Atheists Chime in on Alcoholics Anonymous

To add to the current thread:

Frank B. writes at the Rationalist Association that even the godless can be saved:

If you are an atheist in AA and AA is your last-chance saloon, then you have to develop an authentic and powerful workaround to make sobriety breathe for you. Pioneering atheist and agnostic AA members fought long and hard to make it explicit that belief is not a prerequisite of staying sober. And I champion their bold lead. I do not participate in any of the prayers. I ignore any raised eyebrows. God is not looking after me and the Cosmos does not care if I relapse on cheap vodka or not. Outing myself as an atheist in AA proved to be an incredibly liberating act. It pared away any delusions or expectations of life. It gave me a way forward of simplicity and responsibility. It made me look deep inside myself for the answers. It made me embrace the strength and healing to be found in real unconditional human love and compassion.… It makes me take nothing for granted. Be simple. Live the moment. To not be afraid. And to know that by staying true to my disbelieving self and under no circumstance picking up a drink, a remarkable second chance at life is here to be lived.

A reader on the Friendly Atheist Facebook page had a very different experience with a similar organization:

After leaving an abusive marriage and going through a nasty divorce, I saw a doctor who prescribed me Xanax. Fast forward to my becoming addicted in an ugly way. I sought treatment, was medically detoxed, and sought out a group where I could stay clean.

Enter Narcotics Anonymous.

I was immediately shunned for my lack of belief. I was told numerous times I would never stay clean without a higher power. No one would sponsor me. It was a pretty low time.

I ended up going online and finding a person who had a similar situation. We helped one another in a loving, kind, and godless way to stay clean. Four years later and here I am: clean, healthy, happy, and still godless.

Those programs are evil. Who would tell a person who was struggling that they’d never make it, all the while talking about how great their higher power is? My experience is not unique. There are more of us and I am sure more have gotten the same treatment…

For groups so dedicated to helping people overcome they sure are a hateful judgmental bunch.

Feel free to send along your own experiences.

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  • Greg

    i have found that becoming aware that you are dependent on a substance is hard to do. it’s humbling and scary and awful. if you are addicted then you have taken a very hard step in admitting you are. i too have relatives in aa that annoyed the crap out of me. i too stayed away because of the my perception of the cult and religious aspect program and the perception that it was all people who left a path of destruction. i wish i didn’t. aa is flawed. it was created at a time when the world was a simpler, more narrow minded place. it’s attempt to include non believers of god or religion are patronizing… “hang in there, you will be believe in a higher power some day.” throw that all away. aa is addicts helping addicts. just start with that. take what works for you out out the program and ignore the rest. people will talk about god. people will spout sayings. but that doesn’t matter. identify with people that have suffered like you have suffered and take solace in the fact that you are not alone. many people will have a trail of destruction. some won’t. when you go to meetings get to know a few people. ask around for someone in the program that is a “high bottom drunk” and you will most likely find someone like yourself. use the meetings to calm your brain, to find moments of peace. best of luck to you.