Addicted to AA?

never ending

Having worked with addicted individuals and people “in recovery” for many, many years, I find this article of interest:

A Different Path to Fighting Addiction (NYT)

A growing wing of addiction treatment rejects the Alcoholics Anonymous model of strict abstinence as the sole form of recovery for alcohol and drug users.

I’ve seen great benefit for a lot of people in AA (and NA).  But what was their alternative?  AA is pretty clear that the “God” they speak of does not have to be the Judeo-Christian God.  Yet, what is the implication?  I’ve never heard a person in recovery talk about Buddha or Krishna or Reason as their “Higher Power.”  Most AA groups meet in churches.  That’s fine, but what’s the message?

I’m simply raising these questions because they have bothered me a little over the years.  I have long supported people who tell me they are “going to meetings” and “doing well in recovery.”  I don’t think it’s a “bad” thing at all.

However, read the article and let me know what you think.

Btw, here are some links to Non-Religious groups working with addicted persons:

Rational Recovery

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

Smart Recovery

And, “believe or not,” there is help for Religious Addiction:

Recovering From Religion

Leo Booth (“spiritual but not religious” approach; as a young Chaplain I found his book, “When God Becomes a Drug” very helpful working with Jail Inmates)


2 thoughts on “Addicted to AA?

  1. I attended AA and NA meetings for a few years and I completely understand what you are saying. I was a former “guess” in a recovery facility that was predicated on a combination of the twelve steps, REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) and a laundry list of other cognitive-behavioral treatments not unlike the ones listed in the article you posted here. I would attribute my continued sobriety to the implementation of these psychological methods, rather than conceding that a higher power could help me.

    As I mentioned, I’ve been clean for over 4 years, almost 3 without a meeting, a sponsor, or a program of any kind. I left primarily because, in order to have any kind of program, I needed to be willing to submit to a higher power and reason would simply no longer allow me to do so. It was argued that you could mentally substitute the word “God” for virtually anything, the wind, the ocean, nature itself, etc., so long as it was outside of yourself, God was almost certainly the intended implication.

    As far as AA meetings being held primarily in churches – that has, I believe, more to do with the fact that AA is supported the the members who attend. On such a small budget, meeting space is typically limited to churches and community centers.

    I think that it is great that alternative treatment methods for addiction exist, that are not, for lack of a word, a “life sentence.” What allowed me to leave was a conversation with an AA buddy of mine, a self-proclaimed Buddhist oddly enough; he said in response to my attendance of only one meeting a week (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘It’s great that you are out there living your life, rather than sitting on the sidelines.’ Being the good addict I am, I interpreted that to mean that I no longer needed meetings. I have not been back since.

  2. Meaningful personal story here, Michael. Thank you for being so open. Connecting and disconnecting can be disorienting transitions. It sounds like you are finding your way, with gentle listening and an independent mind. I sure wish you well in your journey forward!

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