Often clients, friends, and people at multiple social occasions are curious about my thoughts on mind-altering substances as a practitioner of unusual alternative healing modalities. I've meditated on this for some time and well, I'm of the mind that most societies have been programmed for substance abuse. Before proceeding any further, the author would like to mention that he considers caffeine and alcohol mind-altering substances and that he is also a participant in his own definition of substance abuse...judgement is not intended by this article.
Alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, caffeine, hallucinogens, and what have you have healing properties when used at the right moment and in the right manner. Yet it seems these substances are most often used occupationally or recreationally more often than medicinally. An occasional cup of coffee for blood circulation, a little marijuana or alcohol once or twice a year to work with a certain emotional processes that come up, or MDMA (aka ecstasy) used for its original purpose; to help people talk about emotionally difficult things that are too traumatic to discuss uninhabited (as was reported in Time magazine in the 90's during the rise of Techno). As a society, we have, for the most part, chosen to use these substances as a means of leisure, and that's ok, we have free will. I just believe it's worth mentioning that we have the potential to use all of these substances more mindfully, and perhaps someday, we will.
We read about tech giants micro-dosing LSD or using Adderal daily because it heightens their senses and enables them to work more proficiently. Our economy would most likely come to a grinding halt if coffee were no longer readily available and your average Joe can't imagine a fun night out that doesn't involve alcohol. Marijuana can be medicinal and recreational, and while it's even better that it's now legal in many states, many people seem to ignore the fact that smoking it daily from morning until evening might not be, well, healthy. The number of people who haven't taken the time to seek out what alternatives they have to anti-anxiety or anti-depressant pharmaceuticals is alarming.
During the intake with a first-time client, I make it a point to tell them asking about what medications they take, I'm not legally or professionally qualified to make usage suggestions, it just helps me understand their body a little better. Many of us share the belief that the human body was not designed to take in pharmaceuticals daily and that doing so has dire consequences. Does little Timmy down the street need that Ritilin as badly as his elderly neighbor needs his medication for epilepsy? Who's misdiagnosed into addiction (mental or physical) and who has no other choice? According to the gospel of modern medicine, only medical professionals are fit to make that decision about their patients, not the patients themselves.
I recall eons ago before I made the decision to become a bodyworker, I was enjoying a hash-laced cigarette in Nepal on the roof of guesthouse with a Moroccan gentleman. We were discussing the many follies of our respective cultures when he said "The people in your country are crazy! They take pills for everything; depression, anxiety, focus...you don't think there's a problem with that?" I replied "I couldn't agree more. The problem is that they use those medication in the wrong way. Those things are meant for people who've gone over the edge or are well on their way. They give the person a moment of clarity at this wall they've come to so they can see what that clarity feels like. I personally believe that's when it's time for the doctor to say 'This is what it's like to feel somewhat balanced; let's see if we can achieve this feeling naturally.'" He seemed to agree with that logic.
I realize that some people have extreme cases and require medication daily. It's not always that simple as finding a natural alternative. But, if we're being honest, it's simpler than many allopathic MD's might have their patients believe. If you think for one moment that prescribed drugs are well administered and always serve the patient's health, then I'd like to remind you of the opioid crises our nation currently faces, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
I enjoy my cup of dark roast when I have a stack of student papers to read through and there's nothing like a stout or cider (or two or three) on a cold night. Freedom to choose as an adult goes hand in hand with the freedom to make poor decisions, regardless of what somebody chooses to ingest, inject, snort, or smoke. I just hope for the day that we've found the greatest uses of these tools that we have at our disposal in a way that truly serves us. I believe that's one of the many steps that will help us evolve as a society and I hope to see a greater movement towards that in my life-time.