‘Synthetic Spirit,’ a look at addiction in a new light

Photo by FL-photography iStock / Getty Images Plus; St. George News

FEATURE —”Synthetic Spirit” is a theory I have about addiction. It simply means that the addict or alcoholic is responding to synthetic and not real spirit. A mother said to me a long time ago, “I look into her eyes and she is not there. That is not my daughter.”

In the early days of counseling, I was dealing with alcohol, cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine and some pills, very few opiates. Now that heroin and other opiates are the primary drugs being used, I hear that statement all the time. If the addict is not themselves, then who are they? What has changed in them that a parent would say such a thing?

Spiritual matters are not easily defined, measured or agreed upon. There is one thing that is common in people who have become addicted: They are not themselves. Let me explain in detail what I think Synthetic Spirit is.

Synthetic Spirit is the product of having constant emotional and physical immediate gratification without having to do anything to earn it. Drugs work! Opiates are wonderful! Some people are shocked when I say that to them, expecting me to fall into the genre of “Drugs are bad, OK.”

Drugs are necessary. They are a miracle in our society. The use of them in a way that helps billions of people around the world is evidence enough. When one uses drugs in a way to alter their feelings or consciousness in a recreational or addictive manner, then the person who is using the drug creates the problem, not the drug. Opiates are a good example of this phenomenon.

Without opiates, modern medicine would not exist. So, in my opinion, drugs are not the issue. The effect of the drug on the spirit is.

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Many clients have come to me with all kinds of reasons they must use drugs: pain, depression, anxiety, nervousness, pain, stressors, pain. No matter what reason the addict started, emotional pain is what the disease concentrates on.

Humans record their lives in moments, short and long intervals of experiences. Experiences that are remembered are usually tied to some emotional experience that is worth remembering. Without going into a quick lesson on watching dogs salivate, we remember things that are important to us. Feelings record memories. Good times and bad times are more prevalent in our memories than driving to work every day.

I believe our spirit grows in a very similar manner. Our spirit gains insight into this life through events that have caused us happiness and sorrow. We may not take the time to realize it, but we are constantly growing through emotional and spiritual events daily. It is hard work to live in this world. It is painful and pleasurable to exist. Drug addiction stops this life experience.

The use of drugs daily, whether you are an addict or not, alters our existence. Drug addicts use their drugs to alter their daily experiences no matter what the day brings.

Weddings, funerals, work issues, relationship issues, family problems, et cetera, are all experienced in our lives one day at a time. If one gets to feel exactly how they want to feel about every experience they have, then they are not recording their life in reality and it becomes a synthetic life.

If I use a pain killer (opiate) daily, I will feel a good feeling about every event I experience. If I use opiates in increasing amounts and become addicted, I must use daily or I go into withdrawal. Every day I get to take something that is meant to relieve pain, but I need my pain to grow spiritually. If I do not experience feelings as they are, I become stagnant.

As seen with most people who become addicted, they start to get more and more selfish. This selfishness is the product of feeling exactly how I want to feel without having to earn the feelings I receive. Synthetic Spirit becomes the norm.

Synthetic Spirit explains so much when I am dealing with a family who doesn’t understand how their loved one became so selfish. It explains how an addict continues to use despite adverse consequences.

If I feel great about all my consequences, they are not consequences. Life is hard, it is to be endured. Perseverance and strength come form our ability to be resilient in our hardships.

If I get to change how I feel about any of my experiences, then I become fragile and emotionally selfish. In the treatment field, I find myself treating the spirit more than just the symptoms of the brain disorder.

Written by AARON WARD, Lion’s Gate Recovery

•  S P O N S O R E D   C O N T E N T  •


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  • General Seamstress December 26, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    very theraputic article for user and caregiver

    • Badshitzoo December 27, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      I noticed your username, I need some seamstressing done in the very near future can you help me?

  • theone December 27, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Dear AAron Ward,

    Since I am the product of reality and have no fascination with fairy tale concepts such as a spirit being a real thing, I must ask, how would you treat someone like me.
    You have no way of helping me with a delusional spirit connection. Is reason something you can draw from? Is reality something you can recognize? Are you able to separate fantasy from reality and work on the biological addiction?
    To be clear I have no addictions, nor do I (or you) have a spirit, I’m just curious about this made up idea of spirit addiction, you know, just like the irrational idea of porn addiction.

    • desertgirl December 27, 2017 at 6:48 pm

      You don’t need treatment, do it yourself. You don’t need advice or anything else; you are an island without need. Good luck with the rest of your life.

      • theone December 28, 2017 at 9:59 am

        Thanks, desertgirl I really appreciate the fact you can see I’m a very stable minded person who needs not the assistance of a fairy tale to live a fulfilling life.
        Life is not about luck, but more about knowledge and I will enjoy all of my life as I hope you will yours.

    • Lastdays December 28, 2017 at 7:28 am

      The is only one part of this comment worthy of rebuttal. The quote ” nor do I ( or you ) have a spirit ”
      The biggest problem of our society currently and for a few years now, is that people of a certain belief system ( political maybe ?) can not handle someone having their own opinion. They go ballistic when others do not think and believe the same way they do. They have to attack relentlessly to try and discredit someone else’s thoughts or opinions that this other person has about, well just about anything I guess.
      So to think that someone can state that another person does not have a ” spirit ” or a spiritual consciousness about themselves is moronic to say the least.
      Who are you to say what others can believe in about themselves, or others ?

      • theone December 28, 2017 at 10:10 am

        Talk about ballistic. The real problem with the world is you weak ones who go in total defence for your beliefs because they can’t withstand the truth of reality.
        Me believing a spirit is supernatural nonsense gives rise to your failing to demonstrate any truth to your claim making you get all ruffled. Poor persecuted believers lol.
        Step back for a second and repeat to yourself “Synthetic Spirit”. If that doesn’t sound like utter nonsense to you then I would suggest a good therapy session is in order for you.
        Nobody has a spirit, it’s a biblical BS fairy tale and until you or anyone can provide demonstrable evidence I will make sure the point is driven home.
        Believe as you wish, but don’t expect any respect for having your belief.

        • ladybugavenger December 30, 2017 at 6:57 pm

          I agree, you don’t have the holy spirit, theone.

          See, we can agree on some things. ? Happy New year!

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