Breaking Free From Addiction | Mental Health | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Breaking Free From Addiction 

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AA mentions "surrendering to a higher power" in order to recover—but Griffin offers a different take on that, too. "Recovery gets somewhat mystified when it's, 'Oh, through the grace of God I got better.' Okay, how does that work? I don't accept those kinds of generalities. Because if God got me sober, then God can change his mind, I guess." In Griffin's understanding of the Twelve Steps, there's more agency on the part of the practitioners; rather than waiting around for God to fix things, they're taking action. "It's about making choices, moment by moment, to think, speak, and act differently from your addictive tendencies," he says. "That's how you recover and that's how you grow spiritually."

Connecting the process of recovery with Buddhism and mindfulness is a natural fit for Griffin—and perfectly in line with the Buddha's teachings about pleasure, attachment, suffering, and letting go. "When you're letting go of alcohol, it's not a renunciation in the sense of, 'I really want to do this, but I'm going to stop because it's good for me.' That kind of sobriety won't last very long. The reason you give up alcohol is because you see the truth of suffering in your addiction. When you see the truth of suffering really clearly, there's a natural letting go; many people will say their craving for drugs and alcohol has been lifted. That's what I think needs to happen for long-term or successful recovery." None of it is easy to achieve, says Griffin—and none of it has to be perfect, either. "Having a meditation practice is hard. Recovery is hard, being human is hard," he says. "Just keep showing up. It gets better."

Kevin Griffin

Villa Veritas Foundation, Inc.

Mark Willenbring, MD

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