'Dharma Punx' Author Noah Levine Talks Addiction And His 12-Step Alternative

By Dorri Olds 08/30/16

Noah Levine spoke with Dopey about his teenage drug use, recovery, and navigating recovery as an "anti-authority, non-theistic person."

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'Dharma Punx' Author Noah Levine Talks Addiction And His 12-Step Alternative
via Dopey Podcast

The most recent episode of the Dopey podcast features bestselling author and Buddhist teacher Noah Levine (pronounced “La-vyne”), who started getting high at age seven and regularly ingested hallucinogenics before puberty.

Best known for his book Dharma Punx, Levine was able to connect the angry energy of punk with the positivity of Buddhism. His other books include Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction and Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries.

Levine shared his background with the podcast:

“I was born into this perfect set-up of extreme suffering and neglect and trauma and addiction, but also to a family who were spiritually minded and practicing meditation. So, I had the perfect suffering and then also solution right there in my own family. I grew up around people meditating and practicing what we call The Dharma—spiritual Eastern, Hindu, Buddhist practices.” 

He described himself as a full-blown drug addict by the time he was a teenager. “I got my ass kicked really fast by smoking crack and shooting heroin as a teenager, which got me done early, and then I turned to meditation.” 

He also talked about his bottom and spiritual awakening: “I was in juvie for the 10th time and [my father] said over the telephone, when I was in a padded cell after a suicide attempt, ‘Maybe you want to try some mindfulness mediation.’ And I said, ‘How about a fucking lawyer? Not your hippie bullshit Buddhist meditation.’”

When Levine realized that his father was tired of bailing him out and that tough love was all he was being offered, Levine went back to his cell to meditate. “I was desperate enough,” he said. “For the first time in my life I realized I didn’t have to pay attention to my brain, which was trying to fucking kill me.”

Levine admitted he’d blamed others for his problems but finally realized that nobody was making him commit felonies, drink, and take drugs. He said it occurred to him that “If I got myself into this, maybe I can get myself out.”

Levine who has been sober since '88, also talked about Refuge Recovery, an AA alternative he created a decade ago. It’s a Buddhist path of addiction recovery that uses a mindfulness-based approach. Levine says it is about "creating a reliable internal wisdom and compassion refuge" through personal efforts.

According to Levine, there are about 200 meetings across the country where participants "meditate, tell some dopey war stories" and "focus on the solution, through your own efforts, training your mind and supporting each other, and making amends." 

Dopey co-host Chris told The Fix, “We are strong supporters of anything that is helpful, widely available, and free. Many people have issues with 12-step philosophy, and Refuge Recovery meetings offer a similar model without the Judeo-Christian feel that sometimes turns people off."

You can check out the episode on PodBean and iTunes. 

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. She is currently working on a book scheduled for release in 2019. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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