March 18, 2018

Are we really Addicted to the Substances—or to the Feeling?

Editor’s Note: Elephant is not your doctor or hospital. Our lawyers would say “this website is not designed to, and should not be construed to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Always consult a health professional before trying out new home therapies or changing your diet.” But we can’t afford lawyers, and you knew all that. ~ Ed.


Do we share the common belief that drugs are addictive?

What if I say that most drugs are not? I’m talking about substances such as LSD, MDMA, psilocybin mushrooms, DMT, ketamine, marihuana, and even alcohol, coffee, and tobacco

I know that thousands of people are addicted to cigarettes and that many deaths are related to nicotine addiction.

But we need to question whether we are really addicted to the substance itself.

What if we are not addicted to the substance but to the feeling the substance evokes within us? Of course, over time, our body also gets used to the substance and will show withdrawal symptoms, but I am talking about the beginning: why do we get addicted in the first place?

Let’s go back to the example of tobacco.

The tobacco plant is a sacred plant, used in the Amazon by indigenous people for its protective spirit. It is a masculine energy that helps to ground us, eases anxiety and unrest. It calms us, helps us to breath when we forget because we are anxious inside. Is it possible that people who are addicted to tobacco are actually searching for that inner peacefulness with every inhale they take? Our fast-paced society that values productivity over emotional wellbeing causes many of us to feel uneasy and restless, and often, we are so used to these sensations that we are not even aware of them. The tobacco plant provides a feeling of inner safety and stillness. Can it be that this is what the addicts are searching for?

Marihuana guides us to relax and to calm our minds. In indigenous cultures, it is the female version of a protector plant. It slows us down and reminds us of what matters most in our life. It helps us to feel and grants us comfort. Is it possible that marihuana addicts are driven by the search for deep relaxation, comfort, and calmness of the mind?

Alcohol helps us to let loose, to let go of responsibility and control.

Coffee gives us energy and motivates us for the things that we would naturally not find the motivation for.

Ketamine helps us to not feel our body and numbs our bodily sensations.

MDMA gives us a feeling of absolute bliss and grants us several hours of no worries.

LSD and psilocybin mushrooms open the gates to other dimensions in which we can lose ourselves.

Do we agree that this is what we are addicted to: the ease, the relaxation, the letting go, the energy and motivation, the forgetting of pain, the feeling of bliss, the escape of reality?

And yes, if the substance gives us exactly this feeling we are searching for, there is a high chance of becoming addicted.

But while the substance creates the addiction on the surface, let’s dig deeper and find out what’s underneath.

The question is:

Why am I anxious?
Why can’t I relax?
What do I need to let loose of? Whose control do I need to let go of?
Why am I not motivated in what I’m doing in life?
Why don’t I want to feel my body?
Why is my life lacking blissful moments?
Why do I need to escape my reality?
What if the pain is the cause of addiction?

Addiction expert Gabor Maté uses the following definition: “Addiction is any behavior, substance-related or not, that a person engages in, finds temporary pleasure or relief in but suffers negative consequences and still doesn’t give it up.”

According to this definition, who can say that they have not indulged in an addictive behavior at some point in their life? We all have. And the reason behind is always to fill an empty void inside of us created by an unfulfilled need. Our society stigmatizes the drug user and judges the drugs but by doing so we are just blaming the symptoms instead of looking at the hidden cause underneath.

To cure an addiction, we need to address the pain. We need to fill the inner void with the feeling that the drug provides in other ways, or we can ask the drug to teach us how to properly fill it. It is never a question of controlling the addiction, but it is about meeting an unmet need for ourselves that oftentimes hides so well that we are not even aware of it. It’s about changing the environment the addict lives in, it’s about feeling seen and received in relationships, it’s about creating a connection.

And that’s when the conscious use of entheogenic substances can play an important role.

Entheogens—which is the word for substances that let us meet ourselves—can help us to discover our subconscious reasons behind the addiction.

LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, or MDMA combined with the right guidance or psychotherapy have oftentimes proven that they are capable of healing stubborn addictions. In recent years, plenty of scientific studies have been made by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the Johns Hopkins University and other institutions. They all show the same result: certain substances help to treat addiction.

Even the co-founder of Alcoholic Anonymous Bill Wilson credited LSD with helping his own recovery. “The vision and insights given by LSD could create a large incentive—at least in a considerable number of people,” he envisioned.

Ayahuasca and iboga, two powerful teacher plants have shown to cure strong addictions such as to heroin or crack. That is because they send us right into our pain. There is no more escape. The plants guide us to deal with the pain and show us how to fill the inner void.

It is not the drug that creates the addiction. If our intention is to fully meet ourselves, we can enjoy the offerings of the substances without risking to becoming an addict. We can learn from them and enjoy their teachings, dive into our pain and have fun times, relax or feel blissful, and take new insights about ourselves and put the universe back into our reality.

We can learn from tobacco in its liquid form how to ease our general anxiety level. We can let marihuana teach us how to focus on the important things in life. We can use the blissful feeling of MDMA to dive into our deepest fears and release them. We can let the mushrooms and LSD teach us how to manifest a new reality and live a life that we love.

For a moment, we and the substance will become one. We experience the substance and the substance experiences us.

This will create a symbiosis instead of an addiction, just like the bee and the flower—they are not addicted to each other but they do need each other for a specific purpose at a specific moment in time.

The birth of addiction lays in the intend—be it conscious or unconscious.

Do we want to fill a void or do we want to gain insights? Do we want to escape our pain or do we want to dive into it? Do we want to hide from ourselves or meet ourselves? This is the essential difference and the deciding factor to either create an addiction or experience the benefits of a symbiosis.



Why not to smoke pot from a Buddhist point of view.


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Author: Alice Dea
Image: Ladulcevita/ Deviantart 
Editor: Angel Lebailly
Copy & Social editor: Sara Kärpänen

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