The Hero's Journey and the Addict

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A Quest for Meaning

Upon initial observation, it seems a person in active addiction has nothing to offer the world. The Addict lies, cheats and steals to get what he or she wants. Virtue is out of sight. It’s easy both for the Addict and for the observer to mistake this surface representation for all there is. This misjudgment can be dangerous—seeing addiction only as a meaningless affliction that causes a person to wreak havoc on their self and the people around them can be a road block before the treasure in the distance. It’s necessary to put addiction in a different context so we can see the role it plays in our growth.

Yin Yang People

In “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” Joseph Campbell compares myths from around the world and relates them to the human condition. He analyzes their heroes—Moses, Buddha, Odysseus, Osiris, Prometheus, and many more. While they have different faces, the blueprint of their journeys is the same, and can be divided into three main events…

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The future hero receives a call to adventure (a call to change, to evolve). He often refuses this call (because of doubt, fear, or insecurity) but is then guided by a mentor (or spiritual guide) to cross the threshold into an unknown world.


The hero faces trials (temptations, delusions, addictions, mental anguishes etc. etc) that test his strength and faith to the journey. Sometimes he fails, but he keeps on. In a pivotal victory, he is transformed into a new being and is given a boon (a skill, an art, wisdom of his true essence/connection with his soul) as a result of his efforts.


Having been transformed, he returns to the place he came from and shares the boon with the community. Everyone benefits from the hero’s return.


The mythic journey of the Hero is symbolic of a spiritual process within us—the process of (re)claiming our destiny. Whether we realize it or not, we are all on our hero’s journey, and Destiny can either be a welcoming force or a kick in the head depending on our awareness of what the heart desires, and our willingness to walk that path. For the Addict, it’s of paramount importance to know he (or she) is on this journey—that the trials are Destiny’s way of realigning him with the path of his heart.

“The Addict with a Thousand Faces” documents my hero’s journey. I hope to show how the monster of addiction, when stared at fearlessly, can become an ally, and that the Addict, however straying from the path of the Hero he may at times be, possesses an immanence that will rise to be his saving grace should he open his heart to it.

Do you feel you are on the hero’s journey?

Jacob O’Cain Addiction Recovery Creativity

Jacob O’Cain is a recovering drug addict and teaches ESL to kids in China. He’s the author of The Addict with a Thousand Faces (not yet published) and is actively looking to connect with people in the recovery community. Send him a message on Instagram @jacob_ocain or contact him through