Greetings to all Refuge Recovery sangha members worldwide,

Thank you all for your strong commitment to Refuge Recovery service since
stay at home orders began in March. This commitment can be seen in the creation and support of over 40 new online meetings. We are currently able to offer online meetings seven days a week and throughout each day. The need for our program during this time of isolation, and increased addiction is evident in the size and reach of the online meetings. Many are attending their first RR meeting online. This online environment has also given us new ways to present our program with online talks, workshops and retreats bringing our message to established members and newcomers from around the world.

In 2014, the book Refuge Recovery was published. Many felt that for the first time in history, a viable buddhist path to recovery was made available. Refuge Recovery’s author Noah Levine, a buddhist teacher and long time member of the twelve step community designed the meditations and practices specifically for people seeking recovery. Incorporated into the program described in the book were unifying twelve-step recovery group principles of consistent meetings and groups structured around a non-profit service board.

This unique combination of the wisdom found in our recovery-based buddhist practice and in the group unity practices found in twelve-step recovery group structures sets our program apart from both general buddhist practice and other buddhist recovery groups.

As a result of this unique and focused approach Refuge Recovery inspired many, and our community grew rapidly over the next 4 years to eventually exceed 700 meetings.

In 2018, some meetings, following guidance by former board members of Refuge Recovery, began to include literature, formats, meditations, practices and group business structures not consistent with Refuge Recovery’s original design and in our opinion, harmful to Refuge Recovery’s identity and reputation.

As a result, there has been some confusion about what makes a RR meeting and group. This is understandable. As the board of the Refuge Recovery World Services non-profit, we apologize for any lack of clarity about our program caused by the former boards actions and we ask that no ill-will be held towards any members who have followed the former boards guidance. Forgiveness, kindness, compassion and equanimity are our practice.

In August of 2019, a new board was formed. Sitting on the new board of Refuge Recovery World Services are Noah Levine, author and founder of RR, Russ Smith of the Asheville and Los Angeles sangha and a skilled trademark and copyright attorney, Rachael Savage of the RR Seattle Sangha, with decades of recovery meeting creation and service, and Joseph Souhrada, also of the RR Seattle Sangha and with over a decade of experience in recovery meeting creation and service.

This board’s intention is to unify all groups around a consistent and non-controversial program of Refuge Recovery. This consistency is fundamental to the existence and effectiveness of our program. To create a consistent network of meetings and a reliable program of recovery, our groups are, where necessary and as soon as possible, being returned to their original design.

Beginning in August, all newly created groups have been registering with RR World Services with the understanding that all RR groups use only the book, meditations, meeting format, and group structures described on our meeting and service resource pages and to agree to observe RR’s social media policy.

Effective today, and in order to be recognized as a Refuge Recovery group and registered on refugerecovery.org, all groups should return to using only the RR book, meeting format, meditations, and group structure and to agree to observe RR social media policy. Detailed information is available on the refugerecovery.org meeting and service resource pages. We are available to answer any questions and work with all groups to make all necessary changes.

Our program will grow and change, with literature development, meeting formats and new group structures created as needed and through an overall Refuge Recovery process. The first step towards growth is the creation of a democratic sangha voice. We believe that all RR meetings have a say in what any individual meeting is presenting as Refuge Recovery. To serve this end, our board is committed to creating a democratic service structure with RR group representation, structured in the same general way as the structure of Alcoholics Anonymous. That work has begun, with state conventions and the annual conference as the next steps in the process. We encourage all members to ask questions, make suggestions and get involved. This is your program.

Our goal is to assist in the growth and development of Refuge Recovery groups across the United States and around the world. Our hope is that all members of Refuge Recovery will recognize that there will always be a need for a World Services board to help meetings and members resolve conflicts in a manner that is protective of our programs integrity and reputation. Our board is also the group responsible for creating and maintaining unity among all the RR groups. We take these tasks seriously and we ask for your trust.

We appreciate all of the tireless effort and energy put into creating groups by so many Refuge Recovery members. We look forward to the day when attending Refuge Recovery meetings in every town and city becomes possible. We believe this return to our programs focused design is the best way to bring our program to every person seeking recovery.

We ask that all members look at the sacrifice of personal preferences as a form of generosity and as a positive step towards achieving the goal of unifying “…Refuge Recovery as a whole”.

Please contact us with any questions or requests for assistance. In service,

Joseph Souhrada
Russ Smith
Rachael Savage
Noah Levine
Refuge Recovery World Services

206.913.9625

refugerecoveryworldservices@refugerecovery.org

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