In current health care the growing use and interest in alternative methods of dealing with disease is still beset with one major stumbling block: the approach to illness, including addiction, after you are sick.
Today, we wish to substitute natural and non-toxic methods for toxic, side-effect laden methods. This is indeed a noble cause and a step up from where we have been in medicine for the last 100 years. However, nearly all ancient methods of healing stressed prevention as the nobler cause. Disease indicates failure. Health indicates that the society is doing something right.
Addiction is no different.
As a responsible society, we look at our crowded jails, halfway homes, recovery centers and support groups and ask: “How did we create this? What can we do to prevent the onset of addiction in the first place?”
Well, sorry to disappoint folks, but, addiction (the desire for altered states of mind) is built into our systems. We are designed to seek these states from the moment of conception. We will never “win” the battle against the desire for altered states of mind – the battle against seeking something that will ease life’s pains, give pleasure and expand our consciousness. This desire is as strong as the desire for survival and sex.
The challenge we face is remembering how to achieve this state in a non-destructive manner as our ancestors did.
As most folks know, our bodies are loaded with receptor sites for the chemicals that provide us with the highs we seek. Why would a body have them if they were not to be used? Used constructively – for our own betterment? Indeed, our own bodies make these mood-altering chemicals.
In fact, the most concentrated area in the human body for cannabinoid receptors (receptors that give us the high when activated by the presence of marijuana, for example) is in the uterus. The uterus is a veritable factory of “illegal” opiates and mind-altering chemicals. We begin life high, so why wouldn’t we want to stay high and spend the rest of our lives seeking to recreate that altered state of mind in which we spent our womb days?
Actually, we do spend the rest of our lives seeking those states. Some more honestly than others. Some more constructively than others.
After nine months of being nurtured, enlightened and bathed in mind-altering chemicals, we are born – and the first thing we want is another hit. Yes, indeed.
If a newborn is placed on its mother’s belly it will, with no assistance, creep its way up to the breast and begin suckling. It will continue to suckle until it is satiated. Surely all of us who’ve been around children are familiar with that “drunken baby” look of a well-fed infant as it drifts off to sleep with that dreamy knowing smile on its face. This is what dreams are made of. Mother’s milk is full of endorphins (some known, others waiting to be discovered). These are mind-altering drugs made in the safety of her own body, with ingredients found around the house (kitchen, garden, fridge).
Yessirree, your body is full of mind-altering receptor sites because your body makes mind-altering drugs. If your body can’t or won’t make them, then you will seek them elsewhere – and that’s where we start running into trouble.
Ultimately, it is not the craving for a high that is so bad, but the manner in which we get it that can be so destructive to the individual, and to society.
The solution? We need to preserve (as our ancestors did) those activities that provide for the normal and necessary production of endogenous mind-altering chemicals. A happy body/mind will not seek out destructive drugs and behavior if it is already satisfied.
These activities are well known: meditation, sports, singing, dancing, fasting, certain foods, healthy personal relationships, etc.
Others have written of the effectiveness of natural treatment of addictions so let me just add that one of the reasons that acupuncture, chiropractic and other natural methods of treating addictions are so effective is that these methods bring the body back to a normal state of production of its own opiates and cannabinoids.
Life is about bliss.