When we are using drugs and alcohol, we often find ourselves experiencing loneliness. Sometimes, we feel like we have nowhere to turn. In recovery, one of the great gifts is finding a safe place. When we find somewhere we belong, it can be useful to really seek out refuge. This is something I learned in Refuge Recovery, which is a Buddhist-inspired approach to addiction recovery.
What is a Refuge?
A refuge is a safe place toward which we can turn in times of need. When we fall victim to drug addiction, it’s likely that we don’t feel safe or secure anywhere. Perhaps we only get a sense of this when we’re using drugs or alcohol. This is part of the nature of addiction unfortunately. Addicts have a tendency to turn away from things which bring solace as the addiction takes hold.
In recovery, a refuge is a place we find comfort, safety, security, and ease. We all need to find this in order to stay sober. It may be a community in twelve-step rooms, family and friends, a spiritual path, or anything else which brings us a healthy sense of security. A refuge is something that is always there for us, accessible, and hopefully comfortable. Here are a few ways we have found we can take refuge in recovery.
When first getting sober and coming into recovery from addiction, a community is a wonderful thing. A community is a refuge when we feel safe showing up and being ourselves. When we engage with a community that helps us and supports us, we grow, connect with like-minded people, and cultivate beautiful relationships which can last a lifetime.
Some people find a community in support groups like twelve-step programs, while others find a supportive community in friends and family. Wherever a community is found, we can take refuge by continuing to show up, engage openly and honestly, and building the relationships we want in our lives. When we make the effort to really cultivate a safe and loving support network, it becomes a safety net for us when things hit the fan.
Whether you’re going through a twelve-step program, an alternative like Refuge Recovery, or just working your own personal program of recovery, you can use your recovery path as refuge. In using, we turn toward drugs and alcohol whenever we aren’t sure how to handle something. We don’t have a set of tools, a program, or guidelines really.
On the other hand, recovery offers us a new way to respond to experience. We can turn toward our personal program, set of values, or goals for refuge. When we are facing some difficulty, presented with an unpleasant situation, or confused, we can take the next right action as outlined by the program we’re following. This has helped me personally find some safety in moments of change and pain, as I know there is a way to respond and handle it.
Growth and Change
One thing we can always take refuge in is our own growth and change. Yes, it takes time to clean up the wreckage of the past, but we can see the growth we are experiencing relatively quickly. As we continue to progress, we can really rest in this with a sense of security. Although we may have bad habits or behave poorly at times, we know we have the potential to change and grow. If we look at ourselves honestly, we can see it clearly. This can be a beautiful place of solace when we really recognize our own potential to grow and behave wisely.