In my experience as an addict, the best we can hope for is to arrest the symptom – albeit use of the drug of choice, while we treat the underlying cause. In the 12-Step world, this underlying cause is a spiritual malady–the main problem centers in the mind, rather than in the body. The difference between the treatment I recommend for addiction and the common cold is that as 12-Step Buddhists we don’t just treat the symptoms.
As addicts, we’ve spent our lives deep in attachment to our drugs of choice, whatever they may be. Sure, Buddhism addresses attachment. But in the case of the addict it’s more like Attachment Gone Wild. For this we need a serious, specific form of medicine. For me, it’s the 12-Steps and my Buddhist practices. As a 12-Step Buddhist, I’m fully aware of this need to know the condition at a deep level because failure to stay in that knowledge almost cost me my life—more than once. It’s about knowing what the condition is and the condition is samsara. Part of what keeps us stuck in samsara is attachment. We just won’t let go, no matter how bad it hurts.