Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings to Overcome Addiction, by Valerie Mason-John and Dr Paramabandhu Groves
‘Blending Mindfulness-Based Addiction Recovery with traditional Buddhist teachings and personal stories, the authors give us a wise and compassionate approach to recovery from the range of addictions. This comprehensive approach will be a valuable tool for addicts and addiction professionals alike.’
Kevin Griffin, author of One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps
Foreword written by Gabor Maté
Publication date 2014
The Eight Steps
Step One: accepting that this human life will bring suffering
Step Two: seeing how we create extra suffering in our lives
Step Three: embracing impermanence to shows us that our suffering can end
Step Four: being willing to step onto the path of recovery; and discover freedom
Step Five: transforming our speech, actions, and livelihood
Step Six: placing positive values at the center of our lives
Step Seven: making every effort to stay on the path of recovery
Step Eight: helping others by sharing the benefits we have gained
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Who is this book for?
These eight steps are aimed at anyone who is struggling with an addiction or compulsive behavior. As well as those with drug, alcohol and gambling addictions, the book is for people who experience compulsive or addictive aspects to eating, sex or other behaviors. Although we recognize that recovering from addiction can be a matter of life or death for some people, this book is also for people who do not think of themselves as having an addiction, but who have habits that are harmful in their lives. We hope the book will be of value to professionals working in the field of addiction, as well as to those caring for someone with an addiction, or in relationship with a person struggling with addiction. We can’t avoid suffering if we open our eyes to it. Suffering is all around us. However, freedom from suffering is in front of our eyes too. Of course, some of us, who realize our difficult human predicament, reach a crisis and turn to a spiritual path, faith or religion to deal with the shock. Others turn to an addiction to find meaning in life. Fortunately, addiction itself and the suffering it causes can lead people through the doors of a Buddhist temple, a church, a mosque, a synagogue, and many other places that offer some type of solace.
Sometimes, though, our suffering can seem too overwhelming, or the possibility of freedom from it can be so painfully close that we refuse to see it. We may know there are places we can go for help, but choose to stay in our suffering. Many addicts are afraid of recovery. They are afraid of the institutions that could help them.
One such institution that has helped people with addiction has been the twelve step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, and many other programs in this community. It has saved many lives, helped many families, and outlined twelve steps and twelve traditions to the path of freedom. If the Steps are followed diligently, there are twelve Promises ranging from having a new freedom and happiness, to having no fear of people or fear of financial insecurity. However, twelve step programs are not for everyone, and many have turned away, desperate for another way of recovery. These eight steps can be used by people who have not responded to the twelve step approach, as well as those who are in twelve step recovery. But it can also be used by people in a twelve step program who are perhaps trying to understand their eleventh step more fully. This step is “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.”
In the twelve step community, God can be interpreted as the God of your understanding, “Good Orderly Direction”, or “Higher Power”. Although the Buddhist tradition has no place for God as a creator divinity as understood by the theistic traditions, there is nevertheless a clear and definite understanding of a supra-personal dimension, an “other power” in Buddhism. This dimension is available to every human being, and for those interested we are including the supra-personal in the eight steps, providing the groundwork for people to readily connect with it, beginning with the breath. However, the eight steps can equally be practiced without reference to or belief in a higher power or supra-personal dimension.
Our book draws on the teachings of the Buddha, but the steps can be used by someone from any religious or spiritual tradition or from none. In the spirit of the Buddha’s advice to some of his disciples, we encourage you to test out the teachings here in your own experience and utilize those you find helpful.