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: 120
Latest Activity: Dec 28, 2015

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 Mike Supan on January 11, 2011 at 9:57am
Bob, you might try this link. I haven't connected with anyone like this yet, but this may be a step in the direction you wish to go.
Comment by Erin O'Neil on August 15, 2010 at 10:24pm
I have been a member of NA for 23 years, and have been an atheist all that time. I didn't really realize it until a few years in, as I was striving to stay clean, and was being constantly told I needed some form of "higher power" to do this. I went through the whole gamut of spiritual concepts, and even adapted a version of the Eightfold Noble Path of Buddhism to better fit my progression in recovery. I frequently found myself at odd with the "old-timers", even when I had substantially more clean time than some of them. I refused to talk about "the program", and instead discussed "my process". It took me years to come completely "out" and talk openly about my atheism at meetings, and I still sometimes struggle with the sanctimonious drivel many people in meetings spout when I tell them I have no higher power. It seems they think that, despite my being able to remain clean for 23 years, it is imperative and inevitable that I will find a higher power someday. I will freely admit to finding it hard not to be judgmental sometimes. The neat thing is, I have stumbled upon a number of fellow atheists who also attend NA. I find that the fellowship of other recovering addicts is extremely beneficial to my continued recovery, and have a number of very close friends who are also in recovery. Although I still take issue with a large portion of the Basic Text, as it either directly discusses a higher power or implies dogmatic adherence to spirituality, there are some parts I have found very helpful. Hell, if Jefferson can do it with the bible, why can't I do it with the basic text?
Comment by Joe McCarthy on June 17, 2010 at 3:03pm
I had so many tiffs with my aa group people cuz of HP crap that I drankk. First for the wrong and addictive reasons but life chnges when you get older and people depend on you. I am sure I have the etoh'ism gene being descended from bog trotter still workers but so what. Have a snort and do what needs to be done.
Comment by Cindy E on June 17, 2010 at 9:55am
Hi. Looking for a non-theist codependents' group. Any ideas?
Comment by Joe S. on May 26, 2010 at 7:51am
Here are links to our meeting documents:

Meeting Format

We Agnostics How It Works

Meeting Flyer
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.
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?

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