You Need Today
Think about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and other similar programs, and the first thought that likely comes to mind is the fact that these are 12-step treatment programs with religious overtones. What do you do, however, if you are not a religious person? Perhaps you are agnostic, atheist or just do not want to combine your treatment or meetings with religion.
Of course, AA is not treatment, but support meetings. Meetings are often considered a crucial aspect of the recovery and aftercare process. Many people likely only know about 12-step meetings based on religious principles, which normally end in prayer. There are other options, however. Perhaps the ideal solution for you or your loved one is non-religious 12-step treatment and meetings.
The question recently arose, as explained in the Toronto Sun, regarding whether AA should kick you out if you do not believe in God. Some members of the Toronto Chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous found themselves “Expelled” and “Delisted” because “They’d written God out of AA’s famous 12 Steps to Recovery found in The Big Book, its proverbial bible.”
Another issue with religious 12-step meetings and treatment is the fact that many individuals find themselves coerced into faith-based groups and treatment by the courts. In writing for the North Carolina Criminal Law Department of the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Government, Jamie Markham discusses a question posed to him, “Does it violate the Establishment Clause to require a probationer to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous?”
Markham points to several court rulings that forcing a probationer, parolee or even an inmate into mandatory religious 12-step groups or programs does indeed violate the First Amendment. As far back as 1996, in Kerr v. Ferry, the Seventh Circuit Court held that requiring an inmate to attend religious-based 12-step Narcotics Anonymous (NA) violated the Establishment Clause. Similarly, courts previously held that requiring a probationer or parolee to attend traditional 12-step treatment or face incarceration “violated First Amendment rights.” Finally, Markham explains that requiring an individual on probation or parole into a mandatory recovery program is possible, “As long as a secular option were available.”
Individuals who have no contact with the court system sometimes prefer no treatment over religious-based 12-step treatment. This potentially results in that individual continuing to walk along the path to destruction from addiction.
With options available to those who prefer not to participate in traditional 12-step treatment or support groups, these options have the potential to help those individuals get clean and maintain their sobriety.
AA Agnostica reassures those who prefer non-religious 12-step treatment by saying, “It’s okay. You can do it without the God concept. Many have. Many are.”
Perhaps a crucial point that people looking for a non-religious 12 step approach should consider is the AA Agnostica assertion that “If you’re an alcoholic or an addict, you can’t get loaded recreationally.” So while non-religious 12 step treatment gives you options, you do not have the option to keep guzzling the alcohol or getting high with your friends, peeps, or bros.
If you want to get sober and go back to the lifestyle you once had before your life spiraled out of control due to your addiction, non-religious 12-step treatment can potentially help you in your recovery efforts. Just as in traditional 12-step treatment, individuals participating in non-religious 12-step recovery can also continue attending meetings and aftercare after leaving the treatment program.
In reporting on “Alcoholics Anonymous, Without the Religion, the New York Times describes a non-faith-based 12-step meeting where, instead of the Lord’s Prayer, those in attendance ended the meeting by reciting “Live and let live,” in unison. The NY Times calls such meetings “A growing number within A.A. that appeal to nonreligious people in recovery, who might variously describe themselves as agnostics, atheists, humanists or freethinkers.”
Remember, you do not have to resolve to participate in the faith-based 12-step recovery process. You also do not have to consider yourself an atheist or agnostic. Perhaps you just want to focus on your sobriety without religion incorporated into your treatment. In that case, perhaps non-religious 12-step recovery is the ideal option for you or a family member.
The The Treatment Specialist – Addiction Helplines team provides assistance to those suffering from addiction and dual diagnosis conditions find a treatment program that fits their specific needs. The The Treatment Specialist – Addiction Helplines team will provide a free confidential assessment and insurance verification. For more information on treatment programs for yourself or a loved one, contact the Inspiration helpline at (877) 228-3270.