The Difficulties of Healing Alcoholics and Drug Users

I was asked recently about the effects of drugs and alcohol on consciousness and how it affected using CRST (Causal Release System Training). That is an excellent question, and I will share with you what I know about the problem.

Author Andrew Weil, noted in an earlier book that drugs and alcohol are simply our culture's drugs of choice. Other cultures use peyote, mescaline, cocaine, etc. and consider our choices strange. In many cultures, the drugs of choice are associated with rituals that are designed to bring the user closer to the spiritual realm. In our society, our currently most popular drugs are alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, marijuana, with LSD and heroin making a comeback. Let's look at these drugs one by one and address some of the dynamics and problems associated with them.


Alcoholism is rampant in our society, even if it is not identified at first, you will encounter the abuse of alcohol often in the practice of CRST. The use of alcohol is clearly a way of short circuiting emotional experiences, especially the feelings of loneliness, abandonment and the lack of self worth. It is impossible to work with a client under the influence of alcohol. I tell people that I will not work with them until they have not taken a drink for at least a week. Although, not fully detoxified in a week, they are at least somewhat able to access their feelings after a week's abstinence. The alcoholic has been avoiding their real feelings for a long time, rationalizing their behavior, lying, denying having a problem, and in general making themselves difficult for the people in their lives. (Not without those person's full cooperation however, and it is important to look at the dynamics with significant others. If not, the long suffering significant other may undermine the process by subtly encouraging the person to return to the status quo.)

Do not be surprised that at the beginning of working with alcoholics or alcohol abusers that you will encounter some difficulty in keeping the ego out of the process or that you will experience attempts to return to the seemingly easier solution of drinking. Working with the alcoholic takes patience and it is wise to also refer them to AA to assist them through peer relationships to look more honestly at themselves. AA was originally created originally as a spiritual path, and if you look at the 12 steps carefully, you will find there the elements of a transformational process.


Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs we have. As few as two cigarettes can physically addict the person to the drug. Smoking can be the result of many causes, one which is not often considered, is the need to take in enough air. Often people are responding to old patterns around drowning, suffocation, choking, being buried alive or dying of smoke inhalation in a fire. All of these circumstances create fears of not getting enough oxygen. Super heated smoke is clearly felt in the lungs and the person knows they are getting air into their lungs.

Smoking is also a ritual, a ritual that makes a person feel in control of things. However, that ritual is rapidly becoming unacceptable to more and more persons. Working on fears of losing control is often helpful with persons who are attempting to give up smoking.


Marijuana is another commonly used drug. If you are energy perceptive, the heavy user of marijuana will feel to you as if ther are holes in the aura or the aura will feel ragged. Marijuana leads to a loosening of associations and you may find it difficult to keep the marijuana user focused on issues. Marijuana loosens and intensifies some emotional perceptions, so you can work with a person under the influence of marijuana, but it difficult to tell what you are really doing. Have the person stay clean for at least two weeks before undertaking any serious efforts.


The use of lysergic acid (LSD) is making a comeback among young persons, but we usually encounter it in the history of users of the 1960's. The use of LSD will leave some vary frightening experiences and working in this area may trigger flash backs. They may be cleared like any other issue. Expect to find very loose associations and a lot of wandering around. Try to keep the focus on the issue.


Cocaine or crack users do not usually seek CRST or if they do, they are not good candidates for the process. It is difficult to create the induction with a cocaine user because cocaine is a stimulant that is relentless in creating a need for another cocaine experience. Maintaining quiet long enough to do a session is almost impossible with the cocaine user. It is best that detoxification is complete before attempting to use CRST with cocaine users.

Heroin and Methodone

Heroin or methodone users can benefit from CRST, depending how deep they are tranquilized. It is difficult to determine what you are doing with these people because of the dampened emotional responses, but there is some progress made when working with users. Unfortunately, if the user is on heroin, the need for making the necessary money to support the habit will make it difficult to utilize CRST regularly. CRST is best used with this addiction after detoxification and emergence in an inpatient program.

Designer Drugs

Designer drugs and "hogs" (multiple drug users) usually do not show up for CRST. I have had no experience with ecstasy, and some of the other "designer" drugs that appear from time to time.

I have not had the opportunity to try CRST is an inpatient setting, but I believe that it would be very effective in helping to get at the root causes of the addictions. My one institutional experience working with CRST has been with methodone maintenance clientele and although they benefited, staying on methadone was so easy that they did not find any compelling reason for discontinuing use. The agency did not have any policy to get people off of methadone and today most agencies, especially since privatization, actually are motivated to keeping them addicted to methodone.

The one thing that I did learn about methadone maintenance was that it was clearly of benefit to society to maintain these heroin addicts on methadone. They did not have to be on the street stealing, selling or prostituting. They could maintain jobs and live a reasonably productive life. The cost of heroin has gone down on the street, but it is not uncommon for someon to have a 100 to 150 dollar a day habit. At 10 to 20% on the dollar for stolen property from a fence. The addict thief has to steal in todays market approximately the equivalent value of 1000 to 1500 dollars a day or 30,000 to 45,000 per month.

Written by James M. Price


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