Table of Contents

Addiction 2: The Curse of Amsterdam

Dry drunk. Dry drunk is an AA term for someone who stops drinking but continues a life that's just as broken, only now without booze. My life was still broken because without consciously realizing it I still believed that taking drugs could be a legitimate way to feel good. That's the delusion I labored under as a dry drunk. I had to get all the way clean of drugs before I could see that delusion for what it is: spiritual poison. So my wisdom arranged for me to get all the way clean.

Recreational drugs let me damage my body at will. The human body has a reward system: if I do something that's good for my body, I feel pleasure; if I do something harmful, I feel pain. Recreational drugs subvert that system: I can do as much damage to my body as I like, then have a few drinks or tokes or pills and feel fine. Without drugs damage hurts, and I have to earn feeling fine by living well. If I take drugs recreationally, I disguise whatever damage I'm doing to my body.

A spiritual awakening. I'd stopped drinking but I hadn't grappled with addiction head-on, deep-down, and ripped it out by the roots. In AA that happens as you work the steps. Step 12 is a spiritual awakening. I just quit drinking, leaving that crucial spiritual work undone. My wisdom, ever resourceful, had just the ticket: a spiritual awakening.

You will eat cannabis. In late 2018 my wisdom started poking & prodding me to try pot again. I quit smoking pot in the early 70s because it made me feel alienated and paranoid. Since then I'd try it occasionally, like once every five or ten years, but it still felt awful. But I knew better than to ignore my wisdom's guidance, so I tried vaping, which is generally considered easier on the lungs than smoking. Cannabis still felt awful. Nothing in me wanted anything to do with it. But my wisdom kept after me to keep trying it. So instead of vaping I tried edibles, and I liked that better: smoother, kinda nice. I slowly got into it. You can't get addicted to pot, right? I was beginning to get a nice buzz, really enjoying myself. Without realizing it I had slipped back into the addicted life: any life where I use a substance to feel good, rather than feeling good because of how I'm living: diet, exercise, meditation. I was living the addicted life again, using pot to feel good.

4 am wakeup. Cannabis is a psychedelic. Psychedelics are famously used by teachers, shamans, and other con artists to shock Grasshopper into a higher state. That's what happened. I woke up at 4 am on December 7, 2019 and all the noise in my head was gone. I was perfectly quiet inside, no thoughts, no conflict, no noise. Shining emptiness, the state I'd been yearning for all my life, awkwardly struggling toward. It was a breathtaking, utterly glorious spiritual awakening. And then I absolutely freaked out. It felt like my body had become one huge cauldron of nameless, formless pain. I hurt like I never knew anyone could hurt. I was beside myself, frantic. I ended up going to the ER because I thought I must be dying. But it was just anxiety, a panic attack, a new thing for me. They did an EKG etcetera and observed me for a while; my vitals were rock solid, impressive for an old fart. I was in excellent physical condition, and truly deeply miserable in a panic attack that ended up lasting months, well into the pandemic.

AA & MA. I desperately needed to understand what was going on, and I found Marijuana Anonymous right away. I made it to my first meeting the next night. I began studying the science available about addiction. I was with people who accepted me in my ruined state, and that acceptance was a balm I sorely needed. By reading about cannabis and observing myself, I was able to work out that my panic was purely chemical. It slowly subsided as the accumulated cannabis cleared out of my body. That's the thing about cannabis edibles: they get you pickled in the stuff. My detox from pot lasted months, not days. I went to meetings for about a month. At first, the only time I found any relief from panic was when I finally got to sleep at night or bathed in the balm of a meeting. But after a few weeks I began feeling like a fraud in the meetings. These people were struggling, with inspiring grit and determination, year after year. Or blowing it yet again and coming back in with jaw set to get their 24 hour coin one more time. I had zero cravings, zero struggle. I had my panic attack, but after a month I was no longer depressed about it because I could feel it going away. I knew I'd get over that, it was just a matter of time. I didn't have an addiction to break, I just had a panic attack to get over. The whole pot episode had been my wisdom's way of waking me up to the truth that recreational drugs are wrong for me no matter what.

The pleasure of being. Recreational drugs are robbers, crude intruders. The pleasure my body gives me when I live well is subtle: a gentle glow of well-being, quiet satisfaction with the direction and progress of my life, loving the world in all its disarray, a sense that my life here has meaning. And so on; it's the ever-evolving pleasure of being alive. None of that ever got through, if it was even there, when I was getting buzzes from alcohol or pot. Those buzzes are way too loud to let the subtle pleasure of living be felt. Even the mellowest drug or alcohol high is very crude by comparison with the real thing. Drugs disrupt my body's exquisitely sensitive pleasure mechanisms. Being quiet inside is not automatic; mental noise is automatic. But now inner quiet, serenity, is my resting state; it's always there in the background, easy to reach. The quiet from that night in 2019 has never gone away; instead it's gotten much deeper.