Mental Disease vs. Misdirection

Is Addiction A Fatal Disease?

… [Dr. Silkworth] confirms what we who have suffered alcoholic torture must believe—that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind. It did not satisfy us to be told that we could not control our drinking just because we were maladjusted to life, that we were in full flight from reality, or were outright mental defectives. These things were true to some extent, in fact, to a considerable extent with some of us. But we are sure that our bodies were sickened as well. In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.

From “The Doctor’s Opinion” in The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book

Here, the mental disease paradigm is set in motion, and the die is cast for an erroneous belief in medical assumptions. The assumption is made that, as “alcoholics”, we are inherently defective on a physical and mental level. To date, what genetic or neurobiological proof is provided for this claim? Not much. Even if there were genetic correlations, this would miss the mark substantially and fall short of a deeper understanding. Fortunately, the evidence and philosophy from AYP—not to mention the longstanding tradition of spiritual mystics far beyond the scope of AYP—picks up the slack.

Bhakti is the source of so-called alcoholism, not disease nor defectiveness. What is bhakti?

Bhakti means, "love of God." If "God" is not the right word for you, use a phrase like, "love of highest ideal" or "love of highest truth." Whatever represents the greatest attainment you can imagine. Whatever it is, loving it will change you, and inspire you to do all that you can to merge with that.

Yogani – Lesson 67 – Bhakti – The Science of Devotion

The desire to drink alcohol comes from a desire to feel better, and in feeling better, we come closer to the source of who we are. With drinking, we could only reach so far, then we hit a will, and things got progressively worse as we continued to bang our head against that wall. We had been entertaining flights of fancy and the magic bullet syndrome — thinking that alcohol could take us all the way. Our strong desire for deeper consciousness was misdirected by a naïve choice in methodology, but at its core, this errant form of bhakti is immensely pure and liberating. No disease, no defects—just misdirection. Our life has been an innocent, curious, and imperfect exploration of options. Very simple. We have to honor our intensity of desire, and direct it accordingly.

The reason we can’t drink moderately or responsibly is because alcohol is an inferior, detrimental substance that has to be abandoned completely. In time, this renunciation will probably occur on a mass scale, even for those who can drink moderately. The better alternatives will wash away the antiquated ones. Spirit will trump substance.

With this new understanding and mental template, a person recovering from substance abuse can rekindle the divine thirst for truth by envisioning a life which utilizes new fuel, new pathways, and new sustenance for the journey.

This is the first crucial step, wanting to run through to that something more in us. Being willing to do it. Craving it. Being desperate for it. I am here because I have been one of those for many years, and I know there must be others…It is a kind of addiction—a divine addiction. I confess to being an addict to this spiritual practice game.

Yogani – Lesson 10 – Why This Discussion?

We can let go of the mental disease paradigm, forgive ourselves and others, and move forward on lighter feet, with a clearer picture of who we are, and where we’re going. Once we taste the bliss consciousness and ecstasy derived from meditation and other AYP practices, the desire to drink or use drugs falls away effortlessly. It’s a no-brainer. It’s a natural flow and transition—not a battle with any disease or dysfunction. We merely have to give ourselves the chance by stopping the pollution of our nervous system with abrasive and artificial substances. We have to purify and open the channels within our internal circuitry. Then serenity begins to establish its rightful place and permanent residence in our being.

A leap of faith may be necessary to begin the transition, but once the results gradually pour in (and then pour out as divine love), we won’t have to rely on belief alone. We can rely on the trajectory of action and reaction, surrender and union, pick up and release.