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.
243 thoughts on “There is a World of Choice out there, but you have to Know there is a Choice!”
When you consider the public health promotion work that goes into educating people on ‘healthy choices’, one of the biggest considerations is why we, as a society, are so resistant to change. I would propose it is to do with a fear of being outside the accepted social norm, and that this fear is greater than our commitment to our own health. At some point this balance tips the other way and there is a solid commitment to self-respect and self-love to build on that does not require approval from another but has in its foundation a relationship with the body.
I really appreciate what you share about how ‘we often find it hard to see the view from outside our normalised patterns and behaviours’. If we don’t just consider if our normal is harming or healing our body, then we will feel powerless in our own health and wellbeing as well.
It’s very interesting how your friend blamed Universal Medicine for you making a choice not to drink. I can feel how that would have hedged their realisation that you were able to make a different choice, that there was something that was also available to them.
What started as a social activity, becomes an ingrained solitary activity that turns into an excepted way of life.
I also remember the day when I had to admit what my body had been telling me for years…that alcohol did not agree with me. And I have never regretted this decision.
To me it signifies how there is pressure to conform when people react to another’s choice to not drink, smoke, do drugs, or eat healthy foods. If people truly felt they too were free to make the choice they would respect another’s choice not to. All the unwritten rules are very strongly communicated.
This title is so pertinent as so much in current society is set up for us to feel that we do not have choices or at least if we choose to support our body by saying No to ingesting poisons we fear that we will be socially ostracised. The more we make choices that allow our body to function to its best ability the more we recognise the depth of damage we have inflicted in the past.
Why do people continue to ingest poison into their body knowing it is harmful, and will have consequences, and that puts extra burden on our National Health Service.
Thank you AG, as I re-reading this it has become simple and obvious that when we are addicted, we give those things a ritual and make that rhythm or part of our life and we feel lost without them, so why not apply ourselves to maintain a Loving discipline that will add to our evolution. Then once we have that as a True foundation, do not let it go as it can be the life saving ritual or rhythm that becomes a True purpose that sustains our evolution.
In our current society, especially in Australia I have found, if you do not drink or partake in social activities involving alcohol, you are instantly labled and judged and not accepted for your choice to not partake in the drinking (or recreational drugs). There is no equal acceptance of non-drinkers. This seems rather strange in a world where we tout freedom of choice and the right to make your own decisions…Hmm interesting to observe that what is, may not actually be.
We espouse freedom of choice as long as we make the choice that is socially acceptable?! Crazy thinking and justification to try and keep social norms that others feel comfortable with you adhering to despite the ill effects your choices may have on you.
Yes, we are not as free as we think! Or are we, and yet we choose to not be because then we do not stand out so the trap we are in is one of our own making and we are our own guards?
Alcohol and recreational drugs are certainly a social and cultural ‘thing’ and have become normalised in so many ways and yet they are so far away from our true normal. But once something becomes a part of a culture or social activity, then it takes a hold and people tend to follow it without questioning it.
‘You have to know there is a choice’- if we grow up surrounded by friends, family and a whole culture that considers drinking a normal way of being, then it can be challenging to feel like we don’t fit what is considered to be ‘normal’ or don’t want to fit it, because we know that it doesn’t really fit us.
Alcohol and all other substances or things that we do or use to numb us only exist because we want them to. So we need to look at why we feel we need something to lift us up or make us feel good – why isn’t life enough as it is- in the first place: how are we living and what are we reacting to that makes us want to shut it out and shut ourselves off?
True, if there was no demand for these substances then they would cease to exist, what is it about our life that encourages us to numb ourselves?
When another makes a choice to evolve, we can either be inspired or drown in jealousy. We know what both feel like, but instead of drowning we can first and foremost be honest and say “i don’t want to go there right now”. The honesty cuts the jealousy and the other person is left to do as they please. But if we’re dishonest and continue swimming in our own pool of jealousy, we can come up with 101 million excuses as to why that other person is annoying and we don’t like them.
That people who choose not to take mind alternating substances such as illicit drugs and alcohol are the ones who are considered abnormal in today’s society shows how crazy this mentality is.
We are meant to be intelligent human beings, what is this ‘intelligence’?
I never drank a lot of alcohol but I know that my decisions under the influence of alcohol were changed. Alcohol is something that I dropped several times completely because I felt better for it, but the last time I grew out of alcohol I just knew that I no longer wanted it in my life and that was several years ago now. Many people I have spoken to feel that they too are different under the influence of alcohol, but that it doesn’t really do them any harm, then there are others who recognise the harm but say they could not do without their daily alcoholic ritual, the glass, or more, at the end of the day or with a meal. I know what it is to covet a glass of wine in the evening, but I guess you really don’t know how great it is to not drink until you don’t drink, and how awesome it feels to not have alcohol in any part of your life.
The word ‘normalised’ sums up the perspective of drug users very well! Being on the inside circle and speaking from experience it is normal, those who DON’T smoke pot or taking recreational drugs are the strange ones. Now looking back and being on the far outside of any circle of that kind now, all I can see is mis-fit young adults trying to be cool, trying to have an image and trying to escape society and their family life by basically becoming junkies. And from experience, that’s not so cool after all.
Hear Hear AG, drugs of every description, as you have shared, were a big part of my life, and well before Serge Benhayon’s presentations, I had already stopped taking and indulging in any form of drug including the ones you mentioned, as well as caffeine and sugar but not other sweeteners etc. So over the years, I have slowly adjusted my ways, so that the replacement substances that were having a similar effect to the drugs etc. have been seen and felt for their relationship that was bloating, dulling and making me lesser than the essence I now feel and connect to every day.
What kind of relationships do we actually build when they are revolved around alcohol and drugs and we use this to bind us together? It’s sad that we don’t give each other the time to really and deeply get to know each other, not to share our common addictions but because there are truly amazing people in the world.
So true Meg, and the latest research is now sharing that alcohol even in the smallest amount is a poison to our bodies and this is verifying what Serge Benhayon has been saying since 1999!
A great question to ponder, ‘What kind of relationships do we actually build when they are revolved around alcohol and drugs and we use this to bind us together?’
It’s great to have people that do not drink so we can see that not drinking is actually ok and the (should be) normal thing. Hanging out with people sober is a treat in itself, why add the alcohol?
Absolutely Matts. I know several people now who, for various reasons, do not drink alcohol. They have all found a greater clarity in their thoughts and more vitality in their bodies. It takes a certain courage to go against the grain and do what most people are not doing but why would one not when the benefits are so huge…..saving us lots of money too
This blog touches on the many standardised thoughts that come from drug/alcohol users. Seeing non-users as uncool, boring, out of touch are very common defences for choosing something the body would never choose. Surrounding yourself with friends who also engage in drugs/alcohol is a perfect way to convince yourself that how you are living is normal, despite the physical after effects. Surely this means something if users all have the same responses? Perhaps using a drug to free yourself leaves you just as controlled or more than we are in general society?
I think one of the things with alcohol is that we have normalised it so much that we often don’t even consider it as a drug, it’s just part and parcel of life but actually what if the choice to not drink it is genuinely normal for us! I think there is much we as a society can look at and heal if we are willing to see that the crutches that we use to get by aren’t truly helping…
So true Fiona – not only do we no longer see it as a harmful drug that causes A LOT of death world-wide, but that it’s actually classed as a poison and used for cleaning/surgery etc. The majority are basically saying yes to consuming poisons covered up with glamorous labels, a lot of sugar, colours and flavours to make it taste not so poisonous… but at the end of the day, it’s still poison and people still want it.
This article describes the insidiousness of peer pressure and how it can rule ones life, if it is adhered to.
Stopping drinking was the best thing for me. It was also one of the most trying times in my life as most people I knew drank, from the odd drink here and there to the daily consumption and all of them tried very hard to get me to ‘change my mind’. I felt very isolated and judged and it took the absolute knowing that I no longer wanted to feel the ‘down in the dumps’ way my life was to hold steady in my choice to quit.
I decided to never drink again in my first month at uni – the feeling of losing control really scared me, it was definitely the best thing for me too – I’ve never looked back.
What you have brought up here is the patterns of addiction embed in the human race because we use things to cope with the unease we feel in the different parts of our lives. One of the things I notice is when someone chooses to not be governed by an addiction someone else is still under the expression “needing to loosen up” often comes to the fore. Then the self-doubt comes in and the fear of being different or mocked for being ‘straight laced’. We can be so unpleasant and unsupportive in each others self-discovery.
Normalization of self-harm is about constructing a way of living where we learn to confirm ourselves in a quality that is not even true.
I remember the drug scene as being incredibly cool to be a part of. I considered that we were the ones living a great life. But when I look back on this now, it seems like such a waste of time, being cool being stoned. When I could have been working, developing relationships, contributing to society – activities which now are the highest points of value in my life but which I avoided so fervently before through the haze and fog of a stoned-out body.
How can a drug of any kind do good or is natural for us to take? What has surprised me in the past is that those who have stood by alcohol in moderation or cannabis being natural so it’s okay, have come from all walks of life including doctors and the medical profession. To me a drug whether taken in large quantities, occasional or part of a balanced diet, is a drug and is a poison in the body. I do not have to have a degree in medicine to understand this!
Self harm has become so normal that people who choose self care, such as sleeping early or not consuming alcohol or drugs, are considered weirdos or religious nuts, or simply derided in other terms. This points to an unwritten contract, a pressure to enjoin, to be part of a majority and that everyone must do what the group does.
I know personally of people close to me and my own experience due to the consumption of alcohol – there is no safe limits. Incidents include rape, sexual abuse, women taking all their clothes off, a heterosexual man coming to being sexually abused by another man, being king hit and kicked in the head while passed out on the ground, crashing their car, being chased by a psycho out of a night club, arrested by police while in a night club, obstructing police, drink driving, emotionally contacting ex-girlfriends and other woman, having one night stands with woman who are strangers, memory loss, having sex on the dance floor. Many more could be listed and it is very, very sickening what alcohol is responsible for. It’s criminal! Alcohol is not truly social, it is extremely harming!
Even if you say you’re a happy drunk, at any point you can turn to be aggressive and harm another.
So true. If you speak to the personnel who work in emergency departments on a Friday or Saturday night in particular you will hear no championing of alcohol. It is the cause of majority of their work. Surely repeating and, dare I say it, championing a damaging behaviour over and over again is not the sign of an intelligent species?
Absolutely Richard, alcohol changes our character and allows something else to take over.
We justify and protect what we need; to do so we must ignore, deny or relativise the facts otherwise we couldn’t hold on to what we need without exposing the underlying need for what it truly is. And often we are not willing to really be honest before we are challenged by something greater than our fear to expose the need.
Often we actually know what is true, right or healthy for us but due to either ideals, beliefs or the opinion and pressure of our social surrounding we don´t trust ourselves enough to stand for the truth and avoid to stand out. We actually know that others will feel irritated or disturbed and may react by attacking us. With that understanding it makes perfect sense that at times we need some support, basically confirmation, so that we give ourselves permission to honour our truth. Universal Medicine presents simple facts with common sense and universal truth from a wisdom and love that is recognised by our inner knowing. In a world void of confirmation of the true nature of who we are and what life is all about Universal Medicine is a beacon of light that not just reminds us that we have a choice but furthermore the two choices available – love or not love.
It is the social repercussions of drug abuse that seems to go unsaid, but beautifully said in this article. There is usually lots of focus on the user, their issues and habits, but rarely have I heard about what impact these have on all of us. It makes me feel sad when I see someone being controlled by their addiction to drugs, because I see a life that is not being lived in full. Everyone deserves to be loved, and drug abuse is a huge block against feeling the love that people have for you when the drugs are in control of your body.
Only the true leaders have come from challenging and not pandering to the ill norms of humanity.
Whenever I moved countries, changed communities and social circles, I was encountered with a different set of normals that fascinated me and made me see the ‘wrongs’ in the previous set and gladly adapted myself into the new so I assumed upgraded set. Whilst it gave me opportunities to experience different things, and ways of thinking and behaviour, and some newer normal seemed to make more sense, and I considered myself becoming more worldly than before, making a different, wiser choice, the truth is I was not, I was just swapping borrowed hats. Those normals often had no correlation with the normals that my body would register and know innately.
When I chose to stop drinking alcohol it was like you a choice that came from my whole body – I’d never enjoyed it and often just drank because that’s what everyone seemed to do and I wanted to ‘fit in’. Now I enjoy people’s company more than ever, I feel more authentically connected with myself and with that more truly open, engaged and loving with others, something that alcohol never supported me to be.
The truth about drugs and alcohol is easy to feel but for many it is difficult to accept. I can understand this as I spent many years taking drugs and alcohol, knowing full well that it was not good for my body or my life in general. The escape these substances offered was too good to resist. Since quitting drugs and alcohol I can see I have shifted this same game to food and drink. There are foods and drinks that I know cause my body harm and yet I find a way to justify consumption as they offer some relief from life.
We are here to reflect another way, a true way, rather than to conform to societal ways of living that actually make no sense.
Once one uses one’s body’s wellbeing as the marker of ‘normal’ it is quite shocking as to how much that is accepted as ‘normal’ is actually abnormal.
Drinking alcohol is deadly and insidious but no amount of social conforming can cover up this Truth from the body.
Once upon a time I thought that drinking alcohol was just something that everybody does and that there is no real alternative if you want to live a happy life. Today that so-called happy life is now not a happy life at all. I am thankful to myself for ceasing to drink alcohol when I knew all along there was nothing truly ‘happy’ about it.
It’s interesting how we form beliefs based on what we see around us.
I do not feel rejection or a sense of loss now when expressing to friends or family how I feel eg. recently I was invited to a gathering with friends but I felt it would support me to stay at home and rest. What was interesting was how I was feeling didn’t come into it. How could I miss it?! How could I place myself first and not go? But where I am today I can no longer ignore my body and every time I do listen to it, no party, going out or social gatherings can do justice in that moment than the tender love I give to myself.
What is deemed normal is certainly not natural, especially when it comes to drugs and alcohol and the way we treat each other. And on another note: saying that weed is natural to defend its use is akin to saying that snake venom is natural, which it is. What is the label ‘natural’ supposed to confirm here?
I gave up drinking over eleven years ago – and that’s 4 years prior to any involvement with Universal Medicine. I love my life without alcohol. The desire for it left me gradually over a period of a few years whilst at the same time witnessing someone close to me battle with ‘problem drinking’ that made it all very unattractive. Normalisation is a strong force in our societies but for me, there are greater powers within us to connect to if we choose to. In addition, the feeling of natural harmony in the body when it is not having to spend its energy eliminating unnecessary toxins is a beautiful confirmation of a truly healthy choice.
I am soooo glad I do not drink or smoke now. i could feel the damage it was doing to my body when I was doing it but … It was normal to drink and smoke this much, because everyone else was doing it! This is the danger or normal and just how we can normalise something that is so far away from our truth and we have done this with many many things. The other term for this is also arrogance, arrogant that we are ‘in control’ and despite what we are doing to our bodies on some level, even though it affects others, think we are bullet proof and it will have no affect on us. Crazy right. And arrogant.
It’s a great point that what we’ve generally accepted as normal may indeed not be at all normal nor harmonious for our whole body and being and so it is well worth listening to our whole body and not overriding its signals…
The reflection of choosing not to drink is very confronting, thus the justification and sometimes hostility that comes from those who are still under alcohol’s spell.
I can attest to everything shared here, the pressure from our social circles to not change the code of conduct is huge. What was very interesting for me was at times, how much I thought I was the one that was making the ‘wrong’ choice. Yet even this did not push me to continue with the old way of being with alcohol that I used to live. Because, I knew from my own body the damage it was causing both my physical and mental wellbeing.
It is interesting the way that as a society we have come to champion and entice that which is a poison to our bodies, I too was caught up in the consciousness of a wine connoisseur once but this didn’t last long as my body spoke louder and louder for me to come back to my senses and choose that which was true for me.
The name calling of those that choose to not drink alcohol, and the blame game of why, is really a form of bullying. It shows that those who drink are not strong in their personal choice, that they too perhaps can feel how untrue it is, otherwise why would they need to bully others to do the same? I agree AG, people can react to the reflection of someone choosing to do something that is true for them and honouring of the body.
Just because something has been done for a long time or is done or used by many people doesn’t necessarily mean it is healthy or truly ‘normal’ for us to partake in…
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.