John’s story

Oct 30, 2018

I have a view and it’s my abiding wish to see people with addictions provide us with a portal into human nature, because I think that addictions are an aspect of normality that has gone awry. And at certain times in our history as a species it goes especially awry and causes great damage, and was never more dangerous in history than it is now. So, those people who self-identify as having serious addictions can provide us with a portal into this nature; a lens not into how bad and what suffering their use of drugs has caused them, but to how they recover.

I’m writing about my experience beyond recovery. I call it “UNCOVERY” and I call my book “Uncovering Addictions and Responding With Compassion” because I think what’s interesting is not the suffering of drug use but the potential for transformation beyond recovery. I think that people very frequently do completely recover, flourish, and actually look back on their experience of addiction and recovery with some kind of gratitude for how it has empowered them, and [therefore] the example that they can provide in terms of flourishing and freedom.

While I don’t regard addiction as a disease, I do describe my situation as cured. And that’s, to me, a fascinating opportunity to see the potential for all humans to change our relationship, not only to drugs, but to craving itself and to forms of behaviour that are best understood in the light of addictions.

In my family, in my home, where politics is a frequent subject, there’s great consternation and fear around the President of the United States and his behaviour. And so, it’s endlessly discussed: “What’s his strategy?” Because there’s a cunning intelligence that seems to be in effect here, and yet an egregious bad judgment. Addiction is where we see that confluence of cunning intelligence and egregiously bad judgment playing out every day.

So when I look back at my experience in crack houses dealing with people on a run – like I went on runs of two and three weeks’ duration – the kind of ways that a crack cocaine addict deals with the cohorts, the girls, the dealers is very similar to what I see in the White House where Donald Trump is dealing with his advisors and his minions and the politicians from other countries who visit him. He behaves like a crack addict on a run. And to understand it that way is a useful way, and to understand how that can be cured even for people who have it very bad is a source of hope, not of despair.

– John Becker is a writer and mediator from Toronto.

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