How should we deal with people who have just started coming to our Buddhist center and who have problems with alcohol or drugs?

Lama Ole’s answer:

I wouldn’t start any big discussion about it in the center. People can only come if they are clean, and then they get what they want. You can spend a whole evening talking to someone with a drug or alcohol problem; he’ll understand everything very deeply, and then the next morning, when the drug has no effect anymore, he won’t remember a thing. We pay taxes for institutions to take care of people with these problems. Those who come to us should be capable of meditating and should want to do it.

We are not social workers. If we were, we would wear ourselves out and have nothing to offer those with surplus. So if someone is drunk once, we can put up with it because he is a friend. If he smokes pot once, it is also not such a big deal. But people with permanent problems do not belong in the center.