Atheists, Addictions, 12 Step Recovery, and Alternatives


Atheists, Addictions, 12 Step Recovery, and Alternatives

Trouble with drugs (including alcohol) or other potential addictions? Tried 12 step recovery and found it wanting? You're welcome here.

Members: 119
Latest Activity: Feb 1

Desiderata (Revised)

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with it, whatever you conceive it to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Discussion Forum

New in recovery

Started by diane sholly. Last reply by kent l thompson Jan 19. 6 Replies

Confronting the Fellowship of NA.

Started by William Brown. Last reply by Joe C Dec 2, 2013. 22 Replies


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Comment Wall


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Comment by Curtis Edward Clark on November 19, 2009 at 3:43pm
Well, Luke, it obviously it not "official", yet, and may never be, but the current crop of "trusted servants" who are running the show in New York obviously understand the need to be open even to those who don't believe in God. In an article published in the GSO publication "box 459" just this year, they told about a man who uses a GI Joe doll as his "higher power", and they were not making fun of him.

I would stop holding a resentment toward the prejudices of Bill and Bob, and start understanding that our trusted servants are actually serving everyone now. How do you explain the "official recognition" of my group with a registration number? How do you explain that at the East Central Forum put on the GSO in my home town last weekend that I was not accosted by anyone when I got up to the open mic and declared that my homegroup was called "Atheists and Spirituality"?

AA is a different game now. Perhaps that has not filtered through the consciousness of all the groups, and it probably never will. There is a local group here that has their own official t-shirts and a "god quote" from the Big Book is bigger than life on the back of the shirts. THAT upset someone who went to the open mic, but the admission of my group didn't rile anyone; at least, not anyone who was willing to say it to my face.
Comment by Luke on November 18, 2009 at 10:57pm
Your message to the group said:
By the way, AA has no problem with atheists. I started a home group in my town, and the New York office (GSO) gave it an official registration number. The title of the current Gravevine, if you have not seen it, is "Always Inclusive, Never Exclusive."

I really don't see how a group who insists that all members must accept and make requests of a "Higher Power" is fully accepting of an atheist. They require a change that I cannot make. How can I be an atheist who believes in a Higher Power who answers requests for assistance? This would like being a fundamentalist christian who doesn't believe in gods.

Please explain.
Comment by Pete Soderman on November 18, 2009 at 10:10pm
Curtis, if I thought there was anything of value in AA for me I would have started an atheist AA group here, but there just isn't. I much prefer the SMART format, and it's based upon good science that works, rather then magic. Face it, no one who truly understands how they are abstaining needs to continue meetings for the rest of their life. Once you have the tools to dispute your irrational thinking, they rapidly become a part of your life, and you can move on. The only thing in AA I consider of value is the tenth step, as the big book describes it. If properly understood, it puts you in the moment, constantly aware of your thoughts, actions and beliefs as well as your interactions with others. Zen, of course, will put you int he same place, and faster 'cause that's what meditation is designed to do.

I'm aware that there are many "secular" AA groups across the country and perhaps the world, but I simply don't see the need for all the baggage AA brings with it. The fellowship is certainly a positive thing, but that can be obtained elsewhere, in Humanist groups, etc.. I'm not knocking what you're doing, just saying it's not for me.
Comment by Curtis Edward Clark on November 18, 2009 at 3:40pm
Pete. I started an atheist AA group in my hometown, and the GSO in NY gave it an official registration number. The title of the Gravevine this month is "Always Inclusive, Never Exclusive." They really mean it. And most people here in Kalamazoo accept me and tell me they appreciate my comments on being atheist in AA. http://groups.google.com/group/atheist-aa is the web address of my atheist AA Google group.
Comment by Pete Soderman on July 13, 2009 at 6:57pm
Hi, I'm new to Atheistnexus, but not to atheism or recovery. Quit drinking in '90 in AA, not doing the program (sorry, just couldn't make the leap), but enjoying the fellowship part. Finally, about five years ago I really had enough with the overt religiosity in this area of the country permeating the meetings and started looking for a secular recovery organization that made sense.

A couple of years ago, I found SMART, and started a meeting here in Wilmington, NC. It is doing fine, and so am I. My feeling is that if someone truly wants to quit, almost anything will work. If the individual does not want to quit, nothing will. Motivation is key. Take care.

Comment by Wendi on June 10, 2009 at 4:31pm
Nice link, Dr. Ned - I took the quiz and got 80%...but then I already knew I was an alkie. ;-) Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I haven't had a cocktail in nearly a year!
Comment by Preston on June 8, 2009 at 2:24am
I have been a substance abuse and addictions counselor for over twenty years. I am always looking for support for clients who are nontheists.

Comment by Dr. Ned Kelly on May 25, 2009 at 10:39pm
Do you drink too much? Take this quiz:

Comment by James G. on April 26, 2009 at 2:19am
Why is the URL to this group http://atheistnexus.org/group/atheistsin12steprecovery ? Was that the original name? While I am not a dogmatic atheist; I don't see how atheists and freethinkers in their right mind can support 12 "programs" like AA. It has some of the worse elements of religious dogma, indoctrination and anti-rational thought sentiment I ever encountered... and I was Catholic! lol

The whole "spiritual not religious" thing is an insult to any rational person. Even when I was a superstitious believer it never made much sense. I am still a spiritual person as an atheist and i know what secular spirituality is and what religious spirituality is and AA is religious spirituality. Yoga, meditation, certain elements of Buddhism, REBT, art, humanism, naturalism, psychology, philosophy, and various ways of reaching mindfulness are spiritual and not religious.

Personally, while my experience with AA was negative, AA did help me in becoming an atheist by it's clear displays of the absurdity of religion, mythology, faith healing, suspension of rationality, and insults to the secular.

Thanks for a place to rant ;)
Comment by Wendi on March 25, 2009 at 4:34pm
Hi Luke,

My perspective is from the "inside" of the AA program (i.e., I'm an alkie), and I can tell you that there is essentially no quarter given to atheists / agnostics in the program. If one makes a claim to be atheist / agno, the typical response from seasoned group members is either a). you may not believe in God now, but you'd better or else YOU WILL DRINK; b). you may not believe in God now, but you will come to believe in God if you stick with the program.

Emotionally this is pretty manipulative stuff...most of the new people I've seen in the program are scared shitless and very desperate not to return to their old behavior patterns. These newcomers are continually reminded from those with more sobriety that they must "be willing to go to ANY lengths" in order to stay sober. But this is a pretty open-ended statement, and it begs the question of _who_ gets to decide what those lengths are, and on _what_ authority? The 3rd step of the program is to "turn our will and life over to the care of God as we understood him", and the theme of surrendering individuality and free will remains consistent throughout the program. Questioning the process happens frequently, but is generally discouraged as "stinking thinking" that will inevitably lead one back to a drink.

I'll admit that for many drunks even this level of surrender of free will is acceptable given the alternative of drinking again, but as a long term approach to living a sober life I find it obviously lacking, and not only on the basis of religious content. As many before me have stated, AA seems to foster dependence upon the group and / or sponsor as a means of ending dependence on alcohol. For many people this is no problem, but not everyone (alkie or no) has an easy time adapting into group situations, and to draw parallels between individuality and addiction / alcoholism is a very slippery slope.

I have more to say, but I'll ping this back to you to keep things flowing...thanks for posting, Luke!

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