AA for atheists, can it work?


God and AA

Although AA is explicitly and intentionally non denominational, and accepts that every one needs to have their own interpretation of "a higher power" the fact remains the AA is very close to a Christian organization. AA is in fact so religious in nature that the Supreme Court recently ruled that courts could no longer mandate that people participate in meetings as this constitutes a violation of the separation between church and state.

So can an atheist get any benefit out of AA?

It depends…and many can, and many cannot. AA was begun about 80 years ago by a couple of very religious guys, and it's remarkable that they had the forethought and tolerance to try to help people of all religious backgrounds. But it still is a religious organization, and a belief and a reliance on a higher power is essential for a proper working of the 12 steps.

So how can an atheist get any benefit out of AA?

People without a traditional belief in God can sometimes come to a personally acceptable alternative arrangement, and find a higher power that they feel comfortable working with, and that does help them to achieve sobriety.

One example of a higher power that some atheists have used is a form of "mother nature" or science; something unexplained and bigger than themselves.

Another way that some people can work through the steps is by using the guidance of a now dead ancestor as a higher power, and through their spirit and memory accepting guidance and praying for help.

But it has to be authentic, and you have to really believe it for it to work, and some people just can’t make the metaphysical leap to do so; and for them, unfortunately AA offers little recovery assistance.

The lesson though is that AA and other 12 steps support groups meeting are not necessarily out of the question simply because you do not share a traditional belief in God.

Give it a try

AA works very well for some people, and a lot of people either find it ineffective, or are turned off by its "cultish" feel. I've never found it cultish, but I respect the opinions and perceptions of those that do, and recovery is not something that you can force. If it doesn’t feel right…try something else until you find something that does.

But I think that because AA and other 12 steps organizations have helped so many, they are worthy of consideration, and worthy of a least a couple of investigatory meetings. You lose little by trying it, and even if you have no traditional conception of God, you may be able to find a personal and authentic alternative.

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Comments 70 comments

mike 8 years ago

there has been no such supreme court ruling

Davido 8 years ago

Even if you don't believe in a higher power, give AA a try so they can work on you. If you're having serious problems because of your drinking, you're probably vulnerable. You probably want to believe in something. You'll hear from lots of caring people that an alcoholic without AA has only three options: jail, insane asylum or death. And you will learn that you can start with any higher power you want, but you can't work the steps until you accept God as your personal savior (step 3). You can't very well turn your life and will over to Mother Nature or a dead relative, etc. As the Big Book says, "many of us THOUGHT we were agnostics or atheists." Let the group work on you, you'll see the light.

chazdee 8 years ago

eight state and federal courts have ruled on the issue as of 2001 and all have agreed that a parolee has a right to be assigned to a secular treatment program.

Rip 7 years ago

the Federal 7th Circuit Court in Wisconsin, 1984. the Federal District Court for Southern New York, 1994. the New York Court of Appeals, 1996. the New York State Supreme Court, 1996. the U.S. Supreme Court, 1997. the Tennessee State Supreme Court.

the Federal 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, 1996. the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh District, 1996. the Federal Appeals Court in Chicago, 1996. The Federal Appeals Court in Hawaii, September 7, 2007, in the Inouye v. Kemna caseGriffin v. Coughlin

Theres enough to tide anyone over. State mandated aa or NA meetings are a violation of the first amendment.. with a few exceptions.

I have attended 12 step meetings for 7 years and I am an agnostic. BUT...i feel that if someone feels like their freedom from religion is being infringed upon they have the RIGHT to have secular alternativea

Lisa 7 years ago

I don't believe in God and I have been sober for 21 years in AA.

I have been castigated and confronted by narrow-minded members who are more concerned with their own fears than helping keep others sober.

If you are new and an atheist (or for that matter, anything other than Judeo-Christian), find someone like me as a sponsor and you will find tremendous help in AA, from emotional support to the most vital trip through the steps.

Dan 7 years ago

I need God and God needs me.

Curtis C 7 years ago

Alcoholics can get sober without god, since there is none. Bill was wrong about self-will; but we must direct our will toward what keeps us sober. A higher power must necessarily be something that exists, or it is no power at all. This is a support group for atheists in Alcoholics Anonymous. atheist-aa@googlegroups.com

Curtis C 7 years ago

The url will get you to an atheist AA google group.

William 7 years ago

I think that all the negative and derogatory statements about Atheists in the AA Literature that is still used today can not be healthy for an Atheist. If AA is the only Recovery option available for a person, I would tell them to use it and avoid the meetings that uses the worse of the reading material. If possible find and goto a Secular meeting like Lifering

Bill 7 years ago

I am an atheist and I go to AA meetings, they've helped me. I've been sober for 14 years, without god. In Chicago there is a regular Atheist/Agnostic AA group, it has been meeting continuously for 35 years. AA concepts have helped me, and being able to go to meetings is part of what keeps me sober. My life went from absolute suffering to normal productive reality. I couldn't be more pleased with my sobriety and AA played a big part in that. What I know about recovery I learned from the wonderful people I met in AA.

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sheristeele 7 years ago from Siler City, NC

AA is known as a christian group.. however, phrases like "let go and let God" can actually be thought of by atheiests as something such as, "Let go and let things happen themselves"

Jim S. 7 years ago

After 18 months in AA an old-timer told me that if I didn't get the God part I'd never stay sober. Until that point I had been fearful that AA would not work for me, and had been earnestly seeking some kind of higher power, with no luck. The old-timer's admonition set me free; I quit worrying about finding a higher power, and set about using AA to simply stay sober. No sponsor, only doing those of the twelve steps I felt comfortable with, talking about my atheism in meetings, and after 15+ years I'm still sober and going to meetings. This approach is decidedly not popular among traditional practitioners of AA, but those with more open minds seem to appreciate what I say. One or two even insist that I work a more perfect spiritual program than anyone they know. I haven't figured that out, but it doesn't worry me, either. I'm also convinced that I've helped a few other (closet) atheists stay sober. Take what you can use, and leave the rest.

Robert E. 7 years ago

One can be an atheist or agnostic in AA. I've been in AA and sober for 10+ years and don't believe in God. I don't think that there is something out there that has a will for me. Yet, I love AA and it has been a big help to me. If you don't want to believe in God, then don't. You can still be a part of AA. "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking." At first it was difficult for me to be in AA with my beliefs, but not anymore, and the program has helped me to accept people with different points of view. When I talk about my lack of belief in God some newcomers thank me. Some of these newcomers stay around and some don't. Most who stay around "come to believe" but some don't. Hopefully my comments have helped someone.

One more thing. My dad was about as bad a drunk as anyone can be. Then at about the age of 65 he quit. Yet, he was an atheist and didn't go to meetings. He did not end up being a "dry drunk." He was a great guy and more power to him. I prefer AA.

johnnyfd 7 years ago

This article is as bad as the chapter to the agnostic. And as bad as people in AA that think I'm just not getting it. I have been sober for 22 years. It's the believers that just don't get it. Can't we just agree to disagree and move on. Recovering Addict seems to think that I won't retain sobriety without a "higher power"..........geez 22 years. maybe someday I'll come to my senses.

col 6 years ago

I have been a sober athiest for the past 20 years, i feel very much a part of aa even though my belief is at odds with the majority.I do not take everything the big book says as beyond qustioning,it was founded by good, but religious people.We are not a cult,it is about being responsible,which blaming/claiming god done it is not realy something I find believable..each to their own beliefs

John Lyons 6 years ago

I am 74. I have been sober for 18 years. To my life I have had a deep belief and absolutely no belief. At the present time I don't very much if there is some type of life hereafter and I don't believe that whatever higher power may be is controlling my life. I am in control of my life. The serenity prayer is a good guy time. The Golden rule and my super ego all help me to be a better person.

Perhaps, at some meetings I may have a change in my thinking. However, I am not going to give up the wonderful conditions at AA gives to me. To be able to share with understanding people. To seek spirituality. To be able to have a formula, a system where I can look at my resentments et al. I do have a process where I can cause me to be a better person and to help me not drink.

Of course, on the other hand I don't want to become a preacher of the dark side so to speak. Enough said.

John Lyons 6 years ago

I apologize for the unedited message previously sent.

I am 74. I have been sober for 18 years. During my life I have had a deep belief and absolutely no belief. At the present time I doubt very much if there is some type of life hereafter and I don't believe that whatever higher power may be is controlling my life. I am in control of my life. The serenity prayer is a good guide. The Golden rule and my super ego all help me to be a better person.

Perhaps, at some meetings I may have a change in my thinking. However, I am not going to give up the wonderful conditions AA gives to me. To be able to share with understanding people. To seek spirituality. To be able to have a formula, a system where I can look at my resentments et al. I do have a process where I can cause me to be a better person and to help me not drink.

Of course, on the other hand I don't want to become a preacher of the dark side so to speak. Enough said.

Quixotical 6 years ago

For a very interesting take on 12 step for atheists, look at Get Up by Bucky Sinister (a comedian and poet) -- it's available for free on line reading (the whole book, not just samples) at http://www.libertary.com/book/get-up It's both insightful and entertaining, including a chapter called "The God Problem" and suggesting how the 12 step approach can be used by people who aren't religious.

steven 6 years ago

I am going to 2 aa meetings a week court ordered. it sucks. the whole substitution for "mother nature" or spirits and all that seems to be the complete opposite of atheism. "i dont believe in god, im spiritual" is not atheism. the can of soda next to me is as much a deity to me as any other religious figure.

Abc 6 years ago

Its strange how AA seems to get away with being a distinctly Christian organization, replete with frequent use of bible verses and a very evengelical idea of "service"(among other things). Imagine if a Muslim were to ask a Christian to attend a Mosque every week (instead of a church) under the logic that "we both worship a god, so just ignore the superficialities and focus on the similarities". That is precisely what AA asks of non-Christians. Bad as that is, it takes on absurd proportions when an Atheist is supposed to be ok with holding hands in a circle while reciting the Lords Prayer(or some other such "meditation").

Yes, an atheist can go to AA, just as a muslim can go to church. But why would he?

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ceciliabeltran 6 years ago from New York


Bill 6 years ago

I find that when I go, it's best to focus on what you can use, and ignore what you can't. And keep quiet about the God thing. There are practical things mentioned at meetings, and people who have the same experiences and feelings outside of the "God" thing. Besides, I could be wrong. I am a drunk, y'know. Same thing for me here, no sponsor, cuz the oldtimers have just substituted one religion for another.

chip 6 years ago

Try AA.

As an atheist my higher power is the system for which I believe in.(Earth) Earth was borne, soon came life, then man(give or take a few years). So through this evolution of Earth it would not be prudent to destroy this complex system of life. If you think that by removing yourself from the gene-pool would better the species, consider this. Man evolves physically very slowly. But our educated minds evolves quite fast. So you must contribute to the next generation with the knowledge that this is a survivable disease. Your prayer may be some quiet contemplation time. And most of the the rules of any religion are pretty much, for the good of man kind. For this I have decided that the planet and life are my higher power.

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Jenny Anne 6 years ago from California

The book says:

God as "we see him"

Not religion, Not Christian...just a Higher Power.

If you need and desire to stop the chaos in your out of control drinking life then give AA a chance. Good grief people it is not a cult, but a program made up of folks who have been able to quit drinking, some for a very long time, with the support of each other and the AA program.

Atheist or Christian or Jew or Muslim....The disease does not discriminate. Nor does treatment if you want it.

Charlie 6 years ago

All I have to accept about a "Higher Power" is that I'm not it. Many forces, natural and man-made, are more powerful than I am. One doesn't need to debate the existence of God to understand that. The greatest obstacle to successful sobriety for the atheist is other recovering alcoholics who enjoy playing "my Higher Power can beat up your Higher Power." My advice: grow a thick skin and ignore them. (I'm an atheist and recovering drunk with over 14 years sober.)

mike  6 years ago

As a true atheist and evolutionist I have no need for god, higher power, the third step. The second step is a metaphor which works fine for me. The rest of it is all good. If you are new to AA and this is your belief too, don't worry about it there is a ton of us. I enjoy AA (sometimes every day) and it has worked for me for 17 years. I tried everything I could to 'get around' my atheism but really didn't feel right in AA until I 'accepted' it. I love reading about evolution, my favorite book is "Why evolution is true" by Jerry Coyne. It's about all relationships of things in nature. Life, the universe and everything will make sense once you start down this path and you will fit into AA as an alcoholic talking to another alcoholic. Don't get mad, don't let others tell you AA won't work until you accept God in your life. I never did, I just worked the steps just like you are supposed to and I faked the third step and worked the rest of them diligently. Good Luck.

Kenneth Anderson 6 years ago

Gong to AA caused me to increase my drinking to the point that I nearly died. There are far better secular alternatives to AA these days for non-believers. These include:

SMART Recovery



The HAMS Harm Reduction Network


Diana 6 years ago

Re: above. Ken, it is not possible AA "caused" you to drink. I am guessing that was your alcoholism.

I'm just saying!

87AA42` 6 years ago

Having been sober for a long time without any god of any kind nor any spirituality to speak of, I have to affirm that one can definitely use AA as a vehicle to get sober and stay sober. It can be a wonderful therapeutic community as well as a poisonous source of religious indoctrination and forced direction to churches, depending on the orientation of the group conscience. If you don't like the message of the group you may be in, leave the group. I have done so about ten times over the last twenty years, as groups do change when members leave and join the groups. Just keep the message simple and leave the intolerant people, groups and haters alone, and find an AA group or group of friends you can profit from and grow with. And they don't all have to be atheists. Surprise, but yes, an atheist can get along very well with groups having confirmen theists as members. Stay in touch with atheist organizations as well as AA. I subscribe to a podcast called The Atheist Experience, from the Austin Community of Atheists. Widelya available on the Internet. Keep sober by carrying the message. God is NOT required.

Raindog 6 years ago

I have 24 years of continuous sobriety in AA and I am an atheist. These two things are true in my opinion:

1. There is almost certainly no God.

2. Belief in God or a higher power helps people stay sober.

If 1 is true, and I am as certain about that as I am about anything, then what is going on with 2? What is going on in people's brains who think that God is running their lives? My take is that it is one's own conscience that people confuse with a higher power. My conscience tells me things like "Brush your teeth" "Be nice to your wife" "Be a good father" "Help that person with that heavy load" "Help this newcomer in AA." That is the voice of the "higher power." The same voice that tells you to brush your teeth is what gets you sober and keeps you sober. People confuse this with God but it is just something inside each of us. The problem is that there are other competing voices in our minds that are driven by fear, self pity, resentment and addiction. The purpose of the steps is to minimize those voices so that we can hear our conscience more clearly and have that run the show. When I do that my life goes very well.

That is all that is going on for me and for everyone else for whom AA works whether they know it or not. A "spiritual awakening" is simply getting our conscience or "unsuspected inner resource" to run the show.

Religion confuses the issue. It says right on page 27 of the BB that being a church member is not the same as having a vital spiritual experience. Belief in a religion will not get you sober. Only a vital spiritual experience will and that has nothing to do with god as I see it.


clean, but not cured, in Chicago 6 years ago

Great post Raindog...thank you. I am Agnostic and have 5 years clean & sober without the help of AA, or NA. I tried those meetings in the begining, but my lack of belief on a "higher power" made them meaningless and I felt like a phony being there. That being said, I would like to find an organization to help me continue my sobriety. I am fearful of getting cocky about my 5 years. I know I could easily fall back - and fall hard - so, I am concerned that I haven't done the 12 step work that has proven to help so many people. I'm aware that being clean, and being cured, are two very different things. Therefor, I am trying to reconcile my conflicted feelings about a higher power so that I could attend AA or NA comfortable and feel more secure about continuing my sobriety. Raindog's comment re: your conscience being your true higher power makes good sense to me. I'm hoping I could use that to start attending meetings as a "newcomer" with 5 years of continuous sobriety.

Ken  6 years ago


I am an alcoholic agnostic who has been in recovery thanks to AA for 9 years now, a day at a time. Before I came to AA I used the 'God' thing as an excuse for not trying AA (one of many excuses I used) despite the knowledge that I was an alcoholic and that I had tried all the other ways to get sober. I even managed 3 years of sobriety at one point, but still returned to the booze 'like a dog to its vomit' and eventually admitted defeat and went to AA - I have been sober since that first day. I had great difficulty in the earlier years with many of the things referred to above, such as holding hands (still don't like that much, but it is a small price to pay)and reciting the Serenity Prayer - and with the many obviously Christian references in the AA literature. But I really wanted to get better, and so I went with the flow and did what was suggested to help me get on the right track. Now I realise that I don't have to have a religious faith to keep me sober. What I do need to have is a continuing willingness to learn and a continuing acceptance that others are entitled to their point of view, beliefs, religion or what have you. As far as 'praying' is concerned, if I have a problem I try to focus on it and find the specific question I think I need to have answered - that process tends to clarify the problem for me. Do I get an answer? Yes - usually the one I don't want to hear, but that I knew in my heart was the right one before I started the process. Those who are religious may call this 'praying', I call it 'focussing'. I suppose what I am saying is that I found I could easily adapt my way of thinking to accommodate the AA mindset without the need to invent a religious faith I do not possess. It works for me, and I certainly don't come under any pressure in my AA group to adopt any specific Higher Power - as long as it isn't me! If I adopt an arrogant attitude to my lack of belief, that is just as bad as those who adopt a similar attitude to their faith - so I don't. Other people's faith is their business, my lack of it is mine.

Andrew Kerwin 6 years ago

These last few comments have been great. I have not read this particular thread before but it looks like it was a little shaky in the middle and then was recovered by folks who actually get it.

Raindog, great analogy.. If there is no god, what the heck is working for these people? I agonized over it for years and stopped going to meetings for 2-3 years. I can attest to what happened to me when I did not go to meetings or work steps.. Jail, breakup, pain, frustration, dishonesty, etc.

So what is it that works about praying, going to a couple meetings a week, talking to my sponsor, making amends and talking to others about my recovery? Who am I praying to?

The answer that took me years to find is usually not easily accepted by the newly sober, antagonistic, alcoholic. I found that HOW it works does not matter. I don’t have to believe that it is because of this or that, creator or nature, Yahweh or Allah. All I have to do is DO IT. I’ll repeat it in case you missed the million of Nike ads out there. Just do it. It’s like Nancy Regan, only in reverse. I just go to meetings, call my sponsor, make a list of people I have harmed or who pissed me off. I pray.. yes I said it, I Pray and do a few other innocuous tasks. I am certain there is no supernatural power out there, but prayer works anyway. Maybe it’s to my conscience, maybe to the Sun god, it doesn’t matter.

The faith talked about in steps 2 and 3, for me are simply faith that if I do it, it will work. I get that faith from listening to thousands of others say that ‘something’ worked for them. Usually they replace the word ‘something’ with god, but if I know there is no god, I have to assume that it was something else.. why can’t I use the same thing? Why do I need to name it? I just use it. I use it by doing what they do, (the things I listed earlier).

If my intellect and ego want me dead enough to run me out of AA because the people there are disillusioned, maybe my intellect and ego are listening to my alcoholism and not my conscience.

Then there is the literature.. Chapter 4, or as I like to call it, “we were once stupid like you, but keep coming back and one day you will realize you were wrong” chapter, and the endless references to “spirit of the universe”, “creator”, “universal intelligence”, “creative intelligence”, etc . That stuff is all bunk. There are plenty of people who are actively recovering that know it’s bunk. I don’t need to listen to all the book, but at the same time there is some really amazing content in that book. The way he can describe some of the thoughts and actions I have thought or done. It is an amazing book, save all the monotheistic mumbo jumbo. For a long time I thought no one would ever be able to relate to me. I take solace in the line in Appendix II that says that the previous conclusion (in chapter 4 no doubt), was erroneous, (that means wrong or incorrect, in error, mistaken.)

Raindog 6 years ago

Right on Andrew - I enjoy reading your posts. You are doing good work.

to clean, but not cured, in Chicago - did you go? It can make being sober a whole lot more fun and fulfilling I think.

One thing AA focuses on is "ego-reduction" which is a concept that some people have a hard time with. I strongly suggest the writings of Harry Tiebout, a psychiatrist who treated many early AAs including Bill W. He was interested in what was really going on with spiritual experiences and studied that for many years. He was convinced that "surrender" to alcoholism - fully accepting that we could not drink like other people and that we needed help to stop was what led to "white-light" spiritual experiences. He thought that these white light experiences would not last forever though and that a disciplined approach to life and continued surrender was required to maintain sobriety and obtain a more lasting spiritual awakening. Although many view surrender to "god" as part of this, I think we can get a strong feeling of well being simply by accepting that in this case things are not going to go the way we want them to. Actually the more we can accept things as they really are and surrender to reality, the more spiritually awake we become. Note that this has nothing to do with believing in God (from my perspective anyway). It has to do with growing up and accepting our place in the world.

Here is a link to some of his writings. The best thing he wrote to my way of thinking can be found in AA comes of Age and is not at this site but these are still good and worth reading.


Minus 6 years ago

Just a quick comment from a new AA. The article above says, "AA was begun about 80 years ago by a couple of very religious guys." From what I have read and learned so far, I think the sentence would be more correct if it read, "AA was begun about 80 years ago by a couple of very religious guys and an atheist."

Believer in science 6 years ago

AA does not work for either atheists or for people who belive in God. Studies show that people are just as likely to quit drinking on their own as by attending AA. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, on the other hand, is about twice as effective as AA.

Rick S 6 years ago

Many are too smart to get sober. Put your ego aside, follow the suggestions and take a journey. I found a way to live. It took me a long time to become an athiest in AA. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

There are some great posts here and some complete fools. Easy Does It!

Kelsey W 6 years ago

This page has been helpful to me. I had three years sober without a God, but pretending (faking it till I made it) but this dishonesty eventually brought me back out. Today I have 6 days sober and I live in a very Catholic influenced area where there are no agnostics or atheist AA members that I can find. It's really frustrating. I will be trying NA in the near future. Many AA's have told me there is no sobriety without a God. My response to this is that I do not believe in a magical power that hocus pocus me into sobriety. I agree with the Believer in Science, because I have tried CBT and that is what helped me arrive at 3 years of sobriety in the past. However, in my opinion, that is not enough. As an alcoholic I need to have some spiritual element, that I mostly find by the love and acceptance that comes from the women and men in my support group. Also helping others gives me a joy that may or may not be explained by any scientific reasoning. But I think once I get some time together I will attempt to begin an agnostic meeting to help anyone else who feels the same way I do.

Raindog 6 years ago


Try reading Appendix II on Spiritual Experience at the end of the Big Book. At the bottom of page 569 there is a sentence that that says "With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves."

It goes on to say " Most of us think this awareness of a power greater than ourselves is the essence of a spiritual experience. Our more religious members call it 'God-consciousness.'"

To me this makes the hoop big enough for anyone to get through. My "inner resource" is my conscience. It is biological - created by my DNA and has nothing to do with a supernatural God. This is enough - it works and I highly recommend this approach to atheists and to anyone else for that matter.

There are competing interests in my brain. Fear, anger and self pity would have me act one way while my conscience would have me act another. The point of the steps is to clear away the fear, self pity and resentment that I have built up over the years so that I can more clearly understand what my conscience would have me do and also gain the strength to take that action. The steps also work very well with this view of a higher power.

That's all it is! It's way simpler than I imagined it to be for many years. It does not require a belief in a supernatural being. In fact religion and debate over the existence/non-existence of god just confuse this issue. Note that he says "our more religious members call it god-consciousness." This implies that there are many non-religious members for whom this has worked who don't call it god-consciousness.

If you take it straight from Appendix II in the Big Book then people will leave you alone and you will find that many people like this message. I find that if I can be positive about what I do believe in rather than negative about what I do not believe in then I feel better and people in the meetings like hearing me share. I am living in the solution rather than the problem.

Bill added Appendix II with the second edition after he had been sober for a while and he saw that religion had little if anything to do with the power needed to stay sober and lead a spiritual life.

clean but not cured in Chicago 6 years ago

I have still not yet found an AA chapter I could relate to and feel comfortable with. I am also still very happily sober for more than 5 years. My life feels complete and I truly do not ever see myself going back to the lifestyle that I lived for more than 25 years prior to getting sober. I recognize that many people see this as risk taking because I have never "worked the steps", and am therefor (at least in their view) still very likeley to relapse. I would like to find a way to do this "work" eventually, but I guess I still need to reconcile some feelings I have with the religious aspects before I can motivate myself to try the AA route again. It just makes things so much more difficult when you have to try to twist what they teach and the steps to conform to my Agnostic beliefs. I cannot pretend, and just go woth the flow of the all the religious stuff as some have suggested, because I just feel phony doing so - and if I am going to do it I want to do it right, not by faking half of it. To be honest I guess since my sobriety is strong, and my life is satisfying, I also question whether AA is really as necessary (speaking only for myself) as so many seem to believe it is. I do find forums like this helpful, and I really wish there was an organization like AA that operated wothout the religious stuff. It's unfair, and sad, that people like us do not have the a resource like AA available to us unless we are willing to twist our true beliefs, and find ways to rationalize the irrational aspects of religion that they stress. Anyway, I will continue to be open-minded about AA, religion, and my sobriety - and maybe someday I will find a comfortable way, and place, to reconcile my concerns about never having worked the steps. I do find this forum helpful, and I appreciate the open and honest dialog. Thanks.

Raindog 6 years ago

I know it really can seem like it, but AA has nothing to do with religion and you do not have to twist your true beliefs on the existence/non-existence of God. I sincerely believe that anyone who has a conscience can have a higher power. That is all it really is for everyone including those who think that a religious god is helping them.

Sometimes I think that fear of facing myself was what prevented me from finding a way to make the higher power thing work. It has been right there in Appendix II the whole time I have been sober, but I never noticed how easy it was to get it until about 6 months ago. I highly recommend finding a way to make it work - AA has been one of the best things that ever happened to me.

clean but not cured - Chicago 6 years ago

Thanks again Raindog - I'll keep trying. I think I just need to find the right group, and a sponsor who has dealt with the issues I'm facing. It does make sense what you say about conscience, but it's a little difficult for me to think it through it myself, and sort of translate on the fly, when everyone else there seems to just accept the God thing as fact. Honestly, I get a little tired of them telling me that I just need to give it a chance and eventually I'll "get it"...well, I'm 50 yrs old now and I've sincerely tried many times to "get it". I don't want to waste anymore of my life on that. I just want to move on based on my what my experience, logic, reason, and heart tells me is the truth, and find a group that can accept my non-religious views, without the underlying attempts to convert me, and just help me work through these steps in a secular way. Even though I might question the absolute necessity of it, I do see the value of a group such as AA, and I do want to do the right things - so, I guess I just need to more actively try to find the right one for me...I suppose I haven't really tried as hard as I should to make myself fit because I HAVE been succesful in remaining sober - but, I also understand why I should keep an open mind about it and how valuable it could be if I were to finally find the right group.

Don Severs 6 years ago

Hi, all, we're exploring this together on a new Facebook page. Please visit and if you like us, please Like us!


thalio 5 years ago

I posted an essay on atheism and the 12-steps here


To get the most of this writing form (noding, they call it) check out some of the links.

Hope this is useful, and best to all.

Raindog 5 years ago

For the new agnostic or atheist just coming in, I will try to give very briefly my milestones in recovery.

1. The first power I found greater than myself was John Barleycorn.

2. The A.A. Fellowship became my Higher Power for the first two years.

3. Gradually, I came to believe that God and Good were synonymous and were found in all of us.

4. And I found that by meditating and trying to tune in on my better self for guidance and answers, I became more comfortable and steady.

J.B., San Diego, California

Raindog 5 years ago

Sorry about the previous abbreviated post - Here issSomething you all might enjoy – there have been atheists in AA right from the beginning

I guess Jim wrote this in 1969 – the date below must be wrong or they waited 30 years to publish it – read the story the Vicious Cycle if you never have:

Sober For Thirty Years

by Jim Burwell

A.A. Grapevine, November 1999

As noted in my story, “The Vicious Cycle,” in the Big Book, I came into the Fellowship in New York in January 1938.

At that time A.A. was just leaving the Oxford Group. There was one closed discussion meeting a week, at Bill’s home in Brooklyn, – attendance six or eight men, with only three members who had been sober more than one year: Bill, Hank, and Fitz.

This is about all that had been accomplished in the four years with the New York Oxford Group. During those early meetings at Bill’s, they were flying blind, with no creed or procedure to guide them, though they did use quite a few of the Oxford sayings and the Oxford Absolutes.

Since both Bill and Dr. Bob had had almost-overnight experiences, it was taken for granted that all who followed would have the same sort of experience. So the early meetings were quite religious, in both New York and Akron. There was always a Bible on hand, and the concept of God was all biblical.

Into this fairly peaceful picture came I, their first self-proclaimed atheist, completely against all religions and conventions. I was the captain of my own ship. (The only trouble was, my ship was completely disabled and rudderless.) So naturally I started fighting nearly all the things Bill and the others stood for, especially religion, the “God bit.” But I did want to stay sober, and I did love the understanding Fellowship. So I became quite a problem to that early group, with my constant haranguing against all spiritual angles.

All of a sudden, the group became really worried. Here I had stayed sober five whole months while fighting everything the others stood for. I was now number four in “seniority.” I found out later they had a prayer meeting on “what to do with Jim.” The consensus seemed to have been that they hoped I would either leave town or get drunk.

That prayer must have been right on target, for I was suddenly taken drunk on a sales trip. This became the shock and the bottom I needed. At this time I was selling auto polish to jobbers for a company that Bill and Hank were sponsoring, and I was doing pretty well, too. But despite this, I was tired and completely isolated there in Boston.

My fellow alcoholics really put the pressure on as I sobered up after four days of no relief, and for the first time I admitted I couldn’t stay sober alone. My closed mind opened a bit. Those folks back in New York, the folks who believed, had stayed sober. And I hadn’t. Since this episode I don’t think I have ever argued with anyone else’s beliefs. Who am I to say?

I finally crawled back to New York and was soon back into the fold. About this time, Bill and Hank were just beginning to write the A.A. Big Book. I do feel sure my experience was not in vain, for “God” was broadened to cover all types and creeds: “God as we understood Him.”

I feel my spiritual growth over these past thirty years has been very gradual and steady. I have no desire to “graduate” from A.A.. I try to keep my memories green by staying active in A.A. – a couple of meetings weekly.

For the new agnostic or atheist just coming in, I will try to give very briefly my milestones in recovery.

1. The first power I found greater than myself was John Barleycorn.

2. The A.A. Fellowship became my Higher Power for the first two years.

3. Gradually, I came to believe that God and Good were synonymous and were found in all of us.

4. And I found that by meditating and trying to tune in on my better self for guidance and answers, I became more comfortable and steady.

J.B., San Diego, California

SoberAtheist 5 years ago

The first thing I had to realize was that the only thing that ALL who are successful in AA have in common is regular interaction with other alcoholics. That I can do. Heck, the steps are optional. Some people just go to meetings and stay sober forever, some two-step, some do them all, whatever. From there, I have to admit that when I go to meetings, work with other alcoholics, and do the steps, I don't drink or use. I know there is not anything supernatural going on, but bottom line, I did not get sober on my own, and I cannot stay sober on my own.

gay atheist 5 years ago

On a doctor's recommendation, I went to a chemical dependency center because I drink too much. The therapist pulled out the twelve steps and I wondered if the medical center I was at was supposed to be a religious based center.

Most of my problems are *directly* caused by growing up in a heavily Christian area. I knew what the twelve steps were right away: a thinly veiled reconstitution of evangelical Christianity.

I read the Big Book's "We Agnostics" chapter and they literally have a guy that is such a drunk he is hospitalized and has a sudden delusion and is all cured. Seriously, I'm going to have to drink a hell of a lot more before I'm going to start believing in a "God" especially with such a silly idea "who am I to say there is no God?" Well, who am I to say there is a God? Brilliant logic, that one.

I'm hopelessly biased against a group that is fundamentally a Christian organization, no matter how they try to sell it. "Just ignore that God part or think of another higher power." Yeah, sure. That's deranged thinking. If some higher power exists and wants me to stop drinking, then it doesn't matter whether I believe in it or not or do anything based on that belief.

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." - turn your life over to Jesus.

"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." - confess your sins.

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." - Atone for your sins.

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." - Spread the gospel.

I guess this could help an atheist who knows absolutely nothing about Christianity.

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol" - This is a problem. Nobody actually believes this. The law certainly doesn't believe it or you wouldn't be able to prosecute someone for killing someone via a DUI. The NIH doesn't believe this: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Practitione...

anonpotamus 5 years ago

I believe in a power greater than myself, but I don't believe in God. I've been going to meetings for over a decade now, but I don't like it when people say God got them sober. I can't remember how many times I've heard someone say the didn't believe in God when they first came into AA, and used the group as their HP until they "got better", and started believing in God. It's pretty well understood where I'm from that someone isn't really "getting it" until they believe in some God of their understanding.

How can I turn my will over to a group that believes in whatever they feel like? How is that God? It's just some made up feel-good story that they clutch to like they clutched their liquor bottle. I don't want that!

Over the years I've found that the biggest #1 reason why someone who needs help with alcohol doesn't go to AA, or stay very long is because it's so religious.

Tradition 5 states "Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers". What message is that? In How it Works I think it's spelled out pretty plainly: "Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power that One is God. May you find Him now!"

I still go to AA meetings because I think I'll drink if I don't, but would I really? I really do feel alone in meetings. I wanted to start up an atheist AA meeting in town, but I can't afford rent each month, especially if very few people show up, and AA members are notoriously cheap when the basket gets passed around.

The only think I could think of was to get a web domain, and put up a cheesy site where I could vent. Maybe someday others will join to mock me, harass me, or generally tell me how I'm on a dry drunk for rejecting God (as I understand HIM, of course).

William 5 years ago

I think that it is the dated Literature and its lack respect for the belief of others that most repel Atheists.

Maui Historian 5 years ago



Is A.A. Christian? - Cyber Recovery Social Network Forums - Alcohol and Drug Addiction Help/Support

cyberrecovery.net— Is A.A. Christian? A.A. With Dick B. More and more, people are Googling in the question: Is A.A. Christian. Is it? Some, including a few Christian writers who are anti-A.A., are quick to jump in and answer with a Bible verse or two, an admonition or three, and a condemnation or 20. Again: Is A.A. Christian? Why not start with facts before attempting to answer the question in any meaningful, useful, and helpful way! You might first ask, "What is A.A.?" ot "What A.A. literature--past or present--can shed light on the question?" or "Who is asking the question?" Is the questioner studying A.A., condemning A.A., trying to prove the affirmative, trying to argue the negative, contending that AAs will go to hell, stating that the Bible prohibits attending A.A., or stating flatly that A.A. is Christian or not Christian. And of what period in A.A.'s 75 years or so, is the questioner asking? You can start by finding out the major influences on A.A. historically. These are the YMCA, Christian evangelists like Dwight Moody and F.B. Meyer, the Salvation Army, the Gospel Rescue Missions including the one where one cofounder made his decision for Jesus Christ, and The Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor. One comprehensive, documented study can be found in Dick B., Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous (www.dickb.com/drbobofaa.shtml). Another is Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W. (www.dickb.com/conversion.shtml). Still another can be found in Dick B. Real Twelve Step Fellowship History (www.dickb.com/realhistory.shtml). You can move on to look at the Christian upbringing of A.A.'s cofounders Dr. Robert H. Smith and William G. Wilson. You will mostly have to look outside of A.A. for details. But the books above will be helpful. But two A.A. Conference-approved books can start you on your quest. One is DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers (1980). Another is "Pass It On." And still another are the autobiography of Bill W. himself. Another, the biography of Bill's doctor, " Aug 22, 2011




Sober with a higher power 4 years ago

I think it's funny the only people on here defending their sobriety are ones who don't believe in God. Who are you trying to convince? Or justify it works? Take it to God........

Sober with a higher power 4 years ago

I think it's funny the only people on here defending their sobriety are ones who don't believe in God. Who are you trying to convince? Or justify it works? Take it to God........

Margie 4 years ago

where in chicago are there a.a. atheiist/agnostic meetings?

johnnygolf 4 years ago

I am not judeo/christian. 41 years sober in AA. AA saved me and my family of 6. I don't care who/what someone's higher power is (you didn't create yourself, did you?). I love AA, meetings and the members. Don't get hung up on what someone else says about God or their Higher Power.

StuartATL 4 years ago

Thank you for this page and this thread. I'm newly atheist, though I've been sober 5 years. As I read the experience of others, I am reminded of how I felt when I first came in the rooms of AA: I'm not alone. The spiritual awakening I had from working the 12 steps was profound and led me unexpectedly to atheism. I consider my spiritual condition and my sobriety to be strong and healthy because I have stopped trying to force myself to believe in God, when I don't.

greywhippet 4 years ago

I am so very pleased to have found this site. AND am extremely grateful to Raindog for his brilliant and insightful words. NOW I can figure out how to make AA work for this atheist!

John J. 4 years ago

I have some very good friends in AA, and enjoy their company. I do "filter" some of the comments I hear, and admit to occasional reverse condescension of their Christian practices. I would really enjoy seeing many of these Christian AA members attend a meeting in Mumbai, India where the vast majority of participants spoke perfectly understandable English, but were adherents of the Hindu religion. I would put money on the bet that even though the Twelve Steps were indeed universally applicable, hearing AA members speak of a Higher Power in Hindi terminology would cause much hardship. Perhaps then they would understand the discomfort I and my like-minded friends in AA feel when we have to sit through the Second Step meeting (Like the one I just left.).

mike321 4 years ago

One of the other articles here on Hub asks "why does it matter to you whether or not other people believe in God"? For the most part it doesn't. However, for issues such as this it does. AA is filled with well-meaning individuals sharing their "experience, strength and hope" with each other regarding overcoming their active alcoholism. Many, though certainly not all items in the Big Book and many of the suggestions within the meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous are pragmatic and useful. All that still doesn't take away from the fact that calling a behavior like compulsive drinking and drug use a disease but then treating it "spiritually" is backwards and superstitious. Teaching others that they are "powerless" not only over using but ultimately over "people, places and things" and "beyond human aid" is not only counterproductive but potentially dangerous if taken literally. AA keeps its organization loose and flexible enough to avoid too much outside controversy (especially with disingenuous pithy canards like "take what you want and leave the rest" and "these are only suggestions" as if there were ever any other "suggestions" offered). If AA were only a support group that would be one thing. However, most major treatment options follow the 12 Step model with little serious scientific research done into its actual efficacy (after all, it "works if you work it").

Unhappy oldtimer 4 years ago

I have almost 21 years of recovery in a 12 step fellowship. In recent years I have become more outspoken about not believing in 'higher power'. In fact I also do not believe in the 'disease concept' put forth by 12 step groups. I never have but simply kept quiet about this to 'keep the peace'. I have personal experience which refutes the notion that I have a physical compulsion coupled with a mental obsession which compels me to lose al control when substances enter my system. Due to chronic illness I sporadically take medication in the same class of drugs I would have abused prior to being in recovery & NOT ONCE have I ever felt the desire to miuse this medication. If anything, I underuse it. I'm sick of uneducated ppl in 12 step groups trying to shove their quasi religious / 'spiritual' beliefs down my throat. I believe that we make choices with regards to our behaviour & are responsible for the consequences of our choices & decisions. I am seriously considering leaving 12 step groups in the longer term as having others shove THEIR veiws down my neck is to me, very disrespectful. I dont insist thet believe my views so why do they do this to me? Could it be that my (psychologically accepted) veiws threaten everything my peers stand for i.e an unexamined belief in hocus pocus? Well yes. I really am getting over this. I will stay for now but am close to deciding to eventually leave because of this.

TJ 4 years ago

If there's so many agnostics and atheists in this program, why isn't there more programs that don't include God? I have been sober for 17 years and didn't need any imaginary God or any 12 steps to get sober. I needed a belief in myself that I didn't need the alcohol and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I could erase the harm it was causing in my life all by myself. I understand that others NEED a support system in the shape of others just like them and I support AA, just not all this Christian nonsense. All these years and I can't find a group that isn't based on Christian nonsense. I find that hard to believe.

Jim in HCMC profile image

Jim in HCMC 4 years ago from Sai Gon, Viet Nam

Greetings all,

I have been sober for 21 years now. I grew up in a Roman Catholic community and suffered no harm from it. I cannot say that I am a religious person, and like so many of the agnostics/atheists who have shared in this blog, I find the overly zealous religious folk annoying and not helpful.

Do I think a person needs to believe in God to get sober? No. Do I think the agnostics/atheists who have shared in this blog will enjoy contented sobriety for the remainder of their lives? No.

My only complaint with the non-believer crowd is their lack of humility. Having a God makes it easy for me to acknowledge that I am far from perfect. And being able to admit my personal defects rids me of the anxiety that led me to excessive drinking. I feel sorry for those individuals who cling on to the idea that everything he/she hears, sees, smells, experiences is the result of some Big Bang or cosmic fart that occurred eons ago.

I find it helpful to strip my God of as many anthropomorphic features as I can. (No long, white beard, thundering voice, righteous indignation, etc.)Rather, my God is a force that provides me with a feeling of peacefulness (Very helpful when my mind is raging over the Earthly crises du jour.)

I'll sign off with a reminder to all: Keep in mind that The Big Book was written in the 1930's by two WASP males. The US culture was definitely dominated by Judaeo/Christian values. The Nation was in the midst of a terrible economic depression. In the Midwest, dust-storms blocked out the sunlight. And in Europe the Nazis and Communists were preparing themselves for a Battle Royale. Yes, Americans back then were clutching on to their guns and their bibles!(Maybe they knew something we don't!) But labeling AA as a "religious fellowship" is inaccurate. AA is a spiritual fellowship.Since AA was founded by two WASP Americans, its culture is decidedly Judaeo-Christian. But that does not disqualify AA from being of benefit to peoples of cultures different to the US. In my opinion, you do not need to believe in a God, per se, as long as you have the humility to admit that you are not the center of the universe.

mike321 4 years ago


Why do you assume that people who are atheists/agnostics who've shared on this blog (1.) somehow believe they are the "center of the universe" (it's a line of reasoning in the rooms I've never quite understood) and (2.) if they get sober on their own that they somehow will not have "contented sobriety" for the rest of their lives? How could you possibly know. Reread that part and see how arrogant that sounds to you. That sounds suspiciously like the "dry drunk" assertion made by many AA people about those who get and remain sober without the help of the program and the Steps.

I think AA has a lot of good attributes. It's an awesome support group, especially when you're early in sobriety and need to be around people. There's a lot of good advice in the rooms about "cleaning up your side of the street" (basically, just taking responsibility for yourself) and sometimes you can meet some of the most amazing people who've really turned their lives around. Also, when it comes to feeling comfortable about being around people who understand the desperation and hopelessness that alcoholism can be people in AA can be a safe place to discuss painful parts of our lives.

The problem is that there's ONE way to find your way out, through "powerlessness" before your "Higher Power". It's relentlessly promoted and emphasized in the Big Book, the Steps and at most meetings you'll attend. Over time, instead of creating INDEPENDENCE from alcoholism AA and the program can create a DEPENDENCE on the group. The member feels that without these "spiritual principles" they are utterly and completely lost. This can be especially harmful should the alcoholic relapse if they literally believe that since they've slipped they are "powerless" to stop and "powerless" to control any of their behavior during use. AA responds to such people with the self-serving maxim that the alcoholic was "spiritually unfit" and "dishonest with themselves" and wasn't "working" the program (because the "program" fails no one, ONLY people fail the program). At the same time, people are also encouraged if and when they DO accumulate time to give all the credit to their "Higher Power" (which they usually just happen to call "God"), AA, their sponsor, the Steps, the Big Book, their home group, service position, etc. Anyone who claims credit for their own success is laughed off for being "egotistical". It's a very unhealthy pattern.

Sometimes, I wish I could just take the good parts of AA and leave the rest. In fact, I do. I go to agnostic AA meetings, people in "regular" meetings know my beliefs, I have built a life for myself first outside of alcohol, then outside the rooms (went back to grad school, got a new job, thrown myself into hobbies and passions I've neglected), etc. Personally, I take the expressions "these are only suggestions", "take what you want and leave the rest", and "this is only our experience, strength and hope" VERY seriously. It's what has allowed me to be involved on any level with AA for an extended period. However, I know (just as I'm sure even most ardent AA members know) that I'M the one keeping myself sober on a day to day basis, just like I was the one who drank abusively to begin with. AA is a tool, an imperfect one we shouldn't be afraid to critique and improve upon for ourselves if we so choose. Whenever some old-timer prattles on about only working the "program" EXACTLY the "way it was written out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous" (and yes, they usually make their pronouncements just that formally) I nod appreciatively and know for myself what AA has done, and hasn't done, for me.

Bottom line, if you're ready to stop drinking and using more than anything else in the world, you'll stop with or without AA.

Jim in HCMC profile image

Jim in HCMC 4 years ago from Sai Gon, Viet Nam

I assume nothing about anyone or any particular group. But I do observe people and note similarities. And the one thing I have observed about agnostics is that the majority I have encountered are both angry and defensive. I was angry and defensive when caught up in my disease. I certainly do not want that in sobriety.And if a person has confidence in their personal beliefs, there is no reason to go jihadi defending them!

AA is not the only way to get sober and to stay sober, nor does anyone in AA purport it to be so. But I firmly believe that practicing the 12 Steps on a continuing basis will help a person achieve happiness and peace of mind.

Sure! There are closed-minded folks in AA - "Step-Nazi's," I believe they are called. And there are rigid constructionists who insist that The Big Book must be interpreted literally. AA has a huge fellowship, and that fellowship is going to reflect society as a whole. No need to get so huffy when you hear some wind-bag ranting and raving. Celebrate diversity! Be a little bit more charitable, and try to get to know that person on a more personal level. You will come to understand why he/she is that way and you may make a new friend in the process.

mike321 4 years ago

I hear the comments about some anti-AA people being overly "defensive" (although maybe it's in part because many AA people are often so aggressive about their scientifically unproven assertions, about how "millions" of people are "saved" by AA, about how those it doesn't work for "are usually constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves", etc.). Perhaps there's a self-selection factor at work here. If you don't feel strongly about AA one way or another you probably won't take the time and trouble to make your point known in a forum. I've known many people like me who've been through AA, like parts of it, don't like other parts of it. The problem is (if it's indeed a "problem") that often those people over time simply eventually drift out of the rooms. Yes, some return to drinking but hardly all. In fact, many don't and simply quietly leave. I have three friends in mind specifically just off the top of my head. It's a shame we don't hear more of their stories but perhaps part of it is because they're simply busy moving on with their lives.

No, AA doesn't "specifically" say it's the only way but honestly, when was the last time you heard at a meeting somebody share that? Like I said, I do take the softer, friendlier, more open-minded slogans like "take what you want and leave the rest" VERY seriously, although I get the sense more members of AA don't. Just like the insulting suggestion that your "Higher Power" can be anything you want, even a doorknob, "as long as it's not you", is usually seen as just a placeholder for a personal Higher Power that will eventually run your life and guide you through the Steps, I get the sense that "take what you want and leave the rest" is just supposed to keep you in the rooms long enough to "properly" get the program. The problem is, the open-mindedness AA people refer to usually seems to run in one direction and not just "Step Nazis". The whole first step is about "willingness" to "surrender", to be "teachable", to "be willing to listen and do whatever is suggested to remain sober". The Big Book famously warns of "jails, institutions and death" as the inevitable outcome for those who do not submit. There's none of this "AA is not the only way to get sober" language in THAT part of AA.

As I've said before, I like many aspects of AA and if you truly believe this is your salvation and you need the structure and guidance of the Steps, the program and the people you meet in the rooms that's great. However, I feel comfortable enough in myself and my beliefs to pick and choose from AA knowing that I'm not going to drink today no matter what no matter what. In the meantime, I spend more time building a life apart from AA and onto helping others through supporting SMART, SOS, Rational Recovery as well as new research into addiction medicine and any other means of helping people.

By the way, I love understanding people and love making new friends and have spent long periods of time making the effort to understand where people in AA are coming from. All I ask is that anyone I befriend make that same effort about where I and many of those who quietly come in and out of the rooms without adopting all the "spiritual principles" are coming from as well. That's what real respect is.

tricia in the UK 4 years ago

I am atheist and have attended AA since my first meeting 23 years ago and have remained sober all this time. There are no rules in AA but watch out for those "believers" as some will berate you if you don't do as they say. I think what is important is to keep it simple and in the beginning its helpful to realise there may be something else pulling the strings. I found it a relief to know it wasn't me! So I just let go of my controlling nature and waited and waited until i just trusted my instincts and was able to use my own judgment once the fog had cleared. Yes I had ended up in a terrible state at the end of my drinking, but i didn't subscribe to that dogma "my best thinking got me drunk" shit. I hadn't had a bloody labotomy after all. The months and years went by for me without a sponsor and without formally doing the steps. They made sense to me and in spite of my reluctance to "do" the steps i realise after all these years that they have all been covered in one way or another. I didn't purposely set out not to have a sponsor, i just sort of never got around to asking anyone. I have a wonderful partner and there isn't a thing he doesn't know about me, either in the past or the now. I am an open person and chat a lot to whomever will listen, which helps. Oh yes people in AA have said over the years to me, you will never remain sober, and they still do, such arrogance. I always reply i dont give a shit I am sober today so go mind your own business. I am about to set up an AA agnostic/atheist meeting online and if anyone is interested here is my email addy patsysbliss@yahoo.co.uk. Good luck to anyone trying to achieve sobriety.

Dick B. 4 years ago

In today's 12 Step groups, atheists, agnostics, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and those of no belief can attend; they can even try to adapt the A.A. recovery program to their own beliefs. However, the original A.A. program had no Steps and relied on the power of God for help. It had a simple program that certainly did not embrace atheism. These options are still available today; and there are hundreds of thousands of Christians in the recovery fellowships. Dick B. www.ChristianRecoveryCoalition.com; www.ChristianRecoveryRadio.com. www.dickb.com

Highersnowered 4 years ago

There is no evidence of a higher power that cares if you drink, just as there is no evidence of god.

Making a group of people who believe in god your higher power when you know they are just gullible is patently absurd.

AA is crap.

Highersnowered 4 years ago

As far as the humility question goes, obviously the atheist is the more humble. The atheist realizes it is impossible to know that for which there is no evidence. Therefore, to say you know God is the utmost arrogance. It's also silly, like saying you know there are leprechauns.

highersnowered 4 years ago

Furthermore, it's of the utmost arrogance to think god cares about your spoiled american drinking problem while he lets children starve.

When I'm in a foxhole, I think, there must be a loving god looking out for me. Else, how did I wind up in this foxhole?

Oh, it's because I didn't do what the cult told me to, derp derp...

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