Those individuals who are trapped in the misery of addiction often feel incapable of escaping their situation. Some do reach a stage where they feel ready to stop but too many people follow substance abuse to the bitter end – this means insanity or death. The most usual reason for people becoming ready to quit is that they have hit their rock bottom. Such people will claim that they just became sick and tired of being sick and tired, and this gave them the courage to change. There are other individuals who escape addiction due to a transformative event in their life. One such experience can be the near death experience.
Near death experiences (NDEs) refer to different experiences that the individual may have as they approach death. The most talked about of these experiences occurred to people who were clinically dead (cessation of blood circulation and breathing) but who are brought back from this by medical intervention. Many people believe that NDEs are evidence of life after death but the current scientific consensus is that they are just hallucinations triggered by the brain to allow humans to cope better with their death. The one thing that most people do agree on is that near death experiences do occur. One study suggests that as many as 15% of the population in the United States have experienced an NDE. This means that every day about 744 people will have this experience in the US alone.
There are differences in the way that people have these near death experiences, but the most common characteristics include:
* Many individuals report an out of body experience where they can see their body as if looking from above. They can also get the sense that they are floating away from their body – some people even claim to move outside the building where their physical body is located.
* There is often a feeling of great peace and love. The individual is not afraid of what is happening to them.
* The individual feels like they are moving through darkness towards a bright light.
* Experience of moving through a tunnel.
* The person feels like they have arrived in a new place where the landscape appears much different than the normal world.
* The individual feels loved unconditionally.
* Many individuals who have an OBE claim that they developed much greater mental clarity. It also feels like they can think faster and absorb more information than usual.
* There is usually some type of life review where the individual gets to relive all their experiences. This life review also allows the individual to understand how their actions impacted other people.
* Many individuals claim that they meet deceased loved ones.
* Encountering beings made of light.
* The individual may experience a flood of information about the nature of reality.
* The individual may be told that they need to return to their body. Most people will explain how they felt a great reluctance to return.
* Many aspects of the NDE seem to be influenced by the individual’s cultural expectations.
Not everyone who has a near death experience will describe it positively. Some individuals describe intense terror and encountering beings that were malevolent in nature. They may even believe that they have arrived in hell. This negative type of near death experience is relatively rare – about 2% of all recorded NDEs.
Near death experiences are taking as proof of the afterlife by many people. It is arguably reasonable to hold such a view as the phenomena of near death experience have not been fully explained. The best scientific explanations for why NDEs occur include:
* Many of the experiences associated with the near death experience are similar to what can be found in lucid dreams. Critics of this explanation would point out that those who have a lucid dream are aware that they dreaming while does that are having a near death experience do not think this.
* There is also the claim that NDEs are due to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in the brain. The problem with this argument is that not everyone who has an OBE will be hypoxic and not everyone who is hypoxic will experience an NDE.
* It is claimed that the brain releases hormones such as endorphins to help humans deal better with their approaching death. This claim makes sense, but it doesn’t seem to fully explain the experiences of people who have an NDE.
* Another claim is that the pineal gland releases a large dose of a hallucinogen known as DMT to people are they are dying. There is not enough yet enough evidence to support this claim.
* Psychologists claim that the NDE is simply an inbuilt coping mechanism that the human brain had developed to deal with impending death.
The biggest question surrounding near death experiences is when they occur. If they happen after the brain has stopped functioning then this would imply that consciousness survives death. Scientists believe that all the phenomena of an NDE occur while the brain is still functioning but this has not yet been proved.
Occasionally substance abusers will have a near death experience. This can occur as a result of alcohol poisoning or a drug overdose. There are also some individuals who experience an NDE during a suicide attempt. Only a small minority of addicts who have a brush with death will remember having NDEs, but they can be quite transformative experiences. Even those who have a negative NDE can find that it gives them a strong motivation to change the way they live.
Near death experiences can be highly transformative for those individuals who have them. Many of those who have such encounters will develop a whole new attitude towards life. These individuals will often claim to have completely lost their fear of death and feel more confident in life. Those who have been addicted to alcohol or drugs find it easy to break their addiction. Such individuals will usually develop increased compassion for other humans and dedicate themselves to a more spiritual way of life. There have even been cases of successful business people who gave this all up following an NDE.
There are a small minority of individuals who are able to break away from their addiction following a near death experience. Afterwards such people will have a new outlook on life and no longer feel the need to abuse alcohol or drugs. There are other addicts who have had different spiritual experiences that didn’t involve almost dying but that still manages to give them the motivation to walk away from their self-destructive lifestyle. The majority of people will never have such experiences, but they can still break away from the misery of substance abuse if they believe it will lead them to a better life. It is certainly not a good idea to wait for such experiences to happen before getting sober because the chances are that people will die while waiting.