Context of the question: I am a nursing student that was given a case study of alcoholism. The subject of the study claims to be atheist.
Question: What are some therapeutic options for alcoholism (including physical dependance) that would be acceptable to an atheist? (Side question, should atheist be capitalized like Deaf person is?)
I can defend my reasoning why the client should not be required to attend AA. I need other treatment options that would be acceptable that do not include the 12 steps.
I agree completely with Holland's statement, "contact with previous friends will lead to relapse. even the ones who are not abusers will lead to contact of old bad habits. it is the whole old familiar environment that will lead to relapse." It is vital to remove yourself completely from the previous environment of social and not-so-social drinking. At my AA group I came out as atheist and gay and I ignored the "Higher Power" nonsense. It was the compassion of the group and the commonality of our lives that helped me quit. Any kind of god was simply unnecessary. That was a dozen years ago and still the smartest decision I have ever made.
This and other papers seem to show rather clearly that no one should go to AA. While it may not be directly detrimental, it entails a great deal of effort for no apparent benefit.
As a former addict my opinion is that addiction is not an illness, it's a compulsion based on fear of being without a crutch. Remove the fear and you remove the desire for the drug. It needs a subtle psychological shift from 'How will I survive without it?' to 'Life is going to improve beyond recognition without it and I can't wait to get free". To do this you need to examine all the reasons/myths you imbibe and explode them one by one. The panic addicts feel is akin to hunger. To get a clearer understanding I suggest you take a look at Allen Carr's "The Easy Way To Stop Smoking" and substitute "smoking" for "alcohol". It's how I freed myself and in my opinion it's the way forward in treatment of all addictions. Hope this helps!
There is a secular offshoot of AA that includes the 12 steps. They just reword then in a way that is consistent with atheism.
There are also groups like Rational Recovery that have totally different programs, but actually better rates of success.
Groups help, but it has a lot more to do with the person's commitment and involvement than it does the exact method they use
There is an organisation called AdAction who do not specialise in one area of addiction treatment and are purportedly atheist friendly. There are treatment centres in most large cities.