I wrote this article a few years ago and wanted to post it here.
This was written to get the attention of people who are already familiar with recovery, addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and religion. If you don’t have prior knowledge of these things, then you will need more help than I am offering at this time. This is more a patch to a broken AA than it is a method to recovery. I don’t have all the answers, and AA is better at this than me. But I do offer hope to people who have not been able to find hope previously in AA. At the end you will be asked to participate in a short survey. Although it is not required, it will help us make this information more useful and informative.
The atheist alcoholic; what a complex individual he/she is. Where do they belong? Is there hope in AA or Religion?
Is there hope anywhere? I think there is. The ever-suffering atheist alcoholic really doesn’t fit into society. Most respectable rehabilitation programs are based around religion and AA. For the atheist, this is very detrimental, as it offers them no “cure” from their addiction.
Here are the original Twelve Steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- 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.
- Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
- 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.
Now let me break these steps down for you, one at a time, to show you how detrimental they are to the atheist.
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
As atheist alcoholics, our lives are NOT unmanageable. What they are is out of control. We have lost the ability to control our lives, and alcohol has affected our lives to the point of insanity. Admitting that you are powerless takes away your self-responsibility and allows you to remain weak or hindered. This is not a good state of mind to be in, and you must first realize that you are responsible for your actions. If you can’t admit this, then your path to recovery ends here.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Seriously – this may seem self explanatory, but when you’re all mixed up from heavy drinking, you may not be able to see the loophole they are about to throw at you. Let me give you some insight from my time in AA that may help you as an atheist alcoholic. The loophole is that the group can be your power greater than you. Well that’s cute – do you see what they have done? They have now made you dependent on their organization. How will you ever become self-reliant? You won’t.
The group cannot be with you 24/7. Hell yea, they will give you hundreds of numbers of “fake” friends to call, but in the end you will inevitably be left with you, and what are you going to do when you admit you’re as powerless as the previous step has told you you must do? You’re going to drink. And “they” will make you feel like it’s all your fault. But it’s not; their program is flawed, but by the end of this blog you will have hope.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Oh yes, and now for the kicker! They want us, the atheist alcoholic, to turn our lives over to God as we understand him…. understand him…. OK… how does a drunk whose life is upside down understand God? They don’t; so you are told to borrow someone else’s god. Ok yea, because they get it, right? WTF – no! Scholars can’t decide on the existence of God, yet this group of drunks has figured it out? (No disrespect intended. I love AA but they cannot help everyone, and the reality is their lack of open mindedness takes lives that don’t have to be lost.) ? At this point in recovery, the best thing for the atheist alcoholic to do to is to turn his or her life over to a professional health care provider. You may need to go through detox. You may have a health condition that was caused by your addiction, or you may have a mental condition that will prevent your recovery. Turning your life over to an imaginary figure isn’t going to help you recover. The only thing it will do is hinder your recovery and make you sit there, waiting for God to save you. Good luck with that, but I have another option if you keep reading.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
This one is good. Even the atheist alcoholic should buy a 12 and 12 to learn how to do this.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
Minus the god, part this is a great idea for the the atheist alcoholic. If you took my advice earlier and met a health care professional, you can go over this step with your therapist.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
The key here is that you are ready for change. As an atheist alcoholic, you know God isn’t going to change you, and if you sit around waiting for him, you will never recover from addiction. Face it; you need to man up and take responsibility for your life, because if you don’t, you may die. That’s it; no sugar coating. You need to find your inner strength NOW. And if you can’t do that, then you need to keep working with your health care professional, because you can do this. You just need help. Go to AA, they are a great group of people who can help you save your life, but be careful, because their lack of open-mindedness could hinder your progressare not open minded enough to truly help you. At the end of the day, you should not need AA or anyone else.
At the end of recovery, you will be able to function on your own. You should be able get off the crutches and live your life. A wise man once told me that AA was like the greenhouse effect. He was the club manager of the AA group I belonged to, so hearing this intrigued me. Plants that live in a greenhouse often can’t survive life outside of the greenhouse. AA is a greenhouse for drunks. Their primary purpose is to help you live your life, yet the very principles they preach keep you from doing so. I’m glad he told me that, because now I’m growing on my own, and so can you. He’d been sober for longer than I’ve been alive. Take his wisdom and value it. I know I do.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Wow, that’s a big order, isn’t it? How long have you been waiting? I know I waited a long time, in pain, wondering, “Why the hell can I not get this? What is so wrong with me that I can’t allow God to fix me? Am I not doing it right? How can you do it wrong? I must be stupid to not get this shit…” You get the point. Continue waiting and you allow yourself to sit in the same shit everyday expecting different results. How do you AA’s define that? Wasn’t it insanity? Yea I was in the game a lil min Wink
What the Atheist Alcoholic needs to do is take action. Yeh, do something different. Instead of yelling at your loved ones, take a time out… Go chill. Come back once you’re cool and talk about the real issues. I bet you will see a change.
Take that list you made earlier and work on each one at time. Once you’re done, you will have made so many changes you will feel like a new person. You don’t need to wait for God to change you. You need to change yourself, and to do that, you have to start changing your bad habits. If you don’t, those same feelings that drive you to drink will come back and you won’t be strong enough to fight them off. Old habits die hard, but drunks die faster.
8.Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
These are great steps for the atheist alcoholic. Use your 12 and 12 to do it right. If you don’t, this step will cause you more pain than it’s worth.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
This step keeps the atheist alcoholic honest and on the right path. If you don’t continue with the steps you’ve made previously, you will fall back into old habits.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
This is not needed. What the atheist alcoholic is looking for are results from meditation and prayer, the feeling of comfort, ease, and relaxation. There are other methods to use that achieve the same results. Take this time to reward yourself for your hard work. Give yourself a pat on the back, praise yourself. You busted your ass and you deserve it. Good job.
12. 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.
This is where you become selfless and help other Atheist Alcoholics. There are so many people who suffer from addiction who will never find hope because they are waiting on this program and this God to deliver all these promises. You have tools now to show them that they can do this, they just need to be aware of themselves and accept responsibility for their lives.
The spiritual awakening experienced by people in recovery isn’t the side effect of finding God. It’s the peace they feel from overcoming their own addictions, their own demons. It’s the peace they feel from finally having a happy life. See, they where able to find this way of life because they have “God;” they can fool themselves sober all they want. My job is not to ask them to change or to say that their sobriety is less real than mine. My job is to show you how to do it without God.
My job is to stop your suffering and give you hope. It wasn’t until I deconverted from religion that I was able to overcome my addictions. Since I was a young girl, I’ve had a very addictive personality. Minus needles and meth, I’ve probably done it. I went to AA with my step dad. My grandfather went to AA. I was in rehab by the age of 15.
Most people considered me a leader or someone who had “figured it out.” I organized young people’s meetings, and I was on a bid committee for TCYPAA (TN Conference of Young People In AA). But I never could figure it out. I don’t know how many people I helped or who looked up to me, but any time I walk in to the door of AA someone grabs me and hugs me. They always tell me this story about how great I was and how much I helped them, and I’d be sitting there hung over from the night before. How could I have helped them when I had never truly recovered? This ate me up inside; killed me. I felt like an impostor because I never really “got it.” I watched friends like me, with years of recovery, suffer and cry because they couldn’t “get it..
When I deconverted, the light came on. I thought “Ahhh haaa! That is why they suffer,” because they are waiting to “get it.” They are waiting to find God. They are waiting for God to cure them.
“What am I doing now?” My life is good and I consider myself functional, I think about the people I love in AA, and I can’t face them. They won’t understand. Their eyes have not been opened, so I write this blog instead, hoping to find someone whose eyes are opened. Maybe I will mail AA a copy… Hmmm who knows?
Thank you for reading.
Originally posted at: http://atheistthinktank.org/articles/the-atheist-alcoholic/
Written by: IAMM3Z