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Thread: Secular Alcoholics Anonymous

  1. #1

    Default Secular Alcoholics Anonymous

    Yesterday, as I was leaving a meeting at a community health centre,, I couldn't help but notice a poster on the bulletin board promoting a new program being run out of our mental health hospital. It's an Alcoholics Anonymous program which offers support to alcoholics without the religious doctrine. Participants are not required to accept a higher power into their lives.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa...mous-1.2936718

    The group is called Secular Recovery Ottawa and it has meeting spaces in several locations throughout the city, including the mental health hospital. The hospital has stated that it is not endorsing or denigrating religious or philosophical beliefs, however it supports and evaluates programs based on their success rates and evidence-based research. I'm happy to see people who are suffering from alcoholism be offered a supportive environment without having religious or supernatural forced upon them.

  2. #2

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    While the secular version is probably an improvement (AA almost leans to blaming God for their addictions), it's by and large shown that 12-step is pure hokum. You're just as likely to recover from your addiction spontaneously without doing anything than a long term outcome in 12 step.

  3. #3

    Default Observations...

    Bearing in mind that what I learned about AA/NA, as an observer - was around 20-years ago... in a moderate sized, fairly conservative town, with a fairly depressed economy... that had nearly as many various churches, as it did bars/pubs/taverns (there was no shortage of spirit there - of one kind or another)...

    Even though I didn't particularly condone the non-secular aspects... most people there didn't seem to mind the Theist aspects; including, one person who had stated a rather Atheist leaning...

    What troubled me about those groups in particular was, that there were many who appeared to be addicted, much like a co-dependency... to the group/meetings and, sponsors, themselves...

    While, there certainly was a physical-health benefit to sparing livers and brain-cells... it seemed to be more in effect, as a sand-box or, quarantine, rather than a respite, that would lead to empowerment through education and restructuring, to each person... and, as it's so often noted by AA/NA critiques... ingraining one's powerlessness, was a stated goal or, determination...

    It was the endgame... Believe in God and, be powerless... (seems like a sort of regression to me...)

    Now, I would be remiss if, I didn't mention that at that time... I held a broad-sweeping brush of contempt, for the common religious types there... Just as I was struggling, to get the Father, who art my sire - who 'loved' me... by beating me and the rest of the family and, with outrages unpredictable and violent, would condemn my every fiber of my being - I struggled to get him out of my life and, out of my head...

    All the while - the religious sects, where seemingly all to eager to tell of another Father who also 'loved' me... only, he is invisible and exists everywhere, he would easily see me, to burn in hell, for all of eternity... that I was given this life to live; so-long as I didn't actually try to live it - that I was given autonomy of choice but, to use it, is a sin (unless I used it to choose to be powerless)... I've over-simplified yet, that's what it was like for me then...

    Also of note... I have met many a religious sort who, behaved as decent caring people (at least to my face...)

    I digress...

    Whether it's secular or not... psychology, spirituality, science, politics, what-have-you...

    Any of it can become a sort of addiction or, perhaps better said, a dependency...

    Alcohol, drugs and, I believe that even our own body's chemicals and reactions... tend to start out as one thing necessary or benign yet, can take on a life of their own...

    Addressing those issues effectively - may be a matter of a few to, several disciplines... in a particular order or, at once...

    I'm hopeful, to see a secular option for those that it suits better... I do hope that they don't simply employ... a replacement dogma and or mantra instead, working in the dynamic and varied ways of each person and, the collective...



    Quote Originally Posted by Revised
    Allow us grace to accept sincerely,
    the things that we may not be able to change,
    Courage to change the things
    which ought to be changed,
    and the Wisdom to distinguish
    one from the other.

    Living one day at a time,
    Appreciating one moment at a time,
    Accepting hardship as a part of life not, it's entirety,
    taking all that may be wrong,
    yet, not with the ideals of fantasy alone,
    Trusting that nature is probably right,
    as we are all part of nature too,
    So that we may be reasonably content in this life,
    And quite respectful, that life began before our time,
    that life is now and, we might know our influence to a better future even if, not for ourselves.
    -Marka

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marka View Post
    What troubled me about those groups in particular was, that there were many who appeared to be addicted, much like a co-dependency... to the group/meetings and, sponsors, themselves...
    Speaking for myself, as a sample size of one, that's not all bad. If you're someone with an addictive personality, or addictive tendencies, or whatever you want to call it.... Is it a bad thing to shift that obsessive focus from something self-destructive to something neutral, or even arguably positive? A lot of the physical/athletic things I do might be objectively regarded as ridiculous, yet if I wasn't obsessing on that, it could easily be drugs, alcohol or god forbid... model railroading.

    I think Starrunner is in a similar situation.

    Edit: Yes, I believe some people are more subject than others to obsessive/addictive tendencies and behaviors. Whether that's tied to specific behaviors or substances I don't know for sure, but I suspect from my own experience that it is possible to shift your dependency from one thing to another with reasonable chance of success. Alcohol or other substances for endorphins, as an example.

  5. #5

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by Maxx View Post
    Speaking for myself, as a sample size of one, that's not all bad. If you're someone with an addictive personality, or addictive tendencies, or whatever you want to call it.... Is it a bad thing to shift that obsessive focus from something self-destructive to something neutral, or even arguably positive? A lot of the physical/athletic things I do might be objectively regarded as ridiculous, yet if I wasn't obsessing on that, it could easily be drugs, alcohol or god forbid... model railroading.

    I think Starrunner is in a similar situation.

    Edit: Yes, I believe some people are more subject than others to obsessive/addictive tendencies and behaviors. Whether that's tied to specific behaviors or substances I don't know for sure, but I suspect from my own experience that it is possible to shift your dependency from one thing to another with reasonable chance of success. Alcohol or other substances for endorphins, as an example.
    I don't ascribe to the "addictive personality" so much as a propensity or, as you said "tendency", which is in my estimation still a matter of a conditioned-predisposition - My intended distinction, is that I assert that it's not something innate or, unchangeable though, still valid as a part of processing or, discovery of methods... (yeah - that is a trigger word for me )



    Is it a bad thing to shift that obsessive focus from something self-destructive to something neutral, or even arguably positive?
    No - temporarily or intermittently, though... I think that for the long-term, the ability to regularly practice moderation, is the primary goal... If, it is in-fact, an obsession (the domination of one's thoughts or feelings)... I believe that it still points to an underlying issue, that ought to be resolved...

    I understand that running and cycling for instance; can also be a time of contemplation and introspection - that being the case, I would think that it becomes a balanced method...

    Otherwise, obsessive contemplation and introspection without balancing measures such as physical activity and social engagement; would be presumably more healthy than a rampant alcoholic too yet, it's still not a balanced method...

    A drink or two, here and there; is something neutral, or even arguably positive... yet, the dependency and/or addiction - is at the heart of the matter (in my estimation).

    If we're playing keep-a-way from our life or life in general... it becomes an understandable means of reprieve - in moderation however, if or when used say... compulsively - that even a short duration of cessation, is perceived or felt or realized, as intolerable or, significantly uncomfortable... The...

    "Houston, we have a problem" (trope or not )

    ** Unfortunately, I must take my leave now... I hope to get back to this soon**

    to be continued...


    Many thanks,
    -Marka

  6. #6

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    Hunh! This discussion has actually brought up past issues that I hadn't thought about in quite awhile.

    Okay, first of all, it brings up a recollection of an old t-shirt I had many, many years ago which proudly proclaimed: "I'm not an alcoholic, I'm a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings."

    Anyway, moving on....

    I'm not opposed to a support group that also provides religious counsel to those that want it, it simply bothers me that it seems to be the only model and that people have to accept religious dogma that necessitates a belief in a supernatural being in order to get support. I also believe that the requirement to accept a 'higher power' in the participants' life teaches them that they are powerless and have no control over their lives until they turn it over to god. The admission price to this group is too high and it enables, or rather encourages, weakness and dependency.


    Maxx brought up some interesting points which I really wasn't even thinking about at the time I posted this thread, but yes, he's on to something. I was wasting away in alcoholism and depression until I took up running nearly thirty eight years ago. I've always said that running saved my life many years ago, and I believe it with all my heart. It has helped me cope with a tough life and it continues to help me face some days that would be considered by many to be highly stressful, long, and chaotic.

    Running has been my religion for decades and I doubt that I could function without it. Perhaps that does qualify as an addiction. I think it might. I went from drinking a bottle of Southern Comfort every night to running full length marathons and posted some excellent times. I was addicted to what they call the 'runner's high,' that feeling of euphoria after a long, arduous run. There is tons of scientific research substantiating the physiological release of beta endorphins during long distance running and the calming, peaceful effect it can have on the body.

    I guess this whole discussion just reminded me of what I always joked about with my friends in my early years of running: Whether it's alcohol or running, I'll try anything as long as I can do it to excess. And yes there was a lot of excess. I pushed my body past the physical limits and went from one injury onto the next. It took a few years and many, many visits to our sports clinic, and a lot of trial-and-error before I was running free of injury and able to focus on my goals.

    Is it an addiction? Am I dependent on it? Perhaps, but look at what this addiction has done for me. It got me off an alcohol addiction. It got me off smoking cigarettes and weed. It helped me get over all those negative, destructive self images of myself after growing up in an abusive home. It gave me the strength to quit a mundane miserable existence working in the government to go back to school and do something meaningful with my life. I did this on my own and I did it for myself. Good luck to AA in trying to come up with similar successes.
    Last edited by Starrunner; 20-Nov-2016 at 01:53.

  7. #7

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    I drank heavily until 1985 when I technically died from a bleeding ulcer. There's nothing like quitting cold turkey. I've told the story before. I was being wheeled out to a waiting vehicle to take me to the hospital when I passed out, went through the tunnel of light and saw my parents at the end of the tunnel. There was a bright light and this incredible feeling of peace and happiness. Then there was a rushing sound and I was conscious, back in the wheel chair. Five units of blood later and a week in the hospital and I was back home.

    There are a lot of help organization that don't use religion or a reference to a higher power. People have a number of choices to find something that works for them. I've always worked hard and worked several jobs. My work by its nature, put a lot of pressure and anxiety on me. As a music director, you have an entire congregation to please, and everyone thinks they're an expert, and everyone has an opinion which they feel compelled to express. That's not why I drank, but the fun church people didn't help.

    There are always reasons why people abuse alcohol, drugs, or something else that's harmful. When all is said and done, you have to learn how to deal with those causes, and then beating the addiction is a lot easier.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by willnotwill View Post
    While the secular version is probably an improvement (AA almost leans to blaming God for their addictions), it's by and large shown that 12-step is pure hokum. You're just as likely to recover from your addiction spontaneously without doing anything than a long term outcome in 12 step.
    I take offense to that statement. Have YOU ever been in a 12 step program and tried to DO it? I'm taking about being willing enough to get a sponsor, and listen to basic directions.

    Not trying to make this a personal attack - I want to make sure future addicts don't see some opinion quoted as fact, and kill them selves.

    My experience:
    I've been sober for 7+ years, and have seen people die from this disease. Close friends. So yeah, this is personal.

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