There are many different kinds of mutual aid groups for addiction. There is SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, LifeRing, Celebrate Recovery, and others. Despite the growth of new options in recent decades, 12-step programs remain the most popular option by far. Someone struggling with addiction can find a 12-step meeting in almost any part of the world, and most cities will offer an abundance of options. This is good news for anyone seeking help for addiction because the barrier to finding a meeting is very low. There may be a 12-step meeting in walking distance. Whether 12-step meetings are your primary means of recovery or you just want a group to help keep you on track after treatment or therapy, 12-step meetings are a good option. However, some people might worry about the higher power aspect of 12-step programs. While many Americans describe themselves as spiritual, fewer than ever claim any specific religious affiliation. There are also certain segments of the 12-step community who are adamant that the higher power is the Judeo-Christian God. Can 12-step programs work for you if you don’t share this belief? The short answer is maybe. If, like many people, you were unconvinced by the the chapter in the Big Book entitled “To the Agnostic,” you might still benefit from attending regular 12-step meetings. The simplest option is just to be liberal with your conception of a higher power. Whenever God arises at meetings, swap out the term for your own concept. This might be nature, the planet, humanity, or the group. The main thing is accept you don’t have all the answers and that your experience of life is one small part of a huge picture. For most people, this works pretty well. It’s relatively uncommon to find a group that will insist upon a rigid Judeo-Christian concept of a higher power. Non-religious members simply tolerate the higher power stuff and try to focus on the positive aspects of the 12-step experience. If the religious tone of a meeting is just too much for you, the good news is there are so many 12-step meetings that you can probably find a group comprising more like-minded people. There are even specifically atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, and Hindu groups in many areas. Atheist and agnostic groups have been controversial in some areas, especially if they make changes to 12-step materials or concepts, but for the most part, these groups just downplay the God aspect of the program and focus on mutual support, introspection, volunteering and so on. Various studies have shown that the strong sober network provided by 12-step programs is one of the most important factors in preventing relapse, so as long as you are regularly engaged with the group, it will likely provide some benefit. If you’ve given it a shot and found you can’t deal with the religious aspect, no matter the group, you might want to see if there are SMART Recovery or LifeRing meetings in your area.
If you’re struggling with substance use, Recovery Ways can help. We encourage patients to continue their recovery after treatment by participating in mutual aid groups such as 12-step programs. We also offer extensive alumni support including aftercare for individuals and families, an alumni network, reunions, and events. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.