The Shocking Truth About Alcoholism: A Cautionary Tale

The Shocking Truth About Alcoholism: A Cautionary Tale

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Mr. Biz Radio: The Shocking Truth About Alcoholism: A Cautionary Tale

Unedited transcription of the show is included below:


Welcome to Mr. Biz radio, Biz. Talk for Biz owners. If you're ready to stop faking the funk and take your business onward and upward, this show is for you. And now here's Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth.


All right. Welcome to another episode of Mr. Biz Radio, me and Mr. Biz, Ken Wentworth. And we're going to talk about something that I'm excited about this show, actually, because, well, first of all, I have to tell you guys, I talked for 15 minutes with our guests before we even got started, before we even sort of hit the record button. And producer Alan started working his magic here. So I'm very excited about this show because it is something that, especially during COVID really, there's statistics all over the place about it, but really started to rear its ugly head more so than even before.


And I feel like there's been sort of a, if I may use the term, hangover effect from COVID that's lasted a bit. And this has become a bit of an issue and it's a little bit of a touchy subject. But I'm telling you, I think especially as business owners, well, everybody but business owners as know alcoholism it is, is something that know alcohol consumption during the pandemic really increased significantly, I know, in the US and I think even globally.


But I feel like a lot of it's kind of carried over afterwards. People develop some habits during that time, and it's carried over. And so what we want to talk about today, we've got an expert who's been there, done that, lived it, got the t shirt, actually wrote the book. And I don't want to make light of it because he's gone through some pretty challenging things, but he knows this. And we did a show, I think a couple of years ago now with a friend of mine, Adam Javelin, who's a recovering addict. And we talked a little bit about this.


But I think this is going to be a good show because we're going to talk about some of the things that maybe how you can, some signs that you can identify. Maybe you've got pretty small, you've got 10, 12, 15 employees, and they're kind of like family. And maybe we can point out some signs to help you recognize before a problem becomes a bigger problem and something catastrophic happens. And then finally, in the last segment, we're going to talk about some things we can do, some actions we can take. If we see someone based on some of those signs that Andrew's going to talk to us about, what can we do? What are some actions we can take without tipping this thing, the whole bucket over here and causing a big problem, but really take some actions to really kind of curtail this and get things headed in the right direction.


This week we're talking with Andrew Culkin. He is the author of “Amanda: A Cautionary tale”. A cautionary tale. When Amanda, his wife of 25 years, passed away in February of 2020 due to alcohol related injuries, Andrew realized he needed to find a purpose for her two decades of slow decline. He soon found himself on a mission to help other families understand and identify the disease and find help for their loved ones.


Primary goal is to help families before their loved ones becomes a chronic alcoholic. In his book dedicated to his late wife, Andrew's unique firsthand perspective and no nonsense approach we love that can help families identify denial and educate them in understanding a disease that plagues so many. Andrew has been a guest speaker at rehab facilities in Southern California and has been guest on over 50 podcasts, 51 plus. Now professionally, he has been an insurance broker for 30 years with major Fortune 500 companies.


Andrew Culkin, welcome to Mr. Biz radio.


Thanks. Glad to be here. Exciting.


Yeah. Excited to talk about it. Before we get into all that, tell us, we mentioned here you've been an insurance broker for 30 years. Right. Tell us a little bit about your journey and maybe even leading up to what led you to write the book.


Well, I think originally when my wife passed away, I was kind of in shock. Initially, it wasn't unexpected because it was a long, long journey. It was a very difficult journey. But I realized I had a lot of experience that I needed to share because there's so many different levels that you go through and understanding as a family member, understanding how you can help that person instead of being part of the problem.


And so many families are a part of the problem. They enable the person, and they're in the same bubble. There's no accountability and there's denial. Denial will kill you. I always say my wife was in denial until we turned off the machines and had to let her go. You have to have accountability and realize that you have a problem. You have to have self awareness, and until that's created, the problem will never be resolved and it'll never even be really attacked.


Yeah. Leading from that, what led you, you're going through all that. You have the unfortunate, terrible incident with your wife. She passed away. What led you to say, I need to write this book, I need to get this?


Originally it was a catharsis. You had to a healing process. I had to go through a venting period. There's a lot of venting in the beginning of the book because there's a lot of emotions when she died. I mean, you're sad that she's gone, but there's also a lot of relief because there was so much drama and stress and anguish and just a horror attached to it. And finally, that was all over. And then it takes time to realize the person you think about, the person. That once was my first 100 pages that I wrote, in fact, I ended up throwing out because it was just an angry rant, and I knew that wasn't going to help anybody.


So I needed a year away from it before I really could look at it objectively and break down and understand the history of it, the different levels that she went through so that I could concisely help other people through my wife's journey. Understanding that when she first started, she was just like anybody. She'd have a bottle of wine at night, a glass of wine here or there. We were both brokers. It was a stressful situation, and that created a habit that went on three days a week, five days a week to seven days a week, and a zero point 75 bottle of wine turned into a 1.75 liter of wine seven days a week. And it just grew from there.


She became chemically dependent. And then she began. After 15 years, she began to have a lot of physical and emotional and mental issues. She could no longer work, and she was no longer the person that she once had been, and he had to deal with that as a family member. She went through seven rehabs. She had four DYs. She lost her freedom. Multiple car accidents, emergency stays, hospital stays. I mean, go on and on and on.


It was a downhill ride until she finally succumbed.


I'm sorry. Go ahead.


Just have a lot of knowledge to help other people. That's really what I wanted to do. I couldn't save my wife, but I know I could save a lot of other people, and I know I already have.


Yeah, well, we appreciate that. Obviously, we've only got about a minute or so left, but I'm curious. So during some of these challenges that she had with the DY or accidents or things like that, was there a point right after that she said, oh, my gosh, I got to do something? You mentioned multiple rehabs where she kind of got off the wagon and said, I got to do something, and then just fell back into it?


Well, she gets to the point where she was physically unable. I mean, she was dry heaving for three days, and she realized that we needed to go to a professional detox. I mean, the first time, she just needed to go do a detox. I think her whole reason was to get medication so that she wouldn't have to go through dry heaves. And then she went through a 30 day stay, and that lasted. The problem is the follow up. You have to go to group counseling and you have to continue with the work. If you don't do the work and finally admit that you have a problem, you're never going to fix.


Yeah. Yeah. As had, uh, we did a show a while back with Adam Javelin, friend of mine who is a recovering addict, and he mentioned when he went to rehab, his family did an intervention. He was completely in denial. He was fully functioning, working a full time job, successful guy. And he went to rehab. He finally agreed to go to rehab after the intervention. He said, I'll do it for my wife. And he had a young baby at the time. And he got there and he said, the first thing I thought was, man, these people here, I'm nothing like these people.


These guys got problems. I have some drinks, I pop some pills down and in. I don't have any problems like this. So I'm going to be curious to dive into that a little bit more if we come back after the break. And we're going to talk about some signs that someone, the employee or someone in your life might be having a problem. In the next segment on Mr. Biz radio.


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All right. Welcome back, show. It's time for Mr. Biz Tip of the week. And this week's tip is especially the show's coming out here. It's the end of January and people having goals. We talk about New Year's resolutions. I forget the percentage now, the most recent percentage of people who, their new year's resolution lasts like two weeks, three weeks or whatever. Well, we're at the end of January and hopefully you're still sticking with the new year's resolution and some of the goals you have. But this might help you.


And actually, this isn't my original idea. I got this from Jesse Itzler. You guys have heard me talk about him before. I love the guy. But he talks about having a weekly approach to your goals, meaning that instead of saying, I'm going to run 3 miles a day, say, I'm going to run 21 miles in a week. So that way if you miss a day, depending on what day of the week is, you can make it up on another day. You can run an extra half a mile the other six days of the week and still get to your full week's goal. And that way, so much in achieving goals is keeping positive forward momentum.


And when you let yourself down and you say, I'm going to run 3 miles every single day and you don't run 3 miles, inevitably back in the back of your mind, you say, oh, I failed today, and that's not going to help you keep that positive form momentum. So something to consider with goals is to have more of a weekly approach, give yourself a little break. Sometimes you just don't feel it and you have an off day. That's okay.


Make up for it. So that's bruce tip of the week this week. And again, we're talking to Andrew Culkin. And we'll put this in the show notes. But you can go out to to find out more about the book. And he also has a new coaching program. And again, we'll put this in there as well. But you can go to. He's got a Facebook group, Amanda: A cautionary Tale. He's on TikTok red cigar one. And he's got a YouTube channel, Andrew Culkin.


So go and check that out. So Andrew, I want to talk about some signs, but before we even get into that, I want to pick up where we kind of left off there.




You had mentioned kind of going through the follow up after rehab and things like that. Is that one of the reasons you think that where people fall short when they go through multiple rehabs and is they just never really recognize that I have a problem, they go, I'll check the box. Yes, I went to rehab. I checked the box. But they don't really ever fully grasp that they have a problem. To recognize that.


Well, yeah, I would say rehab is really just a band aid. It's the beginning. You've had a 30 or 60, 90 day separation from the alcohol, but that's just the beginning. You have to do the work. You have to go to group therapy like AAA, but there's many other group therapies. There's a lot of other choices. Now, some people don't like the religious connotation with AA. There's a lot of other group therapies. You have to get into one of those. One of the problems that I have with rehab facilities is that there's no accountability with them.


Once you're done with their session, they kind of give you a list.




So now go to these places and continue with your aftercare, which there's no accountability. There's a lot of money in rehab facilities. So I want families that not have being completely relaxed. If their loved ones go into a rehab, that's just the beginning. They got to do the aftercare work. It's absolutely crucial. Amanda never did. She ended up going to seven rehabs, and usually they took for maybe a month or two and she was right back. Because you're still chemically dependent unless you're able to take one day at a time.


And if you're feeling like you're having cravings to drink, you need to go to a meeting and be around like minded people who are trying to become healthy like you. And you have to do the aftercare work. You're kidding yourself if you're not.


It's interesting. I just thought of another thing. So Grant Cardone, he's been on the show a couple of times as well. Very successful entrepreneur. He went through rehab when he was, I think, mid twenty s or so. And he mentions her to talk about it several times. But I don't know, his aftercare and all that stuff. I assume he did do that, but he mentioned one of the pivotal things that he thinks that kept him from relapsing is I don't know if it was the last day when he was done with rehab or one of the final days.


One of the counselors said to him, you'll be back, right? I'm going to see you soon. You'll be back. And he said, honestly, in his head, it pissed him off. And he said, I'm going to show this guy. And he said, as bad as it was, and I'm sure that guy probably get fired for saying that to somebody. Right. He said, that pissed me off. And I said, I'm going to show this guy. I'm not coming back here. I'm getting my crap together.


I'm not going to come back to this place. And he said, so, in a weird way, it actually helped me not relapse.


I think the counselor was probably using reverse psychology and probably understood Grant is kind of a type a personality.




And probably said, let's piss this guy off so he doesn't come back. Maybe not. I don't know. That's a weird thing for a rehab to say. But it worked.




Was younger, too. He was in his twenty s, so he hadn't had 20 years of drinking at that point. I think he'd only been drinking a few years. And that's really the audience that I want to get to, is younger people. Before it gets into the stage two and three, where you're chemically dependent. The average drinker starts between the ages of 13 and 20, in college and high school years, and that's when you really want to nip it in the bud. At that point, you want families and parents and families to recognize that there's an issue and get to it before there's an issue.


Get into rehab or get into at least some kind of group therapy before it gets out of hand. And identify. Identifying the problem. You can't do anything until you identify the problem.


Well, that's a great segue, Andrew. So let's talk about what are some of those signs that could have someone, either an employee or a family member, that has a problem?


Well, the number one thing is drinking in isolation. When someone is drinking by themselves, they're going in their room, they want to hide what they're doing. They're hiding their bottles and cans. My wife one time, I could not figure out where the bottles and cans were going because she was drunk all the time. And eventually we had this huge bookshelf. It was about 10ft wide and about 7ft high, and she had been putting the empty bottles and cans behind the books.


So one day I saw one of the cans was sticking up over the top of the book. They had glass in front of them. I opened them up, my son and I. She was in a rehab when I found them. We filled seven garbage bags of bottles that were behind the books, and it was just a weird sign. If you're hiding it, if you're in isolation, these are the major red flags. If a person is gaining weight, they're neglecting their hygiene.


They seem foggy and confused. If you can smell alcohol on their breath in the day, these are just obvious red signs. Someone that never says no to, let's go get a drink, or they bring it up. These are all very obvious signs. When you're in the later phases, when you're hiding alcohol, you're in trouble. If you're at the point where you're hiding it and you're hiding your bottles and cans, you are in serious trouble.


And the family and everybody around that person needs to recognize that and intervene. Absolutely.


Yeah. So I guess thinking about employees and everything, again, you mentioned some of these things are obvious, but I guess being on the alert, if you see some people that are, someone who's an employee or a family member that's acting a little bit out of character on a regular basis, maybe you kind of smell their breath, kind of looking for, they.


Haven't shaved in three days, little bo. Maybe they're just not taking care of themselves. They've gained weight. There's a lot of calories in alcohol, specifically beer, the volume of it. And they're getting all their calories from alcohol. Sure. Signs.


Yeah. Like I said, I was trying to think from kind of an employer perspective, making sure you're not crossing over any lines or anything like that. But again, I'm thinking about some. If you're a business owner and you've got 10, 12, 8 to 15 employees, they're kind of like family. You know them pretty well. So maybe some of these things, while they're maybe hiding them, you can kind of see. Right. Because you see them on a regular basis. You're talking with them on a regular basis, all of a sudden you notice that their meetings are not as engaged as they once were and things like that.


I think these are some things that we can look for. We got to hit another break here. We're going to come back, we're going to talk about maybe a little bit more touching on some of the myths of alcoholism. But really, I want to dive into some actions we can take to help someone who is struggling.


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You got to Probably the person you'll talk to is Rachel. I talked to Rachel. So I've got a couple of my clients that are kind of going through the process with them right now to save money, and it's been very significant, on average, 30% to 70%. So, check them out. If you want to check out some of the potential options, you have to save some money on health care, maybe even get better coverage for your employees and or yourself.


All right, Andrew, I guess in interest of time, I want to make sure we talk through some actions, because I didn't promise that to everyone but before we get to that, rather than talk about the myths of alcoholism, what's the number one myth? What's the number one thing out there that you want to dispel? To say, this is absolutely not true.


The number one myth is when someone says, and this kind of goes in line, what we've been talking about is, I can quit anytime I want. And nothing could be further from the truth. Basically, you're placating everyone around you by saying, I can quit anytime I want. It's a way to gaslight everyone around you by saying, oh, you're the one with the problem. I don't have a problem. You think I have a problem? There's a lot of gaslighting. There's a lot of internal lying with a person.


It's the biggest myth, and it's also the biggest creation of alcohols in the world today, is just denial. Once you have become chemically dependent on alcohol, your share willpower is not going to do the trick. There's only about 4% of the people that can actually sit there and quit cold turkey, because physically, your body is going to have to go through a professional detoxification. Self detoxification can actually result in extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.


And even as much as a person can die from it because your body's going through so much upheaval, you're dehydrated, you've had no food. I mean, it's a very dangerous situation to be in. I can quit anytime. It's just an excuse to the alcoholic's loved ones, and it's a blatant denial from the alcoholic to their actual mental and physical state.


Yeah. And I could imagine that leads to what you had mentioned earlier, the isolation, the hiding. So maybe you say that, and someone in your family or employer challenges and says, okay, well, then do it. Let me see you do it. And you go, okay, I'm going to. And you try and you can't, but you don't want to admit that you can't do it. So then you start the isolation. You start the hiding, the empty bottles and cans and whatnot.


And there's so much shame attached to alcoholism. This is the thing. Everyone looks at an alcoholic as a negative thing. We don't mock out the person who has cancer, and they're bald because they're going through chemo. Why do we approach alcoholism in a different way? It's still a mental health disease. It's a disease that anybody can get. Believe it or not, people think they have the ego to not be able to become an alcoholic. But anybody is susceptible to alcohol in the right time and place.


Yeah, I could see that. So what are some actions we could take, Andrew? So let's say that someone's listening. When someone's watching the show, they hear some of the signs. You had mentioned that there could be a problem. They go, holy crap, I got somebody who's an employee, a family member who's got a problem. What are some actions they can take?


Well, I'm a big person about family, and they have to intervene. You have to get in people's faces, and you have to sit down and have serious conversations. If you ever seen that show intervention? Sometimes you have to do a formal intervention when you get the key people in that person's life and you sit down and say, we're going to draw a line in the sand. If these actions don't take, if you don't go to a rehab, if you don't go to a detox, or if you don't address the situation, our relationship with you is going to change in the following ways.


We're no longer going to enable you with money or with being in your life at all. And you will have to draw a line in the sand, and it can get ugly. But it's a lot easier to have someone mad at you than making funeral arrangements. It's much harder to make funeral arrangements, and it's a life or death situation, and a lot of people don't realize that.


Yeah, well, I mean, we talked about this a little before we even started the show here, but you'd mentioned your wife died from an alcohol related accident. It's not just the long term health negative impacts it has on your health, but when you're impaired, let alone driving a car, it could be a lot of other different things. To where? And like you had mentioned before the show, you said, it's not if it's when to someone who is an alcoholic.


That'S when you have somebody who's a functioning alcoholic. I mean, there's really no such thing. It's just a matter of time. You may be able to lie to yourself and everybody around you, but it's going to be a matter of time and you're going to shorten your life by, on average, about 28% to 30%. So the average alcoholic doesn't see 60. The average hardcore alcoholic has been drinking since their teenagers aren't going to see 60.


My wife died at 58. The average for men is 52. So it's not a pretty ending. That's a motivator. For anybody.


Yeah. Well, I guess maybe this is just made me think of that when you mentioned those ages, Andrew, do you think it's more difficult? Or maybe is it easier to stop if you didn't start when you're that young and you started, maybe you didn't really get into the drinking and everything until you were in your think that if you're more mature and you get to be 45, 50 years old and you realize you have a problem, do you think it's easier for someone at that age to quit or is it more difficult?


I think at some degree when you're older, because you have more self awareness, you have, you should be more mature. And usually the people in your life will be mature enough to intervene on your behalf. You'll be around a better group of people. Usually when you're a kid, it's all about self esteem and you're trying to overcome maybe being an introvert when you're a kid. And it's all about that and it's all about how you look with your friends.


You're not really around people who are going to not support that. It's almost weird if you don't drink, right? And I've done podcasts on just society. It's weird if you don't drink. So when you're older, you're going to be around generally a better group of people that will intervene, at least call you out. That's a big part of it. I don't think anybody can do it by them. Very few people can do it by themselves.


And you have to be aware of that. People need to call the alcoholic out. They have to have the guts to do that. If they really care about that person, they have to intervene.


Yeah. So we're running out of time here. What's one more thing? What's one more action? You talk about intervening and really calling them out. What's one more thing we can do?


Maybe to take action to help an alcoholic. Intervening is really what it's all about. You just have to get in their way because things like curbing the alcohol, making sure they don't buy alcohol, it's not going to work. You can't stop an alcoholic from buying it. My wife used to if she had her knees replaced at 3:00 in the morning, she would get an Uber on her crutches when I was sleeping to go get alcohol. You can't stop them from getting it. The only thing you can do is get in their way because you're dealing with someone who does not have a rational mindset.


You're not dealing with a rational person anymore.


Yeah. Oh, my gosh. What an eye opener. What an eye opener. Again, if you want to find out about his book, “Amanda: A cautionary Tale”, you can go out to He's got a new coaching program and Andrew, thank you so much for coming on the show. Absolutely eye opener. Loved it. Great.


It's great to be.


Thanks a lot. Thanks so much, guys. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening. Have a fantastic remainder of your week. Hopefully this was an eye opener for you again. Go out and check out some of the stuff that Andrew's got going on with his book as well as his coaching program. And as I always say, at the end, every show, cash flow is king.


To become part of Mr. Biz Nation, follow him on all social media platforms or never miss a show by going to If you prefer free video content, visit the Mr. Biz YouTube channel or check out his streaming channel, which is available on 100 plus streaming platforms at

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