Addictive disorders

Sarah Bowen, Matthew Enkema, Corey Roos, Haley Douglas, Erin Harrop, Tatyana Kholodkov, and Katie Witkiewitz


At the center of Buddhist teachings are the Four Noble Truths. The first of these truths states that, as sentient beings, we experience suffering. The second truth explains that experiences of craving (wanting what we do not have) or aversion (not wanting what we do have) are at the root of our suffering. Nowhere do we see a clearer and more painful illustration of these truths than in the cyclical trappings and anguish caused by addictive behaviors. Whether we understand the seemingly intractable addictive cycles through traditional Buddhist teachings on craving, or through behavioral principles of conditioning and reinforcement, the challenging and destructive nature of addiction is painfully clear.

The third of these noble truths, however, describes a way out of suffering, and the fourth lays out a path to this end. Recently, treatments for addictive disorders have begun systematically incorporating teachings and practices from this tradition into Western cognitive behavioral treatment approaches to inform integrated secular mindfulness-based programs for treatment of addictive behaviors.

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