by AG, BA LLB (Hons), LLM (Hons), Grad Dip Psych, Byron Shire
Something that I discovered long before I had any contact with Universal Medicine is that I and my fellow human beings have a very odd relationship with drugs and alcohol.
As a University student I ‘investigated’ lots of mind altering substances – and marijuana was my first choice as a drug of addiction. I would party and smoke as much of the year as I could get away with, and then settle down to do my end of year exams. I did quite well: I was born with a prodigious mind. As soon as exams were over I would be back to my habit. Along with that came a nicotine addiction – it followed on from the drugs. I drank a lot too, but preferred marijuana.
I was young and reckless; I never gave any regard to consequences. What was more, I had surrounded myself with friends where this was the norm. When you do that, the drug-addled behaviour becomes NORMALISED… no-one questions it: the drugs become the foundation of your social group – the rituals upon which it is based. These rituals become embedded in all social conduct – so the joint is passed around, the bong is shared, there are unspoken rules as to who purchases the drugs, who deals, who is the best joint roller or bong packer.
To a non-drug user this all seems nonsensical: to a healthy, non-drug addicted human, it is obvious that the conduct is all part of a drug-scene. If they were to address this fact to the user group, they would be derided as being ‘un-cool’, ‘out of touch’ with what is really going on, or needing to loosen up… the defences would be endless. If the harmful health effects were brought up – psychosis, depression, anxiety, lung cancer and death (just to name a few) – the response from the user group would be that it is ‘natural’, it does no harm etc. The fact that a large amount of theft and property crime is related to drug addiction will be passed off as being related to ‘other people’, not to that user group. Or in the case of the most addicted, they are beyond caring about the social repercussions of their behaviour.
I had to change my social environment to get away from drugs. At the end of university, I moved cities and established a social group who were not drug users. Later on I re-visited my drug use – influenced by a close group of friends: it was not long before I was addicted again. But I reached a point where I finally said to a friend of mine, that although I valued our friendship, I did not wish to be around the drugs anymore. Sadly, my friend was so identified with her drug use that she felt that my saying no to the drugs was cutting out her as well. It wasn’t… we had been friends for 16 years; I had for most of that time declined to use drugs. Yet a six month interlude of shared marijuana use changed the nature of our friendship: it became in my friend’s view dependent on the rituals of the drug use.
However, it is not just recreational drugs that are part of this normalised behaviour… alcohol is a drug that our society has NORMALISED. So very often, if you choose not to drink, you are considered strange. You are actually upsetting the standardised rituals of the social group that you are meant to be part of, the unwritten law of behaviour.
What are the alcohol rituals? They vary amongst social groups – for some men, it can be the keg or the slab of beer to be shared with mates; for others it might be the perfect wine to go with the meal; for the socially conscious it might be a rare vintage of wine or scotch with a price tag to marvel at; for some women it can be the ritual cocktail (yes, alcohol also has gender markers); for work functions it can be the importance of showing a shared belonging… it also is used as a marker of our coming of age, a significant indicator of our arrival into adulthood. It is there at almost every social gathering. It is the essential ingredient in any party or night out. It is astonishing, but it is almost impossible to do any social activity or work activity without being confronted with alcohol. It is viewed as the essential wind down at the end of a day, a reward for a hard day, or the only way to relax.
There is ample research to show that alcohol is harmful: it is not just that a significant amount of violent crime (including domestic violence and other violence against women) would not occur if alcohol was not used, or that a significant number of road accidents resulting in death would not occur if alcohol was not used – but that alcohol, in any amount, can be harmful physiologically. A significant amount of obesity would not be around if alcohol was not in the picture – it is either empty sugar kilojoules, or the end to any resolve not to eat certain fatty, unhealthy foods. There is a link between alcohol use and cancer: there are certain types of brain damage linked to alcohol use.
If you are to raise these issues you will be met with the same response as from the drug-user group: those justifying the use of alcohol will argue that it is not harmful, only those who abuse it are causing harm. But every drink is placing the body under physiological stress. And the fact is, most alcohol users are using significantly more than the government recommended maximum amount.
Alcohol causes disease – it is a major cause of harm in our society in general. If you suggest that society might be a better place without it, or that the health benefits of not drinking actually outweigh the harm done, those statements would mostly fall on deaf ears. I can hear my family saying I had become a ‘wowser’ – a name used in the past to deride religious groups who were abstinent.
I had stopped my drug use long before I attended a Universal Medicine course. The drugs had stopped working for me – instead of numb mindlessness, I started having anxiety every time I used marijuana. So my body made me stop. I’d had periods of not drinking alcohol before I attended a Universal Medicine course. I knew that alcohol made me feel depressed, I felt sick when I drank, and I needed to lose weight. A choice to stop drinking made sense, but I would be lured back to alcohol by social pressure. Friends and family would expect me to drink with them, and I would do so to keep everyone happy. After attending Universal Medicine courses I became far more aware that my choice not to drink, was actually a true choice in respecting my body.
In the same way that friends had felt rejected by my choice to not be around drug use, I had other friends who felt very threatened by my assertion that I no longer wished to drink. One dear friend loved entertaining and sharing a good wine with friends. He believed that that my choice not to drink was not my own (even though when I met him I had been a non-drinker); he blamed Universal Medicine.
Why would Universal Medicine cop the blame? Because the reflection that I was actually making a choice from my own volition for my own health, was too confronting to accept, and would require consideration of the fact that alcohol is harmful to the body. It is harmful to social relations. It might mean that the truth of the situation would have to be examined.
Of course my choice to not drink was supported by what I felt – drinking was not a healthy choice. My choice to not drink was one that I was finally able to make because Universal Medicine courses had affirmed that it was appropriate to make choices that supported self-care ahead of those that were self-harming. I was finally liberated from the control that my social groups and friends had had over me: a control that pushed alcohol as a social requirement. The societal expectation that I drink, and the imposition that this is expected behaviour at business functions or social gatherings, is where the real lack of choice is imposed.
For me it was so important that I look outside ingrained social patterns and norms. There are so many things that have become NORMALISED that we may no longer look at the impact upon our own health, or at the terrible impact those things have on society at large.
Universal Medicine and the teachings of Serge Benhayon have been one vehicle that have assisted me to look outside the societal norms that I had accepted as reality. Like the drug-addled social group, we often find it hard to see the view from outside our normalised patterns and behaviours. Serge Benhayon simply presents new ways to examine the ills in our society – the way we are with alcohol is one of those ills.
If you lend an ear, there is a world of choice out there.