[Ibogaine] ruminations on entheogens, addiction, and NA

Nathan nathanandbarbara at clear.net.nz
Sat Sep 29 16:40:39 EDT 2007

I hear ya. I'm off opiates and go to NA. Fuck man, I don't mind the no
opiates but definitely I hate the nothing fuckin else or you have fucked
up. I feel bad havin a beer. Let alone wanting to have a trip on on of
my hundred or so San Pedros growing in my garden. After a meeting they
all go out and have the worst drug of all. Cigarettes and stand around
like that's fucking fine. Fuck me. I feel like I am over that shit and
should just smoke some weed to get a decent nights sleep and go trippin
once a month. At least then I would feel like my life is back to normal.
One thing I will say about NA is between that and the ibogaine, I never
want to touch opiates again. N
-----Original Message-----
From: ibogaine-bounces at mindvox.com [mailto:ibogaine-bounces at mindvox.com]
On Behalf Of Matthew Shriver
Sent: Sunday, September 30, 2007 4:29 AM
To: 'The Ibogaine List'
Subject: [Ibogaine] ruminations on entheogens, addiction, and NA
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
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 up.  
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 it.
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 me.
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, discuss.
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