At New Leaf, we take the view that substance abuse, while possessing physiological and behavioral dimensions, is primarily a spiritual issue, and needs to be addressed as such.
For the most part, people abuse substances (defined here as the regular use of substances for the primary purpose of intoxication) in order to compartmentalize, when that cannot easily be achieved otherwise.
Compartmentalization is defined as “a subconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves.”
In other words, people abuse substances – seek out regular intoxication – because not doing so brings too much mental and emotional pain via acute awareness of their reality.
It is very important to recognize that there is no moral component in this equation – substance abusers are not bad, nor weak, nor morally abject, as our society’s script has decreed. The first order of business, then, is to start ridding oneself of these internalized judgments, which only serve to reinforce the behavior.
Why NOT abuse substances then? Because, 1) substance abuse is always physiologically damaging; 2) it leads to depression; and 3) it prevents psychological, emotional and spiritual growth. When presented this way, most people will choose a life without substance abuse, if it feels possible.
A proper substance abuse program, then, will have several prongs. The physiological dimension will be addressed through diet, herbs and therapies. Different substances call for different approaches, and every individual is unique. The behavioral component must be addressed as well, through lifestyle and behavior modification.
Finally, the spiritual aspect of substance abuse must be met head-on, if there is to be any hope of permanent change. The person must learn how to feel their pain, and the pain around them, in a way that doesn’t debilitate them. This is achieved through spiritual understanding, and practice.
Exorcising an entrenched substance abuse habit is no joke – it often requires a person to rebuild their psychology and ego-structure from the ground up, and can take years, if not a lifetime, of vigilance. The rewards, however, are immense – no less than a reclamation of one’s wholeness and true power.
At New Leaf, we are prepared to offer our expertise, our wisdom and our hearts to anyone with a sincere desire to overcome their substance abuse issues. Our multi-disciplinary approach can give success where past attempts have failed.
If you or someone you know is motivated to tackle a substance abuse issue down to the root cause, book an Initial Health Consult with New Leaf Ayurveda.
To address substance abuse from a Spiritual perspective, book a Spiritual Counseling session with Sagar Hallal.
For more on this subject, please explore the work of Dr. Gabor Mate.