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Is 12-Step Recovery a Religious Program?

Newcomers to 12-Step recovery meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous may hear terms like “God” and assume that the program is religious in nature. Fortunately, 12-Step recovery is decidedly non-religious. However, there are concepts relating to spirituality and spiritual experiences, as well as a focus on a Higher Power. Fortunately, these ideas can fit with nearly any form of religious or non-religious belief.

There is a vast difference between religion and spirituality. We do not have to take on any sort of religious beliefs. Instead, we focus on our own personal beliefs in spirituality and a power greater than ourselves, whatever we may choose it to be. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains, “When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book. Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you. At the start, this was all we needed to commence spiritual growth, to effect our first conscious relation with God as we understood Him.” Our concept of a power greater than ourselves can be entirely of our own understanding and not religious in any way.

Many people enter into 12-Step recovery with an aversion to all things spiritual. It is not uncommon for an individual to hear the term “God” and be immediately disheartened. However, many men and women in recovery simply use the term “God” as a stand in for “a higher power of my own understanding.” The Big Book explains, “Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another’s conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with Him. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new power and direction, provided we took other simple steps. We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of the Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men.” Recovery is possible whether we have strict religious beliefs or entirely non-religious beliefs. All we need to commence spiritual growth is honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness to pick up the spiritual toolkit of 12-Step recovery.

You can discover a life of happiness, joyousness, and freedom in sobriety. You can make the decision to seek help today and begin building a brighter future on the journey of recovery. Resilient House in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, offers a safe location where clients can relate to staff and other clients in similar walks of life and learn to rebuild their relationships and roles within their communities. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call today: (833) 242-6431