Addiction: Reconnecting with Community (Part 2 of 2)

In contrast to American culture, Desmond Tutu describes South African culture in this way: “When we want to give praise to someone we say ‘Yu, u nobuntu’; hey, he or she has ubuntu. This means they are generous, hospitable, friendly, caring and compassionate. They share what they have. It also means my humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up in theirs. We belong in a bundle of life. We say, ‘A person is a person through other people.’ It is not, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ It says rather: ‘I am human because I belong.’ I participate, I share.”

Now this is a very different way of thinking from the mindset I wrote about in the previous post. While many western cultures seem to uphold this idea of independence and self-reliance, some other cultures seem to have a different idea of what kind of people they respect and who they see as strong and exemplary. Some cultures see strength in a person who involves others in their lives, plays a part in community, and exhibits generosity and hospitality.

What does the field of addiction have to say on this topic? Is connection with people really important? Does being an active part of a community need to be apart of recovery? Flores states the following on the importance of relationships in recovery: “Until substance abusers develop the capacity to establish mutually satisfying relationships, they remain vulnerable to relapse and addiction…substance abuse is both a solution and the consequence of a person’s impaired ability in developing healthy attachments. Consequently, if addicts or alcoholics are to achieve abstinence and sobriety, they must first detach from their primary destructive relationship to substances and then develop the capacity for healthy interpersonal attachments.” (excerpt from Addiction as an Attachment Disorder)

What are your thoughts on the importance of community as it relates to your personal recovery?


Mary Overstreet,  LAMFT, LAPC


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