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15 March, 2011

Sobriety, 2

I've continued this entry from the previous blog post. It had originally been a single article, but turned out to be really, really long. The first part can be read here.

I was told that doubting God would just get me in trouble. I was told that if I didn't go to meetings every week, I would drink again. I was told to "stick with the winners," which were people who really acted outside of the program like nice people, which was sound advice, but the biggest "cliques" in AA were the groups of people, mostly young, between 3-7 years of sobriety who constantly talked about other members, and would go out of their way to exclude people who weren't cool like them. I was told that hanging out with people who drink would lead me down the abyss and back to where I had been when I was drinking. If I didn't end up drinking, I was doomed to become a "Dry Drunk," a person so miserable and angry because they couldn't drink but who didn't have the program to prop them up and make them happy again.

I've been sober eight years. I'm not miserable. I have as many problems as anyone would expect me to have, not really any more or less than I had when I was in recovery (actually, probably less because I don't have that bad, bad advice anymore or the "cool" crowd to try to keep up with). I've seen rants online by people who spent time in AA and are very, very angry. Perhaps they are "Dry Drunks," but I can only go off of the angry tone they use in their blogs. I didn't come away from AA with the feeling that I had been brainwashed by a cult for six years. I simply didn't believe in God anymore and so the paradigm didn't work for me anymore. I didn't have an AA message.

I was told that no one ever comes back to AA after leaving and says, "It's so great out there, you all should join me and give up this AA stuff." But then again, why would any happy person do such a thing? I won't go back because I have no need to. I'm thankful for the things I learned about living with other people. I learned how to see how my own behavior creates conflict in my life. I learned that I need to mean what I say and say what I mean. I learned that my word is my bond. I learned how to meditate and concentrate and use tools during emotional times so I don't have to drink. No one can say those are bad things.

To the atheists that are adamantly against AA, I can just say that AA is not where your fight against theism should be. Fight the courts who demand that people go get their "slip signed" at these meetings. Many AA's also don't like this idea that the courts send people their way as a get-out-of-jail free card. The Higher Power of AA is not one God Head with holy book and a defined set of charicteristics like Christianity. Each person decides for themselves what they believe and arguments between members about the nature of God are almost non-existent. Atheists, there are bigger fish to fry.

If atheists really want to help change the way alcoholics and addicts are given treatment, we need to become counselors or start sobriety groups of our own, based in science and reason. We won't convince anyone by telling them the place they finally found relief from addiction, if even just for a short while, is a cult.

To the AA's who look down their nose at atheism: read again the quote I included at the top of this blog entry.

To the AA's who may be doubting the existence of whatever Higher Power you've chosen and still don't understand: You are not alone. You won't get drunk just for asking yourself questions. Alcoholism is not as simple as what your religious beliefs entail. You can stay sober and find answers for yourself. I know because I did and I know there are more people out there. The fact is, you have as much chance of staying sober on your own as with a religious support group, statistically. If you want more information, a quick Google search for "secular recovery" will bring up more information, or you can go to LifeRing's website here.

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