"IN ONE PIVOTAL MOMENT", airing on KPRO 1570am. Jane had been
seeking a specialist in addiction recovery to interview for her show to help any
of her listeners who had addiction problems, and she had been referred to me.
She was interested in doing a show that would help her listeners understand the
source of addictions, and how to treat them.
After recording the first show Jane thought the topic too large to cover in a
single installment and asked if I would extend the series by doing a second show.
You can listen to these shows by double-clicking on the 'Play' button below
on either show (make sure your volume is ON). The transcripts are also
provided if you care to read along as you listen.
fabulous show, because over the course of the last few weeks and months probably like yourselves,
every time I turn on the internet, every time I turn on the TV, there seems to be so much news and
information about addiction, about rehabilitation. So I was talking to some friends and asked them, do
you know anybody that is an expert on this subject, because I know myself I would love to know more
about this subject and how spirituality can help people overcome these types of addictions, and luckily
for me through my friend Perry Grayson he does have a friend who is an expert and I have him here
today, his name is Larry Meltzer. Welcome, and thank you for being here, Larry.
JANE ABRAM: Before we talk about the subject, could you tell our listeners a little bit about... well, do
you have a job title, and specifically, what you do in regard to rehabilitation?
LARRY MELTZER: I am board certified by the State of California as a chemical dependency
counselor. I also hold a master's degree in marriage and family therapy. I have been working in the
treatment field professionally for the last seven years. Most recently for the past five years at Promises
Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers. They have two facilities, one in West Los Angeles and one in
Malibu. The one in Malibu of course is quiet famous for all the celebrities and movie stars and actresses
and whatnot that go there when they have trouble with substance abuse, but, the reality is that I have
worked at many different levels of rehab and addiction is addiction. It really is not about whether you
come from a higher economic level or if you're pretty much on skid row.
JANE ABRAM: Wow. Well, last night, I don't know if you saw, but Larry King actually devoted an hour
to addiction. He had some wonderful guests – actually, Maria Shriver filled in for him. But I think the
most prominent question is, are there a lot more people that are addicted, or is it just that people are not
talking about it and there's more media outlets? Is there a huge growth in addiction or is it about the
LARRY MELTZER: I'm not sure that there is a growth in addiction. What I do know is that many
people wind up doing some sort of behaviors that are not really what they want to be doing, but it's
something that starts to naturally occur with them and it really does become addictive.
When we think about addiction we typically are thinking about drugs and alcohol, but the reality is
addiction comes in many different forms. I deal with gambling addicts, sex addicts, shopping addicts, on-
line internet game playing addicts, pornography addicts, people who are cutters, anorexia, bulemia, all
these forms of addiction are all really very closely related, and it's ironic that the underlying issue that
propels the addiction is really from an individual standpoint is somebody trying to exercise some form of
control over their emotions. Addiction is primarily about control.
JANE ABRAM: Right. The other, I don't know if it's as falsely but anytime I ever, you know, have read
about addiction or whatever, I always, you know, had heard that it's, you know, a specific gene that
someone has like, you know, someone like me, say I was in New York in my twenties and I went
partying and then one day just woke up and said, you know, "I don't want to do this anymore", and
someone else can't stop, is it the gene?
LARRY MELTZER: There has been shown to be proven a genetic component to alcoholism and that is,
you know, alcohol specifically. I'm not going to talk about drugs because they have not found the gene
on that one. However, they have detected the marker, the genetic marker for alcoholism, and what they
have found is that 70% of the population that do, in fact, have that genetic marker are, in fact, alcoholic.
However, that still doesn't explain the other 30% who also have the genetic marker and are not
alcoholic. So when we refer to it as a genetic predisposition, it doesn't simply allow a person struggling
with the usual addictions to simply say, oh well, it's because I have the genetic problem and therefore
I'm off the hook for my own personal responsibilities revolving around my alcoholism.
JANE ABRAM: Wow. Yeah, well, there's... I have so many questions here. I'm like going through my
notes right now, but talking about spirituality in regard to addiction, last night on that show, Susan Ford,
daughter of Betty Ford, was talking about the Betty Ford Clinic, which most people have heard about as
well. And she said they actually have, what did she call it? A spirituality house, a spirituality center,
because she said, we don't just treat the body and the mind, we treat the soul. And I think what you said
which really made me sit up and think was, I said, you know, what causes addiction, and you said,
sometimes it's spiritual bankruptcy.
LARRY MELTZER: Correct. What we find is that – again, it really doesn't matter if you're living in a
mansion in Beverly Hills with a Rolls Royce in the driveway or if you're downtown in an alley with a
bottle of cheap wine between your legs, the addiction is really about the spiritual bankruptcy. There
appears to be something that is so unfulfilled that you're looking elsewhere to fill that gigantic hole
within you. In our society today we very quickly fill it with drugs and alcohol, which I find very intriguing
is when we talk about addictions, the number one addiction in our country today is food.
JANE ABRAM: Is it really?
LARRY MELTZER: We are a nation of obese people and we continue to grow, and of course there's
many factors behind it, but you can't help but wonder what is going on in our society that we're raising a
whole generation of overweight children. It is without a doubt the number – of the three biggest
addictions, the big three are actually food, cigarettes, and alcohol. Metaphorically they act as a cork,
they all go into the mouth as a way to suppress the emotions that one is trying not to deal with, which is
what my earlier statement was about, that it's a spiritual bankruptcy. There is something – it's about
control. We're so uncomfortable with where we are inside that we're looking to fix it externally, whether
it's through shopping, sex, drugs, food, we're trying to fix something. And in reality we can't fix it with
the outside stuff, it's an inside job. We've got figure out what's going on inside of us.
JANE ABRAM: Right. Well, out of Promises or on your own, you know, what you do here on your own,
do you have spiritual people, you know, ministers, pastors, new age people come and talk to your clients,
or is it a facet of your own treatment?
LARRY MELTZER: I would say that it's both. We have many visiting facilitators and many treatment
centers that have worked out. Some are professional priests and rabbis, they are very attuned to
addiction. But again, spirituality is something that is really paramount within the twelve step program.
JANE ABRAM: It is, okay.
LARRY MELTZER: So it's something that's going to be addressed in just about every treatment center
across the United States as long as they do adhere to a twelve step type of a program.
JANE ABRAM: Right.
LARRY MELTZER: There are some that do not.
JANE ABRAM: Well, that came up at the show last night too. Jamie Lee Curtis was on the show, she
talked about being addicted to prescription drugs, and she said that – she goes, you know, to Maria
Shriver, "Do you know how many drugs you can get on the internet.?" She said, "If I was still addicted
to prescription drugs and they were available on the internet I would have been dead by now." They
talked a lot about young people, that illegal drugs are so available.
In your work, Larry, do you work more with men or women? Are they young, are they old, or is there no
LARRY MELTZER: There is no median age, it's all across the board. I've worked with teens, I've
worked with people in their seventies, men, women, gays, straight, black, white, Hispanics, it crosses all
borders. Again, it's about that spiritual bankruptcy.
But you bring up an interesting issue about internet and the ability to buy prescription drugs on line. It's
brought on a whole new type of a problem, psycho-pharmacologically, that we're really having a hard
time dealing with. Much to my sadness, I've been to now more than a couple funerals where particularly
these are mostly younger people, although it's not exclusive to them, they get introduced to things like
Soma, Vicodin, Percocet, you know, any of these types of meds, and because they don't have any
restrictions on them, they can just go on line and buy them. You know, I've seen a number of overdoses
and it's painful. I mean, this took place prior to this whole internet surge, but it's even worse now.
JANE ABRAM: Right. Oh, that's terrible. What else was I going to say? Oh yeah, A&E – we talked
about that A&E actually has a show called Intervention, which I had not seen, but they had, you know,
one of the doctors, you know, from the intervention facility, and they actually had a gentleman who was
at the facility, and I think what was mind boggling to me, and I'm dying to hear what you have to say
about this. He had been to rehab 14 times, and his whole feeling was he didn't care if he died, but it was
the people around him that cared. So I really want to know, the people who come to Promises or to you in
your prior practice, have they been through many rehabs, and what do you say to them?
LARRY MELTZER: Some have, some it's their first time around. It's not actually that unusual. This
disease of addiction is very cunning, very powerful. It has a way of sneaking up on you without knowing
that it's right around the corner. I know one gentleman I worked with actually had gone to 33 treatment
centers, had completed 17 treatment centers, figure the average stay is 30 days, some are 60, some are
90, and this gentleman went to 17 treatment centers completed before he came to us and ultimately
completed -- I think the statement I want to make here is that the biggest problem with someone that
you just described is usually they come in, they do 30 days, and they say okay, I'm fixed, and they go out
thinking I've got a handle on this thing. Much like someone who goes on a diet and loses 20 pounds and
then just goes back eating the same way, well, they're going to gain the same weight back.
So what the clinical studies of the National Institutes of Health in Washington DC have shown
conclusively is that you can triple your odds of long-term success if you take that initial 30 days
treatment stay and stretch it into six months. Unfortunately, most people cannot afford either financially
or their own time to take six months out of their lives and devote it straight up into being in 24/7
treatment. So what most reputable treatment centers such as Promises have done is they've come up
with what they call a step down level of care. You might come in for your initial 30 days where it's 24/7 in-
patient treatment facilities. At that point you step down for perhaps 30 or 60 days of a half-way house,
and when you complete that then you go into an out-patient program which is a couple nights a week for
one hour, you do that for four months. When you put all that together, you're looking at six months and
you just greatly improved your odds of being successful against the disease.
JANE ABRAM: Wow. Well, on that note, the time has gone by already so I'm going to have to close for
now, but hopefully we'll do a second interview and – because I got a lot more questions for Larry. You
have been so incredibly helpful to our listeners and I really do thank you so much for that.
This is Jane Abram with In One Pivotal Moment, and thank you so much for listening. We'll be back
again next Thursday morning at 7:30 am with a brand new show. Actually, the second part of Larry's
interview is what we are going to be bringing you.
If you want to hear any of my previous radio shows, you can always go to my website, which is
inonepivotalmoment.com. Thank you so much for listening. Have a wonderful day. Thank you.
JANE ABRAM: Hi, this is Jane Abram, and welcome back to In One Pivotal Moment. This is part II
from last week's phenomenal interview with Larry Meltzer on the subject of addiction and how he uses
spirituality to help heal his clients.
Larry, thank you so much for coming back. I really appreciate it.
LARRY MELTZER: Thanks for having me back.
JANE ABRAM: Let's just go right to it. What is addiction?
LARRY MELTZER: Well, I have a quote here that I found one time and I feel it's the best explanation
of what addiction is. Addiction is when your need for the gratification of the moment becomes more
urgent than your rational self.
JANE ABRAM: Wow.
LARRY MELTZER: And I think that when we talk about addiction, no matter what form it's about,
drugs, or alcohol, or food, or cutting, or anorexia, gambling, it's... again, it goes back to that spiritual
bankruptcy. I'm so uncomfortable with where I am internally I am going to go externally somehow to fix
JANE ABRAM: Right, right, which is... this is like an instant society. You know, people want instant,
you know, gratification, and I think if you get deep into this, it does... it is a process. You work at a rehab
here, Promises in Malibu, which many people have heard of ,and you did talk a little bit about this last
week, but for those people who didn't hear about it and don't know anything about rehab, how long is the
typical program, or is it on a case-by-case basis? How do you determine how long someone needs to
LARRY MELTZER: Well, the national standard is typically a 30-day stay. However, depending upon a
client's history and previous attempts at sobriety, if we have a client who we know has failed many, many
times, we might suggest at the outset that they need to be in-patient for 60 or 90 days. There are some
clients who we have seen fail again and again that we send to... there are particular rehabs that are not
for first time people attempting for rehab. These are for chronic relapsers. There are rehabs simply for
chronic relapsers. And what they generally are is they start at 90 days and they can go to 6 months to 2
JANE ABRAM: Right.
LARRY MELTZER: ... in-patient. Because the client needs that long of a break away from their using,
their friends, their social network which all exacerbates their using.
JANE ABRAM: Right. We talked last week also about this show on A&E called Intervention, and what
comes to my gut right away is if you have a patient that went for an intervention and their family sort of
forced them to go rehab versus someone that threw their hands up and said, I give up, is there a higher
percentage for cure rate for one or the other?
LARRY MELTZER: Oh, I'm so glad you asked that question. Once again from the National Institutes
of Health in Washington DC, these are the statistics that we know, 90% of all people who go into
treatment will go into treatment as a result of some form of an intervention. Now that can be a formal
intervention with a formal interventionist and the family sitting around reading letters saying, we love
you, we can't see you killing yourself, and we want you to go to treatment. That's a formal intervention.
Intervention can be you having an DUI, going before the judge, and the judge saying you can go to jail
for 6 months or you can go to treatment for 30 days. That's an intervention.
JANE ABRAM: I understand.
LARRY MELTZER: An intervention can be your doctor saying to you, you take one more drink with
that liver you're going to die. That's an intervention.
Somebody's wife coming to somebody and saying... or husband or whatever the dynamic might be. I'll
say a wife... a wife coming to a husband and saying, if you don't get treatment even though we've been
married for 20 years, I'm leaving you. That's an intervention.
JANE ABRAM: Absolutely. So it's not like what we may have seen on a TV show or a movie where
people are sitting around in a circle, because when I think of intervention that's what I think of.
LARRY MELTZER: That's a formal intervention.
JANE ABRAM: Yeah.
LARRY MELTZER: So I think that the first misconception is that most people in treatment, you know,
have recognized the need for help and they have gone in willingly. That's really not the truth. The reality
is, the overwhelming majority at one level or another they have been intervened on which gets them into
Now, the next statistic tells us that 90% of the people, 90% of the people who ultimately do get sober,
will get sober as a result of treatment. Treatment does work. The problem is most people are not
successful the first time around.
JANE ABRAM: Wow. It's like we talked about last week, they guy on the Larry King show had been in
14 rehabs. Because, I'm, you know, I don't know about this subject, I think someone goes to rehab and
they're cured, whatever, and it is a process. Which brings up...
LARRY MELTZER: If I can interject there. What you have to understand is that once you've been
identified, you identify yourself as an addict or an alcoholic particularly in terms of those forms of
addiction, it's like a virus. It's just within your body. Somebody who has a sexually transmitted disease
like herpes, or if you've ever had a cold sore, that is a virus in the body; even if it's in remission, even if
it's not showing itself, that still resides in your body.
JANE ABRAM: Right.
LARRY MELTZER: Addiction is the same. Addiction never, ever goes away. You are just holding it at
bay. And so if you're not doing the work on a regular basis to keep your addiction away, the relapse
JANE ABRAM: Right. So my next question is like, I think we covered this before but, you know, it still
comes back to me, is there like a median age of people that come? I know it's young and old, male,
female, but when does someone realize they have an addiction? I mean, if you are in college and you're
binging, you're like doing what everybody else is doing, but if all of a sudden you're 35, 40, still doing it, I
mean, can you help me understand when is someone... is there a time when someone realizes, I'm an
addict? I don't know, I don't know.
LARRY MELTZER: Once again, it's not about the age that somebody is when they realize that they're
an addict, because the reality is that we have addicts in unfortunately junior high school, in high school,
in college, and all the way up into... we've got a new problem right now with addiction really blossoming
in my age group, baby boomers. These are people that have a combination of their aging health issues,
getting on prescription meds, in addition to a new lifestyle of not being in work and having a lot of
freedom of time and starting to drink a little bit more, perhaps taking up or smoking pot again the way
they haven't done in years and years and years, on top of the prescription pills that have been given to
them by their doctors. And there's a whole new population that is really getting in trouble behind drugs
and alcohol now in the elderly.
JANE ABRAM: Yeah.
LARRY MELTZER: And it's noted again by National Institutes of Health and Drug Counsel. And I've
got no control over what's going to happen tomorrow. I've got to concentrate on right now, right today,
what can I do to make myself be successful today. So that's half of what this process is about. But the
other half is much deeper, it's a combination again of a couple different things. One, it's about cleaning
out some of the old trauma and emotional dysfunction that unfortunately so many of us have been
subjected to. But in my opinion another really huge part of it, and this to me is the real spiritual part, is
the spiritual path. You know, we throw these words around and we never really identify them. What is a
spiritual path, what does it really mean? So many people think it has to do with some organized religion,
and that's really not what I'm talking about. When I talk about spirituality it's about why am I here, what
is the purpose for me to be here, what is the goal that I am supposed to be doing while I'm here? And I
believe strongly that we all have a very unique purpose in life and it's our goal to find out what the
purpose is and then to do it. When we understand what our real and true goal is and then we do it... boy it
all works out. It all works out.
JANE ABRAM: Yeah. Well, we talked right before the interview about people sometimes, you know,
are pre-disposed to addiction that don't have internal coping skills, which I know that's something that
you wanted to talk about. And that's pretty much where the subject of spirituality comes in. Do you want
to elaborate more on that, Larry?
LARRY MELTZER: Well, I think there's two aspects of that. In terms of the coping skills, you know,
that's really cognitive behavior; it's, what kind of changes can I make within my life, either within my
structure, within my friends, within my free time, that will allow me to make a change within my life, it
allows me to get through one day without participating in my addiction, whatever it is, and then knowing
that I can't get too upset with myself for what happened yesterday.
JANE ABRAM: Right. Now, isn't that the truth. Well, that's what Susan Ford said on the show the other
night, that they have a spirituality center, and she goes, we just don't treat the body and the mind, we're
also treating the sole, which I thought was beautiful.
I'm curious, you know, on your own here in your office and at Promises, do you work more on an
individual basis or is it more like do you work in groups? How does that work? What seems to have a
LARRY MELTZER: It's really both. It's not about what has better results, it's that you really need both
to work. I think somebody who has to, you know, needs treatment and is only comfortable working one-
on-one, you know, really losing the ability to understand that if they can open up in a group dynamic
which is put into the treatment and then goes into groups, they recognize they are not the only one.
Everyone, most people who struggle with addiction of some form, they always come in with, "I'm the
only one that has this problem," which is why, pretty interestingly enough, the whole concept of group
therapy really came out of therapists in the late 1930s and 1940s witnessing what was taken on in a 12-
step program in AA. Joe was a huge proponent of the 12-step process in group therapy. So it's not one is
better than the other, they both compliment one another.
JANE ABRAM: Okay.
LARRY MELTZER: And they are both necessary. It's a little bit of both. Dealing with celebrities, I
work with so many celebrities, so many of them they simply come in and they say, you know, I recognize
that I've got this problem, I'm going to work on the problem and then somebody sees me going into an
AA meeting, or an NA or CA, all these different kind meetings, I really don't care because I'm not
comfortable with the person that I am and I'm willing to make that change. There are others who are so
uncomfortable with having the fingers pointed at them and the whisperings in the meetings that to be
here in Southern California, we have a lot of private 12-step meetings. Meetings that if you're a famous
rock and roller, there is meeting of nothing, this is a private meeting that you have to be invited to. Or
you're amongst other musicians, or actors. There are doctors meetings, there are lawyers meetings.
There's a 12-step meeting for just rabis. You can find a 12-step closed meeting for almost any subset of
JANE ABRAM: Right. And you know, Larry, without mentioning any names, you know, I have
enormous compassion and empathy for some of these, you know, celebrities that are trying to get some
help and it's flashed all over the headlines. I mean, again, the names are obvious, but I'll go back to
about six months ago without naming a name, and actually an older actress, and here she was, you know,
on, you know, there was a break, you know, outside, you know, the seven steps, splash now, here is so
and so, this 12 step program, you know, does that really exacerbate the difficulty that these people have
or do they just say, I don't care? Well, I guess it's an individual process.
Right. Right. Well, you know, before I forget, I want to give our listeners Larry's contact information.
You know, he's available to talk to you about information on all the different forms of addition or give
you information on the contents of the rehabilitation programs and that phone number is area code 310-
455-8996. I'll give it again, give it to you again right before I sign off. But Larry before we do we've got
about, you know, 20 seconds. If someone feels like they have a problem, what do you want to say to
them right now?
LARRY MELTZER: Please reach out for help, help is all around you whether you call a help line, AA
central office. In any time in America all you've got to do is dial 9-1-1 and ask for AA, they'll give you a
number. And if you promise not with alcohol, they will refer you to another sister organization, like
cocaine anonymous, narcotics anonymous, gambling anonymous. You can always go to AA and they will
help you find somebody else.
JANE ABRAM: Oh great. Larry, I got to tell you, you are a beautiful soul. I am almost in tears right
now because I know that you're helping so many people, and I just appreciate you being here today.
Again, Larry's contact information is area code 310-455-8996. This is Jane Abram with In One Pivotal
Moment, and thank you so much for listening. We'll be back again next Thursday morning at 7:30 AM
with a brand new show. And if you want to hear any of my previous radio shows, just go to my website
inonepivotalmoment.com. Thank you and God bless.
Telephone: (310) 455-8996 (preferred)