Posted by: RealisticRecovery | April 21, 2009

“I’m an Atheist Alcoholic in AA” from

another great find from

My name is Ed and I’m an atheist alcoholic in AA

I am addressing this to alcoholics who have had trouble with the religious overtones in the A.A. program. To those who do not accept the idea of a supernatural being, let me assert that it is always people who have strengthened me when I needed help.

I admit that I need more strength than I alone possess to overcome the compulsion to drink. I receive this strength from the power for good generated in A.A. I have interpreted the frequent mention of “God” in the Twelve Steps and elsewhere as power that comes from other people.

After a year and a half of real sobriety (I had been trying to grasp the A.A. program for three years previously), I suffered a personal catastrophe. I do not ascribe my dilemma to punishment for past “sins,” nor have I the vanity to think that a deity would choose me for martyrdom. Certainly, it is ironic that I should have become crippled after a period of genuine sobriety and not during a bout of drunkenness. But it is nothing more than that — simply ironic.

I have a deep belief in human morality. I believe that evil impulses can be subordinated by decent actions. A.A. brings out impulses for good, and this has tremendous force. In my opinion, this sum total of good actions is the “higher power.”

In the words of a Unitarian minister: “In a world that has lost, or is losing fast, any convincing concept of divine providence at work, of a personal God ordering the affairs of humanity, it is not necessary to assume that the only alternative to a human-cherishing universe is a hostile or satanic universe. There is the much more likely alternative of a neutral universe where people live, hammering out salvation without hope of heaven or dread of hell. People can find that life has value, not because a divine being so ordains, but because the achievements of good men and women, laboring together with love and self-respect, are self-validating and self-rewarding.”

For a period of over two years, I was practically a Loner, being able to attend only a couple of meetings a year. Fortunately, my wife has a good understanding of alcoholism (because of past association with a family group), and I was able to have almost daily discussions with her. Now, however, we have formed an A.A. group in this area that meets in my home weekly.

I was not able to accept A.A. or the very real help it could give until I made a rationalistic interpretation of the program. I am still an atheist, but I am a grateful atheist.

I don’t want to change A.A. It works for me. I just want it to be effective in attracting rationalists. Their membership will help A.A. tremendously.



  1. I agree!

  2. I’m in the same boat. I just had my 90days not to long ago. Im an atheist and I wish the god word wasnt on every single page of the big book, but hey AA is the best thing going so far.
    I rewrote my 3rd step prayer (on the advice of my sponsor). my prayer is something like “Hey I’m ready to give up this bullshit, Help!!” I say it everyday it helps.
    And as far as the whole spiritual thing goes…AA has taught me that there is nothing more spiritual than one human being helping another one.

    • Hey She, congrats on the 90 days, good job.

      “AA has taught me that there is nothing more spiritual than one human being helping another one.”

      That’s actually a really good way of looking at 12 step meetings, and each of us helping each other here on the net too.

      And welcome to the site, just snoop around whenever you get a chance.


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