What Buddhism Teaches us About Addiction and Recovery

Addiction isn’t just unique to those with severe substance dependencies; it’s a universal human experience – and Buddhist teachings contain plenty of wisdom on this very subject. In order to understand addiction, said Buddha, we must understand the human condition. This condition has to do with how we receive information, how it’s processed by our minds and how we react to that storyline. Within this understanding is a key to unlocking the potential of holistic addiction recovery.

How Mental Conditioning Leads us to Addiction

Because we get all of our information through what Buddhism refers to as the “sense doors,” we rely on our mental conditioning to receive information. This puts us in a vulnerable position, in which we have little control over how we understand and respond to the world around us. We’re manipulated by our impulses and guided by our minds, and it’s this conditioning that ultimately leads to addiction. 

In Buddhist philosophy, tanha, or craving, is an intrinsic part of the human condition, and one that lends itself to suffering. As we continue to enshrine our egos and seek out pleasurable experiences, we cling more and more to tanha, which eventually evolves into upadana – in this way, addiction is formed. And while this whole process comes from a desire to escape suffering, its result is to throw us off balance and severely disrupt our lives. 

Some Buddhist teachers even believe that before we act, our conscious mind has already decided what we’ll do, and we’re merely following that decision. That’s why even when we know something isn’t good for us, we continue to follow our impulses whenever they present themselves. 

Mindfulness: The Key to Freedom From Destructive Habits

The solution Buddhism offers to all of this is its central practice: mindfulness. While we may listen to the way our mind reacts to the situations we face – a narrative based on our past experiences – we don’t need to automatically follow it with our actions. In the case of addiction, those actions consist of using substances as a way to placate whatever it is that’s causing us discomfort. 

Instead, we call on our awareness to help us make conscious decisions, relate to our cravings more wisely and steer us away from our conditioning and towards truth and reality. 

Learn How to Cultivate Awareness in Your Recovery and in Your Life

While this subtle shift of bringing more awareness into how we conduct our lives may seem simple, its results are profound. With continued mindfulness practice, you can begin to see how much freedom you have to change your thoughts and behaviors – and therefore your entire life’s direction. Through awareness, you have the ability to change your perspective and how you feel – and escape the self-perpetuating cycles of addiction once and for all. 

At The Sanctuary at Sedona, our groundbreaking Integrative Addiction Recovery program includes mindfulness meditation, breathwork, yoga, therapeutic exercise, spiritual counseling and more, so you can cultivate an awareness that allows you to finally be recovered from addiction.     

Read more about the role of mindfulness in recovery in our article, How Meditation Helps Us Move Beyond Addiction.

To learn more about how our non-12-Step addiction treatment program can help you free yourself from patterns that are no longer serving you, call us at (877) 710-3385 or email us at info@sanctuary.net today.