The 12 Step Buddhist Comes to Macomb

From The Macomb Daily:
Published: Wednesday, August 11, 2010

By Maryanne Kocis MacLeod
Macomb Daily Staff Writer

Addiction recovery, like most puzzles, has many pieces. In his book “The 12-Step Buddhist” (Beyond Words, $16), Portland-based author Darren Littlejohn explores the integration of Buddhist philosophy/spirituality into more familiar, Western recovery models.

“For me, 12-step programs alone focus mainly on the day-to-day struggle,” Littlejohn said. “Psychotherapy alone doesn’t recognize spirituality. And Buddhism, in and of itself, does not understand addiction. For me, I had to come up with my own system and work it all together to be successful.”

Littlejohn will share his unique approach to recovery from 12–3 p.m. Saturday at SHAR, 6902 Chicago Road, in Warren. Cost is $10 per person; $25 tickets include a copy of his book with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Greater Macomb Project Vox. GMPV is a recovery advocacy group aimed at reducing the stigma attached to substance use disorders.

“We need more people (like Littlejohn) who are willing to slap (their) picture on the back of a book and identify (themselves) as a person with a substance use disorder,” said Deborah Garrett, Greater Macomb Project Vox chairwoman, adding that she is impressed that he was willing to do that.

“People in recovery can utilize Buddhist principles and mediation techniques, which are already part of 12-step recovery, but not spelled out as such” to effectively work on their recovery/remission, Littlejohn said.

Littlejohn first achieved sobriety in 1984 at the age of 22. But his interest in Buddhism started when he started reading books on the Eastern religion in the sixth grade.

It wasn’t until the mid- to late ’80s, however, that he truly began seeking the Buddhist path, which in some ways, contributed to his relapse in 1994.

“That’s when I started questioning everything, and suddenly, nothing has any meaning,” Littlejohn explained. “The Christian (spiritualists) describe it as ‘the dark night of the soul.’ You get into a very dark spot, like a funnel, a depression.”

Littlejohn said he wrote the book in hopes of helping others avoid the relapse from which he came out of in 1997. He has been sober for 13 years.

Buddhism teaches that all suffering is caused by attachment and can be avoided by practicing compassion, Littlejohn said.

“Addiction is attachment gone wild,” Littlejohn said.

Tickets are available at the door, at or by calling or visiting The 12 Step Buddhist