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The Culture of Addiction and the Culture of Recovery

"The Cultures of Addiction and Recovery" was presented by Robin Edison, M.Ed., LPC, NCC, CAAC, Coordinator of the Dawn Farm Huron Street program; and Quintin Williams, BS, CAC-M; Dawn Farm Huron Street therapist. This program discusses the cultural elements of addiction and recovery, explores the role of “cultures” in addiction and recovery, and describes how the symptoms and behaviors of culturally enmeshed alcoholics and addicts change as the individual moves from the culture of addiction to the culture of recovery. This program is part of the Dawn Farm Education Series, a FREE, annual workshop series developed to provide accurate, helpful, hopeful, practical, current information about chemical dependency, recovery, family and related issues. The Education Series is organized by Dawn Farm, a non-profit community of programs providing a continuum of chemical dependency services. For information, please see

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The Culture of Addiction and the Culture of Recovery

  1. 1. Culture of Addiction and the Culture of Recovery Quintin Williams, BS, CAC-M Robin Edison, MEd, LPC, NCC, CAAC Dawn Farm Education Series April 21, 2009
  2. 3. What is the Culture of Addiction? <ul><li>“ The culture of addiction is a way of life, a means of organizing one’s daily existence, and a way of viewing people and events in the outside world.” (White, William L. 1990, p.5) </li></ul><ul><li>An informal social network in which group norms promote excessive drug use </li></ul>
  3. 4. What is the Culture of Recovery? <ul><li>An informal social network in which group norms reinforce sobriety and long-term recovery from addiction. </li></ul>
  4. 5. Tribes <ul><li>Seek out and build relationships with other people whose drug use or recovery mirrors their own </li></ul><ul><li>Create small groups within which they can nurture the rituals of drug use or recovery </li></ul><ul><li>Tribes overlap, creating a broader social network of drug users who share common goals and attributes </li></ul>
  5. 6. Core Elements in the Culture of Addiction and Culture of Recovery:
  6. 7. Language <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* Stories about hustling </li></ul><ul><li>* Stories that elicit euphoric recall </li></ul><ul><li>* Stories about hassles of cops and normal people </li></ul><ul><li>*Grandiose self-presentations that serve to enhance self-esteem </li></ul><ul><li>*Stories that hold “squares” (non-users) up to ridicule </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* Discourage profanity and drug jargon </li></ul><ul><li>* Reshaping conversations </li></ul><ul><li>* Language of treatment and recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* 12-step “lingo” (e.g. slogans) </li></ul>
  7. 8. <ul><li>- easy does it </li></ul><ul><li>- first things first </li></ul><ul><li>- live and let live </li></ul><ul><li>- but for the grace of god </li></ul><ul><li>- think … think … think </li></ul><ul><li>- one day at time </li></ul><ul><li>- let go and let god </li></ul><ul><li>- keep it simple </li></ul><ul><li>- act as if … </li></ul><ul><li>- this too shall pass </li></ul><ul><li>- expect miracles </li></ul><ul><li>- keep coming back </li></ul><ul><li>- it works if you work it </li></ul><ul><li>- stick with the winners </li></ul><ul><li>- keep right size </li></ul><ul><li>- a journey, not a destination </li></ul><ul><li>- to thine own self be true </li></ul><ul><li>- turn it over </li></ul><ul><li>- only as sick as our secrets </li></ul><ul><li>- keep an open mind </li></ul><ul><li>- let it begin with me </li></ul><ul><li>- just for today </li></ul><ul><li>- don't quit 5 minutes before the miracle happens </li></ul><ul><li>- practice an attitude of gratitude </li></ul><ul><li>- you are not alone </li></ul><ul><li>- sick and tired of being sick and tired </li></ul><ul><li>- to keep it, give it away </li></ul><ul><li>- easy does it, but do it </li></ul><ul><li>- h.a.l.t.: don't get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired </li></ul>
  8. 9. Food <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* Junk food (fast foods) </li></ul><ul><li>* No fruits or vegetables; increase fats & carbs </li></ul><ul><li>* Missing meals </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* Food and moods: coffee consumption </li></ul><ul><li>* Sugar control </li></ul><ul><li>* Managing “drug hunger” through diet & exercise </li></ul>
  9. 10. Some important food groups in recovery -
  10. 11. Spirituality/Religion <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* Most are believers </li></ul><ul><li>* Little thought is given to spirituality or religion so there are not many atheists or agnostics (this requires conscious thinking and rejecting of God and religion) </li></ul><ul><li>* Large void </li></ul><ul><li>* Believe they are going to be nailed for all they have done </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* Higher Power or God as I understand him </li></ul><ul><li>* Discovering Spirituality </li></ul><ul><li>* Spiritual experiences </li></ul><ul><li>* Victory in surrender </li></ul>
  11. 12. I put my hand in yours - and together we can do what we could not do alone
  12. 13. Music <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* Songs about using, hustling or pimping </li></ul><ul><li>* Social distortion story – linking two seemingly unrelated events together (musical stimuli to the experiences of intoxication) </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* Establish links between certain types of music or songs and euphoric recall of drug intoxication </li></ul><ul><li>* Explore different types </li></ul>
  13. 15. Dress/ Appearance <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* Physical injuries and illnesses are ignored </li></ul><ul><li>* Personal care becomes the exception rather than the norm </li></ul><ul><li>* Either put a great deal of emphasis on nice clothing (overdress, change often, constant grooming) or let it go completely </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* The return of self care </li></ul><ul><li>* Experimenting with new images </li></ul>
  14. 17. Rituals <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* Using immediately upon waking up </li></ul><ul><li>* Get high before sex – or after sex </li></ul><ul><li>* Rituals before getting high (preparing, measuring) </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* Identify ritual patterns </li></ul><ul><li>* Replacing rituals </li></ul>
  15. 18. ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** - Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once … - Just for today I will be happy … - Just for today I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires … - Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind … - Just for today I will exercise my soul … - Just for today I will be agreeable … - Just for today I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it … - Just for today I will have a quiet half hour by myself … - Just for today I will be unafraid … God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
  16. 19. Literature <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* First-person accounts of addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* Technical books on drugs and their effects </li></ul><ul><li>* Recipe books (step-by-step procedures for creating, processing, purifying, packaging, and testing illicit drugs) </li></ul><ul><li>* Law books (provide detailed information on drug control laws, one’s rights if arrested) </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* Introduction to 12-step material (Big Book) </li></ul><ul><li>* Introduction to tx literature (Bill W. story) </li></ul>
  17. 21. Family <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* Initially a safety net </li></ul><ul><li>* Family distances themselves </li></ul><ul><li>* Street family adopted </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* Family: an expanded definition </li></ul><ul><li>* Future families in culture of recovery: Al-Anon; Disease of Co-dependency; Continuum of care </li></ul>
  18. 23. Work & Leisure <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* Occupations and jobs well suited for addicts </li></ul><ul><li>* Best stories to justify calling in or being late </li></ul><ul><li>* How to use at work without getting caught </li></ul><ul><li>* Avoiding detection through frequent job changes </li></ul><ul><li>* Beating drug tests </li></ul><ul><li>* Manipulating supervisors through tears, sob stories, rage, and blackmail </li></ul><ul><li>* Avoiding consequences through expertise in personnel policies and grievance procedures </li></ul><ul><li>* Creative use of accidents, medical leave, disability benefits, and worker’s comp </li></ul><ul><li>* Quitting in moral outrage before you are fired </li></ul><ul><li>* Lawsuits </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* Redefining the meaning of work </li></ul><ul><li>* Explore non-drug values </li></ul><ul><li>* Restructuring work- related rituals (lunch hours, timesheets, check cashing rituals) </li></ul><ul><li>* Warning about workaholism </li></ul><ul><li>* Finding drug-free pleasure </li></ul>
  19. 25. Values <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* The drug comes first </li></ul><ul><li>* Everyone’s on the make </li></ul><ul><li>* Don’t trust anyone </li></ul><ul><li>* Don’t feel (feel the drug, not emotions) </li></ul><ul><li>* Avoid responsibility by blaming </li></ul><ul><li>* Every interaction is a potential hustle </li></ul><ul><li>* Get excitement through risks </li></ul><ul><li>* Image is the message </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* Addiction is exploitation; Recovery is service to others </li></ul><ul><li>* Addiction demands retribution; Recovery demands restitution </li></ul><ul><li>* Addiction is deceit and manipulation; Recovery is honesty </li></ul>
  20. 26. Honesty ... Forgiveness ... Love ... Service ... Responsibility ... Amends ...
  21. 27. Sex <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* Lots of sexual trauma </li></ul><ul><li>* Sexual experimentation </li></ul><ul><li>* Sex is not about intimacy and love </li></ul><ul><li>* Use people sexually </li></ul><ul><li>* Lots of sexual shame and guilt </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* Addressing sexual trauma while in treatment </li></ul><ul><li>* Clarifying sexual orientation </li></ul><ul><li>* Exploring sexual roles </li></ul><ul><li>* Managing shame and guilt </li></ul>
  22. 29. Symbols <ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>* The drug itself </li></ul><ul><li>* Drug containers (stash box) </li></ul><ul><li>* Paraphernalia (pipes, roach clips, mirrors, injection equipment) </li></ul><ul><li>* Articles associated with hustling (beepers, burglary tools, large amounts of cash) </li></ul><ul><li>* Tattoos/Markings on body signaling cultural affiliation or cultural values </li></ul><ul><li>Recovery </li></ul><ul><li>* Shedding symbols (objects) </li></ul><ul><li>* Symbol replacements </li></ul>
  23. 31. References: <ul><ul><li>White, William L. (1990). Pathways: From the Culture of Addiction to the Culture of Recovery: A Travel Guide for </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Addiction Professionals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(2nd Edition). Center City: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hazelden. </li></ul></ul>
  24. 32. Questions? Comments??? Thanks for coming!!!