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Our Relationship with a Higher Power in Addiction Recovery

In the journey of addiction recovery and the quest for spiritual growth, one truth remains steadfast: the relationship with a higher power is both personal and unique. Just as no two people are identical, no two paths to recovery and spiritual awakening are the same. It is a fundamental aspect of these processes that we must understand, accept, and respect.

The Personal Connection with a Higher Power:

For those navigating the turbulent waters of addiction recovery, the concept of a higher power can be pivotal. It serves as a source of strength, guidance, and inspiration. But what this higher power represents is deeply personal and can vary immensely. For some, it’s a traditional deity, while for others, it’s a broader, more abstract sense of spirituality, the universe, or simply a force of goodness or healing greater than themselves. The important thing is that it resonates with THEM, offering hope and support. 

The Uniqueness of Each Recovery Journey:

Similarly, the path to recovery from addiction is highly personal and unique. No two stories of addiction are identical, and thus, the process of healing and growth cannot be a one-size-fits-all endeavor. People grapple with diverse triggers, traumas, and experiences that have led them to addiction, and their recovery strategies must reflect their specific needs and circumstances.

The zealot says, “I will stand by you only if you follow my path for it is the only right path and the only one that works.”
The wise person says, “I will stand by you as you find and walk your path. There are many ways, lets find the one that is right for you.”

The methods that work for one person might not necessarily work for another. While 12-step (AA, NA, etc) programs have been instrumental for countless individuals, they have also not worked for many others (yes, there are cliche’s to answer that, but the reality is that not every path is best for every person and telling someone who is struggling that they didn’t work hard enough is hardly constructive). There are also Refuge Recovery, Life Ring, SMART Recovery and Celebrate Recovery programs across the country. And, there are also other supportive additions to recovery paths, including counseling, therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and mindfulness practices. What’s crucial is that each person finds what resonates with them and empowers their journey toward sobriety.

The AA tradition strongly emphasizes the importance of not judging others’ recovery. It is a great reminder that the focus in recovery should be on how we ourselves are embracing core principles, such as honesty, humility, and personal growth, rather than focusing on, judging or even gossiping about someone else, their life or their progress in recovery.

If a person has found a path to recovery, isn’t that what is most important? Shouldn’t we embrace them and celebrate them? Isn’t having one more person not die from this disease more important than feeling the personal conviction of claiming that “my way is the only real way” ? 

Like most faith traditions, the core texts are generally uplifitng and illuminating – it’s the imperfections of the human interpretations that sometimes corrupt and misrepresent the message. Seek the company of the recovery wise, not the zealots.

Families Struggle Under the Weight of Opioid Addiction

The Importance of Non-Judgment:

In both addiction recovery and the quest for a deeper spiritual connection, the principle of non-judgment is paramount. We must recognize that every person’s understanding of a higher power, their recovery process, and their unique challenges is theirs alone. It is not our place to impose our beliefs or experiences on others.

It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing our own journey to that of others or imposing our beliefs on them. But this not only undermines the individual’s autonomy in their recovery and spirituality, it also contradicts the core teachings of humility, compassion, and understanding found in many spiritual and recovery traditions.

“I have a highly educated and accomplished peer in the profession who to this day  holds that if a person did not get sober/clean by way of AA then they are not in recovery. What a sad, limited and discriminating view. “Recovery” doesn’t belong to one school of thought anymore than healing of any kind belongs to one treatment approach. Would we say you are not healing from cancer unless is was by radiation instead of chemo or surgery? Of course not! We would celebrate whatever way you arrived at healing and being in remission. This attitude goes against the core intentions of AA and evey other primary recovery movement. It damages people, damages trust in the feild and damages the reputation of 12 Step locally. Lives are precious and people’s road to their own healing should be celebrated. Too many people have died and are dying now.

The limitating nature of another human being’s bias or self-derived label does not define you. Our relationship with our higher power as we have come to understand it (or are coming to) will be our own. Just as our successful path to recovery will be. I have found brilliance in the day worker and fools amoung the educated. Paper and prestige are not character. Find and surround yourself with grounded, noble and wise people. They are found in every room, in every faith, in every community. Yes, so are the book thumpers and soap-box evangelists. Ignore them – deep down they are only trying to hear themselves. Seek the grounded and wise.”

Support, Not Judgment:

Rather than judging those on the path of recovery or deepening their spiritual connection, we should offer support, empathy, and encouragement. Strength in recovery often comes from sharing experiences, offering a listening ear, and respecting the unique path that each individual is traversing. This doesn’t mean we should refrain from offering advice or guidance when it is asked of us, but it should always be given with respect for the other person’s autonomy and their unique needs. (“Advice is requested, Opinions are not”)

Wrap It Up

In the realm of addiction recovery and spiritual exploration, the beauty lies in the diversity of experiences and paths. It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit that people can overcome addiction and find solace and growth through their unique relationships with a higher power. Just as our own journey is sacred, so too are the journeys of others. In understanding and respecting this uniqueness, we pave the way for healing, growth, and a brighter future for all. (All paths to recovery are welcome here).

Ben Carrettin quote on importance of community
Community is important

BONUS : Higher Power Food For Thought

In most philosophy and theology both pride and ego are generally seen as hindrances to spiritual growth and understanding. They are associated with suffering and separation from the divine or the ultimate truth. The core teachings of many lines of thought from various beliefs encourage us to cultivate humility, self-awareness, and selflessness as a means to grow beyond the shallowness of ego and connect with a higher power or truth. Here are a few to consider:

Christianity:
  • Matthew 7:1-5 (The Sermon on the Mount): In this passage, Jesus instructs his followers not to judge others: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
  • John 8:7 (The Woman Caught in Adultery): This is the story where Jesus prevents the stoning of a woman caught in adultery and says, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” It emphasizes the idea of not casting judgment on others.
Judaism:
  • Leviticus 19:15: This verse underscores the importance of fair judgment and not showing partiality: “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”
  • Proverbs 24:17-18: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.” This verse promotes empathy and discourages taking pleasure in others’ misfortunes.
Islam:
  • Quran 49:11: “O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them.” This verse from the Quran advises Muslims not to mock or ridicule others, as they may be better in the sight of Allah.
  • Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad): There are many hadiths that emphasize not passing judgment on others. For example, “Whoever does not show mercy will not be shown mercy” encourages compassion and mercy towards others.
Hinduism:
  • Bhagavad Gita: In this sacred Hindu scripture, Lord Krishna advises Arjuna on various aspects of life, including the importance of humility and the dangers of ego. The Gita emphasizes the idea of performing one’s duties selflessly and without attachment to the results, which helps in reducing pride and ego.
  • Upanishads: These ancient texts explore the nature of the self (Atman) and its connection to the ultimate reality (Brahman). They teach that true knowledge leads to the dissolution of the ego and a realization of oneness.
Buddhism:
  • Dhammapada: This collection of sayings of the Buddha contains verses on the perils of pride and the benefits of humility. One famous verse states, “Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one’s own acts, done and undone.”
  • The Three Poisons: In Buddhist teachings, ignorance, attachment (or desire), and aversion (or hatred) are considered the three poisons that give rise to the ego and suffering. Overcoming these poisons is central to reducing ego and pride.
Taoism:
  • Tao Te Ching: emphasizes the concept of “wu-wei,” which means non-action or effortless action. It advises that true wisdom and virtue come from aligning with the natural flow of the Tao, rather than through ego-driven efforts.
  • Humility: Taoism often promotes humility and simplicity as antidotes to arrogance. The idea is to let go of personal desires and ambitions to find harmony with the Tao.

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How Buddhism and Addiction Recovery Can Work Together

Many different avenues are available when you’re choosing a path of recovery. Addiction counseling is often a significant help for those looking for a long-term solution. Buddhism and addiction recovery can work together. And they go hand-in-hand more than most people might think.

It’s natural to wonder how Buddhism and addiction recovery connected. While many in the world practice Buddhism as a religion, in fact it is a philosophy and there are many people from other faiths who practice it as such. In the West, Buddhism in this practice is seen as a “life philosophy” or path to whole living. If you are familiar with the 12Steps and Alcoholics Anonymous the idea of a path to whole living may sound very familiar.

No matter how you look at it, though, the basic principals of Buddhism are centered in moderation, acceptance, gratitude, personal accountability and truth. Again, sound familiar?

Anyone can use these principals to address suffering and move from a life of mere existing into one that is spiritually rewarding. You only need to be open to how they work and how they can benefit you. And you do not need to abandon any faith tradition you already hold.

Let’s look at some of these principals to learn more about how Buddhism and addiction recovery work together.

Understanding the Four Noble Truths

At the core of Buddhism, there are “Four Noble Truths of Suffering.” Understanding these noble truths will make it easier to overcome them. In Buddhist teachings, these truths are critical because people who don’t master them will have to live a life repeating them over and over again.

The four noble truths are:

  • Suffering exists
  • Selfishness causes suffering
  • You can end your suffering
  • Following the noble eightfold path is the way to end suffering

When it comes to addiction, it’s safe to say that the ideas of Buddhism point to selfish choices causing you to suffer. But, you can overcome these decisions. It may seem like a harsh reality, and yet, sometimes, that’s what we need to jumpstart treatment.

Finding an End to Suffering and Addiction

The goal of Buddhism is to achieve enlightenment. You could keep the same goal in mind as you work toward addiction recovery. While you don’t necessarily need to reach “enlightenment,” you can reach a place that allows you to embrace freedom from it – so you can move forward in your life.

The eight steps Buddhism uses to end the cycle of suffering include:

  • Right understanding
  • Correct thought
  • Right speech
  • Right conduct
  • Right effort
  • Correct focus
  • Right mindfulness

These steps build off of one another until you enter a state where you can fully understand what you’ve been doing, why you got there, and what you can do to overcome it.

Correct understanding and thought give you the wisdom you need to wrap your mind around your addiction. What started it, what caused it to take over? Knowing the cause of, or what continues to sustain your addiction are significant keys to beginning to heal. These steps can help you to get there.

Right speech, conduct, and effort help you to improve your virtue and individual morality. Correct focus and right mindfulness allow you to remain in the present. These help to keep you from drifting back into old habits or worrying about what’s going to happen.

Buddhism helps you develop a discipline that you can use to fight against your addiction, damaging behaviors, and negative thoughts of the past.

Can I Try Buddhism for Addiction Recovery?

Again, you don’t necessarily have to be a Buddhist to link Buddhism and addiction recovery. Though the teachings can help you. Buddhism can start you on the right path toward beating your addiction once and for all. There are a lot of great books and podcasts available that can help you line these up and get you started. There is even a community support organization that uses the Buddhist 8 Fold Path in support of addiction recovery.

If you want to learn more about Buddhism or addiction recovery and how it can help you, feel free to contact me. Or, visit my page on addiction counseling to learn more about how I can help. On my resources page you can find links to various approaches to addiction recovery; secular, Christian, Buddhist and more.

I understand that practicing Buddhism might feel a little strange to someone who has never done it before. Thanks to the principals of the practice, however, it’s a great model for an addiction recovery program from which most addicts can benefit.

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How to Know the Best Recovery Support for You? – Look at the Options

When you’re struggling with addiction, finding the best recovery support is important. But, with so many options available, how can you know which one is best for you?

The good news? You’ve already taken the first step. Understanding that you need some type of recovery support can be the biggest obstacle many people struggle with.

The next step is to determine the best type of recovery support for your individual needs. Keep in mind, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to recovery from addiction. The more you educate yourself on these options, the easier it will be to find the best fit.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most popular support options that can help you on your journey toward recovery.

Refuge Recovery

Refuge Recovery has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s based on several classic Buddhist principles, suggesting that anyone who suffers from addiction has the power to free themselves.

Refuge Recovery is enticing to some people because it’s so different from many other forms of addiction treatment. It encourages people to develop a deeper comprehension of their own minds so they can respond to their own lives with more understanding.

Another major aspect of Refuge Recovery is mindfulness. It encourages people to focus on their body and breath as well as their feelings. If you’re looking for an alternative approach to recovery support, Refuge may be the best option.

12-Step Program

The “traditional” 12-step program is probably the most well-known recovery support option for alcohol and drug addictions. The 12 steps are guidelines to help you overcome addiction from start to finish.

By utilizing a series of steps, people are more likely to stick with the program, since it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. These programs offer a lot of support from other people. They start with admitting your addiction and are intended to end with freedom from that addiction.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery focuses on reversing self-destructive behavior. This method uses a type of psychotherapy known as Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). REBT helps to empower your thinking so you can break your addiction.

SMART Recovery is considered a “self-help” recovery option. It is meant to enhance your motivation to quit while simultaneously helping you to develop a positive, healthy lifestyle.

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery uses a faith-based, Christian approach to help those dealing with alcohol addiction. It follows many of the same principles of a traditional 12-step program but keeps Christ at the center.

This recovery support option has become so popular that it’s developed various branches and specific groups. This includes support groups specifically for military, bikers, inmates, and more.

Finding Help With Addiction Counseling

As you can see, there are many options to choose from when it comes to overcoming addiction. The best thing you can do is to educate yourself on these options. The more research you do, the more comfortable you’ll be when you finally decide what’s right for you.

If you’re really struggling to overcome addiction, addiction counseling can be a big help. Our addiction recovery services can help you to free yourself from the slavery of addiction.

Please contact me today to begin working toward your recovery, living a happy, fulfilling, and meaningful life. Or, visit here for more information about how I can help.

Together, we can work through your recovery options to find the best way to reach your recovery goals. Alcohol addiction isn’t easy to break, but with the right support, a full recovery is possible.