Convention is an overlooked theme in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. We discuss treatment plans and programs as being conventional or unconventional, often questioning the validity as well as the inclusion of 12-step philosophy which is considered conventional. Unconventional programs are alternative, unique, and stand out. Conventional programs are accepted, acknowledged, and embraced. Convention can be defined as “a way in which something is usually done, especially within a particular area of activity”.
We create and stick to a lot of conventions in our addiction. Few of us were truly, “unconventional” in our addiction or alcoholism. Yet, many of us found that we felt ourselves to be unconventional in nature. Most men who find themselves chemically dependent on drugs and alcohol are unconventional in some way. It is a common characteristic such men share that they never truly felt that they fit in, thought the same way as others, felt the same way as others, and even in the middle of a room where everyone knows their name, they felt invisible and alone. When a man finally seeks recovery through treatment, he has the opportunity to embrace his lack of conventions, define new ones, and be authentically unconventional in the process.
Conventional thinking can keep us in a playback loop of life. To some extent, our lives as men in recovery has to be conventional. We have to do things the way they need to be done in order to stay sober and prevent relapse. The most important convention we conform to being: we don’t pick up drugs and alcohol as a solution to our problems or our feelings. Thinking and acting too conventionally can make life dull and too focused on problem-solving. The problem of recovery is “How do I stay sober?” Developing a more unconventional approach to recovery and the recovery lifestyle begs more philosophical inquiry: “Why do I stay sober?”
Philosophical thinking is necessary for recovery. Contemplation, introspection, and deep consideration has to be given to the why of recovery as much as it does the how. We problematize recovery in order to create solutions and “keep it simple”: we have a problem (I can’t stop abusing drugs and alcohol) and we create solutions for that problem (I can stop abusing drugs and alcohol if I do A, B, Cl). With this approach we are constantly living with a problem in need of solving. Transcending this conventional approach with a more unconventional approach changes recovery from being a thing that we do into a thing that we are.
Why do we stay sober? We have shown ourselves or have been shown by others that when we don’t create a new life philosophy and create substantial meaning in our life we have no reason to stay sober. The nature of drug and alcohol addiction is such that the simple logic of “I stay sober so I don’t abuse substances anymore” is not enough. Without reason, logic falls short. Finding reason through philosophical thought and deep, meaningful experiences is the true logic of recovery- however unconventional. After all, as Plato said in The Apology, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Tree House Recovery is a men’s treatment program in Portland, Oregon, offering men the journey of finding freedom from addiction. Creating a sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men revolutionize their life through total transformation of mind, body, and spirit. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474