[Ibogaine] ruminations on entheogens, addiction, and NA

Matthew Shriver Matt at ITSupport.net
Sat Sep 29 12:28:35 EDT 2007

Some background before you embark on this novel I wrote.  Recently, like in
the last 6 months, I have done some experimentation with entheogenic
substances beyond just ibo.  I have done Syrian Rue which is one of the
ingredients in ayahuasca on 3 occasions.  I also ordered some salvia and had
one powerful experience on that.  And last night I finally took the plunge
and added the second ingredient to the ayahuasca.


Every time I have had a powerful psychedelic experience since I got off of
the methadone 4+ years ago now, I get so uncomfortable that I wind up asking
myself why I am doing it.  I have done ibogaine maybe 4 or 5 times in
sizable doses in that time.  Nothing as large as the addiction interruption
doses of the past but enough to feel it pretty strongly and every time I
question why I put myself through it.  Same with the one salvia experience
and same with the Syrian Rue experiences.


So anyway last night I wrote all of this while I was under the influence of
the aya and thinking about it.  I was dreaming when I wrote this so sue me
if I go to fast.


<------begin insane ramblings-------->


I seriously want to get this down while it is fresh and happening.  It's
hard to know where to start this; my thoughts are a little swirly.  I go
back over ground covered and find new answers in the depth.  


Ok so why do I do this?  Why do I take these substances?  And the answer is
that I like it.  That's the truth.  I experience it as scary and weird and
chaotic and anxiety producing and just an all around emotional roller
coaster and guess what?  I like it.  It's not always so crystal clear that I
like it.  Sometimes all I feel is fear.  But guess what?  I like that too.
The honesty of aya seems fucking brutally straightforward to me.


Ok so is it using?  Here is this whole fucking thing I go into with NA.
Because using is the great EVIL.  The greatest sin is using.  There is
nothing worse than using.  So to answer the question, is this using?  Yes.
This is in fact using.  But, and of course there had to be a but, BUT, what
is using?  I mean let's get totally honest about this.  The NA concept of
what is using and what is not using, is not honest.  It isn't.  Straight up.
Smoking is using.  No doubt about it.  It is using a drug to alter your
mood.  So wait a second, is that what constitutes using?  Well if it does
then coffee is using.  Food can sometimes be using, sugar surely changes the
way I feel when administered at the right time.  So what is using then?  If
using is taking a substance or action to alter your feelings or perceptions
then life is using.  We use ALL THE TIME.  


But (there is always a but it seems like), but this perspective just
deteriorates the meaning of using.  It does not help define it.  So here is
another realization.  Right or wrong NA does one thing well, it draws a line
and it very clearly, in no uncertain terms, says which side you want to be
on.  And the reason for this is very important.  Using turned our lives
upside down.  And that is of course a massive understatement.  Using holds
for us the keys to our destruction.  So what is very useful about the NA
paradigm is that there is a clear line and you should not cross it.  And it
makes perfect fucking sense to someone whose entire life was a waste of
misdirected effort chasing the next high. 


So why am I doing this in the face of that self knowledge?  I cannot help
but think this is incredibly foolish behavior for me.  It is dangerous.
What I am doing is making that crystal clear line that NA draws, very, very
blurry for myself.  There is no crystal clear line, it is all shades of
grey.  And the danger is that without a clear line, I may be too far past
the line to return before I even realize I have crossed it.  But it seems to
me that even knowing this, saying this to myself, voicing this knowledge,
gives me some protection from that fate.  I mean it is about awareness.  If
I am unconscious in my life, if I am asleep to my own truths, well hell that
is what leads to using anyway.  Using requires a powerful self deception.
And if you cannot hide the truth from yourself then you need drugs powerful
enough to do it for you.  This is certainly not what these drugs I use are
about.  If anything they are about illuminating the truth.


So now if I answer the question again, is this using?  Hell fucking no this
isn't using!  This is not about going to sleep, this about waking the fuck


So a related issue is this.  I feel some shame around this stuff.  I don't
feel like this is wrong as in morally wrong, and yet I feel some shame in


I realize the value of NA.  I think there is tremendous value in its
community and values.  But this path is not compatible with NA's stated
goals.  Is it using?  Well the answer is that it is a grey area, and NA does
not have grey areas.  So by NA's standards it is using.  This puts me at
odds with a community I value tremendously.  This means I have to hide this
side of myself from the community I have chosen to be a part of.  The
obvious answer is of course to find a new community.  But the fact is that
it would have to be one hell of a community to take the place of what NA
already is for me.


I don't know.  I have to face the possibility that I am deluding myself.
That I am rationalizing all kinds of horse shit to justify getting high.
Maybe that's what is going on here.  I must at least allow that it is
possible.  If I do not at least allow for the possibility then I cannot
claim to be shining the light of awareness and truth fearlessly.  But is it
true?  Is that perspective actually true?  I find it hard to admit that it
is or may be, but that certainly is not strong evidence for its refutation.
It can be true despite my being repulsed by it.  Hell it wouldn't be the
first repulsive truth I have discovered.  


I guess ultimately these things don't need a solid "yes this is the way it
is" answer right this minute.  But obviously it is important to honestly
face these things if I am to have any hope of personal growth.


One thing that does seem apparent is that these substances must be used
sparingly.  Which I find I have a hard time accepting at face value because
as I said, I like this stuff.  It is clear to me that I like this feeling.
Well aya more than most.  I find ibo kind of difficult mostly.  But I like
that too, don't get me wrong.  But this stuff definitely has a more pleasant
feel to it.  In fact it is sort of euphoric, at least at this level.  It has
the promise of being able to go ass-over-heels deeper which would be
proportionally more difficult.  But it has a gentleness about it that is way
more comfortable than other substances.  Salvia for instance was just
downright abrupt, harsh even.  Perhaps even brutal.  Not aya.  Very gentle
this stuff seems.  Which of course makes it seem even more pleasurable to


I think, even if I reserve judgment about whether or not this is using and I
am deluding myself, or I take the fact that I am willing to at least face
that perspective as evidence that it cannot be entirely true, I must still
face the fact that it is dangerous behavior for one such as I.  For someone
who sold their very soul to a chemical high in the past, this is dangerous
business indeed. The line is grey for me and blurry which is not a safe way
to play it.  Not at all.  Could caution be enough for me?  It seems unlikely
that caution alone can protect me from addiction.  No I think it will take
something more than that.  Could awareness be enough?  My tentative answer
is that I believe it can. True awareness would not tolerate active
addiction.  The problem of course being can I maintain awareness?  It does
not seem at all unlikely that I could delude myself about this.  Community
seems like the obvious answer to counter self-deception.  But my chosen
community can not help me with these issues.  They have already weighed in
with their verdict.


But then again, do I really need other people to help me justify my
behavior?  I mean I have always tried to measure my behavior and act
according to what I truly feel is right for me.  And no amount of other
people's opinion sways me when I feel I know what I should do.  I will
ultimately follow whatever path I follow because it feels right to me, not
because my community supports it.  I am perfectly capable of defying the
community when I feel that my path leads away from their sensibilities and
the fact that I am already doing it is evidence enough for that statement.


The pisser about all of this is that I was content to play it the NA way and
keep the crystal clear line and play it safe.  I was, I did it for 2 and
half years.  But then depression crept back in.  Something I had only
experienced before while using, which is not saying much since my whole life
prior to this time was using, but still.  Here it was and I was clean.  So I
was eventually forced into the whole doctor and anti-depressant
merry-go-round thing.  Which is of course in keeping with the NA definition
of clean but is not actually clean because once again it is taking a
substance to change a mood.  So the line got just a little fuzzy.   And the
side effects of those drugs made me start wondering if I shouldn't just
treat this malady with ibo.  And of course if I was going to make an
"entheogen exception" for ibo, why not aya, and salvia, and who knows what
else.  And the line blurred out and became a grey smudge which is where I
find myself today.


<------end insane ramblings-------->


I guess I am interested more in the discussion that this might generate than
any validation or refutation of any of my thoughts.  So by all means,



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