weight and is a lot leaner. However, he is stingy about vegetables, uses a LOT of table salt, eats all conventional meats/produce, prefers salami/sausage etc., is very hooked on blended fruit smoothies. He has read The Primal Blueprint and thinks that "80/20" is his excuse for anything (handfuls of pretzels in front of the TV, large frozen yogurts, etc.). Understandable, almost, since this is a huge difference from only a few months ago (tons of processed foods, even more caffeine, lots of sugar, etc.).
He is currently taking a daily combination of 6 grams of fish oil, 6,000 IU of Vit. D., an antioxidant blend (Trader Joe's brand), a NewChapter men's multivitamin, 3 Garden of Life Primal Defense probiotics, 200mg alpha lipoic acid, 500mg l-carnitine, and Natural Calm at night. He is still on Wellbutrin and still using chewing tobacco. He rides his bike about 4x a week but is otherwise generally sedentary.
If I were answering this question about anyone else, I would be extremely harsh and say that the reasons are obvious. However, I am still having trouble convincing my dad about all of this. He has read the PB and I brought him all the way to Boston this weekend to listen to Robb Wolf's last seminar. He is much more convinced now, but is still using common excuses...he's not in his "normal" routine that starts in about two weeks, he can't afford to spend time in withdrawal when he needs to be productive, it is expensive, he's made a lot of positive changes recently and feels overwhelmed, he needs caffeine to be alert when driving, etc. He has said that he is 100% open to doing a full 30 day elimination a la Robb Wolf, but is "waiting" until he can "get blood work done", so in the meantime, he is doing his version of 80/20 "Primal" with late night caffeine, occasional Red Bull, tobacco, lots of coffee, high fructose, "dark" chocolate (low cacao content and much more than what would be considered "moderate" consumption), etc.
1) Does ANYONE have any experience as far as non-food addiction (drugs and alcohol) goes? 2) Any experience with the Wellbutrin issue? He definitely wants to get off it, but does not seem to understand that he needs to be fully 100% paleo compliant if he is going to make any change in his medications or brain chemistry. 3) Any experience with tobacco - particularly chewing tobacco as opposed to cigarettes? 4) Any issues with his supplementation - any recommendations? 5) Any information I could present to him for further convincing? He is open to this and is becoming more and more open to it (especially after the Paleo Solution Seminar...), but I think fear is holding him back (ie. he feels that a strict month would mean no chewing tobacco - fears the withdrawal or failure - so avoids doing the whole month).
ANY feedback is extremely appreciated. As wacky as this snapshot makes him seem, he is a great guy and very much a family man. I believe he is struggling with a lot of issues that could be greatly reduced with a paleo diet and lifestyle. He HAS come a long way, but considering where he came from, he still has a long way to go. I admire his increasing openness toward something new like this, and I know he WANTS to feel better, but fears withdrawal/low-carb flu and lacking any "vices".
EDIT: thanks for all of this fantastic feedback. I want to mention a few things now that I have read through these responses. My dad DOES participate in AA and I think it has worked wonders for him. Has absolutely contributed to his openness to try new things, his communication of what he's feeling, his social circle, etc. He has gone through a month of outpatient treatment and a month of inpatient treatment 5 and 4 years ago respectively, and I am the only member of my family who still goes to Al-Anon meetings. I am a big believer in both programs and owe my family's livelihood to them. I guess my frustration, no matter how irrational or impatient, is this continual, repeated message that people are, in the words of Angelo Coppola, "broken by default." I sometimes, in certain meetings, pick up a message thst goes something like "you're @&$#Ed up, you're going to feel like this forever, your cravings will never stop, nobody will ever understand how you're feeling, you will never have a "normal" life," etc. It reminds me of overweight folks who get told the same thing when they eat one Weight Watcher point too many. Every time he's relapsed, he seems to be frustrated with ideas like those, when in a moment of weakness, and I can't say I blame him. I am SO lucky that he is even 1% open to this, and the more I see/read/hear, the more I believe that addiction, too, in the context in which our culture sees it, is a Neolithic disease.
Regarding the Wellbutrin - I agree that he SHOULD be on it until everything else is dialed in and in check. Oddly enough, he has no problem putting certain substances into his body, but he comes from a pretty "tough" Catholic Irish-American background, and I think that he thinks of this as a crutch, a weakness, an embarrassment. I am all for anything that could help him out, whatever it is, as long as it sets him up on a path toward health, especially mental health. He will down a box of fruit slice candy, a can of Red Bull, and a pouch of snuff, no problem, but has some sort of stoic, moral aversion to taking a pill every day. I would prefer that he stay on it until he feels noticeable benefits from living a more paleo lifestyle, no matter how long it takes for that to happen.
Again, thanks for all of the responses. This has become a sort of mission for me, and I have truly forgiven him, 100%, for our rocky past, as I truly believe that something outside his true intentions and desires had the power to physiologically put him in a place he'd rather not be. Can't get anywhere if guilt is a part of the equation. We have a greatly improved relationship and I hope to see him, in his lifetime, with better overall health. I know he has to want it, and I think he's starting to. I have refrained from shoving anything down his throat (he will gladly down a grass-fed hamburger with bacon!), and he has really come a long way with the alcoholism in the past five years, and with the diet in recent months. Very proud of him and will definitely be posting in the future with more questions and feedback. This community has definitely reshaped my attitude toward addiction.