Stoned and Spiritual

Art of Healing Magazine, Summer 2005, Issue 13, p.5-7

So, its the New Age, the time when we were supposed to be enlightened, happy, in touch with our inner selves. On one level things are looking good. The ‘wellness industry’ is booming, health care centres are flourishing, people are turning to alternative medicine in droves, caring for the environment and wanting world peace, but they are also using recreational drugs like never before. The illicit drug business is booming. USA is in the grip of a massive speed epidemic, Russia has recently reported 6 million drug addicts, Europe has a new wave of cocaine abuse, ecstasy is now being used by 12-year-olds and hundreds of millions of people use cannabis1. Australia ranks highly amongst the drug-using nations, having recently reported the highest use of ecstasy in the world (per capita) and the second highest use of speed.

United Nations statistics estimate a relatively small percentage of the global population as being drug users, but illicit industries are by their nature impossible to monitor and other sources indicate that the number of drug users might be higher – much higher. In a recent report from Italy, for example, scientists took samples from the Po River – a catchment area for about 5 million people. They measured the benzolyecgonine in the water (a metabolic by-product of cocaine excreted by the local cocaine-users), and discovered that cocaine consumption was 80 times higher than official statistics had indicated. The official national figures for cocaine use had estimated there were about 15,000 cases of cocaine use a month but evidence from the water suggested the actual usage was about 40,000 doses a day. At least 1.5 tonnes of cocaine a year was being consumed in that region alone 3.

In this report (and a lot of others) it was assumed that young people were the main consumers and that their drug use was higher than claimed, but drugs are no longer a ‘youth’ or subculture issue (as the mainstream media stereotypes it), as we now have the historically unprecedented phenomena of drug-affected generations. Since publication of my first book (which uses the language of Traditional Chinese medicine fused with Energy medicine to explain the physical, spiritual and emotional implications of drug use) I have been inundated with patients wanting help with various drug dependencies. However, these patients are primarily professionals (of all ages) who have houses in the suburbs, families, pets and who also have problems with heroin, cocaine, or can’t give up cannabis. Just as the counter-culture philosophy and embracing of alternative medicine has seeped into the mainstream via the New Age movement, so has the acceptance of drugs. This has generated a massive new demographic of mainstream drug-users. As most do not belong to drug peer groups though, they often feel isolated. They are also unlikely to respond to drug surveys (which explains the artificially low statistics) or seek mainstream help as the issue of illegality is much more pressing for them.

I personally believe that recreational drug use is so widespread now that we, as a society, rather then waging hopeless ‘drug wars’, really need to identify why drug use has increased so dramatically and what the next step will be both physically and spiritually. Physically, it will only be a few years before the outcome of the ecstasy epidemic, ‘a plague of depression’, starts to emerge and Western medicine appears helpless to treat this. Further mood and mind-altering medication appears to be all it can offer. However, my academic research, and background as a speed addict, indicates that all mood and mind-altering drugs create imbalances in the Energy Field so further medication is not the answer. Neither are ‘drug wars’ or judgement.

When I was an addict, all I got was criticism and judgement but this just drove me even deeper into the drug world. I was still wracked by guilt and shame decades after I had given the drugs up. The patients that come to see me with drug issues, all feel that they too have done something wrong by taking drugs. But I focus on why people are attracted to drugs, what they show you and I explain why we resonate with those experiences. If you use drugs or alcohol, you are not a defective human being who needs medical attention – you are simply seeking to get in touch with your feelings. You are seeking emotional and spiritual freedom. You can’t give up drugs because you think you should, or other people think you should. The only way to stop using drugs is to be inspired from within to change.

This also applies on a large scale. Drugs are a business like any other and accordingly, the only way to impact on the business is to change market demand. This means you firstly have to understand what drives it. When I ask my patients why they use drugs, they list different reasons. Ecstasy-users often report the desire to feel part of a larger cosmic picture or to satisfy a yearning for spiritual experiences. Other users talk about wanting to feel good, or happy, or alert, or be pain-free. All talk about drugs in relation to feelings and I believe one of the reasons that drugs are now such a big business is that they put you in touch with your inner world. This is also what I believe the New Age is truly about; the internal journey, our feelings. I think we are undergoing a major shift in consciousness towards our inner selves and the drug epidemic occurring at the same time is not accidental. It indicates that millions of us are responding to this shift – although perhaps not in a beneficial way.

When I say I believe the New Age is about feelings, unfortunately I don’t mean just the happy feelings. We need to acknowledge our pain, accept, transcend, and then work with techniques and modalities that address the bio-energetic or organic nature of the pain. A lot of the literature of the New Age, the ‘be happy, think positive, love yourself’, approaches don’t address this. Whilst I managed to get off drugs by myself, after ten years of criticism and abuse I didn’t love myself at all. Not only that but I felt something important in my life was missing. I felt loss. I saturated myself with ‘happiness’ books, which made me feel good when I read them, but moments later I was back in hell. The crux came when I paid eighty dollars to see a counsellor about my pain and emptiness, and they suggested ‘I love myself’. This made me feel even worse because I couldn’t. It wasn’t until I studied Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Energy medicine that I understood that after a decade on drugs my Energy Field was so imbalanced and my organs were so depleted that there was no way I was going to feel happy or love myself without a lot of physical, spiritual and emotional work.

In TCM we are taught that our organs hold the secret to the universe. Their condition dictates our world view – whether we are happy accepting people and whether we can love ourselves. We are taught to nurture and maintain our organs and recognise the value of Chi, which circulates through our organs in a 24-hour cycle. Further, to maintain a healthy functionality in our organs and keep Chi flowing, we need discipline and regularity in eating, sleep and exercise.

During our lives, energy or Chi will temporarily stagnate, distort, or block and prevent organs from functioning at an optimum level. This is when we feel pain and what I term the ‘Old Age’ approach takes over – the idea that pain is not the norm, that you shouldn’t feel like that, that other people don’t, that pain should be suppressed and medicated legally or illegally. Drugs and pain and the New Age are interlinked but we need to identify what those links are and act accordingly. Our task is to progress in life and to deal with pain and the rise of the New Age and the associated Body, Mind, Spirit and Wellness movements, has presented us with a huge range of methods for treating and transforming our pain into love and joy. We now have at our fingertips all the tools for enlightenment: organic foods, powerful supplements, powerful meditative techniques and a huge range of Chi-work available from yoga to Tai chi. We have the opportunity to heal our physical, emotional or spiritual pain and then in turn heal others, which is the ultimate goal of the New Age.


1. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2004, UNODC World drug report 2004, United Nations, Vienna.

2. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2003, UNODC Ecstasy and amphetamines global survey 2003, United Nations, Vienna.

3. Weekend Australian 06/08/05.

Jost Sauer is an acupuncturist, holistic health counsellor, lecturer in Traditional Chinese Medicine and author of new book Higher and Higher: from drugs and destruction to health and happiness.

Copyright © Jost Sauer 2005

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