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There is an interesting Ted Talk called Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong. The basic premise of the talk is centered on an experiment with rats that shows how humans (because we are actually very similar to rats, researchers assert) need connection and will thrive with interaction, even if tempted by substances as addictive as heroin. British journalist Johann Hari talks about why 12 step programs and other treatment and recovery programs work. They work because they help to alleviate the isolation and loneliness that are inherent in addiction issues. The opposite of addiction is connection. 

There is Life in Fellowship

While this talk created quite the stir in the recovery world (they could have just asked us, instead of messing with a bunch of rats), there is truth to highlight. From my own experience, I learned this to be true: in fellowship with each other, there is life. When we open ourselves to the power of community, we open ourselves up to receive a gift. When we tell each other our deep and murky secrets, when we let others into our dark muddy pools of ick, something miraculous happens: we slowly open a door to healing. And if we don’t—well, if we don’t, we can stay stuck. Or worse. 

There is a mysterious, miraculous power in community. 

We are the Luckiest

Laura McKowen in We are the Luckiest, a memoir about her own struggle with alcoholism, says:

One stranger who understands your experience exactly will do for you what hundreds of close friends and family who don’t understand cannot. It is the necessary palliative for the pain of stretching into change. It is the cool glass of water in hell.

The strength and beauty and “cool glasses of water” that fellowship brings, for me, has been one of the most incredible gifts of recovery. Maybe we are as simple as rats. In our desperation, we will choose community over addictive substances because somehow, somewhere inside of us we know community will keep us alive. The drugs and alcohol will not. Or maybe there is more at work? Perhaps, a higher power that guides and moves and leads us into the safe circles or online rooms or church basements. Where we need to be. Maybe part of being human is healing with a bunch of other broken, lovely folks. Maybe the opposite of addiction is community. 


Caroline Beidler, MSW is an author, recovery advocate and founder of the storytelling platform Bright Story Shine. Her new book Downstairs Church: Finding Hope in the Grit of Addiction and Trauma Recovery is available anywhere you buy books. With almost 20 years in leadership within social work and ministry, she is a team writer for the Grit and Grace Project and blogger at the global recovery platform In the Rooms. Caroline lives in Tennessee with her husband and twins where she enjoys hiking in the mountains and building up her community’s local recovery ministry. Connect with her @carolinebeidler_official and


  1. David Newlands Reply

    Beautiful article, I feel blessed to have rabbit holed into In the rooms at 06:15 local time, UK. The 07:00 opens in just 4 mins, wow! Love and hugs!.

  2. I am new to all of this. I am in Washington State and I am trying to find meetings to attend online. I am an addict and I would like some help getting set up in some meetings. If anyone can help me I would so much appreciate it.

    • Nicola O'Hanlon Reply

      Hi there. If you have made yourself an account on you can access the meetings easily. The time table of meetings is in the top right hand corner of the home page and when meetings are happening a link appears at the top of the page. Just click on it and it will take you straight in.

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