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The tradition of asking "why?"

November 25, 2008
by Rob Swindell
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We are about to embark on another holiday season. Holiday seasons, with all their warmth and good cheer, are rich with history and tradition. In the definitional spirit of “tradition,” we have those things we do year after year- it might be how the tree is decorated, the food we eat, or where we spend each Christmas Eve.

Tradition and custom, for all their appeal, often lose sight of the “why?” Why does this tradition exist, why do we do the same things every year? It turns out that “why” can be a dangerous question- one that sometimes and surprisingly puts people on the defensive.

Though there are some exciting trends in alcohol and drug addiction treatment and in the research of addiction, there also seems to be the “old guard”- those that resist change or fight to preserve the traditional approach to recovery.

Whether it is how we look at addiction as a science or the business models we practice, the “why” question should never be left off the table, and certainly not off the table based on tradition.

Inevitably, traditions become outdated and new ones arise. While for some the death of a tradition is disheartening, or even troubling, it can also, at the same time, be rich in opportunity- the opportunity to do things right, and know exactly why we do them.



Some great points, Rob. What is a change you think is being particularly resisted? The adoption of medications to treat addiction comes to my mind.

Rob Swindell

Rob Swindell


Rob Swindell is the Associate Director of the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ADAS) Board...

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