The 12 Steps for the Non-Religious

Alcohol shows no religious preference when it causes a life-altering addiction. Unfortunately, some religions teach that alcohol addiction is the mark of a spiritual deficiency. This misunderstanding of what actually is a medical disorder known as alcohol use disorder causes some people to doubt the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous and its 12 Steps program. Find out why this isn’t true and how the 12 steps for non-religious people can help you below.

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Is The 12 Steps Program Religious?

Alcohol addiction affects people of all religions, including those with no religion. While the 12 Steps can complement your religion, you can find sobriety success following the program without any religion. You might find it confusing to hear that the 12 Steps is not religious since the program mentions God several times in the list of the 12 steps.

You find the frequent mention of God because the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous were Bill W. and Dr. Bob, who were devout Christians. However, both men were agnostic or atheists at various times in their lives. Dr. Bob swore off attending religious services as a young man before attending medical school.

AA’s brochure on its co-founders describes three concepts Dr. Bob held in high regard. One of these was his belief in tolerance of others’ ideas and expressing kindness and consideration for everyone.

Religious vs. Spiritual

Although the 12 Steps are not written with a bias toward any religion’s theology, Step 2 injects the reliance on a “Power greater than ourselves” to help those struggling with addiction. The following step refers to the need for an addict to turn their life over to God.

The final words in step 3 ensure someone does not associate AA or the 12 Steps with any particular religion. It concludes with the words, “God as we understood Him.” This makes one’s beliefs and spirituality personal. Throughout the 12 steps, you find the influence of spirituality and not religion. However, someone skeptical about the reality of all spirituality can still find help for sobriety with the 12 steps.

AA has no desire to change these and persuade you to be more religious or spiritual. As Dr. Bob said, the purpose of AA is to “get sober and stay sober.”

Approaching The 12 Steps As An Atheist

No matter what role, if any, religion plays in your life you can find help with the 12 Steps. If you are an atheist or non-religious person you can make adjustments to get the most from the program if you:

  • Relax. You will not be asked to give an account of your spiritual or religious journey. Nobody will ask if you believe in God or any “higher power.” There is no requirement except believing you have a bigger problem than what you can manage alone.
  • Revise. Make the words of the 12 Steps personal to you and your situation. That seems to be what the founders of AA wanted everyone seeking sobriety to do.
  • Reveal. Do not try to hide who you are. Be honest with others and make no attempts to appear religious. You will be accepted and admired for who you are and what you are trying to accomplish.

Sanctuary Recovery Foundation

The Sanctuary Foundation can help people of all belief systems achieve sobriety with Alcoholics Anonymous programming. Contact us and start your journey to renewed pride and self-confidence.