Throughout your sober journey, you will undoubtedly hear about “the higher power” and to “let go and let God.” That may resonate with you, and it might not. But whatever spiritual practice you adhere to—even if, in essence, it’s that you have NO spiritual practice—that’s okay. You don’t need a dogmatic belief system to recognize this well-worn truth:
Drum roll please…Everything ends. That’s it. You’re probably thinking, “Of course everything ends. Death and taxes and all that.”
Sure, that’s the macro-level takeaway from the nature of impermanence—of the fact that everything comes to and end. From a great cup of coffee to your favorite TV series. Nothing lasts in perpetuity…even a craving.
You know that craving. Not the same way people crave a jelly donut when they’re on a diet. We’re talking about a craving that feels like a bone-deep NEED. Notice that we used the phrase “feels like” because it’s just a feeling. That craving that feels like you’ll die without it? It will pass. Giving into it now is giving into it forever, because you’ve now made something impermanent feel solid and immovable.
Granted, sometimes (like in the case of a medical detox) you need medical intervention to reduce symptoms while you recover safely. But out in the world, there might not be the angel on your shoulder readily available to remind you that a craving is just that. It is not a directive from your body that you must obey, though it may feel like one.
Furthermore, just because you might be feeling the pull of your former substance of choice, that doesn’t mean you have to identify yourself with that feeling of craving. In other words, the mere fact that you thought about using doesn’t automatically mean you are/will be a junkie for life, or someone beyond help. It just means you had a craving and for those who let the craving pass as what it is, the more confident you’ll feel when that craving sneaks up again.
No tradition of spirituality covers the reality of impermanence—particularly of attachment and cravings—like the various types of Buddhism, including secular (or non-theistic) Buddhism:
Buddhist doctrines deal in detail with craving and attachment, how they arise, the forms they take, their results, and also how they can be managed. This and Buddhist emphasis on impermanence makes these doctrines pertinent to theories of the causation and mechanisms of addictions and to possible therapies… such a framework may provide a spiritual but non-theistic alternative for those who reject the theism implicit in the twelve-step philosophy1.
Realization of impermanent cravings can lead to permanent sobriety. At Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon we use cutting-edge techniques and individualized programs to help men and their families achieve freedom from addiction and triggering behaviors. Taking a sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help; our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474