What we have seen in our years of working in addiction treatment might be summarized in two statements.
The first being that substance abuse is powered by a complex psychology largely based on false mythologies. And the second, which sometimes causes controversy, that addiction treatment as it is currently designed is exhausted, and rarely works.
To substantiate the latter declaration all one has to do is talk to any addiction professional about recidivism rates. They will tell you it is not uncommon to see individuals go through treatment multiple times. We believe one reason for this is the Western penchant for negating the sacred feminine, depending too often solely on masculine mythologies for answers.
Looking at substance abuse as a cause for marital discord, we are interested in revisioning the alcoholic marriage in the vein of James Hillman and Carl Jung. In short, answering marital discord by addressing the complex psychologies that exists in every combative marriage by using new mythologies that honor the feminine, as well as the masculine.
Marriage, whether it is the union of the identified patient, a couple seeking treatment, or the marriage of one’s parents, is a big piece of the puzzle in addiction treatment. The story of one marriage or another often comes up during a client’s initial interview and always in group and individual counseling sessions. It is a complex topic – real and sometimes imagined.
Lastly, in therapy, we are often attempting to heal a psychic split, be it masculine and feminine, good and bad, yin and yang – we are attempting to make sense of things, and end suffering, returning to the Jungian idea that the brighter the light, the darker the shadow, and the shadow must be honored in order to achieve mental health.
Viewing marriage against the backdrop of mythology, stories and folktales can be a creative way to assist clients in seeing their past, current, and future choices in a new light, one that illuminates avenues that might otherwise be missed. In this way we support clients in seeing negative patterns or false mythologies that create psychic unrest, which in turn acts as a trigger for substance abuse.
Our goal is to revision the alcoholic marriage through old stories and by doing so, create a new more realistic marriage – a marriage that supports and is supported by recovery.