Human beings get comfort and security from following the lead of their respective tribe.

Following the rules and behavioral norms of the herd. Staying within the bounds of the system.

The herd and the system offer little rewards along the way.


The promise of retirement.

A predictable paycheck. Recognition in school.

A “scholarship” to pursue a degree you may or may not want.

On a more personal level a pat on the back by an elder statesmen from the herd. Approval from a tribal chief.

A feeling that you “are part of” something bigger than you.

All these things provide security. A sense of well being and contentment.


The problem is…the herd, the tribe, the system could be dead wrong.

The herd, the tribe, the system are most interested in self preservation. There is no natural process for re-evaluating norms.

There is no mechanism to ensure relevance.

Institutions and groups need to be very intentional about reinventing themselves.

On a macro-level this is true for political groups.

Religious organizations. Governmental systems. Education. Healthcare. The military.

On a micro-level this is true for the localized manifestation of the larger system.

Local politics. Local healthcare etc… also all the other smaller groups. Y

our clique. Your klan. Your business. On and on…


These groups provide maps for life that may or may not be useful.

Maps that primarily support the group itself. If you follow the wrong map you’re gonna get stuck.

But it’s hard not to follow the map.

Because you get rewarded on the pathway laid out by the map-makers.


Furthermore. If someone disagrees with the herd they will be regarded as dangerous.

A “different viewpoint” is not merely a different viewpoint. It’s an attack against the tribe.

It’s a threat. A threat that must be dealt with.


Recovery Groups risk falling into tribal behavior as well. Can’t be avoided.

Put a group of human beings together, have them rally around each other and a cause.

The warcry of “we are the best and only true way” is sure to follow.

It is absolutely impossible for it NOT to be this way.

Interestingly, addiction treatment providers will sometimes adopt similar tribalistic tendencies around “recovery pathways” despite the fact they are providing professional healthcare services.

This is exceedingly problematic.

If you have different opinions or offer new ideas you risk becoming public enemy number one.


A threat to the tribe’s way of life and (where treatment is concerned) their financial well being.

It’s very disturbing when one set of beliefs and experience guide 90% of treatment center services.

However, it is important to understand that tribes exist in all areas of recovery.

SMART recovery activists, for example, are among the most aggressive people on my newsfeed.

There are extremists in the MAT world. I suppose I risk tribalism myself, with “multiple pathways” being my war cry.


In all areas of life and recovery: seek advice from wise people.

Accept the wisdom of those who have a high believability factor. Remember you are allowed to think for yourself.

Stay curious. Constantly learn.

Read research from trusted sources. Continuously refine your skills.

Constantly seek to know more tomorrow than you do today.

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Source: Recovery Cartel