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AA for Atheists – How to Take What You Need and Leave the Rest

G.O.D. is a great acronym. It stands for Group Of Drunks.

It’s a great Higher Power in and of itself. It’s simply an acknowledgement that the group of Alcoholics Anonymous is more powerful and has more ability to promote sobriety & recovery than does the individual alcoholic.

If worry about believing in God or a bearded guy in the sky keeps you from utilizing AA to achieve transformation, consider this a viable option. As anyone who is working a good program in AA will tell you: “Take what you like and leave the rest.”

The Buffet Approach

Ask a therapist what type of therapy they do and they’re very likely to say, “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.” Most of us say that because it’s safe and accepted.

However, I have consistently found that the best clinicians practice eclecticism. They take from many different disciplines and approaches to tailor treatment to the individual, resulting in something that is more personal and therefore more effective. This could be conceptualized as multidimensional, but I just call it the “buffet approach.”

The Buffet Approach at AA Meetings

When you go to a buffet, you take what you want and leave everything that doesn’t appeal to you. We’re free to use the same approach with self help programs. Going to an AA meeting allows one to consult informally with a room full of experts on what does and does not work for them individually and collectively.

Plenty of folks in AA don’t care for religion or rigid belief. They just found that they could not stay sober alone and they found that they needed to have faith in something more powerful than self. Some connect to nature, some to religion, some to spirituality, and some to a Group Of Drunks.

Whatever works for you is okay with them.

Overcoming Your Fears by Giving AA a Try

You can search the world over for people who are trying to change their lives while abstaining from use of drugs and alcohol… or you can attend a local AA meeting.

Despite sharing the fact that I am not an alcoholic, I have consistently been warmly welcomed and included in every AA meeting I’ve attended. This inclusion and respect demonstrates their open mindedness and acceptance.

I’ve found that resistance is almost always fear based. When people object to a singular aspect of something they are probably taking a very limited view. Fear narrows our perspective. It’s not hard to find seemingly compelling reasons why we can’t possibly do the thing we’re afraid to do. Ultimately, the question becomes, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

William James said, “Faith is a bet you can’t lose.” If believing in anything brings one peace or purpose or joy, what’s the harm?

Too many of us fear the freedom of choosing our own beliefs, especially via the buffet approach. My friends in AA remind me, “Religion is for people who are afraid to go to hell and spirituality is for those of us who have already been there.” Spirituality is all inclusive. It is whatever you need it to be. To me, it’s about connection. What we can do together is so much greater than what we can do alone.

Go to a meeting with an open mind. What do you have to lose?

Clinical Social Worker/Therapist
My story is I'm forever a work in progress and I love connecting with REAL people who are doing great things. I'm blessed to be making a living doing something I love. I'm a proud dad and the luckiest husband ever. Check out my recovery community at SoberNow.com. Thanks! Jim

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