This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
The Meaning of Suffering in Drug Addiction and Recovery from the Perspective of Existentialism, Buddhism and the 12 Step Program
Ashkelon Academic College, Modiin-Macabim-R'eut, 71799, Israel
The aim of the current article was to examine the meaning of suffering in drug addiction and the recovery process. Negative emotions may cause primary suffering that can drive an individual toward substance abuse. Drugs provide only temporary relief, and over time, the pathological effects of the addiction worsen causing secondary suffering, which becomes a motivation for treatment. The spiritual 12 step program of Narcotics Anonymous offers a practical way to cope with suffering through a process of surrender. This article is another step toward understanding one of several key factors that contribute to an addict's motivation for treatment.
Keywords: Suffering; drug addiction; motivation; meaning in life; Narcotics Anonymous; 12 step program.
The question of what motivates addicts to recover from drug addiction is an essential issue in drug addiction recovery. One answer is that addicts recover when their lives
mental and spiritual suffering for the addicts. and the 12 step program and offers an alternative approach to coping with suffering. choice and responsibility. Both existentialism and Buddhism view suffering as a spiritual phenomenon associated with meaning of life. 1969). is deeply rooted in existentialism. their families and society (Gray. the second deals with spirituality. and the final section describes the drug addiction recovery process through the 12 step program. Buddhism and the 12 step program. The first deals with the definition of suffering as a multidimensional spiritual phenomenon. Some claim that suffering is destructive and negative (Levinas. The aim of this article is to examine the meaning of suffering in drug addiction and recovery from the perspective of existentialism. 2003). Similarly. The meaning–centered approach. Others claim that suffering should be considered not only as destructive and damaging. 1988). but also viewed as a positive factor that could potentially initiate a positive process of self-change (Williams.2 become unbearable. 2.1 Suffering Suffering is a universal phenomenon and part of the human experience . the third presents suffering as a spiritual phenomenon in existential and Buddhist philosophies. The perception of suffering is a subject of ongoing debate among researchers. which includes freedom. the fourth presents suffering as one of the causes of drug addiction and as a motivation for recovery. Buddhist philosophy. Body 2. The article is divided into five sections. the 12 step program suggests practical ways to cope with addiction suffering through spiritual recovery which is closely associated with meaning of life. Drug addiction is a lifestyle accompanied by physical.
1987: 117). and claimed they are inseparable. 1992). These include a sense of meaning in life (Chen. Interaction exists between the various dimensions and suffering plays a part in all aspects of the human experience. and is defined as "a psychological reaction to a state of distress caused by a threat to the intactness of the individual’s sense of self (Cassell.2 Spirituality Several researchers note the problematic nature of defining and researching spirituality (Cook. 2000). Although conceptualizations of spirituality vary among theorists. psychological. According to Van Hooft. Cassell (1992) referred to suffering dimensions as physical. 2004). For example. Daniel Day Williams claimed that suffering is 'an anguish experienced as a threat to our composure. 2004) and connectedness to a 'Higher Power' (Adams & Bezner. 2001). some common conceptualizations do exist. 2006). 1958).. 2004).3 (Schopenhauer. Van Hooft (1998) maintained that suffering is a type of frustration resulting from the inability to fulfill the goal (telos) of the various dimensions of human existence. values (Cook. . resulting in numerous theological. 2. Several researchers relate to suffering as a multidimensional spiritual phenomenon. social and spiritual. has therapeutic intervention begun to consider spirituality and meaning of life as personal resources for coping with emotional and existential suffering (Breitbart et al. and the fulfillment of our intentions' (Reich. the meaning of individual suffering is connected primarily to the meaning of life. Only in recent decades. philosophical and medical definitions. Many researchers note the problematic nature of researching and defining suffering (Frank. our integrity.
Similarly.4 The source of the search-for-meaning approach as a coping strategy with spiritual and existential suffering is rooted in existential and Buddhist philosophies (Breitbart et al. as opposed to despair. 2. Meaning of life fulfils a central role for individuals and may be found in all human experiences. 'He who has the way to live. Attachment is an emotional state that leads to craving.. can bear with almost any how'. 2004). 2002). as Nietzsche wrote. Craving is an attitude of possessiveness.4 Suffering in Buddhist Philosophy Similar to existentialism. Questions raised by existentialism relate to 'Who am I?' and 'What gives meaning to my life?' Or. Buddhism regards suffering as a spiritual phenomenon. . but rather meaningless suffering. which is meaningless suffering.3 Suffering in Existential Philosophy Existentialists are extremely occupied with finding meaning in human existence. Frankl (1965) claimed that suffering has meaning if it generates change in the sufferer. Nietzsche (1973) noted that it is not suffering that is impossible to bear. This view of suffering as a spiritual phenomenon associated with the meaning of life is also grounded in Buddhist philosophy. Both view suffering as a spiritual phenomenon associated with the meaning of life. attachment (upadana) and craving (trsna). and results from the desire to achieve the object craved (Burton. Buddhist philosophy views suffering as an emotional condition rooted in two primary causes. an integral part of an individual’s daily existence (samsara) with no beginning and no end. 2. including unavoidable experiences that involve suffering. emotional clinging.
Emotional deficiencies which cause primary suffering may motivate individuals to seek solace through substance abuse—a form of self-treatment.5 and inability to accept change as reality.5 Suffering as Both a Cause of Drug Addiction and a Motivation in Recovery According to this model. Substance Abuse Drug Addiction Secondary Suffering Primary Suffering Treatment Motivation for Treatment Figure I. Relying only upon oneself. Secondary suffering is defined as the unbearable suffering of drug addiction e. Coping is possible when an individual relinquishes craving and all forms of attachment resulting from lack of knowledge about the impermanence of the objects (avidya) they crave. Similarly. This assumption is based on the self-medication hypothesis (Khantzian. individuals . Individuals are perceived as having the ability to choose and assume responsibility for their actions. needs and stresses motivating him toward substance abuse. Suffering as a Motivation for Treatment: A Conceptual Model 2.. primary suffering is defined as the range of an individual’s emotional deficiencies. Buddhism presents an optimistic. 1985).g. the 'hitting bottom' that forces one to reassess his life and seek help. spiritual approach to coping with suffering and may provide the answer to the existential dilemma of suffering. Figure I below presents the conceptual model for this article. fundamental existentialism attributes great significance to free choice and responsibility as crucial elements of an authentic existence.
Studies reveal that upon reaching this stage of unbearable suffering. emotional and social existence. (c) willingness to participate in treatment (Nwakeze. the destructive aspects of addiction cause secondary suffering—a multidimensional phenomenon affecting all aspects of one’s physical. Based on these studies it may be assumed that at this stage. Witztum & Bar-El. Recovery is contingent upon the addict’s motivation to self-change and cannot be imposed upon them. (c) they are powerless to cope with their suffering alone. According to this perception. Shufman. one can assume that secondary suffering may motivate addicts to seek external assistance through a recovery program. The 12 step program recognizes the importance of . addicts tend to seek external help (Nwakeze. rather than balances their deficiencies through emotional regulation. Magura. known as 12 step programs.. addicts realize (a) using drugs exacerbates. 1991). 2006). Motivation for treatment is a key factor in the initiation of. motivation is a self-change approach expressed in: (a) knowledge that drug addiction is a severe problem. 1992). (b) readiness to seek help and. Self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). 2. & Rosenblum. and involvement in treatment as well as in determining its outcome (Webster et al.6 Recovery from Addiction Suffering Through Spiritual Program Narcotics Anonymous (NA) offers a spiritual program (The 12 step program) to address drug and alcohol addiction.6 reject assistance from others and attempt to find their own way to alleviate psychological suffering. & Rosenblum. Magura. Over time. 2002. constitute a spirituality model for understanding the experience of addiction suffering and recovery (DuPont & McGovern. Therefore. (b) their suffering becomes unbearable and. 2002).
without which no changes may occur. values. the act of surrender sets in motion a conversion switch from negative to positive thinking and feeling--irrespective of any religious component (Tiebout. The recognition of suffering is a starting point in program assimilation (Ronel. He described the act as the moment when an addict’s subconscious forces of defiance and sense of grandiosity cease to function effectively. Dr. According to Tiebout’s approach. According to Tiebout. 1995: 99). 1953: 59). The NA program offers addicts a practical way to cope with suffering through surrender. 1992: 45). saw surrender as both a positive and creative state. nothing significant takes place' (Reinert. 'Alcoholics may hit bottom many times. an early pioneer in integrating the AA philosophy with psychiatric knowledge of alcoholism.7 an individual’s suffering and surrenders and regards both as crucial for recovery. Although there exists a disagreement over the definition and conceptualization of conversion. the surrender reaction consists of both the act and state of surrender. Harry Tiebout (1953). attitudes and behaviors sometimes occurring as a response to emotional and lasting stress (Snow & . but unless they surrender. Surrender creates a sense of unity and tranquility that releases an individual from the compulsion to use drugs. In his view. 1995). Samuel (1995) found that those who recovered from chemical dependence viewed surrender as the primary psychological and spiritual force for achieving abstinence and increasing their self-esteem. Surrender is a positive process incorporating positive thinking that creates a genuine readiness for acceptance. Suffering is considered a powerful motivator for change when it 'becomes unbearable' (Ronel. The act of surrender sets in motion a conversion experience that involves a radical self-change. most agree that it involves a radical self-change in one's beliefs. The state of surrender relates to the 'ego' characterized by immaturity and self-centeredness that pose obstacles in the recovery process.
refers to eliminating the individual’s subconscious feelings of grandiosity that cause him/her to resist recovery (Tiebout. Secondary suffering. characterized by despair. Surrender. 1953). 3. A Conceptual Model is presented in Figure II below. Drug addiction Secondary suffering Powerlessness Primary suffering Self-change Conversion Surrender Figure II. the result of drug addiction. Discussion According to the conceptual model of the current article primary suffering caused by negative emotions motivates an individual toward substance abuse. 1984). The act of surrender is to set in motion a conversion experience involving a self-change including reorganization of one’s identity and meaning of life (Shibutani. and may be a motivation for treatment as well as a key factor in recovery. which may be the foundation of the recovery process. is unbearable. drug addiction causes secondary suffering. the admission of which is an essential step in the recovery process leading to change in an addict’s omnipotent self-image. hopelessness and powerlessness.8 Machalek. . Powerlessness represents lack of control over drug addiction. Self-Change in Addiction Recovery: A Conceptual Model According to this model.
9 1961). Based on this article we may offer a number of recommendations for addiction practitioners: (a) Patient's suffering as a motivator for recovery should be routinely assessed and addressed in the recovery process. includes three dimensions: distress. nor does it work for everyone. psychosocial and physiological dimensions of the human entity. according to Cassell (1992). Any spiritual program directly emphasizing personal suffering and offering practical ways to end suffering may be appropriate. (c) A spiritual program directly emphasizing personal suffering and offering practical ways to end suffering may be appropriate for therapeutic intervention. Conclusion The contribution of this article may be: (a) In presenting suffering as an internal motivation for treatment.. The present research has focused on the 12 step program which provides a pragmatic approach to coping with suffering through spirituality recovery. This perception of suffering may encourage addicts to become active participants in their own lives rather than perceiving themselves as passive victims of life’s circumstances. The 12 step program may provide an answer to the suffering which. the 12 step program is not a panacea. This article has some limitation. . (b) Drug addiction recovery requires a more holistic approach which integrates the spiritual. 4. 2000). (b) In presenting a different perception of suffering as a catalyst for self-change. alienation and despair—and by attending social meetings that provide social support and sharing the message with another suffering addict (Step 12) the messenger may find meaning in life. Despite reported empirical successes. A better understanding of the internal factors that influence one's motivation for drug addiction treatment is needed since studies indicate that individuals who are more motivated for treatment are more likely to experience success (Knight et al.
11. (2006). B. (1965). 362. 306-323. psychological. Addiction and spirituality. The hidden dimension of illness: human suffering (pp. & J.E. & J.)..P. R. 165-170. Popitto. social and spiritual aspects. Starck.L. (2004). 48. & Berg. Psychotherapeutic interventions at the end of life: A focus on meaning and spirituality.. 326-345. & McGovern. (1992). (2000). (2002). Addiction. J.). Starck. In P. J. Conceptualization and measurement of the spiritual and psychological dimensions of wellness in a college population. E. 50. V. 353- . DuPont. 52. (2001). Cook. Journal of American College Health.R. 539-551.. Philosophy East and West. Frank.1-10).J. spiritual program and addiction recovery. T..P McGovern (Eds.. G.W.155-201). Suffering in addiction: Alcoholism and drug dependence. Burton. C. R. S.L. Knowledge and liberation: philosophical ruminations on a Buddhist conundrum. & Bezner. Chen.P McGovern (Eds.H. Breitbart. Frankl. Man's search for meaning. 99. (2004). International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. The nature of suffering: Physical. D. New York: National League for Nursing Press. New York: National League for Nursing Press. The hidden dimension of illness: human suffering (pp. New York: Washington Square Press. Social support. (1992). W. 49. Gibson. A. A. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.10 References Adams. C. Cassell. Can we reach suffering? Qualitative Health Research.L. 366-372. In P.
The self medication hypothesis of addictive disorders: Focus on heroin and cocaine dependence. Dissertation-Abstracts-International:-Section B:-The-Sciences-and Engineering. . Magura. 63(11).T. (1973). J. S. 291-312. London: Roudedge. D.G. 160164. Nwakeze.159-160).C.).T. (2002). Jerusalem: The Israel Anti Drug Authority. Williams James's radical empiricism and the phenomenology of addiction. 37. Dissertation Abstracts International. A. Trans. Bernasconi (Ed. 5157b. Ronel.38). Nietzsche. American Journal of Psychiatry: 131. Narcotic Anonymous in Israel: The process of self-help and religious beliefs among drug addicts. (1992). In R. Harmondsworth: Penguim. (1995). (UMI No. (1995). F. Reinert. F. desire for help. PhD dissertation. (1987). Levinas.J. M. Samuel. The surrender experience in recovery from substance dependence: A multiple case article (Alcoholics' Anonymous). Useless suffering. (1988). The provocation of Levinas (pp.J. Drug problem recognition. Effects of participation in alcohol self-help groups on surrender and narcissism among adult males (Doctoral dissertation. W. Reich. (2003). Hollingdale. Substance Use & Misuse. (1985). Beyond good and evil: Prelude to a philosophy of the future.. R. 3071157).. N. PhD dissertation. 117-122. 53007B. & Rosenblum.11 Gray. E. Models of pain and suffering: foundation for an ethic of compassion. and treatment readiness in a soup kitchen population. Khantzian. Loyola College. E. Dissertation Abstracts International. 1992). Acta Neurochirurgica (Suppl. P. Vol 56(3-b):1688.
The Hastings Centre Report. The act of surrender in the therapeutic process. 441-448. & Bar-El. Mateyoke-Scrivner. Motivation for addiction and for detoxification: myths vs reality.. (2006). E. The meaning of suffering..D. Suffering and Being in Empirical Theology. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. Harefuah. Witztum. & Leukefeld. 48-58. mental health. (1969). (1998). (1961). E. 120. Gender. D.M. Van Hooft. A. S. Annual of Sociology. (1953). A.A. Krietemeyer. 10. New York: Payne Translation. D. 167-190. (1984). J. & Machalek.. Review . The future of empirical theology.. Tiebout. Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Rosen.. K. Webster. L.. (1958). 22-25 (In Hebrew). P. University of Chicago Press: Chicago. Schopenhauer. The sociology of conversion.M. Society and Personality. Englewood Cliffs NJ: Prentice . Staton-Tyndall.12 Shibutani.N. 38. and treatment motivation in a drug court setting. T.Hall. H. The world as will and representation. C.J. Hasting-on-Hudson.. Williams. 10. Snow. R. Shufman. (1991).
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.