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Do You Have to be Religious to Join AA?

 

Many people who have read the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-steps are under the impression that you need to be religious or believe in God to be able to apply them. This is a common misconception and one that puts a number of non-religious people off. The truth is that you do not have to believe in God to benefit from AA. The programme has many non-religious members who have benefitted from it without converting to a particular religion.

A Higher Power

The mention of a ‘Higher Power’ is the reason so many people assume religion is involved. Step two says, “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” and step three specifically mentions God – “Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”.

It is understandable, therefore, that some may assume that the 12-steps and AA are not for them. Nevertheless, the concept of a Higher Power does not have to relate to God. In reality, those attending AA and following the 12-steps should be looking at the idea of a Higher Power as being a place where he or she can garner strength from something other than him or herself in order to heal.

Most non-religious individuals will look at their Higher Power as the thing that is helping them to get better and change their destructive attitude. This means that a Higher Power could be a sponsor, counsellor or therapist.

Some believe that their Higher Power to be family and friends while others believe it to be an unknown force or the beauty of nature. Whatever it is that is driving one to succeed in his or her quest for sobriety is the person’s Higher Power. Belief in a Higher Power, whatever that may be, is that which has driven so many AA members to succeed.

An Evolving Philosophy

The original 12-steps of AA definitely referred to God but, as the group grew and more and more people started to join, it became apparent that it was not necessary to believe in God for the 12-steps to work. It is, therefore, important to understand that everyone is welcome at AA and not just those who believe in God. At the end of the day, a Higher Power can be whatever one wants it to be and whatever it is that works for that particular person.

Helping Yourself

It is also important to realise that you cannot sit back and expect your Higher Power to do all the work. Even while step 3 specifically tells members to turn their will and lives over to God, it does not mean that they should simply sit back and relax and wait for things to get better. It is important to know that one has to do his or her bit, too. If you are such an individual, you will need to attend meetings, work your way through the twelve steps, and do what you can to change your behaviour. Your Higher Power is there to help you, but not do everything for you. You need to work with your Higher Power to get the most from your recovery.

The best way to ensure you get the most from AA is to work through the 12-steps, meet with your sponsor regularly, meditate daily, and attend your meetings. You should also make a point of reading materials relating to recovery and how you can get more from it.

Help for Addiction

AA is just one of the ways that those with addiction can get through this terrible time. The good news is that there are many forms of treatment available for those with addiction; here at Rehab Helper, we can provide you with the information and support you need to access that help. Contact us today for more information.

Sources:

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous
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