Author: John Carter

The Buddhist View on Addiction Multiple Perspectives

buddhism and addiction

All emotions flow in a certain sequence and thus we can use awareness to see if addictive tendencies flow from certain events or triggers, or certain moods. We can see what leads up to addictive behaviour in step by step detail if we practice mindfulness enough. Recovery Dharma can help you prevent relapse with meditative practices and a supportive community.

  1. If you or a loved one has worsening mental health symptoms or struggles with drug and alcohol misuse, then our holistic treatment center in Boulder, Colorado, is here for you.
  2. It is the undisputed resource on Buddhist philosophy applied to daily life and problems we all face.
  3. A typical meeting begins with some related readings, followed by a guided meditation.
  4. The great thing about mindfulness is that it allows each individual person to draw out their own uniqueness and spontaneity and find their own original ways of responding to events and triggers.
  5. Instead of unthinkingly acting on an addictive trigger in the same way we have done before hundreds or thousands of times, we instead see the trigger and sequence of events before and after and have the choice to respond in a different way.
  6. They are not part of “us” and do not belong to us from the Buddhist perspective; they are just collections of sensations that arise and cease like any other sensations.

In general terms, he does not advocate avoiding or pushing away addictive behaviours or substances in an obvious sense like some perspectives do, particularly Western ones. Nevertheless, even within the Buddhist tradition, experts and experienced meditators will still have a different take on the issue. Let’s now contrast the views of two Buddhist experts on mindfulness and addiction, as each of them both have equally interesting takes on the subject. Consistent and determined practice of mindfulness will most definitely allow one to see the patterns and flows of their mind better, and therefore understand their addiction and where it comes from. In general terms, we would first like to lay out how the Buddhist tradition is so well suited to help people understand and deal with addiction.

What Type of Addiction Can Recovery Dharma Help With?

People may be able to abstain for a while but then they often relapse, binging out on what they had tried to avoid and probably sometimes deepening the addictive pathways in their brain. This is a refreshing take on addiction, as conventional wisdom often dictates avoidance and elimination of any cues and triggers as a first step to dealing with addiction. Get rid of all alcohol out the house, delete all pornography on your computer, throw all your cigarettes away and so on. This is also actually an interesting point of difference with the second viewpoint we will detail later.

buddhism and addiction

It needn’t be a permanent committment to never do it again as this will discourage people from even trying. Mindfulness is getting you to tune in to the five senses and notice the enviroment around you so things which were happening automatically outside your awareness before, you are now fully aware of and can control. Addiction could really be argued to be just another form of this; adopting the same rigid response every time to some kind of trigger or stimulus. If you or a loved one has worsening mental health symptoms or struggles with drug and alcohol misuse, then our holistic treatment center in Boulder, Colorado, is here for you.

The Buddhist View on Addiction (Multiple Perspectives)

Hosted every Wednesday evening, it is currently the only in-person Recovery Dharma meeting in the Boulder, Colorado area. Just like Recovery Dharma can act as an added component to other treatment programs, it can do the same for relapse prevention. It is not uncommon to use this program in conjunction with other treatment modalities. For these circumstances, you must be vigilant and mindful of your behavior. Setting intentions and boundaries with these behaviors is crucial to a healthy recovery.

buddhism and addiction

Of course it is very true that even if we don’t want to do something, addictions still build up changes in brain and body chemistry that will lead to cravings if we try to stop. This is where the second video we embedded above comes in, where Yuttadhammo talks about using meditation to also reduce our attachment to cravings as well as the addiction itself. This paying of attention to the five senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching – is the essence of what mindfulness is and can provide us with a path out of addiction. It allows us to see things for what they really are, absent of any connections or dependencies we have created in our minds.

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Not only can these recovery practices help you in your struggle with addiction, but they can also help you in daily life. Additionally, the support of a community with similar experiences is crucial for the recovery journey. The recovery program uses Buddhist practices of wisdom, compassion, community, and meditation to help you heal and recover.

You can share your experiences and through with the group, but you are not forced to do so. As previously mentioned, one of the biggest benefits of Recovery Dharma is that the practices with this treatment modality can help in many ways long after the addictive tendencies have ceased. Although the Recovery Dharma movement is based on community and a peer-led experience, your journey will be unique. You lead your recovery path, with the help and support from the rest of the community.

So in this sense mindfulness will not so much get rid of addiction directly, but more indirectly by helping us live with the addiction and the cravings and desire that come when we try to give up, and see that these desires mean nothing. The addictive nature of nicotine means it can be really hard for people to give up smoking. The problem here is that the person is trying to avoid and run away from their addiction without understanding it. Yuttadhammo argues it is much better to understand an addiction; once we do then letting go of it becomes natural and easy as we see there is nothing inherently good about it. His has produced a couple of videos on the topic of addiction, two of which we have embedded below. His take on the subject is particularly refreshing if you find yourself constantly fretting and getting upset about your addiction itself as well as other things that happen in life.

Like Yuttadhammo, he also emphasises how mindfulness meditation can provide the self awareness needed to tackle addiction. Yutthadhammo repeatedly emphasises this in his videos – the Buddhist path is a gradual path and requires constant practice to build up the mindfulness required to let go of addictions and other strong attachments. Some are suffering from substance abuse addictions such as alcohol, narcotics, or prescription drugs. Others are coping with process addictions such as sex, gambling, or shopping.

Nevertheless, even Buddhist thinkers themselves will have different takes on certain subjects and addiction is no different. The Sanctuary Foundation helps people of all faiths and religions regain the confidence to live a sober and fulfilling life. The weekly meetings help the group members come together to meditate, study the Dharma, and share their experiences. A typical meeting begins with some related readings, followed by a guided meditation. You might be familiar with AA for those suffering from alcohol addiction, or NA for those with drug addiction.

The meetings are also free of charge but members can donate funds after the meeting. If you are looking for addiction help, here is what you can expect from a Recovery Dharma meeting. When it comes to relapse prevention, each individual will have a unique post-treatment plan.

When we practice mindfulness, we see cravings and wanting, but just see them as they are and feel less need to respond to them and chase after them. It’s just a sensation in the body that comes and goes like anything else. Here it is a case of using mindful awareness to also see wanting and cravings for what they really are – as just sensations that come and go like anything else. They are not part of “us” and do not belong to us from the Buddhist perspective; they are just collections of sensations that arise and cease like any other sensations. Rather he implores us to do these things if we absolutely must, but just do them mindfully and observe them carefully, and by doing so we will see there is nothing really good about them. When we act out mindfully, we see the addiction for what it is and all the allure of it just dissolves.

This judgement and suppression adds another layer of suffering to what is already there and can make things worse. Our first perspective comes from Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu, a Buddhist monk who has done hundreds of videos on all topics as they relate to Mindfulness and Buddhism, including addiction. Let’s firstly examine the role of Buddhist philosophy in helping understand and deal with addiction, compare and contrast the two perspectives in much more detail below. There are many different perspectives on addiction from both the secular and religious worldviews, and each of them has a different take on the subject. The health, safety, and well-being of the group is the most important aspect of the Recovery Dharma.