Why I Do What I Do

A year ago, I knew nothing about recovery. Phrases like “twelve steps” and “Alcoholics Anonymous” may as well have been as foreign to me as “World Champion Chicago Cubs.” But then I started working with teens in recovery, both in the woods and in a beautiful building, and I’ve learned I’m not that different from them. “You’re a flawed individual,” an instructor told one of our students this morning. He didn’t mean it in a derogative way. He also called […]

The Opposite of Addiction

Back when I worked in wilderness therapy last year, I learned an important lesson: the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. I had to think about it for a while. Absorb it. Reflect on it. Think back on the times I’ve experienced addition — pornography, promiscuity, a poor self-image — and realize that the saying is true. In my most desperate times of overwhelming addiction, the only effective counteracting agent wasn’t mere withdrawal or […]

I Want to be a Drug Addict, Too

I’m with the teen addicts for the third straight week, and they do not frighten me anymore. Their gruff voices and patchy ‘staches no longer leave my masculinity-challenged soul reeling. These 17- and 18-year-old guys aren’t big and scary; they are still kids, small and wounded. Their hearts, gentle and genuine. I am enjoying this group more with every passing day in these increasingly orangeifying Blue Ridge woods. That we get to watch an entire episode of Star Wars on Therapist Donna’s DVD player each week around a […]

I’m a Drug Addict

“Hi, I’m Matt and I’m a drug addict.” “Hi Matt,” the others respond. I sit with them as the 12-step meeting unfolds around a campfire, and I can’t pretend this is just another day with another group of kids in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The air feels prickly, the people and struggles and emotions so very more real than anything else I’ve experienced in these woods. I’m surrounded by 17- and 18-year-old guys — kids? — their mustaches and beards shadowed and patchy with […]