Secular Organizations for Sobriety Needs Help

Like many of you, I have friends who have benefited greatly from Alcoholics Anonymous and similar programs. But I also think it’s very important to have secular alternatives to those programs and, unfortunately, Secular Organizations for Sobriety/Save Our Selves is in dire financial need to continue operating. Ophelia put up a guest post that explains the situation:

Right now, Secular Organizations for Sobriety/Save Our Selves (SOS) is in financial crisis. SOS is a support network for those seeking a secular alternative to AA. James Christopher, a sober alcoholic, founded SOS in 1985 as a way to get and stay sober through secular means. The Council for Secular Humanism (a part of Center for Inquiry) has financially supported the SOS program for over 23 years, but due to other commitments, it will severely cut funding unless SOS can raise $75,000 by the end of March 2014. SOS has so far raised $25,000, but time is running out…

If you agree that SOS should continue operating, please donate or pass on this link to the SOS Indiegogo page: There’s also an abbreviated link there to use on Twitter. The Indiegogo campaign ends March 14.

Donations can also be made (through March 31) here:, or send your tax-deductible donation today to:

Save SOS

4773 Hollywood Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA90027

I know I pass on a lot of these kinds of fundraisers and I get a lot of requests to do so because I have a lot of readers. But I do it because I think it’s important and I know that different people will find different causes to support that really speak to them. If this is something you think is as important as I do, please contribute if you can.

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  • sc_72717b0d8dc4053e632b6512091cef73

    I’m glad that there are organizations like these. I used to go to AA, but in the end it reminded me too much of the religious fundamentalism that I’d already left behind: the emphasis on “one way”, on how you are powerless, the reverence given their Bible, the “Big Book”. Yes it works for many, but the truth is that I have done better at keeping sober since I left. I am sorry to hear SOS using AA-speak like “sober alcoholic”, though (at least they didn’t say “dry drunk”). That was another concept I had a problem with: basically, if you kicked the habit on your own, you were still a drunk who needed their treatment, again, too much like what I grew up with: “Oh, those sinners without Jesus think they’re satisfied with life, but they’re lying to themselves”. An alcoholic who doesn’t drink is not an alcoholic. He or she may have a weakness for alcohol, a genetic disposition to drink too much, but calling them a “sober alcoholic” or a “dry drunk” reinforces the AA dogma that you must spend your life going to their meetings and drinking their Kool-Aid alongside their crappy coffee.

  • Johnny Vector

    I can’t find any effectiveness stats; based on a quick look at their website, I’m guessing there aren’t any. I agree with the overall need for secular sobriety organizations, but I need to know how useful a specific one is before donating. Is there any data anywhere?

  • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Having actually seen how the cult-like nature of AA can harm as well as help people (my ex spent several years not getting any better and waving the “Do Not Lecture, Blame, Or Scold Me, You Will Only Confirm My Bad Opinion Of Myself” maxim in my face every time I tried to press at all

    I’d like to see some effectiveness data too, honestly. :/

  • leonardschneider

    @… Uhh…. The guy at #1 (I’m not sure how to pronounce it):

    Some people call AA a cult, which I would take issue with. There are individual AA chapters which are incredibly cult-like, but the same can be said about individual chapters of the VFW, Rotarians, Elks Club lodges, and Girl Scout troops. Just like in almost any situation in life, it’s all about avoiding the creeps.

    I went to about a half-dozen AA meetings when I was first getting sober seventeen years ago. I got some good advice, a copy of “Living Sober,” and a bit of comfort in knowing it wasn’t just me. Being where I was helped, too. In the Bay Area/East Bay, you can find an AA meeting that fits your personal social tribe, no matter what. Hey, if you’re a left-handed Guatemalan transsexual computer programmer who races modified Vespas on the weekends, there’s an AA meeting for you. Berkeley had a punk/hardcore meeting, so I went there.

    Punks being the herd of atheists, agnostics, and deists we are, two of the six meetings I went to were basically debates on what a “higher power” is. Since there was a near-consensus that God doesn’t exist, the ending consensus was, it’s what you make of it. The deists and agnostics sort of carried that ball: it’s an incredibly personal choice, no one can tell you what your “higher power” is. It could be God in all his stereotyped glory, it could be a guy named Chet who lives in your building, makes a mean stir-fry and shares it with you.

    I dropped AA too. My own feeling was that it didn’t take sitting around with a group of people to turn me into an alky (barrooms don’t count), so why should I have to do that to get sober? It was my mess, I had to clean it up, by myself. Being reliant on AA (or any group) to stay sober didn’t feel like it would be an achievement, I’d merely have changed dependencies… Like dudes who quit drinking, and start smoking weed instead.

    That was another concept I had a problem with: basically, if you kicked the habit on your own, you were still a drunk who needed their treatment…

    Fortunately, and I must have simply been lucky with this, I’ve had almost no AA types give me any bullshit about being a “dry drunk” or how anyone who doesn’t work the program is doomed to fail. Oh yeah? July 22, 1996, buddy, that was the last day I had a drink. I’ll thank AA for the good advice — and I truly mean that — and let it drop…. And almost always, AA members would simply congratulate me for my time sober and leave it alone, no quizzing, lecturing, or getting pushy about attending AA.

    In all these years, only three times I’ve had some AA Evangelist try to start the “dry drunk/work the program” lecture on me. I’d point out that drinking is a personal choice, for me getting sober was too. I didn’t need support to do either one. (Well, sometimes I’d need some support to get from the door of the bar and into the cab…) AA works for you? Hey, great, dandy, bitchin’ dude, and more power to you. But it’s been [XX] years since I’ve had a drink; I’m healthy, happy, [dating a girl/married], and I didn’t replace alcohol with another drug. Hmm, maybe not everyone needs the program, and that choice should be left up to them…. And not have some pushy stranger telling them how they somehow got sober wrong.

    If Captain Sobriety wanted to push the issue, I would cut him off: This is not a debate, and the subject is not up for debate either. I’ll reiterate, I’m [in July, 18 years] sober. I’d say I did something right. And by the way, maybe AA would have better retention of new members if AA had fewer creeps wandering around lecturing people they don’t know, acting like pushy-ass cult members and evangelizing how the program is the One True Way to sobriety. Maybe simply saying, “You’ve been sober [X] years? Congratulations!” and then minding your own damn business, seeing if the conversation develops organically, would be a better approach. It would certainly cut down on the number of people who are considering, in the back of their head, getting the jumper cables out of their truck and throttling pushy twits right there on the sidewalk.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Organmisations *for* sobriety? Fuck that!

    Might chip in if it was against it though! 😉

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Prohibition and teetotalitarianism – not a big fan of those and history suggests they don’t work and don’t help.

    Alcohol for those that want it? I’ll drink to that!

    Ed Brayton – I thought you were a moderate reasonable Libertarian no? What are you doing supporting these puritans?

  • dingojack

    Stevo – You are aware there is a big difference between forcing someone to do something, and providing support for someone who wants to do something of their own volition, right?


  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ dingojack : I guess so. Yeah.