Individuals who are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction commonly rely on their faith as a source of strength both in their treatment and their long-term recovery. In fact, the principles of 12-Step Recovery are rooted in faith and reliance on a higher power.
While this belief has been historically applied to Christianity, the reality is that faith and spirituality can be a source of strength and recovery support in any religion, including Buddhism. Buddhist alcohol and drug rehab applies the teachings of Buddha to recovery-related situations the same way one would in Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or any other faith.
Whether you’re just starting to explore Buddhism or have been a long-term practitioner, it can be a strong and viable means of support and guidance in your or your loved one’s everyday and long-term addiction recovery.
How Does Buddhism Relate to Addiction Recovery?
Buddhism is related to addiction recovery in a variety of ways, specifically in the way it teaches and promotes mindfulness in its tenets.
Mindfulness is a core pillar of both addiction recovery and Buddhist practice. It allows you or your loved one to consider an immediate feeling or sensation, pause before acting on it, and examine the context and circumstances surrounding it.
In the situation of addiction or substance use disorder, mindfulness can:
- Help create and strengthen impulse control
- Help contextualize urges and frame their origins
- Strengthen resistance to cravings
- Build self-confidence and self-awareness
While it can be hard to overcome serious cravings and withdrawal symptoms through mindfulness alone, it provides an extra layer of resistance and protection during vulnerable periods.
How Is Mindfulness Practiced in Recovery?
Mindfulness is most commonly practiced in recovery through exercises like meditation, self-compassion, and sitting with uncomfortable thoughts for prolonged periods. This is often initially facilitated by a professional at your treatment provider but also taught so it can be seamlessly adapted at home in a post-treatment environment. Mindfulness can be taught and facilitated in both group and individual therapeutic settings.
Mindfulness has many benefits that can be applied to addiction recovery and everyday life.
Data from the American Psychological Association (APA) links mindfulness to multiple health and lifestyle benefits, including but not limited to the following:
- Decreased stress
- Reduced rumination
- Enhanced memory
- More cognitive flexibility
- Better immune functioning
- Increased information processing speed
- Stronger morality
- Improved calmness and clarity
Additional data indicates that mindfulness can play a significant role in relapse prevention.
What Are Some Mindfulness Exercises That I Can Do on My Own?
While each person who enters Buddhist-centered alcohol or drug rehab practices mindfulness in their own ways, according to the guidance of their treatment professionals and their comfort levels.
Some of the more common exercises include:
- Deep breathing and breath counting
- Facial muscle exercises to support breathing
- Body Scanning
- Observe sensations in your feet and wiggle your toes.
- Continue observations to ankles, calves, knees, and thighs.
- Observe sensations throughout the legs. Breathe into and out of the legs.
- Focus on sensations in your lower back and pelvis. Soften any tension.
- Move up toward your mid and upper back. Be mindful of the sensations in your muscles and temperature.
- Exhale and let go of the tension.
- Feel your heartbeat and observe how the chest rises and falls.
- Continue up to the neck, shoulder, throat, and then scalp.
- Let your breath expand to include the entire body as a whole.
One of the primary areas at which Buddhism and recovery intersect is meditation.
How Does Buddhism Influence Mindfulness?
Suffering Is Part of Human Existence
The Cause of Suffering is Craving and Coveting
Suffering Can Be Eased by Cessation of Cravings
There is a Path That Leads to the End of Craving and Suffering
Buddhist alcohol and drug rehab programs draw strength, guidance, and influence from Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths, all of which directly relate to recovery.
The Four Noble Truths are:
- Suffering Is Part of Human Existence
- The Cause of Suffering is Craving and Coveting
- Suffering Can Be Eased by Cessation of Cravings
- There is a Path That Leads to the End of Craving and Suffering
When we think about the role that craving and suffering play in the addiction and relapse process, it’s easy to see that Buddhism and the Four Noble Truths can be an effective overall guide for behavior in long-term recovery.
While we know that cravings can simply not be “willed” away and are the product of lasting physiological changes in the brain’s chemistry, the Four Truths can help us do the unpleasant work of recovery, which can take years.
This work includes, but is not limited to:
- Managing Long-Term Cravings
- Letting Go of Dysfunctional Relationships
- Accepting the Pain That Comes with Atonement
- Having Humility and Compassion
- Realizing and Embracing the Idea that There Is Something Greater than Yourself
Buddhism provides a behavioral framework for a wisdom and selflessness that can be very effective in long-term abstinence.
What Happens in Buddhist Alcohol and Drug Rehab?
Like other types of spiritually oriented alcohol and drug rehab, Buddhist-focused treatment offers group therapy and individualized counseling from trained and experienced faith leaders, which include scripture recitation, meditation, mindfulness exercises, and more. If you or someone you care about is battling addiction, and feel as though the Buddhist faith can be a source of strength, our representatives are ready to help you find the program. Buddhism can be a powerful force in progress, detachment, and cultivating wisdom in recovery. You don’t have to spend another second suffering. Get the help you need now.
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