Buddhism A–Z
Buddhism & Addiction

In medical terms, an addiction is an inability to stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior in spite of negative consequences.

It’s notable that the Buddha described all of our attachments to sensations as something like an addiction. In his “Fire Sermon” (Ādittapariyāya Sutta, Samyutta Nikaya 35.28) the Buddha said we are burning with craving, with passion, with lust. Our sense organs, our mind, burn for stimulation. And this craving keeps us trapped in samsaric existence. Buddhism has many practices to help us develop insight into this craving, and with insight we can become non-attached, and liberated.

There are some relatively new addiction treatment programs that incorporate Buddhist practices like meditation and mindfulness to aid in returning to a healthful life. These are too new to know long-term success rates, but they show promise.

Related Reading

Breaking Free from Addiction

The dharma can help people wake up to the truth of their substance abuse and find a way to get—and stay—sober. We present four true stories of recovery.

The Buddhist Recovery Approach to Addiction

Valerie Mason-John talks to Lion's Roar's Rod Meade Sperry about the Buddhist Recovery approach to contending with addiction.

Ask the Teachers: Should I Meditate If I Can’t Stop Thinking about Porn?

Bodhin Kjolhede, JoAnna Harper, and Repa Dorje Odzer answer the question "Should I meditate if I can't stop thinking about porn?"

Buddha statue holding flowers.

Extreme Detox: How Buddhist monks led me to humility and freedom from alcohol addiction

Author Paul Garrigan tells how Buddhist monks in a Thai temple helped him to drop his drinking, and even the very idea that he was an addict.

Addiction & Mindfulness—One Moment at a Time

Addiction mocks hope, kills people, destroys families. David Swick reports on how mindfulness practice is helping people change.

Chönyi Taylor presents a meditation to familiarize yourself with the triggers that set off addictive behaviors.

A Meditation to Identify Your Addiction Triggers

Chönyi Taylor presents a meditation to familiarize yourself with the triggers that set off addictive behaviors.

Buddhism A–Z

Explore essential Buddhist terms, concepts, and traditions.