Greetings All,


          My name is Bill, and I am currently involved with the NA program. Im not a cookie-cutter member of the fellowship, as it were. My program does not involve the use of a god, and I feel my recovery is solid, as I have mulitiple years clean. My current journey brings me to the position of confronting the fellowship as a whole, about the inherent bias that runs through the literature/mtgs. They (NA, and the ppl involved) say that it is up to the individual to decide what works for them, but they portray a completely biased point of view of what could work. The basis of the program is the application of the principles that are contained in the steps, that change one's thinking, attitudes, and behavior, into more positive actions. The issue of god is strictly an outside issue as far as im concerned. The principles are a "power greater than", but only through my application. Without me applying them to my life, they are just a set of words. Im about to petition the fellowship to accecpt a new version of the steps, where the personal responsibility required for recovery to happen, depends on the individual, not some supernatural deity. Please if anyone in this group has questions, or would like to see the version of the steps that Im trying to get through, or the emails that I have, with responses from NA World Services regarding this issue, please feel free to contact me through this group/site.

Also, if anyone has tried something like this, I would be greatful for your experience.


Where there is doubt, there is freedom.

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

                                        Thomas Jefferson

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Bill, I spent 2 yrs in NA and bought it hook line and sinker, except for the HP thing.  I finally found a way to sort of reword it in my head.  I did eventually relapse after a few serious "shit happens-ings".  I'm currently on a fairly low dose of Buprenorphene which has truly saved my life.  I don't plan on staying on it forever but at least until I get to a more stable living situation.  Glad to see you here though.  I think this is a FABULOUS thread to start.  I could write a book on what I think is wrong w/the 12 Steps and the basic administrative issues that the Traditions have.  But to be fair, I could also write another book on the good that I've seen w/in it.  The biggest problem is those groups are only as healthy as the sickest member...and there is almost no qualified oversight.

Also, when I was still going to NA and searching for a way around the HP issue, I ran across a book, by Charlotte Kasl, that helped me a lot.  I didn't buy it all and she had 16 steps that she thought were's the link

I don't know if that helps but maybe you can glean something from what she has to say.

I am a recovering alcoholic with a few one days at a time.  I guess I can consider myself fortunate because none of the groups in my area push the god as your higher power requirement.  Over half the people in my home groups are agnostics and are accepted as such.  There is always an emphasis on a higher power of your choice and not on a god.  This is carefully explained to newcomers.  I really hate to hear that there are groups that are discriminating against agnostics. Maintaining sobriety is difficult as it is without having to deal with this unnecessary controversy.  There are a number of different groups where I live so you can usually find one that speaks more to your individual need than another.  Maybe a group could be started called the "Higher Power of your Choice" group.  Good luck to all in this unfortunate situation.  Hope things work out for you.

I recently started attending required NA meetings and was told by the moderator of the group that my sobriety is doomed to failure due to my non-belief in god or a higher power. I was also told I should exclude myself from discussions of such so as not to offend anyone. I live in a very small ultra conservative town in Louisiana and my meeting options are very limited. How do I get a benefit from the program when faced with this kind of bias? How do I get these people to take me and my commitment seriously when they all feel that I am morally deficient? Any advice would be most appreciated

Hi Shannon

I spent years in AA and came to the conclusion that the "Higher Powers" that were of the most use were experience and common sense. If I drank my "required amount" I then felt like shit for days afterwards. If I continued drinking I would ruin everything good about my life.

That's enough for me; tried, tested and logical. What better higher powers could there be?

I like your higher powers, Ian.  Can I borrow them?

Hi Bill, I concur, wholeheartedly.  I've recently gotten clean (again) but had a couple of years about 13 yrs ago through NA.  Granted it was in a MUCH more liberal town than I am in now and it was before the most recent edition of the NA text was printed.  Things have changed in this reprinting.  The word "God" is in the places where HP used to be much more often; if I'm remembering correctly.  I'm now in a small town in SW GA, NOT exactly atheist friendly.  Anyway, I'm glad to see this group here and will check back often.  Nice to meet/read everybody

Hey there.  My name's Aaron and I got clean in NA many years ago.  I put myself through nursing school while clean in recover and promptly got loaded on pain pills after I graduated.  Ever since, I've had trouble staying clean.  Somewhere along the line, about 5 years ago, I became an atheist.  Now I'm back in NA and attempting to do the program as an Atheist.  NA is the only program that I KNOW works.  I just have to figure out how I'm going to implement the pieces.

I suspect that NA's success has more to do with helping people improve their character.  Learning about honesty, service, fellowship and other "spiritual" principles seems important.  I don't think those principles are actually spiritual, but the language is less important to me.  I truly want to stay clean.  If anyone knows of an online meeting, let me know.  I'm quite interested.



Atheists & Secular Humanists in 12 Step Fellowships
 is a group on Facebook.

NA did come out with a new book called Living Clean in 2012. Not unlike AA's Living Sober it doesn't really look at the 12 Steps but more of the practical aspects of incorporating healthy living in a crazy world and some of the age-old tenets such as one-day-at-a-time, etc.

In the older text I was always irritated about how it talk in the authorial we (We found that..., we started to realize..., etc) but when it talked about atheist it would talk in second person. "We found our own concept of higher power was good enough to get clean. Even atheists stay clean in NA."

Now, in the new book it talks about "we who don't believe in God," or "We who are atheists." So finally, we are included in the discussion as rights-bearing equals instead of marginalized freaks who just don't get it.

It's evolution... a step in the right direction.


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