The Nature of Addiction: Wendy Dossett

Interviewer Wulf Livingston asks Wendy whether she is very particular about the language around addiction, in the same way as she is nuanced with language used around the word ‘recovery’. Wendy responds by saying that she was utterly powerless over her addictive behaviour. She identifies with the concept and experience of powerlessness, and is quite comfortable relating it to addiction.

Addiction is that ‘desperate need for oblivion, desperate need to change how I feel… a total lack of control.’ She has so many memories of the desperate desire not to do what she was doing, but being unable to desist, until ‘I acknowledged my own powerlessness.’

Bio: Dr Wendy Dossett is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Chester and Principal Investigator of the Higher Power Project. Wendy’s research explores religious, spiritual and secular language in addiction recovery modalities, including Twelve Step and Buddhist approaches. She’s also an activist for Visible Recovery, and she contributes to the ‘Recovery-Friendly University’ movement in the UK. She’s a person grateful to be in recovery herself.

My colleague Ash Whitney has now set up a separate section on the website for Recovery Voices, the initiative run by Wulf Livingston and myself. You can see details of films of our interviews with Wendy (University of Chester), Huseyin Djemil (Towards Recovery), David McCartney (LEAP) and James Deakin (North Wales Recovery Communities) which are on our Recovery Voices YouTube channel.

‘Recovery Voices celebrates the lives and achievements of people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, provides a powerful voice of recovering people and their allies that acts as a strong source of advocacy, and encourages and supports the development of peer-led recovery communities.’