Alternatives in Treatment

All too often, addicted individuals choose to reject addiction recovery programs that have benefited millions in their struggles to recover from the diseases of alcoholism and addiction, based on the suspicion that there is a religious, rather than spiritual, component to Twelve Step fellowships. 

While it is true that there are people of all religions in AA and NA, just as there are in any supermarket, the programs themselves have no religious affiliations.

The Mention of God.

Would it make sense to stop buying groceries because one of the store’s cashiers wears a crucifix and the manager wears a Star of David?   While the word “God” appears in the Twelve Steps, it is followed twice by the words “as we understood”, leaving members free to choose a “higher power” of their own understanding or to choose none at all.  While we may mention religion and the twelve steps in the same meeting, members are free to take what they like and leave the rest.  I don’t know of any religion that offers such a choice.

Paradoxically, the same alcoholics and addicts who rail against the idea of a higher power have had one all along: their drug of choice.

A quote from Herbert Spencer that appears in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation”.

My hope is that individuals choose to investigate with an open mind and find that Twelve Step programs are indeed spiritual in nature and not religious.  It is most certainly a shame to see people in need reject, on the basis of a fallacious argument, the very treatment that might save their lives.

Keith Berger, CBHT
Alternatives in Treatment