I have been a member of Narcotics Anonymous for 24 years and have stayed clean for that time. I have always had problems with the need for a Higher Power. My question is how do you (as an atheist) reconcile the implicit need for a Higher Power (often referred to in the literature as god or the god of your understanding). Are there any people out there who have applied atheist thinking to the 12 steps and have an easy practical way of understanding and applying that process to life.

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Belle, you are so right! Every person I've met since owning my atheism has helped me to balance the strengths of AA and recovery with my inner compass. It is so important for me to hear other people say that we should hesitate before giving all of ourselves, putting others' interpretation of the program before our own needs, quieting our own voice. I need to hear from people like you who are asking the hard questions, and/or finding paths to recovery other than the will-over-to-God brand of AA. You have my gratitude!

My first post here BTW: The problem is that "12-step" recovery means "God-based" recovery. God is mentioned 150+ times in the Big Book. Chapter 4, "to the agnostics," just advises the reader to become God-believing a little bit at a time. After 9 years of sobriety in AA, I finally had to back away from it. Shortly after getting sober, the lights came on about the God BS I'd been spoon-fed all my life, and I gradually learned about science vs. superstition. The strategy of "go along to get along" kinda wore out. I'm now going to SMART recovery, which focuses on re-wiring your thought patterns. I'm not a 12-step basher, but their recovery rates are about the same as every other program: 5 to 10 percent at 1-year. Unfortunately, the recovery industry is highly 12-step biased, so it's a challenge to find non-religious support. Try SMART, SOS, and Rational Recovery websites to see if there's a meeting near you. Best of luck to you - sobriety is hard but worth the effort.

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