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Why no atheist 12 step programs?

Discussion in 'Atheist Vapers' started by ScottinSoCal, Feb 10, 2011.

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  1. ScottinSoCal

    ScottinSoCal Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 19, 2010
    ProVari Nirvana
    I've recently become aware of the tenets of addiction control groups, and they're all theist. Why is that? I mean, do atheists not become addicts? I don't believe that for a second, we're no better or worse than a theist, and we're just as susceptible to addiction as any other group of people. Is a belief in the FSM or an invisible pink unicorn, or a vengeful sky-daddy a requirement to control addiction?

    Ultimately it all comes down to a person's ability to control their own behavior, since there are no actual invisible support beams coming down from the sky to make you stop drinking, injecting, or whatever your addiction is. What is there in the human psychology that requires believing in those things in order to get the strength to resist? And what could be substituted to replace the fiction that some outside source is responsible?
  2. Vapor Pete

    Vapor Pete The Vapor Pope ECF Veteran

    Mar 14, 2009
    Rochester, NY
    I would venture to guess that since most folks arent self confirmed atheists, when they enter these 12 step programs, they can be "indoctrinated" into the belief that acceptance of god is the only way. NOW... I am all for getting clean if your willing to do so. I am in no position to tell these folks that they shouldnt take the help because its theistically based. If it works... do it.
    I had this argument in another thread, with someone who said that in their state if you are convicted of a DWI, you are forced to enter a 12 step program which includes the help of god, or face jail. I was utterly disgusted that a state would MANDATE such a choice. Jail, or religious addiction therapy? Really? He stuck to his guns and said that was the rule. Its blackmail of the highest order imo, and almost makes me want to go get a DWI in his state just so I can sue the state for imposing religion on me or go to jail... that was done during the inquisitions. I see no need to repeat in the 2011.
    Theists know all to well that the best time to gain converts is at a time in a persons life when their luck is down, or their morality is in dispare. Being an admitted (or caught) alcoholic is one such moment. And addicts who are willing to try to recover are often times willing to "do whatever it takes"... incuding accepting religious myths. Having never been an alcoholic, and never joining a 12 step program, Im uneducated as to the degree to which they promote a deity. I have one family member who did though. By his reports, the religious underpinnings werent too bad... but they were there. He also comes from a catholic family, so talk of god wasnt all that offensive to him.
    I can say with confidence that if I became an addict searching for help, AA wouldnt be my choice. I would most likely search out a program through the local UU Church or even join one of their recovery programs. Non religious programs exist. We dont hear about them because AA is such a houshold name in recovery that it over shadows most others.
    A simple online search for "non religious addiction recovery programs" yeilded these hits:

    Ratiomal and Secular Programs : The Addiction Recovery Guide

    Non-Religious Rehab - Secular or Non-Religious Alcohol Drug Rehab Programs

    SoberRecovery : Non 12 step - Drug and Alcohol Treatment Centers

    Heres a story about the very issue I discussed above... mandating AA in lew of jail time. This fellow is already incarcerated but is refusing to participate in the jail recovery program. In brief, he says he is within his rights to decline the program because:

    "Courts around the country, however, have ruled the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous is religious. In June of 1996, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the New York Department of Corrections substance abuse program was unconstitutional because, "after a fair reading of the doctrinal literature of Alcoholics Anonymous (the 12-step program was found to be) unequivocally religious."

    Prisoner wants non-religious alternative to AA

    That is good info if your an atheist addict seeking alternative treatement. Anyway... to continue:

    SMART Recovery® | Self Help for Alcoholism & Addiction

    drug - alcohol - addiction - SOS-Save Our Selves - Non 12 Step

    And for those who demand that religious programs are the only way to recover, I would suggest directing them to these sites:

    Recovering Fundamentalists Recovery Program | Find help recovering from abusive religion.

    Recovery from Religion Meetups near Concord, California - Recovery from Religion Meetups - Concord

    Recovery from Religion Meetup Groups - Recovery from Religion Meetups

    Recovery from Religion |

    You're not a sheep, you dont need to follow the herd.

  3. ScottinSoCal

    ScottinSoCal Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 19, 2010
    ProVari Nirvana
    I've been looking into them with MOH, and they've all been like that. Not a huge problem for him - he's a believer - but if I was going to one of these all I'd be able to do is sit there and think This is all metaphysical bull..... Do they really expect me to believe this?

    Probably not conducive to working my own recovery.
  4. Vapor Pete

    Vapor Pete The Vapor Pope ECF Veteran

    Mar 14, 2009
    Rochester, NY
    Scott, are you seeking a recovery program?

  5. markfm

    markfm Aussie Pup Wrangler Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Supporting member
    Historical basis. The various 12 step programs have all based themselves off of AA. Many of the AA principles sprung from the Oxford Groups (AA founders were members of the Oxford Groups):
    The Oxford Group Connection

    (Just trying to answer the question.)
  6. Goldenkobold

    Goldenkobold Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Oct 23, 2010
    Penn and Teller did an excellent show on the AA.
    YouTube - 12 Steps BULL....
    It explains both the actual success rate of AA, alternative treatments, and the religious underpinnings of the group.
  7. ScottinSoCal

    ScottinSoCal Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    Dec 19, 2010
    ProVari Nirvana
    No, I'm not. MOH is, and has found one. This was more a sidetrack, because I don't know why religion would be involved in what is essentially a behavioral psychology problem.
  8. Needo

    Needo Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 3, 2011
    Amarillo, Tx.
    Dang! I thought that religion was and still is essentially a behavioral psychology problem. My Bad!

    Seriously I think it makes sense to have 12 step programs for addiction to be religiously based. It is just a matter of trading one addiction for another that hopefully is less destructive and more socially palatable. Isn’t that what we are doing by vaping instead of smoking?
  9. Shad0w

    Shad0w Super Member ECF Veteran

    I would posit that since the AA/NA etc. credos state that you place your trust/belief in a "higher power" that it is not strictly theist. It instead allows you to choose an entity or ideal outside yourself that you can push toward.

    Again though, it begs the question, why try to fit into a belief based system if what you seek is logic and proof?
    Not to say that the two things are mutually exclusive (belief and proof) but belief is typically used in lieu of proof and is a form of trust.

    I mean if you want to walk into a 12 step program and say to yourself that your higher power is a flying spaghetti monster, who is to say otherwise? ;)

    Maybe not the best points I bring up, but I wanted to participate in the discussion.
  10. Loveridden

    Loveridden Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 20, 2011
    Schaumburg, IL
    I am a fan of AA and other 12 step groups, they have helped a lot of people. I do know that your higher power can be whatever you want it to be. It can be the group, it can be your mother, it can be the chair you are sitting in if you want it to be that lol. But it seems that having a higher power and surrendering, and realizing you are out of control with your addiction, these are important aspects of the program. So they do recommend you choose a higher power, your choice on what that higher power is....
    In areas where there are a lot of AA groups, some of them are specific. Some may specifiy it's a group for gay members, others a women's only AA group......etc....
    AND I do know of one Athiest AA group, that meets in a library conference room once a week.
  11. Needo

    Needo Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 3, 2011
    Amarillo, Tx.
    I really do find it disturbing that any program that is addressing addiction seeks help from a higher power that has never manifested its self in any manner that I can acknowledge. From my experiences the only person that can help an individual is that individual. As an outsider, the only thing that one can provide is encouragement and possibly useful information. The actual decision is always left up to the individual. Faith gets in the way of us realizing that all actions are a direct result of our will. It makes me sick to think how many children have been emotionally hobbled by their parents who reinforce the ideal that the child is only a lowly sinner and can’t help his or her self.
  12. Loveridden

    Loveridden Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 20, 2011
    Schaumburg, IL
    These programs don't force anyone to embrace religion or a higher power. People can do the program whatever way they want. There are suggestions, based on what seems to work the most. But ultimately a person's "program" is individualistic, and they choose what they do and don't do, believe and don't believe. The AA program isn't about converting people to religion, it is about helping people become and stay sober. And it has been successful in many ways, well as successful as a program can be fighting against such strong addiction.
  13. Needo

    Needo Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 3, 2011
    Amarillo, Tx.
    I am glad that such programs do exist and benefit many individuals. However, from the limited contact that I have had (two occasions); there were strong religious underpinnings present. This may not be with the intention of converting an individual, but the communal bond exerts a strong and subtle pressure to accept the common higher power. I don't think this acceptance is always in the future best interest of that individual. I still feel it is trading one addiction for another. I do wish that I had something better to offer. For now I guess we will just have to settle.
  14. zerominusone

    zerominusone Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 9, 2011
    in your house
    That's easy, for me anyway. They 'need' it; we don't.
  15. Loveridden

    Loveridden Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Jun 20, 2011
    Schaumburg, IL
    There are other programs that are not related to AA or 12 steps, tho they are not as prevalent. And like I said too earlier, I did come across one AA meeting that was specifically for athiests. Tho I know those probably aren't all over the place. Meetings can vary because of the individuals in them, but I think in general the AA program allows for individual belief in a nonjudgmental way. If you went to a meeting where they were judgmental or pushy about religion, try another one instead. You may get totally different results. I have been to open AA meetings, but not closed ones because I am not the alcoholic. I have been to many al anon meetings tho and an acoa meeting and it took trying different meetings to find the ones I liked the best, as well as my "home" meeting.
  16. Needo

    Needo Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Aug 3, 2011
    Amarillo, Tx.
    I wish you the best of luck. You are in a position where you have no appreciable control of the problem. That is the hardest thing to accept. I can empathize there.
  17. Off Topic

    Off Topic Ultra Member ECF Veteran

    I know people who NEED to believe in something greater than themselves. They become self destructive without it. I'm OK with their "faith".

    I have issues when people think I need to live a certain way because their book of ancient tribal norms says I should, or far worse:

    We need to design our government policy based on the wishes of their imaginary friend.
  18. tofucute

    tofucute Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Oct 22, 2010
  19. Feuille

    Feuille Senior Member ECF Veteran

    May 16, 2012
    Remember your higher power can be something as simple as your survival instinct, your common sense, your love for your children, the kindness shown to you by others.

    It really rankles with me when some 12 step evangelists bang on about how atheists and agnostics will fail, and how belief in god is essential as it is a spiritual programme, then go on to add "but your higher power can be anything - I know one guy whose higher power is a tree." As if a tree is going to be a useful tool in recovery.
    Others go on to say how this higher power must be "outside of yourself". Well my survival instinct IS outside of my desire to use.

    I noticed that in the US AA tends to be far more theist, specifically Christian theist, than in the UK.

    That is not to say that I do not think it is a spiritual programme, but I take that to mean trying to live my live in a way that is in accordance with my views.

    The other thing that bothers me about 12 step programmes is the strong emphasis on morals and morality. This does not fit with my world view and I find it quite patronising. This, however, is more a product of the time in which it was developed.

    Of course the single most important thing about AA and NA is to take what you find useful and to ignore the rest. Just jettison the higher power completely if that suits you better. It is YOUR recovery so you get to make that call. Do not let other people impose their notions of what will work upon you, and certainly don't let them drive you away from what can be a very useful programme for recovery.

    If you can't hack it, or your local groups are dogmatic, and there are no atheist groups in your area, you might consider setting up a non-theist meeting yourself. I am sure others would appreciate it.

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