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 Ray R. on December 16, 2012 at 8:48pm
Denise I agree with you that AA is a profoundly religious , proselytizing , organization . I believe you should give yourself full credit for your recovery and sobriety , not AA , certainly not god . You may have developed close friends and support within the AA community , and that's wonderful . I would like to point out that the statistics for recovery within AA aren't too encouraging . Less than a 5% success rate , ( which is the same as no treatment of any kind ) . Have you checked out the Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) ? They have chapters and meetings in all 50 States . They are a non 12 step based program , with peer group meetings , and , as their title suggests , are completely areligious . I truly wish you the very best .
Comment by Ed on December 16, 2012 at 9:08pm


While the atmosphere of AA may not be comforting to you as an atheist I applaud your willingness to demonstrate that someone's recovery is not dependent on an invisible supernatural being. As you stand your ground as an atheist and continue your quest for sobriety the others at AA will have to take notice. Intestinal fortitude can be cloaked as a god but you certainly know the differenceRamon's suggestion might have merit for you. I wish you the best in your struggle.

Comment by Denise Kiser on December 16, 2012 at 9:18pm

Thanks so much for the comments! I was not sure if this was an appropriate place to bring up this issue. I am going to google secular organizations for sobriety now....

Comment by Strega on December 16, 2012 at 9:27pm

wiki has a page dedicated to it, Denise - with lots of onward links.  Good luck!

Comment by Denise Kiser on December 16, 2012 at 10:05pm

I just googled the SOS site and found excellent contacts and information! Thanks again!!! Unfortunately I am in such a rural part of Georgia (the closest meeting is 40 miles away) there are no groups here. I am in Gods country Yall! (sigh, shake my head)..... Due to a second DUI I can not drive for a while.( Apparently even if you do not remember driving while intoxicated it still counts as a DUI.) But, I can contact some of the members by email! I am going to find out the length of time required to start an SOS meeting. Maybe I can just start one here? I may be the only one in attendance ha ha ha...but I know I am not going to fit in well with AA...if I were a quiet passive atheist I could coast for a  while but I am a loud opinionated anti theist kinda of atheist....when i hear bull shit my mouth just starts a movin or in the case of facebook my fingers start a typin....I either get unfriendly, witnessed too, or called a variety of names my favorite being "the devil"     

Comment by Denise Kiser on December 16, 2012 at 10:07pm


Comment by Strega on December 16, 2012 at 10:28pm

Go ahead and start one Denise :)

Comment by Ray R. on December 16, 2012 at 10:40pm
Yeah , it's sad how AA attempts to cram it's religious dogma down the throats of people who are at their most vulnerable . The so called twelve steps are nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at backdoor, fundamentalist Christianity . They continually lose in court whenever mandatory attendance to their meetings is challenged , ( and it should be) . They have not changed their techniques since they were set up in the 1930's . I would ask what branch of science hasn't profoundly changed over this period of time . What never changes is religion , which is precisely what AA is .
Comment by Denise Kiser on December 16, 2012 at 11:06pm

I had a discussion with a women who approached me after a meeting.... she saw that I was new and offered to be my sponsor..I explained that I was agnostic (I am really an atheist but saying I am agnostic is a little softer for the religious in the south, say the word atheist and you are looked at like you eat new born babies and rip the "do not remove" tags off of matteresses)..we had a discussion about AA being a religious group....she tried to tell me it was not and pointed me to a chapter in their book called "the chapter to the agnostics" I really do not think she has read that particular chapter.....to sum it up the writer says its ok to be agnostic and you are welcomed in AA....then the writer goes on to say that they too where once an agnostic...then in a very sweet way the writer asks the reader to keep an open mind and nothing more....well by the end of the chapter it is believe in God or else you will never recover...and this quote "who are you to question the existence of God" ....They do hone in on new comers...its like a shark feeding frenzy the sad thing is these people really do believe what they are doing is helpful... I believe most the members are good people....crazy as hell but good people..further proof that they are a religion 1. prayer before meeting 2. the lords prayer from the bible at the end of the meeting 3. step 4 requires confession of wrong doings (can we say Catholicism?)

Comment by Ray R. on December 16, 2012 at 11:57pm
When Bill W . and Dr. Bob, ( along with a fundamentalist Christian pastor ,Frank Buchman , of the Oxford Christian Group ) , first started AA , Dr. Bob did not want to allow women to participate in it . He felt that female alcoholics were morally inferior to men , and were therefore irredeemable . Bill W . , however , saw that allowing women into the groups, would allow him a steady supply of emotionally vulnerable , psychologically fragile people whom he could take sexual advantage of , ( and did ) . A confluence of pathological misogyny , fundamentalist indoctrination , as well as fraud bordering on psychopathy , all had a hand in the foundation of AA . Is it any wonder it's success rate and rate of retention are so low ?


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