Something I get asked a lot is “How did you finally stop drinking? What was different the time you finally quit and it stuck?” “Did psychedelics heal your addiction?” Healing addiction with psychedelics is getting a lot of well deserved attention, and for me, it was a crucial tool in my wellness kit as a person in recovery from alcohol abuse.
I used to tell the story of how I had blacked out at Burning Man and gotten lost for 7 hours in the desert alone, sobbing, covered in blisters and scrapes, praying for death. I would share the painful details of detoxing for days in the middle of 110 degree heat while everyone was partying around me. And how going to the Temple and having a releasing ritual with the biggest fire I’d ever seen was what killed the booze demon.
Those things are true and were crucial pieces of my journey to coming back to life, but that’s not the whole story.
How Do We Do Hard Things? Change Our Mindset.
The truth is that in order to do those very hard things, I had to make a paradigm shift in my mindset. I had somehow survived a lot of self-abuse and lived through using dangerous coping mechanisms to handle my pain for a long time, but deep down, underneath it all, I had to decide to believe that I was enough, demons and all. Without alcohol, without drugs or sex or some guy to obsess over or anything outside myself. In spite of my weight and my body and how bad of a person I thought I was. I had to look inside and decide I deserved to live.
“I am enough.”
Shifting to believing I had inherent value and worth, in spite of how messy and scary my life felt, is why it finally worked. If I believed I had real worth, then I could no longer behave in ways that damaged me. I knew I would have a long road of unpacking all the ways I didn’t feel worthy, good enough, lovable, or valuable, and that is an ongoing process and what led me to guide others in my work as a psychedelic integration coach. That hope and belief that things could be different for me is what led me to psychedelics. These medicines called to me through people and circumstances in my life, and got so loud, I couldn’t ignore the signs anymore and had to take the leap to going deeper into myself with plant teachers as my guides.
Healing Addiction With Psychedelics Meant Healing My Relationship With My Body
I am fortunate that I found my way to plant medicine, which showed me how disempowered and blind to my worthiness I had become, and how far back it went. It showed me the toxic ways that diet culture and dangerous standards of beauty put me in a cage of feeling like a failure for not being able to achieve the ideal body, and how addiction was my torturer.
Women often become addicted because we cannot make ourselves small enough, and substances enable us to temporarily disappear. We are products of a system designed to make us feel like we are broken so that we can be sold diet after diet, which makes us feel more and more disconnected from our bodies and harm our health. The standard of beauty that we onboard (thin, fit, white, and young) is mostly fake. The majority of the bodies we see in the media are filtered, twisted, smoothed, and contorted. The ideal human is digitally altered. The models don’t even look like that. What we see online and in movies IS NOT REAL, is not attainable, and is not, actually, beautiful.
Our Shapes, All of Them, Are Sacred
Holding such a narrow idea of what is beautiful and sexy and worthy of attention and affection is sad, and is like looking at a rainbow and deciding only red matters, the rest is garbage.
Life is not as delicious, colorful, or full when we wear blinders and ignore the full spectrum of beauty and life that exists in our world. Ayahuasca showed me that for thousands of years, MY juicy, curvy, jiggly body had been revered as the most delicious, powerful, magical form. Curves and rolls and body fat were considered sacred, beautiful, and deeply feminine. Women’s bodies were historically the home and hearth of creation, comfort, and earth magic across every culture, in every corner of the world. Women of all sizes were powerful, strong vessels of protection, creation, and healing, and always have been.
We still are, and it is up to us to take back the power of our bodies, our hearts, our self-respect, and our self-love. Our shapes, all of them, are sacred.
Body shame and self-loathing leading to addictive and self-destructive behaviors aren’t just solely understood or experienced by women. Men and non-binary folx are also victims of toxic diet culture and toxic masculinity, which also can result in the same disconnection from our power, manifesting in all kinds of unhealthy coping strategies and addictions that ultimately create a vicious cycle of making us hate ourselves even more, and keeping us small.
How Do Psychedelics and Integration Work Help Us Heal From Addiction?
Psychedelic integration is the ongoing work of fully loving ourselves, accepting, respecting, and trusting our bodies, and radically rejecting the system that chains us to a life of suffering. It is reclaiming empowerment, enforcing boundaries, and recognizing all the subconscious ways that “you’re not good enough” sneaks in and tries to hijack our inner temples. It is believing the innate wisdom of our plant teachers, knowing that we are Divine Light and nothing less, and taking action each day to cement this truth into the foundation of our lives and our relationships with ourselves.
Working with psychedelics and integrating the lessons is a long term process, sometimes lifelong. For some people, this looks like a retreat followed by integration, or a series of sessions with a medicine, or building an ongoing relationship with entheogens as healing tools. No matter how that piece plays out, doing the work in our daily lives is what creates lasting, permanent healing and change.
One ceremony didn’t unravel my complicated relationship to my body in one night, it has been over the course of a few years of unwinding the threads of how I can love myself more, learning how and when to sit with psychedelics, and using integrative practices to see myself in a different way. Integration right now looks like uncovering how my relationship to body acceptance and self-love is connected to healing childhood trauma and the others areas that were tangled up in my addiction.
I came to work with psychedelics with several months of sober time under my belt. I was done drinking and ready to do the work of sifting through the root system of myself to feel and heal whatever came up from underground. What I had was a fiery determination to be fearless and a willingness to go as far as I needed to go to find the source of my wounds. While psychedelics are capable of interrupting and treating active addiction, creating a shift and space to heal, expecting the journey to cure an addiction overnight can be disappointing and feel like you’re a failure if it doesn’t work that way. You’re not. Without other support or a framework for continued sobriety, many people find it difficult to maintain long term. When we make room for healing, healing occurs. If you are considering working with psychedelics, create a plan, find support, and trust the process.
We are whole beings, with complicated, multifaceted stories. We all have something to learn, something to heal, and a thousand ways to grow and change that look different for everyone. Psychedelics are not a magic cure-all, but they are the most amazing tools I have found to radically change my perspective, to remind me, always, that I am here for and made of love, and to bring me back home to myself.
It’s up to us as guardians of the light to continue to walk in it, and do the real work to stay there. This is integration.