Struggling with a substance addiction alone can feel nearly impossible unless you seek help for working through it. This means you need to locate a recovery option that will work for you. Some of the most popular programs in the United States include the 12-Step Program, but there are alternative programs, including Refuge Recovery, which are gaining in popularity as more people are seeking programs that focus on non-theistic themes and veer away from similarity to the 12-Step Program.
The Refuge Recovery program is a nonprofit organization focusing on substance abuse through non-theistic and non-12-step methods. Similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Refuge Recovery is a program that offers assistance free of charge, meetings in a group settings and lifestyle guidelines for members to use to get clean and sober.
Unlike AA, the Refuge Recovery program is based off a variety of Buddhist practices such as mindful living, mindfulness and recovery. All of these practices are designed to focus on and treat the causes of the addiction as opposed to narrowly focusing on just the addiction itself. Many people find this approach appealing as Refuge Recovery is offering meetings around the United States and even internationally.
In addition to meetings and self-therapy groups, Refuge Recovery also offers traditional therapy. With all of this combined, the Refuge Recovery programs works to assist participants in moving toward a healthier lifestyle. Similar to AA, meeting-based therapy isn’t intended to replace medical treatment or other types of therapy. Instead, it is meant to supplement it to provide assistance and support for addicts in the recovering stage.
Refuge Recovery offers complete therapy. In certain areas of the U.S., there are transitional living options. In these areas, the program places a focuses on a combination of Buddhist-based mindfulness techniques and science-based therapy like Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, attachment theory, somatic experience, motivational interviewing, yoga, internal family systems treatment and mindfulness-based living skills. As a whole, the program is designed to help recovering addicts as they withdraw from their substance use and learn new mental and physical skills that can help them to return to a normal life.
When you hear the words “Refuge Recovery,” you essentially hear the fundamentals of the program. It’s based off of the idea that most individuals use substances, like alcohol or drugs, as a refuge, or an escape, from stress or their lives as a whole. Many behavioral studies show that individuals who are constantly stressed are far more likely to use substances to escape or self-medicate. As a result, this particular belief is backed by science.
To join Refuge Recovery, your first step is to simply agree to abstinence from any harmful substances and behaviors, such as alcohol and/or drugs.
The Refuge Recovery meetings are very similar to those of AA. During these meetings, however, there is a facilitator or a “secretary” of sorts who will guide the entire group through a list of topics, essentially encouraging group sharing and discussion. One way that Refuge Recovery meetings are different from AA meetings is that meditation and mindfulness are incorporated.
Generally, the meetings following the following format:
(often from Four Truths, EightFold Path of Refuge Recovery, or a section of the Refuge Recovery book)
(This allows all individuals three to five minutes to share their thoughts and options or something related to the Speaker’s topic.)
This is a loose structure that can vary based on the participants, but most meetings follow the aforementioned format.
Throughout Refuge Recovery, you are asked to live in line with The Four Noble Truths as follows:
The Buddhist Eightfold Path is used in Refuge Recovery as an essential part of the overall recovery process. The path is as follows:
Unlike the 12 steps, which are considered a linear path, the Eightfold Path is a basic guideline of principles that should be integrated into your daily life.
Refuge Recovery is known as one of the only recovery programs to incorporate mindfulness and meditation in each of its group meetings as well as recovery as a whole. The group meetings offer an assortment of mindfulness and meditation practices with the end goal being to reach the Four Mindfulness Foundations as follows:
These foundations are essentially accomplished through the daily practice of both mindfulness and meditation. Guided meditation is offered through the Refuge Recovery program during groups sessions (generally about 20 minutes), throughout the participant’s detox programs and assistance for when the participant returns home, such as yoga, meditation and other mindfulness practices.
The Refuge Recovery program is a relatively new program. It was founded in 2014 by Noah Levine, a Buddhist teacher and renowned counselor. Based on Buddhist practices and science, Levine founded the program and authored a book to accompany it. He has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, but perhaps his most relevant credential is that he was an addict at one time himself. Though this practice is somewhat new, the methods that this program uses are 100 percent backed by science.
While the Refuge Recovery program is based on the teachings of Buddhism, it is still non-theistic. It doesn’t involve God or any kind of higher power. This is ideal for individuals who are seeking to reach out and get in touch with spirituality without desiring to follow a certain religion or for those who don’t care to partake in a traditional Christian-based program of recovery.
Refuge Recovery may be newer than other programs, but it has a lot of science that backs it up and offers a variety of mindfulness-based techniques for recovery—all of which are designed to assist in improving your life, lifestyle and way of thinking. This holistic approach helps to deal with the causes that are behind your addiction so that you, as a recovering addict, can change your life for the better.
If you or a loved one is suffering from any type of substance abuse disorder, it is crucial that you get help as soon as possible. Contact us at Shadow Mountain Recovery Center to get assistance in overcoming your physical addiction and tackling your mental addiction.