The Hero’s Return: Celebrating a New Life in Recovery
For those suffering from addiction, AKA chronic substance use disorder (CSUD) there are usually three eventual outcomes – prison, institutions, or death. These people are victims. Some however find another path – that of recovery. These people are Heroes who deserve to be celebrated.
Embarking upon a life-long recovery phase after detox and rehabilitation, sufferers of the disease of CSUD re-enter society with the knowledge and tools to not only cope with abstinence but to lead productive and useful lives.
This reflects the classic incorporation phase described by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero’s Journey. Campbell looked to ethnographer Arnold Van Gennep’s 1909 work, The Rites of Passage, where Van Gennep described a universal series of phases for transitions in peoples lives, be it birth, puberty, welcoming new members of the community, marriage, or death, the ceremonies marking these events may vary among different cultures but the essential structure of how the individual is changed is the same. He described this as a three-part structure: the Separation phase; the Liminality, or transitional phase; and the Incorporation phase. Campbell expanded that to a 12-stage journey which he termed the “monomyth”, a common structure found in many myths across most cultures, but it can be broken down into three three parts as well: The Call to Action, the Transition and the Return.
As we shall see, CSUD recovery is a Rite of Passage in that it follows these phases.
The Right of Passage to sobriety leads to living free of the compulsion to drink or drug, seeing the promise of each day, engaging in a useful and productive life full of both joy and sorrow without the need to escape into oblivion. It has all of the classic elements of the Hero’s Journey – The Separation phase, or Call To Action, where the admission of addiction and unmanagability is the departure; The Initiation is the Transitional journey to learn the tools and practices for successful recovery; finally after many trials and dedicated effort there is the Return, or The Incorporation phase where we re-enter the life clean and sober.
This Rite of Passage marks the transformation of an individual into a new social status as well. The individual is changed by this transformation – the community is too. For someone in recovery that community may be their family, their old friends, their school, church, or organization they may have once been active in. After having withdrawn into CSUD they have returned, changed and renewed with the confidence to be once again a part of their community.
Friends and family all want to party and take us out for drinks the day we turn a legal age and congratulate us for becoming a grown-up. They see this as a Right of Passage. If we end up in recovery after experiencing the disease of CSUD and come out of treatment these same friends and family treat us as fragile, shy away from us. I believe that people in the community and friends and family should be overjoyed at someone’s journey towards recovery and congratulate them for being a Hero!
This is what being a Certified Life-Cycle Celebrant is all about. We are specialists in celebrating Rites of Passage where the client wants to have their change in status acknowledged and wants to have their transition celebrated. If you are in recovery and have a desire to mark this life milestone in ritual and ceremony a Celebrant is the perfect person to call. A Celebrant works with the client to create a personalized ceremony that is unique and meaningful both to the individual and to the community as well.