Is the Salvation Army Rehab Right for You?

Anyone, rich or poor, can get addiction treatment at the Salvation Army. They do good work and Good Works, and they don’t get the recognition they deserve.

Here’s a testimonial video of a woman describing how the Salvation Army helped her get her life and her Faith back on track.

As a Faith based organization, they aren’t a perfect fit for everyone, but for a lot of us out there who sometimes need a little help, they are always there.

If you need help, remember that with places like the Salvation Army running treatment programs across the country, a lack of funds is no excuse to keep on using.

It’s a nice story of a woman who got the help she needed and made it through.

Anyone, rich or poor, can get addiction treatment at the Salvation Army. They do good work and Good Works, and they don’t get the recognition they deserve.

Here’s a testimonial video of a woman describing how the Salvation Army helped her get her life and her Faith back on track.

As a Faith based organization, they aren’t a perfect fit for everyone, but for a lot of us out there who sometimes need a little help, they are always there.

If you need help, remember that with places like the Salvation Army running treatment programs across the country, a lack of funds is no excuse to keep on using.

It’s a nice story of a woman who got the help she needed and made it through.

A Considered Life – Addiction Treatment and the Secret to Lasting Happiness

In a funny way, drug addicts and alcoholics are some of the luckiest people around. Addiction brings only pain – but that pain, through the recovery process, sometimes births true self knowledge and the courage to truly live.

The considered life is a happy life. Living a considered life means appreciating life, and working towards a life you appreciate – and although conceptually simple, it’s a rare thing. It takes understanding and courage, and it takes effort.

Most of us live reactionary lives – Frenzied, busy lives; stuck on our paths, too busy or scared to think about change. The addicted life epitomizes reactionary living. It’s an extreme knee-jerk case, and so it brings us deep unhappiness. Some of us, when it gets bad enough, take a courageous step and get some help. We don’t know what we need, but we know that we’ve got isn’t it. We walk into that meeting or that hospital, yearning for change, and ready to listen. And if we do listen, we are taught the most important truths of all.

Addiction Treatment – Self-Knowledge, Courage and Spirituality

Addiction treatment, at its best, teaches us real personal honesty, it demands true courage, and it prompts emotional and spiritual growth. Teaching us who we are and what we want – and how to get there. Teaching us that change takes courage and determination, but that the rewards can be great, and teaching that however we define it, that we all exist within the spiritual realm, in part, and through spiritual self-knowledge comes peace.

We walk into treatment to learn how to live right, and we walk out having learned how to live happy. And that’s why we are so lucky to be drunks or junkies or what-have-you, because we are given a golden opportunity. Someone is going to show us the secret to happiness and unlike most people at most points in their lives – we are ready to listen!

Addiction Treatment and the Secret to Happiness

We would all like to leave this earth having few regrets, having no thoughts of time wasted and happiness squandered. Yet few of us are willing to look seriously at what makes us happy, and even fewer have the courage to strive towards happiness in life.

And that’s because it’s hard!

Some of us periodically consider our happiness, deeply; but it takes real effort to make the kind of changes that are needed to live an honest and considered life – and since life as we know it already demands so much from us, few of us can spare the time.

Addicts in recovery are given the time, in fact they are often pushed into the process. Not many are given a month or two to work on emotional growth, free from other responsibility or worry – addicts in recovery are given a gift.

Personal Honesty

Reactionary living has us blame other people and other things for how we feel and how we act. How we feel actually comes from inside, and so when we feel bad and we react against the world, we never change the source of our true discontentment.

Considered living has us recognize that we control how we act, and to a large extent, how we feel. When we feel bad, we recognize the discontent as internal, and take steps that will change how we feel, and will lead to greater happiness.

But to live this honest and considered life, we need to have an honest understanding of our strengths, and more importantly, of our weaknesses. Addiction treatment demands that we look at ourselves through new, and less distorted lenses. Something is clearly wrong, and we need to figure out how we are contributing to the problem – and whether it is through the 12 steps, and a personal inventory, group therapy or individual therapy; a large part of any addiction treatment is focused on gaining self awareness.

It’s often painful, and sometimes when we get to know ourselves a little bit better we don’t much like whom we meet, but it’s necessary, and once we gain a better understanding of our natures, we are granted the opportunity to improve ourselves.

Courage

We are brave to varying degrees, but courage takes practice and determination, and it’s something you can get better at.

  • It takes a great deal of courage to admit that you have a problem – that you are powerless to control yourself, and to reach out for help. It’s a very tough thing for most of us to do.
  • It takes courage to make amends. To approach people you have wronged and to try to make things right, knowing that some of them are justifiably angry with you, and not knowing what to expect.
  • It takes courage to look at yourself warts and all, and to reveal your true nature to others.

Recovery is a succession of steps, all requiring courage – and the funny thing is, after a while it makes us courageous!

The considered life takes courage too. There is no sense in knowing yourself and understanding what makes you happy, if you don’t have the courage to make changes. Quitting a job that makes you miserable takes courage, finding real love takes courage; living as you are and not how others say you should be – takes courage.

Living the life you want on your terms is the only kind of life that makes any sense, but so many never do. Through recovery we find the courage to change.

Spirituality

We exist in the mind and in the body. Yet there’s more, we exist also on a spiritual plane – but figuring out this third part of our being takes a little effort.

Spirituality can mean religion or it can mean God, but it doesn’t have to – and many self professed religious people aren’t all that spiritual. Spirituality can be understood as an experience and understanding of our place in this greater universe.

At a very basic level, the interaction of body and mind together creates something larger than the sum of its parts. And learning to appreciate and understand the body-mind effect can lead to a greater understanding of our existence on a more metaphysical plane. Recovery activities like meditation or yoga attune us to this interplay. In many recovery programs, we go searching for God – or at least, God as we understand Him, as well.

And finding something larger than yourself, with the power to help you, can bring a lot of peace. We are spiritual beings. Humanity and the human experience has always been an oscillating quest for pleasure, power or spirituality. However you define it – spirituality is real, and coming to understand how you fit in the universe inures you from a lot of the inconsequential unhappiness’s of the unconsidered life.

Recovery Is for Life – and or Happiness

We create so much pain while using or drinking, that it hardly seems fair that we are also granted this opportunity for such lasting peace and happiness. But we are and we should be grateful and seize this opportunity – make up for time wasted and live a life that will leave no regrets.

In a funny way, drug addicts and alcoholics are some of the luckiest people around. Addiction brings only pain – but that pain, through the recovery process, sometimes births true self knowledge and the courage to truly live.

The considered life is a happy life. Living a considered life means appreciating life, and working towards a life you appreciate – and although conceptually simple, it’s a rare thing. It takes understanding and courage, and it takes effort.

Most of us live reactionary lives – Frenzied, busy lives; stuck on our paths, too busy or scared to think about change. The addicted life epitomizes reactionary living. It’s an extreme knee-jerk case, and so it brings us deep unhappiness. Some of us, when it gets bad enough, take a courageous step and get some help. We don’t know what we need, but we know that we’ve got isn’t it. We walk into that meeting or that hospital, yearning for change, and ready to listen. And if we do listen, we are taught the most important truths of all.

Addiction Treatment – Self-Knowledge, Courage and Spirituality

Addiction treatment, at its best, teaches us real personal honesty, it demands true courage, and it prompts emotional and spiritual growth. Teaching us who we are and what we want – and how to get there. Teaching us that change takes courage and determination, but that the rewards can be great, and teaching that however we define it, that we all exist within the spiritual realm, in part, and through spiritual self-knowledge comes peace.

We walk into treatment to learn how to live right, and we walk out having learned how to live happy. And that’s why we are so lucky to be drunks or junkies or what-have-you, because we are given a golden opportunity. Someone is going to show us the secret to happiness and unlike most people at most points in their lives – we are ready to listen!

Addiction Treatment and the Secret to Happiness

We would all like to leave this earth having few regrets, having no thoughts of time wasted and happiness squandered. Yet few of us are willing to look seriously at what makes us happy, and even fewer have the courage to strive towards happiness in life.

And that’s because it’s hard!

Some of us periodically consider our happiness, deeply; but it takes real effort to make the kind of changes that are needed to live an honest and considered life – and since life as we know it already demands so much from us, few of us can spare the time.

Addicts in recovery are given the time, in fact they are often pushed into the process. Not many are given a month or two to work on emotional growth, free from other responsibility or worry – addicts in recovery are given a gift.

Personal Honesty

Reactionary living has us blame other people and other things for how we feel and how we act. How we feel actually comes from inside, and so when we feel bad and we react against the world, we never change the source of our true discontentment.

Considered living has us recognize that we control how we act, and to a large extent, how we feel. When we feel bad, we recognize the discontent as internal, and take steps that will change how we feel, and will lead to greater happiness.

But to live this honest and considered life, we need to have an honest understanding of our strengths, and more importantly, of our weaknesses. Addiction treatment demands that we look at ourselves through new, and less distorted lenses. Something is clearly wrong, and we need to figure out how we are contributing to the problem – and whether it is through the 12 steps, and a personal inventory, group therapy or individual therapy; a large part of any addiction treatment is focused on gaining self awareness.

It’s often painful, and sometimes when we get to know ourselves a little bit better we don’t much like whom we meet, but it’s necessary, and once we gain a better understanding of our natures, we are granted the opportunity to improve ourselves.

Courage

We are brave to varying degrees, but courage takes practice and determination, and it’s something you can get better at.

  • It takes a great deal of courage to admit that you have a problem – that you are powerless to control yourself, and to reach out for help. It’s a very tough thing for most of us to do.
  • It takes courage to make amends. To approach people you have wronged and to try to make things right, knowing that some of them are justifiably angry with you, and not knowing what to expect.
  • It takes courage to look at yourself warts and all, and to reveal your true nature to others.

Recovery is a succession of steps, all requiring courage – and the funny thing is, after a while it makes us courageous!

The considered life takes courage too. There is no sense in knowing yourself and understanding what makes you happy, if you don’t have the courage to make changes. Quitting a job that makes you miserable takes courage, finding real love takes courage; living as you are and not how others say you should be – takes courage.

Living the life you want on your terms is the only kind of life that makes any sense, but so many never do. Through recovery we find the courage to change.

Spirituality

We exist in the mind and in the body. Yet there’s more, we exist also on a spiritual plane – but figuring out this third part of our being takes a little effort.

Spirituality can mean religion or it can mean God, but it doesn’t have to – and many self professed religious people aren’t all that spiritual. Spirituality can be understood as an experience and understanding of our place in this greater universe.

At a very basic level, the interaction of body and mind together creates something larger than the sum of its parts. And learning to appreciate and understand the body-mind effect can lead to a greater understanding of our existence on a more metaphysical plane. Recovery activities like meditation or yoga attune us to this interplay. In many recovery programs, we go searching for God – or at least, God as we understand Him, as well.

And finding something larger than yourself, with the power to help you, can bring a lot of peace. We are spiritual beings. Humanity and the human experience has always been an oscillating quest for pleasure, power or spirituality. However you define it – spirituality is real, and coming to understand how you fit in the universe inures you from a lot of the inconsequential unhappiness’s of the unconsidered life.

Recovery Is for Life – and or Happiness

We create so much pain while using or drinking, that it hardly seems fair that we are also granted this opportunity for such lasting peace and happiness. But we are and we should be grateful and seize this opportunity – make up for time wasted and live a life that will leave no regrets.

About to Relapse? Think Like a Buddhist

About to relapse? Feel like you can’t hold out any longer? Try some simple Buddhist techniques to clear your head, soothe your soul, and gain a little of that serenity that we in recovery so dearly need.

Now, let me begin with a caveat. I am not a Buddhist and certainly not an expert on the religion or on meditation in general. I do practice certain Buddhist techniques, and I find them very helpful, especially in moments of temptation. I urge you to try these techniques – but to find full knowledge of them on your own, through readings or the teachings of someone more qualified than I.

So, disclaimer aside – here goes.

Photo: El PhotopakismoWe spend a lot of our lives living outside the moment, and as any Buddhist will tell you, this aint’ the path to happiness. We walk through life partially unaware, we are here, but our minds are elsewhere.

A great way to achieve some serenity in life is to train yourself to enjoy and appreciate your life, moment by moment. To literally stop and smell the roses, and just keep on smellin’ them!

Using the roses analogy as a starting point – lets imagine you are walking through a park on a lovely Indian summer Saturday. It’s beautiful, and pleasant, and you’re feeling alright. But you’re also stressing about a work presentation to come on Monday, wondering if the parking meter has expired, thinking about what you need to pick up at the store for dinner…etc. etc. You are in the park, but at the same time, your mind is elsewhere, and as a result you don’t enjoy the experience nearly as much as you would have if you had just been in the moment, and forgotten all your troubles and worries for a while.

And unfortunately, all that mental effort you expended to keep that internal dialogue running through your mind probably didn’t amount to much good at all. That work presentation is still coming, the parking meter was OK, or it wasn’t – and you will likely do just fine at the grocery store without a whole lot of preplanning. In fact, you’d probably do better on that presentation for giving your mind a rest and gaining a little clarity.

Without effort, we suffer a constant barrage of mindless internal dialogue. Our brain just seems to like to blather on to itself. Not much comes out of it, usually, but it’s all most of us know, and so we don’t think about it. Worse, for those of us struggling with sobriety, that voice inside our head seems determined to sabotage our efforts. The voice of addicted thinking, it tells us we can’t hold on any longer, argues that we could maybe have just one drink and runs a dialogue blaming someone or something else for how we’re feeling right now.

If you could just shut that voice up – you’d find you thought about taking a drink or a hit, or whatever, a whole lot less often.

Part of achieving serenity through Buddhism is accomplished by eliminating that voice inside your head, and enjoying the still and silence of your mind for a while, appreciating the moment you’re in for what it offers.

How to Silence the Voice

OK – so now, if you’re game – try a little experiment right now. Turn away from your computer screen for a sec, and just sit there, not thinking about anything, and see how long you can keep your inner voice silent for.

OK, so it’s not easy!

But it’s not as hard as you think either, it just takes a little practice, and there are some techniques you can use to help you stay focused.

Step 1

In this first step, you don’t even need to silence your inner voice; you just need to keep yourself focused on the present moment. You can get into a meditation position or whatever, but you don’t even need to do that, just sit somewhere comfortable, and start to think about this moment.

And not this moment as in around this moment, I mean this moment, second by second. Forget about anything that happened before this second, and don’t think about anything that’s coming after this second – just be. For this moment, don’t be a mom or a dad, don’t be a worker or a boss, don’t be a drunk or a junky – try to be nothing, to leave everything in your life behind. Take a break from all that, free from any responsibility or worry – this time is yours alone, and you deserve a little vacation. Use your senses, in this first stage, you don’t need to quiet your inner voice, you can still think to yourself about anything around you, but only as it comes.

  • Listen – to the noises in your environment.
  • Feel – think about the feeling of the ground on your feet, the sun on your face.
  • See – really look at what’s around you.
  • Smell – what does your environment smell like?

Just concentrate on your sensations as they arise, and try to stay focused on them for as long as you can. At first, you’ll find your mind wandering away frequently. Don’t worry, it’s normal, just bring it back to the present whenever that happens. The more you do this, the easier it gets, and the longer the intervals will be between wanderings. It’s a liberating experience to leave your worries behind for a while. Rarely is there anything very troubling in our immediate environment, and so this experience tends to be calming, and pleasant. It may sound boring, but really, it’s not at all – it’s a relaxing break.

Step 2

Once you get comfortable staying in the present for a while, perform the same exercise, but this time quiet the inner voice.

Feel the sun, but don’t commentate on it to yourself, just experience it. Hear the birds, enjoy the sounds, but don’t "think" about them Just be in the moment, free from worries, and in the silence of your mind. Again, at first it’s a bit tough to quiet the voice, but every time you start hear it, just turn it off, and refocus.

With practice you’ll find it easier to stay silent. Once you can do this, you’ll understand what I’m talking about here! It’s an amazing thing to be able to sit quietly, in peace, with no worries, and enjoy the experience without talking about it to yourself.

It is serenity embodied, and you will find it carries over into the rest of your day – leaving you less prone to stress and worry, and less prone to relapse provoking thoughts. And then whenever you do feel temptation arise – forget about day by day, tune out that voice for a while, live second by second for a bit – and when you return – you’ll feel a whole lot better, and that urge to drink; it will likely be gone.

These simple exercises will help you to stay sober, but more than that they teach you happiness. Live in the moment, enjoy what comes – and learn that a lot of what you worry about – what makes you miserable – is not as important as you think.

About to relapse? Feel like you can’t hold out any longer? Try some simple Buddhist techniques to clear your head, soothe your soul, and gain a little of that serenity that we in recovery so dearly need.

Now, let me begin with a caveat. I am not a Buddhist and certainly not an expert on the religion or on meditation in general. I do practice certain Buddhist techniques, and I find them very helpful, especially in moments of temptation. I urge you to try these techniques – but to find full knowledge of them on your own, through readings or the teachings of someone more qualified than I.

So, disclaimer aside – here goes.

Photo: El PhotopakismoWe spend a lot of our lives living outside the moment, and as any Buddhist will tell you, this aint’ the path to happiness. We walk through life partially unaware, we are here, but our minds are elsewhere.

A great way to achieve some serenity in life is to train yourself to enjoy and appreciate your life, moment by moment. To literally stop and smell the roses, and just keep on smellin’ them!

Using the roses analogy as a starting point – lets imagine you are walking through a park on a lovely Indian summer Saturday. It’s beautiful, and pleasant, and you’re feeling alright. But you’re also stressing about a work presentation to come on Monday, wondering if the parking meter has expired, thinking about what you need to pick up at the store for dinner…etc. etc. You are in the park, but at the same time, your mind is elsewhere, and as a result you don’t enjoy the experience nearly as much as you would have if you had just been in the moment, and forgotten all your troubles and worries for a while.

And unfortunately, all that mental effort you expended to keep that internal dialogue running through your mind probably didn’t amount to much good at all. That work presentation is still coming, the parking meter was OK, or it wasn’t – and you will likely do just fine at the grocery store without a whole lot of preplanning. In fact, you’d probably do better on that presentation for giving your mind a rest and gaining a little clarity.

Without effort, we suffer a constant barrage of mindless internal dialogue. Our brain just seems to like to blather on to itself. Not much comes out of it, usually, but it’s all most of us know, and so we don’t think about it. Worse, for those of us struggling with sobriety, that voice inside our head seems determined to sabotage our efforts. The voice of addicted thinking, it tells us we can’t hold on any longer, argues that we could maybe have just one drink and runs a dialogue blaming someone or something else for how we’re feeling right now.

If you could just shut that voice up – you’d find you thought about taking a drink or a hit, or whatever, a whole lot less often.

Part of achieving serenity through Buddhism is accomplished by eliminating that voice inside your head, and enjoying the still and silence of your mind for a while, appreciating the moment you’re in for what it offers.

How to Silence the Voice

OK – so now, if you’re game – try a little experiment right now. Turn away from your computer screen for a sec, and just sit there, not thinking about anything, and see how long you can keep your inner voice silent for.

OK, so it’s not easy!

But it’s not as hard as you think either, it just takes a little practice, and there are some techniques you can use to help you stay focused.

Step 1

In this first step, you don’t even need to silence your inner voice; you just need to keep yourself focused on the present moment. You can get into a meditation position or whatever, but you don’t even need to do that, just sit somewhere comfortable, and start to think about this moment.

And not this moment as in around this moment, I mean this moment, second by second. Forget about anything that happened before this second, and don’t think about anything that’s coming after this second – just be. For this moment, don’t be a mom or a dad, don’t be a worker or a boss, don’t be a drunk or a junky – try to be nothing, to leave everything in your life behind. Take a break from all that, free from any responsibility or worry – this time is yours alone, and you deserve a little vacation. Use your senses, in this first stage, you don’t need to quiet your inner voice, you can still think to yourself about anything around you, but only as it comes.

  • Listen – to the noises in your environment.
  • Feel – think about the feeling of the ground on your feet, the sun on your face.
  • See – really look at what’s around you.
  • Smell – what does your environment smell like?

Just concentrate on your sensations as they arise, and try to stay focused on them for as long as you can. At first, you’ll find your mind wandering away frequently. Don’t worry, it’s normal, just bring it back to the present whenever that happens. The more you do this, the easier it gets, and the longer the intervals will be between wanderings. It’s a liberating experience to leave your worries behind for a while. Rarely is there anything very troubling in our immediate environment, and so this experience tends to be calming, and pleasant. It may sound boring, but really, it’s not at all – it’s a relaxing break.

Step 2

Once you get comfortable staying in the present for a while, perform the same exercise, but this time quiet the inner voice.

Feel the sun, but don’t commentate on it to yourself, just experience it. Hear the birds, enjoy the sounds, but don’t "think" about them Just be in the moment, free from worries, and in the silence of your mind. Again, at first it’s a bit tough to quiet the voice, but every time you start hear it, just turn it off, and refocus.

With practice you’ll find it easier to stay silent. Once you can do this, you’ll understand what I’m talking about here! It’s an amazing thing to be able to sit quietly, in peace, with no worries, and enjoy the experience without talking about it to yourself.

It is serenity embodied, and you will find it carries over into the rest of your day – leaving you less prone to stress and worry, and less prone to relapse provoking thoughts. And then whenever you do feel temptation arise – forget about day by day, tune out that voice for a while, live second by second for a bit – and when you return – you’ll feel a whole lot better, and that urge to drink; it will likely be gone.

These simple exercises will help you to stay sober, but more than that they teach you happiness. Live in the moment, enjoy what comes – and learn that a lot of what you worry about – what makes you miserable – is not as important as you think.

God in a Bottle? The Spirituality of Intoxication.

Why are we here? Is there anything beyond this? What started it all?

We all exist somewhat on our spiritual planes, whether consciously or not, and finding peace through a personal acceptance and understanding of individual spirituality is one of life’s more important tasks – a task less frequently attended to in the here-and-now age we live in.

But even though we do not necessarily devote time or conscious energy to our spiritual growth (as we perhaps should) we cannot fight our deepest impulses, and whether consciously or not, we do seek out answers. I’m not the first to say this, nor close to the wisest, but I believe that intoxication (and too often addiction) emerges in part out of a misdirected search for spiritual enlightenment – finding God in a bottle.

From the time we figured out eons ago that eating or smoking things changed our perceptions, human beings have been getting high, and more often than not getting high got intermingled with spirituality…and finding answers through hallucinogenic drugs was/is a pretty common source of spiritual enlightenment. We grow up as kids and young teens on a journey of subdued exploration, and then one day we get drunk, or we get high. And WOW, all of a sudden, things look pretty different – and although we probably don’t put words to it and we are probably more interested in the fun of it all, it feels as though there are answers to be had through altered consciousness.

Most people seem to be able to take it as it is, just a transient and ultimately meaningless shift of perceptions; but some of us seem to take more-or need more-from the experience. And it’s fun too, we go on merrily getting high and getting drunk, bouncing around, seeing what’s out there…and it feels important. We have deep talks about meaningful things while high, and that feels important too. Not that you’d ever say "Hey, I’m on a spiritual journey here…" but that vague sense is there, an undercurrent of meaning lending importance to the otherwise frivolous and indulgent experience.

And some of us, the foolish seekers, we just keep on at it, sort of searching, until one day it’s sort of all we know. And one day, usually more than a bit too late, we realize that it was all a sham.

Maybe there is truth and wisdom to be found through intoxication, maybe not…but any cosmic truth intertwined with intoxication probably reveals itself after the first few sessions or so, and certainly by the first few dozens of experiences, and after a hundred-a thousand-or more times getting drunk or high, well; we’re not getting much out of it – other than high. Fools that we are, we keep at it, and at it for way too long. Spiritual understanding doesn’t come served in a bottle or a pipe. It takes work and growth, and a searching for meaning through hard-fought experience. When we rely on the easy and cheap spiritually of intoxication, there is no growth – no real searching, just an endless and blind stumbling.

There are no answers at the bottom of that bottle, and so that bottle can never provide any of the spiritual peace that we crave, whether consciously or not. I see it now, in hindsight only. It took getting sober, and a long while after that, to even start figuring things out for real.

Why are we here? Is there anything beyond this? What started it all?

We all exist somewhat on our spiritual planes, whether consciously or not, and finding peace through a personal acceptance and understanding of individual spirituality is one of life’s more important tasks – a task less frequently attended to in the here-and-now age we live in.

But even though we do not necessarily devote time or conscious energy to our spiritual growth (as we perhaps should) we cannot fight our deepest impulses, and whether consciously or not, we do seek out answers. I’m not the first to say this, nor close to the wisest, but I believe that intoxication (and too often addiction) emerges in part out of a misdirected search for spiritual enlightenment – finding God in a bottle.

From the time we figured out eons ago that eating or smoking things changed our perceptions, human beings have been getting high, and more often than not getting high got intermingled with spirituality…and finding answers through hallucinogenic drugs was/is a pretty common source of spiritual enlightenment. We grow up as kids and young teens on a journey of subdued exploration, and then one day we get drunk, or we get high. And WOW, all of a sudden, things look pretty different – and although we probably don’t put words to it and we are probably more interested in the fun of it all, it feels as though there are answers to be had through altered consciousness.

Most people seem to be able to take it as it is, just a transient and ultimately meaningless shift of perceptions; but some of us seem to take more-or need more-from the experience. And it’s fun too, we go on merrily getting high and getting drunk, bouncing around, seeing what’s out there…and it feels important. We have deep talks about meaningful things while high, and that feels important too. Not that you’d ever say "Hey, I’m on a spiritual journey here…" but that vague sense is there, an undercurrent of meaning lending importance to the otherwise frivolous and indulgent experience.

And some of us, the foolish seekers, we just keep on at it, sort of searching, until one day it’s sort of all we know. And one day, usually more than a bit too late, we realize that it was all a sham.

Maybe there is truth and wisdom to be found through intoxication, maybe not…but any cosmic truth intertwined with intoxication probably reveals itself after the first few sessions or so, and certainly by the first few dozens of experiences, and after a hundred-a thousand-or more times getting drunk or high, well; we’re not getting much out of it – other than high. Fools that we are, we keep at it, and at it for way too long. Spiritual understanding doesn’t come served in a bottle or a pipe. It takes work and growth, and a searching for meaning through hard-fought experience. When we rely on the easy and cheap spiritually of intoxication, there is no growth – no real searching, just an endless and blind stumbling.

There are no answers at the bottom of that bottle, and so that bottle can never provide any of the spiritual peace that we crave, whether consciously or not. I see it now, in hindsight only. It took getting sober, and a long while after that, to even start figuring things out for real.