Buddhist Approach

The Buddhist Approach to Addiction


Buddhism teaches people how to escape suffering within oneself and the world. Mindfulness meditation can be of great value to people trying to build a life in sobriety. Learn more about Buddhist principles and how how to incorporate the approach into a recovery plan.


Origins of Buddhism

Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, who became known as the Buddha (awakened one). The teachings can be followed as a philosophy or religion with different types of Buddhism in existence which interpret different aspects of the original teachings. Approximately 500 million followers of Buddhism exist in the world today.


Key Teachings of Buddhism

The four noble truths and Eightfold Path are essential teachings of Buddhism. The four noble truths provide a diagnosis and remedy for the problems of life and include the following:

  • Suffering exists. True and lasting happiness cannot be found in life because reality brings difficulty and pain.
  • Suffering is caused by cravings or attachment
  • It is possible to overcome attachment
  • The Eightfold Path provides the way to overcoming suffering


The Eightfold Path consists of the following tenets:

  • Right view means understanding 4 noble truths
  • Right intention means having motivation to escape suffering
  • Right action involves not doing things to harm others
  • Right speech refers to not hurting others with words
  • Right livelihood means not having a job which causes harm to others
  • Right concentration involves developing mental focus to understand the mind better
  • Right mindfulness means observing thoughts, feelings and body sensations
  • Right effort involves putting enough energy into Eightfold Path to produce results


The Buddha revealed discomfort comes into a person’s life due to three characteristics of reality:

  • Impermanence which feelings threatening to humans but is unavoidable
  • Non-self or the notion thoughts are not part of the self as they are not controllable
  • Suffering is part of existence due to impermanence and reality of non-self


Buddhism and Addiction

Addiction is described as a severe type of attachment with the driving force behind it being to avoid pain and experience pleasure. Buddhist teachings can support individuals with addiction in many ways including:

  • Offering an explanation as to why addiction occurs in the first place. Humans are deluded and persons with addiction spend lots of time wondering about the source of addiction which can be provided through Buddhism
  • Teachings describe causes of addiction  and a pathway leading away from abuse
  • Mindfulness meditation helps people gain better perspective and understanding of the inner landscape of the heart and mind. A person becomes less of a slave to the mind with mindfulness.
  • The Eightfold Path can be used as a program of recovery to support an individual in building a good, positive and healthy life away from addiction.


Buddhism provides a path away from addiction with a focus on others rather than the self. It is one of many ways for an individual to move forward in recovery.


Buddhism and spiritual practices are just one part of a holistic recovery plan. If you are struggling to quit drugs and alcohol, The Villa is here to support your journey, including resources to make an informed decision about next steps towards recovery.