The Role of Worldview in Addiction Recovery: Perspectives from Mr. Hossein Dezhakam, Iran

Imagine a treatment setting that integrates time-limited reparative medication support, sustained psychological and peer-based personal and family social support, athletic competition, involvement in the arts, and community service activities. Imagine a community of recovering people whose collective goal is nothing short of the fundamental reconstruction of one’s body, mind, character, spirit, and relationships. For more than 15 years, I have been involved with such a setting: Congress 60, a recovery community with branches throughout the Islamic Republic of Iran. I have published papers on the history and methods of Congress 60 (See HERE and HERE) and posted prior interviews with its founder, Mr. Hossein Dezhakam, on recovery community leadership and Congress 60’s use of Guides and Co-Guides. I recently interviewed Mr. Dezhakam on the role of “worldview” in addiction recovery. 

Bill White: Congress 60 is unique in the many dimensions of recovery support it provides: medication support, peer support, family support, and involvement from everything from athletics to the arts. Why was providing such a broad menu of support so essential to your approach to addiction treatment?

Mr. Hossein Dezhakam: Before answering your question, I must first explore the meaning of psyche. I am an engineer and therefore I always accept new things only based on reason and measurement. My mind always requires a clear answer. 

I have asked my friends who hold a PhD in psychology to define psyche. They answer that such definitions are diverse. I asked them, “How are you going to cure psyche while you don’t know a definition for it?” That is why they are categorizing psyche problems as “disorders” and why we lack clear and unique treatments.

According to me, psyche is mood, in other words, the combination of behavior and thoughts. The key point is that these elements are not in balance in the addicted person. To cure addiction, this balance must be restored. To achieve that we must address the psyche’s two pillars. The first is the body. In Congress 60, we understand that the X system [one’s neurobiology] is out of balance due to prolonged drug use and is restored through our DST method (the use of opium tincture titrated over 11 months). The second pillar is what we refer to in Congress 60 as one’s worldview—our thoughts, attitudes, and perceptions.

Worldview plays a unique role in addiction treatment and recovery. Without body repair and a change in worldview, the cure of addiction is not possible. To cure addiction we must take care of the body, psyche, and worldview. The true teachings of worldview are what transforms our members from what they were into law abiding and contributing citizens. Our teachings related to worldview are outlined in our book Love 14 Valleys for Recovery , which is posted on your website.

Bill White: I am particularly interested in the importance of this dimension of worldview and its role in in Congress 60. How would you define worldview and its importance to addiction recovery?

Mr. Hossein Dezhakam: One of our elders Maulana Rumi has written:

“You are your thought brother the rest of you is bones and fiber.

If you think of roses then you are a rose garden.

If you think of thorns then you are fuel for the bath stove.

If you are rose water you are sprinkled on head and Bosom; and if you are stinking like urine then you are cast out.”

Worldview is all about our perception and how we see the outside world and the inside world. It is how we see ourselves, family, friends, colleagues, society, plants, animals, and the whole universe and our place in it. As the poem above indicates, if our thoughts on worldview are like a flower, then we will be in a garden, and if our thoughts are like a thorn, then we will be in a desert.

The worldview has a profound effect on recovery from addiction. Recovery without worldview is like a religion without holy book or a country without laws. I believe worldview must help an individual to get out of the darkness and provide one with self-confidence. It provides the courage to do the Impossible. It strengthens the bonds between the person and the family. It turns the weakest of us into the strongest by teaching us how to be human and how to speak with each other. It is the key to regaining balance.

Bill White: There seem to be many elements of worldview. What role does religion, spirituality, or philosophy of living play within worldview?

Mr. Hossein Dezhakam: These are key elements of worldview, but today religion is mistakenly combined with superstition and spirituality and philosophy distorted by sophistry [the use of false arguments to deceive]. And let us not forget that science is mixed with illusion these days with some findings representing true science and others the illusions of science. In order to separate religion from superstition and philosophy from sophistry, we need a “zolgharnenin” as a guide—a special person who simultaneously lives in our world but who can see a world that comes after our bodies cease living.

Bill White: What about the dimension of personal values or character within worldview?

Mr. Hossein Dezhakam: Members of Congress 60 are free to have different personal values. Let me explain. Within the history of Iran, we had public baths and people would pay a small amount of money in order to use these baths. The baths were a warm place with hot water where workers washed the clients. There was a rule that any client in order to enter these baths must remove all of his clothing. Each person was provided a small piece of cloth to tie it around the waist. My point is that inside the bath everybody looked the same whether they were king, minister, or civilian. Each person who enters Congress 60 is called by their first name; we do not use family names or any titles like doctor, engineer, general, and so forth. Only I am called engineer and that is not because of my education as an engineer but because I am the engineer of the Congress 60 system.

Changes in character and values are an essential part of addiction recovery within Congress 60. Without proper changing of worldview, we cannot change the psych or the mood of the person. If worldview changes properly, it is most certain that the personality will change and the person will have a different view toward values and vices.

Bill White: How does the quality of personal relationships fit into this worldview development?

Mr. Hossein Dezhakam: Relationships falls into three different categories:

  1. The quality of relationship with self,
  2. The quality of relationship with people around the individual, and
  3. The quality of relationship with community, society, and one’s whole existence.

We must first teach the individual how to forgive and love oneself. Each must learn how to accept the consequences of his previous actions and to realize that past attributes and actions do not have to dictate the future of one’s life in recovery.

We then teach our members to stop blaming family members or friends for their failures. We must learn how to keep everything at balance. Even loving and caring for others must be balanced. Loving is like raining. If it rains too much then we will have flooding and destruction, and if it doesn’t rain then we will face drought. We must learn to keep the balance in our relationships with those around us in order to be happy and that requires learning to count on ourselves.

And we each must ask what we have done for the community and the society that we are living in.

Bill White: How is changing relationship to one’s community achieved in Congress 60?

Mr. Hossein Dezhakam: Congress 60’s efforts in this area are outlined in our 14 Valleys for Recovery book. An individual must learn the worldview teachings in order to learn how to communicate with himself, family, and the community. The process takes place slowly from participating in worldview classes, in sports and the arts, and in community service projects. The result is that our members are very successful in their own jobs and personal lives. For example, a Congress 60 member who has a shop learns how to communicate with clients so he has many customers. If he is a mechanic, he strives to become the best mechanic.

I just remembered something from our dear mutual friend Dr. Kurtz, may he rest in peace. At the beginning of our communications, he asked me if I was familiar with the seven great sins written in the holy book. I responded that I was familiar with the seven great sins but that I believed there was only one great sin, which is ignorance. İf a person can achieve distance from ignorance, thousands of sins can be avoided. Just as illnesses are rooted in the X system [one’s neurobiology], the roots of human problems lie in ignorance toward the nature of our existence. A vibrant worldview is essential for recovering from addiction and embracing our humanity.

Bill White: Are there other dimensions of the role of worldview in addiction recovery?

Mr. Hossein Dezhakam: I would only add that the most important point in recovery and worldview is how this is developed within each person seeking recovery. Our teachings must be real and applicable. Our teachings must elicit power, self-confidence, encouragement, and resilience. For instance, if we convey to a son that he is ignorant and stupid and has made uncorrectable mistakes, then we will create a weak person assured to fail. If instead, we say to that child, “You have made a mistake for which you can and will make amends”, then we create a responsible citizen. There is a huge difference between these two attitudes. What I’m trying to say is that worldview is very important in addiction recovery as is what we are teaching and who is conducting the teaching. Through proper teachings and encouragement within Congress 60, we have made leaders, including national athletic champions, out of people once hopelessly addicted. 

Note: Books and papers of Mr. Hossein Dezhakam are available for viewing or downloading by clicking HERE.