The 12-Step tradition

While there has been a recent surge in integration of meditation into treatment for addictions, we can trace the roots of this application back many decades, across several treatment traditions, orientations, and programs. For example, in traditional Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) groups, participants are encouraged to work the “12 Steps," a set of instructions aimed at integrating recovery principles into their lives. In the eleventh step of this program, participants are encouraged to deepen their individual spiritual practices by incorporating “prayer and meditation” into their recovery routines. Traditional AA and NA groups are characterized by a distinctly Judeo Christian slant, but effort in recent years has been made to incorporate a wider range of religious preferences (Gorski 1989). The perspective and approach to meditation in this tradition, however, may differ from meditation in other traditions; it may be more oriented toward prayer and reflection rather than observation of moment-to-moment experience.

Recently, there has been an attempt to bring more mindfulness-based meditation into 12-Step practices. For example, Kevin Griffin is a Buddhist meditation teacher and long-time 12-Step practitioner who advocates the integration of 12-Step principles with mindfulness meditation. In his book, One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps, Griffin (2004) endeavors to characterize the relationship between the 12-Steps and Buddhism. Similarly, Noah Levine, a Buddhist teacher, counselor, and writer, explores his own journey to sobriety through the help of meditation practices such as awareness of the breath (Levine 2004).

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