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Do Addicts Need God?


Guest r3alchild
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Guest r3alchild

There is a belief among many addicts that the only way to give up an addiction is to have a higher power (God) But is this really true, do addicts need god?

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Yes and no.

 

Yes, in that in some (most?) cases it can help to have something external to oneself to focus on and derive purpose and support from. This could be "God" or some other religious belief, or family or some organization. Even a hobby that requires time, patience and money (that would otherwise go to feed the habit) can do this.

 

No, in that ultimately the ability to deal with the problem has to come from within and no one can give that to you. At best one can see examples of how others have managed to do so.

 

I have four areas that I know I have to deal with. For me, my focus comes from having goals that can only be met by dealing with them. To put it another way, in order to maximize my pleasure over a reasonable lifespan I have to avoid some short-term enjoyment.

 

One (involving a drug) I had to walk away from cold-turkey in the early 90s or else it would have been the end of me. This was some time after I had already left my Christianity behind. To this day I know that if I were to ever use again I would be right back where I was.

 

The other three, smoking, drinking and gambling I deal with by controlling my participation to various degrees. I really should stop smoking given my health history, and I should cut back on my drinking, too. I enjoy poker and have 1) honed my skill so that poker is essentially a break-even game for me, and 2) I can control the urge to chase lost money with more.

 

This being said, although I could probably stop all three and extend my life accordingly, I have the attitude that why live to be a 100 years old if you stop enjoying it at 75?

 

So, while the ultimate answer is "no" to the question of need, tools are sometimes needed to make it easier, and that is the "yes" part.

 

As always, it is only when one starts forcing beliefs and/or lifestyles on others that problems arise.

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Addicts are trading one addiction for another. Is an addiction to meth or heroin worse than an addiction to "God"? Probably.

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Yes they do. They're called 'christians'...

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No, what they need is to believe that they can become free from their addiction. No god will do anything to help them, though believing that there is a god curing their addiction might give them the strength to become free, due to their belief that they will become free.

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No. 

My brother suffered from alcoholism and smoking. He quit using both alcohol and cigarettes and hasn't had either in years. He's an atheist and has been one all his life. 

 

I'm very proud of him. 

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There are lots of programs, including 12-Step variants, that offer addiction treatments without reliance on a higher power. Here's an article describing one addict's approach.

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No, but the concept is a useful one for some people.   Some addicts need to realize that they don't have control over the universe or themselves while using to excess.   It isn't necessary to believe in God, but it is necessary to believe that you can't control everything.    A counselor of mine put it this way... "I'm not sure if there is a God, but I know I'm not It."    Addicts think they can control their using or use to feel in control of their circumstances (ironically, by escaping and losing what little control they have while sober).    Some people need the concept of a God that is in control to get sober.   They have a need to trust that things will work out for the best or some shit.   Most of us have gotten over that need, so the concept is no longer useful... but those who are still in that infantile stage of emotional development and who are going through some horrible shit seem to be helped by the idea.

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The idea of a 'higher power' used in addictions is.. from my experience, to get the addict to stop trying to control things he/she can't (addiction).. stubborness and willfulness and a lack of trust are traits of addicts and learning to let go and trust something other than their drug addled brain long enough to use the techniques to overcome their addictions is useful. I think the actual higher power is the group itself... the peer support and wisdom of those who have overcome their addictions.

 

So... the answer is both yes and no. I spent a whole lot of time in 12 step groups and have seen each person who stuck around have his own version of a 'higher power'... but those who held on to the group and applied the techniques... they recovered. Those who couldn't let go of their need to be in control or not accept that addiction was stronger than they were.. went back out.

 

When AA was first 'created' the founders were devout christians, but it has been proven that the 12 steps can be modified for all sorts of things and a 'deity' itself is not necessary.... the ability to surrender and accept defeat is. You build recovery from there.

 

That's been my experience.

 

I'm, a recovered alcoholic/addict... but I know that inside I am still an addict, just with better coping skills and no substances... and I can NEVER use/drink safely.

 

I'm not saying other things can't work... but this idea (higher power) does seem to have a very good rate of success for a lot of addicts... one of the best.

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