Almost anyone who has been in AA for a long time knows that some longterm sober members (usually beyond 10 years) stop attending meetings and yet maintain a sober lifestyle while no longer consider themselves part of Alcoholics Anonymous. In Agnostic and Free Thinkers meetings you often find longterm members who still consider themselves part of AA (or not), attend meetings infrequently and do not participate in program features such as sponsorship or step work.
On the other hand, sometimes the zealous, blind faith in the full AA program is just what a suffering alcoholic needs at the start of recovery just to keep them on the straight and narrow path.
For myself at ten years in I still feel like I want to go to (agnostic) meetings every other week. For me living and loving a sober lifestyle is basically my program.
AA Didn’t Fit, Sobriety Did
One size does not fit all.
Here’s another voice with an alternative path to recovery:
For anyone who wishes to find sobriety in A.A. without having to accept anyone else’s beliefs or having to deny their own, there is a new pamphlet for agnostic and “no prayer” meeting locations in NYC. For more information, visit agnosticAAnyc.org.
The Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Organization has released a new pamphlet addressing the needs of alcoholics who may have trouble with the concept of a higher power, but want to be part of AA and who seek to benefit from the strengths of the program as they strive to achieve recovery.
I am constantly frustrated by the compulsion on the part of AA members and groups to apply one single truth to all situations. The current calcification of AA culture into one of narrow Christian recovery dogma alienates and hurts many of exactly those for whom the program is intended. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with “Atlantic” type and “step-nazi” groups, except when they foster a culture that alienates and turns away those who need help. I wish the traditions included a declaration of gentle welcome for all new members and guests, as well as for members seeking help for similar and/or related addictions. I have often seen people make comments out of turn in meetings to clarify to a newcomer that the meeting is for alcoholics only, as described in the following article. It really puzzles me, particularly as the face of addiction has changed so much in the past twenty years. My meeting has a few atheists, a few addicts and even a person who comes each week in support of their partner. We are a strong, supportive group. We let people voice their opinions without responding or cross-talking. There are no prayers .The only requirement for membership is a desire to quit drinking. It works.
For those of you interested in the Dr. Drew/Lindsay Lohan dust-up, and the larger question it opens up re AA’s status as the government-mandated treatment program of choice. Just to pre-empt an often true, but ultimately nonproductive line of reasoning, let’s try to move beyond the simplistic “if it doesn’t work, you’re not doing it right” tautology. Comments?