May 16

I’m not the first to post this caution, which is found on a number of addiction oriented sites, but if you are new to looking for help for addictions, your web searches may lead you to something called “Narconon,” which is both a program and now a facility in Florida (land of a thousand rehabs).


It sounds a lot like Nar-Anon, doesn’t it, and also like Narcotics Anonymous.  (NA is like AA for drugs; Nar-Anon, with no “c,” is for significant others of drug addicts.)   But it’s neither of those.


Narconon, in fact, is a branch of the Church of Scientology, and focused on the writings of Scientology guru L. Ron Hubbard.  Like some other cultish churches, their position is that immersion in their cult will cure you of addiction and other ills.


You have probably already read about Scientology (e.g., this article or this article).  If you like Scientology, Narconon may be a good match for you.  For the rest of us, the name and marketing constitute a kind of bait-and-switch, and a dangerous one at that.


12-step programs also have a religious tone, even though many members have no affiliation with any organized religion – not surprising, since AA began as an offshoot of the Christianity-based Oxford Group.  But 12-step programs [a] don’t deify a human being [there is admiration for AA’s founders, but no commandments to obey]; [b] don’t attack those with varying views; [c] don’t seek to create an insular group cut off from or antagonistic to non-members; [d] don’t seek to control their participants through mechanisms such as shaming, ostracism, or threats; [e] don’t seek large sums of money from their members.  Just to mention a few differences.


Cults, on the other hand, often prey on those who are alienated and fragile.  Like, say, people caught in the grip of addiction.


Jeffrey Fortgang, PhD, LADC 1



Jan 30

We continue our interview with SK, a 3L law student in the greater Boston area. Part 1 of the interview can be found here. She graciously agreed to share some of her story with us and to tell us more about Refuge Recovery, a Buddhist path to addiction recovery.

LCL: What is Refuge Recovery and how did you come to be aware of it? How has Refuge Recovery helped you? Do you apply Buddhist principles in all aspects of your life? How have Buddhist principles influenced your life in general, your experience of law school, your future goals as a lawyer?

SK: Refuge Recovery is a Buddhist-based approach to recovery from addiction, founded by a man named Noah Levine. There are meetings all over the U.S. and the world. It’s open to anyone, at any stage of dealing with or recovering from any type of addiction, including alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling, codependency, shopping, you name it. I discovered it through a sort of sister-group called Dharma Punx, which is a Buddhist meditation group that also has meetings in Boston. As a nice twist of fate, my sponsor who I met through twelve step is also involved in Refuge Recovery. I spent my first six months of sobriety crafting my own recovery program which consisted mostly of podcasts, books, yoga and meditation, and a diet overhaul. But I was really craving being able to commiserate with other people about what I was going through, so I began going to twelve step meetings and Refuge Recovery meetings and I am so, so glad I did. I wish I hadn’t waited! Continue reading »

Jan 09

The change in the season means many different things to different people. When the season changes from autumn to winter (at least in regions where there is distinct variation between seasons), some people are excited about the holidays, winter fashion, and outdoor winter activities (think of your friendly neighborhood skiers, snowboarders, Santa impersonators). For others, the change in season is met with dread (lower amounts of energy, mood fluctuations, pessimism). While many people are negatively impacted by the colder seasons, there is a percentage of individuals who are affected to a significant degree, those who meet the criteria for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD occurs when the change of season produces depressed mood, low energy, irritability, change in sleep patterns, change in appetite, diminished concentration, and low motivation. Continue reading »

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