Is redemption complete abstinence from all drugs?
BOOK REVIEW: In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, Close Encounters with Addiction, by Gabor Mate, M.D.: At page 313, Dr. Mate opines that he comes from the assumption that: “redemption can be something other than an addict’s complete abstinence from addictive chemicals, a goal that’s not always realistic.” In other words, if the addict successfully reaches emotional enlightenment, can he still use drugs successfully? Maybe addictive drugs like caffeine can be used successfully by the addict. However, I would say that in the case of alcohol, definitely not. This alcoholic can never drink again, even after my miraculous emotional healing through EMDR therapy.
Healing comes from thinking about your emotions
Dr. Mate’s theory presented through out his brilliant book is that there can be no successful treatment of the addict without looking at the emotional states, brain functioning and other “inner causes” of drug addiction.
His associate Dr. Panksepp states in an interview that, “We need to consider what support addicts would need to overcome the powerful drives imprinted by their painful experiences. The only way they can escape their addictions is if their pain is alleviated. Addicts need their emotions to be brought back toward healthy balance. Traumatized individuals need to have a chance to think about their extreme emotional reactions. Free choice only comes from thinking; it doesn’t come from emotions. It emerges from the capacity to think about your emotions“.
Free Won’t Comes From Awareness
Likewise, free won’t does not come from an emotional state either. My own personal journey of redemption has been greatly enhanced by developing this ability to think rationally about my extreme emotions. Prior to this moment in my life, I was emotionally unaware. Now I have faced my personal demons. I have developed emotional intelligence.
Now I am able to observe myself having thoughts about observing myself. It is possible for me to see myself objectively. I can truly see myself as others see me and it is startling. The reason that I as an alcoholic need God in my life is to that when I finally let God show me what I am like, I will be able to work with it. I need God so that when I finally see what I am really like, I will be able to handle it. I have seen the enemy and it is me. Now I no longer need to feed my hungry ghosts.
Stress is a disability
Thanks to professionals like Dr. Mate, I know why I feel the way that I do. I feel the stress. My whole life I have been in a constant state of stress, insecurity and anxiety. One of the major theories Dr. Mate develops is that treatment must take stress into account. “We must cease to impose debilitating stress on the addicts already burdened existence. The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that a history of childhood abuse increases physiological stress reactivity for a lifetime. This reactivity is further enhanced when additional trauma is experienced in adulthood. The addict is retraumatized over and over again by ostracism, harassment, poverty and the spread of emotional disease.”
Dr. Bruce Perry has stated that, “If we create environments that are safe and predictable and relationally enriched, then all of the other factors involved in substance abuse and dependence will be so much easier to dissolve away. Our challenge is to figure out how to create these environments.” I would offer that those environments are already here in the form of A.A. meetings. These healing A.A. environments even exist as 12 Step Zoom meetings in the age of COVID-19.
The alternative community of Alcoholics Anonymous is integral to my own redemption. One of the main reasons I choose to reside in West Los Angeles is because of the quality of 12 Step meetings here. L.A. A.A. is so good that the Primetime Zoom meetings are packed with people from outside the greater Los Angeles area. I am really excited just thinking about what it will be like in another year or so when the pandemic is finally over and the alternative community of live and in-person meetings open back up again.