3.9 Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Drug and alcohol studies have been one of my research sub-themes since 1966, when I was still an undergraduate in the Physics department at Carnegie Mellon University. Then I was the statistician and computer programmer for the Campus-Wide Drug Use Survey at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. In this role, I got an early and very complete look at developing drug use patterns in a university setting. In 1971 when I started doing formal academic research studies on
alpha feedback I always included drug use histories and daily surveys of the daily drug use of my alpha research subjects.

In 1972 I continued this drug use and drug history research in San Francisco at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) with alpha feedback volunteers drawn from San Francisco State College. At that time, the average daily marijuana use of low anxiety subjects was 0.1 marijuana cigarettes per day, whereas high anxiety subjects were averaging 1.1 marijuana cigarettes per day. Given that alpha levels are depressed in high anxiety subjects, and given that published studies of the brain wave effects of marijuana show that it increases alpha brain activity, especially in the occipital region, it may be that the high anxiety people were self-medicating with marijuana to lower their anxiety. A useful follow-up study would have been to determine if marijuana use declined in the high anxiety people who learned to increase their alpha activity. However, college students were very transient, and there was never an opportunity to do follow up studies to see if success at alpha training reduced subsequent drug usage, at least not until 1979 when I was awarded a large Federal Grant from NIMH entitled Anxiety and Aging: Intervention with EEG alpha feedback.

Alpha training:

In 1979 I had the opportunity to provide Alpha training to a woman who I later discovered to be a multiple-drug user and a drug dealer. I did not know that she
and her husband (also a dealer) were consuming almost an ounce of cocaine per day between the two of them. She was drinking a 5th of hard liquor to take the edge off the cocaine, and she smoked tobacco daily and took LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and marijuana regularly. She also took tranquilizers and stimulants to change her mental state whenever she wanted and whatever direction she wished. Her personal motto was, ‘Excess is not enough!’ I did not know she was using drugs during her training, except for tobacco, which she thoughtfully smoked only outdoors.

On the fifth day of her alpha training, she described ‘falling into a pool of alpha,’ which forever changed her life. Although she had no intention of reducing or stopping her drug use when she started alpha training, and even though she liked her drug use lifestyle and thought her life ‘was working well,’ her drug use began to fall away. Within six weeks of the end of her alpha training, she was not using any drugs. Even tobacco smoking had stopped. And now she found that she could no longer live with her husband, who had not done the Alpha training, and who continued to use and to deal with drugs.

I had the opportunity to follow up with this woman for the next 9 years, and she continued her drug abstinence to the extent of usually avoiding even caffeine beverages. During the time I was directing the NIMH Federal Grant (1979-1982), all of the subjects completed extensive drug use histories and daily drug-use logs over their 3 days of introductory baselines and 20 days of the research study on brain wave feedback training. Subjects also had 6-month and 12-month follow-up sessions, all of which included drug use reports, so this drug use data could be analyzed to relate changes in drug use patterns to learned changes in the brain waves. President Ronald Reagan’s first budget eliminated the funding for this federal grant, so this data was never thoroughly analyzed, but I did carefully collect and archive it.

When my laboratory moved off the UCSF campus in 1983 and relocated to the San Jose campus of the Agnews State Hospital, I began training people specifically to treat drug addiction, sometimes working with several members of the same family simultaneously. Word of this success spread locally so that a local judge gave some alcohol offenders the option of going to jail or doing my alpha training program.

One of the most interesting success stories in a court referral shows the extensive range of chemically dependent people treatable with EEG feedback. This
man was an alcohol and cocaine user. He was a farmhand adopted into a wealthy family and was unschooled and averse to learning. Referred by a court, he showed up for the first day’s training in the company of his stepbrother with both of them late, drunk, and hungry. Then they excused themselves to go out and eat (and drink more alcohol). They were due at 11:00 AM, and they showed up drunk at 5:00 PM. However, the next morning the fellow referred by the court had sobered up enough to begin the training, though his drug-abusing stepbrother did not join him.

He did not understand any of the transpersonal themes typically discussed in training, but he did know what he liked. He liked fixing farm equipment and
rebuilding diesel engines down in the shed, and he began to describe his moments of the highest alpha like the visualizations of a born mechanic. His alpha scores went higher each day, and he became calmer and more patient and soberer. Two years later, he called to express a surprisingly complex mixture of deep sadness and deep gratitude on the occasion of his stepbrother’s death in a drug-related auto accident. He wished that his stepbrother had done the training, and he was so grateful that he had done it. Two years later, he was still clean and sober. He was now a respected member of the community. He has become a member of the Rotary and managing his family’s large investment portfolio. Like many people, he had a powerful ‘Hurricane in his Brain’ that drove him to drink, use drugs, and beat his wife. When he came for alpha training, that wild hurricane was calmed, and he became a gentle, loving husband and a valued and respected member of the community. He and his family were now peaceful, loving, and happy.

In the next chapter, we will relate more research, stories, and experiences from ‘normal’ people about what to expect from alpha brain wave enhancement training.
These benefits I call ‘Surfing the Alpha Wave.’

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