There are many different ways that people look for self-care. Some of us find self-care through taking walks in the park or spa days. Others find self-care through having an organic diet or partaking in different hobbies and routines. In my case, I implement self-care through my mindfulness and yoga practice and keeping track of how I’m feeling and how I’m producing my work and creativity in relation to the cycles of the moon. I also have become super fond of treating myself to many solo-dates, and have implemented practices of Ayurveda into my lifestyle to keep myself balanced.
Although some may disagree, another form of self-care shows up through the use of drugs and alcohol. For some, this is a triggering statement. Some of you may be in strong opposition to the idea that one can find self-care through the use of drugs or alcohol. After all, doesn’t alcohol cause liver disease and ulcers? You may come from a background of parents and teachers who told you that drugs would make you stupid, many of us did. I did. I was told this by people who were using these substances for self-care themselves.
This article is in honor of the overall energy and theme of the waning moon cycle, which is based on the idea of release and letting go of what doesn’t serve you and what might be holding you back from your true potential. For some of us, a dependency on drugs and alcohol as self-care tools may be the place of internal struggle and there may be a strong feeling that it is time to release these vices and move forward. If you’re willing to experiment with letting them go, let’s dive in!
How Drugs and Alcohol Show Up as a Form of Self-Care.
I have even been hearing and reading about a lot of wonderful discoveries on the powerful healing factors of CBD, a chemical compound in cannabis that can break down cancerous tumors and potentially cure epilepsy! For some, cannabis is a form of medicinal self-care, which I believe is okay. As I learn more about the positive effects of all herbal medicine, I don’t believe this is an herb that should be left out. I’ve even used topical CBD oil to relieve joint pain and it does absolute wonders!
Another, sometimes more unconscious, way the use of cannabis shows up as a sense of self-care is through its ability to relieve social dis-ease. Some people have a hard time being in crowds, or feeling comfortable in social situations and look to marijuana as a way to make connecting with others and fitting in a much less frightening experience. For some, just the picture of a pot leaf is a symbol of social acceptance in certain crowds. I know many people who look to cannabis to ease their social anxiety.
Alcohol is also a social buffer for many Adults and teens in America. It’s all too common to come across people who just don’t feel ready to mingle until they’ve had their first cocktail. There is also research stating that moderate alcohol consumption may have beneficial effects on health. These include decreased risk for heart disease and mortality due to heart disease, decreased risk of ischemic stroke (in which the arteries to the brain become narrowed or blocked, resulting in reduced blood flow), and decrease the risk of diabetes.
This brings to mind one of the 5 moral restraints in the Yama’s section of Patanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga, brahmacharya which is a Sanskrit word meaning “moderation” As the old saying goes, “everything’s good in moderation.”
Sometimes, a person may be going through emotional stress caused by depression or loss, and because the hardship of the pain is a bit too much to bear, they look to the use of alcohol or marijuana as somewhat of a shoulder to cry on. And, for some, it just feels good to kick back and have a drink or smoke a blunt as a way to unwind or treat themselves. Treating yourself is, after all, a form of self-care. So what happens when treating yourself in these ways starts to feel less like care and more like a cruth?
The Line Between Self-Care and Self Harm.
Here’s the thing, I’m not here to judge you, only to make you think.
I fully understand that as adults, many of us know our limits and would rather not be told how to live life and I respect that autonomy.
However, I’ve come to notice from my own personal experience that sometimes when turning to a substance for self-care, the feeling arises that living a fulfilling life isn’t possible without it. This is when we sometimes start to realize that our habits of self-care have become crutches we lean on to protect us from fully interacting with life.
Sometimes, that feeling of safety in social situations turns into a paranoia that someone isn’t fully accepting us for who we are, or that we aren’t good enough. Sometimes it can just become plain awkward and if the element of a substance wasn’t in the mix, everything would be a lot different.
Sometimes, we go to alcohol to feel better and end up being in a place where we feel more upset than we were before because while alcohol can sometimes take the edge off, it is easy to forget that it is also a depressant.
How to begin the process of letting go.
For starters, it’s important to realize that the only way to let go of something is to be fully ready to release it. Having that knowing inside of yourself that you are truly ready to make a transition in life can be the difference between really having the ability to move forward and getting pulled back in. We are all adults in this society and that comes with a freedom to choose our own paths. For some, cannabis isn’t a negative thing. I have met many people who turn to the use of cannabis to help them focus and control their mood swings, and I would certainly prefer them choosing this option over harmful pharmaceuticals. But, if you are looking for an alternative route, there are also other helpful options.
You can implement more exercise into your routine, and take up running or walking. These types of activities will increase the flow of oxygen to the brain and allow you to release excess energy which will provide you with the ability to focus on a task much more easily. There are also herbal supplements that won’t affect your brain chemistry. Banyan Botanicals provides a liquid extract called Focus, which contains herbs that support the nervous system and increase one’s ability to retain information and can increase one’s attention span. It does have an alcohol base, so if you are looking to let go of alcohol, while the levels are not enough to have an effect, this is still something that is good to be mindful of.
One can also turn to the help of meditation practices. See my meditation for giving away what doesn’t serve you in the darkness of the moon. This meditation combines the visualization of releasing negativity to the darkness of the moon with affirmations. You are also able to use a meditation like this and create affirmations of your own.
My experience was that I started to find frustration in my lack of productivity or just saw myself hanging out in situations that I didn’t resonate with and the only thing that connected me to the places where the use of drugs and alcohol. I saw it as a huge sign of being out of alignment with my truest and highest self. I realized it was really hard for me to create the life I wanted to live from this place. That was enough to make me want to let it go and turn to self-care practices that honored my true self instead of stifling it.
If quitting cold turkey isn’t your thing, try cutting back bit by bit. If you wanted to use the energy of the moon cycle to help, you could consider setting a specific intention in your efforts towards sobriety at the new moon and This is a great way to work with the moon to improve your life. The next step would be to replace the habit with another form of self-care that also makes you feel good. Try yoga, implementing new and healthy food into your diet, or planning different adventures you can go on either by yourself or with friends.
The journey towards sobriety can bring up a lot. Essentially we are putting ourselves in a place where we are going to have to create a whole new relationship with ourselves and many emotions we were numbing will start to surface. It’s important to allow yourself an abundance of compassionate space during this process. If you can’t do it alone, then make sure to reach out to someone who can help you through it, whether it be a friend, a mentor or a coach. Just know that you are worth the journey towards positive self-care that serves you!
Love and Moonlight!
If you enjoyed this article and would like to see and hear more from me in the form of Podcasts, helpful videos, higher quality content and helpful material, I invite you to support Life by the Moon Yoga through my Patreon!