- Mental Health
Making Withdrawal from a Drug a Triumphing Experience
Business Matching Demand
It may be hard to tell whether it's those legal or illegal drugs---from something looking as innocent as sugar all the way to cocaine---that's more responsible for massive addictions in modern part of the world. While in some of those countries branded as "backward" trafficking may be punishable by death, our "advanced" societies seem to be only officially condemning those vices, with much of the population daily thriving on them.
Business is blooming, demand is on increase, and, as we can hear these days, there are even talks about allowing marijuana to join alcohol and tobacco as a legal fix. Judging by that, it seems like humans are pretty messed up species of softies, seeking a "pacifier" for every little upset. An argument with our boss calls for a shot of something to "steady our nerves", and beer is a must for those exciting events like watching a football game.
But then, we may also reach for it because of an "absence" of anything exciting like those arguments and sports events---out of sheer boredom; so either way we have an excuse for having a fix, as we may use them for both, as downers and uppers in our mood.
However, then we reach that point when no reasons are necessary for doing it, as we are addicted, and using it becomes its own purpose. Without even going to that heavy stuff, the addiction may involve our dependency on sugar, wheat, soft drinks, coffee, even cheese apparently containing addictive substances.
From Merely Indulging to a Full-Blown Dependency
The underlying problem of many indulgencies turning addictions is in a gradual developing a tolerance to our seemingly innocent stuff. We don't even notice how we are slowly developing an addictive personality by putting that extra sugar into our coffee.
As we reach that point of tolerance, our pleasure centers in brain start crying for something stronger. Those pleasure neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphin refuse to form without a stronger stimulation, which upgrades our need for a fix. Before we are fully aware what's going on with us, we have joined that unfortunate crowd of addicts.
Many of those folks initially go into a denial, seeing their addiction as "temporary". I have heard at least a dozen of heavy smokers---maybe I used to be one of them---who kept telling themselves how "they could quit any time". Yeah, of course.
Let's face it, folks---whatever it may be, if you crave it, it's not good for you, period. See how easily you can go through a week, a month, even a year without an apple. But try to go for a few days without your morning coffee, or that "badly needed" drink after work---let alone any of that heavy variety of drugs.
It took me decades to realize how I was addicted to something like bread. I could eat bread with pasta being a side dish. And if the dinner was not calling for any bread, then I had a chunk for my dessert. Crazy, right? Sugar was another chemical crutch to pick up my mood. After being so proud of having kicked beer, coffee, and tobacco, it took me some years to notice how I was still an addict with that "innocent" stuff.
When I finally quit all dairy, sugar, and wheat, my mouth stopped feeling like a dump site for all sorts of things that my body didn't need, actually resented it. My joy was enormous. Liberating myself from my chemical crutches added a lot to my general orientation toward spiritual freedom. Well, the joy and pride were even bigger as I didn't make it unnecessarily difficult for myself by expecting something like an "ordeal".
Addicts---Masters of Self-Deception
All drugs, even something as innocent looking like sugar, or even that white bun slowly keeps taxing our bodies by weakening our immune system. And nobody has to tell us that a weak immune system means an invitation to anything from a sneeze to a cancer or AIDS.
Somewhere deep within that crazy part of our brain we harbor the illusion that "if it doesn't hurt, it's not dangerous"; and since our fix usually feels good "it can't be all that bad for us". As millions of white blood cells are dying from use of cocaine, and our brain is shrinking from alcohol abuse, and we become insulin resistant from bombarding ourselves with sugar, and our brain fog is increasing because of gluten, and so on..."we are O.K., because it doesn't hurt".
A good question to ask any addict would be: "Why bother going to work every day, and doing all those other acts of being alive, if their cocaine is killing them slowly by inviting angina, heart attack, coronary artery spasm, or a damage to the heart muscle?" Really, what's the purpose of investing any of those daily efforts if it will all end up with a major defeat?
While everybody eventually dies of something--- even those healthy folks do---isn't the whole idea of living about the damn delaying of that moment as much as we can? It's not even about the number of years in front of us, but the quality of life.
I'll never forget how I used to feel at times lower than snake's belly by "having to" have that cigarette after passing through the exit door of my work place. They were robbing me of my energy and making my clothes smell like chicken-shit.
As We Expect It---so We Get It
I can easily attest to it from my own experience---the biggest enemy in the process of liberating from an addiction is our dark anticipation. Go back with your memory to one of those first needles that you could remember. As it was "dangerously" approaching your arm, you tensed up making the experience more painful than necessary.
But this would only refer to those multiple and futile "attempts", not to the final cold turkey quitting, when I had absolutely no withdrawal symptoms, even after having burned two packs of cigarettes a day for some years.
Just like at that "approaching needle" we are bound to expect a big emotional pain after going clean. Now, there is no lying about that minimum discomfort as the body is rushing to clean itself.
But the problem starts when we see that discomfort as the "beginning of our expected suffering"---and then we amplify it into a really unpleasant emotional nonsense which usually makes us quickly reach for our fix, while promising to "do it right at some more favorable circumstances".
Indeed, anticipation is a crazy spoiler of our liberation. I mentioned a story elsewhere, but it's worth repeating. It's about this small town where the water officials allegedly got a high reading of harmful microbes in the public drinking water---so the sheriff radioed the announcement that water may taste more on chlorine than usual for a while.
Sooner than he could expect it, his telephone was flooded with complaints about the awful taste of water. However, as it turned out, the technician was reluctant to admit his mistake, as the following reading turned out O.K.---and no additional chlorine was added.
Just like those folks fell for the announcement of an "authority", we fall for all those stories about "how hard it is to stop our addiction", and then at a first sign of discomfort we blow it out of proportion.
Making It a Triumphant Experience
Contrary to that somewhat popular advice to "analyze the emotional roots of a chemical dependency", I would not recommend anything of the sort. One reason being that our addiction has already done a considerable dent in our self-esteem, and any further rubbing on that wound is counterproductive.
We don't need any "why", but "how to" get ourselves out of that mess in a most practical and cool way. It would certainly help not to replace our fix with one that looks more innocent. Drinking plenty of water is a good idea, along with taking some supplements, like coconut oil, maybe some B-complex and vitamins C and D. Internet is full of advices how to eat healthy. Many of us already have a pretty good idea, we just keep it on a back burner.
In addition, herbal supplements gotu kola or lemon balm may help. They are not addictive but can assist in the initial period with their calming effect. Goes without saying---they are not to be mixed with any psychoactive prescription drugs. Actually, before taking any supplements it doesn't hurt to have a chat with our doctor about it. I didn't know about these two herbs at my time of quitting, but used them much later for a higher quality of my meditation trance.
My best advice, though, gravitates around the mental part of the quitting project, and I just can't emphasize it strongly enough how important it is to "act as if we have never been addicted". That certainly includes not telling anyone about it. Remember, we can't ascribe it to our victory if we need all kinds of support and encouragement and coaching and "understanding" from those around us.
The idea is to take the challenge with a stiff lip and do some marching---not crawling--- through the triumphing experience of it. It's a phenomenal opportunity for us to grow, to discover who we really are without the chemical disguise.
While I was a smoker, an older dude at my work place obviously didn't care much for being tactful while telling a few of us smokers how "smokers are phony". That day when I came home I gave it a thought. He was right, all that "confident-high" was not genuine at all, but a product of a brain saturated with a drug.
So, whoever would care to free themselves from a nasty habit---be it sugar, flour, or something higher on the scale of fixes---may consider undertaking this "outlandish" task. It may turn out to be a surprise of your life how simple it is---once that you make it simple.