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Replacing 12-Step Programs with Shamanic Healing

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher




July 21, 2019

mericans consider addiction a good opportunity to convert a drug user into a Christian, or at least a Deist. That's why we see so many 12-step programs. That's why so many books on addiction read like a Pilgrim's Progress of the addict's soul, as we see addicts not simply get off a given substance but also confront their demons, their inner child, their family conflicts, their innermost fears, etc.

This approach may be heartwarming to a Protestant minister or a dogmatic Freudian, but it is not in the interest of the patient, whom it obliges to undergo immense physical and mental suffering, while being pestered for intimate biographical details from well-meaning but therapeutically impotent counselors.

Why do we think that this form of addiction "therapy" makes sense, especially considering the high recidivism rate of its adherents - who, even if they recover, are encouraged to live life "one day at a time" and to delight in small victories, essentially renouncing any big dreams that they might have otherwise possessed for their life?

Why? Because we are living in a country that has outlawed almost all of the powerful drugs of Mother Nature that could help with the withdrawal process. Having shot ourselves in the foot like that, therapeutically speaking, we are left with no other option than to morbidly analyze the soul of the addict and to hope that he or she can somehow "snap out of it" through confession and self-abasement. But that does not mean that our therapeutic approach makes sense, only that we're forced to use it because of our jaundiced outlook on drugs.

The answer is to change drug policy. Only then can we treat addiction sensibly, in a way that does not require the recovering addict to feel like hell.

How would we treat addicts sensibly?

We would hook them up with a new breed of shamanic-healer, a so-called "empath" who is highly skilled in interpersonal relations but also vastly knowledgeable about the subtle pharmacological virtues of Mother Nature's psychoactive plants. These healers would be given carte blanche to use any and every plant medicine to aid the withdrawal process, not just the two or three synthetic medicines that Big Pharma salesmen have vigorously marketed for that purpose.

The healer would especially use those entheogenic plants and fungi that have been shown, when ritually used, to give the user insight into their condition on planet Earth, their place in the world - entheogens that increase one's ability to relate to others lovingly and honestly, while actually growing neurons in the user's brain, thus increasing the patient's ability to creatively confront the withdrawal process and their new addiction-free life.

Meanwhile, the shamanic-healer would distract the addict's mind from psychological withdrawal side effects (like sleeplessness and anxiety) by providing them with natural medications that bring the sufferer peace and allow him or her to see beyond the withdrawal issues that are being faced. These medicines would be chosen and applied so as not to cause any new addiction, but rather to make the withdrawal process tolerable to the patient (at times even enjoyable!) and to free his or her mind to discuss all related issues in an honest and insightful way with his or her designated shaman.

In other words, this approach does not get rid of talk therapy, but rather makes it realistic, by getting the patient in a state that he or she can talk freely about anything and everything with this designated shamanic "empath."

Of course, this takes all the fun out of addiction from America's point of view: Not only does it get rid of the hand-wringing 12-step programs, but it knocks Big Pharma out of the process too because the shamans would no longer restrict themselves to employing the handful of pill brands that they've had marketed to them by the pharmaceutical companies.

Unfortunately, the patient will only come first like this when America stops treating Mother Nature as a drug kingpin and instead considers her to be a supplier of a vast array of powerful medicines - medicines that are the birthright of the denizens of Planet Earth and which do not have to be processed and packaged by Big Pharma in order to be used advisedly by shamanic healers.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Let's remember that the word "addiction" itself is a moralizing replacement for the more neutral word "habituation." In early 20th century America, when opium was legal, some people became habituated to it by over-frequent use, but this habituation was not considered a moral shortcoming -- until 1914, when drug prohibitionists came along and wanted to denigrate opium use among mistrusted minorities. Suddenly habituation became an "addiction," a politically and morally charged term designed to justify repressive legislation by a new breed of "Drug Warrior" who believed we should outlaw Mother Nature's pharmacy to protect Americans from themselves.

AUTHOR'S LATER NOTE: Say what you will about drug dealers, but in some ways they have the right idea. You don't go to them to bear your soul, you go to them for answers. Of course, this is usually dangerous, because there is usually a severe limit to what they know and what they can sell. But picture a pharmacologically savvy dealer with access to Mother Nature's entire pharmacopeia. What a boon that kind of shaman would be to the alcoholic or the heroin addict. As much as the Drug Warrior wants to paint such people as evil incarnate, they would do a far better job than a 12-step group, giving the addict self-insight with non-addictive psychedelics and the highly selective use of other natural psychoactive plants, such that the addict would come out of treatment free of addiction and knowing more about themselves -- and NOT -- as in today's real world -- suddenly addicted to Big Pharma's ridiculously teensy pharmacy of addictive poisons, based on shabby science backed by false philosophical claims about fictional chemical imbalances -- or rather chemical imbalances that WERE fictional until the BIG PHARMA meds themselves created those imbalances out of whole cloth!

This is just another way of saying that if psychotherapists wish to remain relevant in a world without ridiculous and anti-scientific drug laws, they must become empathic pharmacological shamans. The only reason that folks still go to shrinks today is because government, luckily for them, has outlawed all competition from the plants of Mother Nature. If freedom is to survive, this anti-Constitutional status quo must change -- and when it does, psychiatrists will finally have to make an honest living, one no longer subsidized (directly or indirectly) by Big Pharma.

AUTHOR'S STILL LATER NOTE: How ironic yet telling it is that Freud did not submit himself to intensive psychotherapy but used cocaine instead to keep up with his workload. Freud was like: "Theory is all well and good when it comes to my patients, but important people like myself require the real thing!" The field of psychology plays dumb, however, and refuses to draw the obvious lesson from this irony: namely, that politically ostracized drugs have a real place in therapy - "even though heaven and earth cry out against them." Freud using cocaine reminds me of liberals who send their kids to a private school. In both cases, the theorizer demands real results in their own life and that of their family (see Biden and son) but insists that other people live according to dictates of mere theory (whether about the powers of psychotherapy or about the importance of public schools).

Author's Follow-up: March 15, 2023



At the risk of engaging in weak-kneed apologetics...

1) Nothing's wrong with public schools -- should one choose to fund them appropriately and equally throughout the nation.

2) I don't mean to trash liberalism, but merely to point out where neo-liberalism has gone awry. Neo-liberals today champion the Drug War and prohibition. Why? Because they are totally dishonest with themselves. They believe that the only stakeholders in the prohibition business are rash juveniles who may misuse "drugs." The stakeholders ACTUALLY include billions more than that: like the hundreds of millions of the depressed who will be forced by prohibition to go without godsend medicine because we want to save American white kids from their own uneducated selves; like the philosophers who will be forbidden by prohibition from following up the ontological leads of William James viz. laughing gas; like the scientists who will be censored by prohibition from studying plants and fungi that help grow new neurons in the brain and thus have prime facie potential for treating autism and Alzheimer's; like the minorities who will be warred against by the militarized police forces that prohibition has been shown to create, by empowering white cops to go after a demographic that they've been taught to think of as "scumbags" and "filth."

Author's Follow-up: May 10, 2023


I just had a blasphemous thought. Above I was trying to imagine "pharmaceutically savvy empaths" as if they were people from the future, but it occurred to me that I have known one or two already in my own life and... wait for it, folks... they were drug dealers! Of course, they didn't have access to every drug on the planet, but one can envision the glories they could work for the user if their pharmacopoeia was not limited by racist politicians -- giving the users what they want, not merely the hypocritically defined "sobriety" that 12-step programs impose right now, as if they were under the spiritual guidance of Mary Baker Eddy herself.




Next essay: There's nothing complicated about it -- legalize Mother Nature's plants now!
Previous essay: Eight Reasons to End Drug Testing

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

I might as well say that no one can ever be taught to ride a horse safely. I would argue as follows: "Look at Christopher Reeves. He was a responsible and knowledgeable equestrian. But he couldn't handle horses. The fact is, NO ONE can handle horses!"
Alexander Shulgin is a typical westerner when he speaks about cocaine. He moralizes about the drug, telling us that it does not give him "real" power. But so what? Does coffee give him "real" power? Coke helps some, others not. Stop holding it to this weird metaphysical standard.
Both physical and psychological addiction can be successfully fought when we relegalize the pharmacopoeia and start to fight drugs with drugs. But prohibitionists do not want to end addiction, they want to scare us with it.
This is the "Oprah fallacy," which has led to so much suffering. She told women they were fools if they accepted a drink from a man. That's crazy. If we are terrified by such a statistically improbable event, we should be absolutely horrified by horses and skateboards.
In his book "Salvia Divinorum: The Sage of the Seers," Ross Heaven explains how "salvinorin A" is the strongest hallucinogen in the world and could treat Alzheimer's, AIDS, and various addictions. But America would prefer to demonize and outlaw the drug.
Unfortunately, the prohibitionist motto is: "Billions for arrest, not one cent for education." To the contrary, drug warriors are ideologically committed to withholding the truth about drugs from users.
NEW TERM FOR LOGIC CLASSES: "The Oprah Winfrey Fallacy," which is the idea that a statistically insignificant number of cases constitutes a crisis, provided ONLY that the villain of the piece is something that racist politicians have demonized as a "drug."
Mariani Wine is the real McCoy, with Bolivian coca leaves (tho' not with cocaine, as Wikipedia says). I'll be writing more about my experience with it soon. I was impressed. It's the same drink "on which" HG Wells and Jules Verne wrote their stories.
Q: Where can you find almost-verbatim copies of the descriptions of religious experiences described by William James? A: In descriptions of user reports of "trips" on drugs ranging from coca to opium, from MDMA to laughing gas.
All drugs have positive uses at some dose, for some reason, at some time -- but prohibitionists have the absurd idea that drugs can be voted up or down. This anti-scientific notion deprives the modern world of countless godsends.
More Tweets


essays about
NEW SHAMANISM SHOULD REPLACE PSYCHIATRY

Using Opium to Fight Depression
Replacing Psychiatry with Pharmacologically Savvy Shamanism
In Praise of Drug Dealers
In Praise of Doctor Feelgood
How Fretting Drug Warriors Block Medical Progress
The Drug War is a War on Patients
How the Drug War Tramples on the Rights of the Depressed



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You have been reading an article entitled, Replacing 12-Step Programs with Shamanic Healing published on July 21, 2019 on AbolishTheDEA.com. For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at abolishTheDEA.com. (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)