Life Beyond Addiction & “In the Circle” — a Q&A with Tommy Rosen
This Q&A, facilitated by Jeremiah Gardner of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, was originally published for Hazelden Betty Ford’s monthly Recovery Advocacy Update. If you’d like to receive our advocacy emails, subscribe today.
Tommy Rosen is a recovery mentor available to everyone. Constantly in search of wisdom and enlightenment about how to live in optimal health — physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually — he shares his learnings, teachings, guidance — and the example of his own life — publicly. If you have a computer or mobile device, you can join him on his journey, and he can be part of yours. Tommy is a pioneer in recovery-oriented digital content and over the past decade has established a connection with thousands around the world through social media videos, online (and in-person) retreats and events, books, his subscription-based Recovery 2.0 community, and podcasts like In the Circle. We appreciated the opportunity to catch up with our friend — a renowned yoga teacher and meditation instructor, whose recovery journey began years ago at Hazelden (now Hazelden Betty Ford) in Plymouth, Minnesota, and whose influential work and leading thoughts on the Twelve Steps and many other topics now serve the recovery community around the globe.
Q — You’ve shared often that your recovery odyssey began at Hazelden’s youth treatment facility in Minnesota (then called Pioneer House). That’s always a proud moment for us, knowing about your full life and how much you are doing to help others. We also humbly recognize that treatment experiences — as pivotal and lifechanging as they are for many — are just the beginning. Your entire ecosystem of recovery support content is called Recovery 2.0 — a reference to that reality. As we approach our 75th anniversary at Hazelden Betty Ford in 2024, we would love to hear your reflections on those important early days of recovery.
Q — What was the moment of inspiration when you decided to start sharing your personal recovery experience more widely with others? Did you have a full vision for the movement you lead today, or did the work develop more organically? What has the evolution of Recovery 2.0 been like for you personally?
Q — Your new podcast, launched at the start of 2023, is called In the Circle. I’m a listener and will vouch for the healthy reflection and learning it brings to each day I’m able to take it in. Thank you. Could you please explain the significance of the podcast title; your approach to selecting topics and guests; and why it’s so valuable for people on a path of recovery to stay in touch with nourishing content?
Q — A few years back, you recorded a video entitled How to Stop Using Marijuana. It has been viewed almost 750,000 times. You also recently launched a new course entitled Living Life Beyond Cannabis. What about your approach to this topic seems to resonate with people?
Q — You are a person who leads a deeply spiritual existence, and I believe you see that as essential to a healthy and fulfilling human experience — a powerful recovery protector in that sense. At the same time, I don’t think you’re a deeply religious person. What is the difference? We know that references to God and a Higher Power in Twelve Step literature and culture are roadblocks for some seeking recovery, but also that the Steps are an intentionally non-sectarian and non-denominational collection of actions that relate, above all else, to universal principles such as love, humility, empathy, grace and service. What is your approach to inviting the many atheists and agnostics among us into the healing potential of a Twelve Step, or Twelve Step-informed, design on living?
Q — Finally, you often acknowledge that we are all vulnerable, on some level, to overdoing substances, food, sex, work, technology, shopping, etc. — anything that makes us feel better or more comfortable, or that helps us escape pain or discomfort. You describe this as a part of the human condition and invite all — regardless of their struggle — to explore the benefits of recovery wisdom and practices. That understanding of human nature also helps explain, I think, why those of us who tend to struggle most in one area may be more vulnerable to struggling in another. Could you please share some of your latest thinking on the universality of addiction and what that means for those seeking or in recovery?