Connection: The Solution To AddictionNov 09, 2021
"What's this got to do with drug use?"
I get a lot of mileage out of the short video above in my work with substance use disorder clients.
I simply ask them to watch it, and then tell me why they think I'm showing it to them. As in, "What could this possibly have to do with substance use?"
And it never fails to bring up some really good discussion about what substance users are perhaps trying to achieve through intoxication.
The Journey: A Musical Story Of Transformation
The video above is the opening scene to The Journey, a rock musical I wrote that tells my own story of addiction and recovery. While I wrote all the songs from the program, and they were definitely about my life, the underlying theme I wanted to present through The Journey was that my story is everybody's story:
Anyone who has overcome an addiction knows the pain of hitting bottom and the glory of finding a new life in recovery.
But I also wanted to show that it's the overall spiritual journey of life—for everyone.
We start off on a Path.
Being human means we're not perfect, and we fall off the Path.
The spiritual journey of Life involves doing what we need to do to get back on the Path.
This was the kind of stuff I was starting to figure out back in the early days when I was just beginning my own recovery journey. I dove into studying all sorts of avenues for personal growth: I discovered the world of storytelling, where the Hero's Journey is revealed to be a psychological roadmap to personal wholeness. I was learning about the Medicine Wheel, a Native American model for showing that Life is a cyclical process of growth and change.
Death and rebirth.
Addiction and recovery.
My goal for The Journey was to be a musical portrayal of this process—that we all have basically the same story.
The show opens with "Beginnings", the sunrise silhouette scene shown in the video above. And immediately we see a nod to the Medicine Wheel, as the sun's journey across the sky is going to serve as a metaphor for our own life process.
"As I Stand in the East, and the first rays of sunlight dance upon the horizon, I feel welcome.
I feel connected.
I feel like I belong."
It could be said that this is the voice of our soul, preparing to embark on this thing called Life. It describes a magical experience of what in psychological terms has been referred to as "original wholeness."
But it goes on to say that we don't get to stay there in that magical place. We have a journey ahead of us that may involve dangerous or painful experiences. We will lose this feeling of "connection." Yet there is also the awareness that we will return to this place and once again experience wholeness, a sense of belonging, and connection.
Trauma, Addiction, and Connection
This little scene speaks to so many aspects of our efforts within the addiction and mental health services. I believe that addiction is about the desire for connection. The desire to achieve that original awesome feeling of bliss. Taking this a step further, we're making huge strides in recognizing the significance of addressing trauma. Trauma results in loss of self, and our jobs as therapists is helping our clients in their journey to reclaim their authentic self.
"I feel connected."
I wrote the words for that opening narration 25 years ago. But it's only been in recent years that I've come to appreciate how powerful this little scene actually is. It might be said that this loss of connection is the original trauma we all experience; thus we are all on the same journey to reclaim our original connection. For many, the first experience of connection in recovery is simply through our connection with other human beings. There's a reason we refer to this as a "we" deal. We recover together. For many, it is through this connection with others that a deeper, spiritual connection is realized that many will say is what they've been searching for all along.
The journey to wholeness is one that comes full-circle: The Hero returns to the Kingdom and is transformed. The Sun returns to the East and brings a new day. This is every person's story. We return the the place where our journey began, and reclaim our original connection.
"Navigating The Road To Successful Recovery For Your Loved One"
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