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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mind-Altering Drug and Self-Perception

One of the central problems of mind-altering drugs, especially seen in cocaine and methamphetamine but also in LSD, is the radical shifty in 'self perception.'  These drugs not only excite the individual, but make him feel better about himself.  A cocaine user will report how much more self-confident he feels, while a meth user will certainly feel paranoid, but at the same time convinced he is doing things better than he would off the drugs.

Any time we take a substance that alters our perceptions, we must be cautious as to whether we are passing towards or away from reality.  Anti-depressants, for example, are not meant for us to feel happy about a massacre, but reduce the effects of brain chemistry that unrealistically depresses the patient.

Self-perception is important, but only so far as it is honest.  That is what 'humility' really is: honesty about one's self.

Chemicals themselves cannot help us measure ourselves against reality: they don't have that kind of ability.  They merely alter other chemicals in the brain that affect our mental processes.

Distorting reality is what we want to avoid, which is why projects like testing LSD are never going to address the major problem of addiction: the perception of God.  Drug-induced euphoria is not the same as the spiritual experience that we hunger for.

The assumption of medical professionals is that if people 'felt better' about themselves, they would have fewer problems.  The opposite is most often true: the better you feel about yourself, the worse off you usually are.  Ego maniacs leave a wake of damage and distress in their passing by, and they themselves are usually greatly grieved by their surroundings.

Drugs can give us euphoria about ourselves, and even momentary experiences where we will'feel' interconnected with the world and our ego boundaries are momentarily 'softened' or 'blurred.'  But these are neither permanent awakenings or real: they are effects produced by the drugs.

Addicts need something more profound.  They need a lasting experience effecting no so much their view of themselves (i.e. improving self-esteem, etc.), but rather their view of God, who then illumines both the person and his environment.  It is an externalized source.

It is measured as much by the addict's self-perception as it is by the degree the addict is able to heal and maintain his relationships with others, which in turn reveal his relationship with God.  And, the latter will effect the former; as the addict sees his relationships improve in sobriety, he will feel better about himself and grateful to God for making it possible.  These impressions in turn effect his emotional state and further improve his relationships with others.

This cannot be done with a drug, because a drug does not provide God or the reality He brings with Him.  We cannot rely on chemicals to fix our problems.  Even the drug that cures psychosis cannot heal the emotional damage done to others during a psychotic episode.

'Living better through chemistry' is a dangerous proposition.  Drugs cannot be used to replace the spiritual experience.

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