"I slowly came to appreciate that many people were addicted to the culture of addiction and the needs they got met there as they were to the drugs that were the centerpiece of that culture. It became clear that recovery was more than severing a person-drug relationship. It was often a process of disengaging a person from a culture that had met a broad spectrum of their needs and, in the process, transformed their character and identity." - William L. White, "Recovery Rising," p. 51
When I first got clean and sober in 1996, before 8 years of recovery groups being a revolving door back into the nearest barroom, I attended a Narcotics Anonymous meeting that left me shocked and amazed by a guy who claimed that he was addicted to selling drugs, but did not use drugs himself.
Drug Dealers Anonymous.
There is no such group, but this guy was not exactly a square peg in a round hole, was he?
In a manner of speaking, he belonged in N.A. as much or more than I did. After all, I was predominantly addicted to alcohol, a legal drug, and spent my drinking career on a bar stool (the illegal drugs were delivered to me so I wouldn't have to rub elbows with the drug trade: I was better than that, or so I once thought).
Shortly after my last relapse in 2004 I had become friends and eventual A.A. Sponsor to a guy I'll call Mike who was in recovery from his addiction to crack cocaine. It took quite some time in our early friendship for him to finally admit to me something that at that time seemed highly unusual. He had a rap sheet a mile long for various crimes of which I'll omit here. It's so simple to imagine that a drug addiction could lead to a life of crime as the tolerance for a drug increases, isn't it?
Join me in being so wrong.
Mike's addiction to crack cocaine was the direct result of his addiction to criminal activity. Mike had never used cocaine or even thought of trying it until the underground culture of crime he was involved in introduced him to cocaine.
Culture PRECEDED drug use.
Were he to remain clean and sober from his cocaine use, his attraction to crime culture would most definitely have to be addressed (or at least be replaced by the culture of recovery found within the walls of A.A., N.A., SMART Recovery or the like).
I tended bar my first year sober and eventually relapsed. I was sucked into the culture of addiction long before I swallowed that first deadly drink.
Yada. Yada. Yada.
Let me close with this:
"I came to understand that you could not disengage people from a drug culture unless you could offer entrance into an alternative culture capable of meeting the same needs met in the drug culture. That insight was crucial to my thinking about cultures of recovery and their role in the long-term recovery process." - William L. White, "Recovery Rising," p. 57