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Lions Roar : January 2017
“So we get people starting a meditation practice right from the beginning. Then through mindfulness you gain understanding of karma and personal responsibility. You begin to change your intentions from negative and self-serving to kind, compassionate, and generous. You begin to be more careful with your commu- nication, more careful with your sexuality and your relationship to money. You begin to have insights into impermanence, and unsatisfactory-ness, and the impersonal nature of things.” In short, Levine concludes, “the program is laid out just like every Buddhist path: here’s what the Buddha taught and this is how we can apply it. It unfolds in its own way.” Refuge Recovery is a nonprofit organization offering Bud- dhist teachings and meditation to anyone seeking recovery from addiction. Currently, there are a couple of hundred groups around the world and—though they are connected philosoph- ically—each group is autonomous. Anyone who has abstained from drugs and alcohol for a minimum of six months can start a group, but there are no leaders. The groups are peer led. In the same way that AA has sponsors, Refuge Recovery has mentors. Meditation is always practiced at the meetings, which are free to attend. Sometimes there is a speaker who shares their experience with addiction, and other times the participants discuss different parts of the Refuge Recovery path. “Everyone is welcome,” says Levine. “It’s about the community of recovering addicts getting together and supporting each other in the process of recovery.” In 2014, a licensed state-of-the-art addiction-treatment facil- ity opened its doors in Los Angeles. As Levine describes it, the Refuge Recovery Centers’ detox center is a beautiful six-bedroom home where clients are made as comfortable as possible while they go through the hard, painful work of detoxing. They are offered tasty, healthy food and instruction in meditation and yoga. They’re supported by psychiatrists and case managers. Once clients have completed detox, they move to the intensive outpatient facility, a twelve-bedroom apartment complex that’s located a half a block from L.A.’s Against the Stream center. The program runs five days a week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes meditation and various psychotherapeutic techniques. In a nut- shell, says Levine, the program is about “really looking at our suf- fering and how to respond to it more wisely and heal it.” Tyson Annicharico was in treatment at Refuge Recovery Centers for six months and is now sober. In his experience, the traditional twelve-step model is useful for establishing sobriety, but Refuge Recovery is a more realistic option for sustaining it. “The first truth of Refuge Recovery is the truth of suffering—the suffering of addiction, as well as all the other suffering in life.”