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Can I do a Sweat Lodge Without Going to Rehab?

answered 08:49 AM EST, Mon October 24, 2011
A friend of mine experienced a Native American sweat lodge ceremony when he went away to drug rehab. He said it was a life changing experience and that it helped him to let go of a lot of stuff from his past. I have a drinking problem and I am dealing with a lot of shit from growing up in a house with a sexually abusive and physically abusive dad and a mentally abusive mom. I do not want to go to rehab but I am interested in maybe participating in the sweat lodge ceremony. Is there a way I can do this? Do you think that doing the sweat lodge might help me to come to terms with my past so that I can get a better handle on the problems I am dealing with today?

William Anderson Says...

You have two primary problems you refer to:

  1. A drinking problem, and
  2. Dealing with shit from the past.

You say you want to get a better handle on the problems you have, but you don't want to go to rehab. Does this mean you want to keep drinking?

I understand that the prospect of having some life-changing experience at a sweat lodge is alluring, but lots of people have life-changing experiences in rehab, during hikes, at group sessions, in religious ceremonies, white water rafting, fixing dinner..... The chances of having a life-changing experience that helps you deal with your problems is greatly enhanced when you're sober and working with therapists.

You need to solve your drinking problem first. The unresolved drinking problem will prevent you from being able to solve any of your other problems. As long as you have a drinking problem, you will not be able to effectively deal with the shit from the past, and dealing with your past, while drinking, will not end your drinking problem.

Get sober first, like your friend did, then try for a life-changing experience that will help you deal with the trauma from the past and other problems. Also, make sure you are seeking a life-changing experience that does not change it to being dead. Some people that offer "sweat lodge therapy" are not qualified to offer health care, and have killed people with kookie dangerous "help". Make sure you are working with people who are state licensed and trained so they don't hurt you.

You know that drinking is interfering with your ability to problem-solve and manage your life. Otherwise, you would not be talking about having a drinking problem. And while the trauma from the past is intertwined, it is not the problems in the past that make you drink, which in turn causes more problems. Lots of people have had these same kinds of experiences in the past and don't have a drinking problem. Trying to fix everything else while clinging to the alcohol won't work. Get sober now.

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Page last updated Oct 26, 2011

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