As an atheist I was worried that I was going to have to start praying to a god that I didn’t believe in so I could get sober. Often times in the rooms of recovery you might hear that you cannot get sober without believing in a god. I believe that this type of thinking keeps some people out of the rooms today which in return might lead to some people not finding long term recovery.
In regards to 12-step recovery the term “God of your understanding” gets used. This doesn’t mean that your “God” needs to be an invisible being in a castle in the heavens. During my process of working the 12 steps my “God” was something simply larger than myself. I used the recovery community as a whole, which to me was something that I needed to help keep me accountable. One of the key components to 12-step recovery is the understanding that you are not alone and you need to lean on something outside yourself for support. Chances are that if you were able to do get clean and sober on your own you might of already. The understanding that your only option is to turn to others for help is a huge breakthrough in most people’s recovery.
There is a difference between religion and spirituality. Spirituality is a very important component to a successful recovery but again this does not mean that you need to “believe” in a faith based God. Spirituality really just means to be concerned about other beings. It’s important to become a better person in recovery and I think that spirituality helps this process. Living well and taking care of yourself and others is the best form of living amends that there is. As people in active addiction lots of times we lied, cheated and stole so now in this new life of recovery we need to live the best we can.
I think that the usage of God in recovery is mostly because at the time the 12 steps programs were created most people were religious. Today there are certainly more religious people in the world than they are not however the amount of atheist or agnostics has grown exponentially especially in the large cities of the US. In order for recovery programs to stay relevant they need to be able to change with the times. There are many agnostic 12 step meetings in addition to alternative recovery programs such as SMART RECOVERY and Refuge Recovery.
With the growing amount of atheists in 12-step recovery I would advocate to potentially soften the tone towards people that don’t “believe” in God and welcome them to recovery. The rooms of recovery are for all being that want to get well. Regardless of their spiritual or religious beliefs.