HOW CAN BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY HELP ME RECOVER?

We often get asked “what is Buddhist recovery?” Refuge Recovery uses the philosophy of Buddhism as the core to understanding why people turn to drugs, alcohol and other addictive behaviors when faced with pain and suffering. Buddhism teaches that the impermanence of all things leads to patterns of craving and clinging. Refuge Recovery helps us follow the Buddha’s path for overcoming addiction of all kinds.

Many addicts use drugs and alcohol to become numb and avoid the trauma they have experienced. Refuge Recovery emphasizes working with the underlying causes of addiction. Buddhism is a way of looking at the world and gives us a set of tools – including mindfulness, meditation, and self-compassion – that helps curb our cravings and reactiveness.

IS REFUGE RECOVERY OPPOSED TO 12-STEP PROGRAMS?

The founders of Refuge began their sobriety 20+ years ago in Alcoholics Anonymous. They – and we – consider Refuge to be 12-Step-friendly and are grateful for the many useful principles which emerged from that program.

While this program is based in Buddhist philosophy, we do not expect participants to be Buddhists or to even have ever practiced meditation. Just as 12 Step programs utilize Christianity (but you do not need to be Christian), Refuge Recovery utilizes Buddhism and the Eightfold Path as the core of our program. We strive to support individual well-being and provide community (sangha) and access to practice.

WHAT IF I AM NOT A BUDDHIST OR HAVE NEVER MEDITATED?

Many of our new members have never meditated and have had very little exposure to Buddhist philosophy. The simplest way to understand this program is to think of Buddhist philosophy as extra tools for your sobriety. Many other addiction recovery programs have begun to use meditation, but this modality originally comes from Eastern spirituality that is thousands of years old.

The book Refuge Recovery points out that “Buddhism recognizes a non-theistic approach to spiritual practice. The Refuge Recovery program does not ask anyone to believe anything, only to trust the process and do the hard work of recovery.” Our sangha (community) does not ask its members to believe in anything but their own capacity to heal themselves.

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