QUESTION: I am not a 12-stepper, I have tried, but I realize that the underlying issues causing me to desire some certain effect that a drug induces is the real issue. I’ve never been able to understand the root cause of this and grew up with what I feel to be a very uneventful life. I read your book, Shadows on the Path, and feel like some bodywork might be helpful in understanding.

I’m no longer a daily addict, but for some reason - beyond my control, I’ll go on a bender, and shoot cocaine, take multiple very strong pain killers, or other destructive activities. It may even be six months or more in between relapses… I have no desire to use every day, but it feels as if a few times a year, I just have this storehouse of energy that needs to be released and I choose to do it with drugs… then I’m good for months. What type of therapist should I look for in body? I’m just looking for something that will help.

ANSWER: Language is important here. In my experience as an addict as well as someone who treats addicts, drugs do not “release the storehouse of energy” as much as they numb a tremendous amount of anxiety and different repressed emotions. But, anxiety seems to be the one common denominator here, so examine that. It is easy not to be in touch with anxiety, as most of us numb ourselves moment to moment with constant activity. Some slowing down with breathwork or mindful meditation can be helpful here.

Having an “uneventful life” is usually more tricky to evaluate exactly for the reason that there was no visible trauma. For example, if one remembers being physically assaulted every day, there is solid evidence of harm done. Emotional neglect, even if it was perceived and not actual, can still lead to trauma. So keep that in mind and be open to the possibility.

You can seek out a Neo-Reichian modality, such as Core Energetics, which combines bodywork/body centered awareness with psychotherapy. If that is not available, you can find a psychotherapist that you feel is competent and concurrently do some deep tissue bodywork. Techniques such as Rolfing, that can help release trapped emotions and memories, are potent and a good adjunct with the therapy. I have found the combination of working with the psyche and soma to be the most efficient way to deal with the issue at hand.