I am an alcoholic. I am not the least bit ashamed to say so. My father and uncle also have a long history of loving the bottle. I have attended some AA meetings through the years. I have read their "big book" front to cover and despite their claims to be non religious I have found the organization to be very religious. Scary religious. Many of the beliefs and messages expressed at meetings do more harm than good to their members. For me the attraction to AA has nothing to do with searching for an answer or a cure for  alcoholism. I know addiction is a physical disease. Instead of the genetic code for diabetes, breast cancer, or multiple sclerosis the roll of the DNA dice predisposed me to drink in excess. In order for diabetics to maintain good health they either limit or exclude sweets and other carbohydrates from their diet, likewise, if I want to be healthy I can not drink. My attraction to AA has been based on a desire to associate with other people who are also alcoholics. The same reason I seek out atheist groups, I like to associate with people who share the same beliefs, goals, and life experiences that I have experienced. The problem is the ONLY group of recovering alcoholics is Alcoholics Anonymous.In the Northern United States agnostic groups exist, however, the AA central office and many of their members refuse to acknowledge these groups as apart of AA. In Canada several agnostic groups where criticized and removed from the meeting schedules they distributed. I live in the deep south, rural Georgia. (No I do not like country music, yes I have all my teeth) The message from AA  seems to be "we are here only to help the religious or those willing to become religious".  Atheist alcoholics seeking support are out of luck, especially in the southern states. For several months I have searched for a true non religious group of recovering alcoholics and have come up empty handed. So I have decided to be honest about my atheism within the rooms of AA. What I realized is my presence and continued success at not drinking will disprove the popular belief in AA that only "God" can keep you sober. I can not be the only atheist alcoholic on the planet! If no place in Georgia exists to offer peer support for the recovering alcoholic who is also an agnostic/atheist then I will just create a place. Wish me luck!


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Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on December 17, 2012 at 12:14pm
Comment by Denise Kiser on December 17, 2012 at 12:37pm

Thanks for the Information Reg....I am defiantly respectful of the beliefs of the members who attend AA....there faith is important to them..I am trying to have an open mind .I would be more inclined to be more open minded to AA if the success rate was higher according to EVERY statistical source I have read (AA included) it does not work....period...people do not stay sober going to AA...I wish it worked....I want it to work and I want to attend a peer group of people who are also in my situation....I do not believe that this is necessary in order for me to not drink again but it would be helpful....From what I read 95% of people who attend AA leave within the first month and less than 5% that do stick around stay sober for a full year (AA even verifies these stats)....I need to look up the stats for Secular recovery I have not done so yet....maybe the high relapse rate is not due to AA maybe the disease of addiction itself has a high relapse rate and that is just the nature of the disease....yes i think addiction is a physical disease....I really appreciate the people who have posted that have shared their own struggles with addiction...very helpful!!!!

Comment by Ray R. on December 17, 2012 at 1:29pm
I agree with everything you've said Denise . You are on the right path , using your mind critically,and for self empowerment . I believe that's a great combination , and you'll do just fine . Good luck !
Comment by Jim P. on December 17, 2012 at 5:40pm


i am an alcoholic with a little more that 2 years of sobriety and I also am an atheist. i agree with you there are not very many of us in AA. However, I have not found my open atheism to be a problem in the meetings I attend. If necessary when i share on a topic, I work my lack of a belief in supernatural beings or forces, whether called God, Allah, Buddha, into a discussion of how the steps and attending meetings has helped me stay sober and generally have a better quality of life than  did when I was drinking. Often, I am approached after the meetings by people who thank me for sharing about the way an atheist can get benefits from the program. All of them think that I am sober because of god, of course, but none of them make any effort to proselytize for their god. I don't tell them that their god is imaginary and its their belief in god, and not god, that is the source of their strength. So we get along just fine.

I doubt I will stay in AA forever, because being around a group of people who believe in fairy tales and live their live accordingly is frustrating, but when we talk about alcoholism and how it affects us I find a lot of common ground and support and its what I need at this point.

The AA Third Tradition says 'The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking" and most groups follow that tradition to the letter. I looked for an atheist/agnostic group when I first started and couldn't find one. Part of the reason is there are so few atheists in AA, but the other reason  ( I think) is that AA doesn't recognize groups that are exclusive. A group has to be open to all who desire to stop drinking to be associated with AA.

I hope you get some benefit from AA, or that you find an alternative support group. If your sponsor presses you about god, remind her that its the god of your understanding, which can be a  Group Of Drunks. Above all, don't let god get in the way of your sobriety. Good Luck.

Comment by Obfuskation on December 17, 2012 at 9:36pm

I'm an alcoholic (six years sober), and went to AA during my first two years of sobriety.  From my perspective, it was a good place to get my feet under me, but I was gradually turned off by the personality cult attitudes, drama, and the perception that many had simply swapped their old addiction for that of "the program".

While I enjoy running into people who have been maintaining their clean and sober time, and like sharing that kinship, I stay away from the meetings.

I wish you the best of luck Denise.  Take care.

Comment by Doug Reardon on December 17, 2012 at 11:59pm

The difference between a drunk and an alcoholic is that a drunk doesn't have to go to all those meetings.

Comment by Alan C on December 19, 2012 at 1:58pm

I have to say I can appreciate the situation you are in regarding religion in the deep south, I was in the armed forces and visited Savannah, Georgia.  The group I was out with one night were asked by some people (girls) that we met if religion was the same in 'England' (couldn't grasp the concept of Britain) as it is in the US.  When I said I was an atheist (one girl had to have that explained) they could not understand, especially being in the armed forces.  Apparently the US armed forces were only able to fight because they had god on their side.

I was a social pariah for the rest of the evening and did not air my (lack of) religious beliefs again whilst in the US.

All I can say regarding the alcoholism is find as many like minded people as you can and get them to provide moral support and support them.  I guess what I am saying is start your own association.  I too had a drink problem in my youth, I saw I was tending toward alcoholism, and friends and family were not particularly helpful, much like a previous comment regarding the difference between drunks and alcoholics, they did not see any problem and 'encouraged' me to drink with innocent comments such as "don't drive, get a cab, then you can enjoy more than a couple of drinks..."

Comment by david garcia on December 21, 2012 at 7:20pm

I do see the need for people to support each other, there is a need for that clearly .. I dont call my self an alcoholic but I prefer being a drunk I drink every day and I dont see a problem with that... Im single 30 years old I work full time take some classes id say i take care of my shit.....as for bein an atheist ... well so far I have not come a cross a definition of god worth believing none of the descriptions ive heard so far worth buyin into.... they are ridiculous  .well that why im atheist..cause i reason... i don't believe  anyone s claims without proof and neither should anyone... um mm I know a lot of people that drink everyday and they are awesome... some don't..some are kind suck...  i think your normal..


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