I recently had bumped into a young lady who had went to high school with my son.  She has been graduated now for about 6 or 7 years.  After catching me up on what she had been doing with her life since graduating she told me that she used to be an alcoholic and had a drug addiction.


I told her that I was sorry that this had happened to her and told her that if she ever needed help or just wanted somebody to talk to; that my wife and I are always available for her.  Then she told me that thanks to god she is now clean and has been for about 18 months.  I just smiled and said good for you and said this; "Don't short change yourself or the people who helped you during this very difficult time!"  And she said; "What do you mean?"  And, I told her that, "The people and family who were there during your troubled times are the real people that deserve the thanks and praise; and most importantly...thank yourself!"


Anyway, I was just wanting to hear from other like-minded ladies and gentlemen on what they would or have said to someone in a similiar situation.  And, please feel free to critic my response to this young lady!


Thanks, Peace out!

Jeff Dempsey

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I had a heavy battle with alcohol and cocaine and beat it a long time ago.

A lot of people who have been in my situation have turned to the AA which offers a religious cure course called the Twelve Steps whereby a person must consider themselves powerless and surrender to God to recover. It's free and the only type of help many people can get. It sometimes works and as such you might get enlightened born again individuals like the young lady.

I was hospitalised for 2 months and had professional care and support from friends and eventually beat it.

Do you in fact know that family and others were supportive toward the young lady during her troubled times or are you being presumptious ? It's tough and you are right that she can thank herself.


I am sure that her friends and family were there for support.  To what extent, this I really do not know!


I am so happy to hear that you beat your situation too!



Jeff Dempsey

The 12 Steps of AA are based on a "Higher Power" of your choice not on "god" unless that is your choice.  A "Higher Power" can be the AA Program, an AA group, something in nature, or anything else of your choosing.  There are many agnostics in AA and there is a complete chapter in the AA "Big Book" for the agnostic.  You mainly hear of agnostics but I am sure there are just as many atheists.


Statistics for the recovering alcoholic and addict are very grim.  We are talking life and death here.  It is a terrible disease and can result in death, institutionalization or prison.  It not only affects the alcoholic/addict but also families, friends, employers, accident victims, the criminal justice system and the health care system.  Some do recover by way of joining a religious group (church) and some recover by way of AA or other rehab programs.  Recovering A/A's are very fragile and relapse is very common.  I would be very careful what I said to them and perhaps, "Glad to hear that you are recovering," is sufficient.  If there was a choice in giving "god" credit and death, then I guess giving "god" credit would be the choice.

That is a very interesting point that you make here.  Would we as non-believers rather they give a "god" credit or be dead or causing society problems with the crime that is often associated with these types of problems i.e. (theft, robbery, murder, prostitution etc.)


Let them claim that a "god" helped them and live!  We have the rest of their lives to help them with their "god" addiction!



Jeff Dempsey

These are the original Twelve Steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous:

  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 suppose, like the Bible itself, it is interpreted in wierd and wonderful ways and can mean just about anything to anyone.

I think the AA is a religious cure course and attracts crackpots. Atheists with drug and alcohol problems should look to professional help where available.


Could this be the "New Testament's" new 12 Commandments for the afflicted!  I noticed that 6 of the 12 steps refered to a god or higher being in them.

Congratulations on beating your addiction problems.  Most people do not.  There are many different programs for people with your problems.  Some work for some and others work for others.  Whatever works for you certainly beats dying of your addiction.

AA creeps me out. It is absolutely cultish. I taught a class on substance abuse and the folks who had participated in AA became furious that I said that there are numerous paths to recovery. The truth is, most drug/alcohol abusers get control of things with no help from anyone. Abstinence is not the answer for some people. Lots of addicts simply abuse a substance out of habit or as a poor coping mechanism. I'm not knocking AA for everyone. Lots of folks get sober through AA, but I have some serious philosophical issues with some of the 12 steps.

I quit smoking, but do not consider my identity to be a "recovering smoker," needing to make my not smoking the center of group discussions for the rest of my life.

Interesting points!

So, in retrospect; in what I said to this young lady was a.) helpful and/or thoughtful or b.) damaging and/or self-centered for the purpose of a god-less agenda or c.) neither helpful or damaging.


Are there any atheist-based organizations that help with these types of addictions?  And, when I say atheist-based, I mean that they don't reference a "god" in their program or in their treatment.  Of course, we do not want an organization to present atheism to a fragile situation or person at this time either and would not make itself verbaly know as such!

This is what I could find:  http://smackfoundation.com/12stepalt.html

Good luck with your friend!

Thank you so much Teach!  This is great!  This exactly what a world should be like; people discussing important issues without the monkeywrenches of a religion or god.

I am so glad I have found this community and the people here!


Thanks again,

Jeff Dempsey


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