Refuge Recovery, a Non-theistic Approach to Ending Addiction

For many who are trying to overcome their addictions, 12-step programs are a fitting path to community support that proves integral in finding lasting sobriety. However, because the 12-step approach has its foundation in believing in a higher power, it may not be for everyone. Today, there’s another option that gives you support without the religious pinnings.

Refuge Recovery

Refuge Recovery is a relatively new support organization that is based on Buddhist practice and more specifically, the teachings of a radical psychologist from India named Siddharta Gautama. Rather than focusing on the idea of addiction as a disease and the need to believe in a higher power, Refuge Recovery espouses a treatment path that emphasizes mindfulness as the route to overcoming addiction. A spiritual practice — albeit a non-theistic one — Refuge Recovery asks participants to trust the recovery process and do the necessary hard work associated with rediscovering sobriety.

Four Noble Truths

The “belief system” associated with Refuge Recovery refers to the Four Noble Truths, which include:

  1. Addiction creates suffering.
  2. The cause of addiction is repetitive craving.
  3. Recovery is possible.
  4. The path to recovery is available.

Those who pursue the Refuge Recovery path are asked to acknowledge that their actions have consequences and to take responsibility for their personal experience. This is accomplished by developing mindfulness to understand their relationship with both pleasant and negative experiences, and how those relationships impact cravings and then ultimately lead to attachment. The process is designed to identify a route to awakening and recovering from the addictions that have resulted in so much suffering in the addict’s life as well as that of their friends and family.

Similarities to Alcoholics Anonymous

Like 12-step programs, Refuge Recovery is open to anyone (and any type of addiction) and created to also offer the integral community-based support that is so critical to overcoming feelings of isolation and the numerous other challenges associated with addiction recovery. Like Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs, Refuge Recovery also embraces the idea that addiction is no one’s “fault” and that participants need to show themselves compassion and forgiveness as well.

The basis for the recovery program is outlined in greater detail in “Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction.” Written by Noah Levine, the book offers scientific, nontheistic, and psychological insight to show how mindfulness can help alleviate the cravings that lead to addiction and ease each individual’s suffering. Chapters describe daily meditation practices, exercises to help explore the causes and conditions of addiction, and personal recovery stories.

Leave a Comment