Mom is Joining AA

Zaq
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Mom is Joining AA

This is "kind of" news to me, in that my little sister saw it coming a mile away, but we were only actually informed about it recently (today, for me).

My mom's side of the family has a history of terrible alcoholism.  I don't think I'm in any danger of developing an addiciton, because even small sips of alcohol make me nauseous almost immediately (and consistent nausea is a great way to turn you off of something), but it has apparently become a problem for my mom.  She thought about entering a rehab program, but ended up deciding against it due to certain financial and family situations.  So she decided to join AA instead.

So today I get a phone call from her.  She tells me that she has a drinking problem and that she's trying to get some help for it.  She tells me she's in the twelve step program, the first of which is apparently admitting that she's powerless to fight the alcoholism.

Call me crazy, but that sounds like the last thing you want to do when fighting an additon.

Now my mom is technically an atheist in that she doesn't believe in anything you'd call a god, but she would also hate to be called an atheist.  She is fairly spiritual and believes in some type of persistance after death (though when I last asked her about it, she was unable to describe what this persistance was supposed to be like).  She seems comfortable with a more nebulous form of higher power like "positive energy," but the way she talked about the steps made it sound like she'd had some annoyance with the religious aspect of AA.

Anyway, I spent an hour or so poking around on the internet, and I can't find anything that actually indicates that this program works.  And now I'm tempted to contact my mom and be like "Yo, I don't think you're powerless.  I think you can totally kick this addiction's ass.  Go for it," so something of similar effect.  But I'm not sure whether that would be helpful or harmful or what.

 

Any thoughts?

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

I'm a bit of a lurker. Every now and then I will come out of my cave with a flurry of activity. Then the Ph.D. program calls and I must fall back to the shadows.


harleysportster
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A while back

A few months ago, there was a debate on here between a few members and I about whether or not the 12 Step movements could be considered another religion or not. I said that it was, another member on here, who has gotten alot of help from Alanon said that it had helped them alot and they did not consider it a religious program.Opinions vary on this particular topic. It will be up to the person attending the meetings to decide. 

I can only tell you this, my uncle is in AA and it is impossible to talk to him without incessant talk of "god".

I attended a few open meetings with him and was a little rankled by the underlying talks of "god" in a program that claims to be spiritual and not religious.

(However, some people who are Atheists do not view AA in the same light that I do, so this is only my opinion of what I felt AA to be).

However, the AA "big book" has an entire chapter called "We agnostics" that practically blasts anyone who is an Atheist or an Agnostic.

Even in the opening chapter of the AA book, the founder states "I was not an Atheist, few people really are, for that means blind faith in the strange proposition that this universe originated in a cipher and aimlessly rushes nowhere" (That is on page 10 of the AA book).

Here are a couple of quotes from the "We Agnostics" chapter :

Our ideas did not work, but the God idea did (page 52)

When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either god is everything or else he is nothing. God either is or he isn't, what was our choice to be ( AA book, page 53)

We who have traveled this dubious path, beg you to lay aside prejudice, even against organized religion. We have learned that whatever the frailties of various faith may be those faiths have given purpose and directions to millions. People of faith have a logical idea of what life is about (AA book, page 49)

We agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end of it all. Rather vain of us wasn't it ? (Page 49 AA Book)

This was enough to turn me off. AA has another book called the 12 and 12, in which the opening chapter describes people that do not believe in god as "savages".

AA was originally formed out of a group called "The Oxford Group". Which was a Christian temperance society.

There are other ways of getting off booze. Rational Recovery, SMART Recovery, HAMS and Secular Arm for sobriety. All of which are dedicated to helping people overcome sobriety without the kooky spirituality of AA.

Just my thoughts anyway. I am sure that plenty of people on here will disagree.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


harleysportster
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AA Founder speaks of GOD

From the founder himself :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNmFjszzrKo

 


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Well, if your mom has a big problem, that I hope she gets some relief, even if it is from AA.

 

That much being said, there are some serious issues with the whole deal.

 

Issue: AA makes the claim that they have a solution which works better than anything any doctor can provide.

 

Problem: How do we know that such a claim is even valid? It is problematic to claim that. How do you even do a study on the matter when you can't even establish that the control group is not secretly nipping off to different meetings?

 

Issue: Sure, every group has at least one member who has 20 years in the program.

 

Problem: Have they replaced the compulsion to drink with the compulsion to attend meetings?

 

Issue: the higher power is poorly defined.

 

Problem: Many members say that you can define the higher power any way that you like. I have heard often enough that you can use a door knob as a higher power if that is what you need. Pardon me? That is just a way to get people drawn into the group. Once you get in, you will have to recite the lord's prayer at the close of every meeting.

 

The list of problems goes much longer but three items is enough to hit major points.

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ex-minister
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Zaq wrote:This is "kind of"

Zaq wrote:

This is "kind of" news to me, in that my little sister saw it coming a mile away, but we were only actually informed about it recently (today, for me).

My mom's side of the family has a history of terrible alcoholism.  I don't think I'm in any danger of developing an addiciton, because even small sips of alcohol make me nauseous almost immediately (and consistent nausea is a great way to turn you off of something), but it has apparently become a problem for my mom.  She thought about entering a rehab program, but ended up deciding against it due to certain financial and family situations.  So she decided to join AA instead.

So today I get a phone call from her.  She tells me that she has a drinking problem and that she's trying to get some help for it.  She tells me she's in the twelve step program, the first of which is apparently admitting that she's powerless to fight the alcoholism.

Call me crazy, but that sounds like the last thing you want to do when fighting an additon.

Now my mom is technically an atheist in that she doesn't believe in anything you'd call a god, but she would also hate to be called an atheist.  She is fairly spiritual and believes in some type of persistance after death (though when I last asked her about it, she was unable to describe what this persistance was supposed to be like).  She seems comfortable with a more nebulous form of higher power like "positive energy," but the way she talked about the steps made it sound like she'd had some annoyance with the religious aspect of AA.

Anyway, I spent an hour or so poking around on the internet, and I can't find anything that actually indicates that this program works.  And now I'm tempted to contact my mom and be like "Yo, I don't think you're powerless.  I think you can totally kick this addiction's ass.  Go for it," so something of similar effect.  But I'm not sure whether that would be helpful or harmful or what.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Hey Zaq,

I found the threads Harley was referring to.

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/29657

http://www.rationalresponders.com/why_i_believe_12_step_movement_another_religion

 

 

I have a number of relatives who got recovery in AA and none of them talk about god. In fact it is the non-drinkers in my family that are god-soaked. If you have an addictive personality you will pick something. I picked religion. You can  hear in meetings "I don't believe in that god bullshit" without challenge. I go to Alanon meetings weekly. It has helped me alot and when we talk about god I frequently identify myself as an atheist. It ain't no thing, no one tries to come save me. I am not the only atheist in my meetings. If you read through the posts I noted above you can read about my experience and also hear opposing information. It is not clear cut and the reason is AA/Alanon are very decentralized, which for me is its strength, but it also allows for assholes locally to dominate. Alcoholism is a horrid disease. I think it is great your Mom is seeking help. You don't have to believe in any god to be a member. In the big book it says when we speak of god we speak of your concept of god. That is always good to know in case some asshole tries to shove it down your throat (or you mom's).

The powerlessness might not be what you think. We say you are powerless, not helpless. The other threads I think goes into that.

I recommend you go to an open AA meeting and attend an alanon meeting or two. It might allay your concerns. But it is good to try a few different meetings. They each have their own flavor. And should you want to talk we can do that here or through private message.

 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


harleysportster
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ex-minister wrote: I

ex-minister wrote:

 

I recommend you go to an open AA meeting and attend an alanon meeting or two. It might allay your concerns. But it is good to try a few different meetings. They each have their own flavor. And should you want to talk we can do that here or through private message.

 

My experience could very well be a regional thing. When my uncle was down here, visiting me from New Jersey, the only meetings that I have been exposed to are the ones, here in the Bible Belt, where I live.

Perhaps, with the heavy theist population down here, that could explain all of the Atheist bashing and people saying "My higher power, WHO IS JESUS CHRIST TODAY AND I AM NOT AFRAID TO ADMIT IT,".

Perhaps in more secular areas of the country, that would not be the case.

I know that my uncle recently told me that his home group had a visitor from Australia, who noted the Lord's Prayer was not said at the end of meetings over there and that AA was alot more secular.

Maybe it is a regional thing.

But, I personally was disturbed at chapters like "We Agnostics" and some of the anti-Atheist remarks that were made in books like the 12 and 12, As Bill Sees it and AA comes of age.

I know that if I were a new person to AA and convinced of my Atheism, it would probably disturb me greatly.

BUT, now that the subject has been brought up, I do have a question :

What do Atheist members of organizations like AA and Alanon do with things like the 3rd step prayer, the 6th and 7th step prayers and the 11th step prayer in the literature ? Do they just skip those steps ?

How do Atheists reconcile themselves with the word God that is so dominant in the 12 steps themselves ? Do they simply replace the word "god" in their minds with another word ?

What about the serenity prayer and lord's prayer in the meetings ? Do Atheists simply choose to not partake ?

I know that my uncle says, unless ALL 12 steps are thoroughly worked, alcoholics WILL drink again.

So, how would an Atheist work the 12 steps ?

Or deal with slogans like "But for the grace of god,". ?

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


harleysportster
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Zaq wrote:Anyway, I spent an

Zaq wrote:

Anyway, I spent an hour or so poking around on the internet, and I can't find anything that actually indicates that this program works.  And now I'm tempted to contact my mom and be like "Yo, I don't think you're powerless.  I think you can totally kick this addiction's ass.  Go for it," so something of similar effect.  But I'm not sure whether that would be helpful or harmful or what.

 

Any thoughts?

I believe when they are referring to the word "powerless" they are referring to the notion that an alcoholic can not safely take so much as one drink. If an alcoholic takes a drink, he/she is unable to stop of their own will power and will likely drink until something very harmful happens.

As my uncle often says : If I take a drink, the drink takes me.

However, I too have often pondered that.  If an alcoholic is powerless to stop drinking, then HOW IS IT THAT THEY STOP DRINKING ?

I mentioned that to a couple of members and my uncle. Their answer was "god does for us what we can not do for ourselves".

Now, I have not talked to enough alcoholics to know whether or not this would be the typical answer. But, I have heard people say they became "sick and tired" of being "sick and tired" which would indicate to me that THEY are the ones choosing to quit. Which would indicate to me, that they are in control.

Perhaps I too am misunderstanding the definition of powerless.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


Vastet
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My views on AA are best

My views on AA are best summed up by South Park.
Season 9, Episode 14: "We're All Powerless".
In brief:
Randy joins AA after being convinced he's an alcoholic.

AA is based on outdated and false psychology, and has persisted in spite of these flaws soley due to theistic support. It has been proven ineffective for the majority of its "patients". But it spreads theism like the black plague, so it has value to the religious and their organisations. Even if it doesn't necessarily posit any particular god, it fosters the idea that everyone should have a god of some form.

In a world free of false advertising, it would be illegal to advertise AA or forcibly subject anyone to their meetings.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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Words don't offend me. These

Words don't offend me. These steps written in 1935 I think were novel because they have the phrase god as we understood him. It was because there were atheist in the founding of AA that they were added. I find that very cool and I bring that up in meetings by saying "thank god there were atheists in AA who added that otherwise I would not be here".

These programs are voluntary. I think some courts order it because it costs nothing. But all you have to do for the court is get some willing member to sign a piece of paper and then you can leave. And the signature would not include the persons full name due to anonymity.

Try a meeting if you really want to know. It won't rub off on you and you don't have to say your real name and never your last name.

As a former fundie there is a big difference, which is not to say you won't find a drunk fundie there trying to make the world safe for jeebus. I don't waste my time with them.

Also if you can find help elsewhere that is cool too and that is a principal of these programs.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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Vastet wrote: AA is based

Vastet wrote:
AA is based on outdated and false psychology, and has persisted in spite of these flaws soley due to theistic support. It has been proven ineffective for the majority of its "patients". But it spreads theism like the black plague, so it has value to the religious and their organisations. Even if it doesn't necessarily posit any particular god, it fosters the idea that everyone should have a god of some form. In a world free of false advertising, it would be illegal to advertise AA or forcibly subject anyone to their meetings.

The fact that many people are forced by the courts to go to AA has not come up in any of the previous debates.

I would have to dig around to find the links, but there were a few states where the Supreme Courts of those states ruled that it was unconstitutional to court order people into those meetings because they felt those meetings met the criteria of what could be considered a religion.

Having never been to an Alanon meeting, I do not have the experience that ex-minister has. Perhaps alanon works and operates a little differently.

I can only speak (or type rather) of my own experience with the open AA meetings that I have attended.

After the reading of the 12 steps and traditions, a topic is always put before the group to discuss.

Some of the above quotes that I posted, from the chapter titled "we agnostics" were used in those meetings. Those meetings became an atheist bashing fest.

People would say things like :

Don't believe in god ? Work the steps and you will be contacted.

There is a god and your not it.

I could not get sober except through the grace of god.

Several members would start out with : I am grateful to be here clean and sober by the grace of a loving god and AA.

Not to mention all of the anti-atheist remarks which followed and the assertions that Atheists must have empty lives since they believed in nothing.

Like I said earlier, maybe this is not the case at ALL AA meetings. But based on the literature and the sentiments that I heard, it certainly seemed to be.

I'm sure that AA has Atheists among it's fellowship. But I wonder how they reconcile themselves with the anti-Atheist rhetoric in the literature and the meetings ? I really would like to know.

Maybe alanon is a lot different ?

 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


harleysportster
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ex-minister wrote:Words

ex-minister wrote:
Words don't offend me. These steps written in 1935 I think were novel because they have the phrase god as we understood him. It was because there were atheist in the founding of AA that they were added. I find that very cool and I bring that up in meetings by saying "thank god there were atheists in AA who added that otherwise I would not be here". .

So, when working the steps, what do you do with the prayers within the steps ? Do you have an alternate form of meditation ?

I know that I keep bringing up "We Agnostics" but, in the closing of that chapter, it tells the story of an Atheist in despair that decrees, while alone, that god had done nothing for him. To which he "claims" a powerful voice in his head thundered : WHO ARE YOU TO SAY THERE IS NO GOD ? The story concludes with this guy being a successful member of AA after that experience.

Granted, the words "spiritual experience" in AA an be interpreted in many numbers of ways. But AA itself was born from the Oxford Group, which was a christian temperance movement. (They had something like four or five steps. Bill W. and Dr. Bob later added on some of the extra ones that later became the now famous 12 steps).

The original AA book was put together by the first one hundred members of AA and just seems to be unfairly slanted against the atheist viewpoint, but that is just my opinion.

 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


ex-minister
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Never thought we would be

Never thought we would be back in this discussion, Harley, but that uncle sounds like a real pisser. Working now. Will give full thought to your post above tonight or later in the week, but want to pose this.

Go to a fundie church and also go to a AA or Alanon meeting and say "I am an atheist and that is not going to change. Can I be a member here?"

Should you run into a fundie drunk and they don't say yes and nothing more, ask them to recite what AA says are the membership requirements.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


harleysportster
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ex-minister wrote:Never

ex-minister wrote:
Never thought we would be back in this discussion, Harley, but that uncle sounds like a real pisser. Working now. Will give full thought to your post above tonight or later in the week, but want to pose this. Go to a fundie church and also go to a AA or Alanon meeting and say "I am an atheist and that is not going to change. Can I be a member here?" Should you run into a fundie drunk and they don't say yes and nothing more, ask them to recite what AA says are the membership requirements.

Hehehehe. A real pisser my uncle is, that and a whole lot more. Much like the rest of my theist family.

Hmm, in regards to the above question. Your right, there would be a difference in whether a person could actually become a member or not when it comes to fundies vs. 12 steppers.

However, what of the tactics of group coercion or sponsor coercion ? If that in fact exists and I can not say that I know it does for sure.

For example, have you ever encountered Alanon meetings that were as openly Anti-Atheist as some of the AA meetings that I have attended ? If so, did it bother you ? If not, then I can only conclude that A) Alanon is run a little differently than AA or B) That it must be the region of the country that I am in or it could have just been the group of people in those particular AA meetings. I have never asked my uncle what the meetings are like in Jersey.

When I speak of group or sponsor coercion, I am speaking of people that I heard state that they would never sponsor an atheist or that they would sponsor an atheist only if he would work the steps and agree that there had to be a god or higher power working in his life.  Group coercion would simply be the fact that an anti-atheist meeting could make some people uncomfortable.

However, the spiritual aspect of the 12 steps or the use of the word god, does not seem to bother or effect your attendance and participation in Alanon, so maybe I am wrong.

After all, when it comes to the 12 steps, I am an outsider looking in. Unlike my background with religion, where I have been on the inside and left.

 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


Zaq
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Thanks for the responses

Thanks for the responses guys.

I guess the thing I'm worried about are AA just not working and my mom suddenly becoming more religious (and vocal about it towards me).

I didn't realize they have open meetings.  Maybe I'll go to one when I next visit her. 

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

I'm a bit of a lurker. Every now and then I will come out of my cave with a flurry of activity. Then the Ph.D. program calls and I must fall back to the shadows.


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harleysportster wrote:So,

harleysportster wrote:

So, when working the steps, what do you do with the prayers within the steps ? Do you have an alternate form of meditation ?

I know that I keep bringing up "We Agnostics" but, in the closing of that chapter, it tells the story of an Atheist in despair that decrees, while alone, that god had done nothing for him. To which he "claims" a powerful voice in his head thundered : WHO ARE YOU TO SAY THERE IS NO GOD ? The story concludes with this guy being a successful member of AA after that experience.

Granted, the words "spiritual experience" in AA an be interpreted in many numbers of ways. But AA itself was born from the Oxford Group, which was a christian temperance movement. (They had something like four or five steps. Bill W. and Dr. Bob later added on some of the extra ones that later became the now famous 12 steps).

The original AA book was put together by the first one hundred members of AA and just seems to be unfairly slanted against the atheist viewpoint, but that is just my opinion.

 

I don't pray anymore. I used to pray incessantly when I was a fundie, it was more like begging. Reading a handful of the Psalms shows that attitude. I am scum and god is perfect, so I got to beg. I even prayed that god will kill me when I was good with him because I had such a big fear of backsliding. I wrote down a lot of my prayers and glad I did. I can see just how nuts I was. 

Meditation I didn't do as a Christian. When I started to fall away I was so stressed out that mediation really helped me. I bought some environment tapes. One was really great. It was recording up in a log cabin in the woods in the mountains. You can hear the wind blowing, snow hitting the windows and the shutters gently banging against the side of the house. A roaring fire was crackling. It was quite soothing. I focused all my attention on it. I don't know if I said this before but I really thought my life was over then and wanted to kill myself. The pain of living was quite great. But this gentle mediation cleared my mind and gave me rest. I was quite wrought up. In the meetings I have had heard other atheist say they don't pray. In one of the books it talks about just saying a word or phrase like "help" or "thank you". I sometime do that but it is more meditative than prayer. It is akin to a sigh and breaks my obsession on a given problem or depressed feeling.

I feel I can give back to alanon now. It has given me so much. I want to represent that I can find recovery from this disease even being an atheist. I don't talk about atheism all the time because it really doesn't play that big a role in meetings. People are trying to get through life and trying to figure out how to deal with an alcoholic (you have one with your uncle, which qualifies you for alanon). That is THE focus. Occasionally someone will come in the room who talks about the bible or the lord or jesus. Then I make sure I mention in my share that I am an atheist and say this is how this step works for me. We do say upfront in the opening to only refer to conference approved literature and avoid the discussion of religion. If there is a real bible thumper I have brought up in my share the bible is not conference approved literature. The focus of these programs is not to make you religious. That has been my experience. I walked into the rooms as a christian and it helped me walk away from it. Frankly I don't believe I would be writing to you now about this if I hadn't made that step. Alanon saved my life and gave me the freedom to be an atheist. It's  main message is stop focusing on the alcoholic and focus instead on yourself, find out who you are and what you want to do with your life. The opinions of others does not matter. I can be happy whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.

 

Well, it was 1935 and white america. Can't imagine it could be entirely free of religious influence. But there were atheist in the beginning and they did get a voice influencing the steps. AA split from the Oxford group simply because the Oxford group was too religious.

No scripture is conference approved.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


ex-minister
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Zaq wrote:Thanks for the

Zaq wrote:

Thanks for the responses guys.

I guess the thing I'm worried about are AA just not working and my mom suddenly becoming more religious (and vocal about it towards me).

I didn't realize they have open meetings.  Maybe I'll go to one when I next visit her. 

Meetings are everywhere. The alanon/AA websites can give you that info. You probably have a bunch locally. Maybe going when you are not with her might be good also. It would help you understand what she is going through better. I suggest a handful of meetings and also different ones. It is really hard to digest it in just one meeting and if you have read Harley and my dialog you will know that some meetings are dominated by assholes. Do a few to find one that you like. You might even happen upon an atheist or two, but then again you might not even know it. I don't know a whole lot of things about a number of people in my meetings. I don't know what their jobs are or whether they are religious or their politics.

It is good you are concerned about your mom. But it is her issue and not yours. She will make the choice to get sober or she will not.  I found my way out, but many of my family members have not. I don't focus on them anymore. I live my life and let them live theirs. I used to say "Fuck, I am the child here, why I am trying to explain life to my parent or grandparent". Since I gave up trying I have seen some improvements in their lives and it had nothing to do with me. My disease was to interfere with their bottoming out and/or recovery.

Trying to fix a alcoholic is very frustrating. The disease always wins. You get angry at them because they won't listen and they get resentful for your meddling in their life.

When I gave up things get better. It is the most counter-intuitive thing I ever have seen in my life. It took me years to understand the concept of powerlessness. Religion had taught me to sacrifice myself, to have the answers for someone else. It truly added to the insanity in my family. Alcoholics falling down on one end and fundies yelling at them on the other. Truly fucked up.

CJ's signature says it best "I felt better when I stopped believing".  In this context, believing I could get the alcoholic sober. It felt so good when I stopped.

 

Should you go to a meeting or two I would welcome your thoughts on it either here or in a private message.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


ex-minister
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harleysportster

harleysportster wrote:

Hehehehe. A real pisser my uncle is, that and a whole lot more. Much like the rest of my theist family.

Hmm, in regards to the above question. Your right, there would be a difference in whether a person could actually become a member or not when it comes to fundies vs. 12 steppers.

However, what of the tactics of group coercion or sponsor coercion ? If that in fact exists and I can not say that I know it does for sure.

For example, have you ever encountered Alanon meetings that were as openly Anti-Atheist as some of the AA meetings that I have attended ? If so, did it bother you ? If not, then I can only conclude that A) Alanon is run a little differently than AA or B) That it must be the region of the country that I am in or it could have just been the group of people in those particular AA meetings. I have never asked my uncle what the meetings are like in Jersey.

When I speak of group or sponsor coercion, I am speaking of people that I heard state that they would never sponsor an atheist or that they would sponsor an atheist only if he would work the steps and agree that there had to be a god or higher power working in his life.  Group coercion would simply be the fact that an anti-atheist meeting could make some people uncomfortable.

However, the spiritual aspect of the 12 steps or the use of the word god, does not seem to bother or effect your attendance and participation in Alanon, so maybe I am wrong.

After all, when it comes to the 12 steps, I am an outsider looking in. Unlike my background with religion, where I have been on the inside and left.

 

I attended open AA meetings for awhile early on and some closed meetings because I had concerns. I attended quite a variety of meetings and in many locations. I attended dozens of different alanon meetings in a broad area. When I have traveled I have attended meetings there. So my exposure is quite broad. And you know I got a few relatives who are sober today because of AA of which they are still members. I am the lone alanon member.  I have never had anyone trying to make me believe in a god.

Unless you are in the AA steping stones AA meeting, which I don't think there are many of, you have to find your own sponsor. None are assigned. The alanon sponsor I chose was a christian, but I found that out later when we did one and one work. I told him about my religious background and issues. He gave me a book on believing in god but we never talked about it again and I have never read it. I freely told him my doubts and he now knows I am an atheist. A good sponsor will listen and not control, because controlling is practicing the disease. You have people in programs from all kinds of background and recovery levels. Finding a good one was important to me and I took my time.

As I have said there are humans in these programs and they have been fucked over by alcoholism. Bad shit can happen, but from my vantage point I see a lot of good.

And as they say in these programs all I can give you is my experience, strength and hope. If you are more comfortable with something else and it works for you we are just as glad. In fact it is the best experience for me when I see people walk into these meetings as depressed as I was and in time I see them stand up straight, smile, laugh and enjoy themselves AND IT ALL HAPPENED WITHOUT ME DOING A DAMN THING. That is a very important lesson for me. Hands off someone else's recovery. Those who do otherwise need to go back to step one. 

 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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The best reason to avoid AA

The best reason to avoid AA is that their success rate is worse than spontaneous remission.  There was a lot of discussion about this back when Charlie Sheen had his famous melt-down.

"Obviously I'm convinced of the existence of G-d. I'm equally convinced that Atheists who've led good lives will be in Olam HaBa going "How the heck did I wind up in this place?!?" while Christians who've treated people like dirt will be in some other place asking the exact same question."


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Zaq wrote:This is "kind of"

Zaq wrote:

This is "kind of" news to me, in that my little sister saw it coming a mile away, but we were only actually informed about it recently (today, for me).

My mom's side of the family has a history of terrible alcoholism.  I don't think I'm in any danger of developing an addiciton, because even small sips of alcohol make me nauseous almost immediately (and consistent nausea is a great way to turn you off of something), but it has apparently become a problem for my mom.  She thought about entering a rehab program, but ended up deciding against it due to certain financial and family situations.  So she decided to join AA instead.

So today I get a phone call from her.  She tells me that she has a drinking problem and that she's trying to get some help for it.  She tells me she's in the twelve step program, the first of which is apparently admitting that she's powerless to fight the alcoholism.

Call me crazy, but that sounds like the last thing you want to do when fighting an additon.

Now my mom is technically an atheist in that she doesn't believe in anything you'd call a god, but she would also hate to be called an atheist.  She is fairly spiritual and believes in some type of persistance after death (though when I last asked her about it, she was unable to describe what this persistance was supposed to be like).  She seems comfortable with a more nebulous form of higher power like "positive energy," but the way she talked about the steps made it sound like she'd had some annoyance with the religious aspect of AA.

Anyway, I spent an hour or so poking around on the internet, and I can't find anything that actually indicates that this program works.  And now I'm tempted to contact my mom and be like "Yo, I don't think you're powerless.  I think you can totally kick this addiction's ass.  Go for it," so something of similar effect.  But I'm not sure whether that would be helpful or harmful or what.

 

Any thoughts?

My dad recently joined AA himself, it appears to be a good group, he's already theistic, etc. His sentiments mirror ex-minister's. My doubts in AA are still very much there (augmented by harleysportster's), but I am at least inclined to believe that 'dropping the bottle' comes first before dropping religion/theism. AA won't do the latter, but it might do the former. You might also trade one sickness for another that gives goofy notions of self and makes you feel a part of a group while you aren't even there.

Ex-minister's comment about the quality of the group apparently holds true. I would advise her on the dangers of a bad group, at least.

 

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


ex-minister
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FurryCatHerder wrote:The

FurryCatHerder wrote:

The best reason to avoid AA is that their success rate is worse than spontaneous remission.  There was a lot of discussion about this back when Charlie Sheen had his famous melt-down.

Is that when people suddenly burst into flames? Smiling

I have yet to see an example of someone suddenly stopping without some support. I mean using AA or something else. There are many other issues besides the bottle itself.

Sitting and waiting doesn't seem like a plan.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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Zaq wrote:Thanks for the

Zaq wrote:

Thanks for the responses guys.

I guess the thing I'm worried about are AA just not working and my mom suddenly becoming more religious (and vocal about it towards me).

I didn't realize they have open meetings.  Maybe I'll go to one when I next visit her. 

That's a very good idea. AA and Alanon etc. are different depending on the region. Some places they are very open and accepting. Some places they are complete religious nutjobs. My city happens to have pretty open AA groups. I've heard places in the southern states can be whacko. It all depends. I've also heard that NA, Narcotics Anonymous, tends to be more religious than AA or Alanon.

I've actually attended Alanon for almost a year a while back, and found it helpful in terms of being a kind of group therapy, and getting some good perspective on life and the various real-life problems different people have.

As for being a cure for Alcoholism, I think any successes are due to the social interaction and support. Which also depend on the quality of the group.

So, if you go there and hear a very zealous message, it's probably not a great group. If you hear personal stories and some humility and compassion (even if they talk about god), then it's probably harmless, and maybe your mom might make some good friendships there. That alone would help her with any drinking problem, at least to some extent.

There are non-religious groups, like SOS, but you have to find out if one is nearby. They aren't as common as they should be.

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ex-minister wrote:Is that

ex-minister wrote:
Is that when people suddenly burst into flames? Smiling I have yet to see an example of someone suddenly stopping without some support. I mean using AA or something else. There are many other issues besides the bottle itself. Sitting and waiting doesn't seem like a plan.

It's about willpower and desire. I spent most of 99 through 00 drunk. I'd have fit the average persons idea of an alcoholic, though to this day I'd say I was simply drinking a bit much.
Now mind you weed was scarce, but I still definitely overdid it.
I sought no help. I had no problems that needed help. I just cut down significantly. And the reason I was successful was because it's what I wanted. I got sick of forgetting things and doing/saying stupid shit. So I stopped buying a 26'r every three or four days. That simple. And that's all it takes. If you don't REALLY WANT to stop, but are being peer pressured to, it'll never happen. You'll just get good at hiding it.
I still drink today, just not often.

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Vastet wrote:ex-minister

Vastet wrote:
ex-minister wrote:
Is that when people suddenly burst into flames? Smiling I have yet to see an example of someone suddenly stopping without some support. I mean using AA or something else. There are many other issues besides the bottle itself. Sitting and waiting doesn't seem like a plan.
It's about willpower and desire. I spent most of 99 through 00 drunk. I'd have fit the average persons idea of an alcoholic, though to this day I'd say I was simply drinking a bit much. Now mind you weed was scarce, but I still definitely overdid it. I sought no help. I had no problems that needed help. I just cut down significantly. And the reason I was successful was because it's what I wanted. I got sick of forgetting things and doing/saying stupid shit. So I stopped buying a 26'r every three or four days. That simple. And that's all it takes. If you don't REALLY WANT to stop, but are being peer pressured to, it'll never happen. You'll just get good at hiding it. I still drink today, just not often.

Good for you on cutting down significantly. Seriously.

But it's not the same for everyone, and alcohol can actually be physically/chemically addictive. Also, depending on the person and circumstances, 'willpower' alone is not necessarily enough to overcome addiction.

You were able to modify your circumstances to allow yourself to reduce your consumption significantly. Not everyone is capable of doing this on their own.

Do you seriously think people suck dick for crack because they choose to? It's gone way beyond choice at that point. They cannot simply choose to change their circumstances at that point. Their brains have been physically and chemically modified to impair the very region of the brain involved in making decisions (the pre-frontal cortex).

Alcohol's not as severe as crack, and operates differently in the brain (and especially in the body), and alcohol addiction is different in many ways from crack addiction. But it is still an addiction.

People can climb out of addiction ... sometimes. And sometimes they can't. Some people can do it better than others. But there are many factors, including genetic ones, and not all of them boil down to 'willpower'.

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Spontaneous remission is

Spontaneous remission is very well-documented.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1499107/pdf/bmjcred00614-0007.pdf

People in AA recovering isn't enough to show that it's a good program.  It needs to have a higher recovery rate than the rate of spontaneous remission.

It may also be relavant that my mom quit smoking at some point during her life.  As far as I know, she quit cold turkey without any kind of program or patch or anything.  I sometimes wonder why she thinks she can't beat alchoholism without a 12-step program even though she beat smoking on her own (and without spousal support.  My dad kept smoking right through the period where my mom quit).

Anyway, it seems to be working well enough for her.

Questions for Theists:
http://silverskeptic.blogspot.com/2011/03/consistent-standards.html

I'm a bit of a lurker. Every now and then I will come out of my cave with a flurry of activity. Then the Ph.D. program calls and I must fall back to the shadows.


ex-minister
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 Thanks for the update. It

 Thanks for the update. It is her choice. Some people need a support group, other people who understand what they are going through. That certainly was a big help for me. I felt quite isolated before and like I was the only one going through my pain. Identifying with others allowed me to accept myself which I found powerful for change.

 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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Natural, while appreciated

Natural, while appreciated for what it was intended to be, no congrats are necessary. My willpower is as strong as my immune system, ego, and self preservation instincts. My "battle" was anything but.

Alcoholism isn't a physical addiction, unlike crack. The two are largely incomparable. If you stop taking crack after becoming addicted, your body doesn't take it well, and most people need to spend time in a med facility.
With alcohol, it's psychological. The day (or two or three, depending) after stopping drinking, you may crave it, but your body doesn't. You don't need to be watched by doctors just to keep you alive.

Anyway, I wasn't necessarily saying that what worked for me will work for everyone. But that the HEART of what worked for me is a prerequisite for stopping for anyone. The heart being my desire to stop. If you don't want to stop doing something bad for you, and aren't willing to try stopping, then you won't stop. And not AA, your family, your friends; not even jail can stop you.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


ex-minister
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 Why do some people lose

 Why do some people lose family, friends, the roof over their head, their freedom and their life just to get another drink? It just a choice right? Two days and your good?

Can the addiction to alcohol be stronger in someone else than it was/is for you?

 

Some say homosexuality is a choice too. Others say they are just born that way. Yet there is no genetic evidence to prove it.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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Actually, there is. Read the

Actually, there is. Read the article and delve into the sources:
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology_and_sexual_orientation
Studies in homo sexuality are very recent, so most people aren't aware of them yet.

For most, excessive drinking over the long term is a way to mask psychological pain or trauma. The apparent cons of excess drinking outweigh the apparent cons of living with an event(s) constantly in mind. So yes, the drive to drink can be stronger in some than others.

I wasn't 'driven' to drink. I'm a representation of a smaller, but still significantly large (though mostly young), group who mostly just enjoyed drinking (a bit too much), and ended up overdoing it. I won't say my life was all flowers and sunshine, but I was better off at the time than I am now in most respects.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


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Vastet wrote:Natural, while

Vastet wrote:
Natural, while appreciated for what it was intended to be, no congrats are necessary. My willpower is as strong as my immune system, ego, and self preservation instincts. My "battle" was anything but.

The congrats was for cutting down, but it wasn't for having a strong willpower. That would be like congratulating someone on landing a modelling gig who is naturally good looking. (edit: clarity.)

Quote:
Alcoholism isn't a physical addiction, unlike crack. The two are largely incomparable. If you stop taking crack after becoming addicted, your body doesn't take it well, and most people need to spend time in a med facility. With alcohol, it's psychological. The day (or two or three, depending) after stopping drinking, you may crave it, but your body doesn't. You don't need to be watched by doctors just to keep you alive.

Claim: Alcohol is not physically addictive.

Status: False.

Evidence:

NIH wrote:

Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually occur within 5 - 10 hours after the last drink, but can occur days later. Symptoms get worse in 48 - 72 hours, and may persist for weeks.

Common symptoms include:

Other symptoms may include:

A severe form of alcohol withdrawal called delirium tremens can cause:

For more information on this severe form of alcohol withdrawal, see: Delirium tremens

Wikipedia wrote:

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is the set of symptoms seen when an individual reduces or stops alcohol consumption after prolonged periods of excessive alcohol intake. Excessive abuse of alcohol leads to tolerance, physical dependence, and an alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The withdrawal syndrome is largely due to the central nervous system being in a hyper-excitable state. Unlike most withdrawals from other drugs, alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. The withdrawal syndrome can include seizures and delirium tremens and may lead to excito-neurotoxicity.[1]


Vastet wrote:
]Anyway, I wasn't necessarily saying that what worked for me will work for everyone.

Exactly my point.

Quote:
But that the HEART of what worked for me is a prerequisite for stopping for anyone. The heart being my desire to stop. If you don't want to stop doing something bad for you, and aren't willing to try stopping, then you won't stop. And not AA, your family, your friends; not even jail can stop you.

I assure you, many many people who genuinely want to stop drinking, are genuinely unable to do so, given their personal circumstances (which can include physical addiction).


More on severe alcohol addiction and withdrawal, aka Delirium Tremens, from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001771/

NIH on Delirium Tremens wrote:

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Delirium tremens

DTs; Alcohol withdrawal - delirium tremens

Last reviewed: March 20, 2011.

Delirium tremens is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that involves sudden and severe mental or nervous system changes.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Delirium tremens can occur when you stop drinking alcohol after a period of heavy drinking, especially if you do not eat enough food.

Delirium tremens may also be caused by head injury, infection, or illness in people with a history of heavy alcohol use.

It is most common in people who have a history of alcohol withdrawal. It is especially common in those who drink 4 - 5 pints of wine or 7 - 8 pints of beer (or 1 pint of "hard" alcohol) every day for several months. Delirium tremens also commonly affects people who have had an alcohol habit or alcoholism for more than 10 years.

Symptoms

Symptoms most often occur within 72 hours after the last drink. However, they may occur up to 7 - 10 days after the last drink.

Symptoms may get worse quickly, and can include:

Other symptoms that may occur:

Signs and tests

Delirium tremens is a medical emergency.

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. Signs may include:

  • Heavy sweating

  • Increased startle reflex

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Problems with eye muscle movement

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Rapid muscle tremors

The following tests may be done:

Treatment

The goals of treatment are to:

  • Save the person's life

  • Relieve symptoms

  • Prevent complications

A hospital stay is needed. The health care team will regularly check:

  • Blood chemistry results, such as electrolyte levels

  • Body fluid levels

  • Vital signs (temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, blood pressure)

Symptoms such as seizures and irregular heartbeat are treated with the following medications:

  • Anticonvulsants such as phenobarbital

  • Central nervous system depressants such as diazepam or lorazepam

  • Sedatives

The patient may need to be put into a sedated state for a week or more until withdrawal is complete. Benzodiazepine medications such as diazepam or lorazepam also help treat seizures, anxiety, and tremors.

Antipsychotic medications such as haloperidol may sometimes be needed for persons with hallucinations. However, these drugs should be avoided if possible because they may contribute to seizures.

Long-term preventive treatment should begin after the patient recovers from immediate symptoms. This may involve a "drying out" period, in which no alcohol is allowed. Total and lifelong avoidance of alcohol (abstinence) is recommended for most people who go through withdrawal. The person should receive treatment for alcohol use or alcoholism, including:

  • Counseling

  • Support groups (such as Alcoholics Anonymous)

The patient should be tested, and if needed, treated for other medical problems that can occur with alcohol use. Such problems may include:

Support Groups

For additional resources, see alcoholism support group.

Expectations (prognosis)

Delirium tremens is serious and may be life threatening. Some symptoms may last for a year or more, including:

  • Emotional mood swings

  • Feeling tired

  • Sleeplessness

Complications

  • Injury from falls during seizures

  • Injury to self or others caused by mental state (confusion/delirium)

  • Irregular heartbeat, may be life threatening

  • Seizures

Calling your health care provider

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if you have symptoms. Delirium tremens is an emergency condition.

Prevention

Avoid or reduce the use of alcohol. Get prompt medical treatment for symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

For more information, see: Alcoholism

References

  1. O'Connor PG. Alcohol abuse and dependence. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 31.

Review Date: 3/20/2011.

Reviewed by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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AA/Atheism

Here is a video of an Atheist member of AA who says that he has no problem with the spirituality of the program :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VemcYxlhQHk&feature=related

However, here is an article from a newspaper where AA pushes against two AA groups that seemed to specialize in working with Atheist and Agnostic members:

http://www.thefix.com/content/do-atheists-have-any-place-aa?page=all

Due to all of the mixed feelings on here about 12 step programs. Here is the best way that I know to present two sides of the fence.

Apparently, as ex-minister and the Atheist in the video above have made clear, it is possible to be an Atheist in AA.

However, articles like the one that I pasted above and similiar stories, as well as my own personal experiences in open AA meetings, I still have concerns about the theistic approach that AA seems to endorse.

I just wish that I could find an Atheist member of AA could tell me how they work the 12 steps with a sponsor, without a god.

Steps 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 12 would be easy for an Atheist to work, as they all involve personal inventory, making amends to those harmed, admitting when you are wrong, and trying to help others.

But, steps 3, 6, 7, and 11 are all about prayer and meditation, turning your life over to god and asking god to remove your defects of character. For example:

Step 3 : Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of god as we understood him. How does an Atheist work this step ? Granted. It says,"god as we understood him,". But isn't the words god and him a type of implication ?

Step 6 : Were entirely ready to have god remove all these defects of character. How does an Atheist work that step ?

Step 7: Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings. How does an Atheist approach this step ?

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with god, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.  How does an Atheist approach that step ?

I am not asking these questions to attack AA, I sincerely want to KNOW, how the Atheist members of AA work these steps.

At the end of the 12 steps, it says :

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives, that probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism and that god could and would if he were sought.

How would an Atheist approach that ?

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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again?

 Are you asking me? or do you prefer someone else to answer?

I thought I had covered it.

 

Everybody's got to believe in something? I believe I will have another beer. Smiling

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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ex-minister wrote: Are you

ex-minister wrote:

 Are you asking me? or do you prefer someone else to answer?

I thought I had covered it.

 

Everybody's got to believe in something? I believe I will have another beer. Smiling

Laughing out loud

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of BEER as we understood it.

Humbly asked BEER to drown our shortcomings.

Sought through bars and liquor stores to improve our conscious contact with BEER as we understood it, drinking only for knowledge of it's will for us and the intoxication to carry that out.

 

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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Interesting coincidence (or

Interesting coincidence (or maybe it's a higher power giving a sign!!!!). I totally was not looking for something to answer your question Harley, but I ended up finding this story completely randomly anyway:

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/28/my-take-an-atheist-at-aa/


 

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My Faithlessness: The atheist way through AA

Editor's note: Marya Hornbacher's latest book, "Waiting: A Nonbeliever’s Higher Power," explores what spirituality can mean to the recovering person who does not believe in God.

By Marya Hornbacher, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Kicked back with his boots on the table at the head of the smoke-dense room, the meeting's leader banged his fist and bellowed, “By the grace of this program and the blood of Jesus Christ, I’m sober today!”

I blinked.

This was not an auspicious beginning for the project of getting my vaguely atheistic, very alcoholic self off the sauce.

I wondered if perhaps I’d wandered into the wrong room. I thought maybe I’d wound up in Alcoholics Anonymous for crown-of-thorn Christians, and in the next room might find AA for lapsed Catholics, and downstairs a group for AA Hare Krishnas and one for AA Ukrainian Jews.

But a decade later, I’ve become aware that 12-step programs are home to people from every religion, denomination, sect, cult, political tilt, gender identity, sexual preference, economic strata, racial and ethnic background, believers in gun rights and abortion rights and the right to home schooling, drinkers of coffee and tea, whiskey and mouthwash, people who sleep on their sides or their stomachs or sidewalks.

Anyone who cares to sober up, in other words, can give it a shot the 12-step way.  The official preamble Alcoholics Anonymous states: "The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

And millions of people want that and find a way to do it in this program. I’m one of them. I was, not to put too fine a point on it, a raging drunk. Now I’m not.

It wasn’t magic; it was brutally hard work to get from point A to B. I do believe I’d be dead without the help of the people and the structure of the steps in AA.

But I don’t believe in God.

And this can be something of a sticking point when you’re sitting in a meeting room, desperate for almost any route out of hell, and someone cites “the blood of Jesus” as the only way to go. Or when you realize that six of AA's 12 steps explicitly refer to God, a Higher Power or He.

But this shouldn't be a dealbreaker. I’m going to make a lot of old-style AA’s cranky with this, but it’s perfectly possible to sober up sans belief in God.

At first that wasn’t clear to me. It’s unclear to most people because AA has a reputation as a cult, a religion unto itself, a bunch of blathering self-helpers, a herd of lemmings or morons, and it isn’t those things, either. It’s a pretty straightforward series of steps, based on spiritual principles, that helps people clean up their lives in a whole lot of ways.

But if you are of an atheistic or strongly agnostic mindset, chances are you’ll walk into a meeting, see the steps hanging on the wall and want to scream, laugh or walk back out.

I tried another tack: I made a valiant attempt to believe. I figured a) these people were funny, kind, and not plastered; b) they believed that some kind of higher power had helped them get sober; c) they knew something I did not.

So I did research. I read every word of AA literature I could find. I read up on the history of half a dozen important religions and a wide variety of frou-frou nonsense. I earnestly discussed my lack of belief with priests, rabbis, fanatics and my father.

People told me their stories — of God, the divine, the power of love, an intelligent creator. Something that made all this. Some origin, some end.

I told them I believed in math. Chaos, I said. Infinity. That sort of thing.

They looked at me in despair.

And not infrequently, they said, “So you think you’re the biggest, most important thing in the universe?”

On the contrary. I think I am among the smallest. Cosmically speaking, I barely exist.

Like anything else, I came into being by the chance, consist mostly of water, am composed of cells that can be reduced and reduced, down to the quarks and leptons and so forth, that make up matter and force. If you broke down all matter, the atom or my body, you’d arrive at the same thing: what scientists call one strange quark, with its half-integer spin.

And I find that not only fascinating but wondrous, awe-inspiring and humbling.

I believe that the most important spiritual principle of AA is humility. The recognition that we are flawed, that we can and must change and that our purpose not only in sobriety but in life is to be of service to others.

I believe that I exist at random, but I do not exist alone; and that as long as my quarks cohere, my entire function on this hurtling planet is to give what I can to the other extant things.

That keeps me sober. Amen.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Marya Hornbacher.

 

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ex-minister
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harleysportster wrote:

harleysportster wrote:

ex-minister wrote:

 Are you asking me? or do you prefer someone else to answer?

I thought I had covered it.

 

Everybody's got to believe in something? I believe I will have another beer. Smiling

Laughing out loud

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of BEER as we understood it.

Humbly asked BEER to drown our shortcomings.

Sought through bars and liquor stores to improve our conscious contact with BEER as we understood it, drinking only for knowledge of it's will for us and the intoxication to carry that out.

 

No the last one is "Sought through prayer and medication to improve...."

 

 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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My 12 Steps

 Hey Harley,

One thing you can hear in meetings is to write your own twelve steps. A couple of years ago I did that and shared it with some program friends. They liked it. Oh, and a couple of them are also atheists. So what does an atheist do with those steps. Here is one answer

  1. Admitted I was powerless over people, places and things highlighted by alcohol which made my life unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe there was help and I couldn't and didn't have to do it all.
  3. I opened up to life and a loving help.
  4. I discovered my history in the light of reality and not through the distortion and denial that alcoholism brings.
  5. I found a safe person who understood, lived the program and told them about my history while they listened w/o judgment because it was I who needed to hear it most. I needed to find out who I was and what was truly important to me, passing back the shame that came my way.
  6. Discovering how I had made my life unmanageable I was ready for recovery.
  7. I continued to ask for help as I needed it knowing full well I was responsible for me and me alone.
  8. I learned in order to treat others well, I had to treat myself well first.
  9. When I broke my true value system I would correct my behavior.
  10. I would acknowledge that I was recovering and was making great strides in caring for myself.
  11. I meditated to discover who I am.
  12. I lived my life keeping the focus on me and sharing my experience when asked.

 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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ex-minister wrote: Hey

ex-minister wrote:

 Hey Harley,

One thing you can hear in meetings is to write your own twelve steps. A couple of years ago I did that and shared it with some program friends. They liked it. Oh, and a couple of them are also atheists. So what does an atheist do with those steps. Here is one answer

  1. Admitted I was powerless over people, places and things highlighted by alcohol which made my life unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe there was help and I couldn't and didn't have to do it all.
  3. I opened up to life and a loving help.
  4. I discovered my history in the light of reality and not through the distortion and denial that alcoholism brings.
  5. I found a safe person who understood, lived the program and told them about my history while they listened w/o judgment because it was I who needed to hear it most. I needed to find out who I was and what was truly important to me, passing back the shame that came my way.
  6. Discovering how I had made my life unmanageable I was ready for recovery.
  7. I continued to ask for help as I needed it knowing full well I was responsible for me and me alone.
  8. I learned in order to treat others well, I had to treat myself well first.
  9. When I broke my true value system I would correct my behavior.
  10. I would acknowledge that I was recovering and was making great strides in caring for myself.
  11. I meditated to discover who I am.
  12. I lived my life keeping the focus on me and sharing my experience when asked.

 

I like that ex-minister. That explains alot.

Thanks for that article, natural.

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


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It was the strength of my

It was the strength of my will that allowed for an easy change in lifestyle, and it doesn't sit well to accept congratulations for simply being who I am. It implies it was difficult, challenging, or even dangerous. When in fact it was as simple as flicking a light switch.

So alcohol can form a dependency after extreme use, but it still isn't physically addictive until excessive use as per your source (It is especially common in those who drink 4 - 5 pints of wine or 7 - 8 pints of beer (or 1 pint of "hard" alcohol) every day for several months.). I never drank so heavily as to be constantly under the influence, and didn't experience any withdrawal.
It doesn't compare to crack or nicotine, which are instant physical addictions that can have instant withdrawal symptoms after a single use. It's more akin to any habit that can negatively impact you if you do it all the time. A sugar addiction, for example.

And I assure you there are millions of people pretending to want to stop because that's what their

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friends and family want

friends and family want rather than what they actually want. I also assure you that the only people who ever quit drinking after allowing it to become habit forming were the ones who actually wanted to stop, or were literally forced to by an outside influence. It remains a prerequisite to quitting that you want to quit.

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Vastet wrote:It was the

Vastet wrote:
It was the strength of my will that allowed for an easy change in lifestyle, and it doesn't sit well to accept congratulations for simply being who I am. It implies it was difficult, challenging, or even dangerous. When in fact it was as simple as flicking a light switch.

Exactly. For other people, in other circumstances, it is not that easy. Exactly my point from my first reply to you.

Vastet wrote:
So alcohol can form a dependency after extreme use, but it still isn't physically addictive until excessive use as per your source (It is especially common in those who drink 4 - 5 pints of wine or 7 - 8 pints of beer (or 1 pint of "hard" alcohol) every day for several months.).

Which sounds like a lot, until you realize how common such severe alcohol addiction is.

Vastet wrote:
I never drank so heavily as to be constantly under the influence, and didn't experience any withdrawal.

Which is why I said:

natural wrote:

Good for you on cutting down significantly. Seriously.

But it's not the same for everyone, and alcohol can actually be physically/chemically addictive. Also, depending on the person and circumstances, 'willpower' alone is not necessarily enough to overcome addiction.

You were able to modify your circumstances to allow yourself to reduce your consumption significantly. Not everyone is capable of doing this on their own.

Vastet wrote:
It doesn't compare to crack or nicotine, which are instant physical addictions that can have instant withdrawal symptoms after a single use.

Which is why I said:

natural wrote:
Alcohol's not as severe as crack, and operates differently in the brain (and especially in the body), and alcohol addiction is different in many ways from crack addiction. But it is still an addiction.

People can climb out of addiction ... sometimes. And sometimes they can't. Some people can do it better than others. But there are many factors, including genetic ones, and not all of them boil down to 'willpower'.

Vastet wrote:
And I assure you there are millions of people pretending to want to stop because that's what their

Irrelevant. My point was simply that there are many people who do want to stop but currently cannot, for different reasons (depending on the person and situation). The purpose of my making this point is because you claimed:

Vastet wrote:
It's about willpower and desire. ... And the reason I was successful was because it's what I wanted. ... That simple. And that's all it takes. If you don't REALLY WANT to stop, but are being peer pressured to, it'll never happen.

Which is false. It's not only about willpower and desire. And those aren't always the only things it takes to overcome addiction.

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Vastet wrote:friends and

Vastet wrote:
friends and family want rather than what they actually want. I also assure you that the only people who ever quit drinking after allowing it to become habit forming were the ones who actually wanted to stop, or were literally forced to by an outside influence. It remains a prerequisite to quitting that you want to quit.

This last part I agree with, and I was not disputing that. Yes, desire is a prerequisite. And no, you can't force someone to quit. My point was elsewhere.

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We seem to be on the same

We seem to be on the same page, more or less.

"Irrelevant. My point was simply "

Irrelevant. MY point was simply that without the desire to stop, you aren't even going to try. That people can want to stop and be unable to is another topic. One I never forwarded.

"Which is false."

Strawman. I never said that the ONLY factor for EVERYONE was the desire to quit, merely that it was a requirement to quitting, and that it was all that was necessary in MY PERSONAL situation.
I agree there is often more to it, just not for me.

I know most people have trouble with addictions. I've watched thousands of people struggle with them up close and personal (people often spend time detox'ing in the psych ward, where I worked for close to ten years; not to mention experiences out in life). But I don't have such problems with addiction. If I want to stop doing something, then I stop.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.