I know that discussion of the use of drugs for achieving OBEs and other altered states is prohibited on this forum, and I want to make it clear that I AM NOT here to talk about using drugs to AP. I am here to talk about the difficulties/successes I've had as a recovering heroin addict who is also trying to become proficient at AP and other OBEs.
Allow me to share a little back story (just a little). I had been a heroin addict (and all around drug abuser) for about 6-7 years, and since I'm only 23 (24 in a couple weeks), that was a big chunk of my life. A little less than 2 years ago I entered into a Suboxone Maintenance program. Suboxone is an alternative to the popular detox drug, Methadone. Suboxone is derived from a different opiod source than methadone (which came from morphine, which came from heroin, which came from opium - what's funny is that they were all made to help people break an addiction from the one before it; heroin to get people off opium, morphine to get them off heroin, etc.) and it also contains a drug called Naltrexone which blocks the opiate receptors in the brain, thereby preventing opiates from connecting to those receptors. (Naltrexone is given to opiate users who overdose as it induces a rapid detox).
While this maintenance medication is an opiate, it generally does not get you high and effectively removes withdrawal symptoms and cravings (until you stop it too, detox is never easy no matter how you do it). And, I am ever grateful for all the people that helped me get into this program. However! There are some side effects, which is what I want to talk about.
Like I said, I've been taking Suboxone for a little less than 2 years and one of the biggest side effects is sleepiness. Some people are familiar with this sleepiness as "nodding out" or "the nods". If you've ever been so tired to the point of dosing off no matter where you are or what you're doing, that's what its like. Doctors, nurses, counselors, etc. say that if you're sleepy then your dose is to high, but I'm on almost no dose right now (I'm currently in the process of tapering off of the medication) and I still get sleepy. As you could imagine, this has caused some serious problems when it comes to AP/OBE practice.
There are plenty of ways for people to try to stay awake when they have trouble falling asleep, but the problem is a little different than normal sleepiness. You are sleepy (which helps relax a little) but you're also mentally foggy. Your awareness is sleepy too, like when you're really tired and just crash when you hit the bed. It's sometimes really difficult to un-groggy your consciousness. For the longest time I was unable to focus, unable to maintain awareness, unable to keep control of my mind. This compounded into a slightly larger problem because all the effort I was putting into staying awake and aware was preventing me from being able to let go and allow myself to just drift (like in phasing). I've learned that one of the biggest set backs in AP work is "trying too hard", meaning focusing too much on the technique that you're using which keeps you closely connected to your body.
As well as sleepiness, a new problem has arisen now that I am beginning to taper off of the medication. Now some slight withdrawal symptoms are beginning to appear. Some of the symptoms of opiate withdrawal include things like high blood pressure, anxiety, "antsyness", restless leg syndrome, insomnia, hot flashes, chills, clammy skin, muscle aches and pains, etc. All of these make AP practice very difficult as laying still is nearly impossible.
So how would one remedy this situation?? Well, I've discovered a few things that help. When it comes to posture/position, believe it or not, laying down seems to be better than sitting up to combat the sleepiness. I know it seems counter intuitive but it's true. There is a lot of recommendation to sit in a position with slight discomfort which will help you stay awake. For a normal sleep problems, this is a great method, but for sleepiness induced by opiate replacement medication the problem is a little different. Somehow, laying down helps bring mental focus. Perhaps it is a conditioned response to "let go" because normally we would be going to sleep when we lay down. Whatever the reason, I used to only practice sitting up because I knew that I was always drowsy and I always had a lot of trouble focusing and creating a quiescent state of mind. Once I started practicing while laying down it all got a lot easier. Some other things that help the sleepiness are some common remedies, like having a cup of coffee, doing some yoga (this is one of the best ways I've discovered to stretch and relax those awkward muscle groups that are difficult to control and it brings great focus), and my favorite, taking a power nap (20min) and then practice immediately upon waking before moving.
That's all well and good, but what about the other end of the spectrum? How do you deal with over-activity in the body? Well, some of these reactions you just can't overcome until the process is over. So, if you're in the process of detoxing you may just to take a break from AP practice until its all done. But, for some of the more mild symptoms there are ways around it. Some of these practices may even be helpful for "normal" people who have difficulty relaxing. One of the best remedies I've found for relaxing better is taking an herbal supplement called Valerian Root. This is the root that the anti-anxiety prescription medication Valium was derived from (though Valium has other things in it that make it a very unhealthy, dangerous, and unnatural medication that is highly addictive). The natural root form is a very mild "sedative" that you can buy in health food stores, vitamin/supplement stores, sometimes even at your local drug store. People often use Valerian Root to help them with occasional insomnia. If you take the recommended dosage a little while before your practice it can help you relax very effectively and helps achieve the perfect state of mind for practice. Another nice herbal supplement that is often used for relaxation and insomnia is Kava Kava Tea. It's kind of like getting that sleepy time tea.
I hope this information can be somewhat helpful if there happens to be anyone else out there that is in a similar situation as me. But there is another, more important reason that I bring up addiction relative to AP and OBE work. Obviously the actual drug is something that needs to be dealt with. But that's only 95% of the problem. The real issue is, why were you using in the first place? This is something that needs to be dealt with in order to have a successful recovery. Aside from that, there is one other thing that I've discovered to be an important aspect of recovery. One of the things you're warned about when you go into some kind of treatment program is to be careful not to just replace your drug of choice with another drug or even with a program like AA/NA or church. Not to say that programs like AA/NA or a religious practice are bad things, but if you allow yourself to be consumed then you've just traded one addiction for another and the real issue is never dealt with. This is why I believe that in order to successfully "kick the habit" you would need to find some experience that is as powerful to your being as drugs are to your body and mind. But that alone isn't enough. Whatever it is that you find that is equally powerful also needs to provide you with an opportunity to meet your subconscious and work with it through the wounds that led you to where you are. And what is one of the things you can do through AP/OBEs? Work with your subconscious! So it seems that AP/OBE is an ideal method of addiction recovery.
All of this is based on the notion that addiction IS NOT a disease, but rather a learned behavior that exists because we are unable to deal with emotional wounds and therefore the behavior of our "inner child". But there is another point I would like to interject. Its not just drug users who are addicts. In fact, I think that nearly everyone on the planet is horribly addicted to many things that are just as detrimental to the spirit as heroin is to the body; most of these are addictions to emotional behaviors, one of the most prevalent being "victim consciousness". There are very few people on earth these days that developed emotional maturity in a healthy way. We are then left with emotional wounds that we don't know how to heal and so (at the demand of our society/culture) we bury them which manifests in our lives as addiction and disharmony. Our live become a reflection of the damaged shadow self, but we don't seem to recognize ourselves in the mirror. In this regard, everyone can benefit from the work accomplished during AP/OBE work. One of the primary achievements of AP/OBE work is a strong connection with the subconscious which can then allow each of us to discover our own hidden secrets that manifest as addictions.
My point is that through AP/OBE practice & work, we can all learn how to be shamans and healers that are capable of "curing" all of the diseases and disorders whose symptoms we treat but whose root is never dealt with. I have an extensive theory on addiction and recovery that I can share if anyone is interested. But the major point is that the problem is usually an emotional one (even people who started out taking Rx pills for legitimate problems and just "became addicted") and unfortunately our society doesn't think its important to teach us how to heal ourselves emotionally. Once we can learn to observe the reflection of our shadow we can see the wounds and begin healing them. Doing work with AP/OBEs provides not only a strong enough experience to supplant the experience of the addiction, but it also opens a doorway to the inner workings of you. It shows you how to be who you want to be.
Thanks for letting me share my experience.