Overcoming Addiction with Adam and Lecia Sud: PYP 209

Adam Sud and his mom Lecia graciously agreed to a joint interview when we met up at Healthfest in Marshall, Texas, a month ago. The downside of an in-person conversation is that I don't take notes. Luckily, Adam has a bio all ready for people like me:

Adam Sud is only 34 years old and he’s already battled against obesity, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, drug addiction, fast food addiction, and severe depression.

Once weighing over 300 pounds, he had lost all interest in life. Addicted to fast food and prescription drugs, Adam dug himself out with plant-based nutrition, after attending an Immersion with Rip Esselstyn.

Having reversed all of his chronic health conditions and losing 160 pounds, Adam is now health coach for the Whole Foods Market Medical and Wellness Clinic in Austin, Texas.

He is also an addiction recovery counselor who has developed a program using plant-based nutrition as a tool for strengthening recovery and relapse prevention.

Adam and Lecia spoke openly and often poignantly about their journey, pain and suffering and anguish and guilt and worry and regret and all.

Having a mother's perspective on Adam's journey was so powerful – as was getting Adam's perspective on what his mother and father went through during his “tough years.”

We talked about:

  • growing up with ADHD
  • not fitting in to a rigid educational system
  • the allure of Adderall as a recreational drug
  • becoming a “good” drug addict, hiding the evidence, and scoring enough product
  • the challenge of being an identical twin and searching for a unique identity
  • Lecia's guilt at missing the signs
  • consuming up to 10,000 calories a day in fast food
  • “there's no rock bottom other than death”
  • getting into rehab
  • discovering the Engine 2 immersion
  • “If I'm the problem, I'm going to be the solution”
  • adopting a whole food, plant-based diet
  • pushing through discomfort past “good enough”
  • why AA fails so many addicts
  • the importance of not replacing one addiction with another
  • Adam's work with Whole Foods Market

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11 Responses to “Overcoming Addiction with Adam and Lecia Sud: PYP 209”

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  1. Carlos says:

    Howard, I love your podcast!

    As a plant-based person (lost 45 pounds) and as a recovering alcoholic (5 years), I love guests like Adam who “hit close to home” for me. I hope those out there struggling with addiction don’t pass at giving a 12-step program a chance to help them save their life – particularly due to negative comments from someone who doesn’t participate in a 12-step program.

    Be well!

    • Howard says:

      Thanks for your comment, Carlos!

      Certainly there are people who are helped by 12-step programs, and I certainly encourage people to stick with programs that help them.

      That said, the studied efficacy for AA and other 12-step programs is abysmal, and too many people fail to improve in these programs and end up blaming themselves rather than seeking programs and interventions with much higher rates of success. For more information, I recommend Lance Dodes book The Sober Truth.

      • Carlos says:

        Thanks Howard, I may check out the book. Would be interesting to see how an “anonymous” 12 step program is studied for efficacy.

  2. Cathy Hopkins says:

    I listened to Adam and Lecia yesterday…incredible. Adam, you continue to be a beacon of hope and inspiration to me. I needed to hear that resolve, strength, and all to unique take on life, addiction and healing. Lecia, I have empathy and respect for you. As parents, we tend to beat ourselves up, but thank you for sharing so honestly. I’m asking my kids to listen to this very mindfully for me for my Mother’s Day gift.
    Howard, thanks for your podcast, which I love and look forward to every week:) Good luck at Leadville, you guys! Wish I was able to join you!

  3. Ed says:

    I normally LOVE your podcast, but this was by far my least favorite episode. Adam blamed everyone for his problems – his dad, his mom, the food industry, ADD doctors and medications, 12-step programs – without taking real responsibility for his actions. I think he hesitates to say “I’m an addict” because that would mean taking responsibility, instead of blaming others.

    The tone of the guest, and thus the episode, was self-righteous, preachy and zealous…the kind of advocacy that turns off non-vegans and makes them think vegans are judgmental and feel superior. Adam knows more than AA/rehab counselors, medical doctors in charge of prescribing medicine for ADD, endocrinologists, etc.

    I would have liked to have seen a little more push-back from you to get Adam to dig beneath his surface story and blaming. Adam’s mom did a good job of that at the very end of the show, when she noted that she puts Adam in check for being too judgemental and preachy (almost like a recent religious convert)…

    • Howard says:

      Ed, thanks so much for your comments. I totally didn’t hear it the way you did (obviously), and I do see Adam as someone who took full responsibility for his life.

      And having studied the 12-step model and the field of psychiatry and being very unimpressed with both, I was probably egging him on his critique.

      In any case, thanks for listening, and for taking the time to share!

  4. Ed says:

    Thanks for the reply, Howard (really nice that you take the time to reply to listeners/readers).

    Adam’s mom (1:21): “Unfortunately, sometimes when you take on a new lifestyle it becomes so all-encompassing that you have no time, or you can’t allow other people to voice their opinions, BECAUSE YOU ARE RIGHT, so I’m still trying to temper that a little bit. ‘Ok, it works for you, don’t be quite so judgemental’…just show your life, and that in itself speaks volumes.”

    Amen. Unfortunately, that vibe from Adam came through loud and clear for me during the entirety of the pod episode. I normally prefer the approach of people like you and Rich Roll: “this is a great, beneficial way to live your life, look at the wonderful benefits” (without the angry defiance, blaming, self-righteousness, etc.). I find the aggressive, lecturing, blaming approach to be divisive and frankly, counter-productive.

    Adam took responsibility in that he realized he was in an awful (life-threatening) situation and he wanted to take control and reverse it. But when he looks back on it, rather than admitting he made a lot of bad decisions and may have a genetic pre-disposition to addiction, he blames his father (who tried to help him get healthy), his mom (who bought and uncooked unhealthy food on occasion), his culture (Jewish/Texan), his ADD doctors, etc., etc.

    I found his general “I speak as if I’m an expert in multiple fields” tone/approach to be off-putting (he admitted that during HS he considered himself a bit of a genius). Just an FYI. It’s your pod and you already do a great job without my input. Thanks for the great content and info.

    PS – you are unimpressed with the entire field of psychiatry?

    • Howard says:

      Thanks, Ed. So interesting what each of us picks up on. I may have a little bit of that “I’m righter than everyone else” energy myself (at least that’s what my family tells me ;).

      If you’re interested in my views on psychiatry, they’ve been informed largely by Peter Breggin (read anything by him!), and by two podcast guests: Robert Whitaker (http://plantyourself.com/139) and Irving Kirsch (http://plantyourself.com/144). Whitaker’s two books, Anatomy of an Epidemic and Psychiatry Under the Influence are mindblowing.

  5. Debbie Brabo says:

    what at incredible story. I had chills listening to it. So happy for Adam and his family to have him “back”. Sorry I did not get to meet you in Marshall. My husband and I were there and met some amazing people!

  6. Ann says:

    I deeply appreciate Adam’s willingness to share is journey into and out of the dark place of addiction. I agree with JD Roth’s (“The Big Fat Truth”) assessment of people with eating addiction behaviors, that you cannot fix the problem unless you can be honest about what the problem actually is, and that it’s always going to be some flavor of buried body, something the person is terrified or horrified of.

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