Native Americans are known for their natural healing and their holistic remedies. One way some tribes have begun to heal their own who suffer from alcoholism is to use Peyote, which is deemed an illegal substance to the rest of the country.
History of Peyote
Peyote has been around as long as inhabitants of North America have. Researchers estimate use of Peyote to have occurred as early as 3780 B.C. Specimens of the plant have been found in burial caves and in archeological digs. The substance, a spineless cactus, is chewed or boiled as a tea, and it gives psychoactive effects to users. Peyote has been used for thousands of years to treat fever, toothaches, skin disease, diabetes, and even blindness. Peyote, called the “sacred medicine”, is common in Native American religious rituals, including the legendary Ghost Dance. Even when Peyote became a Schedule I drug in the U.S. because of its psychoactive effects, Native Americans became exempt from the law, based on their religious purposes for the drug.
Peyote for Healing Alcoholism
Peyote, in recent years, has been used as a treatment for alcoholism among Native American peoples. It is used extensively in the Native American Church (NAC) for alcoholism recovery and emotional healing. The NAC has more members from the Navajo Nation than any other tribe, and is centered in southwestern United States. It’s main goals are faith, hope, charity, and sobriety. When used in a spiritual healing rite for alcoholism, Peyote “offers the opportunity for self-understanding through ritualized introspection and self-examination.” (1)
Native American Church Family
While many people would consider the use of Peyote to cure alcoholism as a new and successful holistic remedy, many people credit the work of the church as having the healing powers. Members of the NAC are a close family, and they act as a support system to those striving for sobriety. In fact, the church as a whole abstains from alcohol use completely. This camaraderie and sense of being in it together can work wonders with someone trying to give up the addiction of alcoholism. NAC members share everything in their lives, including their worship and prayers, their pains, and their struggle for sobriety. This bond is very much like the bond between a sponsor and a recovering alcoholic, or among members of an AA support group.
Not only do Native Americans claim that Peyote offers pure healing power to cure alcoholism, but the Native American Church itself plays a large part in healing alcoholism. Just as anyone recovering from an addiction needs the help and support of others, Native American tribes have found this to be an important part of healing.