New Hampshire Recovery Hub Blog

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A Task of Stage One of the Stages of Recovery – Stabilization

By Arthur H. Woodard

How is it HELPful to support recoverees and their allies in learning about addiction as suggested in Kathleen O'Connell's Stages of Recovery?
What do you think addiction is?
How do you describe/define addiction to an adolescent?

This HUBLOG provides exposure to a resource developed by Angeles Arrien, PhD that has power-fully informed my way of thinking and teaching addiction and recovery.

Angeles Arrien (1940-2014) was a cultural anthropologist, educator, lecturer and consultant best known for her book The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer and Visionary. Ms. Arrien summarized the lesson of her Four-Fold Way of Living as "walking a spiritual path with practical feet". Her books and lectures have provided me with a wonderfully prACTical framework for prACTicing spiritual principles in my recovery process and in supporting recoverees and their families and allies.

The Way of the Healer/Caretaker as described in Arrien's work involves paying attention to what has heart and meaning, i.e., Love. The "Light Side" of the Way of the Healer/Caretaker is described as opening up to love, gratitude, acknowledgement and validation. The Ways to Wisdom of the Way of the Healer/Caretaker involve attitudes and ACTions that promote an individual's ability to maintain personal health and support the well-being of communities and environments. 

The Way of the Caretaker/Healer suggests that the Power of Love is the most potent healing force in the world. In my humble efforts to learn, live and lead recovery I have experienced the power in others' having loved me well and the power of love in individuals transformation in recovery as a result of turning their lives over to care and love.
I have discovered that this way of the caretaker HELPs to overcome addiction as defined by Craig Nakken, "a love trust relationship with an object or event that changes an individual's mood".

Through an ongoing attention to what has heart and meaning in human relationships versus the relationship in which I loved and trusted alcohol to lift my spirit and change my mood, one day at a time I am overcoming what Angeles Arrien described as the "Shadow Side" of the Way of the Healer/Caretaker, i.e., The Four Human Addictions.

Through my engaging in the prACTice of suggesting that recoverees and their families and allies learn about the four human addictions, individuals report gaining tremendous awareness and insight that HELPs inform their focus on the characteristics of their own addiction and goals and tasks for changing.

The Four Human Addictions as described by Angeles Arrien include,

Addition to Intensity

  • Often demonstrated by people who have a low tolerance for boredom.
  • If life becomes too dull or too routine, intensity addicts will dramatize, sensationalize and exaggerate their life experience in order to feel alive.
  • Many intensity addicts will use drugs, alcohol and sex to intensify their experiences and create the illusion of more vitality and aliveness.
  • Intensity is the Shadow Side of Love.

Addiction to Perfection

  • Little tolerance for mistakes and for exposure of vulnerability.
  • Equate vulnerability with weakness rather than strength.
  • Denial of humanness and invests all energy in maintaining a cultivated image or façade of how they want to be seen rather than exposing who they truly are.
  • Perfection is the Shadow Side of Excellence and the Right Use of Power.

    Addiction to the Need to Know

  • Driven and compulsive about the need to know or to understand.Dislikes surprises or unexpected events.
  • Masters of control with strong trust issues.
  • Inflexible, blameless, critical, arrogant.
  • The Need to Know is the Shadow Side of Wisdom.

Addiction to Being Fixated on what's not working rather than on what is working

  • A tendency to look at life from a fixed perspective.
  • A lack of recognition of personal "blind spots".
  • A tendency to magnify negative experiences and blow them out of proportion.
  • An inability to trust intuitive information.
  • Being Fixated on what's not working rather than on what is working is the Shadow Side of the Four Ways of Seeing: Intuition, Insight, Perception and Vision.


Carving a Path Forward in Codependent Recovery


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Monday, 26 September 2022