• Most people I know in such programs tell me that at least in my area, references are made to "a higher power." One can choose to believe this "higher power" is God or the human spirit. So I don't see any problem with atheists and 12-step programs.
  • A person can achieve a spiritual path of recovery using the 12 step guideline. And the whole sentence is- the care of God AS WE UNDERSTAND HIM.. which can be one's own spirit energy; a natural element. I cannot believe in the supernatural so I will do what works for me.
  • God and prayer are mentioned several times. I don't see how atheist could, in good conscience, participate in the 12 Step AA program.   1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of GOD as we understood Him. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. Admitted to GOD, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. Were entirely ready to have GOD remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. Sought through PRAYER and meditation to improve our conscious contact with GOD as we understood Him, PRAYING only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
  • I don't have a problem of this sort, so I can't really speak to it myself. However, I have heard that a lot of people have trouble with AA and NA for this very reason. I recently read the book "Beautiful Boy" about a father trying to help his son through drug addiction. They were not a religious family, so the NA process was distinctly unhelpful sometimes. Many if not most rehab programs focus on the idea of submitting yourself to a higher power, and consider you stubborn and uncooperative if you do otherwise. People like to say that you can work around those particular items and that you don't necessarily have to be Christian to make it work, but unfortunately the program is built around the Christian idea of God and relies upon faith in that god to get you through the addiction. I just don't see how that's going to help the rest of us. There may be specifically atheist chapters out there, which modify the twelve steps. I also found a secular program through Google called SOS (Save Our Selves): The sad truth is that none of these programs are as effective as we'd like. I don't know what I would recommend if someone close to me needed a service like this. Addiction is a terrible disease. :(
  • No way. In addition, I don't see how hanging around other addictive personalities helps at all. AA isn't the only way. I read the book The Truth About Addiction and Recovery by Stanton Peele PhD. and it was very helpful in understanding the recovery process.
  • Nope. There is actually no evidence that 12 Step programs work and better than doing nothing at all.
  • I would look for an SOS chapter, The Secular Organization for Sobriety. Or better yet, see a personal counselor that's experienced in treating addiction.
  • The hidden assumption is that a 12 step program is the only way to succeed but it is not. AA has just as bad a rate of failure and recidivism as going it alone. Another hidden assumption is that only athiests reject religion-driven programs. Many people simply prefer to manage their lives and problems separately from the hypocritical moral preachiness, and to practice their beliefs as they choose, outside their problems in this world. There are secular organizations to turn to.

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