How Addicts Can Learn To Find Peace – Part 2

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What happens when our body and mind no longer act as one with our spirit? When the essence of our being begs us to stop, but everything screams for release? We are presented with a choice. We have the power to choose bearing the consequences of our actions…or we can give in to the worst of ourselves. That part, which enslaves itself willingly to escape the burden of freedom.

Nobody can be free in every aspect of their lives. We can’t exist in an absolute state as we are. However, if we can bide our time, we gradually free ourselves from the self-imposed constructs that cause us suffering. One by one. It would take lifetimes, but we could do it. Still, the more issues, we deal with, the more keep cropping up. We think we are solving the problem but we are merely managing the symptoms of the root cause. Addiction is just another symptom of a larger issue. We are all dependent on something. Whether we need nicotine pumping through our veins or can’t function without coffee in the morning doesn’t matter. It’s all the same and here’s why:

We live in an interdependent universe. That implies we can never be entirely self-sufficient and thus can never truly be free from each other, the world or ourselves. So how do we cope? Denial? Brandy? Any form of distraction after the other will do…Yet, what we need is total anarchy. A state, in which we seize the right to govern ourselves. Until then, we are predestined to fight the urge until we no longer can and go down swinging…Either way, we won’t come out of this fight the same as we entered.

When we use, even if we have taken too much, we dont stop, because it has not hit us deep enough instantly. We cannot feel it. We lack the patience to wait…or perhaps we prefer oblivion. Although we need to be kind to ourselves to be free from whatever shit that plagues us, it doesn’t help. The lines of kindness becomes blurred when we provide help for others. We mistake temporary relief for permanent salvation. Our inner sweetheart doesn’t fix the mess, we have made, but the agressive assertiveness of a newborn bitch might… Nonetheless, there’s a darkness in giving into our impulses that provides the illusion of freedom…of the transient peace that we are so often denied. Sometimes, I wondered how I ever had the strength to resist…and then I think of the one thing that changed my life for the better and I find the courage to continue abstaining. Then, there’s that point in recovery, where we have to face the relative truth of our lives, even if it kills us…where I’m reminded of what I am…what I’ll always be…and that’s when I fail. I’m not ashamed to admit to it. It’s a learning curb, I havent been able to grasp just yet. After some inner disagreements, I always give in to it. All that seems to matter is he feeling of when it hits you and quiets everything inside, you are so desperate keep down, because you can’t change or accept it. Unconsciously, I would pay good money to bet, we are aiming for utter self-destruction. BUT, this is no permanent solution. Energy is neither created nor destroyed. Nothing truly dies…So, we are trapped forevermore, until we free ourselves.

When we work the kinda job or live the kind of life, which doesn’t allow for a normal lifestyle, what do functioning addicts do? If all we manage as a meal is a bite or two before we rush off to rectify the next emergency, it can bring us a level of peace. The peace that comes from letting go temporarily. No matter how much we love what we do. When our work is our life, if nothing can give us the same types of satisfaction, there are more restorative kinds… We cannot expect find absolute peace through relative means. What we can anticipate, however, is the resurgence of buried needs until they’re fulfilled, unless we deal with them or overcome them. The only mechanism to bypass this involves unconventional options.

It should be noted, women experience the process differently compared to men. The primary purose of more masculine qualities is short-term defence for long-term protection, whereas a womans is short- and long-term preservation. The methods used are applied very differently and in dissimilar circumstances [i.e. there are set biological genders but any person can channel more or less masculine/feminine energy and thus fall into either category due to to epigenetic predispositions].

In truth, we are far more than our preconceptions, but they make who we think we are. When at the core, all it takes is the real us. Even if we think our own efforts aren’t enough. Sometimes ‘enough’ is what we can bring ourselves to do. After the life I have led, I didn’t believe there was anything more significant to me than shielding myself the world, the system, an inner darkness…in the pursuit of something greater…Perhaps, there isn’t anything but the depraved purity of experience. Perhaps, there is. Only time will tell, but for now, is definitely nothing more important than the fight for stability through clarity.

Click Here For Part 3

How Can Addicts Learn To Find Peace – Part 1

What is peace? We often mistake the feeling of contentment with peace, but few of us will truly know what peace is until they are swept off their feet by it.

That which brings us momentary peace in our daily lives is a misleading form of sense gratification. It is designed to give the illusion of lasting happiness, based on being satisfied with the situation is right now. However, we are not really, we are? After that tiny instant has passed, we strap ourselves back into an emotional rollercoaster of our own making. Truth be told, we choose to suffer through the choices, we have made and continue to make. To detach from this is easier said than done. We cannot simply switch our emotions off. The way we think persists, even if we attempt to force ourselves not to. In fact, the more pressure, we apply on ourselves, the less likely we are to change. We can’t force anyone to do anything that they do not want or are not ready for yet…Including ourselves…We can, however, encourage growing out of behaviour that no longer supports our continued development.

What I’ve learnt is that people prefer my fictional works over the factual content. A few days ago, I sold my first poem before hitting rock-bottom after a very painful relapse. With the amount of alcohol, I consumed, any amateur would have given themselves a hospital level case of alcohol poisoning.
Once again, the same life lesson emerged from the experience:

“Control your mind,
or others will do it for you.”

What triggered the urge to drink initially was something extremely positive, then I was offered to write some poetry, so I set off on my merry way to do just that in a clean and sober state…But things rarely turn out how we expect. Sometimes, we look back and end up asking ourselves, did that just fucking happen? The more relevant question is, why did it happen? Why did we begin to indulge in excess in the first place? If we’ve stopped before, what helped us do so? And lastly, what keeps setting off our need for that substance?
In general, the answers to these questions are designed to form a bigger picture of our triggers. After such deep soul-searching, the process of healing can begin, during which we are encouraged to avoid exposing ourselves to the risks of relapse. This is the reason why rehabilitation treatment comes in three forms:

  1. Open: For medium risk recovery. The person is allowed free time, to roam the premises without supervision after the initial withdrawal symptoms pose no further medical risks. [After the DT stage, for example]
  2. Closed: For high risk recovery. Typically locked facilities that allow for very little privacy. People are usually referred to such places due to mental health problems, criminal conduct or a paid for intervention. The goal is to reach the stage of recovery, in which an open unit can assist them in long term recovery.
  3. Outpatient: My personal favourite for the value that is has when we consider the breakdown of family, community and even society. The person faces their problems from comfort of their own home with the help of family, friends and medical professionals.

Have you seen many serious addicts without a support system stay clean for long without a realistic mission to dedicate their lives to? I haven’t.
Goals are no longer enough at a certain depth of desperation. We drink…We swallow pills…We shoot up…Because otherwise we’d do something, we may regret. When I used to need days to pass quickly in anticipation for something, I would complete all necessary tasks…and just get pissed so hard I wouldn’t remember, I wouldn’t feel the weight of time passing. In fact, I used to bottle things up so deep that they would come out in the most vile manner, even if more pressing matters were at hand. I learnt that the hard way, when I first began blacking out. Luckily, I have never managed to harm myself in the process, others are not so lucky. We can harbour feelings of hurt, buried in layers, which over time grow so intense, we need to black out. We cant consciously express them, so fragments of space-time go missing, in which our inner hellcat takes the wheel…Most of my type of user cant allow themselves to lose control, so we maintain our emotional presence through other means in the absence of another outlet. Hell, we can’t even try to off ourselves sober, because we are too attached to everything around us, but we often don’t feel connected in the slightest. Some of us have numbed themselves to the point of blocking the biochemical processes responsible until the very worst stages of recovery. Others, like me, who lack certain psycho-emotional building blocks, coped without until an event or seveal so big that we can’t cope any longer. When we reached out, and received no help, regret still surfaces for asking after every relapse. In truth, the more we reach out for human connection and are frequently/infrequently rejected, the more we lose faith in a permanent state of recovery….in life as a functioning member of whatever system, we use make sense of communal life in the universe. Mind you, we lose “faith”, not belief. We lose the ability to trust in ourselves, as a result of what we perceive as consistent failure. It’s a tragic tale that applies to countless just like me. We are campaigned for en masse, but when we are encountered on the street, we inspire pity at best and disgust at worst. We are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters…but we often have no one to turn to. Oh sure, there is rehab, but I’d rather face a hard time with familiar people whose care can sustain a lasting recovery than with a kind stranger, who’ll probably burn out sooner or later just like I did. The sytem can’t work, if the values that created it are fucking disappearing by the day!
For what it’s worth, what we suffer from is innately idiopathic. It’s nameless, faceless and without empirically-verifiable origin. It is a byproduct of the human condition, as so many others.

The problem becomes when we are the primary trigger for our excessive use. The root cause tends to lead back to deeply held beliefs, embedded to support our physical, psychological as well as emotional survival. We cannot persevere, if we can’t function, so we find ways to cope. As a temporary measure, this is socially acceptable. For instance, after a rough break-up. Yet, as a long-term option, it is rather frowned upon. So, where is the cut off point between short and long term usage? Right where the spur of the moment used to cope becomes habit…But just before it is a lifestyle choice.

It should be noted, the way our cortices maintain themselves is by forming new connections all the time. For example, when we continue indulge, and then persevere through recovery alone, we form different neuronal connections by cultivating different skills from those with support. For serious addicts with trust issues, their suspicious nature spells trouble. God, we try to trust, but the high cuts the risk. When we do without, its serious shit…

Please continue to Part 2

How Positive Change Can Trigger Relapse

What makes your knees weak? What causes your stomach to tighten? What touches you deep within? What makes you feel so safe that you crawl inside yourself in fear of the feeling?

It is rational to think that painful or even traumatic events can lead us to resort to destructive coping strategies. However, the opposite also applies to recovering addicts, who are doing exceptionally well. When our life as a sober person improves consistently, we can humbly appreciate our accomplishment, but never truly rest…Until that one event takes place, which tilts the balance of ultimate contentment. We let someone or something in so deep at that point of healing, we feel whole again. Relapse at this stage is a lose-lose situation. If they back off, then the addict is most likely suffer worse or even give up on recovery. If they come clean, then the wrong person is being punished for doing the right thing. They do not deserve that, if the addict can get clean immediately after the slip-up. However, in deal circumstances, communication and understanding are vital. If the slip-up turns into a secret binge, it must end there…before DT [delerium tremens] or other withdrawal symptoms become an issue again.

At one month clean, I had the best fucking weekend of my life…I was touched so intensely by another person that the thought of drowning the feeling was “safer” compared to the alternative of allowing myself to truly let someone in. In other words, positive change triggers relapse, because we crawl inside ourselves to avoid the pain, we are anticipating. Pain, which might or might not happen.

In a dualistic universe, pleasure always proceeds pain. The up and downs of living become normal, so we cope with them instead of aiming to overcome their cyclical influence. Put differently, we become used to the extreme ends of feeling. This is dangerous for any regular person, but with an addict, it can be deadly. The effect a particular substance can have on the brain differ from drug to drug. However, they typically all interfere with the normal functioning of the hypothalamic pituitary axis [HPA]. That means the recovery process will invoke emotions designed to be powerfully cathartic. Ideally, meant to resolve the underlying issue that led to the self-destructive behaviour. If it’s the surfacing pain of a traumatic event or several, we need to process it. Whatever the issue, we must heal, overcome and adapt. Nothing else will permanently make our way of coping go away.

For what it is worth, I do not believe I physiological addiction as such. All forms of addictive behaviour originate in the mind. In my and other cases, they are a result of lacking the necessary self-discipline to maintain a normal lifestyle. Like many functioning users, we give in to cope but destroy ourselves by doing so. I’ve never been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, not for lack of trying. I’ve never had help getting clean, not for lack of asking. Few know, while even fewer pretend to care, but none would go very far to clean me up themselves. Emptying a bucket into the toilet, when I could barely stand was about the maximum effort. These would be the moments, when my body was rejecting that which it’d become so accustomed to. At any other point, I would self-medicate at infrequent intervals in order to avoid ‘bothering’ anyone with what should be a priority for the commonly decent. In fact, I would regularly support the habits of others, just for a place to DT privately…in proximity of sober-enough people to call an ambulance, if an actual emergency arose… It became normal to care as little about myself as others did, but this wasn’t a sudden occurrence. It was a fucking gradual process that took place over decades. With every setback, it became more important to function effectively. With every soul-deadening compromise, there was never any time to pause afterward. Then, trapped in an environment, I couldn’t escape, I was offered temporary salvation. After working with two fucked discs for a couple of years in constant agony, I had begged my family to help, but they refused to take me in…I had nobody to turn to and nowhere to go, but from that first real stupor, I no longer cared. As though, the worsening state of affairs could not affect me anymore. When the situation eventually changed, my new identity had invaded every aspect of my being. By the time, I was able to seek medical treatment and get clean, I had become someone, I didn’t wish to recognise. No guilt. No shame. No self-loathing. Just nothing at all. I was free from everything but enslaved.

If I have learnt anything,

It is that everything comes at a price.

Before a relapse, we must always ask ourselves is it worth the risk? In truth, perhaps, it can be. Raised in a society, in which we calculate the value of a person by their latest achievement, what do we expect? We begin to treat our lives as disposable instead of a never-ending wonder to be cherished. Sure, we function, but at the cost of drowning our potential. What we are attempting to get away from is just as present, when we are using, as when we are not. The only difference is our level of awareness. If we are willing to care for ourselves to the extent that we do for what functioning brings us…then, we must learn to say “No”, when doing something that will trigger a relapse, but never use it as an excuse not to step up to the task at hand. We must never let our addictive tendencies become a means to close ourselves off from people or experiences, which may transform the way, we perceive the world.

Addiction – Where does it end?

Prior to 1779, the term referred to a state of being, in which we develop a penchant for a specific type of thing. Before that year, addiction was perceived more as a habit than a physiological condition. However, we realise today, there is very little difference. When it comes down to consciousness engineering, we can become dependent on almost anything. After this point of human development, we began to add to our understanding of how simple substance abuse can lead to severe health complications, especially for those who mix and match. Naturally there are those, who are more susceptible than others, but nothing is unbeatable.

Bottling up trauma may lead to inadequate coping strategies that are often perpetuated in adult life.

When we ask ourselves, what if I will never be able to stop? What if I don’t want to stop? What if there are days that I do and days that I don’t? What if those around me don’t support me as much as they enable me or themselves?

It all depends on the choice of poison but the symptoms of behavioural conditioning are universal. When we are deprived of something that we depend on, then we may experience a painful transition until we have overcome our dependency issues. Still, in actuality, everything shapes our consciousness. Even the smallest things can alter the way we think, speak and act. In fact, they have to for us to evolve, but they also further our devolution.

To maintain control constantly means to never be able to let down our guard. It means to avoid any and all mind-altering things in the multiverse, which is an impossibility. But, where do we draw the line? When does indulgence become dependency? We may distinguish right or wrong through the rule of law, although we know it’s not that simple. Nothing in life ever is…

When we contemplate the use of any mind-altering substance [ranging from pharmaceuticals, cannabis to alcohol], there is an underlying reason. Pain relief, for example, on a psychological as well as physical level. As a rule, the kind of substances we can access easily determines how lethal self-medicating is our society is. When over the counter medication or supplements have a higher dosage of certain compounds than medically advised, their destructive nature makes them more than an easy sale.

Anything can be addictive. In all fairness, everything that we cannot live without fosters a state of dependency. It creates a state of being, in which our lives revolve around habits, we cannot break. It seems important at the time, even if we know it will destroy us.
Many of us wake up in the morning and start their day with a drink to keep the hangover at bay or a cigarette to satisfy their bodies nicotine cravings. I’m not one to talk, but I know what it’s like and it doesn’t end well.

“Certain processes which should be regarded as the abnormal functions of the individuals psychology now commence with the rise of the desire for material possessions [wealth and property] the desire for sexual contact and the sense of self-respect which materialises into the desire of self-glorification and the exercise of power over those outside oneself, which all come step by step, in succession. Here, the entanglement of consciousness is complete, and this is what is known as Samsara, or the painful earthly life. It is unfortunate that the mind of man does not rest even with this self-degeneration and, by process of time, getting itself accustomed to this condition, as if it is its natural state, forms its philosophy of ‘it is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven’. The result of this is the formulation of erroneous philosophies such as materialism, scepticism, agnosticism, pluralism, formalism, such as we find in the addiction to mere ritual, as well as the several arts and sciences which man regards as his highest achievements today but which are intended only to rationalise and perpetuate the condition of entanglement of consciousness with objects of various kinds, into which is has already descended. Even the so-called impersonal sciences of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and empirical psychology appear to be valid only so long as nature is regarded as external consciousness. A philosophy based on this bifurcation of experience cannot therefore save consciousness from the pains it suffers in entanglement.”

– Swami Krishnananda

The mind seeks to interpret the universe through the senses. However, there is a distinction to be made between relative existence and reality. In its absolute state, reality is self-sustaining…It cannot be interpreted through anything within the confines of our multiverse, only that which gave rise to them. So where does it end? Prior to time and space…in a timeless, spaceless void, where all is one.

Cannabis Behind The Wheel

 

The dominos are beginning to fall…State after state, country after country is slowly and gradually legalising cannabis and hemp for industrial, recreational and medical use. Long-term, high functioning cannabis users all over the world have confessed to their penchant for the lush green plant. Concurrently, many people have begun wonder about the potential benefits and side-effects of this endeavour.Interestingly, just as I was illustrating sudden death prevention strategies for motor-vehicle accidents (for a chapter in my upcoming book, detailing some of my current post-doctoral research), I received a message from Michelle, wishing for someone to explain how to prevent car accidents as a result of cannabis inebriation.
In my personal opinion, what we do to our body is our own responsibility, however, we surrender that privilege to the law when we endanger others behind the wheel. More often than not, for good reason. The question, therefore, is how likely is substance use to impact on the lives of others, when driving?
First of all, that depends on the user and amount consumed. In the United Kingdom and the United States, the majority of road accidents involve young adults, excluding incidences of grand theft auto committed by a bunch of teenagers. As the leading cause of death in those under 30 are motor-vehicle crashes (MVC), an effective prevention strategy is necessary to commence with the legalisation of cannabis.

Although the furthest, most stoners I know, are willing to travel is the fridge, many functioning cannabis users do not have a choice when their working life comes calling… So, how does cannabis affect driving skills as well as behaviour? Studies indicate that as soon as any other form of narcotic is introduced into the mix, the effects of cannabis are overridden and/or negated. Protective behavioural mechanisms and inhibitions go out the window. The extensive physiological effects of cannabis on the road remain yet to be determined by the development of a more detailed medical testing methodology. However, a number of studies indicate the sole use of cannabis does not impair driving skills as severely as presumed by authorities:
“In summary, laboratory tests and driving studies show that cannabis may acutely impair several driving-related skills in a dose-related fashion, but that the effects between individuals vary more than they do with alcohol because of tolerance, differences in smoking technique, and different absorptions of THC. Driving and simulator studies show that detrimental effects vary in a dose-related fashion, and are more pronounced with highly automatic driving functions, but more complex tasks that require conscious control are less affected, which is the opposite pattern from that seen with alcohol. Because of both this and an increased awareness that they are impaired, marijuana smokers tend to compensate effectively for their impairment by utilising a variety of behavioural strategies such as driving more slowly, passing less, and leaving more space between themselves and cars in front of them. Combining marijuana with alcohol eliminates the ability to use such strategies effectively, however, and results in impairment even at doses that would be insignificant were they of either drug alone.” (NCBI)
Cannabis As a Cause of Motor-Vehicle Crashes

But what are the leading causes of MVC around the globe? Most studies hint to the fact that car accidents happen for three reasons: Firstly, when we are on autopilot… When we are not paying attention to what we are doing, either because we are mentally pre-occupied, multi-tasking or inebriated. Secondly, MVC occur as a result of slow reaction time and/or ineffective intervention strategies. Thirdly, MVC are triggered by the occurrence of unexpected events, such as the car at front, slowing down too quickly, the sudden appearance of a pedestrian as the car turns the corner or sudden, mechanical failure.

First, let’s have a look on what being on autopilot means…Have you ever snapped out of whatever you were thinking of as you pulled into your driveway, wondering how the hell did I get here? You may remember driving home, on some level, but your mind was a thousand miles away. Since you have probably taken the same route for a long time, your mind switches from manual to automatic, as it may. In other words, your unconscious mind takes over the wheel. More often than not, you’ll arrive at your destination safe and sound. Maybe, with the occasional fender-bender. However, the risk that you won’t the thousandth time you make the trip is quite high. Being drunk, stoned and/or tired merely quadruples the certainty of such an event. Truth be told, it is only a matter of time before accidents happen, if we don’t take precautions. More importantly, in certain circumstances, all the precautions and preparation in the world is of no use…Therefore, it is up to each and every single one of us to make the road a safe place.

In conclusion, out of all substance users, experienced cannabis users are the only control group that is more likely to drive at a reduced speed, taking additional precautions when under the influence:
“Surprisingly, given the alarming results of cognitive studies, most marijuana-intoxicated drivers show only modest impairments on actual road tests. Experienced smokers who drive on a set course show almost no functional impairment under the influence of marijuana, except when it is combined with alcohol.”(NCBI)

Driving inebriated is never a solution, especially when we are desperate and out of time. For example, when I was working in outreach home-care, a former colleague of mine was running late for work. Tired and exhausted from a late night, she rushed into the house to see to the personal care of an elderly woman. After half an hour, she came outside and found a police officer, standing by her vehicle, which she had parked in an almost straight line, blocking the entire road. She could have sworn she left it in a parking spot, but she was so sleep deprived, pre-occupied and possibly still slightly intoxicated/hungover. Although no one was hurt, she was summoned to court and rightfully fined. This is not an uncommon occurrence, when discussing alcohol-related driving incidents. That being said, it would require a massive amount of (only) cannabis to impair general functioning to achieve a similar effects. “Extreme Ice-boxing”, extreme cannabis use in an enclosed space, such as one’s car, would impair driving for a short period of time. Hence, it is advised by experienced smokers to take a walk, breathe deeply or eat, before even thinking of driving inebriated.
The mere fact that half of all drivers are statistically deemed to fail retaking an official driving test indicates that the average road user does very little to develop their driving skills. Inevitably, every driver will develop habits over the years, however, only a selective number of those habits are designed to reinforce road-safety. Believe it or not, a study conducted by the NCBI confirmed that functional cannabis users are more likely to develop behavioural strategies to prevent their involvement in car crashes. Nonetheless, accidents can happen. Each and every driver has to pay greater attention to their speed, even when they’re running late for the PTA, dance recital or staff meeting

Experienced cannabis users, similar to functional addicts, often develop behavioural strategies that ensure their safety on the road, but even stoners can be distracted, occupied or begin to develop bad habits. Road safety is a collective effort and in countries, where it is legal or illegal, we have ensure that we do not use a car when under the influence, unless medically necessary. For example, in the event that it prevents stress-prone seizures, which is a common occurrence, driving under the influence of medically prescribed marijuana may be an interesting court debate.

“Experimental studies could focus on measuring blood levels consistently or developing more accurate methods of measuring THC levels in the CNS, as well as examining residual effects that persist for more than one hour after smoking. This would permit construction of a better dose-impairment curve for THC. It would also be interesting to know whether the improved performance of experienced users is because of physiological tolerance or because of behavioural strategies that can be taught to infrequent users.”

Road safety is known to rank highly among important issues the public would like addressed by government (Lyons et al., 2008; p. 106). Safety when travelling is part of the Department for Transport’s third aim and objectives: ‘To contribute to better safety, security and health and longer life-expectancy through reducing the risk of death, injury or illness arising from transport, and promoting travel modes that are beneficial to health’
Conclusively, various studies suggest that the consumption of alcohol is medically more harmful and more dangerous behind the wheel than cannabis. To recap, once any other drug is introduced along with marijuana, general behavioural expectations fly out the window. The driver no longer exhibits the same behaviour. Conversely, speeding is more common in 30mph zones, particularly under the influence of a mixture of substances. As the medicinal value of cannabis outdates countless modern cultures, the issue of driving inebriated is bound to arise, involving the young and elderly. This does not change the fact that unless medically necessary, or for therapeutic/spiritual purposes, it is advised to avoid using cannabis before or whilst driving. Besides, you may never know the car may grow wings, take off and fly to the moon.

Dedicated to @YoursTruly_27