My Biography of Drug Abuse and Recovery Charles Slack PhD

by Charles Slack

The first week in March is the anniversary of my last drink or drug. Thanks to Lord Jesus Christ, I’ve had nothing in my blood but blood since 3rd March 1976 – twenty-seven years of a clean brain. Why did I take drugs in the first place? Why did Adam disobey God and bite the fruit? We should have known better! Or we did know better but did it anyway.

In the early 1960s, when it was still legal, I began experimenting with the drug Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD). At first, my drug use could be called genuine research. Dr. Timothy Leary and others at Harvard obtained the drug from Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland. We had no idea it would be habit forming. At first we administered it under controlled conditions. However, as history relates, things rapidly got out of hand.1)http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/9487/heinylsd.htm

Personally, the results were disastrous. I took other hallucinogens and graduated to opiates, barbiturates and large quantities of alcohol. During this period, 1961-76 my CV is deceiving. Actually, my career went into reverse. Working my way down the academic ladder, I finished up in Alabama writing test items for a medical school. They gave me a title but the job really consisted of ghostwriting exam questions. Through drug-addict physicians, I got the supplies my habit demanded. Finally, I lost even that job, spent the night in the drunk-tank of the Birmingham City Jail where I amused guards with stories about once being a Harvard professor.

Through the efforts of a criminologist (Professor Alex Bassin of the University of Florida,2)http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/about.htm I found my way into “Twelve-step” programmes. Although I had difficulty identifying as an addict/alcoholic – after all, I had a Ph.D and they didn’t – nevertheless, I became alcohol and drug free. To date, facilitating my own recovery, I have attended thousands of meetings and spent considerable time helping others to stay clean and sober.

In October 1976, when I was seven months off drugs, I migrated to Australia to work in the Welfare Department of the State of Victoria. It was not easy to adjust to a new job, a new country, and a new state of mental health all at the same time and I was barely able to keep my job and stay clean and sober.

I did not yet fully appreciate Jesus Christ as the one who got me off drugs.

I had not yet fully repented:

I was dry but still hanging on to old ideas and lacking in the joy of the Lord. However by November 1980, my mind was clear enough to perceive God’s Word. In the middle of a footy oval in Blackburn, Victoria at five in the morning, I sank to my knees and told God that I could not continue to run my life. He must take control or I would relapse onto booze and drugs. I was willing to do anything Jesus wanted. At that moment when, with my drug-free mind, I finally resigned as general manager of myself, Jesus set me free indeed! As a born-again Christian, I received the Holy Spirit, began to fellowship with the saints, and found great comfort and release from compulsion to drink and use drugs. I became an elder in and treasurer of a suburban church and then the pastor of a country church.

Over the years, Lord Jesus has used me to bring drug addicts to Him. I have worked in rehabilitation programmes and groups of all kinds including the Justice Department of Western Australia. 

Currently, my wife Sue and I pastor the church in tiny Green Head WA 300km north of Perth. We also conduct seminars on recovery from alcoholism and drug abuse.

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References   [ + ]

1. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/9487/heinylsd.htm
2. http://www.criminology.fsu.edu/about.htm

Ears to Listen – the solution to the drug problem

by Charles Slack

John 8:34-36 (KJV) 34Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Revelation 12:11 (KJV) And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Australia is in the throes of a drug epidemic.

The problem – including opiate, amphetamine, cannabis, designer drug, hallucinogen, solvent, alcohol and prescribed drug-abuse – becomes endemic as use and abuse spread in schools, workplaces, homes, sports and churches. No age is unaffected, no social class or ethnic group immune. “Social use” leads to full-scale addiction and once that takes hold, few recover.

Listening?http://www.thechristiannetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/listen.jpg

Listen to me: those that do recover commonly believe divine intervention is required.

Most of us with substantial recovery disagree with government policy, methadone maintenance, controlled use, “harm minimisation” etc. We know the goal is abstinence, complete abstinence, nothing in the blood but blood – and what’s more, we know how to get it.

I am one of a growing number who know. I mean it! Listen to me: my cohorts and I are the answer.

We got addicted, yes, but now we are completely drug-free and remaining that way. If everyone did what we do, there would be no drug problem.

When epidemiologists study a disease, their first priority is to study those who did not succumb. The solution to an epidemic is to be found by careful study of those already immune and already recovered. First find out what God has done, then you know what to do. Find out what God has done in us: what makes us different. Our history reveals the cause and leads to the cure. Don’t just study problem-people, study solution-people.

Not listeningSadly, this approach is not being taken by policy makers in Australia. The government and professional establishment are busy listening to drug abusers, social drug users, experts who never used drugs, addicts in between relapses, rights advocates, anybody and everybody except former users who personify the complete solution which is complete abstinence.

How do I know? I was a poly-drug user, severely addicted, but have been completely drug-free since March 1976. In 1975, at age 46, I was unemployed and unemployable, spending the night in the drunk-tank. Today, at age 83, I am a sober, self-funded retiree. I am well-known and respected in recovery circles. But the professional establishment is not listening. Why? I’m “too religious” and “too rigid”. Listen to me: complete abstinence is rigorous not rigid! My recovery is miraculous, marvellous and mystical but “religious” is not the right word for it.

The Grace of God: Nearly all recovering addicts are aware that a power greater than themselves is needed for true recovery. Many are aware that that power is Jesus Christ, the One who sets captives free from sin. Others may know but not fully acknowledge and still others may acknowledge yet not show gratitude. In Luke 17:12-19, Jesus heals ten lepers, yet only one turns around to thank him. The proportion of all recovered drug addicts who turn to Christ is probably greater than ten percent – yet still less than the number healed. God’s grace is bountiful, extending both to those we might consider deserving and undeserving.

The more you investigate healing from addiction, the more amazing it seems. It’s not uncommon for a full-on habitual taker of illegal drugs suddenly to become a clean-and-sober evangelist leading friends to Christ. It’s also possible for an over-the-top person (like me) to go from habitual lying to what might be called “compulsive candour” – seeing hypocrisy everywhere. It’s the “reformed addict” syndrome. Who wants to listen to a sanctimonious Bible basher?

Why they don’t listen:Addicts in early recovery are poor communicators. Drug abuse causes emotionally retardation, development ceasing from the moment the first drug is taken. We have much to learn. It takes time to become informed as well as reformed. Until then, we are a pain in the neck to family and friends. We sound self-righteous when really we are afraid of relapsing. But if we continue to repent we improve. When we surrender to Jesus, our improvement is remarkable. After thirty-six clean-and-sober years, I am quite good at explaining what God is doing in my life. Listen to me. I may be able to help – you, your neighbourhood, your country – your family.

Drug specialists, bureaucrats and well-meaning Christians, while well aware of the problem, are far less acquainted with the solution that lies at the heart of recovery. That’s what I’m an expert in -how to quit and more important, how to stay quit.

How to listen: As I try to explain to my grandchildren: there’s a new type of communication with no media, no electronics, no Ipads, no wifi dongles or modems – nothing, just people. Two equal people (who have not taken any mind-altering chemicals today) sit opposite each other and look each other in the face. It’s not sex; it’s not therapy or counselling; it’s “conversation”. The Bible calls it fellowship. We take turns. While one person talks, the other listens carefully. After I understand you, then I talk to you. Listening is as important as talking. When we converse this way, it is not long before what we both recognize as truth emerges. It is an amazing experience. Give it a try.

Psalm 50:23 (KJV) …to him that ordereth his conversation (life-style) aright will I shew the salvation of God.

Finally

When we get together, as I hope we shall, we will get to know each other. I promise to listen carefully to everything you say. And remember: when you know me, you know a solution to the drug problem. When you know Jesus, you’ll love conversing with all kinds of people.

Hebrews 13:1 (KJV) Let brotherly love continue.

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Where are you?

Dr Charles Slack

“Where are you now?” 
 The other psychologists would ask me this at conventions and conferences.

They meant: where are you working, what university or research outfit?  When my career went in to decline, I resented the question, didn’t want to disclose how low I’d descended down the job ladder.  I’d reply with sarcasm, “I’m here in the Hilton Cocktail Lounge: where are you?” and then order another drink.  After enough vodka martinis, the Lounge of the New York Hilton looks a lot like the Lounge of the Chicago Hilton.  Both are rather fuzzy.  In fact everything is a bit formless – and – ah – where was I – Oh yes – here at my computer writing about disorientation.  Right?

Adam where are you?

One doesn’t need to be drunk to be disoriented.  Any sin can impair orientation.  In Genesis 3:9, the Lord God asks Adam “Where are you?”  Obviously God knows.  He’s giving Adam a test item, a diagnostic query.  God doesn’t waste words.  To Adam it also meant explain yourself.  How far have you gone from Me?  I call it the “Adam Item”.  What are you doing?  What are you really doing?

The Adam Item

And maybe most important of all the Adam Item also means: Who do you think you are?  God knows exactly what Adam will answer but He wants Adam to speak for himself.  In three words, the Adam Item, “Where are you?” exposes the totality of original sin.  How are we going?  Who do we think we are kidding?

Adam could have confessed his disobedience.  But he obfuscated, “I heard the sound of You [walking] in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked: and I hid myself.”  Hid from the all-seeing eye of God!  Not just evil – really stupid!

To prompt Adam to wise up, God asks, “Who told you you were naked?” and finally, “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”  He points the finger at Eve.  The rest is history.

So man tried to cheat on God’s first test item – as God knew he would.  The Big Question for us is can we acknowledge our mistakes?  Where are we in relation to God?  The Item takes different forms depending on the sin: how, who, what, when, why, where.   

The Addict Item

“Have you used a drug today?”  If not, then “How long has it been?”  Addicts may not like the question, but they understand it.  The next question is: Do you want to quit?

I quit using drugs on 3 March, 1976.  Before that date, I hated the Addict Item and avoided all questioners.  The Addict Item didn’t make me repent but it tended to spoil my using.  Eventually I reached desperation and was ready for surrender.  Then and only then did I admit to others (and to myself) how much, how often, and how recently I had used.

2 The Addict Item doesn’t cure addicts

It makes them angry.  Years ago a nurse in a nearby town phoned me to ask if I would speak to her patient.  The dialogue went:

where are you title-07Patient: Hello

Charles: Hi.  The nurse has asked me to speak to you because I used to be heavily addicted to drugs.  However, I am totally free of all drugs now and have been for quite a few years.  How are you doing?

Patient: Not too well.  I’m very confused and I can’t sleep.

Charles: I know what you mean: I’ve felt that way many times.  Let me ask you, how long has it been since you’ve taken a drug of any kind?

Patient: (Pause) Well, I had a bit of mull yesterday.

Charles: How about other stuff?

Patient: (Pause) Well, oh, I’d say about two weeks!

Charles: (I’m quite sure he’s lying) So you have not used today?

Patient: (Pause) Right.

Charles: OK, so do you want to quit, I mean get off and stay off all drugs?  It’s not easy but it is worth it.

Patient: (Pause) I don’t rightly know what I want.  I’m confused, aren’t I?

Charles:  OK so you need to give yourself a break.  You need a clean brain for a few weeks, in order to know what you want.

Patient: But I can’t sleep.

Charles: So what!  Nobody ever died of insomnia.  I couldn’t sleep when I came off drugs.  I hadn’t really slept for years because I always knocked myself out in one way or another.  I never really slept because I always crashed.

Learning to sleep without drugs takes time.  Give yourself a break.  Then you can decide if you really want to quit for good.

Patient: But I need to sleep!

Charles: No you don’t.  Just stay awake: you’ll sleep eventually.  If you take sleeping pills now, you will soon be back on your other drugs.  Your brain will never get clean enough to make a good decision.

Patient: But I need to sleep because I’m going to court Thursday on a dangerous-driving charge.

Charles: Good!  When you get to court, tell your lawyer to tell the court you are an addict and can’t sleep.  Tell the judge the truth: you are agitated and need treatment.  Tell them you need a good rehab that will detox you and keep you off all drugs.  Then you will sleep well, like I now do.

Patient: (No reply: he has dropped the phone!)

Charles: (now speaking to the nurse) He needs to go to a rehab.  Tell the court that’s what he needs.  And no sleeping pills.  Let him stay awake.  Sleep in the daytime.  It won’t kill him.

Nurse:  I think you’re right.  I’ll do what I can.  (CRASH!)  I’ll call you later!

The nurse phoned back to say the patient was so angry he kicked a hole in her door on the way out.  She had him charged with “wilful damage”.  She said she thought he might go into a rehab providing the court cooperated.  She agreed we’d done the best we could under the circumstances.  Now we should pray for his recovery.  The Addict Item can assist the addict to get to a place where abstinence is possible through the grace of God.

Notice God did not rescue Adam and Eve.  He ejected them from His garden!  However, as a result mankind was in a position where rehabilitation was possible through Jesus.

The Co-Dependent Item

http://www.thechristiannetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/road.jpg

If you are a non-addict trying to influence an addicted relative or friend, your Item takes this form: Do I still think “there must be some way” I can save my addicted child, spouse, relative or friend?

The greatest lesson from Adam is simply that God himself did NOT rescue the sinners from their sin.

He made it tough for them (Genesis 3:16-19) and let them go. (Genesis 3:23)  He had His own plan of salvation, a far better one than we can possibly imagine.

According to this plan, each of us must make a decision (Philippians 2:12-13): to surrender to Jesus or go on sinning.  It’s His way or “my way”.

The lesson from the oldest story in the book: God’s way is best.

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Real Highs: getting there

by Charles Slack

I’m not the only one who prays constantly for knowledge of God’s will.  Most Christians are eager to know what He wants.  (As a recovered drug addict, I really need to know.)  Yet the Bible states God’s perfect will clearly and concisely in a one simple sentence, “Don’t get drunk!” (Ephesians 5:18) and Ephesians 5:19-21 says why: you can’t know God or real happiness.  To have the “joy of the Lord”, we must not be intoxicated or hung over – not in the least.

Gods Stuff

http://www.thechristiannetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/lord.jpg

 On the day of Pentecost, 120 people acted as if drunk. 

Thank God they were sober – or there might be no church today. 

Onlookers suspected intoxication. 

Had the 120 been smoking a bit of dope, 3000 people might have been tragically disappointed. 

Receiving the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit requires a clean brain and a clear sensorium.

It’s all about experiencing the presence of God, engrossing in His Love, appreciating His gifts, feeling sin-free and guilt-free; having no hang-ups, fears, compulsions, obsessions, addictions, neuroses, psychoses or other “issues”.  No worries!

A legal high

We switch spirits: one goes out and another comes in.  Spirits of alcohol (and drugs) go away and the Holy Spirit comes to stay. 

We seek God with a clean brain clean and a clear mind, and He gives us a big taste of His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control – as well as His surprising gifts of deep understanding, improved communication, wisdom, knowledge and prediction (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).  Giving away drugs and alcohol is a small price to pay for incredible experiences.  It’s too good to be true but it is absolutely true – a promise from God – the real high and (Galatians 5:23) it’s perfectly legal!  Drugs are a sensation but God’s high is a reality.  It doesn’t happen overnight but it does happen.  It took me many months years – I was slower than most – but the result was incredible, more than worth it.  Persist!  God will bring it to pass.  There’s spirituality and physiology involved.  I’m SO glad I didn’t pick up.

Physiological principle

Drugs of addiction are all substitutes that mimic substances naturally produced by the body.  Our glands contain natural, internal drug labs that continually supply what we need to relieve pain and react under pressure.  The body’s manufacturing plants are better than anything man has devised.  Opiate drugs like morphine, heroin, codeine, methadone and the rest, are all substitutes for internally-produced endorphins. Amphetamines are nothing but substitutes for naturally produced adrenalin, and so it goes.  Whenever a substitute drug is injected or ingested, the body slows down its own natural production. 

Result: you need more and more substitutes – you get addicted.  You can’t quit without withdrawal symptoms.  The good news: if you stay completely abstinent until your body begins normal production, and you are ready to experience God’s presence in your life.

With spiritual ramifications

The natural functions of relieving pain and triggering emergency reactions, keep us alive through stress, trauma, anguish agony etc.  But endorphins and other natural drugs also have spiritual functions and these are even more important.  The spiritual functions make life worth living.  They make our relationship to God an ecstatic affiliation – literally indescribable – words fail: you must “taste and see” (Psalm 34) for yourself.  It takes time.  It takes persistence.  It takes trust and faith but, no worries, He will definitely give you a taste.  He loves drug addicts.  I should know!

Conclusion: every drug high is a synthetic, second-rate, substitute for what God has in store.  Let’s get there together.  See you in church.

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God’s Success Rate

by Charles Slack

Evaluating drug treatments “Success rates”, what do they mean?  How should treatments be evaluated?  

Here are some stories about how God’s will plays out in drug rehabs and programs. 

The First Case is a man unable to remain clean and sober in three different treatments.  His initial try was a Christian rehab which he quit soon after entering.  Next he attended a 12-Step program for a month or so.  “Not for me,” he said.  Then he entered a secular residential program which he completed.  Then he relapsed again. 

Who is to blame for failure?

Although “blame” may be the wrong word, which program should take primary responsibility for the First Case’s relapse record?  Or should all programs share equally in his failure?  The Christian rehab claims an “80% success rate” due to “the Jesus Factor”.  Does this mean Jesus is unsuccessful 20% of the time?  Or does it mean Jesus would have a 100% success rate if well-meaning people didn’t interfere 20% of the time?  Secular rehabs might have a lower success rate because they interfere even more.  

First Case himself blamed the Christian rehab which, said he, tried to “brainwash” him.  However, stoned addicts like First Case are notorious liars and untrustworthy self-prognosticators.  Nevertheless, it stands to reason that those advertising their successes should also take blame for their failures.   

I’m glad I didn’t take First Case’s judgment seriously because later on he returned to his 12-Step meetings and remained clean and sober by “working the program”.  Next thing you know, having asked Lord Jesus into his heart, First Case began attending church regularly.  He now says he has an “open mind” about that Christian rehab: maybe his brain “needed washing” back then.  Praise God!    

Who gets the credit for success?

A secular ethics professor might say that whoever took the blame for failure should now get the credit for success.  A humanist might insist that First Case himself take the blame or credit for whatever happens. However First Case refuses to take credit.  “Jesus did it, not me,” says First Case, “My will and my life are in His hands.”

Wrong room?

Next Case is an alcoholic from the USA who finally got “sick and tired of being sick and tired” and went out one dark night to find an AA meeting.  In the USA, AA meets in church basements (back sheds in Australia).  But Next Case was too disoriented to find the basement that night and ended up in the Rectory where the Ladies’ Auxiliary(LA) had lit up the hall.  The ladies welcomed Next Case warmly and let him rest on a soft seat at the back of the room.  Next Case never took another drink.  When his brain had cleared, he finally found AA, but he definitely credits “LA” for getting him sober.

God causes recovery, not rehabs

Last Case, totally clean and sober over 32 years (maybe you can guess this one’s identity), says that given substantial recovery, a change in perspective occurs.  The glory goes to God; the credit goes to ALL who tried to help; while the healed addict just takes the privilege.  He says rehabs and programs should get credit where credit is due although they do not CAUSE recovery.  Recovery occurs IN them – an important distinction.  God causes recovery.  He heals addicts all the time in all kinds of places.  (Unfortunately, some then go straight to the pub to celebrate.) 

Rehabs and programs sometimes feel the need to make “success rate” claims but these can backfire.  An expensive, Christian rehab claiming an “80% success rate for those who complete our program” may be compared to a no-cost, self-help group that can claim 100% for those completing its program – you stay in the program as long as you live.  (The Christian rehab also requires life-long church fellowship.) 

Christian programs have a disadvantage in that they don’t attract atheist addicts.  Some unbelievers will eventually accept Jesus as Savior after their thinking gets straight in a drug-free secular program.  Last Case strongly supports Christian drug-programs but also suspects Jesus Christ may reach many in very low-cost anonymous groups just as He does in expensive, residential, faith-based rehabs.  And the waiting list in the “non-professional” programs is zero.    

http://www.thechristiannetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/drug.jpg

To recover from drug addiction and drug abuse, an addict must

a) develop a relationship with God and

b) become abstinent from drugs.

 Christian programs and churches tend to emphasize the relationship with Jesus, allowing addicts to experience for themselves the importance of abstinence.  This may not be a bad strategy: that which is self-discovered may be retained better than that which is preached.  

Secular programs tend to focus on abstinence leaving the “God factor” to self-discovery.  

Does this mean Jesus gets neglected?  Far from it, when the brain is drug-free, then the mind can experience the Word. Faith comes from hearing (Romans 10:17) but you can’t hear until you can hear.  God provides for those who need healing prior to hearing.        

Final Case:

A Pentecostal church keyboard player, Charles, had got clean in Narcotics Anonymous before becoming a Christian.  To promote understanding, Charles invited a church youth-leader, Dave, to an NA meeting.  An assistant pastor criticized Charles and Dave.  “Narcotics Anonymous is not Christian,” said the pastor.  “It is, when Charles is there,” said Dave.  And indeed, within the month another NA member came to church to invite Jesus into his heart. 
Advice to all addicts: wherever you are, seek Jesus until He finds you. 

Advice to the rest: never covet credit.  

God’s success rate is 100%.  

Yours is much lower, maybe zero.

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Drug Truth: Murder Will Out

by Charles Slack

My grandmother, the one we called “Mither” who baked the best cinnamon buns and who prayed fervently for our salvation, believed that “murder will out”.  Often preceded by “the Lord knows” and followed by “in His time”, Mither’s maxim was meant to apply across the board to all transgressions great and small. 

The technical term is metonym where a word like “murder” is intended to stand for “offenses in general”, including theft from cookie jars, smoking cigarettes, lying to parents about smoking cigarettes and wagging school – as well as, of course, to homicide. 

The idea was, whatever our trespasses might be, we were not going to get away with them forever:
eventually, in the fullness of time, sooner or later, “at the end of the day”, in the last analysis, when push comes to shove, etc., light will shine, truth will tell, facts will front, all will be revealed,
 murder will out.

Drug abuse is sin

Lately I’ve been thinking of Mither’s adage in connection with some truths now coming to light about drug abuse.  Jesus says, “He that commits (practises) sin is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34)  This is a perfect description of addiction.  When you take a mind/mood-altering drug, you begin to become a slave to drugs.  You lose control of your life.  First you take a drug; next the drug takes a drug; then the drug takes you – wherever it wants you to go.  This is how sin operates.

Hidden by ignorance and denial for years if not decades, such vital verities as this are emerging at last.  Romans 5:20-21 (NIV), But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  As the problem worsens, the truth becomes more apparent.

The drug problem is now so devastating, ubiquitous, momentous, and so recalcitrant to standard (weak) solutions, that obfuscation can’t help but fade.  Drug truth is coming to light.

Progressive symptomatology 

Since the nineteen sixties, a significant number of influential “experts” on drug abuse including police, psychologists, professors, pundits, politicians and philanthropists have themselves used drugs without having really tried to quit altogether.  These people see no reason for tough laws or compulsory treatment for addicts.  “Social” drug-users nearly always favor decriminalization and legalization.  They espouse “harm-reduction” and think “controlled-use” can be a solution.  However, the bad-or-maybe-good news is that drug addiction is relentlessly progressive in high-brow professionals as well as in lowly crack-heads.  In time the symptomatology of all drug-users becomes obvious.  The time comes when high-and-mighty addicts cease to be effective opinion-molders as their lives become unmanageable.  The good-or-maybe-bad news is that when sports heroes go to rehab, when psychiatrists become mental patients, when judges become junkies, then murder will out.

Furthermore, when sin increases and headlines get bad enough, naive citizens who never used drugs finally become aware of the intractable horror of drug use. Perceiving at last the failure of half-measures, “square” people now call for tougher love, tougher laws and more compulsory treatment.  When Oscar-winners overdose, murder will out.

Prominent among solid but naive non-addict citizens are what Dr. George O’Neil calls “the parents of lost children”. 

Distraught and devastated, the families of addicts eventually learn through bitter experience that tough love, abstinence-based compulsory treatment and tough laws are the only option: everything else is false hope.
 When the problem hits home, murder will out.

So much for the news about sin increasing.  Now for news about grace increasing even more…

Grace abounds

On the entirely positive side, day by day the population of completely abstinent ex-addicts keeps growing.  I know because I’m one of them.  We are those whom God has healed.  We know it was God.  We know human “will-power” and “discipline” failed us.  “Non-directive” counseling, “wet” rehabs, any treatment that allows controlled use was worthless.  In the finish it was abstinence or death.  We know the truth about drugs.

Abstinence, a gift from God, can be maintained only by complete surrender.  Spiritual growth is required.  Jesus Christ is very popular among abstinent ex-addicts, all of whom attest to the need for God to remove obsessions and compulsions (read “sins”) and restore sanity.  Most recovering addicts also favor tougher laws and tougher love for those still using.

Immature

“Reformed” addicts (like me) can be a pain in the neck in early days of recovery.  Eventually we do come good.   However, immaturity is common because emotional growth stops when drugs take over.  When I got clean at age 47 I was an emotional adolescent in a middle-aged body.  I needed to grow up and learn interpersonal skills.

I was often “over the top” in human relations.  Being honest myself for the first time in ages, I saw hypocrisy in everyone else.  I sounded self-righteous when actually I was really scared to death of relapsing.  I also became fanatically over committed through trying to redeem myself instead of letting Jesus do the job.  However, the entirely good news is that, in time, because I kept away from the drug scene and remained abstinent (2 Corinthians 6:17 “come out from among them, be separate and touch not the unclean thing”), I eventually joined the human race and became a reasonably mature Christian.  Meanwhile, I and other recovering addicts were especially equipped to help using addicts achieve abstinence.  God gives us a special gift.  We alone are able to prove through experience that we know what we are talking about.  Many using addicts won’t listen to anyone who “hasn’t been there”.

The best news

Ex-addicts are constantly on the increase!  By now enough of us have achieved enough maturity to constitute a political force and a professional reality.  Because we’re getting the numbers, politicians are beginning to listen to us.  Bureaucrats aren’t taking much heed yet but they soon will.  For one thing, ex-addicts are becoming bureaucrats themselves.  This means that laws and love will finally get tough.  Even though government officials are always the last to catch on, one or two now show signs of perceiving the horrendous harm in harm-minimization and the need for compulsory treatment.  As time goes on, more will come on board.  Slowly but surely, murder will out.

Tobacco example

It happened in the case of cigarettes and lung cancer.  As early as the 1930’s, scientific data were available to show a link between lung cancer and smoking.  By the 1950’s cigarettes were well known to be a cause.  Yet governments paid no attention until the population of ex-smokers and non-smokers became a political force and professional reality in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  Now that ex-smokers and non-smokers have the numbers, laws are getting tougher and abstinence is recognized as the only sane option.

Tough laws and tough love

So, thank God, “harm minimization”, “controlled use”, “decriminalization” and “non-directive counseling” are on the way out; abstinence, compulsory treatment, tough laws and tough love are on the way in.  Churches are learning there’s more to recovery than answering an altar call, saying the sinner’s prayer and donating to Teen Challenge.  The op-ed columnists are catching on as the headlines get worse.  Prominent psychologists (Dr. Phil), a few social workers and the occasional bureaucrat are beginning to face facts.  After decades of denial, murder will out after all.  (In case you think the murder metonym is far-fetched, be reminded that a soft option can actually kill an addict.)  Whether or not we want to hear it, the tough truth about addiction is the only thing that sets us free.  Anything less leads to jail, institutions and death.

Tough truth

Drug-addiction is caused by taking drugs.  The only remedy is complete abstinence. 

The Bible puts it better than any text-book or rehab manifesto in the “slave of sin” maxim of John 8:34.  If you play the game, you will get the name.  If you do the deed, you will die the death. (Genesis 2:17)  The rest is sanctimonious hand-waving.

So let’s all face facts: drug addiction is not caused by low self-esteem, child abuse, familial dysfunction, spiritual maltreatment, bullying, post-traumatic stress, clinical depression, cognitive dissonance, inadequate resilience, poverty, excessive wealth, manic euphoria, over-confidence, nurturing deficiency, stupidity, ignorance, moral turpitude, leniency, lassitude, lack of will power, or any other antecedents, correlates, proposed causes, predispositions, predilections or inclinations espoused in journals, advocated on websites, or broadcast on the evening news – unless accompanied by the ingestion or injection of a mind/mood-altering substance.  Drug addiction is caused by taking a drug.  The fall of man was caused by taking a bite.  Everything else is ancillary.  That’s the truth.

So!, why don’t all drug users become addicts?  Answer, they all can and do – if they keep on taking drugs!  Some take longer than others.  Some are more sensitive.  But nobody avoids addiction forever who continues to use drugs.  Likewise, nobody ever fails to recover who quits and remains completely abstinent.

Here’s an important fact: sensitivity cuts both ways.  Some people become quickly addicted because they are sensitive.  However other sensitive people realize their vulnerability and quit early on.  Unfortunately many highly resilient people, trusting in their strength, continue to use past the point of no return.  So resistant people get addicted too.  In the drug world, trusting your own strength can kill you whereas acknowledging weakness can save your life.

Advice from someone who has been there 

Whatever else you do, avoid the next mind/mood-altering drug.  Always remember, the first drug does the damage.  Seek help.  Ask God for help.  Pray to stay clean.  Honesty is the best policy: murder will out.  Complete abstinence from drugs is the only thing that works.  Anything less than tough love will kill you.  Surrender to compulsory treatment.  Surrender to God and He will bless your whole life!

Charles Slack, Ph.D. Psychology (Princeton), clean-and-sober since 3 March 1976.

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Repentance

by Charles Slack

In Acts 2:38, Peter outlines what one must do to be saved. The first requirement is repent, meaning turn away from sinful self. The Bible emphasizes repentance: the ministry of John the Baptist focused on it to pave the way for the Jesus who also stresses it, being “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) The Bible appears to assume its readers know what it means to repent. In Biblical times people understood the concept. But these days they don’t! Repentance needs to be spelled out in detail for modern man. An itemized list of repentance items was put together in the mid 1930’s by American alcoholics desperate to stop drinking. They compiled their list by reading (and listening to their wives read) the Bible (particularly the Book of James) and then spending a “quiet time” humbly asking God for specific personal instructions.

The result of this contrite seeking and desperate desire for abstinence is called The Twelve Steps. Today millions of people world-wide, employ “The Steps” to abstain from obsessive-compulsive sins like gambling, drugs, sex addiction, stealing, cluttering, co-dependence, anger, swearing, violence, compulsive shopping, overeating, – the list goes on. Christian churches also employ the Steps but are just more specific than AA about exactly who God is. Here is a Christian version of the Steps with associated scriptures.

Twelve Steps and Their Biblical Comparisons 1)Adapted by Celebrate Recovery

We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
Romans 7:18

We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Philippians 2:13

We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. 
Romans 12:1

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. 
Lamentations 3:40

We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed
James 5:16

We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. 
James 4:10

We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 
1 John 1:9

We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Luke 6:31

We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift
Matthew 5:23-24

We continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 
1 Corinthians 10:12

We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and power to carry that out. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
Colossians 3:16

Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore them gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 
Galatians 6:1

Of course, as Peter makes clear in Acts 2:38, repentance is not the whole story. To be saved one must also “be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and…receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”. But God honors sincere repentance by non-Christians, animists, pagans, even open-minded atheists who earnestly want to quit some heavy sin. Nineveh repented (Jonah 3:1-10) and God spared that city; Muslim Iran has nearly 4000 meetings of Narcotics Anonymous every week; AA and Al-Anon are going strong in the former Soviet Union and East Central Europe2)See the Legacy Vol 48 / issue 2 May/ June 2011 [link pdf] Many Buddhists seem to have no problem following the 12 Steps 3)see Kevin Griffin “One Breath At A Time

As a convicted Christian, I am certain that to remain totally free from obsessions and be happy about it requires an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit as well as a constant reminder that it’s the first bite of forbidden fruit (drug, punt, swear-word etc.) that does the damage. Most churches do a good job of emphasizing the relationship with Jesus. The 12 Steps have helped me and millions of others “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

Addendum:

Perhaps this is the time to remind ourselves that repentance benefits the perpetrator not the victim. When I say “sorry” to you from my heart, I go away justified: God restores my righteousness. What happens to you in this case is between you and the Lord. You may reject my penance, might even shut the door in my face, but if I have followed Jesus’ teaching and repented, then I will go “down to my house justified” (Luke 18:14) Of course, there may be more to it than just saying “sorry”. Perhaps atonement is in order. Perhaps I have restitution to make. Maybe I have to put money where my mouth is. If so I must atone as if “unto the Lord.” My victim’s demands are not irrelevant but they are not paramount. My victim may be greedy, or revengeful, or too proud to accept my amends. Of course my victim may also be grateful – whatever. My victim’s attitude a matter between him and God, just as my justification is between me and God. And when we are victimized, what do we do? The Bible is clear: we forgive. If we continue to bear resentment or self-pity, we are the ones who suffer most! For our own righteousness, not to mention our mental health, we must forgive those who hurt us.

Nations are the same as individuals when it comes to apologies, expiation, amends and compensation. But right now, I’m thinking about you and me not the Australian nation. When wrong, admit it promptly. Don’t worry about the reaction. That’s their problem. We simply do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

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References   [ + ]

1. Adapted by Celebrate Recovery
2. See the Legacy Vol 48 / issue 2 May/ June 2011 [link pdf]
3. see Kevin Griffin “One Breath At A Time

Melted Minds vs Solid Reality

by Charles Slack

Editor: This article by Dr Charles Slack is written in response to a request from an Australian newspaper to write a piece on the resumption of LSD research in the USA. The Australian May 01, 2010 “Psychedelic drugs including LSD, demonised since the 1960s, are back on the medical research agenda as treatments for depression and trauma.” By Chris Ayres.

What’s the message for today from an old ex-hippy professor who was in the middle of the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s?  Answer: Do NOT take LSD under ANY circumstances and do NOT trust any “research” conducted by scientists who have used hallucinogenic drugs.

By now everybody knows the calamity of drug addiction and the horror of drug dealing.  But every drug epidemic involves a third role: advocate.  It is drug advocates, celebrities, hip-academics and professionals, who minimize harm and promote use.

Many fads and fashions begin at street-level with street-people, underclass and petty criminals, those who will try anything.  Next, it’s the in-crowd, celebrities, trendy academics, sports heroes, and the idle rich who take up the fad.  Ultimately the middle class, caught in a pincher movement, gives in.  Surrounded from above and from below, the unsuspecting, the rebellious, the underage, your children and mine, succumb to the fads.

The LSD fad, however, began with scientists and celebrities.  At first the drug was only available to credentialed people for research purposes.  In addition to ourselves and each other, we Harvard faculty used undergraduates as guinea pigs. Soon, however, we were also studying the reactions of prison inmates and volunteers looking for an extra dollar or two.  Celebrities, and especially the children of celebrities, impressed by our credentials and looking for thrills, took up the psychedelic fad.  It wasn’t long before hip chemists were cooking up, and teenagers everywhere were “blowing their minds” with hallucinogens.

Dr. Timothy Leary, who urged young people to “Turn on, tune in, and drop out” also admitted his mind was melting…”but in a good way.”

Mega-biased investigators

In much drug research it doesn’t matter whether scientists have, themselves, ever taken the drugs they are investigating.   However, with psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs, experimenter bias is a matter of life and death, sanity and insanity, LSD, psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine, cannabis and other psychedelic, euphoric, hallucinogenic substances make proselytisers of those who ingest or inject them – not excluding otherwise objective research scientists…

Like me.  When, in 1961, I swallowed 500 micrograms (a truly miniscule amount) of then perfectly legal LSD from Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland, I was transformed from a square sceptic into a hip proselytiser.  Worse than promoting decriminalisation and harm-minimisation, I advocated universal consumption!  “Turn on and join the in-crowd!” was my message.

Thank God, most friends and family could see I was mad. I’d crossed the line between far-out and insane.  My manic obsession was often a turn-off rather than a turn-on.  But some academic colleagues were less obviously unbalanced.  They could be more convincing – and hence more dangerous.  Several became quite famous influencing hundreds who in turn influenced thousands, creating the “psychedelic revolution” of the 1960s.

This epidemic destroyed the mental health and physical lives of thousands and would, I’m convinced, have shortened my life as it did theirs had I too become a renowned advocate instead of just a stoned madman.  US President Richard Nixon called Dr. Timothy Leary, the Harvard lecturer who dispensed the LSD, “the most dangerous man in America” for causing mental illness and suicide among the young.  TV personality Art Linkletter quit TV to devote his life to anti-drug campaigning after his daughter, Diane, on LSD, fell six floors to her death from a bathroom window.  An artist friend of mine, Fred Good, took LSD and dived naked from his third-floor window.  Fred landed on the roof of a parked sedan and lived.  Other jumpers were not so fortunate.  “Flying” from balconies became so common that we devised a rule: one person remains straight during upper-floor acid-parties to keep the death-rate down.  Although not advocating acid-suicide, Leary said early death didn’t matter because we’d experienced more life in a five-hour LSD trip than squares did in years of mundane living.

Fortunately for me, I only fell to the floor I was on when I got stoned.  Opiates put me to sleep.  Eventually I needed amphetamines to get up and go to work.  I could get jobs because I had once been a Harvard professor – but couldn’t keep them.  My once upscale career went downtown and downhill.  I went from being a clinical psychologist to being a mental patient – and locked up in the drunk-tank of the Birmingham Alabama Jail (even though I clearly told police I had once been a Harvard Professor).

In retrospect, my failure to maintain self-respect probably saved my life and my soul.  Pride was a problem.  When I had none left, I finally accepted the actuality of my situation and attended a 12-Step program along with other addicts and alcoholics seeking a drug-free life.  On the third of March 1976 I became abstinent from all drugs including alcohol and eight months later I migrated to Australia to begin a new life working for the Welfare Department of the State of Victoria.  I think they read my CV in reverse, thought they were getting a professor instead of a despondent ex-addict.  However, in a manic phase of my recovery I went over the top in every way.  When three years clean I became a Christian but not yet completely sane or sanctified.  I reckon it took me five or six years to quit living inside my own spaced-out head, join the human race, and perceive the true value of reality.  Now, in my thirty-fifth year of clean living and gainful employment, I’m a “self-funded retiree” who usually can pass for normal.

However I remain over-the-top in gratitude to God and the good people He put in my life here in Australia – to whom I would give warning of the danger in taking even the smallest amount of hallucinogenic drugs, and state categorically that being a scientist in no way mitigates those dangers.  At the same time, I want to put in a good word for reality.  The human brain is at once the most complex, sensitive and precise entity in the universe.  Don’t mess around with it!  As you can’t improve a TV show by sprinkling iron filings into the back of the set, there’s no way to improve the creative or perceptive ability of the human brain by ingesting or injecting mind/mood-altering chemicals.  You may feel better for an instant, but you will eventually lose the ability to feel at all.

The in-group and the out-group

News headlines now proclaim that the research goes on.  Sixty years later LSD, psylocibin, dimethyltryptamine and other hallucinogenic drugs are again being “investigated” by zealous users spreading the word and dispensing the goods.
In a government-funded study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and published recently1)[Griffiths et al. J Psychopharm-acol 2008; 0: 0269881108094300v1] many research subjects said that it was the single most meaningful or spiritually significant experience of their lives. [Italics mine]

I agree.  Furthermore, this experience is likely to remain more meaningful than anything in real life for months and years to come.  Compared to seeing God in a light-bulb; compared to communicating with extraterrestrial beings; compared to travelling to the moon and finding a crater resembling a sanctified earthly toilet bowl; compared to the white light and the bluedarkness; compared being caressed by a million extraterrestrial love worms, what chance hath mundane reality?  What in real life can possibly be as significant as a warm hug from loving aliens or an embrace from the entire universe whilst plunging into one’s own private black hole?

No matter what you thought before, after LSD, psychedelically speaking, the world divides in two: those who have partaken and those who have not.  (If you are uninterested in speaking psychedelically, you belong with the have-nots).

You have experienced experiences that are truly beyond experience.

Certain ESSENTIAL TRUTHS are to be believed with ABSOLUTELY CERTAINTY.

lsd NOT ONLY would LSD be a cure for depression and PTSD.  It might just be an answer to ALL MAJOR PROBLEMS OF THE HUMAN RACE.

lsd NO WAY could it be habit forming.  LSD is SO DIFFERENT from addicting drugs that there need be little concern for dependence.  This means IT CAN BE TAKEN AGAIN AND AGAIN WITHOUT BECOMING ADDICTED.

Important secrets about how to improve the workings of the brain have been revealed.  These can’t adequately be put into words and therefore must be experienced.

lsd LSD special effects must NEVER be confused with mental illness!  At least one LSD trip should be required for psychiatric board certification.  LSD will be a cure for most mental illnesses if psychiatrists also turn on.

Yes, harm minimization might be necessary.  Take LSD in a safe and pleasant environment – preferably on the ground floor.

lsd LSD makes everyone a heroic explorer.  WE ARE ASTRONAUTS INVESTIGATING INNER SPACE.
No point in just writing about LSD for people to read.  THEY MUST EXPERIENCE LSD TRUTH FOR THEMSELVES.

lsd An LSD trip makes one a post-modern phenomenologist.  Any philosopher who fails to take LSD is destined to remain a naive realist.

lsd PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIENCE SHOULD BE A HUMAN RIGHT!

If you disagree with any of the above, you need another trip.

regaining-sanity-01

Can one regain sanity?

Seriously, completely sober now, I need to ask, is there life after LSD – I mean reality-based living?

Compared to Hollywood special-effects, psychedelic trips, and psychotic hallucinations, real life at its best and worst requires perceiving nuanced intricacies of detail.

All drugs, especially hallucinogens, destroy the fine-grain tuning of sensation and perception.  Real life also centres on interpersonal relationships.

After a single LSD trip, the ability to relate to anyone who has not had the same experience is markedly reduced.  All addicting drugs eventually devastate human relationships.

The life I am now living, my current state of mind, and the fact that I can write this article, prove that a degree of recovery from addiction to hallucinogens is possible – although complete sanity takes many years and consumes much effort.  In particular, recovery demands spiritual progress.

The enemies of recovery are ego, resentment, self-pity and fear.

By conquering these, and completely avoiding the first drink or drug, an ex-addict can approach (asymptote) normality.

So who can be trusted?

Not ex-addicts like me, at least not always.  Of course, you should listen carefully to those of us who’ve been clean for multiple years and take seriously what we say.  We’re the only ones who can demonstrate we know how to quit.  We also know which researchers are unbiased and which have been blinkered by the very drugs they are researching.  But on the downside, we go through fazes as we acquire the capacity to live honestly and openly.  Particularly annoying is our tendency, as we learn to tell the truth, to see hypocrisy in everyone else.  Recovering addicts can be a huge pain in the neck.  However, here’s the good news: the longer we keep drug-free, the more you can trust us.  We are changing all the time – mostly for the better.

Not so with the professional drug advocates.  “A foolish consistency” said Ralph Waldo Emerson “is the hobgoblin of little minds.”  It is also the lodestar of academic worldviews: right or wrong, particularly in print, they remain constant despite fashion and fact.

Good-guy rehab experts can’t always be trusted either.  Professionals doing drug treatment have a compassionate reason to exaggerate their success-rates: clients’ lives depend as much on program faith as on program content.  Treatments work when-and-if clients believe they do – and don’t drop out from discouragement.  Addicts with the lowest self-esteem who suspect the worst about themselves think they need the world’s best treatments.  Even the most successful for others might not be good enough for them.  And it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy: telling the bitter truth (95% recidivism) diminishes hope and eggs on relapse.  And, of course, decreases funding.

Research funds are always insufficient.  And studies validating the bad-news about drugs are costly.  To prove  beyond doubt, say, that cannabis causes schizophrenia rather than vice versa (endogenous schizophrenics tending to smoke pot), requires life-long, longitudinal, in-depth studies of random or stratified samples of many different populations – a multi-million-dollar effort that might only harden the hearts of confirmed social dope-smokers anyway.  Yet at this very moment in drug-recovery meetings all over the world, ex-addicts are “sharing” how marijuana made them insane.  Drug advocates avoid those meetings like the plague while continuing to arm themselves with anecdotes and data, argy and bargy, to support decriminalisation, controlled use, non-directive counselling, and sickness benefits with free opioids and tricyclics, not to mention harm minimisation with free needles and safe injecting rooms supervised by million-dollar medical teams like Grey’s Anatomy and House.  (Come to think of it, why not raise funds for harm min through reality TV?  Needle Exchange and Injecting Room!  Pilot plot:  sneaky fundamentalists slip narcan into the gear so everybody goes ballistic with deadly detox.  Hero Norml-Man comes to the rescue with a year’s supply of Brown H.  Message: don’t trust do-gooders.)

In all seriousness I need to know who I can trust to help me remain clean and sober.  And I have an answer, although a very personal one.  In my thirty-five years around the drug research/recovery industry, I’ve learned that very top professionals with illustrious careers at renowned facilities – the most distinguished men and women of drug research – tend to support complete abstinence as the goal of treatment and the standard of recovery.  I rely on them, the best of the best.

For example George Eman Vaillant, M.D. an American psychiatrist and Professor at Harvard Medical School is a world-renowned expert on adult development and the recovery process of schizophreniaheroin addiction, alcoholism, and personality disorder.  He is Director of Research for the Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  As Director of the Study of Adult Development at the Harvard University Health Service, Dr. Vaillant has spent the last 30 years directing a project that has studied the lives of 824 men and women for over 60 years in total.  Dr. Vaillant is held in highest esteem by recovering addicts and alcoholics.  His own research data convinced him to join forces with recovering alcoholics who go for complete abstinence: he serves as a Class A (non-alcoholic) Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Here in Australia at the local community level, I only trust physicians and scientists who devote their careers to in-depth study and hands-on treatment of addicts including ones, like me, in substantial recovery.  To deserve my trust a physician must understand that, despite my craving for something less arduous than rigorous honesty and complete abstinence, my next lie or subsequent drug might be my penultimate act.  This mortal (some might say morbid) world-view of mine extends to the way I view research.  A normal psychologist judges a drug study as to its reliability, validity, adequacy, relevance, etc.: in the last analysis a finding can be right or wrong, true or false.  For an addict like me it can also be life or death.

For such reasons I trust A Stuart Reece, M.D. MBBS(Hons), FRCS(Ed), FRCS(Glas), FRACGP in general practice in Brisbane.  Both a brilliant scientist and a skillful practitioner, Dr. Reece is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Western Australia who has devoted the last 12 years to treating addicts of many kinds especially opiate addicts with  buprenorphine and naltrexone to assist them to become completely drug free.

Another basis for trusting scientists and practitioners like Dr Reece is their willingness to endure internecine bullying from colleagues when they challenge conventional treatment paradigms like methadone and harm minimisation.  Methadone is a drug that punishes addicts for their sin: you get hopelessly addicted without ever feeling good.  Harm minimisation can be defined as “co-dependence for bureaucrats”.  Ultimately harm-min shifts from being a policy to being a mindset that minimises the perception of harm done by drugs, creating a false sense of security.

An important reason for confidence in Dr. Reece is his spiritual beliefs.  Because he carefully follows Jesus, Dr. Reece has the right relationship with those who follow him, his recovering-addict patients and friends.  The Greek language (but not English) has a word for it,agape, meaning among other things, “love that’s always in the best interests of someone whether they know it or not”.

Magnificent Reality

What follows is strictly for the benefit of those who, like me, have ingested substances that distort and obscure reality.  People who have never used drugs or abused alcohol may want to skip the next three paragraphs.

Real life requires and rewards clear perception and appropriate action.  Although evil and suffering abound in reality, there is no limit to the real rewards of sustained sobriety: patience, love, kindness, gentleness and self-control.  Perceived clearly, life can seem intolerable but is never truly unbearable.  And what Einstein called “the marvellous structure of reality” is readily available to everyone with the courage and patience to remain mentally awake and morally straight.

Of course, all of the above requires sobriety, what neurologists used to call a “clear sensorium” and a drug-free central nervous system with all faculties working properly.

Sobriety is also a prerequisite for communication with God, the ultimate in sustainable ecstatic experiences.  In the Bible, for example, on the day of Pentecost after Jesus’ death and resurrection, a group of a hundred and twenty experienced the presence of God and acted strangely.  The Bible clearly says they were cold sober at the time.  Had they taken a drink or smoked a bit of dope, there might be no Christian church.

Conclusion

If you never take hallucinogenic drugs, you may never experience a vivid hallucination.  If you do take hallucinogenic drugs, you may never share the ecstatic experiences that Reality offers to sober people, including deeply rewarding interpersonal relationships.  If you quit taking hallucinogenic drugs, you can experience all that life has to offer: it doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not easy but it is well worth the time and effort.

Final word

If and when you are sufficiently clean and sober you can experience the presence of God.  Stoned people think they perceive God but they are deceived.  Nothing compares to the presence of God in a sober mind.  All drug experiences are deceptive substitutes.

Resource Notes

rsn2 ] 2)New York Times April 12, 2010 “Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again.” By John Tierney. rsn3 ] 3)AOL News.com April 12, 2010 “Doctors Again Dabbling in Psychedelic Drugs” By Katie Drummond. rsn4 ] 4)The Times of India April 17, 2010 “Ecstasy could help ease trauma long term” “Ecstasy pills may offer treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), say experts. According to clinical-trial results presented at a conference in San Jose, California, the effect of the party drug seems to continue for years after the initial treatment, reports Nature.” rsn5 ] 5)ABCnews.com April 19, 2010  “Stairway to Heaven: Psychedelics Soothe Dying: NYU Researchers Study Use of Psilocybin or ‘Magic Mushrooms’ to Help the Terminally Ill.” By Susan Donaldson James. rsn5 ] 6)See, for example, the cautionary tale of Dr. Clinton B. McCracken at: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/20/an-addiction-expert-reveals-a-drug-habit/

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References   [ + ]

1. [Griffiths et al. J Psychopharm-acol 2008; 0: 0269881108094300v1] many research subjects said that it was the single most meaningful or spiritually significant experience of their lives. [Italics mine]
2. New York Times April 12, 2010 “Hallucinogens Have Doctors Tuning In Again.” By John Tierney.
3. AOL News.com April 12, 2010 “Doctors Again Dabbling in Psychedelic Drugs” By Katie Drummond.
4. The Times of India April 17, 2010 “Ecstasy could help ease trauma long term” “Ecstasy pills may offer treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), say experts. According to clinical-trial results presented at a conference in San Jose, California, the effect of the party drug seems to continue for years after the initial treatment, reports Nature.”
5. ABCnews.com April 19, 2010  “Stairway to Heaven: Psychedelics Soothe Dying: NYU Researchers Study Use of Psilocybin or ‘Magic Mushrooms’ to Help the Terminally Ill.” By Susan Donaldson James.
6. See, for example, the cautionary tale of Dr. Clinton B. McCracken at: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/20/an-addiction-expert-reveals-a-drug-habit/