Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

Philosophy and Addiction


Peg O’Connor at the NYT writes:

I introduce the notion of addiction as a subject of philosophical inquiry here for a reason. I am a philosopher, yes, but I am also an alcoholic who has been sober for more than 24 years ā€• only the last four of them as part of a recovery program. I am often asked how I got and stayed sober for those first 19 years; it was because of philosophy, which engendered in me a commitment to living an examined life, and gave me the tools and concepts to do so. My training in moral philosophy made it natural for me to wrestle with issues of character, responsibility, freedom, care and compassion in both work and life.

Author: Bill

Stumbling down the Middle Path, one day at a time.

6 thoughts on “Philosophy and Addiction

  1. I appreciate the sense of making addiction & recovery a “subject of philosophical inquiry” – isn’t everything?:)

    Also – how/where do you get those spinning prayer wheels?? Too FAB……

    Here’s the link:

  2. Love the comment on philosophy & recovery….I am a Christian,and I llike to think all kinds of Ethical…..but my past has taught me VERY little on “coping skills” in this area.When things get too wonky or crude,a drink or 2 is “just the thing”….Help????

    • Hi Christy,

      The best system of ethics I know of for non-Buddhists is the one that we learn in the 12-step programs. If you are not attending AA, do not have a sponsor, and are not actively working on your recovery by progressing through the steps, then you can’t expect coping skills to develop.

      Recovery is one of those things that is easy to talk about, but not so easy to achieve. It requires work. Those who pursue it with the same level of effort that they put into drinking and drugging usually get better. Those who give it lip service soon find their lips back on the edge of a glass or can.

      Best of luck. If you’d like to stay in touch, please feel free.


      • Tried 12-step,often,til I got sick of hearing it…Then went to S.M.A.R.T.Recovery,where I was having significant success…until “Admin-1” took a dislike to me,and I got banned, for what was SUPPOSED to have been a SILLY comment…not a snarky one,like the one at the top of THIS little epistle….Funny,they’re how I found YOU….Keep tryin’…..and if you have any “pull” at Smart,please do???? I am “Cristyk” there. Thanks!

        • Hi Christy,

          It may have occurred to you, if you have read much around here, that I don’t bullshit. Being coy and playing games with recovery gets people killed. That’s not what I’m about.

          I’m not exactly sure what you expect. I am a strong supporter of the 12-step programs because they seem to do the most good for the most people. That is not to say that S.M.A.R.T. isn’t effective too, but I recommend what I know works from personal experience and that of many thousands of others.

          In my 22 years of personal recovery and my years working in the field, it has come to seem to me that people who are serious about getting clean and sober can do so in just about any support group. Those who are not serious tend to find fault wherever they go — and, oddly, it seems never to be their fault, but that of the group. Go figure.

          I hope you will decide to give the 12-step model another chance.

          Please keep coming back.


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