There is no one right way to achieve recovery – every individual must find what works for them. Regardless of the approach one takes, people from all backgrounds and disciplines agree that it’s nearly impossible to beat addiction alone, which is why group meetings and programs that encourage leaning on those who have been through the same experience are so successful. Refuge Recovery is an alternative to a traditional 12-step program, offering the comfort and support of a connected group focused on recovery through mindfulness.

A Buddhist Approach

Refuge Recovery was developed by Noah Levine; described on their website as “a systematic approach to training our hearts and minds to see clearly and respond to our lives with understanding and non-harming,” Refuge Recovery is based upon Buddhist principles and, unlike 12-step philosophy,doesn’t ask participants to adopt a “higher power.” Instead, the abstinence based program takes a mindfulness approach, looking at addiction as a series of actions that have consequences that those struggling with addiction must take responsibility for. It looks at addiction as a flawed relationship with pleasant and unpleasant experiences which affect our habits, lead to cravings,and ultimately to “grasping, clinging, and attachment” – seen as the “basis of addiction.” Through mindfulness practices such as meditation, members of Refuge Recovery are able to “look at the internal habits and thoughts of our own mind.”

The Four Truths of Refuge Recovery, which form the foundation of the program are:

1.      Addiction creates suffering.

2.      The cause of addiction is repetitive craving.

3.      Recovery is possible.

4.      The path to recovery is available.

The extension to these truths are the eight factors or “Eightfold Path to Recovery” which are developed through this program. Unlike the 12-Step model these factors are not worked sequentially, but “developed and applied simultaneously.” Meditation is an important component in this program,and is a part of every Refuge Recovery meeting.

Interested in checking it out? Newcomers are always welcome to attend a Refuge Recovery meeting. Find the Atlanta area schedule here.

Leslie Lubell

Substance Abuse Information and Referral Specialist

Leslie Lubell joins HAMSA as the Substance Abuse Information and Referral Specialist, focusing her efforts on helping to connect addicts and their loved ones with the right resources to support their recovery. As a native Jewish Atlantan in recovery herself, Leslie brings true empathy to the job with a deep, personal understanding of the experience of substance abuse and addiction in the Jewish community. “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”