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Awakening Humanity Within the Self by Chris DeTora

In awakening humanity, addiction may be one thing which springs to mind. The struggle, the stigma, the degradation, the desperation. There are few things in life which provide a better framework for awakening humanity or to awaken the humanity within the self.

Addiction is primarily a struggle of being. The addict does not know how to live in the world under the current circumstances. They have not learned how to live in an effective and satisfying way. Regardless of whether addiction is a sin, a disease, a moral shortcoming, a genetic predisposition or any label that may be put on it, from a very practical perspective the problem is only ever resolved through learning a new way to live. Once this is seen, the other aspects become irrelevant curiosities. Once this is seen the addict has a choice and a chance. One of the greatest obstacles in recovery is seeing this. While there are many obstacles in place for the addict seeking recovery, the greatest is their objectification.

There is a dehumanization which occurs in how our culture handles addiction. And this is internalized in the addicted person. The use of the object of the addiction (drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, debt, food, clutter, etc.) is a way of managing life. It is a tool for survival required by the circumstances. Or at least that is the belief of the addicted person. There is no life without the addiction. This view of life is supported through the shame and guilt they experience daily as a result of the addiction and the stigma under which they live. It is supported by their destructive and self-centered behavior. They know how they live. Addiction is not a delusional state. The addicted person generally is aware of their life, their actions and the damage they cause. Often to the exclusion of contributions they may make.

In coming to terms with addiction they are coming to terms with an existential crisis. Recovery becomes an exploration of one’s humanity. If they can begin to embrace their humanity and reassert their value as a person, recovery becomes a necessity rather than an option. There must be an acceptance of mistakes made, harms done and opportunities lost. In coming to terms with the damage done, both externally in life and relationships and internally with the view of the self, guilt, shame and remorse, there is an exploration of the questions of being. Who am I? Is that who I wish to be? What impact do I have in the world? Is that how I wish to live? These questions may never be asked or explored in any formal way, but by embracing their recovery they are answered in practice.

Awakening humanity within the self is a process of exploration. There is a constant unfolding of beliefs and assumptions about what existence signifies, about what we do and how we live. It is an exploration of the contributions made both for the creation and health of the self and society and their destruction. Through awakening ourselves we change the world and create a space for others to do the same.

Chris DeTora is a Certified Addiction Recovery Coach in New York state and a trainer on recovery coaching and addiction. He also is an instructor of Chinese martial arts and health exercises. He can be reached at 642-8796 or For more information, visit

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