AA - NA and your higher power

Ken G.
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AA - NA and your higher power

  What is the real purpose in telling people that when going thru an alcohol or drug program , that they must surrender to a higher power ?.

 


Dray
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I've had a problem with this

I've had a problem with this for some time.  My mother was required to join AA after an incident at her long time job, when her addiction was actually to pain pills...

Ever since shes joined, I find a new pile of "spritual healing" books on the floor of the office or a new religious "inspirational" poster hanging on the wall whenever i go back to my parents.  One time I went, she was actually having an AA meeting, and i heard her chastising an atheist AA member because she didnt want to take part in the prayer - something along the lines of "How dare she think shes bigger than her addiciton and thinking she can do it without a higher power".  I would have said something but my father asked me not to get involved.   This was coming from a woman who wasnt the least bit religious before.

As much as AA and NA helps people, the need for a higher power isnt a necessity at all, at least from what ive seen.  The prayer they do really seems arbitrary compared to the rest of the meeting where they talk about the problems they have had with alcohol.  The power they get to fight off their addiction comes from the community and relationships they build within these groups, and its a shame many of them cant put their faith in themselves instead of some higher power.

 


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Quote:"How dare she think

Quote:

"How dare she think shes bigger than her addiciton and thinking she can do it without a higher power"

Methinks somebody has major self-esteem issues. I imagine AA does that to you. Hey, if you're kicking addiction, it sure helps to be told that you are worthless and incapable of doing things by yourself. After all, nobody uses addictive substance as a crutch because of precisely those reasons...

Wait...

 

 

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 A friend of mine is an

 A friend of mine is an extremely active member of AA.  His biggest problem with the organization was the reliance on 'a thing greater than oneself'.  His claim is that it reduces new members esteems while letting long time members feel superior.  There's a lot of testimonial to that.

 

Another interesting fact..  If we accept that alcoholism is a disease, there is a 5% natural remission rate annually.  Meaning that 5% of alcoholics just stop being alcoholic each year.  The rate of remission of members of AA is exactly the same.  One difference is that the suicide rate is double among members of AA than it is among non-AA alcoholics.

 

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deludedgod wrote:...I

deludedgod wrote:

...I imagine AA does that to you. Hey, if you're kicking addiction, it sure helps to be told that you are worthless and incapable of doing things by yourself. After all, nobody uses addictive substance as a crutch because of precisely those reasons...

Wait...

 

That is a good point. I have a friend who at the time of starting AA thanked god for getting him sober. But eventually grew to resent having to go to stay sober and sort of rewrote history as to never really needing the group or a god. I went to ACOA and it actually led me to becoming a believer. This is actually part of a larger issue as to how much self-esteem is healthy. You usually start in AA pretty self-obcessed already. I think the major benefit of the meetings is to learn to be real and take off the masks we show to others usually. Unfortunately, we can't do that in church. But, if you don't need that anymore, great! I don't believe in mandatory support. I think any group dynamic is somewhat self-serving. Not just AA. Its hard to single them out for trying to help others. But I agree. To stay there indefinitely without every graduating seems a bit strange.

 


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Ken G. wrote:  What is the

Ken G. wrote:

  What is the real purpose in telling people that when going thru an alcohol or drug program , that they must surrender to a higher power ?.

I had a conversation with my AA-going friend about this very topic.  His take on it was, "this 'higher power' isn't necessarily a religious thing, though many see it that way.  It's an admission that you need help from an outside source, be it a person or a lamppost, because you've already shown that you have a problem living without that help."

I didn't like the reasoning, but it's working for my friend.  In this instance, I'm okay with the placebo effect.

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AA/NA use that format mostly

AA/NA use that format mostly to absolve the chemically dependent person of responsibility for the addiction and the outcome. It's not your fault that you're an addict because an addiction strikes at random like cancer, and it's not your fault if you relapse because it's like cancer which comes back sometimes, and if you quit, it's not because of your own actions, either. It's like the "Don't blame me--I have a disease" method of saying "I made bad choices and got myself into this mess. Now I need to get myself out." Quitting drugs for the new addiction of permanent dependency on AA/NA.


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We've discussed similar

We've discussed similar things on here before. I used to work in the D&A treatment field. 12 step programs are pretty much a cult.

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Dray wrote:  One time I

Dray wrote:

  One time I went, she was actually having an AA meeting, and i heard her chastising an atheist AA member because she didnt want to take part in the prayer - something along the lines of "How dare she think shes bigger than her addiciton and thinking she can do it without a higher power".  I would have said something but my father asked me not to get involved.   This was coming from a woman who wasnt the least bit religious before.

That's piece of crap... Higher power? We are that higher power, and we can find any amount of necessary power within us, we must search for it and it should be there.  People can do amazing things, if they don't care about puny details, as for example, "how". Why should we pray to a part of ourselves? That's weird, and that's exactly what most of theists does.
What is a difference between invoking a higher power and using an own second hand as a help? Principially none. By idiotic worshipping of these inner or higher reserves we just separate ourselves from them and consider ourselves to be unworthy. This should stop, we must be aware of our potential, as we are aware of all our limbs, knowledge and talents, as we use them when we need it. People humble ourselves, hoping to be heightened in front of God, but there's nobody around to give them this opposite of what they obviously want. If they want to feel like a piece of crap, in hope to be blessed by God, they will stay as a piece of crap and God's blessing will be delayed on undecided time, so they will always have something to look forward to.
Ego, we must build ego, that makes us powerful.
When we will already have it, have a great and powerful personality, like when a piano and chatter in saloon pauses for a while, when a main hero of wild west film walks in there, then we can do something else with it, but first, we need that ego and it's power.

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Ken G. wrote:  What is the

Ken G. wrote:

  What is the real purpose in telling people that when going thru an alcohol or drug program , that they must surrender to a higher power ?.

 

Trading one drug for another. 12 step programs can be highly addictive. People keep going to them.

 

It's like a psychiatrist that really could fix one's problems, he'd be out of business real fast.

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Worst part is they pretty

Worst part is they pretty much force people into theism - that's why courts no longer can mandate 12 step programs. The chapter in their "big book" called "We Agnostics" says it's ok at first to use the group itself as a higher power, but the way it's worded is "maybe once you're a bit more mature you'll believe in God." Disgusting.

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MattShizzle wrote:Worst part

MattShizzle wrote:
Worst part is they pretty much force people into theism - that's why courts no longer can mandate 12 step programs.
What courts are these?

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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Crutches are needed sometimes

   Even though I don't endorse the use of a higher power or the 12 step solution ,it reminds me of the "One Size Fits All " mentality , but  when you see the placebo effect that works on a hard core junkie or a coke whore,it seems to me to be a usefull tool in rehab. I was in a 28 day program and I seen people that seemed honestly moved by the inspirational bulls<>t that was in their 12 steps book ,and I remember this young girl , a coke whore from K&A ,who was so nasty ,and rude to everyone,not just the staff .And with in two day's there she was walking around with a "Bible" and was very nice .So when I saw this change in her behavior I asked her "Hey Joan...what happened to you ,your not cursing anybody out today.Then she pulls out her bible and said that with the help of god's words she has changed her life !!! I 'm thinking "Yeah Right" , but what I said was that when I read the bible it did absolutely nothing for me ,and then she said that I didn't read it right ,she said ,as she was leafing thru the pages,that you got to read certain passages with other proverbs etc......... so now knowing that she was just playing the part,I asked the head counselor if he noticed the change in Joan's behavior and he was kind of laughing inside ,and say's to me 'Yeah she's quite a character ,let me tell you something....this is a game that junkies and prisoner's play all the time  ,you see they want us to believe that they don't have any more problems there for they should be released from rehab.,or prison. Just because they're Dumb ,they think that we're a bunch of Idiots.    

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There was a case about a

There was a case about a year ago I think - the appeals court said 12-step can't be mandated - they have to allow a secular alternative - the appeals court agreed that forcing 12 step would violate freedom of religion.

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MattShizzle wrote:There was

MattShizzle wrote:
There was a case about a year ago I think - the appeals court said 12-step can't be mandated - they have to allow a secular alternative - the appeals court agreed that forcing 12 step would violate freedom of religion.
What level? State? Feds? I'm working with several people now who have court ordered AA.


 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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I think it was a federal

I think it was a federal court that made the decision.


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I'm really glad you started

I'm really glad you started a thread about this, Ken, because I was just thinking about it today.

I do maintenance work for a local rehab facility, and I've seen the strange inner workings of addiction recovery up close.  One of the buildings is an inpatient 3-week detox.  It's an absolute madhouse, obviously.  It's actually far more practical than the outpatient facilities in that one of its primary functions is keeping the patients away from drugs and alcohol.  Most of the meetings are closed off, but from what I've been able to observe, quite a bit of indoctrination takes place behind closed doors.  What initially rubbed me the wrong way is how the counselors interact with the patients--they're treated like children, doing pipe cleaner exercises, making magazine collages with construction paper and Elmer's glue, the whole bit.  It's actually quite a bit like vacation bible school.  I've never been able to sit in on a session personally, but a great deal of what the patients are taught spills out through their "art" exercises.

But what really got me going was observing the outpatient facility--primarily the art exercises that they produce.  They typically display them on the walls for everyone to see, and I was taken aback by a few of them.  I guess it's standard procedure for them to take a picture of each patient when they begin treatment, and then take another picture when they've completed the 12 steps.  The "before" picture is pasted on the left side of a piece of construction paper, and written below it are that person's perceived negative characteristics--"lonely", "afraid", "selfish", "unreliable", "depressed", "self-destructive", etc.--and on the right side the "after picture is pasted, with positive attributes written below--"clean", "happy", "reliable", "God-fearing", "confident", "constructive", etc.  An obvious problem with this is the fact that while the patient may very well have developed or rediscovered some or all of those positive attributes, it's not like they were totally bad before they completed the 12 steps, and are now totally good after completion--they were likely a combination of both good and bad, though the scales probably tip more in favor of positive attributes now.  I have a problem with it though because it sort of brainwashes them into believing that they were completely bad "then" and completely good "now"--but then and now may not be as far removed as they're being taught to think.  It tricks them into believing that all of their bad traits have been replaced, which is not the case at all.  They've just been put at bay temporarily in most cases. 

That's not the worst part, though.  Below some of the "before and after" projects they posted some therapy-based updates, in the form of an added piece of construction paper with aphorisms and mantras scrawled on them.  Some of the stand outs were "Live by blind faith", "God didn't bring me this far to drop me on my butt", and the one that really sent me for a loop, "Nothing bad can happen when you do the right thing."  That's right.  "Nothing bad can happen when you do the right thing."  When I saw it I wanted to take out a pen and add, "People suffer and die every day while doing the right thing." 

It really dawned on me that they not only force a very vague, convoluted notion of God onto these people (who probably don't want it to begin with), but they essentially teach them to avoid the bleak reality of their condition--that they are responsible for their actions, even the bad ones. 


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Art exercize !!!

 jmm wrote about the "art" exercises ,which in my opinion sounds good , teaching creative skills , but when mixed with the 12 step Bulls<>t, it gets pretty weird . most people they say are already dealing with the positive vs. the negative in everyday life , it's a fine balance that we all walk .what people need in my opinion , is for people to pull themselves up by their own"bootstraps" and develop self sufficient skills and look at the realities in Life . AA and NA seems to be an offshoot of church teachings,that should be banned from Rehabs. It's brainwashing for adults that have a chemical problem or an emotional problem,it's a shame that our society has such nonsense in these facilities              

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Matt, was it this case?

Matt, was it this case?


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No, it was more recent.

No, it was more recent.


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kellym78 wrote:Quitting

kellym78 wrote:
Quitting drugs for the new addiction of permanent dependency on AA/NA.

I'd take the new drug, frankly. My father went into AA, and while annoying, his addiction to AA is much better than his addiction to alcohol. Far and away more preferable. It's true that you're just replacing the one with the other, and I've seen it, but as a band-aid to all sorts of terrible behaviour, it works well.

I have a feeling it's the prevalent treatment because no systematic alternative exists. It's the default "support group" in the absence of a properly moderated support group. It's also the cheapest method possible, because you don't need to have a qualified moderator, and a qualified moderator would have to be paid a fair amount.

Obviously I don't agree with the underlying philosophy, but I probably wouldn't complain if I had a schizophrenic relative who believed in a Giant Magic Bunny to get by. I view addiction through the same lens, and would have to pick my battles.

Is there any alternative secular therapy?

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jmm wrote:That's right. 

jmm wrote:

That's right.  "Nothing bad can happen when you do the right thing."  When I saw it I wanted to take out a pen and add, "People suffer and die every day while doing the right thing."

In my non-clinical experience, it's typical of the addict to have a perfectionist streak. "The four steps to success" or "The seven pillars of good living" are the kinds of things that appeal to an addict's sense of perfection and oppressive order. I say "oppressive" because they set themselves up for failure with that perfectionism, as if needing interaction from a parent in the form of validation, punishment or reward. Not surprising, then, that the program gives them a "higher power" to replace the dysfunctional superego that seems to drive their whole process of self-punishment and self-destruction.

jmm wrote:
It really dawned on me that they not only force a very vague, convoluted notion of God onto these people (who probably don't want it to begin with), but they essentially teach them to avoid the bleak reality of their condition--that they are responsible for their actions, even the bad ones.

The addicts that I've known are well aware that they are responsible for their actions. Not only that, but like a child who believes in magical thinking, they take undue responsibility for things that aren't under their control. The addiction is a control issue already, so it just gets more convoluted. Things like the "serenity prayer" (Let me accept the things I cannot change, or something like that) are obviously targeted at that kind of thinking.

But yes, it's indoctrination, and I wish I could invent a good alternative.

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There is something called

There is something called "SOS" not sure exactly what it stands for - I know the 2 S's are "secular" and "sobriety."

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SOS

MattShizzle wrote:

There is something called "SOS" not sure exactly what it stands for - I know the 2 S's are "secular" and "sobriety."

you do, hun?  SOS stands for save ourselves.  it's affiliated with cfi (center for inquiry).

[edit: they spell it Save Our Selves, though.  there's one here in DC - they meet on Wednesday nights.  Interestingly enough, at the same time a local social atheist group here holds their happy hours.  not sure if that was intended or just a coincidence though.]


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Only problem is AA/NA is

Only problem is AA/NA is literally everywhere - but that SOS is likely only in big cities.


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MattShizzle wrote:Only

MattShizzle wrote:

Only problem is AA/NA is literally everywhere - but that SOS is likely only in big cities.

well matt, it's a step in the right direction.  at one time aa/na was only in a few places.  i'd encourage people to support efforts like this.  you know, sos is not limited to those without god belief, fyi.

in a few years, i'd be interested to see what sort of success rates sos has as compared to aa.


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AA really is a bit like a

AA really is a bit like a cult - the rituals, the meetings (many of them go to meetings once a day or more), the dogma (they say it's the only way - and a pretty rigid way of doing things.) Also the one-liners they use all the time. They also pretty much assume someone's an alcoholic sometimes. There's also no way out - they are supposed to keep doing it the rest of their lives. When someone does start drinking again they say it was because they weren't using the program the right way - rather than admitting it's no more effective than other methods and likely less effective than some.

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shelleymtjoy

shelleymtjoy wrote:

MattShizzle wrote:

There is something called "SOS" not sure exactly what it stands for - I know the 2 S's are "secular" and "sobriety."

you do, hun?  SOS stands for save ourselves.  it's affiliated with cfi (center for inquiry).

[edit: they spell it Save Our Selves, though.  there's one here in DC - they meet on Wednesday nights.  Interestingly enough, at the same time a local social atheist group here holds their happy hours.  not sure if that was intended or just a coincidence though.]

 

Secular Organizations for Sobriety

SOS Sobriety is just one web site in the family of SOS web sites. ... Secular Organizations for Sobriety also known as Save Our Selves is dedicated to ...

 

Wish in one hand, shit in the other, see which one fills up first.


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i stand corrected.

i stand corrected.


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Holy moly. That site needs

Holy moly. That site needs to be re-designed, it looks like crap.