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Atheists, Addictions, 12 Step Recovery, and Alternatives

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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: 122
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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.

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Comment by Ian Mason on May 26, 2010 at 1:17am
Sounds good, Joe. I'd be grateful for chance to read them. The paragraph you've posted sounds very promising and hits a lot of nails on their heads.
Comment by Joe S. on May 25, 2010 at 9:32pm
Friends: I am fortunate to take part in a local AA group for non-theists. We have taken it upon ourselves to alter some of the wording in the steps - removing the notion of god - for our own purposes.

I'm happy to share our meeting format and step adaptation with anyone who might be interested.

"In this group, we don’t consider any part of our literature infallible or sacrosanct, and we recognize the historic and cultural context in which AA initially developed. We are grateful for those founders and their passionate dedication to helping other alcoholics achieve sobriety. We simply prefer to focus on the tangible, measurable actions and attitudes contained in the steps."
Comment by Ian Mason on February 10, 2010 at 9:07am
Hi Tom, and welcome.

I can't believe either. Commen sense says that this "Higher Power" malarchy is a form of visualisation, a technique know to psychotherapy for years. With that in mind, I've adopted the figure of Sisyphos from Greek mythology as my hero. He was the one who had to push a rock up a hill every day, only to have it roll down again every night. This helps me stay sober and do my best in my fight against depression.

Once again, welcome and good luck.
Comment by Tom on February 10, 2010 at 8:05am
Hey everyone,
I just found this group this morning. Total serendipitydoo. I have been considering leaving a 12 step based recovery life for some time now.
I have been sober 6 years and am very much involved with AA and service work. I consider myself knowledgeable about AA, and am by no means a stupid person. I am probably on the low bottom scale as far as alcoholism and drug addiction goes. I started using frequently in the 3rd grade. Barely made it to junior high and never went to high school. I am on disability For PTSD and find that it is difficult most of the time to manage my life. Just wanted to give you an idea of where I’m coming from.
I live in the southern religion of the Midwest. Wouldn’t quit say it’s the buckle of the bible belt but pert near. I understand that AA is all over the world, and I have been to meetings all over the country, and get that there is a huge cross section of beliefs in the fellowship of AA. My sponsor is an atheist, my service sponsor is a reki healer, my partner is a pagan, and I am leaning towards Buddhism at the moment.
I have read the big book; AA comes of age, and many other books about AA. I admit that suffering from a mental disability my perception of this information may be skewed, so I try as best as I can to keep an open mind. I just really don’t understand how one can be an atheist and at the same time prescribe to a belief system that is centered in the idea of one God or higher power that can overcome the disease of alcoholism, and that no human power can achieve this. It seems to me the entire process is centered on that Idea. When I read the chapter to the agnostic, what I get is, if you have the problem of being a non believer here is how you can get over that problem to become a believer so that you can work these steps, and achieve the spiritual experience necessary to recover from this disease. The whole program is based on that idea. I m not talking about the fellowship just the program its self, what is written in the basic text of recovery the “big book”.
I have been too afraid to just walk away from AA, because it was so awful for me when I was using. I am afraid I well end up in prison or stuck in a mental institution for the rest of my life. So every week I go to meetings work on my amends, inventory. Work in the prisons with guys getting sober. And stay awake all night crying wishing I had the courage to pull the trigger. I just can’t force myself to believe that there is a god of any sort out there. It just doesn’t make sense to me every instinct I have tells me that doesn’t make sense. I don’t think my mind is ever going to fit into the AA construct. And I am scared to death to just stop going because I might go back to using.
And yet there are intelligent people who seem to think the same way I do, who are involved in the recovery process. And at the same time don’t believe in some monotheistic way of thinking. And seem to be happy and at peace. I have to believe that someday I can get to that place. And be at peace. Weather it is in AA or simply on my own. I am hoping to find similar people here, maybe Ill read something and the light will come on, and all of this will finally make sense.
Peace
Comment by Ian Mason on February 8, 2010 at 3:24pm
Hi Matt

That's a hard one. It can take a long time, building a new kind of life. I don't know that I've done it yet. One of the things I am involved in is support and advice for families of psychiatric patients. I've suffered from depression for years and my daughter had a run-in with anorexia in her early teens so I've some experience. And of course, when you help others you also help yourself. Other things: regular exercise, work, hobbies ( I collect tea-pots and knives), writing poetry. None of them very social, however, which might be what you're looking for. I've also attended adult education classes and the like, which have been fine but I've neglected the social contact made there. A typical depression symptom, so that might not happen for you.

It's a process of trial and error I think. Work out what you like doing and go places where other people do it. And don't be hard on yourself if things don't work the first time.

Is this of any relevance?
Comment by Matt on February 6, 2010 at 10:18pm
Hi guys. I'm as disinclined to enter a bar as much as a church, but find that both these leaves me feeling isolated and frankly, at age 50, just waiting for the clock to run down. How can I find what there is for me?
Comment by maxdaemian on December 8, 2009 at 2:07pm
Hello All, Im very happy to have found this group, I've belonged to the Nexus for over a year and only just realized this group was here. Due to the nature of my job, I travel a a lot and am often unable to go to meeting or interact with other recovering addicts let alone those who are atheists. I've been having a difficult time lately with my recovery and have been away from home for quite awhile and I just wanted to express my appreciation for all of the people who belong to this group and have contributed to it. You have all helped me with your stories and comments. Anyone who would ever like to talk about recovery or atheism or anything for that matter, feel free to message me and thanks again. -maxdaemian
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
Curtis:
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.
 

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