Addiction is a contested domain, an area where there little agreement. There are many definitions of addiction, but little real agreement among those who invest their time in theorizing and conceptualizing addiction.
Some players would even react to the above statement, because they are the king pins, gate keepers and professional elites who have come to rule the kingdom of addiction. Most noteable among them are the psychiatrists, clincial psychologists and psychotherapists. According to them, addiction can be clearly defined (if you accept their assumptions). But if you don’t, then you simply don’t understand the addiction domain.
A thesis on addiction from the perspective of herbal medicine is one that is not popular or well known. However it is a thesis that will contribute to improving our knowledge of herbal medicine and the role it can play in improving addiction treatment outcomes. This thesis was completed as part of my training in herbal medicine as the Irish School of Herbal Medicine which is rooted in the tradition of Dr. John Christopher (Christopher, 1976).
Recently I was telling a psychiatrist who I know, that I was doing my thesis on herbal medicine and addiction. He seemed confused, probably wondering to himself, ‘what has herbs got to do with the treatment of addiction?’. Then he started to ponder aloud about St. John’s Wort. I was struck by how little psychiatry or others for that matter understands herbal medicine.
There are many stereotypes of herbal medicine that seek to disempower and marginalize it from use. Medicine today is dominated by scientific medicine, white coats, hospitals, pharmaculticals and highs costs. National budgets accross the world are being crippled by the borrowing costs associated with medical treatment systems. The perception that this medical system is good value for money is challenged by the poor outcomes for treatments like cancer, depression and addiction. Ivan Illich in his book Medical Nemesis (1975) developed a concept referred to as Iatrogenesis, which describes how some medical treatments, contributed to the development of a more serious condition that spiraled beyond the control of medical treatments themselves.
Since writing this post I started a youtube channel, where I made a introductory video about the treatment of addiction from the perspective of a herbalist. If you would like to view it click here