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.


Thank you.

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There are a few secular recovery groups. Here's a link that includes descriptions of the different organizations, as well as links to their official sites:

It should be noted that AA has a lower success rate in abstinence-from-alcohol than people who quit "cold turkey" without such a program. There is no good psychological reason to think telling people they are powerless and utterly dependent will help them gain the tools necessary to address their emotional problems in non-destructive ways.

Most people who drink too much are DEPRESSED. Treating their depression while they abstain from alcohol (which makes depression worse) through a combination of talk therapy and anti-depressant medication is much more likely to solve their BEHAVIORAL problem of self-medicating with alcohol. (

Signed, ex-wife of an alcoholic and resentful ex Al-Anon cult member.

I have heard that AA is no more effective and less effective than the "no treatment" option. DO you know of any studies that specifically make this claim?

AA says that their program is 100% effective.  It's the no true scottsman fallacy ... 


If you drift away from AA , then you didn't actually take the program seriously.  If you attend all the meetings for 30 years and relapse, it's because you didn't properly follow through with one of the 12 steps, yada yada yada.  


The 12 steps is a load of BS.  I beat my addiction after having over a dozen people harrassing me in an in facility treatment center.  I told them all that I was an Atheist and they kept saying ' Choose a higher power ... ! ' 


I refused to do this.  They told me I would never get better if I didn't admit helplessness.  I am perfectly fine now, never went to meetings outside of my therapy and never completed most of the 12 steps.  The entire program is hogwash.  

hello Angie, Please excuse my total ignorance but I had to look up what "Al-Anon" was being a non drinker from a non drinking family. You said "ex Al-Anon cult member" is it a cult and if so how so ?

Al-Anon I believe just means Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 step program. That should be enough for google.

No.  It's a support group for friends and family of alcholics.

Yes, Rosemary is correct.  They have the same thing for other addiction programs.  Sometimes, the family members can be hurt more than the one who was addicted.  They need treatment too.  


Let me first state that I am extremely appreciative of this discussion.  


The 12 steps have long been an issue for me, as I see little distinction between shirking responsibility as a result of intoxication, or as a result of religious worship.  Inaction stemming from belief in a higher power, has the same negative impacts as inaction from a drunken stupor.  In both cases an individual stops taking responsibility for their own actions.


Now in response to your question, there needs to be a motivation outside just getting sober. A reason being sober is a better option.


Like any recovering addict, having a project or anything they can focus energy on, a positive distraction is likely to have major impacts. This provides an alternative to obsessing about the feeling of emptiness that may remain once alcohol stops hiding the underlying issues that have resulted in the dependency. Additionally, the addict's sobriety is reinforced by the recognition they could not accomplish their given project were they still intoxicated.


An atheist recognizes that any step forward will have to be on their own terms.  An atheist does not have the option to put their problems on God; they are forced to take responsibility themselves.  While I would imagine this road is much more challenging, in the end, they have succeeded on their own, without putting hope or faith in their success in the hands of another.

atheist is not a proper noun or a religion, so no, it should not be capitalized.

Or if it's in a title, right? You could also capitalize it to show how Awesome it is maybe? ;D

There are secular programs. One I've heard of is Secular Organizations For Sobriety (SOS) AKA Save Our Selves.

Can't really help with what's acceptable to an atheist trying to kick a habit (other than nothing that smells of religion, obviously), but deaf person should not be capitalised either.


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