Young Buddhist monk walking along a corridor of Wheels of Life with an orange parasol

Pain of Dying and Joyful Resurrection: Addiction Revisited

Mike Mather


In the pursuit of overcoming addiction, I find that it can be helpful to view the process as a form of death and rebirth.

Just as death marks the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another, the process of overcoming addiction requires us to let go of our past selves and embrace a new way of living.

The pain of addiction can be all-consuming, and it's understandable that the idea of giving up the one thing that has been a constant in our lives can feel overwhelming. Alcohol was my only bestest friend, lover and elixir.


However, just as death is not the end of everything, nor is rock bottom. We can use this difficult experience as an opportunity for growth and change.

To achieve success in overcoming addiction, we can adopt a new set of basics that will support and promote a new way of life. This means killing our addiction, dying to it, and being reborn as a new version of ourselves - the non-drinking version. It means letting go of the past self that needed to drink, and resolving, one day at a time, that we don't drink anymore, and that our new life is like such.

women made of as skeleton and dressed in bones suit with a parasol to match

Photo by Bruno Miranda Photography on pexels

Three Aspects of The Path

Adopting a pattern of behaviour that includes moral discipline, compassion, and wisdom is also preferred. My hubristic modification of Je Tsongkhapa's Three Aspects of The Path:

  1. Moral discipline involves making a conscious effort to act in ways that are aligned with our values and beliefs, and to avoid actions that harm ourselves or others.
  2. Compassion means being kind and mindful towards ourselves and others, while…
  3. Wisdom involves seeking out knowledge and understanding that can help us make better choices in life. Buddha urges us to seek the true nature of self, but that can wait until another chapter. We can focus on interdependence for now.


Finding a supportive community can also be incredibly helpful in overcoming addiction. This could be a group of individuals who are also on the path to recovery, or a more established community such as a Sangha. Re-birthing into a new community that is nourishing and supportive can help us stay accountable and motivated, and offers an opportunity to contribute to something larger than ourselves.

As we work towards our own recovery, we must also pay it forward and offer support to others who are on a similar journey.

The process of overcoming addiction can be viewed as a form of death and rebirth. By letting go of our past selves and embracing a new way of living that includes moral discipline, compassion, and wisdom, we can attain a life of usefulness and happiness.

Young woman walking away down a country rail line

Photo by Etienne Boulanger on Unsplash


  • Seek out a supportive community, work towards your own recovery and…
  • Offer support to others
  • Don't drink today
  • Learn about and practice a moral disciplined life
  • Contribute to society with kindness and compassion, and
  • Be grateful for the opportunity to start anew.

love alwaz

About the Author Mike Mather

Mike was born in 1963 which technically makes him one of the youngest of the Baby Boomers. An Australian with Indigenous and European heritage, he has been an avid and required student of Buddhism and alcoholism since 2008.

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