These days we are hearing many reports about a new drug that is hitting the streets called carfentanil, a synthetic opioid that is roughly 10000 times more potent than morphine. It was originally used as a tranquilizer for elephants. Now, according to reports, it’s causing massive overdoses when people are using it for “recreational” purposes. Just a few granules can get a grown man high. People who use it report being totally obliterated by its effects. Sorry, but that’s not recreational. Someone smoking a little weed or drinking a six pack of beer or even dropping a big hit of acid could make a better argument for recreation. But I digress.
In 2013, more than 25% of Americans were taking some kind of prescribed anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, or other psychotropic medication. Add to that number the people on erectile dysfunction medicine and sleep aids. This isn’t even tracking the number of people taking self-prescribed drugs like alcohol, cannabis, ketamine, crystal meth, etc. 25% is one-in-four. And that number isn’t even really a good descriptor. Because all of those people have health insurance and a doctor and the privilege to recognize they are unhappy and seek help. The actual number of people suffering must be higher: 1 in 3? 1 in 2?
What’s going on? We have never had more prosperity. We have never had more peace. We have never had more easy access to education, knowledge, spirituality, self-help, etc. What the fuck – my friends – is going on??
My whole family (most of it anyway) is chemically dependent. I myself am an addict-in-recovery. I have a first hand sense of what’s going on, at least on the individual level. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I am obsessed with helping people find their Truth and live that Truth and create lives of magnificence. That’s the option in a human life. Actually, I think that is the duty of a human being, the dharma.
And when we’re not living that duty, that dharma, we are living out of alignment with our nature and we suffer. It hurts. Life sucks. It sucks bad and we have to medicate our pain, we have to medicate our symptoms away. How can someone get through a day working as a drone in corporate America without a glass of wine and a Xanax after work? How can a man who is out of touch with his dharma, his passion in life produce an erection to have sex with someone he really doesn’t care that much about – especially when he’s also eating anti-depressants and smoking weed? And why should he? If he can take a pill and have a raging, reliable wood-stiff hard-on that is independent of his actually arousal or interest in his partner, why wouldn’t he. If you can take a pill and undo the anxiety that you’ve build up over years of compromising life choices, why wouldn’t you. It’s so easy. And there are bills to pay. We have to keep going.
We are a miserable herd. The deeply happy among us are the minority, the elite.
On the other end of the spectrum, down below the run-of-the-mill depressants and insomniacs are the the sick addicts. These are the full-blown, out-of-control, checked-out addicts. Those people – honestly – fare better as they are forced to get help or else die. The ones I am concerned about – and you may be among them – are the “healthy addicts”. The “I like my glass of wine” and “weed is an herbal medicine” people. There are many people today that use drugs and alcohol every day to get by. There’s no blame or shame being slung here. But here is my question and my challenge:
What are you medicating? What would your life be like if you were to be totally drug and alcohol free? When was the last time you were totally sober and for how long?
The problem, and the potential breakthrough, is that there may be unfinished business within yourself that you’re avoiding. There might be unhealed wounds you are fogging over with your “herbal medicine”. There may be layers of depth and intimacy that you are missing out on with your loved ones. I know, you feel closer when you drink, or take ketamine. But you’re not. I know, you feel like you have deep conversations when you’re high – but try this: record them and listen to them when you’re sober.
I don’t require sobriety from my students or clients – I don’t even recommend it generally. But I require the people in my Living Meditation Teacher Training to remain drug and alcohol free for the entire 9 months of the training. I don’t admit people who have drug and alcohol problems, still, you’d be surprised at how hard it is for the people to give up that glass of wine or regular toke. The reason I require it of my teachers is simply this: I want them to have pristine inner landscapes. I want them to be able to feel everything and really know when their practice is yielding results. I also want them to have an edge on the general populous so that they can better serve the populous.
So…what about you?
If you’re struggling with addiction (or unhappy in sobriety) you might check out a new offering we’re doing. Also check me out on the Recovery 2.0 Conference happening next week.
Otherwise, I look forward to your comments.