Alcohol and substance abuse cost U.S. business nearly $100 billion annually, while alcoholism alone accounts for 500 million lost workdays a year. It is estimated that a substance abuser functions at only 67 percent of his or her capacity. Additional impacts to employees include an increased likelihood in mistakes and errors in judgment, poor attendance and performance, as well as a range of social, psychological and medical problems.
Alcohol continues to be the most widely abused legal substance and businesses are becoming increasingly desperate to find a solution to this growing epidemic.
While programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and other treatment detox programs have proven valuable for some seeking treatment, for many, they simply aren’t enough. Too often, removing an individual from their environment and putting them on a regimen for a specified period of time and then returning them to the former environment, isn’t a long-term fix. Because of this and the cost of such programs in both time and money, researchers are refocusing their energies on other alternative forms of treatment.
Dr. Mark Willenbring, who oversees scientific research at the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, says treatment for alcoholism has reached a point similar to the one treatment for depression reached 30 years ago—when the development of Prozac and other antidepressants took mental health care out of the asylum and put it in homes and doctors’ offices.
“There will be a ‘Prozac moment,’” Willenbring says, “when primary care doctors start handling functional alcoholics.”
One alternative gaining momentum in the scientific community involves blocking the brain receptors, interrupting the neurological sequence in the brain that causes the desire for excess alcohol.
And one company participating in this new research is tucked away right here in the mountains of North Carolina. Frank Gibson and his team at Avantcare, Inc. have been studying bio-chemical addiction treatment and have recently brought a new product to market called “Fineta,” an all natural product that Gibson says “leads to a cure, not control of alcoholism.”
Fineta: The Cure
Fineta was the result of 17 years of research and trials. Back in 1995, Gibson had made the leap from a 1,300-year-old Chinese “Tang” or herbal soup recipe to understanding its use in conjunction with the new science of the bio-chemistry of addiction.
Chinese medicine came natural to Gibson, who himself was a devoted student of martial arts, having spent much time traveling with his master and learning the traditions of Chinese medicine. He earned his Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine from the Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and became a board-certified diplomate of Chinese herbology from the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, U.S.A.
Coupling this extensive knowledge with another 10 years of study and observation provided Gibson with a complete understanding of the active ingredient action and synergistic response—i.e. why Fineta worked so well.
As it turns out, the geographical development of the mountainous area of North Carolina bears striking similarities with those of the high plateaus in China where most of the plants Gibson uses are cultivated. For example, there is a specie of orchid known to grow only there in China, that also is found in the North Carolina mountains. For Gibson, it is considerably easier to harvest the plants he uses domestically rather than importing the plants from overseas.
So, it was a natural fit, in 2007, when Gibson was ready to establish a permanent location to start production, that he arrived at Hendersonville. He immediately set up a facility on 216 acres which includes the lab as well as a lodge on a working farm (Precious Woods Farm) for retreat purposes.
The property, which offers a pre-treatment experience for entering The Last Call program (featuring Fineta), alcohol prevention programs and spiritual retreats, was personally developed by Gibson, including site planning, architectural design and drawings, engineering, and construction of over $1,000,000 in buildings.
In the state-of-the-art certified laboratory, meeting ISPE and GMP standards, Gibson, in partnership with his son Dr. Neil Westby-Gibson, developed the formulation and method of compounding botanical materials which led to the development of Fineta. Avantcare, Inc. was then formed to produce Fineta and related products and distribute them internationally.
Gibson soon realized that Fineta allowed them a leadership position in the market, ahead of pharmaceutical companies who were attempting similar products with little success. It also was an all-natural formulation, rather than a chemical-based synthetic product.
Gibson says that a game-changing revelation is occurring. Fineta brings about a multiple of effects in the body related to alcohol. While its mechanism is not fully understood, Fineta does seem to decrease the effects of the naturally occurring excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate in the body. This is determined by observation through withdrawal of excessive consumption of alcohol and the lack of cravings within a brief period of time.
Another response in the body is the removal or lessening of the pleasant “alcohol high,” which is caused by changes in endorphin levels. Reducing the “alcohol high” is a critical reason why Last Call clients have fewer problems with environmental cue-cravings and relapse less frequently.
Gibson describes Fineta as a delicate combination of isoflavones, glycosides, flavoids, polysaccharides, compounding methods and of course, his secret ingredient. His secret, he explains is what provides them with a deep understanding of the brain’s chemistry, which is deeper than chemistry and medical knowledge alone.
While Gibson touts their near 100 percent success rate, he acknowledges that the willingness of the patients to adhere to the program’s regime is essential to bringing about necessary brain chemical changes.
Fineta has been classified by the FDA as a dietary supplement, which Gibson says has eliminated the need for them to jump through certain hurdles, but increases the need for their success rate to be validated. But he remains steadfast in their ability to meet the challenge.
Along the way they have discovered some other useful formulations, which they market under the Break-Free brand, including products to help with calmness, sleep, smoking (cessation), stress, cold and flu, insomnia and PMS. These products work on a similar premise altering brain function.
The Last Call Program
Fineta is the key ingredient to Avantcare’s The Last Call program. The Last Call is an alterative to detox programs and other short- or long-term treatment facilities.
The Last Call kit, which retails for $795, supplies patients with enough Fineta to last them eight weeks, as well as a phytomedicine Kalmaro to help with stress, and Iremo to help aid with sleeping. When used together, they decrease the body’s need or desire for excessive alcohol while eliminating the harsh symptoms associated with detoxification.
The regimen calls for patients to take Fineta three times a day for anywhere from four to eight weeks, over the duration of which they see a decline in symptoms and cravings related to alcohol dependence. Additional components of The Last Call are 5- to 10-minute exercises as well as acupuncture treatments, which continue after the use of Fineta.
For patients who desire additional help, a five-day pre-treatment retreat is available at the Precious Woods Farm on the Avantcare grounds. But because of the high success rate of Fineta, Avantcare is working to tailor the program as more of an out-patient treatment.
For those who “fall off the wagon” or get an urge for alcohol after completion, they simply restart on the Fineta until their urges subside again.
Fineta isn’t the only drug on the market that interrupts neurological sequence in the brain; similar products are available that assist with weight loss, happiness, drug addiction and other ailments.
Seven studies, including those done at Harvard University, Boston University, and Maclean Hospital conclusively prove the efficacy of these type of formulae.
But perhaps the most compelling testimony to the Fineta formulation comes from patients who have gone through The Last Call program themselves.
Will Robertson struggled with alcoholism throughout his 30s. It eventually cost him both his marriage and a series of jobs. Frustrated with the failure of other treatments including a 72-hour detox program as well as a 30-day program, Robertson was desperate for help.
His mother Helen happened to see an article on Avantcare and contacted Gibson. As a result of what she learned, her son, although skeptical, was willing to participate.
Within weeks, Robertson says he found himself craving less alcohol and functioning without the drinks that had become part of his daily routine for so many years.
To this day, Robertson says his drinking is under control and he has regained his life. He even enjoys an occasional beer but the need for excessive drinking is gone. He keeps a security blanket, a bottle of Fineta, with him but happily reports he has yet to need it.
Helen says, “It’s been a wonderful and miraculous experience; it has returned my son to me.”
Distributing a Cure
Last fall marked Avantcare’s first foray in the European Union marketplace. Bulgaria, which boasts the second largest drinking problem to Russia, was chosen as the launch of the program.
It was an opportunity for Avantcare to launch Fineta in a relatively well-defined market, and participate in everything from manufacturing, packaging, warehousing, and distribution. From the experience, they concluded that licensing of the product would be the most appropriate avenue for Avantcare’s continued European growth.
While Avantcare had initially not intended to distribute Fineta in the U.S. until 2010, the positive numbers coming from Bulgaria and an eager marketplace in the states combined with a growing number of potential competitors (pharmaceutical companies) in the U.S., Gibson decided to change the strategy.
Aware that growing too fast too soon could prove detrimental to the company; Avantcare’s plan is to first make Fineta and their other products available in the U.S. through acupuncture physicians, medical doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists.
They are being highly selective about the clinics they align themselves with. “Last Call Certified Practitioners” are required to take an examination in treatment protocol including all aspects of neuro-science and physiology related to the new accepted knowledge of addiction. The exclusive nature of the distribution maintains the scientific status of Fineta, minimizes distribution management, and provides Last Call clients with a great opportunity for success.
Avantcare’s Vice President Carol Brawley explains that Charlotte was chosen as the test rollout market in U.S. They have aggressively marketed the product and are testing different aspects of the business plan to decide what works and what needs to be adjusted before a national launch.
Brawley thoroughly researched the Charlotte area and handpicked three local clinics to be the first to offer Avantcare’s products. Clinics were chosen based on their qualifications, successful exam results, location appearance, location, and reports from the state.
Participating Charlotte-area clinics include Hipple Acupuncture and DMS Acupuncture in Charlotte and Darren Holman Lac in Matthews.
Denise Slavich, of DMS Acupuncture, is excited to offer the Last Call program and Break-Free products to her clients. She boasts about the success that Last Call had for one of her former patients saying she saw an almost immediate improvement upon his enrollment in the program. And she personally testifies to the success of Break-Free Cold & Flu and Stress, having used them herself.
Avantcare forecasts an additional 20 certified practitioners in major metropolitan areas by the third quarter of 2009, bringing the total to 34. An aggressive plan is in action to reach 80 by the end of the year. Additionally, by years’ end, they expect to have completed licensing agreements in Bermuda and England. A 19-country agreement for Eastern Europe will be signed by July 2009.
While the program is still in the early stages of U.S. development and distribution, feedback is positive. This treatment is still a new science and they are seeking to learn from the experiences of more people who are looking to take advantage of the program’s offerings.
As Avantcare grows, they have the potential to offer an answer to the serious problems of alcohol and substance abuse which are costing U.S. businesses billions of dollars each year.