Although in the West addiction is deﬁned as a biological disease, Buddhist philosophy takes a different approach to the issue. That’s why in recent times the influence of Buddhism in holistic rehab has increased, and it is important to understand it’s principles and how they inform holistic treatment approaches.
Although Buddhist philosophy does not deny the consequence of addiction and the damage it does to the body, according to the tradition, the roots of addiction lie in the mind. As such, we can take away many insights from the Buddhists into the nature of addiction, and how meditation can be used as a method of transcending addiction problems. Meditation can strengthen the mind-body connection and aid in the treatment of addiction.
The Four Noble Truths
In order to understand the Buddhist philosophy of addiction, it is important to know the Four Noble Truths of Life that are outlined in Buddhist teachings. These pillars can be applied to explain the roots of addiction and the pathway to recovery.
- All existence is suffering. Our lives are a struggle, and we do not ﬁnd ultimate happiness in anything we experience, which is the problem of existence.
2. The cause of suffering is craving. By blaming our problems on things outside ourselves, things we crave which we believe will give us satisfaction, we don’t focus on the mind. According to Buddha, the mind is the root of all suffering.
3. If we stop craving, we stop suffering. Since the mind is at the root of suffering, it is at the root of resolution. We cannot change what happens outside ourselves, but we can change how we react to it.
4. It is up to the individual to change, by pursuing enlightenment.
Suffering and Addiction
From the Buddhist perspective, addiction represents a “false refuge” from the pain and suffering of life. As such, engaging in drug use or other addictive behaviors is motivated by a strong desire or “craving” for relief from suffering, despite the increased pain and suffering that the behavior causes in the long run. The potential for addiction develops as the individual becomes increasingly dependent to the behavior that appears to offer refuge and relief from suffering. As this dependence grows, the individual experiences increased craving for the anticipated refuge that the addictive substance provides.
Because craving is directed toward the future, the person who is addicted becomes trapped in their attachment to the addictive behavior as the only source of relief from suffering. The mind becomes ﬁxed on the future (“When will I get my next ﬁx?”), and the individual is less likely to accept what is happening in the present moment. However, in meditation, the mind is trained to stay focused on the present moment. This is why the Buddhist philosophy provides an alternative to the Western models of addiction, and provides a different approach to treatment.
People resort to pursuing their cravings believing that the substance will make them happy, whereas in reality, it only leads to more suffering. Buddhism promotes an attitude of compassion, which is especially important in addiction recovery.
If you are suffering from addiction, a holistic rehab center might be the best choice for you. At Iris Healing Retreat, a team of compassionate staff are ready to help you take the next step towards healing recovery. Call us at (844) 663-4747 to make an appointment today.