Buddhism and Addiction Recovery

Different methods for staying clean and sober are similar in their approach. Don’t drink or drug. Call someone before your desire to pick up a substance is thwarted by impulse. Some believe finding a power greater than themselves works to break their habit. Others trust the power within them will keep their recovery on the right path. No matter what a person believes, and has been told, developing spiritual insight is an additional resource that can strengthen recovery.

Various types of Buddhist teachings have been around for over 2500 years with meditation practices being a core practice. On their recovery path many people have looked into Buddhism as a source for spiritual growth. Similar to addiction recovery today, Buddhism was essentially developed to help people look at the cause of their suffering and use proven methods to relieve their cravings and pain.

Today, like the 12 Steps in Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous (AA NA) there is 12-Step Buddhism for those in recovery. The purpose of 12-Step Buddhism is not to replace the 12 Steps in AA or NA, but rather to complement them with Buddhist teachings. The teachings may give a person in recovery an insight of which they hadn’t before considered. Furthermore, Buddha’s teachings are intended to connect us with a power greater than ourselves that is not separate from us. Understanding the interconnectedness can be a deep and meaningful

Resource for our recovery

  • AAs Step 6 says, “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” Step 7 in AA says. “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.” In AA we’re essentially ready and now we’re going to humbly ask for our shortcomings to be removed.
  • The Step 6 of Buddhism says, “We became entirely ready to have our Greater Power transform our unwholesome characteristics into wholesome ones.”  Step 7 says, “We humbly turned our unwholesome and unskillful qualities over to our Greater Power to be transformed into positive ones.”

You can see how AA leaves the removal of character flaws up to a power greater than ourselves. In the 6th and 7th steps of the Buddhist program the emphasis is on action and transformation. This is not to imply that one is better or more useful than the other, rather it’s about the perspective and what works for you.

One person in recovery may need a power greater than themselves to remove their shortcoming, while another wants to transform them into something better.

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