Author: James Anderson

The Buddhist View on Addiction Multiple Perspectives

buddhism and addiction

To help, 12 Step programs like AA and NA incorporate the concept of a Higher Power as a way to develop an understanding of each step. People who do not formally follow the 12 Steps and for those that do  may discover their own way of leaning on a defined Higher Power in their journey to recovery. 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.

buddhism and addiction

So of all the major religious views then, the Buddhist teaching and practice is the one most suited to observing and learning how the mind works. Of all the major traditions or religions it is perhaps the one which focuses the most on mindfulness and inner reflection and observation as a source of understanding, though most of them do to some extent. Semantic Scholar is a free, AI-powered research tool for scientific literature, based at the Allen Institute for AI.

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing the negative thoughts that can contribute to and exacerbate depression, anxiety, and SUDs. I believe this is relevant because Dr. Alan Beck, the respected psychiatrist who is known as the “Father of CBT”, has himself acknowledged a link between CBT and principles of Buddhism. It is no surprise, then, that the two are intrinsically linked for those experiencing addiction recovery. When we do this, we begin to see how our addiction is formed and acted out in terms of patterns in the mind. 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.

This article is only for Subscribers!

We can see what leads up to addictive behaviour in step by step detail if we practice mindfulness enough. 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. However, living out the steps while getting clean and working a program with a goal of  long-term recovery is no walk in the park, either.

There is no formula as everyone is different and addictions form differently and so both teachers are right about addiction; they just approach it from different angles. 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. If you have ever tried to practice meditation, you know that “thinking about nothing” and finding peace takes serious concentration—at least until you get proficient at the practice. Concentration is a powerful tool for deep reflection on your inner thoughts, as well as for overcoming cravings and triggers. The goal of embarking on this path in Buddhist philosophy is to reach Nirvana.

Buddhist Recovery Peer Support Programs in the West

People visit temples, hold certain firm beliefs, and carry out rituals, such as making offerings to shrines. You can come at it from the angle of observing outer phenomena (the five senses) or inner phenomena (patterns or the mind and emotions) and ideally when well enough developed mindfulness will allow you to see everything at once. Moreover, if we know what the triggers are, we can often avoid them in the first place once we have awareness of them. For addiction that can involve being in a certain place, around certain people, certain sounds, smells and so on. Ajahn Brahm tackles the issue of addiction with more of an emphasis on spontaneity and kindness towards oneself and others, and does so with a humour and lightness of touch that make his videos just as essential a viewing as Yuttadhammo’s videos.

  1. 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.
  2. Such increasing awareness allows us to let go on profound levels and wake up to our inherent wisdom and wholeness.
  3. CBT is one of the most renowned and widely-used forms of therapy, often utilized in the treatment of anxiety and depression, as well as various substance use disorders (SUDs).
  4. The Buddhist Recovery Network promotes the use of Buddhist teachings and practices to help people recover from the suffering caused by addictive behaviors and is open to people of all backgrounds, and respectful of all recovery paths.
  5. Much as with concentration, sobriety through mindfulness and surrender does not come without great effort on the part of the person battling a SUD—something myself and others who have struggled with addiction know all too well.
  6. Our Mission is to promote all Buddhist Recovery meetings no matter what their affiliation is.

In this article we will look at two different but equally interesting perspectives on addiction by Buddhist experts and compare and contrast the two. We will draw out the interesting contrasts of each view and try to find a unifying principle between the two views. In this step of the path, pursuing sobriety becomes the most critical goal in your walk of life. Much as with concentration, sobriety through mindfulness and surrender does not come without great effort on the part of the person battling a SUD—something myself and others who have struggled with addiction know all too well. CBT is one of the most renowned and widely-used forms of therapy, often utilized in the treatment of anxiety and depression, as well as various substance use disorders (SUDs).

This is the official website of the Buddhist Recovery Network.

Feature papers are submitted upon individual invitation or recommendation by the scientific editors and must receivepositive feedback from the reviewers. He recommends addicts try to give their habit up just for a short time to begin with, just to see what happens and how they cope with it. 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.

Tricycle is more than a magazine

Nevertheless, even Buddhist thinkers themselves will have different takes on certain subjects and addiction is no different. In this talk we will explore how recovery and mindfulness can make us more sensitive internally and externally. Such increasing awareness allows us to let go on profound levels and wake up to our inherent wisdom and wholeness. If you’re currently traveling the path, your own road of recovery, I hope you have enjoyed this post outlining Buddhist wisdom.

If you have ever been in rehab, you have likely experienced group and one-on-one therapeutic approaches to treatment. Both are valuable and continuing to see a therapist in the later stages of recovery (or for any reason you may need family counseling) can be extremely beneficial. Group and direct therapy settings in the addiction treatment environment frequently utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of themost exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

Click here for our Mindfulness Resources page which books, videos and links which can get you started on mindfulness and meditation. The practice of mindfulness will help you find your own unique response to addiction. It will improve self awareness and allow you to observe the mechanics of addiction as well as thought processes that drive it. You can approach addiction by observing the five senses or the inner workings of the mind, or both. Each teacher is just allowing you a different way into the Buddhist perspective and each person can just use the approach that works best and makes the most sense to them. Again mindfulness will in time address this and one of the widely report benefits of meditation is that people learn to treat themselves and others more kindly.

When it comes to livelihood, you can think about the principle literally. Though the process can be daunting, the effort is worth it if it keeps you sober. An obvious example would be dealing drugs, but a more common example would be working in an office over a bar or nightclub that you and your coworkers used to frequent. There are several “Buddhist countries,” which are defined as countries where more than 70% percent of the population practices Buddhism. To the practicing Buddhists in these locations and around the world, Buddhism is a religion.

Mindfulness can also help open up our mind and see more options to respond to things in different ways. This applies to both addictions and wider life in general, and is especially useful for people who are quite fixed and rigid in their mindset, getting stuck in repetitive routines and ruts. We will again summarize the main points he makes but in general Ajahn sees addiction as a kind of mental “dead end” or rut that people can get stuck into, addicted to negative thinking and fault finding and then certain behaviours or substances. He also sees addiction as a kind of self inflicted punishment for some sense of guilt or defectiveness from past deeds. To tackle strong addictions it will likely require many months and often over a year of regular meditation to truly overcome the addiction.

Addiction, compulsion, dependence, obsession, craving, infatuation—whatever you want to call it, you know it when you’re in it. Thoughts can be addicting, just like eating, drinking, shopping, or gambling, a fact the Buddha understood well. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), people haven’t changed much in 2,000 years. The teachings of the eightfold path are still useful, dependable lessons, available to help the ordinary person step out of the cycle of samsara and addiction. In this month’s online retreat, join Vimalasara (Valerie Mason-John), chair of the Triratna Vancouver Buddhist Centre, as she shows how the Buddhist teachings can relieve you of your own addictions. Whichever way you approach it, mindfulness meditation is an important tool for self awareness, and it is fair to say that addiction can’t come about unless there is some lack of self awareness.