“addiction and recovery are a reflection of the ecologies in which they are nested”

Yesterday’s post about efforts to support recovery in San Francisco brought some of Bill White’s blog posts and this video from the HBO Addiction series to mind. (The video is showing its age with respect to some of the language and content, but it conveys some very salient lessons that haven’t changed.)

From Bill White:

Physical places and sociocultural contexts exert profound effects on human behavior–a reality too often ignored within biological models of addiction. The repertoire of behaviors that constitutes the states of addiction and addiction recovery are far more than an expression of intrapersonal vulnerabilities and strengths–more than a mirrored expression of genes, character, and personality. Personal behavior can reflect the influence of or domination by the ecosystems in which one is nested/trapped. This suggests the need to extend our focus beyond the intrapersonal to the ecology of recovery–creating social contexts that elicit recovery and suppressing contextual factors that increase risk of addiction.

So, do we continue to send fragile recoveries into environments in which only the strongest recoveries survive? Or do we build recovery-friendly communities in which even the most fragile recoveries have a chance of survival? Those are the questions we face as a country and as people working in the addiction/recovery arenas. We must always attend to recovery at a personal level, but we must also think about recovery in its local, regional, national, and global contexts. Both addiction and recovery are a reflection of the ecologies in which they are nested.

Recovery-friendly Spaces in Local Communities by Bill White