12-step programs.

DG
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12-step programs.#1
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:11pm
How does it work if you can't get past your agnosticism - or is it even possible?
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re: 12-step programs.#2
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:12pm
use the Stepp Sisters instead.
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re: 12-step programs.#2
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:16pm
You make "God" or "Higher Power" into what resonates for you. Very simple. Do you really believe that every single person in a twelve step program believes in a scriptural God?
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re: 12-step programs.#3
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:19pm
You should really read some of the lit. . a lot of the testimonies adress that very same problem.
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re: 12-step programs.#4
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:24pm
It is very possible. I am as agnostic as they come (closer to atheist you cannot get) and they managed to work for me. You just insert something outside yourself other then the "God" to be your higher power and continue on...
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DG
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re: 12-step programs.#5
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:24pm
I'm just starting on the literature, so I haven't seen it addressed much. And while I have seen that the 'higher power' can be of your own design, so to speak, what I'm getting so far is that you have to have at least an awareness that there is some kind of over-riding force in the universe (not necessarily scriptural at all.)
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re: 12-step programs.#6
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:27pm
Yeah, make it into whatever resonates with you but DO use the phrase "higher power" along with everybody else in the group recitations. But inside, YOU'LL know you don't really mean it, so that's fine, right?

AA and the like only work for a relatively small percentage of people. When it works, it works, but the success rate is well below 50%. Lower than 25%, actually.

There's a technique called Rational Recovery, it's copyrighted and a for-profit thing. No groups, no meetings, no "higher power (whatever that means to you blah blah blah)."

You gotta dig around. Good luck, DG!
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re: 12-step programs.#7
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:33pm
DG, I was actually having this discussion two nights ago and I see it from your side, although I was questioning more if it were possible for an atheist as opposed to an agnostic. Subsituting "higher power" or "the universe" or whatever for "god" still implies a belief in some some of creator.

I'm glad that non-believers can make it work for them. I guess one has to if they are going to go through a 12 Step program, but it does seem like an athesit or agnostic would have compromise his beliefs on some level to sucessfully make it through the program. Are there any completely secular 12 step programs? (ETA - I just saw what Namo posted)



Updated On: 11/28/07 at 12:33 PM
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re: 12-step programs.#8
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:38pm
I've got your 12 steps right here:

Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch...
Again - Step, kick, kick, leap, kick, touch...
"It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg." -- Thomas Jefferson
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re: 12-step programs.#9
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:43pm
I am not a fan of words and phrases like "atheist," and "non-believers" because of the "not" context. How about a word like "rationalist" or "reality-based"? Also, "agnostics" just drive me up with wall with their bet hedging. Let "myth believers" explain their irrationality, not the other way around.

You're right Phyl, the AA philosophy does hinge on the "external forces" angle and you can't deny that one of the key phrases (and bumper stickers!) is "Let Go Let God."

Another thing that's key is this fallacious notion of "powerlessness." In fact, "Powerless" is another of the frequently seen bumper stickers. People argue that it just means that you're powerless over your addiction, which is true to a point.

I remember back in the '80s when almost the entirely lesbian community joined 12 Step Programs en masse, a strong lesbian feminist therapist friend of mine was going up the wall because so many of her patients suddenly started adopting the "I'm powerless" stance after they joined 12 Step Programs. She had been working with these women for years, to show them the power they had and to encourage them to use it to make postive change in their lives.

But it was the beginning of the "I'm a helpless victim" phase of the queer community and there was no stuffing that genie back in the bottle.

* full disclosure: my signifcantest other has been in AA for over 20 years... and it does work for him.
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re: 12-step programs.#10
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:51pm
"...a strong lesbian feminist therapist friend of mine was going up the wall because so many of her patients suddenly started adopting the "I'm powerless" stance after they joined 12 Step Programs. She had been working with these women for years, to show them the power they had and to encourage them to use it to make postive change in their lives."


Could you yourself be the "higher power?"

In other words, find this strength from within, not from an external source?
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re: 12-step programs.#11
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:55pm
I can understand how you can make it work, but I found the meetings to be very Christian-centric, to the point where they had replaced the Serenity Prayer with the Our Father (or whatever it is called in English.) This was a huge turn-off for me.
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re: 12-step programs.#12
Posted: 11/28/07 at 12:55pm
I am not a fan of words and phrases like "atheist," and "non-believers" because of the "not" context. How about a word like "rationalist" or "reality-based"? Also, "agnostics" just drive me up with wall with their bet hedging. Let "myth believers" explain their irrationality, not the other way around.

Works for me.

I think virtually anyone of the 12-Step programs that end in "Anonymous" operate under the notion that you're surrendering to some sort of god-like being.

In other words, find this strength from within, not from an external source?

I suppose one could, if one can reconcile the fact that they've had to manipulate the program to suit their needs. And don't get me wrong, I would never suggest someone not get help because AA (et al) implies that you have to believe in something, because I think getting control of one's addictions is more important than making a point against believing in the genie in the sky. I just don't think it would work for me.


ETA: DayDreamer just touched on something else I was thinking about. If the tenants of AA are so god-centric, you know some of those people in the meetings are going to make it all about god. And in English, DD, the Our Father is alternately known as the Lord's Prayer.
Updated On: 11/28/07 at 12:55 PM
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re: 12-step programs.#13
Posted: 11/28/07 at 1:04pm
"I suppose one could, if one can reconcile the fact that they've had to manipulate the program to suit their needs."

This is one of the contradictions that bugs me about the whole thing that I can not work out in my brain. I come at this with a thorough background in the feminist self-help model, a key philosophy of which is "take what you can use and leave the rest." HOWEVER, and it's a big however as you can see since I used all caps, is manipulating anything to suit one's needs the kind of behavior you want to encourage in drunks and addicts trying to change their ways?
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re: 12-step programs.#14
Posted: 11/28/07 at 1:06pm
On a total personal level, I actually dealt with my issues when I realized that I had the power to deal with them.
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re: 12-step programs.#15
Posted: 11/28/07 at 1:13pm
Liar. It was the genie in the sky what saved you!
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re: 12-step programs.#16
Posted: 11/28/07 at 1:15pm
I've had dealings with the Rational Recovery people and I was not impressed. No one's ever done studies of their success rate, but I can't imagine it would be any better than--or even as good as--that of the various 12-step groups.

12-groups are easy to hate, easy to target. They have slogans and rules and books and pamphlets and "sponsors" and "phone lists" and all sorts of easily made fun of programs. And they have disciples, who sometimes take them so seriously they seem like cult members.

But even if they help ONLY 25% of the people who show up, that's an awful lot of miserable lives made livable. And an awful lot more, if you count in the lives of their family members, co-workers and friends. They're affected by addictive behavior too.

I've had dealings with people whose lives have been transformed by AA, Al-Anon, NA, MA and DA, most of whom were agnostics or unaffiliated with any organized religion. None of them ended up having obstacles with the god/higher power thing. The REAL obstacle is always resistance and recidivism. The god-thing becomes just another excuse to stop going to meetings and "slip."

Like any other transformational program, it's not for all people. But if you need help and you WANT help, keep coming back, as the slogan goes. Just work it. You're worth it.
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re: 12-step programs.#17
Posted: 11/28/07 at 1:19pm
"Could you yourself be the "higher power?"

In other words, find this strength from within, not from an external source?"

best12, no, I don't think so...not in the AA/12-Step way of thinking. If YOU were the source, that cancels out being "powerless" over your addiction (be it alcoholism, food, drugs, name the vice). In the AA methodology, it's only when you surrender to a higher power that you actually HAVE power to combat the problem.

Works for some, not for all.
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re: 12-step programs.#18
Posted: 11/28/07 at 1:21pm
Namo, you hit on the big point with your HOWEVER! Drunks addicts and the like spend their lives manipulating the world to cover for their addictions. Dealing with an addiction is changing behaviors. Sometimes a person has to rely on an outside system to set the rules and guidelines until the substance of abuse loses it's physical hold on the person.
Higher Power? Eh words are words. I followed what I saw successful people in recovery doing. Once I was able to stand on my own two feet and was able to heal a bit I found meetings to be too much of a reason to wallow. I moved on and remained clean and sober. I needed the GROUP and it's STRUCTURE back then when the substance had the upper hand, not it's GOD.
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re: 12-step programs.#19
Posted: 11/28/07 at 1:29pm
Bingo, Snafu. No one explains recovery better than someone who's recovered.

Can I ask how long you're sober/clean/solvent?
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re: 12-step programs.#20
Posted: 11/28/07 at 1:36pm
I give kudos to ANYONE who works the 12-steps.

...on the subject of "powerless." I take that to mean that on the DEEPEST level .. the addict accepts there is NOTHING he/she can do about his/her reaction to drinking or using.

If the addicts drinks or uses he/she will always end up with an unmanagable life.

That is a MAJOR admission and HUGH slice of truth to accept.

Keep it simple.
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re: 12-step programs.#21
Posted: 11/28/07 at 1:43pm
I will be clean and sober 20 years on April 13, Pal Joey. Something, at times, I actually marvel at. Specially when the statistics for people to remain clean and sober are so low!
At one point I could not imagine an hour without a drink in hand (well many drinks).
Now as I look back on all the things, both good and bad, that have happened in the past 20 years I can not imagine ever wanting to drink again!
Anyone who is struggling with an addiction, yes it is hard, yes it hurts at times but LIFE is so worth it!
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re: 12-step programs.#22
Posted: 11/28/07 at 1:50pm
Glad I asked. Good for you.
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re: 12-step programs.#23
Posted: 11/28/07 at 2:04pm
I have seen many lives changed thanks to 12-step programs, I think they're great and fully support anyone involved in one. I just didn't fit in, but I can not say that I was not benefited at all by them.

That and the genie in the sky.
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DG
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re: 12-step programs.#24
Posted: 11/28/07 at 2:14pm
"Also, "agnostics" just drive me up with wall with their bet hedging."

Maybe I'm mis-using the word. I call myself that because I simply don't know what the truth could be. I can't fathom the universe as it exists - so for all I know, it could be a big lab experiment. I just thought agnostic meant you admitted not knowing.

In any event, thanks for all the input - it's been interesting reading.