Refuge Recovery is a program for addiction recovery based on the Buddhist tradition. Refuge recovery adapts the principles of Buddhism, including the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, specifically to fight addiction. It works on the assumption that Buddhist ideas, which were developed to end human suffering in general, are also applicable to the specific suffering caused by addiction. Although Refuge Recovery is based on Buddhist ideas, there is no need to become a Buddhist, per se. Anyone from any faith or no faith is welcome to participate. It is more about applying specific ideas and tools to addiction recovery, rather than any kind of metaphysical belief system. Refuge Recovery also may be a good alternative to 12-step programs for people who are put off by the idea of a higher power. Although 12-step programs increasingly accommodate atheist and agnostic members, some people don’t find a higher power of any form to be of much help. The Four Truths of Refuge Recovery are that addiction creates suffering, the cause of addiction is repetitive craving, recovery is possible, and the path to recovery is available. The Eightfold path of Refuge Recovery includes understanding, intention, community, action, livelihood/service, effort, mindfulness/meditation, and concentration/meditation. Although Refuge Recovery is a program of abstinence, it actually emphasizes a holistic approach to positive living. This includes understanding the causes of addiction, living in a way that minimizes harm to self and others, being of service whenever possible, and gaining a clearer understanding of your own existence. With a basis in Buddhist practice, Refuge Recovery emphasizes the effectiveness of mediation in overcoming addiction. The program includes both mindfulness meditation and concentration meditation. Mindfulness meditation is perhaps the best known and most studied form of meditation and it appears to be helpful in fighting addiction on several fronts. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT, for example, has been shown in studies to be effective in treating people who have had three or more episodes of major depression, which is a significant risk factor for addiction and a common dual-diagnosis. Mindfulness has also been shown to be helpful for riding out cravings, which is a significant challenge for most people early in recovery. The concentration meditation practices used in Refuge Recovery focus mostly on compassion, loving-kindness, forgiveness, and other positive qualities. These are important for several reasons. They have been shown to improve social connection and positive affect in as little as eight weeks. Social connection is one of the main protective factors against relapse, and the positive feelings evoked in these meditations can reduce symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety. Finally, people recovering from addiction often find their ability to focus has been impaired significantly. Concentration meditations have been shown to increase your ability to focus, even thickening parts of your brain involved in attention. Although there aren’t nearly as many Refuge Recovery meetings as there are 12-step meetings, there are in-person meetings all over the US and in Berlin, The UK, and Thailand. You can also attend meetings online. Go to refugerecovery.org to find a meeting or learn more about the program.
If you’re struggling with substance use, Recovery Ways can help. We offer intensive outpatient treatment as well as residential treatment. We encourage our patients to remain active in their recovery long after they leave, by participating in recovery communities such as Refuge Recovery and others. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.