The Refuge Recovery Path

Lire ce page en français: Le Chemin Refuge Recovery.

Refuge Recovery is both an organization that holds meetings and a set of practices and beliefs based on Buddhism. These practices, when applied with hope and diligence, can lead us out of the suffering of addiction.

Read on for a summary of the key concepts and principles of the Refuge Recovery path. To learn more about the RR parent non-profit and the values upheld by our meetings, please see About Refuge Recovery.

What are addiction, recovery, renunciation, and refuge?

From the “Refuge Recovery” book, p. VII

Addiction is the repetitive process of habitually satisfying cravings to avoid, change, or control the seemingly unbearable conditions of the present moment. This process of craving and indulgence provides short-term relief but causes long-term harm. It is almost always a source of suffering for both the addict and those who care about the addict.


Recovery is a process of healing the underlying conditions that lead to addiction. It is establishing and maintaining the practice of abstaining from satisfying the cravings for the substances and behaviors that we have become addicted to. Recovery is also the ability to inhabit the conditions of the present reality, whether pleasant or unpleasant.


Renunciation is the practice of abstaining from harmful behaviors.


A refuge is a safe place, a place of protection—a place that we go to in times of need, a shelter. We are always taking refuge in something. Drugs, alcohol, food, sex, money, or relationships with people have been a refuge for many of us. Before addiction, such refuges provide temporary feelings of comfort and safety. But at some point we crossed the line into addiction. And the substances or behaviors that were once a refuge inevitably became a dark and lonely repetitive cycle of searching for comfort as we wandered through an empty life.


Active addiction is a kind of hell. It is like being a hungry ghost, wandering through life in constant craving and suffering. Refuge Recovery, the Buddhist-inspired approach to treating addiction, offers a plan to end the suffering of addiction.


Traditionally, Buddhists commit to the path of awakening by taking refuge in three things: awakening (Buddha), truth (Dharma), and community (Sangha). If the teachings and practices offered here resonate with you as true and useful, we invite you to take refuge in this process of awakening, truth, and community. Practicing these principles and developing these skills will lead to a safe place, a true and reliable refuge, a place that is free from addiction, to a full recovery.

The Four Truths of Refuge Recovery

The Four Truths of Refuge Recovery is a Buddhist-oriented path to recovery from addictions. It has proven successful with addicts who have committed to the Buddhist path of meditation, generosity, kindness, and renunciation.

From > About Us

1. Addiction Creates Suffering

We take stock of all the suffering we have experienced and caused as addicts.

2. The cause of addiction is repetitive craving.

We investigate the causes and conditions that lead to addiction and begin the process of letting go.

3. Recovery is possible.

We come to understand that recovery is possible and take refuge in the path that leads to the end of addiction.

4. The path to recovery is available.

We engage in the process of the Eightfold Path that leads to recovery.

The Eightfold Path to Recovery

From > About Us

This is an abstinence-based path and philosophy. We believe that the recovery process begins when abstinence begins. The Eight factors of the path are to be developed, experienced and sustained. This is not a linear path, it does not have to be taken in order, rather all of the factors will need to be developed and applied simultaneously. This is a guide to having a life that is free from addiction. The eight-fold path of recovery will have to be maintained throughout ones lifetime.


1. Understanding.

We come to know that everything is ruled by cause and effect. The Four Truths are an ongoing practice. In this step, we gain insight into the impermanent, unsatisfactory, and impersonal nature of life. Forgiveness is possible and necessary.


2. Intention.

We renounce greed, hatred, and delusion. We train our minds to meet all pain with compassion and all pleasure with nonattached appreciation. We cultivate generous, kind, and compassionate wishes for all living beings. We practice honesty and humility and live with integrity.


3. Communication/Community.

We take refuge in the community as a place to practice wise communication and to support others on their paths. We practice being honest, wise, and careful with our communications, asking for help from the community, allowing others to guide us through the process. We practice openness, honesty, and humility about the difficulties and successes we experience.


4. Action/Engagement.

We purify our actions, letting go of the behaviors that cause harm. The minimum commitment necessary for the path toward recovery and freedom is renunciation of violence, of dishonesty, of sexual misconduct, and of intoxication. Compassion, nonattached appreciation, generosity, kindness, honesty, integrity, and service become our guiding principles.


5. Livelihood/Service.

We try to be of service to others whenever possible, using our time, energy, and resources to help create positive change. We work toward securing a source of income/livelihood that causes no harm.


6. Effort/Energy.

We commit to the daily disciplined practices of meditation, yoga, exercise, wise actions, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, compassion, appreciation, and the moment-to-moment mindfulness of feelings, emotions, thoughts, and sensations. Through effort and energy we develop the skillful means of knowing how to apply the appropriate meditation or action to the given circumstance.


7. Mindfulness/Meditations.

We develop wisdom through practicing formal mindfulness meditation. This leads to seeing clearly and healing the root causes and conditions that lead to the suffering of addiction. We practice present-time awareness in all aspects of our life. We take refuge in the present.


8. Concentration/Meditations.

We develop the capacity to focus the mind on a single object, such as the breath or a phrase, training the mind through the practices of loving-kindness, compassion, and forgiveness to focus on the positive qualities we seek to uncover. We utilize concentration

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