Episode 70: Refuge Recovery

In this week’s episode, I speak with Dave Owens from Refuge Recovery in Kansas City, Missouri. Dave is an atheist who wasn’t comfortable with most of the AA meetings around here, and he was never able to put a lot of sober time together until he learned about the We Agnostics Group in Kansas City and our sister group Freethinkers in AA Kansas City

Earlier this year, Dave discovered Refuge Recovery which he enjoys and finds helpful to his recovery. Knowing about Dave’s involvement with Refuge Recovery, I invited him over to my house to record this podcast, which I think turned out to be both fun and informative.   

What is Refuge Recovery? 

Refuge Recovery: Is a mindfulness-based addiction recovery community that practices and utilizes Buddhist philosophy as the foundation of the recovery process. Drawing inspiration from the core teachings of the Four Noble Truths, emphasis is placed on both knowledge and empathy as a means for overcoming addiction and its causes. Those struggling with any form of addiction greatly benefit when they are able to understand the suffering that addiction has created while developing compassion for the pain they have experienced. We hope to serve you, and meet you on the path. 

About Refuge Recovery

If you would like to learn more, the website refugerecovery.org has a lot of useful information about the process and practices of Refuge Recovery, as well as a directory of meetings. The resources page contains links to pamphlets, meeting formats, podcasts, books and more. The book Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovery from Addiction, by Noah Levine is available at Amazon in paperback, e-book format, and audio.  

Should you wish to contact Dave or if you are interested in attending the Refuge Recovery meeting in Kansas City, you can visit their Facebook page, Refuge Recovery Kansas City.  


Podcast Transcript

You may read the podcast transcript by scrolling through the window on this page or by downloading the pdf file.

Episode 70-Refuge Recovery Transcript

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  1. Greg T October 26, 2017 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    I live in a small city in Louisiana that has a lot of AA regular meetings, which all tend to be VERY focused on the “spiritual aspect” of recovery. This has made it extremely difficult for me to feel comfortable and connected to the group as a whole. There are a couple of Atheist/Agnostic – Freethinker meetings in town but I still find myself having a difficult time really connecting there, which probably has to do with the fact that these meetings are very small (usually between 5 and 10 people) and most of who attend are very young in recovery. I find that often the conversations in these meetings seem to be somewhat off-topic and without a whole lot of substance.

    Four months ago we started a Refuge Recovery meeting here and it has really taken off. We consistently have 15-20 people in attendance and we are starting a second meeting next month. The depth of the conversations in these meetings are by far more satisfying and meaningful to me personally, especially because I find it much easier to relate to the path to recovery laid out by Refuge Recovery.

    I am so grateful for having an option to AA and I highly recommend to those who struggle with finding a safe space within the rooms of 12 step programs taking a look at RR as an option.

    Thanks for the awesome podcast!

    • John S October 26, 2017 at 9:24 pm Reply

      Thank you for the kind comment. We are lucky to have more options available for people in recovery. That’s incredible that your meeting is doing so well. I have a feeling the Refuge Recovery meeting in Kansas City will be successful too.

      Thanks for listening.

  2. D.G. October 25, 2017 at 10:12 am - Reply

    I’ve been a fan of Noah Levine’s take on Buddhism and recovery for years, and his Against the Stream and Refuge Recovery books and podcasts have been very helpful and relatable to me- so much so that I recommended them in my article for AABB back in November, and attended an RR meeting in Austin when we were there for the secular AA convention. One of the two speakers on the Buddhist panel at the convention had also been directly involved with Against the Stream and RR. Nice podcast John and Dave! I hope my schedule lands me in KC to catch a meeting there soon! The popularity and commercialization of mindfulness (along with all the more religious trappings of Buddhism) has to me, created more confusion than clarity- so I was very happy to hear you guys talk about meditation being less about “stopping” thinking (impossible and not helpful) and more about recognizing the patterns of thought that the brain/mind generates on it’s own, acceptance and developing a better, wiser relationship with them – to find what’s true and worthwhile and helpful and what’s just noise. I also recommend again Stephen Batchelor’s books “Buddhism without Beliefs” and “Confessions of an Atheist Buddhist”.

    • John S October 25, 2017 at 6:28 pm Reply

      Thank you for listening D.G. I think that Refuge Recovery will do well in KC. Dave’s a good guy and quite dedicated to this. They also recently secured a meeting place centrally located in the city.

  3. bob k October 25, 2017 at 9:10 am - Reply

    Thanks for a VERY articulate presentation of the subject matter. I look forward to an era where Refuge Recovery, and other options, gain ubiquity. The practices sound fascinating. Levine’s original book is on my shelf, scanned but unread. I am now more motivated to crack it open.

    In the meantime, secular AA seems to be a more viable option. When we started Whitby Freethinkers 4 years ago, we began with double digit attendance at Meeting # 1. A year ago, we moved to a larger room.

    • John S October 25, 2017 at 9:44 am Reply

      Thanks, Bob. I couldn’t help but make comparisons to AA. They acknowledge the problem, they realize that recovery is possible and they do the work. They take extensive personal inventory, meditate, stress community and selflessness and helping others.

      The book also has personal stories in the back.

      I have never been consistent with meditation but I know it is beneficial.

      Like you, i am glad for the options. We provide an option within AA that has been pretty successful too.

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