1-805-202-3440

24/7 Confidential Hotline

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Are You Creating A Culture of Addiction or Recovery?


All groups and communities have a culture, whether it is innate or something intentionally created. People may be bonded together over shared interests, identity, location, or membership to a particular group.

All this said, there is no one group of people who remains immune to the pull of addiction. It may be easy to dismiss these ideas as ‘only affecting other people’, however, it can be a wake-up call to realize how pervasive these constructs are in our current society. 

Addiction truly does affect a diverse variety of people including all ages, genders, races, and socio-economic statuses. Within each of these sub-groups, active addiction may have a particular culture within that community or identity group. However, there is a pervasive culture of addiction that umbrellas many subcultures that is important to recognize.

The Culture of Addiction

Culture is a significant aspect of addiction that affects the expectations and experiences of individuals using substances. The culture of addiction is a way of life and a way of viewing the world. 

Part of this culture is adopting beliefs and behaviors that encourage excessive drug use. This includes language used, additional hobbies and activities, rituals that are a part of using, and typical relationship patterns with others. While some of these factors may vary slightly depending on the drug of choice, geographical location, or sub-group of identities, the overall culture is similar. 

While there is a very specific negative viewpoint directed towards those in active addiction, some elements of Western culture still glorify and promote substance use. This can contribute to unintended substance misuse, and for some means escalating their use unintentionally into a substance use disorder. 

Elements that can be found in the culture of addiction that can lead to problematic substance use can be identified by the three C’s:

Celebrate - How one celebrates is reflective of their culture. 

For much of American society, personal, work, or community celebrations often involve alcohol. This includes happy hours, sharing a bottle of champagne, or going out with the exclusive purpose of drinking to celebrate. This creates a culture of expecting substances for all celebrations, big and small.

Cope - How one copes with difficult situations. 

This is especially relevant by the phrase often used after a challenging experience of “I need a drink.” Alcohol or other substances are often what individuals turn to after a hard day, a loss, or a stressful situation. Rather than acknowledging or participating in other, more adaptive coping skills, numbing emotion by drinking or using substances has been made to feel normal.

Commiserate - How we commiserate with others when coping with difficult situations. 

When experiencing hardship, often the supportive people in our life seek to offer comfort by providing or gathering around alcohol or substances. After a break-up, “You need to go out”; or when you share that you’ve lost your job or been placed on furlough, “You need a drink.”


It is important to note These aspects of the culture of addiction often contribute to unintentionally developing substance use disorders. 

Other important factors that can lead to problematic substance use include the two S’s:

Sleep - How we sleep. 

If individuals use alcohol or drugs daily in order to fall asleep every night, this can lead to an unhealthy dependence on substances. Additionally, lack of sleep is also an increased risk for mental health and can increase substance use.

Stress - How we handle stress. 

When stressful situations become too difficult for one to cope, often alcohol or substances become an alternative way to deal with stress. When this becomes a regular pattern, it can become harder to deal with everyday stresses, and a dependence on substances to cope with stress can occur.

The Culture of Recovery

Just like addiction, recovery has its own culture. The culture of recovery requires a new worldview and also has group norms that encourage abstinence and recovery behavior. 

When we change our culture from addiction to one that is recovery-focused, our relationships, values, and behaviors change as well. In the same way, we once accepted, adapted, and acclimated to the culture of addiction, we must do so also in the culture of recovery. This includes adopting new behaviors, skills and supports specific to the three C’s and two S’s in order to maintain sobriety.

The Culture of Recovery at The Haven at Pismo

Our culture of recovery looks like:
  • Creating a safe place for an open and honest discussion about the existence of drug cultures, as well as teaching about the cultures of recovery through a holistic perspective.
  • A network of peers supporting one another where longer-term clients can offer support, encouragement, and guidance to newer clients.
  • Including your family (when appropriate) in the treatment process to support your recovery as well as receive information and resources to support their own healing.
  • Encouraging attendance and providing transportation to external recovery networks for you to continue your growth after treatment (12-step meetings, Smart recovery, refuge recovery, etc).

The culture of recovery is one of experience, strength, and hope that changes lives, families, and communities. Contact us to learn more about how you can get started with your recovery today!