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Atheists and the 12 steps?

So i am a member of a 12 step program(yay I’ve been clean for 4 years!) anyway i was thinking about the steps, and was wondering how an atheist would “work” the steps? Any atheists that have knowledge of the steps and what you think of them?
* Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
* Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
* Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
* Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
* Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
* Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
* Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
* Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
* Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
* Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
* Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out
* Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs
Nerd, Who’s calling you an addict? I think your misunderstanding the question.
Mortimer, i didnt know that, thank you!
I have allot of friends who see GOD as Group Of Drunks, so the group is something greater then them…
The lime, Congrats on your 3 years!
Dreamstuff- no AA and other 12 step programs are sufficient through their own contributions.


  1. I used to be a drug addict. The 12 steps didn’t work for me because I’m an atheist. However, a free-thinking critical anaylsis of how bad drugs were screwing up my life did the trick. I’ve been clean for 3 years..

  2. I think I would rather stay on drugs than delude myself with a god. I’m sure there are 12 step programs that don’t involve mumbo jumbo.

  3. For myself, I just made a distinction between the God that you hear and read about every day from Evangelicals and a “higher power”.
    I’ve always doubted the God of the bible. I’ve never doubted that there could be a higher power though. Something that we cannot put our minds around.
    So, to answer your question, I guess that’s how I get around it. Thinking of something bigger than me.

  4. I’m an atheist and I ignore the steps. They were designed by evangelical christians and rely on superstition rather than science to “help” people. AA, for example, has been shown to be no better than going cold turkey for helping people quit drinking. It’s got the same success rate we find from people just quitting on their own.
    I drink in moderation and I do just fine. For those who need help there are grops like Moderation Management that show far better results than 12 step programs in keeping people’s drinking from becoming a problem in their lives.

  5. As a pagan, I’d have issues with these steps. From the very first one – admitting you are powerless. No, you’re not. You gave in to temptation and you have to recognize that you have either a mental or physiological addiction, and have to get into rehab. No religion involved. The power that can restore you to ‘sanity’ is your own will power and the help of others in the form of rehab or whatever. The idea of turning your life over to god is NOT TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for your addiction. Period. You are dumping it all on god and expecting him to do it for you. And if you DO get clean, you give him the credit rather than yourself. How pathetic and unfair to yourself. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m not an addict; if this is how 12 step programs work I would just as soon stay addicted.

  6. Is that the official wording? If so, it looks like the program doesn’t want atheists there.
    I hope it doesn’t receive any government funding.

  7. Atheists use alternative programs that don’t require belief in God.
    I know a couple of people who used Rational Recovery and it worked very well for them.
    EDIT: Also, congrats on the four years. I wish you good luck in your continued sobriety.

  8. I’m not a big fan of the 12 Step groups since they tend to just substitute on addiction for another.
    The really bottom line is that one chooses to drink, shoot-up, spend money, gamble, etc. One can choose not to. God will not/does not and cannot do anything about addiction. It is just personal choice.

  9. I’ve never had the problem myself, but I have several friends who are both atheists and ex-AA members. They ended up in AA on court order, but ended up joining secular addiction organizations.
    These organizations attempt to provide the same community, companionship and help as AA, but from a secular standpoint. They seek to empower people and help them to solve the problems that made them start drinking to begin with. It seemed to work well for my friends.

  10. I don’t agree with step 1.
    Step 2 doesn’t even make sense to me.
    Step 3, yea well if some evidence proves that he exists I’ll reconsider what i said about step 2.
    Step 4, I’m constantly reflecting and thinking over what I’ve done, I don’t see a reason to hav a special event or reminder to do it.
    Step 5 – I have never failed to admit that i’m wrong when i am. and YOU dropped the mirror (:
    Step 6, The word ‘God’ is being referenced to way too much for steps you’re addressing to an atheist.
    Step 7, I’ll work on that myself, god could do with some help himself proving his own existence.
    Step 8, i’m not gonna write any more about the same stuff, it’s all self-evaluation basically.
    Step 9, isn’t this just a continuation to step 8?
    Step 10, Right, this is very [sarcasm]different[/sarcasm] from step 5 and what i’ve been talking about.
    Step 11, Every objective study has shown that prayer does NOT work.
    Step 12, define spiritual.

  11. Notice ” as we understand god.” AA is a spiritual, not religious” journey. People are asked to find their “higher power.” Many choose the ocean. Some chose the universe. Some even chose their AA group as their higher power. It’s not necessairly about the Abrahamic god. I worked in CD in patient treatment units for many years.

  12. First off…congrats on four years, that’s awesome!
    I don’t know…I think higher power could mean whatever you want it to…even if it means believing in a greater, better self….the ideal you!
    I had problems in my younger years with substance abuse and attended AA for a while, I am not an atheist, but balked a bit at the Christian base of the organization. The serenity prayer is just a nice thought…so I went with it. Anything to help me achieve the better me was worth it at the time.

  13. The program of the 12 steps is put there because Jesus is unable to deliver people from alcohol/addiction on his own. If he was able, there would be no 12 steps. That is why the steps are there….for ALL….those who believe in a weak Jesus or no Jesus at all. I am a former pastor who has much experience in 12 steps….Jesus delivers NOBODY! Only those who work the steps can get clean. Jesus is weak!


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