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 Post subject: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:18 pm 
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Posts: 50
I've begun to take my recovery from alcoholism more seriously now and have started attending AA meetings regularly. For the most part I have found it beneficial and have been reading recovery books from the likes of Mel Ash and Kevin Griffin, who make the 12 steps more approachable from a Buddhist perspective.
There are two things that trouble me though. One is the fact that I now have to refer to myself as an alcoholic/addict for the rest of my life, whether drinking takes place or not. The other is the whole higher power stuff. Buddha always stressed never relying on a higher power, or something external, that only we can achieve our own salvation. If I turn my life and my will over to a higher power, am I not just falling into the trap of delusion and attachment? The only way around this is to make Buddha nature my higher power, yet people in the rooms tell me that it can't be me. I guess Buddha nature is me while at the same time much larger than me, this little self.
As to the former issue, if I have to continually call myself an addict/alcoholic will I never feel free from this affliction? Am I just becoming addicted to NOT being addicted?


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 7:34 pm 
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Hi Greg, please excuse my ignorance in this matter, I'm not familiar with the AA 12 steps...

Who says you have to label yourself for the rest of your life, and what is this "higher power" you are referring to?

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we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:03 pm 
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Couldn't the Dharma be your higher power? I've been to a few AA meetings. They prescibe to the idea that alcoholism is a disease and that once you have it you have it. You basically have two choices: wind up dead or in jail or go to AA meetings and rely on your higher power and sponsor to kick you back into shape and keep you from having that inevitable relapse. I don't know too much about it but I believe the founder of AA was some sort of paster and the whole thing seems to be a very thinly veiled attempt to convert people to Christianity.

That being said it does help many people. If you've come to the point where your going to AA then it probably means that you've realized that you can't do it alone. I would use AA as a useful means for as long as you need to and don't get too hung up on prescribing to their philosophy. You don't have to become a lifer and you can take what they say in the "big book" with a large grain of salt. But it can be helpful to go and listen to the stories of those who have probably had it a lot worse than you. Its a support system and that is what you need at this point. In the meantime you can explore other avenues of recovery. Have you read Stanton Peele? You should read his books. There's also SMART recovery. You could also get a good counselor. You could also find a local sangha if your not already involved in one. If you want to get sober you've got to do whatever it takes to get there. Its a huge commitment, I know, and don't expect not to do it with out any mistakes.

Like I said, take the Dharma, the words and the teachings of Buddha as your higher power, I would think that would work. Definately read The Truth about Addiction and Recovery by Stanton Peele. I think he has a website, too. He is the foremost scholar out there on the subject and is very critical of AA. The problem with AA is that they say that it is the only way to get sober. Like I said, use it as long as you need it.


Troy


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:19 pm 
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Been there - in fact been goin to AA 2 1/2 years now. And 2 1/2 years clean if you don't mind me boastin.

As to your first question give it time, you'll see why it's important for you to keep callin yourself a "recovering alcoholic/addict". :quoteunquote: AA has it's own rules and regulations and also its own share of wierdos and idiosyncrasies. And it won't solve absolutely all your life problems. But it'll solve the big ones, if your big ones are wrapped up in booze and drugs. It turned me from a dumb nasty drunk into a dumb, nice sober person. Give it time, share, and don't quit. As for whether or not "recovering alcoholic/addict" has a stigma in society or not, well why is that your problem? It's a disease, plain and simple. "Recovering" just means there's no permanent cure - but it don't mean there's no cure at all.

The far more important question is "higher power". It absolutely, positively, certainly, 100% can be done if you want to be a Buddhist. This is only IMHO but it's a strong opinion I have about it. It is absolutely wrong-headed to think that the enlightened teacher would say something like "well you just got yourself into this mess now just get yourself out of it". To think that's what compassion is, is just a form of ignorance. In my school of Buddhism there are hordes, bazillions, clouds upon clouds upon clouds of enlightened Buddhas, beings, Bodhisattvas, and masters and all they want to do is help us get out of our mess. "Compassion" ain't just some little word tacked onto the rump-end of Buddhism. It's the very heart and soul of Buddhism. That's why I prefer the l-word even though it has so much other baggage - it's love, baby. My job is to love people and to help them. Some Buddhists give the impression of being so shut up in their minds that other people forget the whole point is to love other people. And if even I, a little Buddhist beginner, wants to do that - well what do you think the gazillions of enlightened beings want to do? That's higher power baby!

TEYATHA GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvaFdYSD4C0


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:21 pm 
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Ah, I see. I had no idea that AA was a Christian thing.

Maybe naming the Buddha, or the triple gem (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) as your higher power is a good idea and will give some equivalence.

As for letting people know that you are an ex-alcoholic - it would seem a good idea in certain social settings where drinks may be offered, but maybe not the first thing I would mention in a job interview. I'm not sure what the conditions are or how they would enforce them.

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we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 8:36 pm 
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Location: Reading MI USA
:good:

I am also a recovering alcoholic, congrats on the decision to sober up, it ain't easy I know.
As was stated, use AA for support as long as you need it. You may hear ways to deal with situations now or in the future. There are usually some really great people there willing to help you out if they can.

Quote:
One is the fact that I now have to refer to myself as an alcoholic/addict for the rest of my life, whether drinking takes place or not.

In meetings it's common for one to say "I'm me and I'm an alcoholic", to me this is just a reminder for us to remember where we came from. You don't need to do it if you choose not to. And outside the meeting, who's really going to ask or care?

I know if I pick up again, then it will take over in no time at all. So in that aspect I'll always be an alcoholic, we can't drink just one.
But that's ok with me, do I really need to drink or do any form of drug? NO! :twothumbsup:

I know they push god as the higher power and you must give your life to him......................that's ok for some.
If you choose not to then that's your choice.
Also in the big book, the chapter to the agnostic it actually says you need god to keep you sober, not those exact words, but close enough. No you don't.

I have the Dharma and my practice as my higher power. The teachings of Buddha, the 4 Noble Truths and the Noble 8 Fold Path.
As well as what I've read from teachers and Lamas.
With mindfulness I can be aware of my body, speech and mind. In doing so I keep mindful of my actions, words and thoughts.
There ya go, the 12 steps condensed into simple form.

Good luck and stay strong.

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Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:07 pm 
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Posts: 50
Thanks for your responses. I'm still not comfortable with using the Dharma as a higher power. Firstly I have to admit that I'm powerless, weak, can't do anything on my own and have to follow blindly everything the dharma has to offer.
Buddha nature to me makes much more sense as a higher power, In fact I don't see it as "Higher" and I don't see it as a "Power", it is what it is.
To someone who has self esteem issues anyway, admitting I'm powerless isn't gonna help me gain any self confidence.


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 9:14 pm 
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Location: Reading MI USA
google "12 step Buddhist"
You will find a lot of helpful links

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Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:24 am 
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Hi Greg,

I recently was involved in a discussion about the practice of referring to oneself as an addict indefinitely after recovery. I believe the idea behind it is to never lose sight of the addiction, lest one ever see it as a past issue and erroneously deem it as no longer a threat. A friend of mine's father thought he had moved past his alcoholism after many years of sobriety and began drinking again, but very lightly. This posed no issue for several months, but he very slowly increased his intake and eventually suffered a relapse. Luckily he is now sober again, but it took a while. Addiction is a tricky, even deceitful thing.

Also, given the evidence for genetic predisposition for addiction, the lifetime addict label also has some scientific basis.

Best wishes to you with your recovery.

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"Once delusion is extinguished, your wisdom naturally arises and you don’t differentiate suffering and joy. Actually, this joy and this suffering, they are the same."

— Chinese hermit, Amongst White Clouds


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:02 pm 
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Thanks for all your replies. May you all be blessed with fortunate re-births :rolleye:


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:30 am 
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Location: east coast US
I think the whole 12 step thing is based on christianity - and when it comes to other types of treatments, outside of the 12 step "let go and let god" deal, there is a lot of prejudice - and much of it has leaked over into the medical community - even those who are not overly christian buy into the 12 steps being the only way. They think that if you don't abstain completely, and do it in the 12 step manner, then you really aren't in recovery. This bothered me more than the whole God thing.

I am not a drinker, but I have struggled with addiction, and the 12 steps did nothing for me. The only somewhat good thing was meeting other people struggling, to remind me that I am not alone, but this could also be a bad thing. Lots of people at meetings are still using - and you will even meet people who are selling, so it can be a bad place in that respect. I also found that not all meetings are the same. Some focus on recovery, and others focus on story telling - hours of listening to other people talk about when they were using - reminiscing, actually - to the point where I could not wait to get the hell out of there and go get high. The recovery focused meetings were better for me. And there are a lot of people I know who were helped by AA and NA, so it really is an individual thing. But I personally don't think you need to label yourself an alcoholic for the rest of your life. If your drinking gets beyond your control, for whatever reason, then decide whether or not you want to keep dealing with it, and if you decide to stop, you are just a person who no longer drinks, that's all. I think the self labeling is a leftover from the days when addiction was still mostly looked at as a moral failing, and not a disease. (sadly, there are still many who continue to look at it as a moral failing)

There is a guy who wrote a book on the 12 steps from the buddhist perspective - I found him on youtube once when I was looking up videos on how to make malas - and in listening to him, learned that he had written a book and had a website. I got his book from the library, but must confess, I never got around to reading it. I don't know anything else about him, but here is the link if you are interested in learning more.

http://the12stepbuddhist.com/

Best of luck to you, I know what you are dealing with, and it can be hell....but it can be done.


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 3:41 am 
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Greg_the_poet wrote:
One is the fact that I now have to refer to myself as an alcoholic/addict for the rest of my life, whether drinking takes place or not.
Addict is a personality type. I'm an addict. Even though I'm addicted to only a fw things.

Greg_the_poet wrote:
The other is the whole higher power stuff.
Your idealized future self is your higher power.

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Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats


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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 1:45 pm 
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It's remarkable how many Buddhists came to the Dharma, or became fully committed to it, through their recovery process. It's something many people go through on their way to health. So don't feel as though you're a member of a small minority, Greg. Many have been where you are.

There are Buddhist traditions that rely on "other power" rather than "self power" to accomplish their practice. It's not as though they passively do nothing, however. They rely on the vows of Amitabha Buddha. this is a useful summary:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiriki

This isn't limited to the Pure Land system. You can find related claims in other sutras, for instance, in the Lotus Sutra, where the Buddha is seen to be constantly drawing all beings to liberation at all times.

That said... for your purposes, it may be that a devotional attitude rather than a particular doctrinal position could be of most help.

FWIW. All the best to you.

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 Post subject: Re: Addiction recovery
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:47 am 
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We have to look at the main causes of our suffering - and address it.
Otherwise we might as well stay in the hell realms. :toilet:

I have been to AA meetings with an alcoholic friend. When we went to the Pub he allowed me to drink but I felt this was disrespectful and I ended up with a coke addiction (Cola type).
I no longer take narcotics but I feel I did depend on them, they did not address or improve the situation. :shrug:

A monk once said to me and I feel it is good advice:
'Our heads and life are full of garbage, why not fill them with useful garbage'
In other words becoming Dharma addicts. Meditation junkies. Obsessive Zennists . . . :twothumbsup:

. . . as for a higher power. It is outside of my knowledge (I guess that is why we call it higher)
but not outside of my experience. So I will call on that power. I will call on our potential as Buddhas to pray back to our weakness and increase our resolve to overcome our obstructions. :applause:

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