Popularized by Joseph Campbell, the Hero’s Journey is a framework said to encapsulate the sequence of a self-discovery. Campbell believed that this cycle was inherent to the human experience and, thus, spanned across time and culture. His system involves aspects such as the “Call to Adventure”, “Arrival of the Helper”, and “Transformation”. At Alpha 180, the students are the hero of their own story of self-discovery. We utilize The Hero’s Journey framework as a model for the recovery process as our students navigate the challenges and temptations of early recovery.

Campbell espoused that the human experience involves both “Known” and “Unknown” entities. In the “Known” world for a person who is experiencing addiction, they may experience feelings of powerlessness, legal and academic trouble, or interpersonal conflict with loved ones. However, to resolve these issues, we must venture into the “Unknown” experience of our students to identify what is underlying and driving them. Often there is unresolved trauma, physical and sexual abuse, pressures from family and society, insecurities and unaddressed mental health issues.

During my addiction, I always had the desire to be a better person but was lost as to how to do so. Tackling the “Known” challenges in my own life felt more daunting than topping Mt. Everest. I finally got to the point where there was no choice but to answer the “Call to Adventure”. I made the difficult decision to reach out to a family friend. After listening to me in hysterics, they calmly asked if they could take me to a meeting. When I stepped foot in to the Twelve Steps rooms for the first time I had decided to “Cross the Threshold” and start the recovery process. At that meeting, I got my sponsor who would become my “Helper” and guide me through the recovery process.

Anyone who has been sober for a while is aware of the “Challenges and Temptations” of recovery. There are periods where I just wanted to give up and go back to my old way of being. It’s challenging to face your demons and show up for life after avoiding doing so for so long. Through this process, according to the Hero’s Journey framework, we experience a “Revelation” and new perspective on our lives.

By working the Twelve Steps, I got to clear up all the old wreckage of your past and embrace the new “Transformation” that had occurred from the steps. I have embraced this new way of life and have been able to “return” that gift to others. Over the years, I have taken the Hero’s Journey many times – facing challenges and experiencing deeper revelation – as the process of recovery reveals more and more. Sometimes, the first step can be the most difficult, but on the other side is a life better than your wildest dreams!

About the Author

Connor Bowie, LMSW, has worked in collegiate recovery and adolescent treatment for the past two years and has developed a passion for helping young people find recovery. He is passionate about helping young people realize that recovery isn’t a chore but a gift that they have been given. Connor believes in helping the clients find the upside of recovery through fostering a healthy community, holding them accountable, and showing them that recovery is truly a lot of fun.