Once you think you’ve got recovery, you’ve lost your recovery. Because what is recovery? It is a path that can take us to liberation and freedom. Recovery is always changing. What it looked like when you first had one week of abstinence, is very different to what it will look like after one year or after 30 years.
‘Once an addict always an addict’, is often a saying we hear. There is good sense in this phrase, because it reminds us not to delude ourselves, and think: ‘right i’ve not picked up my choice of distraction for six months I’m okay now’.
Let’s not delude ourselves because we can think the same after 20 years of recovery too. This saying does have its pitfalls because we can hold onto an old identity that does not serve us anymore.
In Eight Step Recovery: ‘We ask if you really want recovery are you prepared to go to any lengths to let go of your self view?’
This is the first of the mental bonds that bind us to human suffering. Thinking we are a fixed self, and that we are our body, feelings, perceptions, mental formation and sensory consciousness. The Buddha taught that all these five skandhas are empty of self. He taught that nothing among them is ‘I, or mine or me’.
If we want recovery we do have to let go of the identities that created the addicted self. We stay on the path of recovery when we realize that the only thing we own are our actions.
There is also a Buddhist teaching that says ‘guard the sense doors’. What this means is that we don’t deliberately put ourselves in vulnerable places. For example if you are a sex addict you don’t go to a sex show. If you’re an alcoholic you don’t put yourself in situations where alcohol is being rammed in your face. If you’re a coke addict you don’t stay in a room where people are white lining. We guard the sense doors by not putting ourselves in situations where we will be easily triggered.
There are enough triggers out there in the world that we will have to practise loving kindness and mindfulness to keep us sober and abstinent.
The good news is, it is possible to have disinterest in our distraction or substance or behaviour of choice. But we still need to be vigilant by preventing, and eradicating unhelpful states of mind.
In the rooms of 12 steps we are told to HALT. If you are aware of a subtle craving, ask if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
We need to maintain helpful states of mind by cultivating and maintaining our abstinence and sobriety of mind. Making every effort to stay on the path of recovery is a lifetime practise, and one well worth living. The more effort we make, the easier it becomes, but there is not time of the path of recovery, if we want to liberate our self from suffering.
For a free sample of the first chapter, book study and 21 meditations of “Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction,” please email: [email protected]