Jump to content

Atheists In Aa


Guest GaryC
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello my name is Gary and I'm an alcoholic. Sound familiar to some? :shrug:

Well the thing is this; AA and all 12 step programs have you find a higher power from which you can experience a spiritual awakening. Well and good for some who are inclined to believe in some form of god but what about us atheists? Actually I'm posting this topic for needed support from my atheistic friends in recovery. You see I've been sober this time for over 2 years and recently have come around to the facts about god and; through years of study; have finally removed myself from almost all the steps in the program about god. There were times in the past (26 years) that I stayed sober through prayer and meditation and it would work for awhile. But I never could bring myself to firmly beleive like so many others did and would slip or more commonly get drunk. You see I've always been skeptical about god and all religions and would participate with my family out of a sense of loyalty to my parents, wife, and children, etc... But I can't do that anymore now that I have become totally atheist. The 12 step programs talk about rigorous self- honesty and that's what I've become. So here I am and actually I am more in tune with life now that I can depend on the evolvement of mankind and living an honest life of love for my fellowman and true kinship with everyone. So what do I do about god and prayer? We sponser people who are new and what do I tell them about my concept of god or a higher power? Also I live in the bible belt (Tennessee) and do not even dare mention atheist. You would be better off admitting to child abuse than be an admitted atheist here. Need some feedback and support you guys and thanks for the wonderful website. I frequent Raving Athaeists and have many friends there. Thank you,

 

 

Gary C.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Only YOU can help YOU. The "higher power" that people warble on about is YOU.

 

Through companionship and friendship you are able to see things from another's perspective and to take in advice - but only YOU can help YOURSELF.

 

Conviction, detrmination, and effort are all within YOU, and that is all YOU need. Trust in YOU.

 

So what do I do about god and prayer? We sponser people who are new and what do I tell them about my concept of god or a higher power?

 

Why does it need mentioning? Being truthful to yourself involves being truthful to others. If people can't respect YOU for being YOU, then they will never truly respect YOU anyhow (they may respect YOUR beliefs, but not YOU).

 

Tell a little lie if need be, tell them "God" enables us to make our own decisions and have our own abilities to solve our own problems.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello my name is Gary and I'm an alcoholic. Sound familiar to some? ....

Yes, and it is a horrible label to stick yourself with. Find a better one.

 

For 10 years I taught a program called SMART Recovery. It is a far better program than AA ever could be. During those 10 years I had many people come to me that were ruined by AA or other 12 step programs. It was hard to deprogram them and get them back on track to a full recovery.

 

I sincerely suggest you find a SMART group, or start one. LifeRing and SOS are also fine programs. None of them require anything in the way of a "spiritual" or religious conversion. They don't exclude it either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just have existence itself be your higher power. Live for Life's sake. Stay sober so you can know life for what it is in the best way you can. Tell them being alive and aware with a clear mind is "the ideal of God" to you. I think it will help them a lot more than looking to some external being to rescue them. If you recognize the beauty of the world, then you will live sober. It is you make the decision to live. It's the only life you will have and it's here now.

 

Does this help any? BTW, I am an atheist also.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just have existence itself be your higher power. Live for Life's sake. Stay sober so you can know life for what it is in the best way you can. Tell them being alive and aware with a clear mind is "the ideal of God" to you. I think it will help them a lot more than looking to some external being to rescue them. If you recognize the beauty of the world, then you will live sober. It is you make the decision to live. It's the only life you will have and it's here now.
While those are nice thoughts, they won't work in AA.

 

#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.

 

#6 Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

 

#7 Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

 

All 12 steps.

 

As you can see in 4 of the 12 steps you need to have a god so it can fix your problem for you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This has helped me immensely. Thank you all for much needed re-enforcement. I beleive there is a POWER that is yet to be expanded; the human mind. I feel strongly that I have a new lease on life; to coin a phrase; by experiencing, or more to the point, at last freedom of choice and free to think and feel like a real man. And yes, to call myself alcoholic is somewhat demeaning it light of the fact I don't drink anymore. Thank you all for the uplifting replies to my post.

 

Gary Cobb

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This has helped me immensely. Thank you all for much needed re-enforcement. I beleive there is a POWER that is yet to be expanded; the human mind.
And that is exactly what those groups I mentioned use. You have to power, use it.
I feel strongly that I have a new lease on life; to coin a phrase; by experiencing, or more to the point, at last freedom of choice and free to think and feel like a real man.
And that's what "alcoholism" is; a choice. You can make a choice to NEVER use again. Not this "one day at a time" bit, but NEVER AGAIN. Drinking, or using, is not an option any more because it is something you don't do.
And yes, to call myself alcoholic is somewhat demeaning it light of the fact I don't drink anymore.
Call yourself; human. Humans make mistakes. You are learning not to make a certain mistake over and over again.
Thank you all for the uplifting replies to my post.
No problem. Give those other programs a look.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello my name is Gary and I'm an alcoholic. Sound familiar to some? ....

Yes, and it is a horrible label to stick yourself with. Find a better one.

 

I like that. Remember that you are a person with a problem, not the problem itself. And if you are strong enough to accept the lack of a higher power, you are strong enough to do this on your own too! :woohoo:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello my name is Gary and I'm an alcoholic. Sound familiar to some? ....

Yes, and it is a horrible label to stick yourself with. Find a better one.

 

For 10 years I taught a program called SMART Recovery. It is a far better program than AA ever could be. During those 10 years I had many people come to me that were ruined by AA or other 12 step programs. It was hard to deprogram them and get them back on track to a full recovery.

 

I sincerely suggest you find a SMART group, or start one. LifeRing and SOS are also fine programs. None of them require anything in the way of a "spiritual" or religious conversion. They don't exclude it either.

 

 

Hey Dave,

How interesting, I had no idea there were any alternatives to the traditional AA/NA/CA type groups. Is there a website you can refer to? Thanks! :)

 

 

Gary,

Welcome! What a great topic. This thread made no much sense...I can definitely see the problems with the traditional steps, especially because during meetings, SO much emphasis is put on them and people go to great length discussing them. It is yet another situation where religion kind of puts you "out of the loop" so to speak. Glad you came here, hope you stay. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like that. Remember that you are a person with a problem, not the problem itself. And if you are strong enough to accept the lack of a higher power, you are strong enough to do this on your own too! :woohoo:
Over 90% of those addicted to some substance quit on their own. 99% of those that try AA go back to using.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Dave,

How interesting, I had no idea there were any alternatives to the traditional AA/NA/CA type groups. Is there a website you can refer to? Thanks! :)

SMART Recovery is my favorite. I taught it for 10 years. It's based mostly on REBT and I've seen it work and work fast. Here's a list of programs that I know of. There are probably others I don't know, or forgot, about:

 

SMART Recovery

SOS International

LifeRing

Rational Recovery

Moderation Management

Women for Sobriety

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey Dave,

How interesting, I had no idea there were any alternatives to the traditional AA/NA/CA type groups. Is there a website you can refer to? Thanks! :)

SMART Recovery is my favorite. I taught it for 10 years. It's based mostly on REBT and I've seen it work and work fast. Here's a list of programs that I know of. There are probably others I don't know, or forgot, about:

 

SMART Recovery

SOS International

LifeRing

Rational Recovery

Moderation Management

Women for Sobriety

Oh, now it comes together. It's the power of cognitive therapy in helping people make positive choices in overcoming their addictions! I had no idea just how much the AA program was depending on religious faith in their program, but then now as I recall it was started by a couple men with strong Catholic backgrounds.

 

No wonder in a world like today which doesn't have a wall-to-wall, culturally infused religious faith, this sort of approach is a bad fit and has such limited results. I wonder if it was more successful when it began and is now less successful because society has changed, or if it never really was that successful? I definitely agree one which looks to the individual choice is far more positioned to succeed. I guess then in this context, what I was talking about in viewing the positive aspects of living as motivation would fall in line with telling yourself good reasons to make positive choices. It's just a matter of choosing to look at the positive, instead of dwelling on negative thoughts about it and escaping into substance abuse. (just thinking out loud)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, now it comes together. It's the power of cognitive therapy in helping people make positive choices in overcoming their addictions! I had no idea just how much the AA program was depending on religious faith in their program, but then now as I recall it was started by a couple men with strong Catholic backgrounds.
I've seen cognitive therapy work. I've made major changes in my life with it. I, someone with no training, taught it. It's so simple, so logical, it's amazing. The program I taught, it wasn't me but the program, had people still drinking to a lasting sobriety and back to a real life in 6 months. That is a recovery, not "in recovery" for life. I remember one woman. She came to one meeting, bought a book, and never came back. Over a year later I was in some parade with my llamas and that woman came running out of the crowd and told me she read the book and has been sober ever since.
No wonder in a world like today which doesn't have a wall-to-wall, culturally infused religious faith, this sort of approach is a bad fit and has such limited results. I wonder if it was more successful when it began and is now less successful because society has changed, or if it never really was that successful?
I don't think it was ever that successful. They claim to have helped millions, but was it the program or in spite of the program. The meetings are just a useless repetition of "war stories," and there is even a contest to see who can tell the worst story. AFTER the meeting where discussion is allowed is where most of the help and camaraderie takes place. With a drop out rate of over 90% after one year, and those that are left have a relapse rate of over 75%, I wouldn't consider it a successful program.
I definitely agree one which looks to the individual choice is far more positioned to succeed. I guess then in this context, what I was talking about in viewing the positive aspects of living as motivation would fall in line with telling yourself good reasons to make positive choices. It's just a matter of choosing to look at the positive, instead of dwelling on negative thoughts about it and escaping into substance abuse. (just thinking out loud)
Also, many of us that are not addicted have learned certain "coping mechanisms." Most of those suffering from substance abuse do not have these skills. Teaching them these skills goes a long way towards a meaningful recovery. What the 12steps do is take away your choice and replaces it with the group. One can lead their whole life immersed in AA meetings, breakfasts, lunches, dances, conventions and so on. It's just switching the addiction from a substance to the group. That's only slightly better than using. In SMART you cannot do that. It is a learning group, not a support group. You are encouraged to find your support out in the real world with family, friends, and, yes, even your church IF you have one. I'm sure the other programs I mentioned would say the same.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow this has been very informative reading. Has made me go hhhmmm. It would make sense that non-religious people would have difficulty with AA or not be able to stick with it for the long term if there belief in a higher power goes away.

 

My biological father has been an alcholic for decades and has tried several times to quit drinking. I have been pretty hurt by him and thus has of late been pretty harsh with not having much to do with him anymore. Reading this thread has made me re-think some of my attitudes.

 

Welcome GaryC, and thank you for sharing your story with us.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow this has been very informative reading. Has made me go hhhmmm. It would make sense that non-religious people would have difficulty with AA or not be able to stick with it for the long term if there belief in a higher power goes away.
It does work for some Atheists. I don't know how, but they do it. :shrug:
My biological father has been an alcoholic for decades and has tried several times to quit drinking. I have been pretty hurt by him and thus has of late been pretty harsh with not having much to do with him anymore. Reading this thread has made me re-think some of my attitudes.
In an active dependency the alcohol is doing the thinking. The brain actually "rewires" itself to deal with the alcohol. After they go off the booze, it takes at least 6 months to get back to normal thinking. Even AA admits to that. While in the dependency the person is not thinking rationally. What they do, or say, may not be the real person that's hidden inside, and protected, by the dependency. Find one of these other programs, learn what they teach, and see if you can trick your father into learning some of it. If he responds, he may like to go himself. Don't get your hopes up though.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't worry Dave,

I don't really have any hope that my father will give up drinking. I suppose it is possible just highly unlikely.

 

Still it would be nice to research the other programs, if he would be even be open to looking into the programs.. I highly doubt it however.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow what a response!

 

Just to give everyone a little AA history; Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson met at Dr. Bob's house in June of 1935 because Bill was tempted to drink after an unsuccessful business adventure at Akron, Ohio. Bill went to the phone booth and found a person who knew a corker by the name of Dr. Bob Smith.

 

To make a long story short and to the point I will try to make is this: Bill Wilson was brought up by his grandparents who were very religious. This was in no way Bill's philosophy even as a child. So when he is knocked off his rocker with many episodes of destructive drinking; he winds up in the Townes Hospital in New York under a Dr. Silkworth who has been unsuccessfully treating alcoholics and drug addicts. So on his last bowt he is given the belladonna treatment which includes sedatives (they used morphine for that back then), and he has the all famous spiritual experience. He later always related that to his hot flash. I really think that's what it was and so I think Bill did too. For a while Bill ranted this experience with little success to drunks in New York. Dr. Silkworth had given Bill the advice to tailor his approach to the disease concept (the mental obsession compounded with the physical allergy ( craving for more booze after the first drink). Well anyway when Bill gets around to Bob he's ready to tell his STORY. He told him about the allergy. Bob, being a doctor, quickly grasped the idea of the disease and he had already been prayed over with no success.

 

So there you have it in a nutshell; Bob being the understanding doctor with firm religious background and Bill the stock speculator that hated God in a sense but with sustained sobriety after the spiritual experience. Also with the knowledge of the phenomenon of craving from the little New York doctor Silkworth.

 

This is how AA started and continued with the telling of one's story to another drunk to maybe help him or her but the main reason to help oneself. So this is what we in AA call "Pass it On" or commonly helping others to help ourselves.

 

What most AA's don't know is Bill was and remained skeptical about God and even writing our book and everything still experimented with different drugs including LSD in the '40's. He was trying to recapture this spiritual awakening or experience that he had earlier.

 

In answer to the reply of atheists in AA , yes there are and the atheists in the New York Group of Alcoholics Anonymous were responsible for changing the wording in steps 3 and 11 to include God as we understood him. That gives us agnostics and atheists a way out of the religious flavor of the program.

 

So anyway I hope I haven't bored anyone and I know I've taken up too much space on this wonderful site I thank everyone again and I beleive I've come up with a better understanding of the spiritual concept that allows us atheists to have fun and sobriety without the crutch of AA's dependence on the God that man created but rather the god of mankind in his own experiences of selfless living helping others because we want to.

 

 

Gary C.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't worry Dave,

I don't really have any hope that my father will give up drinking. I suppose it is possible just highly unlikely.

 

Still it would be nice to research the other programs, if he would be even be open to looking into the programs.. I highly doubt it however.

Strange things happen all the time. :grin:

 

As a side note to everyone; Atheists, or Humanists, looking for some volunteer work to do; this is a great and rewarding area to work in. You do not have to have ever been addicted to anything in order to teach these program. Most of them desperately need volunteers to start new meetings or help with established ones. They'll train you. It's easy and fun. Think about it.

 

 

....In answer to the reply of atheists in AA , yes there are and the atheists in the New York Group of Alcoholics Anonymous were responsible for changing the wording in steps 3 and 11 to include God as we understood him. That gives us agnostics and atheists a way out of the religious flavor of the program.
Not really. A god as I understand IT, not "him", does not exist. How can I turn my will over to something that does not exist? The steps are for a "spiritual" recovery. I have no use for anything "spiritual." Quite a few Atheists feel the same way. It's a religious program and weasel wording can't change that. As I've said earlier, the program is worthless. Take away the steps and just have everyone sit and talk would be much better. Telling stories does no good either. All of that stuff just focuses on the past instead of working on the future. Such stories were not allowed in any groups I lead. The past is gone, leave it in the past and move forward.
So anyway I hope I haven't bored anyone and I know I've taken up too much space on this wonderful site I thank everyone again and I beleive I've come up with a better understanding of the spiritual concept that allows us atheists to have fun and sobriety without the crutch of AA's dependence on the God that man created but rather the god of mankind in his own experiences of selfless living helping others because we want to.
We can do better though. We can eliminate the dependence on AA, the steps, sponsors, and all that. We can help a person learn the needed skills to get back into life in the real world.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over 90% of those addicted to some substance quit on their own. 99% of those that try AA go back to using.

Hey Dave I was curious where you get your statistics from. I have a room mate that goes to AA almost every day. We discuss things like religion all the time and when I had suggested the SMART recovery, SOS and Life-ring(things that you had mentioned in the al anon thread) as alternatives for people he knows in AA who are struggling with the higher power thing he got a little defensive about things and refused to listen to what I was saying.

 

I would just like a little ammunition to back up that AA is a religious entity. His way of interpreting a "higher power" is a "higher power" of your understanding, not necessarily the bible god(even though after every meeting everyone holds hands and prays to god).

 

Thanks Douglas

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over 90% of those addicted to some substance quit on their own. 99% of those that try AA go back to using.
Hey Dave I was curious where you get your statistics from.
That's a pretty hard question to answer. I've picked this stuff up over a period of years. The 99% drop out rate withing a year figure comes from an internal AA document, their survey they do every 10 years. The 90% quitting on their own is a common figure thrown about by psychs. People "age out" of their addiction and go on leading a, somewhat, normal life. (Does anyone have a "normal" life?)
I have a room mate that goes to AA almost every day. We discuss things like religion all the time and when I had suggested the SMART recovery, SOS and Life-ring(things that you had mentioned in the al anon thread) as alternatives for people he knows in AA who are struggling with the higher power thing he got a little defensive about things and refused to listen to what I was saying.
That is an expected response. They are told that if they try another program that they will drink and then die. "The AA way or the "high"way." They consider anyone that quit on their own a "dry drunk." By that they mean the person is still addicted, but just not using. They consider president bush to be a dry drunk. (I think he's still using something!)
I would just like a little ammunition to back up that AA is a religious entity. His way of interpreting a "higher power" is a "higher power" of your understanding, not necessarily the bible god(even though after every meeting everyone holds hands and prays to god).
I posted 3 of the 12 steps earlier. They tell you that you have to turn over your will, your life, to this higher power so it can fix you. How the hell can a bedpan (AAers will know the reference) fix your life for you? It's a bait and switch. Another of their cliches is "fake it until you make it." That is designed to get you to fake it until you start to believe it. To further enforce the god stuff they claim that the "addict cannot be in charge of their own recovery." Well, if you aren't, the who the hell is? The bedpan? Your "sponsor"?

 

Now this "sponsor" is someone that, in some cases, has total control over your life. This person is someone that can't even run their own life and their telling you how to run yours? There are some "sponsors" that do what is called "13th stepping." They prey on vulnerable women and take full advantage of them. The groups I mentioned don't have sponsors for that reason, and a few others.

 

Here is an online book for you to read; AA Cult or Cure.

 

This site, Positive Atheism, has lots of info and probably some statistics with references.

 

That should be enough to get you started. Good luck. AA is the 800 pound gorilla that sleeps where it wants, and says what it wants to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting topic.

 

I've been sober for over 15 years now. When I first quit, I went to AA for about 7 or 8 months, ignoring the religious crap and telling everyone my 'higher power' was free will. Didn't go over big. :shrug:

 

Haven't been back since, and I've been bone-dry sober and quite happy. My AA buddy has fallen off the wagon at least 10 times in the same time period that I've been sober. AA doesn't work for him, but I can't talk him out of it.

 

The only thing AA is good for is the group therapy aspect. When you first quit, it's definitely helpful to be around other people who understand what it's like. But you grow out of that as you move on. Or, at least I did.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.