Chasing the Scream Part One

So I’ve recently finished reading this book by Johann Hari as recommended by one of my sober blogging friends SC <waves to SC> 🙂

Social Recovery

I shared a piece of his writing recently from the Huffington Post and after reading that felt I needed to read the book – and so I did!  It is a brilliant book and although Chasing the Scream charts ‘The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs’ many of its theories apply to alcohol and he compares prohibition throughout his writing.  And booze is a drug – the one they chose to legalise rather than all the others ……

I’m going to cherry pick the bits that really resonated for me and share them here but not too widely or I’ll get myself into trouble with copyright.  If you want to read more Johann has a website you can visit at:

He asks some very powerful questions that I don’t have the answer to but have remained with me long after putting down the book.

Bruce says that at the moment when we think about recovery from addiction , we see it through only one lens – the individual.    We believe that the problem is in the addict and she has to sort it out for herself, or in a circle of her fellow addicts.  Stop thinking about individual recovery, he argues, and start thinking about ‘social recovery’.

How do we build a society where we look for happiness in one another rather than in consumption?  Cut off from one another, isolated, we are all becoming addicts – and our biggest addiction, as a culture, is buying and consuming stuff we don’t need and don’t even really want.

We all know deep down it doesn’t make us happy, to be endlessly working to buy shiny consumer objects we have seen in advertisements.  But we keep doing it, day after day.  It in fact occupies most of our time on earth.  We could slow down.  We could work less and buy less.  It would prevent the environment – our habitat – from being systematically destroyed.  But we don’t do it, because we are isolated in our individual cages (as opposed to Rat Park).  In that environment, the idea of consuming less, in fact, fills us with panic.  All this stuff, Bruce believes, is filling the hole where normal human connection should be.

Unless we learn the lessons of Rat Park, Bruce says we will face a worse problem than the drug war.  We will find ourselves on a planet trashed by the manic consumption that is, today, our deepest and most destructive addiction (Page 181-2)

Maybe it’s because I’ve been packing up my house to move that I have become acutely aware of this issue of consumption and ‘stuff’.  I appreciate that this isn’t usually the remit of this blog but I think it does impact on our journey to sobriety.  Firstly because we have become a community out here in the sober blogosphere so we can influence each other relating to our awareness and actions.  Secondly because we all advocate sober treats as a way of managing our reliance on booze as a reward.  But this involves consumption too.  So I’m pledging to make my sober treats from here about more experiences and less things I don’t need.  Sober meet ups with you.  Trips with my kids.  An evening out with MrHOF.  Less stuff, more connection 🙂

Tomorrow I feature a few more key parts of the text

9 thoughts on “Chasing the Scream Part One

  1. Love this! Experiences as rewards and treats, radical. I agree, the global answer needs to shift from an individual issue.

    1. Thanks Lori 🙂 Now that we remember all our experiences – why not? 😉

  2. I’m looking forward to reading this book, I enjoyed his discussion w/ Tommy Rosen 🙂 I have been struggling with the “too much stuff” issue lately: a lot of material clutter I need to sort thru and organize. The best sober treat for me is waking up every morning with a clear head! xx

    1. It’s so worth reading Lori! And as for the too much stuff issue – me too and the Kon Mari method seems to be very popular and certainly helped me let go of a great deal of clutter 🙂 xx

  3. Like you say about sober treats being experiences I’ve been thinking about this subject a bit myself these past few weeks as I couldn’t decide if creating experiences could be counted as a treat, but now that I’ve read what you’ve put it makes perfect sense that it should be included as treats

  4. as so often, Lou, you are blazing a trail ahead which I gratefully take advantage of… the clutter thing is something that I have frequently picked up and examined and put down again until ‘later, when I feel ready’… well in the last few weeks now the children are back at school I have found myself turfing out small but significant hell-holes and restoring order that hasn’t been the case for some time (if ever..) we are ready when we are ready, apparently!

    great book recommendation, thank you. I haven’t got myself a September monthiversary treat yet – maybe this book?! xx

    1. It’s a worthy September monthiversary treat although I borrowed mine from my local library as a way of trying to avoid buying and therefore adding to my consumption 😉 xx

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