Drug Addictions — Toxic Shock
In allopathic and other systems of medicine, what makes the difference and separates a drug from being either a poison or a medicine is dosage and indication. If the right dosage is applied for the proper reason and with the appropriate intention, then a drug can have a healing effect. Still, the same substance could become lethal if the dosage is too high and the indication is wrong. In many traditional and natural medicinal systems however, there is another element when it comes to finding a cure. Prayer and intention are not necessarily synonymous with superstition.
In East Germany, the legal drinking and smoking age was only fourteen! Alcohol and tobacco were readily available from then on. Instead of religious confirmation we had a collective drinking ritual to cross into adulthood. Our entire class visited the homes of all parents from that year’s students in the village where I grew up. All kids including me were served alcoholic beverages at each house. Since there were twenty-three students, we were served that many drinks. I was dragged home half comatose from walking this “tour de pissed.”
A few years later, I downed two 0.7 liters of 40% liquor in 30 minutes together with a friend. This was clearly a sign of foolishness. Perhaps, our actions also resulted from having had access to dangerous legal drugs way too soon and without the rightful education or proper warning on how fatal legal highs can be! My buddy and I, we were both shortly thereafter in care of two beautiful girls who had watched us become dumb-drunk. We tried to be so cool, but really weren’t. As I was lying in the arms of my desired lady and looking into her dark, infinitely beautiful and lovely windows of her soul, my vision blurred. I vomited on her, not so sexy. I even stopped breathing that night and it was the ambulance that saved my life. Since then, my relationship with alcohol has been like that of an old trauma. Statistically, I could have been easily one of many people who lost their lives to this terrible drug, which is illegal in most mid-eastern and Muslim countries.
According to the World Health Organization, 3.3 million people die each year from the harmful use of alcohol world wide, although the true numbers are most probably much higher! Alcohol abuse causes two hundred clinical diseases and injury conditions, which can lead to many more secondary deaths. I saw quite a few patients in the hospital that were admitted with acute pancreatitis, a life-threatening medical condition induced by heavy drinking. If that were not enough, the harmful use of alcohol apparently also leads to many significant social and economic losses for individuals and society at large. But why does this psychotropic drug (alcohol) seem so problematic in contemporary Western society today? Is it because it is legally available and therefore not considered harmful by the general public?
Perhaps, cultural factors, like those I was exposed to in East Germany, have a significant influence on the use and abuse of substances. Alcohol functions as the primary social drug in many Western cultures and it is possible that social drinking has contributed to alcoholism being one of the most cost-intensive diseases of the industrial age! It has been scientifically noted that different relationships with any substance can create a physiological and/or psychological reward pattern. This will influence the structure of use that can develop into abuse, but also increases the likelihood of addiction.
Why has alcohol become so problematical, although the majority of people might be ignorant of it, when so many different types of psychoactive substances have been traditionally used for thousands of years by diverse societies without apparent major issues of substance dependencies ever being recorded? It is an interesting historical fact that throughout the world people were not limited to alcohol and tobacco. Instead, there was a wide range of consciousness altering substances and practices. Humankind, when maintaining a healthy social balance in traditional societies, seems to express a collective necessity to access non-ordinary states of consciousness! Culture, art, and multitudes of ceremonial elements have been directly linked to inebriation.
Leading scholars claim that historically, addiction seems to be a cultural syndrome that started during the beginning of the industrialization of the Western world. Apparently, many public health issues in Western society started with distilled alcohol distribution in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. The dramatic increase in the commercial availability of liquor and its consumption nearly tripled after the 18th century when alcohol-related problems and the associated health risks started to be noticed. This first became a moral issue and is documented as a pathological medical condition proposing treatment of habitual heavy drinking in dedicated clinics. Sigmund Freud and other well-known academics had novel ideas about the psychology of addiction. They proposed new ways of understanding its etiology within the emerging sciences of psychology and psychiatry!
Scientific studies show that the destructive habit of psychoactive substance use, like alcohol, surged among indigenous populations during assimilation into Western culture. This went hand in hand with the loss of costumes, rites, identity, language, and finally, meaning. The pagans of Europe also went through this painful process. Throughout the inquisition many wise women were brutally burned alive as witches! Anyone who openly doubted the indoctrinating religious world views of the Roman Catholic Church was tortured and murdered.
The associated multinational commercialization of alcohol and tobacco today through advertising on TV, in magazines, in airplanes, and elsewhere is part of a powerful mechanism that constructs a dysfunctional culture. Living in separation and fear of nature contributes significantly to the harmful increase of dependent legal drug use! Human beings are social creatures. When we have lost our native roots, we naturally seek affirmations elsewhere. Alcohol and tobacco are often associated with social prestige, like being cool or hip, having a status, acquiring friendships, having happiness, sex, and so forth. Sure, we need to feel connected with each other and when we are not, we automatically become unbalanced and feel lonely. We then try to fill this emotional hole with something else. Consequently, addictions to all kinds of unhealthy patterns have a fertile ground to mature.
It is also notable that many ceremonial substances that were regarded as “sacred plants” in traditional cultures are now bizarrely considered to be harmful in the Western world. In general, modern Western societies’ approach to psychoactive substances from a functional perspective is seeking mainly the narcotic or invigorating effects and not much else! In indigenous world views, however, psychoactive plants have historically been used largely in rituals with spiritual significance and therapeutic value or with reasons of social relevance. Participating in a traditional medicine ceremony often reconnects the individuals who ingested the potent psychoactive concoctions with nature.
Furthermore, in scientific cross-cultural evaluations, the repeated use of psychoactive substances for religious rites is linked to a low level of harm. For instance, tobacco is considered an important plant by many South American tribes. For North American indigenous people tobacco is also a very sacred plant. Tobacco functions with all Native Americans as a primary vehicle to communicate with “Great Spirit,” which could be loosely understood as what many Western people refer to as God. On the contrary in most Western cultures, smoking of tobacco is generally not associated with spiritual intentions. The intentions on the cigarette packs remind the users of cancer, tumors, deaths and so forth. Overall, people still consume it rather automatically, with compulsion, and without thinking of the consequences or their concept of what they consider sacred.
Using psychotropic plants without prayer has proven to be harmful on overall health and the materialistic, culturally rooted attitude encourages the mindless consumption of products and drugs. Without basic education about the cosmic order of things, that everything can be regarded as sacred — medicine plants included — humanity seems to have lost its path. Have we been misguided purposefully for reasons of profit and control? Drugs are made the scapegoat for substance abuse when in truth, addiction and psychological diseases are just a symptom of a dysfunctional Western society!
What constitutes a sacred medicinal plant for some cultures has become a rampant health issue for others! Sadly today, tobacco, with the introduction of cigarettes, marketing strategies, and a massively increased consumption as a result, has become, after alcohol, the most widely consumed drug in the world. Among psychoactive substances, tobacco is responsible for serious health damage worldwide. Tobacco is only one example of many other plants that have widely been used by indigenous people as medicine for healing purposes. Other examples are opium that dates back thousands of years to the Mesopotamian civilization where it was never considered to be a dangerous substance. But when the isolated chemical compounds were introduced to Western culture in the forms of heroin and morphine, they became major issues! Morphine causes many secondary addictions when patients leave hospitals after treatment.
Marijuana has been used as a prayer plant in India and elsewhere. This has been well documented for thousands of years. Profound mystical cultures and spiritual texts resulted from the ritual use of cannabis, a psychotropic drug that was internationally and shamefully hunted just like witches were. It must also be stated here that laws prohibiting certain substances to be used seem to make no major difference on their abuse potential, on the contrary! Despite opiates and opioids being illegal for the general public in the USA, a huge health crisis to opiate addictions has spun way out of control! In the Netherlands however, where marijuana is tolerated, there seems to be a peaceful vibe. The rowdiness behavior as a result of many pubs there is also accepted. In places like Norway and Sweden, where alcohol sales are confined to certain shops and opening hours, people seem to binge drink heavily. Don’t get me wrong. I like to sip on a glass of wine sometimes, although I mostly stopped drinking alcohol and lived many years without touching the stuff. Still, I have observed other people suffering a great deal from alcohol abuse over the years, but I don’t have a problem with people drinking liquor unless it affects me very personally.
Take Aisling for example, a very attractive and creative, powerful Norwegian goddess. She spent her time making costume art for theatrical characters that she designed on the outskirts of a relatively large Scandinavian town next to a beautiful lake. We became very close friends in the course of many years and started living together, first as lovers and later as spouses. Aisling was clairvoyant and she claimed to see the future. Every year I indeed witnessed her foreseeing fashion trends of colors coming into style and I encouraged her to profit off her unique talents, but she was not interested in that.
Aisling described her experience of walking into a room similar to that of the angel-character who heard everyone thinking from the angel’s perspective in the beginning of Wim Wenders’ movie, “Wings of Desire.” In this film, the angel’s experience thankfully did not continue to be portrait since it could drive anyone crazy to hear everyone’s thought processes after a few minutes. Aisling normally could read people’s minds with ease and that was not the only talent, or perhaps curse, she was gifted with! She knew of no internal way to turn off her telepathic abilities and the intensity of hearing everyone’s thought process, without being able to turn them off quickly, overwhelmed her. It made her anxious. She already avoided most social situations because of it. I recommended her to attend a psychic school, such as the Berkeley Psychic Institute for example, where she could probably have learned how to protect herself from other’s psychic energies by using natural methods. Instead she chose alcohol as a way to dull her psychic abilities and calm her senses. This came with a hefty price that would, over time, turn into a real problem for her. I did not recognize it until it was already too late.
* This excerpt of the story “Drug Addictions — Toxic Shock” has been published in Transcendental Journeys – A Visionary Quest for Freedom.
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