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Why another book on recovery?

Eight Step RecoveryDuring the past few years we have seen several authors like Kevin Griffin, Tom Catton and Noah Levine publish books about recovery. They are making the rounds in the recovery community. This year three new books have come onto the market, Scot Kiloby’s Natural Rest for Addiction: A Revolutionary Way to Recover Through Presence, Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction by myself and Dr Paramabandhu Groves, and in June Noah Levine’s Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Overcoming Addiction will hit the streets.

Not so long ago there was only the Big Book, of 12 step recovery, and it was a book that was in the closet. Nobody went public about it, unless of course you were in the fellowship, but these new books have brought addiction and recovery far more out into the open. You can walk into somebody’s front room and see some of these books lying on the coffee table. Once upon a time the only places to get recovery were in the rooms of 12 step meetings or psychiatric treatment offered by the doctor. Now we have Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, Mindfulness Based Addiction recovery courses, Self Management And Recovery Training (SMART), Scot Kiloby’s Living inquiry for addiction, Noah Levine’s recovery program, Eight Step Recovery, and Buddhist versions of the traditional 12 steps that were originated by Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I often hear people saying: ‘I’m shopping around, there is so much out there to choose from’. I believe that is a good thing, because although 12 steps has saved many peoples lives, and saved families too, it has not worked for everyone. These new books or recovery programs are not a panacea either; they will not work for everyone. But we live in a climate where we recognise that people have different learning styles and needs, and hopefully, people who are looking for a way out of their misery will find something in one of these newer recovery approaches on offer.

We identified eight steps in our book, because steps have a venerable historical tradition in Buddhism. One of the main texts in Buddhism is called the Dhammapada. The etymology of the word Dhammapada actually means steps of the Dharma or more commonly interpreted as verses of the Dharma. Statues of the Buddha are recent symbols of the Buddha. Once upon a time it was a tree, or a turning wheel, and many other symbols, including two footprints carved into the earth, into wood or clay. These footprints were a metaphor for the Buddha walking out into the world and spreading his teachings. We do know that the Buddha walked throughout India teaching the Dharma.

Our book is by no means a short cut to recovery, or the fast track route, and we haven’t forgotten the other four steps, as some people have suggested. It’s just that the teachings we took from the Dharma fell neatly into eight steps. Plus the shorter the list, the more memorable, and hopefully the more manageable it will be to work through. However each step covers many teachings, so take your time in reading.

Are we competing with 12 steps? No most definitely not. We hope to compliment what is already out there. People in the 12 step community often are looking to understand step 11, they are wanting to have a deeper connection with meditation, prayer and a God of their understanding. However one thing that the 12 step offers is a community specifically for people in recovery. This is something that those of us who are introducing new approaches do need to think about. Yes we can offer the Buddhist community, or other spiritual and self development communities, but are these doors open to somebody who has hit bottom, for somebody who is in a life-and-death crisis? 12 steps does, and offers one-to-one sponsorship, which is crucial part to the 12 step recovery process.

Community is something that all of us authors and pioneers in the recovery community do need to think about. How are we going to support people who walk through the door who are clearly under the influence of an intoxicant? How can we best serve these people? My approach to date, is to send them along to a 12 step meeting, and insist they only have to be clean on the day they arrive, or not using in that moment they walk through our Buddhist sangha doors. You could say this is their actual first step. Community is important, it’s what most of us place at the center of our lives. So if we want to recover from addiction, we need a community that is in recovery at the centre of our lives, to help us on our recovery path.

How to use the book has been a question asked by many. Throughout this year, I will begin to explore each step, and ways that you can use the book in groups, or by yourself. Meanwhile, dive in, and see if there is anything in the book that resonates for you. We hope to see some of you at our launches throughout the year. This month we are in Goderich, Toronto, Guelph and Edmonton. Look at our our Facebook page for updates.

Eight Step Recovery is out now: Eight Step Recovery – Order your book now

Or try a free sample – For a free sample chapter of Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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About Vimalasara

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Dr Valerie Mason-John is a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order. She is currently co-writing Eight Step Recovery - Using the Buddha's Teachings to Overcome Addiction. She teaches a weekly meditation class - Meditation for Addiction. She is the author of seven books, including, Detox Your Heart, a book on working with anger, fear and hatred. She is available for talks, seminars, workshops and retreats. Read more articles by .

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