Tag Archives: addiction

Why psychedelics are illegal

Many people crudely think that all illegal drugs are illegal because they are physically dangerous to the user. That is not the case. Different substances have been made illegal at different times and for different reasons.

Some substances are rightly illegal because they are physically dangerous. Heroin, crack and GHB are examples of dangerous substances that pose a very real risk to the user. Ironically though the two most dangerous drugs – alcohol and tobacco – are not illegal.

Other substances are however illegal for very different reasons. Two reasons are very prominent: because they are perceived as dangerous to the status quo and to target and persecute specific groups.

Just the other day I was asked why psychedelics are illegal. They are obviously extremely useful medicines and also very safe when used correctly. Well, there are several reasons for them being illegal and most of them have nothing to do with health, but let us begin with the health issue.

Psychedelics are commonly non-toxic and pose no physical threat even at extreme doses. Most of these substances are not even possible to overdose to the degree that they would be life threatening. But there is one real health risk and that is to the user’s mental health. Psychedelics have the unique capacity of unlocking the doors of the unconscious mind. They can release what has been carefully locked away and repressed. This is of course what makes them such powerful therapeutic tools, but if the person isn’t open to taking care of what comes up the experience can be quite traumatic. The same goes for other kinds of therapy, meditation and contemplation. If you aren’t ready to meet what you have repressed you shouldn’t do or take anything that will uncover what you have buried.

nixon_militaryBut besides this, what were the perceived dangers that made psychedelics illegal? To grasp this one must look at the historical setting. Where did the push to criminalize come from and what is the backdrop? To understand this we need to go back to the USA in the mid 1960’s. Government at all levels were in a cold war state of mind trying to root out possible dissidents within. The Vietnam war had dragged on for ten years, US involvement was sharply rising, as was the death toll. It was a time for hardliners and hawks. JFK had been murdered and the much less diplomatic Lyndon B Johnson took his place. He was then followed by one of the fathers of the War on Drugs – Richard Nixon.

At the same time a very vocal and at times even revolutionary opposition was forming at home. There were many different movements with many different objectives, but when talking about psychedelics the hippies are of course at the focal point. What were they up to? They protested, burnt draft cards, let their hair grow, dressed strangely and promoted free sex, just to name a few things. In the eyes of a person like Nixon, and there were many like him at the time, they were trouble makers who were upsetting the status quo. They were anti-establishment peacemongerers and as such perceived as threatening by the establishment.

At the very core of that opposition was the experimentation with drugs and the one that has forever been associated with the hippie movement is of course the psychedelic LSD. So what was it about LSD that sparked this opposition and backlash towards the establishment? I think the ethnobotanist psychonaut Terence McKenna was spot on when he said that “they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behaviour and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”

Photo: DaveHippie by studio muscle on Flickr
Photo: DaveHippie by studio muscle on Flickr

What LSD did was to awaken people from their cultural programming and indoctrination and let them see the world with other eyes. When they did so they could not accept what they had been taught, so they rebelled. They rebelled against violence, militarism and domination and instead sought “peace, love and understanding”.

On a side note both the CIA the American military had experimented heavily with LSD before it found its way to the hippies. One notable side effect was that quite a few soldiers that had been given it laid down their guns and refused to pick them up again.

For a person like Nixon this was all extremely threatening. To him America was losing its youth to a drug culture that was in direct opposition to the establishment. And he certainly had a point. If you want people to follow orders, be aggressive towards one another, go to war and kill people you will not want to give them LSD, because they will start thinking for themselves, refuse to follow orders and will refuse violence.

LSD was not made illegal because it is physically harmful to the person taking it. It was made illegal because it makes people question authority and social injustices and prompts them to do something about it. LSD and psychedelics threatened and still threatens the fabric of domination culture by showing people that another world is possible.

While many believe that our drug laws are there to protect us we have in fact inherited most of them from a time when domination culture was scared of losing control. Our drug laws are in many cases in place to hinder mind expansion and rebellion against the violent domination culture and the status quo, and most certainly so when it comes to psychedelics.

This is a pattern of dominance which is repeating itself.

Today the political establishment are the ones oppressing and persecuting the users of psychedelics. Yesterday it was the church. The brutal persecution of witches, witchdoctors, healers, shamans and anyone seeking other modalities of healing or other ways of reaching the divine was the church’s version of the War on Drugs. The vocabulary surrounding it all was different but still quite similar. Instead of safety and health concerns the church would talk about being in contact with or possessed by the devil or evil spirits.

Witch BurningWhile they might well have believed their own story, just as many do with the story of domineering culture of today, it was ultimately based in a fear of losing control over people. As many, perhaps even most, who work with psychedelics will attest to, psychedelics are often a door to the divine. They break down the limitations of our cultural programming. When it comes to the church there has often been an idea that certain people should act as intermediaries for the rest of us, thus the control over the contact with the divine and the divine will has been hijacked by priests and such. What psychedelics often do in that case is give the user his/her own personal contact with the divine, making the intermediary superfluous. For someone who wants to maintain control over other people this is of course extremely threatening and also provocative to the point where the church would be willing to kill people.

One needs to remember that the greatest threat to the church is that each and every one of us would be able to have our own contact with the divine. If we did have that contact the church would soon be redundant, at least as an interpreter of God’s will,  so it lies in the interest of the individual career makers within and also in the organisations themselves to see to it that people do not have their own contact with the divine.

And that is of course the pattern of domineering that is repeating itself today. A lot of people, organisations and companies stand to lose a lot of money and power when psychedelics are let free. It is in their interest to keep them illegal. If you could solve addiction, PTSD, depression and such with one or a few psychedelic trips the medical and pharmaceutical industry would take a huge dive. If people would stop tolerating violence that would mean the end of the military and the industries that profit from war. If each and every one would be given the tools for connecting with the divine themselves the world religions would lose their strangle hold on the minds of people.

It is in the interest of anyone who wants to dominate someone else that psychedelics are kept illegal and are continually persecuted.

That is why psychedelics are illegal.

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Naysha: Uses of tobacco in shamanism

The image of tobacco nowadays had been severely damaged thanks to the industry of commercial cigarettes and the ego of the business man.

I remember a beautiful experience that was shared with me after an Ayahuasca ceremony. A guy from England told me that the tobacco spirit had talked with him:
– I saw a beautiful black woman crying. She introduced herself as the female energy of the tobacco spirit. She told him that she was so sad for what people are doing with her. “They are putting poison in my leaves and then people believe that I am making them sick. You must tell them this. The traditional way of using my power must be known and people should know the difference between a cigarette and the tobacco itself.”

Why is tobacco used in Ayahuasca ceremonies?

Tobacco is known to be a very powerful spirit which is used for protection, cleaning and also as a vehicle to give energy.

1. For protection it is used to open and create a safe ceremonial area before ceremonies. The shaman uses it to bless the four directions – north, south, west and east – and to call the spirits that will guard the ceremony. Spirits love tobacco; it’s like chocolate to women. When closing the ceremony some shamans like to go to each participant and give them protection against other energies that can disturb the person after the ceremony is closed. When the shaman closes the ceremony again he or she thanks the spirits for the journey by using tobacco.

2. For cleaning. If the space where the ceremony is being held has a kind of heavy or stuck energy the shaman will detect it and blow tobacco smoke to clean it, and it is the same with people. If a person feels that the energies that s/he is seeing during the ceremony are not of a good vibration the shaman can blow tobacco smoke around the aura of the person.

Tobacco also helps with vomiting. If you are struggling to vomit during Ayahuasca, smoking a mapacho will fix the problem. A mapacho is a natural cigarette made from dry tobacco leafs without any additives. It is what the shamans in the Amazon always use.

3. As a vehicle to give energy. When a person feels weakened during the ceremony or is struggling too much with the purge process, then the shaman can transfer a part of his or her energy in the mapacho smoke. This action is known like “ikarar”.

Some shamans like to give tobacco purges before the Ayahuasca ceremony because it helps with cleansing and purifying the energy. It is also good for activating the third eye.

What is a tobacco purge?

The night before one leaves a couple mapachos without the paper in glass of water. Next morning you will drink the water and after a couple of minutes you will vomit. Don’t try to do this if you don’t know how many mapachos you need, because if your tobacco purge preparation isn’t strong enough you won’t be able to vomit and you will just end up intoxicating yourself. Never cook tobacco from mapachos because it’s already a hot plant and if you boil it you are just making a poison. Some shamans likes to cook the Ayahuasca with mapachos and in my experience it just creates distractions for the body. My liver hurts most of the time and it’s an ugly experience. I don’t know why these shamans do it? In my opinion it is pure stupidity. If you want to meet the tobacco spirit it would be better to cook the Ayahuasca with a fresh leaf of tobacco.

The tobacco diet is an important diet for the shamans that need protection for the work they are doing. It’s a hard diet and its follow the same diets rules but you only drink the tobacco/mapacho juice for 3 days.

Can mapachos create addiction?

No, in my experience it does the absolute opposite. Before my training and diets I used to smoke a lot of store bought cigarettes, like 2 or 3 boxes per day. Then somebody invited me to smoke a mapacho and as soon I smoked it I just couldn’t smoke ordinary cigarettes anymore because I immediately react to the poison in the cigarette. I can feel all the chemicals inside the cigarette and it is disgusting. When I moved to Sweden I didn’t even notice that I was not smoking because it’s not possible to find mapachos in regulars stores in Sweden. After having smoked mapachos I didn’t have any problems even not smoking mapachos. After almost two years away of Peru the cigarette smells still make me feel sick.

Naysha Silva Romero

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As many chances as you need

The general rule is that you get however many chances you need to complete your lesson. You always get a second chance. And a third, a fourth, a fifth and however many you need.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be given a second chance by the same person or even in the same life, but in fact you won’t be able to move forward before you get it right.

Now some pessimists might think that there is no incentive to complete the lesson and move on. That the rule of having all the chances in the world will make slackers. Well, there are at least two things that push people to move on. The first is that the lesson becomes harsher each time it comes around in order to motivate us to move forward. Life wants us to evolve. The second is that it becomes outright boring to work on the same lesson over and over.

Let’s take the example of addiction. Life will give you as many chances that you need to overcome an addiction. If that is part of your life lesson you will have every chance. Now that doesn’t mean that the same person will give you unlimited chances. There will certainly be people and institutions that get fed up with you after a while and let go of you, but there will always be new doors opening for you to end your addiction, all the way up until your death bed. And if you aren’t able to solve it in this life you will bring the lesson along to the next, so even if you manage to end it five minutes before your death it is a victory, because you won’t have to go through the same painful journey all over again.

The first times that you get into contact with your lesson the effort needed to break the addiction will be quite small, but it might at the same time not feel very pressing. You might not have felt enough harm and pain to fully understand the importance of dealing with it, so you stay in it. But with time and with each door you close the lesson will become harsher. The harm will increase and so will the pain. What was once a soft and barely distinguishable alarm will grow to a siren right next to you until you simply cannot ignore it anymore. And you will be fed up with your lesson, with yourself and perhaps even with this life because you are just hurting yourself in the same way over and over again. You will be frustrated and bored and longing for change until one day you finally learn the lesson.

Then there will be a great release.

And after that another lesson. That lesson will be all new and might even be quite intriguing. In the beginning you might not even notice the opportunities you are being given to learn the lesson. Perhaps you can’t see the need of learning it at all so you pass up the opportunities. But don’t worry. You will have all the chances you will ever need to learn the lesson. That is simply how it works.

Photo: drink up, its summer by Jeff Ruane on Flickr

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10 questions about drugs

1. Which is the most common rape drug?

2. Which drug is associated with the most violence?

3. Which drug kills most people?

4. What kind of drugs are responsible for the most overdose deaths?

5. Name two drugs that have never killed anyone.

6. Name two drugs that have no or very little addictive properties.

7. Name two drugs that break addiction.

8. Name two drugs that are used to cure depression, trauma and abuse.

9. Which drugs are legal?

10. Which drugs are the most illegal?

 

You’ll find the correct answers below the picture.

Photo: Drug questions by Ano Lobb on Flickr.
Photo: Drug questions by Ano Lobb on Flickr

 

There are obviously legal, country and time specific variations to these answers, but this is the general picture.

1. Which is the most common rape drug?
Alcohol is the most common rape drug. Many think that they need to be wary of people who want to spike their drinks with other drugs, but in the overwhelming majority of cases it is the alcoholic drink itself that is the rape drug. Victims and offenders are often drunk and even when there are other drugs in the mix, alcohol is almost always the main drug.

2. Which drug is associated with the most violence?
Alcohol is involved in most cases of violence. 70 to 90 percent of all violence (wars excluded) is directly linked to alcohol. This is as true for domestic violence as it is for violent encounters between strangers. There are a few other drugs (mainly ego enhancing and consciousness decreasing drugs) that are also associated with violence, but even in cases when other drugs are present alcohol is usually the main drug.

This diagram gives you a hint at how many deaths are attributed to different drugs in the UK 2011. It is however misleading since the tobacco part of the diagram only shows England, while the other circles include all of the UK. In other words, the tobacco circle should be far much bigger than it is in this picture.
This diagram shows you how many deaths were attributed to different drugs in the UK 2011. The very large circle represent deaths due to tobacco and the next biggest one is alcohol. In third place we find opiates and opiate substitutes, which are mostly found in legal medications. In fourth place are legal anti-depressants and in fifth are legal benzodiazepines. In other words, all the big killer drugs except for heroin are legal.

3. Which drug kills most people?
Tobacco is by far the most lethal drug. Tobacco kills more people than all other legal and illegal drugs combined. Alcohol is the second most deadly drug and in third place we find prescription medications. Science is having a hard time putting these in relation to each other, but estimates are that tobacco takes somewhere between two and fifteen times as many lives as alcohol.

4. What kind of drugs are responsible for the most overdose deaths?
Pharmaceutical drugs/prescription medicines are the most commonly overdosed with a deadly outcome. One reason is of course the availability but another very important reason is that medications often are highly toxic.

5. Name two drugs that have never killed anyone.
LSD, cannabis and magic mushrooms are a few non-lethal drugs, but there are certainly more. The doses needed to die from them are simply so ridiculously high that it is physically impossible to consume such quantities of cannabis or mushrooms. In the case of LSD it is probably possible to take that much, but you would need to take thousands of doses and as far as I know that still hasn’t happened. It is of course possible to die in an accident or such while on these drugs, but even so these are not drugs that typically make users accident prone. Science rather suggests that people using these drugs are usually more careful and considerate.

6. Name two drugs that have no or very little addictive properties.

Photo: Hícuri by Mierdamian Rondana on Flickr
Photo: Hícuri by Mierdamian Rondana on Flickr

Psychedelics generally have strong anti-addictive properties and are therefore fantastic for breaking addiction. Some such drugs are LSD, magic mushrooms (psilocybin), San Pedro/Peyote (mescaline), Ayahuasca, DMT, Iboga (ibogaine) and Salvia Divinorum. Another thing that several of the psychedelics have in common is that the user’s tolerance towards them increases rapidly, so even if a user would want to use it several days in a row it would quickly become meaningless to do so because the effects would vanish.

7. Name two drugs that break addiction.
LSD, magic mushrooms and Iboga are all well known in the treatment of addicts, but psychedelics of all kinds can be helpful. Before being made illegal LSD was among other things used to cure alcoholism. AA co-founder Bill Wilson was an advocate of using it specifically to treat cynical alcoholics by giving them a spiritual experience. Ironically LSD had a higher success rate of curing alcoholics than AA or any other program has ever had.

8. Name two drugs that are used to cure depression, trauma and abuse.
Again, psychedelics are fantastic tools for curing depression, trauma and abuse, especially LSD, magic mushrooms, Ayahuasca and San Pedro/Peyote. They make the user more aware of his/her situation and give insights and experiences that help the user deal with past trauma. Within a spiritual context the plants are especially helpful since they actually speak to the user in a way that an isolated substance cannot do.

Western chemical based medicine often uses medications such as anti-depressants but these medicines most often only put a lid on things and sedate the person. These medicines are also highly addictive and toxic, which makes them very dangerous in comparison.

9. Which drugs are legal?
Alcohol and tobacco are legal, although you need to be of a certain age to buy them. Prescription medications are legal as long as you have a prescription.

10. Which drugs are the most illegal?

Contrary to what many think today's drug laws are not based on science but on politics. For example, did you know that the push to make cannabis illegal was mostly based on racism?
Contrary to what many think today’s drug laws are not based on science but on politics. For example, did you know that the push to make cannabis illegal was greatly based on racism?

Class A drugs are defined as drugs that are especially harmful, have a high abuse potential and that have no medical value. Among these you will find heroin, crack, cocaine, cannabis, LSD, magic mushrooms and mescaline. Which class a drug is placed in is however a political decision, not a scientific one. From a strictly scientific point of view this classification is utterly absurd. Heroin and crack would definitely fall within the definition of a class A drug, but so would the legal drugs alcohol and tobacco since they obviously are extremely addictive, harmful and lack all medical value. The psychedelics and cannabis on the other hand are proven to have huge medical value and do very little harm, so they would be stricken if the list was based on science. It appears however that drug policies are among the least scientifically based policies today.

Main photo: fififififiesta! by Adriano Agulló on Flickr

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I do not promote the use of drugs

I have on a few occasions been accused of promoting drugs.

I want to be crystal clear about this.

I DO NOT PROMOTE THE USE OF DRUGS.

By drugs I mean something one uses to flee from or numb oneself, without there being a good reason for doing so. For example, I have nothing against the use of reasonable amounts of painkillers to temporarily deal with pain. But if you start popping painkillers to get high or numb emotional pain that you should be dealing with, then I am against it.

Being against it does not however mean that I think it should be illegal. I do not think anyone should be persecuted or punished for using a plant or substance to flee from or numb themselves. People do so for a reason. They don’t have the tools to deal with pain in life. They are traumatized and hurting. They suffer from addiction, which they have often inherited. People should not be punished for trying to deal with their pain, even if they do so in ways that aren’t good.

All the effort that we are putting into stigmatizing, persecuting and punishing people should be re-directed to helping them heal. We should be giving them the best help we can and nobody should be afraid to ask for help, as people are under the current drug laws. Therefore I promote changing the drug laws radically, since they are causing enormous harm to individuals and to society as a whole.

I do promote the use of PSYCHEDELIC MEDICINE.

I am forever grateful for the healing and guidance that psychedelics have given me. And I have seen so much healing with such medicines. I have seen many breakthroughs that modern medicine could not describe in any other term than miraculous. But having worked with psychedelic medicine in the shamanic tradition I know that it would only be called so for lack of understanding.

Psychedelic medicines aren’t miraculous. They just provide healing that is beyond what many people can comprehend. That people can’t comprehend it doesn’t make it less real. It just means that they do not understand.

Our society is in desperate need of such medicine. We have so much healing that needs to be done. We need to reconnect with our roots, with all living beings, with mother Earth and with the Universe. We desperately need the guidance of the divine within ourselves.

That is what psychedelic medicine can do for us. Is doing for us.

I also promote every persons inherent right to THEIR OWN PATH.

People have free will. We all have a choice to make in every situation. Our choices, good or bad, create our life path and provide us with the lessons we need to learn in life. Trying to strip people of their inherent right to their own bodies, their own life, is the nastiest oppression. Trying to strip people of their free will is as evil as any Auschwitz, Gulag or Killing Fields have ever been. The fact that people try to do so under the pretense that they want to do good, that they want to help, and that they do so using law and state force does not make it any better. In fact it makes it so much worse, because they are unwilling to face and take responsibility for the pain and evil they are inflicting onto others. It is a crime against humanity.

Anyone with a kind heart and a sound mind should be disgusted and outraged by such laws.

So no, I definitely do NOT promote the use of drugs.
I especially do NOT promote the use of harmful drugs,
such as alcohol, nicotine, antidepressants and opiates.
I DO promote helping and healing
our fellow human beings who are in pain.
I DO promote the use of medicine,
psychedelic or otherwise,
that helps.
And I most definitely DO promote human free will
and every person’s right
to their own body and path through life.

Photo: Canopy by David Goehring on Flickr

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Why doctors should not be the first to meet patients with mental issues

Mental health problems often have their root cause in stress, trauma, abuse, addiction, and such. When we do not take care of unpleasant or challenging parts of life we eventually become ill. Sometimes it takes on physical expressions such as pain, but often it takes on mental expressions such as anxiety or depression. The only way I know of to actually recover from such states is to work with one’s personal development, to solve one’s life issues.

Efexor by mikael altemark on Flickr
Efexor by mikael altemark on Flickr

The problem with antidepressants is that they tend to put a lid on the symptoms without addressing the cause. I suppose the Swedish healthcare system hopes that a therapist will take over from there, but that contact often seems to be poor or non-existent. Therefore we today find ourselves in the situation that we are casually mass medicating the people with antidepressants without proper therapeutic backing, which means that many are getting medical help to put a lid on things, but are not getting the therapeutic support they need to actually solve the underlying problem. For many the antidepressants effectively lower the willingness to work with themselves, which sabotages their recovery. In addition there are all the terrible side effects reported, covering pretty much everything from apathy and obliterated sexual drive to suicide attempts.

I am not saying that such drugs have no raison d’être. They can be very helpful, especially in emergency situations. But before taking such drastic measures as to expose someone to medications with potentially lethal side effects, there are many other things you might try first.

● ● ●

Self help

There is a great lack of awareness about how one can help oneself and others suffering from mental illness. Our educational system is so obsessed with measurable subject knowledge that it has very much neglected the truly important life lessons. Life skills should be a major school subject and include such things as how to take care of oneself, how to heal and evolve. A knowledgeable population can do far more for its recovery and well-being than the healthcare system can ever hope to do.

Lifestyle changes

In time depressed people program themselves to feel bad. It is often manifested in how they eat, dress, what the listen to, what routines they have, and more. Many find themselves in bad relationships, they are unhappy with their job or just generally miserable. Life coaches, nutritionists or Ayurveda doctors could be helpful to break negative patterns and focus on good goals.

Movement

Mental illness is reflected in the body. In the beginning only in the energy system, but over time it will become more physical. Movement is generally good because it gets the body’s energy flowing. Two traditions that are particularly good at working with our body and energy flow are yoga and chi gong. Dancing is also a great therapeutic tool.

Body therapy

Many feel alienated from their bodies and need much more body contact than they get, or allow themselves to receive. There are plenty of body therapies that may be helpful, such as medical massage, tactile massage, tantric massage, healing and courses in body awareness.

Meditation

While in a meditative state we release tensions and stress while also finding inner silence. In that silence it is often easy to find answers to why one feels bad and what needs to be done about it. In order to work therapeutically with meditation it is important to be prepared to take care of the stuff that it turns up. There are many more related practices in the alternative field, such as regressions, dancing, drum journeys and nature contact.

Talking

It is good to have a wise person to talk to when needed. Someone who can listen, reflect, challenge, inspire and help us find the answers ourselves. There are many people trying to do just that under such titles as psychologist, therapist, counselor, life coach, priest, witch and shaman. Other titles are less formal, such as a best friend or mother. It may be a tough journey to get out of a depression and it is good to have the support of someone.

Traditional medicine
Bushy Park 10-08-12 - 15 by Garry Knight on Flickr
Bushy Park 10-08-12 – 15 by Garry Knight on Flickr

There is much in nature that can be helpful in curing depression. St John’s Wort is for example an excellent way of naturally raising the serotonin levels. 2-3 cups of St John’s Wort tea for a few weeks makes a noticeable difference. The old Indian health system Ayurveda is also particularly interesting, because it works with food as medicine. The underlying idea is that disease is an imbalance in our body, which can be balanced with the right food. When it comes to the link between health and food, which have a strong correlation, your average Ayurveda doctor generally knows significantly more than both Western doctors and nutritionists.

● ● ●

It is worrisome that doctors are the first to meet these patients. Doctors are specialized in medicine and therefore see medical solutions to the problems they encounter in humans. A therapist could, for example, meet a patient and see a person who needs to work with her bad self-confidence and make a plan for how to do so. A doctor on the other hand will listen to the patient’s symptoms and then turn to their library of drugs to find one that matches the symptoms.

In a way one can of course say that doctors are just doing their job. They are experts in medicine. When I look at it from the outside, I see a profession which lacks self-awareness. When it comes to really solving problems such as depression the doctor is a novice. If you want to help other people it is incredibly important to understand ones tools and their limitations. A person who has a broken leg should for example not be treated with healing and a change of diet. That person needs an emergency room doctor. A person who will treat a fracture with healing alone is probably somewhat of a charlatan, but is probably mostly clueless to their own limitations.

Stop, Collaborate and Listen by Mark on Flickr
Stop, Collaborate and Listen by Mark on Flickr

In my eyes a doctor who will medicate someone with antidepressants without further thought falls into the same category of dangerously ignorant people who should be called quacks. Medicines such as antidepressants are in no way a reasonable first response to someone feeling bad. Antidepressants are a disproportionate response, and when one adds that the medication lacks a proper therapeutic connection to the tools that the patient wants to work with, it shows a profound ignorance on the doctor’s side.

To summarize what I have written – it is currently the wrong profession that has the first contact with the patient, which often sabotages recovery. Antidepressants are the wrong tool to use, it is regularly used way too early and the connection to other therapy is at best patchy.

If we actually want to have a healthier population, this is a system error that needs to be addressed.

Photo: Electronic Shaman by Surian Soosay on Flickr

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The choice

There is only one essential step to breaking free of addictive behaviour. Stop doing it. It doesn’t matter if you’re quitting alcohol, drugs, smoking, gambling, overworking, overeating or fucking strangers. The process has one step. Stop it.

Many people have put a lot of effort into finding ways to achieve that. They have invented treatments and drugs, but no matter what framework one constructs around it all, it still all comes down to making that choice. No treatment will make the slightest difference if one is not dedicated to the choice of kicking the habit. That is why it is a waste of time trying to treat someone that does not want treatment.

Photo: Portrait #119 PérineMallory Friendly smoking by Valentin Ottone on Flickr

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Goo, glue and sticky

For a long time I thought that I only suffered from sex addiction. Then she made it clear to me that I abuse relationships as well.

After exploring it for a while I found a metaphor that I think is a pretty good illustration of three levels of my problem. I call it gooey, gluey and sticky.

The goo is easy to spot. It is the grossest sex addiction, where the other person is no more than a body for me to project my fantasies on. It is just as messy and disgusting as it sounds.

The gluey is not as vulgar, and can often be mistaken for love. I do not feel whole in myself, therefore I must attach myself to someone else in order to feel whole. There jealousy, manipulations and control needs grow, because everything that threatens the state of things can quickly turn my world upside down and make me feel half again.

The sticky is the Post-It variation of it all. I so very much like being with you and I miss you before even having left you. I can leave you, even if it is under some anguish, but the longing lingers. This feels much better than the gooey or gluey, and I experience it as part of the recovery process, but it still isn’t in balance.

Sometimes I get to the point where even the sticky ceases to be. There is only bubbling joy, laughter and gratitude for everything that I get. It is all a part of the adventure of lovingly dancing through life. It just is. When I stop chasing things. When I stop expecting. When I don’t even hope for a specific outcome. When I let go of trying to control things. When I stop comparing. Then I get everything I want, without even having to ask for it.

Photo: From the End of the Bed by Lies Thru a Lens on Flickr

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A letter to the politicians of Sweden

Today I sent a Swedish version of this e-mail to all politicians in the Swedish parliament and government, as well as some party board members, MEPs, party secretariat staff and the political youth party organizations.

● ● ●

Hello!

My name is Daniel Wilby and nine years ago I was literally about to drink myself to death. I was on the run from life and I accused everyone else for my pain. Around that time I began smoking cannabis, and at one point my pusher offered me some LSD. I bought it thinking that it would offer yet another escape from life.

Something happened during that first LSD trip. I was able to move outside of my body and from that perspective I could see that all the pain in my life, all the sorrow, all the hurt that I wanted to escape from was my own creation. When I saw that, I realized that the power over my life originated from myself, and just as I had chosen to feel bad and hurt myself, I could choose the opposite – to heal and fill my life with joy and love.

I came back to my body and decided to take responsibility for my life. My 13 year long and deep alcohol abuse ended abruptly that night. It took me another three months of intensive work, with the help of LSD, to heal a four year long very severe depression.

Since then I have worked hard to heal myself and sometimes also guided others. At first I thought that my recovery was unique. Gradually, I realized that it was not. Such stories are very common among people who work with psychedelics.

Meanwhile I naturally followed the Swedish drug debate, and I am frankly quite angry and deeply disappointed at the low level of it. Today’s drug laws harm a great many people and those that debate and legislate are obviously deeply ignorant. Science is replaced by a very damaging dogmatism, while healing and spiritual exploration is persecuted and stigmatized. The laws that should protect the individual’s right to health and spiritual freedom, are instead curtailing these rights in today’s simplistic and offensive drug policy.

Here are five blog posts that I wrote last week. I would be grateful if you took the time to read them, to nuance the picture given in the drugs debate. You are most welcome to get in contact with me if you have thoughts, concerns or questions.

People’s stories of having used illegal substances to heal and grow.

The consequences of today’s drug laws.

The problems with today’s drug laws from a spiritual perspective.

How we can get out of the dead end that today’s drug laws are.

Addiction treatment after the paradigm shift in drug policy.

Finally, I want to say that I hope that you and your political party in the future works for:
● a real change in how we treat the most vulnerable among our fellow humans.
● broadening the way society looks at and works with healing.
● people’s right to their own spirituality.
● correcting the image of different substances that are currently illegal and that many of them, if not all, are promptly legalized.

Sincerely

Daniel Wilby

Photo: Party leader debate between Stefan Löfven (S) and Annie Lööf (C) by Melker Dahlstrand.

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A future for addiction treatment

After several blog posts where I have explained how profoundly detrimental today’s drug laws are and how legalization could work, it feels important to write something about addiction treatment after such a paradigm shift.

The question is: what kind of addiction treatment do we want to see in the future? But before I go into that, I first want to say something about addiction and addicts.

What is addiction?

No name by Christian Scheja on Flickr
No name by Christian Scheja on Flickr

I define addiction as something compulsive where the person despite serious negative consequences is not capable of changing their behaviour. Addiction is often surrounded by a lack of awareness about ones problems, or an unwillingness to face them.

Note that such a definition can be applied to very many things in life, not only substances. It is common for people to abuse relationships, sex, games, television or food, just to name a few. It is especially important to emphasize that addiction is never inherent to what is being abused, but is something in the addict him/herself.

When people talk about substance abuse in the public debate, it is easy to get the idea that the substance is the cause of addiction, because as soon as anyone uses an illegal substance they are seen as addicts. That is a profoundly erroneous notion that hinders a sensible understanding and good care. Anyone who has sex is not a sex addict. Similarly, not everyone who smokes cannabis is a drug addict. If there is no compulsive behaviour and serious negative consequences, they are merely using the substance. Sending a cannabis user to treatment is as stupid as treating someone who has a healthy relationship with food for bulimia.

The addiction is always in the person. We relieve addiction by helping people to heal their problems, not by chasing substances. If we manage to remove the substance without solving the underlying problem, then the addiction will simply jump and start using another substance or any other area of life. Then nothing is won, because the process of freeing oneself starts over.

What makes an addict?

One can probably find many features that characterize addicts, but these are two that I have seen in all addicts I’ve met.

Fleeing. Behind the addiction is a fear of meeting something within oneself or in the surrounding. It can often be such things as old traumas, abuse, problematic upbringing, shame or guilt. There may also be a fear of actually being as good as one can be. In such cases the abuse becomes a self-sabotage, which is also a way to flee, even if it is from a situation that is potentially better than the one the person is in.

Loss of control. This is the compulsive aspect that I talked about earlier. The situation has spiralled out of control. However, I think that it is incorrect to say that the drugs or someone else has taken control. All power in a person’s life originates from that person. If anything or anyone else is in power, it is because the person has given it away, but often that is not the case. Instead the power is still there but is not being used. Regardless of which, the long term solution is to rediscover and exercise power in one’s life; that is to reintroduce control.

But moving on to addiction treatment.

Help me outta here! Thanks! by Gerry Thomasen on Flickr
Help me outta here! Thanks! by Gerry Thomasen on Flickr

I want as many people as possible get the help they need to recover from addiction. That is not happening today. Instead the support that is being given is often contradictory, since society stigmatizes addicts and prevents or even sabotages the recovery process.

Education. The best prevention* that I can think of is to give young people the tools to deal with difficult situations, resolve trauma and rid themselves of such issues that might make them want to flee. We need to start working on personal development, so that we can identify and deal with the reasons why people want to flee from themselves. When there is no longer a need to flee, the fleeing will stop.

Our society works quite differently today. We learn to avoid that which scares us, rather than to face and deal with it. We prefer to distract or sedate ourselves rather than facing the discomfort. Antidepressant medication is a typical example of this, as it puts the lid on the symptoms instead of curing the cause. I’m not saying that antidepressants are never needed. They can be a very valuable emergency response, but the prolonged mass medication that we see today is a direct result of people not having the tools to deal with the unpleasantness that they encounter in life.

Addiction treatment. I want to see addiction treatment that is much more accessible and less stigmatizing than the one we have today. Reaching out for help should be a small step and help should be available to anyone who seeks it. The aim of treatment should primarily be to tackle the root causes of the addiction and since it is a disease it should be financed within the health care system, but should include more methods of treatment than those available today.

* By preventative work I do not mean to discourage people from using substances. I mean to prepare people to face life in such a way that they do not need to use substances to flee from themselves and thereby end up in an addiction.

Main photo: The Help by Marina del Castell on Flickr

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