Danny Thakur was 23 years old when he left his home country of India for the United States in search of a new life. He has since traveled to and lived in a number of different states, but no place felt right until he made it to Dallas, Texas, which ended up proving that everything does indeed happen for a reason.
He was living in California when his negative relationship with alcohol reared its head after nine years of drinking every day. He spent several months in rehab there and then attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
He’d recognized that he needed help, and he wasn’t alone. In 2018, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that 48% of alcohol users are binge drinkers (men who reported drinking five or more drinks in one sitting in the last 30 days and women who reported drinking four or more drinks in one sitting in the last 30 days) and that 11.8% of alcohol users are heavy drinks, which they define as five or more days of binge drinking in the last 30 days.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a program that most American rehabilitation centers today support. According to alcohol.org, the program was first created in 1935 by a man named Bill Wilson and his doctor, Dr. Bob Smith. It was 1935 when the two published “Alcoholics Anonymous,” a book which described what we now know to be the infamous 12-Step program.
In recent years, the program has received some serious skepticism, and it’s no wonder. In an interview with NPR in 2014, psychiatrist Dr. Lance Dodes estimated that the 12-Step program has a 5-10% success rate, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine estimates that 40% of 12-Step program participants drop out of the program within the first year.
Some have said that the system is antiquated, but the program is so popular that many alcoholics seeking help see no other way. After several months of trying AA, Danny refused to believe that AA was the only answer for him.
“After nine years of drinking I went for the first time to a rehab center, but it didn’t help me very much. I relapsed again,” Danny said.
For Danny, it was all a state of mind.
“For me, if I’m calling myself an alcoholic, I just start craving. I want to drink again.”
On a drunken whim after a night out gambling, Danny dangerously took to the road toward Texas. After a mishap in Arizona, the police thankfully detained him. He nevertheless was still determined to make it to Texas after a night of sobering up, and he did. He made it.
His faithful wife, Chetna Patel, eventually followed him to Texas, where they made Plano, a city just north of Dallas, their home. An open-minded woman interested in holistic medicine, Chetna became immersed in the Dallas area holistic culture.
It was at a holistic fair where she first became familiar with reiki, a new-age healing art which used the manipulation of universal energy naturally occurring around our bodies to heal physical and emotional traumas. She since took a class on reiki and thought it might be of some help to her still struggling husband.
In August of 2018, they then met Sharon Wittmann, a reiki and holographic sound practitioner. Sharon runs a sound healing business called Harmonic Healing Arts, where she uses tuning forks, crystal sound bowls, gongs, and the sound of her own voice to take her clients on a transcendent spiritual journey.
In a previous interview with Sharon, she stated that you don’t have to be a spiritual person to see the benefits of sound healing, though, and Danny wasn’t.
After their first couple of sessions, the couple was hooked. Even Danny. After a few sessions, he said he just quit drinking. Together, he and Chetna now attend group sound meditations with Sharon weekly.
“Now, I don’t have any cravings,” Danny said, “I don’t think about alcohol in my life. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s like sound is my alcohol now. I feel much happier. It helped me, not just with [not] drinking alcohol, but it helped me in changing my view. I feel [like a] different person now. My energy is different. I think my mind is more stable.”
While holistic alternatives to traditional medicine should not totally replace licensed physicians and psychologists, sound healing and sound meditation has real scientifically supported potential for mental health benefits.
Whether sound healing and meditation can be a long-term or lifelong solution for managing alcoholism remains to be seen, but nothing suggests that it won’t help. In fact, there is supporting evidence that might suggest that sound meditation should be offered in rehab centers. There are many possibilities.
For more about meditation and sound healing and to see a video interview with Sharon Wittmann, take a look at my last story, Meditation & Sound Healing Trends Growing in Popularity.