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Alternative to AA?

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Hi all! I was wondering what your take was on being an atheist and being mandated to 12 step meetings. I am open minded but are there secular groups? Thanks!

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

I am not a fan of mandated AA but it's not really a fight I want to pick, either. They have Atheist/Agnostic AA meetings that reword the steps a bit. There is also a version of AA based off secular Buddhist teachings. (One Breath At A Time is a good book on that.)

There are secular group alternatives to AA but they aren't as prevalent. SMART, LifeRing, Refuge Recovery.

I went to the guy who runs my state's program and he is fine with alternative versions of AA. I never asked about alternative versions of AA...realistically there wouldn't be enough meetings in my area to meet my program requirements.

sallyrnrrt, ADN, RN

Specializes in critical care, ER,ICU, CVSURG, CCU.

Your higher power could be anything, As 110 electrical outlet, I'm serious

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

Your higher power could be anything, As 110 electrical outlet, I'm serious

That's disingenuous at best. The most succinct response (I'm on my phone ya'all) being that if Atheists and Agnostics were comfortable praying to doorknobs - which is advice that open non-believers get by the bushel in a meeting, ever - they wouldn't have felt the need to form splinter groups that reword the steps, take the serenity and lord's prayer out of a meeting, and focus on adjunct literature like Sober Living.

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

Hi all! I was wondering what your take was on being an atheist and being mandated to 12 step meetings. I am open minded but are there secular groups? Thanks!

The Higher Power is whatever YOU determine it to be. For many people, it's God, but it doesn't have to be a religious deity or spirit. There is no right or wrong answer to the Higher Power question--it's whatever means something to you.

That being said, SMART Recovery is the most common alternative I think of. It is cognitive-based, so those who are uncomfortable with the idea of a Higher Power may find SMART more comfortable.

CattyWampus

Specializes in Critical Care, Hospice, Management. Has 20 years experience.

Some areas offer Buddhist 12 step programs...and Buddha is NOT a diety; Buddhism is a philosophy not a religion.

catsmeow1972, BSN, RN

Specializes in OR. Has 15 years experience.

I personally do not like the idea of being mandated to something with religious overtones to keep my state issued license. i just think there is something very wrong with it. It does not even have anything to do my own religious convictions. This business of "well your higher power can be a doorknob" is utterly ridiculous.

I go because i have to go. I have nothing useful to contribute. My personal opinion of the whole 12 step methodology notwithstanding, I find my being there by force to be insulting to the people for whom that is a lifeline. All i do is warm a chair, in the back or corner, admittedly read a book and scoot out as soon as I can without being obviously rude.

Yeah granted we can do anything that constitutes a support group, but there is nothing in my area that has the subject matter for my issue.

i feel like the mandate of 12 step meetings as a contract stipulation forces a methodology onto someone for whom it may not even remotely be relevant, merely because, like much of these programs, it's easier to dump a person into a generic set of stipulations. That way there's no need to spend the time (or $$$) to consider what might do the person the most good.

CattyWampus

Specializes in Critical Care, Hospice, Management. Has 20 years experience.

I agree -- there's something wrong with a State Board giving an imperative directive to attend a spiritual program. And AA will definitely tell you it is a SPIRITUAL (not religious) program. While everyone at AA talks about their "higher power," quite frankly, many of them then go on to talk about God, Jesus, church, etc. Which is not to say I'm not a believer, myself ... I just don't think the STATE should insist on it. I went mentally ballistic yesterday when at a discussion meeting someone said "Nothing in this world happens that is not part of God's plan." Oh, really, the 9-month old that was raped to death by a grown man is part of God's plan? Ain't buying it nor do I want a God like that.

I feel very strongly that the courts (or administrative law entity like the BON) should NOT mandate anyone to attend anything that has spiritual overtones. It's fundamentally wrong but I'm not sure it's going to change anytime soon. At the very least give all of the options so there is something for everyone.

BTW, for those who want a truly Christian-based program, there is Celebrate Recovery.

catsmeow1972, BSN, RN

Specializes in OR. Has 15 years experience.

I hear ya, about the "God's plan" issue. Even my mother (who is a priest, ironically) snorts at the whole "spiritual, not religious" crap. I wonder if whoever coined the "spiritual, not religious" word salad, even knows the difference. According to Roget's thesaurus, "spiritual" and "religious" are synonyms.

Okay, i'll stop with the grammar policing now....

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Public Health.

AA should be a choice. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. That means you choose, someone else doesn't choose for you. Because of the whole "desire" part.

If you don't fulfill this requirement, you aren't a member. A drunk person who wants to stop drinking fulfills the requirement. A currently sober person who has no intentions to stop drinking but has to go to meetings to keep a professional license is not a member.

If you do not want to stop drinking, you should go to open meetings only, out of respect for the members.

If you do want to stop drinking, then don't worry about the steps. The steps are things that happen or don't, and there is no requirement to fulfill them, or to get them done in some amount of time, or any of that. You could be a member for 50 years, and only do the first step or not even really ever complete the first step. And that would be absolutely fine.

The idea of a higher power doesn't even come into play until the second step.

Why worry about that before you do the first step, or even decide that you are a member?

First decide whether you are a member (that you have a desire to stop drinking) or just a visitor getting requirements in. Either is fine. Just decide and then attend only open or both open and closed meetings as necessary.

If you are not a member, that is all you need to do.

If you ARE a member, it might be time to think about the first step. The first step is: 1. Admitted we were powerless over alcohol-- that our lives had become unmanageable. That is a big thing to happen. You can want to stop drinking and still not think that you are powerless over alcohol and that your life has become unmanageable. If that has happened for you, then you are ready to think about the second step. If not, no problem. Just keep going to meetings and see what happens. Maybe you will never get there, that is okay. As long as you have a desire to stop drinking you are on track. It could take 30 years and that is fine. You could die before the first step happens for you and that is fine also.

No need to believe in God. No need to pretend to believe anything at all. Best wishes!

catsmeow1972, BSN, RN

Specializes in OR. Has 15 years experience.

I agree with all of the above. My gripe is with the standard boilerplate set of stipulations. I don't and never have drank (can't even gag the stuff the down). and do not do drugs. I cannot "have the desire" to stop doing something I don't do in the first place. Essentially I am forced to attend meetings in a "club" for which I am not a member and don't even meet the qualifications for membership.As I've said before, i feel my presence is an insult to the people who want to be there.

AA (or other incarnations of 12 step things) are what they are and are great for some folks, but the legal (court ordered) and contract ordered stuff is inappropriate and an abuse of the AA, etc. system. Just my opinion.

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

Some areas offer Buddhist 12 step programs...and Buddha is NOT a diety; Buddhism is a philosophy not a religion.

Uh... I am pretty sure the millions of non-white, non-upper middle class (ie poor brown) people who worship Buddha as a diety and Buddhism as a religion would like to have a word with you.

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

If you ARE a member, it might be time to think about the first step. The first step is: 1. Admitted we were powerless over alcohol-- that our lives had become unmanageable. That is a big thing to happen. You can want to stop drinking and still not think that you are powerless over alcohol and that your life has become unmanageable. If that has happened for you, then you are ready to think about the second step. If not, no problem. Just keep going to meetings and see what happens. Maybe you will never get there, that is okay. As long as you have a desire to stop drinking you are on track. It could take 30 years and that is fine. You could die before the first step happens for you and that is fine also.

No need to believe in God. No need to pretend to believe anything at all. Best wishes!

That works to a point but what happens after the first step? The vast majority of AAers are going to tell a newcomer to get a sponsor and work the steps or else they won't stay sober. I've seen open shaming of hypothetical members who attend meetings purely for the social aspect. Every Atheist or Agnostic addresses the God issue at some point if they stick around in the program.

CattyWampus

Specializes in Critical Care, Hospice, Management. Has 20 years experience.

Uh... I am pretty sure the millions of non-white, non-upper middle class (ie poor brown) people who worship Buddha as a diety and Buddhism as a religion would like to have a word with you.

"

Is it a religion?

]It is neither a religion in the sense in which that word is commonly understood, for it is not "a system of faith and worship owing any allegiance to a supernatural being."

Buddhism does not demand blind faith from its adherents. Here mere belief is dethroned and is substituted by confidence based on knowledge, which, in Pali, is known as saddha. The confidence placed by a follower on the Buddha is like that of a sick person in a noted physician, or a student in his teacher. A Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha because it was he who discovered the path of deliverance.

A Buddhist does not seek refuge in the Buddha with the hope that he will be saved by his (i.e. the Buddha's own) personal purification. The Buddha gives no such guarantee. It is not within the power of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others. One could neither purify nor defile another. The Buddha, as teacher, instructs us, but we ourselves are directly responsible for our purification. Although a Buddhist seeks refuge in the Buddha, he does not make any self-surrender. Nor does a Buddhist sacrifice his freedom of thought by becoming a follower of the Buddha. He can exercise his own free will and develop his knowledge even to the extent of becoming a Buddha himself.

The starting point of Buddhism is reasoning or understanding, or, in the Pali words, samma-ditthi. "

At least the many books I've read make a distinction between buddhism as a RELIGION and buddha as DIETY. If others interpret it differently, all well and good. The readings I've done indicate it is not ... or not, necessarily. :)

Edited by CattyWampus
Eliminate "font" markings

dirtyhippiegirl, BSN, RN

Specializes in PDN; Burn; Phone triage. Has 8 years experience.

Journal of Global Buddhism

This is a pretty good article on white privilege, American Buddhism, and ethnic Buddhists in America. Ethnic Buddhists and Asian Buddhists in general tend to practice Buddhism in a religious way. The emphasis on meditation and the philosophical side of Buddhism did not become prevalent among lay worshipers until it was introduced to the West. "The Making of Buddhist Modernism" is also a good text on the subject although kind of dense. :/

brownbook

Has 35 years experience.

I resisted Al anon for years because I am an atheist. Well....I went a few times but it never "took".

Then last time I tried it someone shared that they unconsciously thought they were a higher power. They unconsciously thought they had the ability to, or were able to, or obligation to, help others in need, from alcoholics to a stranger stranded in an airport. (She was ready to drive 60 miles out of her way to help a passenger who's alcoholic husband hadn't shown up.)

The light bulb suddenly went on and the sharer realized she was not a higher power, did not have higher powers over anyone but herself. Every adult has their own higher power, their own ability to figure out their own problems, work out their own solutions. Or at least has to learn to figure out for their selves how to fix their problems.

Since then I felt comfortable with what higher power means to me.

Give it a try, you may find many members are not very religious.

VegGal, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC Management, Community Nursing, HHC.

Hi all! I was wondering what your take was on being an atheist and being mandated to 12 step meetings. I am open minded but are there secular groups? Thanks!

SOS - Secular Organizations for Sobriety. Good luck!