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.
242 thoughts on “There is a World of Choice out there, but you have to Know there is a Choice!”
We make many choices in life, and when we make choices in order to fit in with others we lose who we are, however when we are true to ourselves and stand up for what we know to be true we offer a great reflection back for others to see that it is a matter of choice.
When we become part of a group it’s as though we sign up for the over-riding consciousness and beliefs of that group. For example, as drug users, this is the way to go and anything else is un-cool. Or for heavy drinkers, this is the way and drugs may be seen as evil. Are we really thinking for ourselves or just subscribing to sets of beliefs?
Recently my partner and I (we both don’t drink) began having dinner outside with friends. Some of our friends choose to drink. I would observe the change in them when they have their first sip of alcohol and they would clearly shift and become someone they are not. Just by observing and choosing to see this change allows me to stay steady with myself. The more I stay steady, the more my friends who were drinking wanted to drink more. So I observed some more. More alcohol and medication is needed to numb out the comparison that is present when steadiness does not waver. Staying more steady and remaining in joy and acceptance to people, we enjoy the dinner and then head home.
Great blog AG. I had also given up all my drug and alcohol addictions long before coming across Universal Medicine. In fact these addictions gave me up . . . I found I got to a stage where a sip more that two glasses of wine would have me suffer the hangover from hell often lasting 2 days and as for smoking marijuana the last time I gave it a go after years of abstinence I was in such a paranoid state of anxiety I was just marking time until it wore off and wondering it I was ever going to come back from it. So as you say I find people would prefer to blame Universal Medicine or completely avoid me for choices I had made many years prior rather than face the reality of their own choices.
True friendships are not dependent on compliance, shared behaviour, or the human elements of our existence they are more about our connection to others on a deeper level, a level where we know we are equal despite our outward differences, a level where we have a love and understanding of each other and an often unspoken intention to support each other and allow each other to grow and evolve at our own pace, knowing that we are all in this together and all, knowingly or not, on our path of return.
“alcohol is a drug that our society has NORMALISED” and Government recommended limits that are in place as an attempt at limiting damage have been interpreted as saying that drinking alcohol is ok. When we choose to listen to the recommendations of our own body we may make very different choices.
We tend to see our friends as people who you get along well with. But in truth, they are often mirrors of ourselves. They confirm us. Yet that confirmation may come in two kinds: those who confirm what is true about you and those confirm you get away from you. Any friendship forged around addictions (alcohol, drugs, tobacco, etc). is not a true one and it naturally dissolves the moment you say no to the addiction. They cease to want to be with you. There is, as there was, no truth in those and what you did.
Once we make a decision from our body in full authority then it doesn’t matter what another says or implies or suggests or tries to pressure us into doing, there is not one cell in our being that will go there again. And this has nothing to do with willpower, trying to use willpower I have found there is always still an opening to be hooked back in.
Thank you AG for a great blog, it is amazing that when we normalise a behaviour, we then think it is ok because that is what most of society chooses, with little regard for what it is doing to our bodies. When we come to understand that we are responsible for the choices that we are making and be honest with what we are feeling true change can come, these life destroying habits will no longer be a part of our lives, our health becomes more important than belonging to a group.
AG, I am huge fan of the way you write, it holds your reader in understanding but does not spare any hard truth, its solid from pillar to post. I was once apart of what our society has depicted “normal”. I would drink at every social event, among other things, in fact anything that was going, I was up for. Now after not drinking or using drugs for over ten years I am again faced with a new challenge of having my staff that I have employed all drinking and taking drugs wanting me to join in. I am having old feeing arise and its not because I want to drink or take drugs again, its a feeling of being left out, of feeling like unless you are apart of the “norm” you are viewed as not fun. It makes me sad that the world operates with so much reliance on mind and body altering liquids and substances in order to relate to one another.
We can make our own normal, and we can set our own principles and standards based on the life we want to live. There’s nothing normal about whats going on in the world at the moment, and the amount of harm, lies and ugliness, if we don’t like it, it’s up to us to choose something different.
Brilliant blog AG, I agree we have a world of choices but we often think that we don’t and too often allow outside influences affect our choices instead of listening to our inner voice and how our body feels. It is empowering when we make a truly loving choice to honour how we feel and this also can inspire others too.
That sense of shared belonging – ‘everyone is doing it’ – there’s so many example of that, the things that has become normalised, a tradition, and I often suspect that that ‘everyone’ is a group of people and on a individual basis none of them actually secretly agrees or likes it in their deepest honesty but stick with it just because ‘everyone’ is doing it, and longing for someone to step up and say ‘Well, actually…’ and call a stop. We could all start being that ‘someone’ for our own selves, if for everyone else is a bit too much.
It is a peculiar thing in a way, to stand outside the ‘ring’ of alcohol or drug use one once imbibed in, and actually not feel the slightest urge to re-enter that ring in any way whatsoever. No craving from the body, no seeking relief from the mind and emotions, and definitely no wish at all to change one’s state of being through such use.
And yet, this is how I feel today AG – not a drop of alcohol (which was once my drug of choice) for over 10 years and feeling too consistently amazing to even have a thought enter that a ‘drop of red’ would be a good thing.
This will of course sound odd and perhaps extreme even to those remaining within the ‘ring’ of use, but what I’ve learnt is that when one attends to one’s own healing in life, and true respect for the body and the amazing being that we are, what we once thought was ‘great’ can change… The truth of the harm of such substances is something no part of me fights or lives in double standards with at all today, and this is also due to the greatness of inspiration, teachings and wisdom shared by Serge Benhayon… who, by the way, I have never, ever heard tell myself or anyone NOT to use any such substances.
So true, Victoria, once one steps out of a ‘ring’ it is inconceivable to imagine ever stepping back into one that one has left – I have discovered there are layers of ‘rings’ like an onion which I keep peeling away.
Drugs and alcohol are tools people use for bonding when bonding when you are un-altered is not really an option. Drugs and alcohol are tools people use to connect to others based on the general difficulty of connecting to themselves and to others. They teach a way of relating to others where you share space and time but essentially you are in your own world (actually not even there). They generate relationships of accomplices. It is not though, a shared journey but joint loneliness.
It can be very interesting how other people respond when we choose to say ‘No’ to something that is no longer supporting us. It can be saying ‘No to alcohol, ‘No’ to charity or simply saying ‘No’ to a group of friends because there’s a feeling that something is not quite right but whatever the reason when we do listen and take heed we are confirmed in some way and then we just know it is the true decision for us no matter how much persuasion to go back into our comfort.
If we took all alcohol away society would then just replace this with another pattern of behaviour or substance that had the same effect of numbing us out to all that is going on around us.
Its not just the alcohol we need to address but the underlying cause of what leads to the drinking.
This is so true MW, we definitely have to look much deeper and heal what drives us to make unloving choices and behaviours. As a society we have been avoiding this level of responsibility and it is way overdue for us all to embrace.
I am learning that being true to ourselves is much more important than compromising and fitting in in our relationships. When we are true to ourselves this allows true choice for all in all of our relationships. Compromising to keep situations as they are, stifles ourselves, others and the growth of our relationships.
It sure does Jennifer, by us believing that we are being a true friend by going along with something that is actually harmful for ourselves and the other person we then keep confirming that it is okay. This is the truth that many do not want to admit or remember.
Ingrained social patterns, norms and expectations are certainly harmful if we live our lives by them. As you have pointed out AG these ‘norms’ can be addictive if we do not choose another, truer way of living. Yes we always have a choice, always.
It’s true Universal Medicine have a new take on normal, or rather, an old take on normal – in that if things hurts you, if things damages your body or causes illness and disease in the way alcohol and drugs do then is it really truly the best thing to choose? It makes sense to me…
Just because something appears to be the norm does not mean there are no consequences.
Just because something is normal or traditional does not make it true.
To me friends are people who love you for who you are, not for what you do or don’t do. For those who walk away because a friend is making more and more loving choices, they are the ones losing out.
The normalisation of alcohol and drugs is leading astray more than one generation. Time to say as you have done.. there is another way.
I heard a physician say the the other day that if alcohol was to go through the rigorous drug testing that is required today to get a new drug to market – it would not get through the toxicity testing. This is a remarkable condemnation of something that is so easily acceptable and available throughout a world that is suffering through explosive illness and disease rates. The fact is that alcohol has us all hoodwinked – we level out with its use after a trying time at work, we rage on the weekends when we have space to let our hair down, we will blame it for moods and swings yet not stop to put it aside and reassess and dismiss that which is not supporting us.
“The societal expectation … and the imposition that this is expected behaviour….. is where the real lack of choice is imposed.”
I’ve quoted you here in this way because what you are describing can apply to just about anything. People are free to live in ways that cause illness and disease but when they begin making truly supportive choices our lack of freedom becomes undeniably apparent.
We get sold and buy into pictures about every aspect of ourselves and of life that are rigid and that come with this perception that there is no other way other than this way. From Universal Medicine I have learnt this to be a complete lie, there are always different angles on life to be aware of and through connecting to my body, to others, the world around me I open up to those other dimensions on the life that once used to be straightforward and limited.
Very comprehensive blog and very exposing of the pressures and responses that occur when people choose not to partake in drugs and alcohol, I have been on both sides of that line in respect to alcohol and it is my opinion that it is the discomfort of knowing the harm of alcohol that makes us react to the reflection of one who does not wish to drink.
I once had a family member refuse to come and stay with us because there was no alcohol on offer for dinner. For him the relationship with booze was more important than his relationship with us. It was deeply hurtful, until I realised how revealing it was as to the other persons choices and to not take it so personally.
Your title really says it all, we go along with life thinking there is no choice and were taught everything’s random, but what if we have a choice every single moment of everyday, and all these little choices equal that big one event we call ‘random’?
Thank you for exposing what is viewed in society as ‘normal’ is actually very harming to the body. With conditions such as obesity, diabetes and domestic violence constantly rising humanity can no longer ignore the truth and how damaging these so called ‘normal’ behaviours are to our relationships, life and own bodies.
Normalising behaviours that are poisonous and harmful is really damaging – it’s like we can defiantly entrench ourselves further in the ill behaviour because we’re justified in the ‘normality’.
It is somewhat crazy that when enough people are doing something that this “behaviour becomes NORMALISED… no-one questions it”, even though the behaviour is causing devastation to their bodies and often harm to others. Why as a society are we so open to being drawn into taking part in behaviours that somewhere deep inside we probably know are no good for us? – Perhaps to fit in, be a part of a group or just to have what we think is a good time. I’m sure if we asked our body if it was having a good time when it is having copious amounts of alcohol poured into it the answer would be an emphatic no!
I chose to stop drinking alcohol over ten years ago now, so it had nothing to do with my relationship with Universal Medicine that began six years ago. Alcohol had very clearly become something incongruent with the way I wanted to live and in addition I had witnessed the devastating effects of alcohol addiction on a close friend. There have been many questions from friends about why I don’t drink and clearly some decided it was ‘strange’. My feeling was that if our friendship was dependant upon which liquid I chose to drink then it was a pretty shallow relationship and that any true friend would not be the slightest bit concerned about such a trivial matter. I love my life without alcohol today and find that my body functions so much better without it, more aligned with its truly harmonious nature rather than spending its life force eliminating toxins that I have imposed upon it. For me, giving up alcohol has been a self-loving choice and one I have not regretted for a moment.
It seems to be that when the majority of people are doing the same habit it then becomes the norm and accepted even though the norm can be so abusive and self destructive. It is time for a new normal to come forward one with self love and self care as its basis.
As a society we have normalised such behaviours that are harming for our bodies, it is only until we start to build a relationship with our bodies with honesty, love and care that we can start to break away from the grip of such addictions that we have relied upon to fill up the void of our disconnection.
Societal expectation is a crucial factor for many of our behaviours even when we consider ourselves to be free of it or think because we understand what is going on it wouldn´t affect us or we easily can extract ourselves from it. The need to belong, to be accepted, be part of our social group and not stand alone rejected, ridiculed or being shunt aside often makes us give in or compromise our truth. We need to honour and cherish ourselves, our wellbeing and truth more than the need to belong at all costs, only then will we be ourselves and inspire others to also be themselves.
It feels only natural to me that the more connected we are with ourselves, the clearer we can see the choices we are making, therefore more able to make changes that are of benefit to ourselves It’s a bitter pill to swallow when we realise how we have been fooling ourselves by thinking that we were free to make choices when in fact all we were doing was just conforming to the energy that was keeping us away from our awareness – then again, it is our choice whether to carry on being fooled, or not.
We innately know that there is a choice but who is really aware of how that looks like? Before Universal Medicine has presented with absolute clarity that there are only 2 available choices to be made, the choice to align either to spirit or Soul, I have not known anyone or read anything that was aware of this fundamental energetic fact. Although there is a sense in us it is not necessarily a conscious knowing and when we start to realize that most of what the world is offering us deliberately conceals this crucial fact we may ask what is actually going on, what kind of consciousness are we engulfed by. Nevertheless, the difference is known inside, we either choose love or everything that is not love. And here comes our responsibility into play – what do we choose in every moment?!
The normalised and widely accepted comfort of drinking alcohol, using recreational drugs or even eating certain non-nurturing foods or the culture of coffee drinking doesn´t allow to be challenged by those who recognise the negative effects and choose differently. Just the choice of saying no to not just something harming but to the comfort it provides is at times stirring up reactions in those who don´t want to see and admit that they don´t have these substances just for the taste, style, social connection etc but because of the emotional comfort it provides to not look at the underlying unresolved issues that need to be silenced.
Serge Benhayon was the first person I met who showed that we do have the strength within us to say no to these accepted social normalities that go against what is loving and supportive for our bodies and our relationships with others. One example is swearing, it feels horrible to give and receive yet we take it unquestionably. By learning that I can express my feelings in a way that is supportive, my wanting to swear or hide under being a tough person with a ‘trench-mouth’ has dissipated, without perfection especially if I get an injury. But the point is as you’ve shared there are so many unspoken rules that are harming but there is a choice available to say no.
I have found that whilst alcohol is chosen to be together as a group, to fit in, to belong, that the opposite, is what happens, in time. No amount of alcohol gave me the feeling of warmth and the joy of truly being with people that I now enjoy, with no alcohol in sight.
Alcohol is poison in our bodies- full stop.! We can defend it as much as we like but the fact is we cannot escape the ills effects it has on our bodies and the delay of our own evolution.
It is always interesting when you give up a vice. It upsets those who are accustomed to us being in compliance with their particular form of medication be it drugs, alcohol, sport or even blobbing out eating rubbish together. It seems that ‘getting out of it’ together is a common and safe way people feel they can be with other without getting hurt when in fact we are simply adding to the hurt on so many levels. Makes no sense when all we really want is true connection and often use these things to compensate for the loss of such connection,
Years ago I had a girlfriend who was into drugs when she met me. Very quickly, she went “sober” if you like. Everything was off bounds except for alcohol, of which I freely took part in. One night she said to me, you realise that alcohol is just a drug, no different to any other. And to take it further, then dropped this bomb – “and of course you realise that adrenaline is a drug also.” To which I countered, yes, but it is a natural high and therefore OK.” How wrong was I, and how wise was she in that moment. True wisdom is deep within every human being, waiting to be connected to. It requires no degree or qualification, just a moment of pure honesty and observation.
When I stopped smoking marijuana all the ‘friends’ I hung out with all dropped away, as the only commonality we had was smoking dope. There was no connection, no true care and no friendship. As well, they could not handle the reflection, that they too could stop and get off the merry go round, if they chose to like I had.
Leaving behind any choice entailing alcohol (like, do I drink or stay sober?), allows us to focus on the real choices we are here to make.
I agree it is normal to drink and take drugs in many circles, and it is a part of the University and school culture. Yet we all know it damages our body – we seem to have adopted the mentality of a little bit of harm or abuse for the body is ok and we can recover from it. But what if we truly looked after our bodies so they do not need to recover, how would we then be? How much extra energy and vitality would we then have?
Hi AG, I have revisited this powerful blog, there is so much in this article, it begs the question if we are giving Alcohol a free pass and not addressing it like we would other drugs. A friend that doesn’t drink once told me his Dad was coming to visit from inter state, he said that his Dad hassles him so much to have a beer with him when he visits that now he just drinks one to keep him happy. This is a simple example of the socially acceptable pressure’s we face to consume a harmful substance/drug with others.
Fascinating and fabulous article on drug and alcohol use. The social pressure and the normalising of drug and alcohol use you explain so well AG. I think virtually everyone who has made the choice not to drink has been pressurised or ridiculed at some point. As a former drinker I know that feeling of discomfort at someone in the group not drinking, exposing my own self abuse through the poison I am ingesting. Those words can seem harsh but they are also the harsh reality, and it is ridiculous that we bully one another into making choices that are ultimately harmful to the body, all so we don’t have to feel the truth of our own actions. Drink or not to drink, but a choice made from within, not from outwith.