What’s an addiction?
An addiction is a habit that is repeated over and over again at predictable intervals. Often there is an inner resistance, a deeper knowing that the behaviour is actually causing harm, but we feel unable to stop. An addiction prevents us from being truly free.
At Happy High Herbs Nimbin we believe it is every individual’s right to be free. True happiness can only exist by being free. Happiness, health and healing are all connected, and plants can help.
“We often mistake true freedom for a sort of debauchery~ a right to behave in whatever way we choose, regardless of the affect on ourselves or others. But true freedom is an inner state of liberation from the endless cycles (habits) of suffering”
Elen Jones HHH Nimbin
Tobacco, coffee and refined sugar are probably the most commonly misused substances in our modern mainstream culture. These products sometimes contain additional chemical additives or have been refined far beyond their natural form. This often makes the plants much more addictive than in their natural state.
Understanding Substance Addictions
Addictive substances are often plants or plant extractions. Why is this? Molecular compounds found in plants often mimic the endogenous chemistry that we produce within our own bodies. Because of this our neural pathways respond instantly to the compound, eliciting a predictable effect time and time again. Opiates will relax and ameliorate pain, phenethelamines will excite and stimulate and while these effects feel good in the short term, repeated use can create a dependancy. Often larger and larger doses are needed to attain the same level of response and the addiction can spiral out of control. Not having the substance then leaves one in a state of withdrawal, which can range from mild to severe in it’s effects.
How Plants can help
Plants can help treat addiction in three ways:
- Changing the habit- replacing the abused substance with a less harmful, less addictive herb or extract that can be used during the withdrawal or transition phase.
- Interrupting the craving- using plants that mimic the molecular structure of the abused plant.
- Bringing the body back to health- strengthening the body systems and healing any underlying imbalances.
Understanding 'Addiction to Stress' as a Habitual Mental State
Our modern world conditions us to certain behaviours, repeated daily, which may not immediately appear to be addictive. Yet if we look deeper many of us can recognise repeated negative habit patterns that lead to stress and eventually depression or chronic disease. Once again, the more elevated awareness or inner voice often brings us into conflict with these habitual behaviours.
How plants can help
Here again herbs can help us in very specific ways to develop the inner awareness and overcome our habitual stress-response:
- The ‘medative’ mind-state can be supported with nervines, a common class of herbs that relax and tonify the entire central nervous system. In this open, relaxed state it is easier to be aware and to listen to the inner voice. Brahmi, a small bitter-tasting ground-cover plant was used as tea by adepts in the ayurvedic contemplative traditions, in order to develop a calm mind and a finely tuned nervous system.
- Cleansing and purifying herbs can ‘take a load’ off the body. Sometimes the stress that manifests in our thoughts is a result of real distress at the cellular level. Herb teas require little or no digestion in the digestive tract and are easily assimilated at the cellular level. The rich cornucopia of active phytochemicals allows the cells to efficiently metabolise toxins and excrete waste products from the system. Leaving us feeling lighter.
- Another essential class of herbs for developing inner equanimity are the adaptagens, powerful non-toxic medicinal plants that build resilience and adaptability.