Interplay 2014. pub

Page 31  From page 16  “Learning to Live in My Head”

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Interplay XIX-2014
Page 31 
From page 16 
“Learning to Live in My Head”
Recovery is not just about letting go of a substance, but letting go of the behaviours that underpin the addiction. The dra-
mas, games and unpredictability and the lies, collusion and enabling that undermine recovery remain the biggest challenge 
facing the individual trying to get well. Often the emotional loyalty to the substance maintains the inner struggle through 
cravings and a longing for dissociation from reality. If addiction is a lonely experience without real friends only using asso-
ciates, then recovery is a collective experience hopefully mirrored by the support of a recovery community.
In the case of trauma, which is often the result of a situation where the person’s defences, both physical and psychological 
were overwhelmed, resulting in a freezing or sense of being trapped or stuck that makes the traumatic incident (or the feel-
ing of it) the point of reference from then on. The painful and often horrific reality of the trauma settles into a fiction of 
worthlessness as the affected person learns to think from that place. Addiction flourishes in such a distortion.
Addiction also has the paradox of an exaggerated sense of entitlement alongside this perpetual sense of low self-esteem. 
It’s no surprise that clients are often heard saying ‘I can’t live in my head’. Perhaps the compassionate distance of Play-
back Theatre could have a role here, in bringing what’s going on in someone’s head out into the open and in doing so, 
lessen the loneliness through the mutual identification that is the cornerstone of recovery. 
This article is part of a longer work being prepared on this theme. A PT workshop template on addiction for your group is 
freely available from 
Brian Tasker is a Graduate of the School of Playback Theatre (2008), a counsellor with senior BACP accreditation and has worked in the area 
of substance misuse for 15 years. 

Montreal Conference Steering Committee
Peter Abrams—
a founding member of Vancouver Playback Theatre, 14 years strong! He brings story and metaphor into 
many work situations to strengthen relationships and expand creative problem-solving. He lives in Vancouver with his partner 
and 10 year old step-son, tolerating the long stretches of rain to enjoy the re-emergence of the sun. 
Jari Aho
—a Finnish Playbacker and has been involved for nearly twenty years with Playback Theatre as actor, conductor, 
trainer and national and international organizer. He is a graduate of the School of Playback Theatre and has served as IPTN 
Board member from 2007 to 2013. He has organized several national and international Playback Theatre and professional 
conferences and created the guidebook for Playback Theatre international conferences. He is the founder and first president of 
the Finnish Playback Theatre Network. 

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