Quit to feel good, not to be good. Nutrient deficiencies are one of the major reasons you feel like crap after quitting and the best way to get nutrients back in as fast as possible is nutritional supplements.
There are three practical components to quitting with your body: correct deficiencies, repair the damage and then align. Tackling deficiencies and repairing damage comes first. This replenishes your chi reserves and improves organ function. I immediately put clients on high-powered nutritional supplements and herbs, introduce a nutritious diet, get them started on some form of exercise and start regular acupuncture treatments.
Nutrient deficiencies are one of the major reasons you feel like crap after quitting and the best way to get nutrients back in as fast as possible is nutritional supplements. These are concentrated, high quality food. They can build chi, help break down energetic blockages and correct the imbalances that drug use created. They assist your life force to come forward again so you are motivated to move. I’ve been researching nutrient therapy in relation to addiction for decades now. I studied, and then lectured in orthomolecular therapy, which works with high doses of vitamins (such as vitamin C for addiction) but I’ve since investigated the properties of not only nutritional supplements but also the superfoods, which are undergoing a major revival.
Every plant on earth has a unique property. Drug users are obviously very familiar with this concept (think marijuana, the poppy or the magic mushroom) but this applies to every plant from ginseng to peas.Plants can’t escape their environment; so they develop a specific ‘adaptive’ intelligence. For example, açaí berries, which grow right at the top of palm trees under the blazing equatorial sun, are cool inside when they are picked. This is nothing short of astonishing; we’d fry in about two minutes up there. Açaí has a highly developed antioxidant function, and when we consume açaí we can benefit from that.
Chinese herbal medicine has long recognised and worked with the concept of plant intelligence. There are herbal formulas to correct specific organ imbalances, build physical and emotional strength, and to support the seeker of altered states. If you draw upon both Eastern and Western nutrient knowledge you can create a transformative powerhouse of supplements and superfoods that will alleviate withdrawals and cravings, accelerate the healing of post-drug symptoms, and assist in rebuilding the high level of organ function needed to naturally achieve altered states again.
Many people resist the idea of taking nutritional supplements. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people claim that if you have a healthy diet you don’t need vitamins or supplements. This is simply not true.Maybe it was in our distant caveman past when there were no vitamin companies and we ate hairy mammoth off the bone, but these days food is more likely to be entertainment than nourishment. Most of what we eat is so processed and the sugar content so high, it actually depletes your life force.
Even a purely organic diet is not enough to keep anyone healthy in our culture, let alone rebuild someone who has had a depleting drug lifestyle. So get into the supplements. Working with the power of plants to make yourself feel good is second nature to you; so continue this with a different range of feel-good plants. Nutrient therapy is a complex field though; so seek professional input.
Repair your body with the power of plants
Food and chi
Food is a source of chi and you can use meals to regulate your moods, the same way you once used drugs. Every meal you eat should make you feel grounded, calm and energised. You need warm, wholesome cooked meals for this. A general example of a grounding, chi-building menu would be porridge for breakfast; meat, vegetables and rice for lunch; and either rice and vegetables or soups in the evening. Avoid highly processed entertainment foods. They deplete chi and block chi flow, which leaves you feeling ungrounded, aggravated and tired, which, in turn, creates cravings.
Drugs take a toll on your digestive functions; so this menu might be a bit ambitious, especially immediately after quitting, when you’re probably no longer used to eating regularly, and you are likely to have food intolerances (from organ deficiencies). Start with soups and stews, and work your way up to more substantial meals.
This is not the time to become a vegetarian. You need nutrients and protein to build your organ function. Otherwise the likelihood of depression, unpleasant head spinning and other ungrounded sensations will increase and you’ll want drugs to make these feelings go away.
I accidentally became a vegetarian when I arrived in Nimbin in the early eighties, as hippies didn’t eat meat. I’d been doing speed daily for a long time by then; my spleen function was seriously impaired and I was already scattered and weird. Luckily, most of the locals were in a similar state, not to the same extent as me, but enough to make me blend in. I lived in a commune in the hills with extreme alternative types. Everyone grew vegetables and, being flat broke, I ate pumpkin at least three times a day.
Pumpkin is actually good for your spleen, but, deprived of protein, I had the drug parrot on my shoulder the whole time whispering in my ear. It didn’t want any more pumpkin; it wanted to party. Twelve months later I took a job as a ski instructor in a mountain town and hit the powder, in more ways than one. I started shooting up speed again. My spleen and other organ functions plummeted, reality eluded me and shortly after that, Schroeder [Jost’s pet goat, referred to in a previous chapter] and I took to the road on our mission.
If being carnivorous is simply not an option, make sure you get a really good alternative source of protein. Avoid crazy detox diets too. I’ve treated plenty of people who quit drugs and then turned to raw food or juice fasts to ‘cleanse’ or ‘detox’ themselves. Yes, you will have a build-up of toxins in your body. So it is normal to feel contaminated or dirty after quitting, but detox diets can create a toxic overload that ultimately makes you feel worse. Raw foods can take more energy or chi to process than cooked foods, and after drugs you need to be nice to your organs and nurture and build chi.Wholesome cooked food, nutrients and herbal detox formulas are a better option.
Eat foods that create emotional stability
Exercise and chi
Your body is the interface between your mind and the external world, and you will be feeling physically uncomfortable after you quit. This makes communication difficult, increases your emotional pain and creates the desire to withdraw. Exercising can quickly change this by generating physical fluidity, helping get your mind back into your body and creating feelings of wellness. In some countries, exercise rather than antidepressants is now prescribed as the first treatment option for depression.
I discovered the power of exercise firsthand while I was working in social welfare and desperately trying to hide my post-drug depression. I’d hooked up with a new sporty girlfriend and we’d gone to a pool for a swim (her suggestion, not mine). I started enthusiastically doing laps to encourage her to see me as a normal person who did normal things, like swimming, as opposed to shooting up drugs in a squat somewhere. To my surprise when I got out of the pool I actually felt good. By then I’d completely forgotten that you could do so without drugs. That was the moment I turned into a weight-lifting, swimming, running, cycling, gym-junkie. If I could have exercised while I was asleep, I would have done.
Hardcore exercise is critical for those who’ve done the heavy drugs such as speed and ice, as they create massive chi stagnation and an overload of toxins. You need intense workouts to help push this through your system.It’s common to have reduced muscle tone and increased body fat after drugs too, and a strong weights/ cardio program can get this ratio back in balance so that your organs can breathe and your chi can flow again and re-energise you.
I’m big on maximising the benefits of everything you do, and I always suggest adding therapeutic value to exercise. For example, if you are doing squats and treadmill or stationary bike work, as your muscles burn, you can visualise burning negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones. Repetition of this process helps to hardwire positivity as your default state. So when negative thoughts, images or ideas come up, as they regularly will in the emotional minefield of life after drugs, it is much easier to replace them with positive ones.
Exercise to generate feelings of wellness
The endorphin run
Exercise is definitely an important part of feeling extraordinary after drugs but, on its own, it’s not enough.
I regularly treat people who quit drugs, go to the gym every day and exercise hard but still relapse. There’s something missing and it’s not endorphins. Parents of young drug users often ask me, ‘Why can’t they just go for a run instead to feel good?’ But, as I explain to them, for most drug users, pounding the pavement in agony with burning muscles while gasping for breath, in the slim hope of an endorphin release – a piss-weak cousin of any drug high – is not a satisfactory replacement.
Even if it was, you can’t run all day every day, and what happens if you break an ankle or the weather turns nasty for a couple of months? Or if you live in one of those cities where you only run if someone’s chasing you? Don’t get me wrong here, running is a great thing to do (if you can), not only for physical strength, but also for the satisfaction of breaking through the post-drug inertia and feeling back in control and, of course, there’s no point knocking back an endorphin rush. But my theory on running and exercise in general is that it is part of ordinary reality; you’re still ‘here’. It’s not a multidimensional experience. If you want to fully replace what drugs delivered, you have to go into the mystical territory of chi.
Go for more than endorphin highs
Chinese medicine supports you on the path to your destiny.
If you are in perfect health, chi flows throughout your body. It nurtures your skin, tendons and muscles, so you can move smoothly and effortlessly (as you would dancing on ecstasy), and it also flushes through your internal organs, allowing optimum physical and metaphysical function. You feel awesome, you love everyone and everything, are connected to all there is, and your life feels purposeful.
Drugs force chi to rush along your meridians – an invisible network of chi pathways in your body – which is how they create these great states, but drugs simultaneously deplete your reserves of chi and cause obstructions to build up at the acupuncture points. Eventually these points become so blocked that chi can’t move freely. So your body aches and you feel physical and emotional pain. When acupuncture needles are inserted at these blocked points the obstruction is instantly reduced, chi can flow and you feel good again.
However, we want more than good – we want extraordinary. In Chinese medicine, the cosmos is seen as a massive chi matrix. Acupuncture not only allows chi to flow internally through your body, but externally to and from the matrix, too. Some acupuncture points are actually ‘vortex’ points that open up to other dimensions. Because chi is energy, consciousness and information, the acupuncture needle can act as an antenna that can access cosmic information and chi. It can be a totally psychedelic modality.
Each of your organs (we have twelve organs in Chinese medicine, including an invisible one, which is pretty interesting) has a spark of cosmic consciousness. I have developed a specific form of addiction recovery acupuncture that can temporarily create a state of internal organ function high enough to reignite that spark. This accelerates physical and metaphysical healing.
So, for all these reasons, getting daily acupuncture treatments as soon as you quit (or beforehand), is highly recommended. Then shift to weekly treatments. Don’t start thinking that you’re cured once you feel some improvement. Drugs create massive chi stagnation and imbalances, and the more drugs you did, the more treatment you will need and the more time it will take to recover. Also, unlike Western medicine, where you see a doctor when you get sick and then take a medication to make your symptoms disappear (usually they just go somewhere else), Chinese medicine aims to heal underlying imbalances. If you commit to regular treatments you will be starting a trajectory of limitless improvement.
This article is part of a series of articles excerpted with permission from The Rebel’s Guide to Recovery by Jost Sauer and published by Centre of Dao, Maleny, Australia. Jost addresses the issues involved in overcoming addiction and gives practical, life-changing advice based on his own experience and that of his many clients.
The next chapter will be published in the next LivingNow. If you want to fast forward your life, the entire book is available for download from Amazon.
Born in Germany in 1958, and living in Australia since 1981, Jost is an ex speed addict, dealer and deserter, turned drug and alcohol counsellor who then became an acupuncturist. After lecturing in traditional Chinese medicine for a decade and running numerous health centres, he developed his revolutionary recovery programs and his rehab program is now available on the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
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