Can an Atheist Get Sober?

Can atheists and agnostics recover from drug and alcohol addiction? Of course they can. If you’re not religious, you may already realize that your path to sobriety might look very different from a religious person’s path. Religious people often draw strength and comfort from their source of faith, which is why many people cite their spirituality as a key component in their recoveries. However, that doesn’t mean that religion is a prerequisite for sobriety. As an atheist, you can seek treatment, get sober, and even join a 12 Step program if you feel that would help you.

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Do You Need a Higher Power?

In the mid-1930s, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote the 12 Steps, a series of actions that they believed would help alcoholics achieve sobriety. The steps include admitting that one has a problem with alcohol, making amends for past mistakes, and seeking to help other alcoholics. Since their inception, the 12 Steps have been adapted to help with other addictions, and they’ve helped people in many parts of the world.

However, many atheists who want help with their addictions find themselves uncomfortable with the spiritual language of the 12 Steps. Six of the 12 Steps involve seeking God or a Higher Power. Keep in mind, though, that AA does not require a singular understanding of the Higher Power. If you’re an atheist or agnostic who wants to join AA or a similar group, you can seek out an alternate Higher Power. For example, you might choose one or more of the options from the list below.

  • The universe
  • Nature
  • Music
  • Humanity
  • Family
  • Kindness
  • Gratitude
  • Your life’s passion

If the idea of choosing a higher power just doesn’t feel right, you can absolutely still get sober. You may choose from sources other than 12 Step groups for help, and you have no shortage of options.

Your Path to Sobriety

Joining a 12 Step group is not the only way to achieve sobriety. You might go to rehab, for example. Rehab is not necessarily spiritual in nature. While some are faith-based, others are secular. You might attend inpatient rehab, in which you’d live at the facility for a period of 1 to 3 months. You might choose outpatient rehab, which doesn’t require you to live at the facility. Another choice is to find a therapist. Many therapists specialize in drug and alcohol addictions, and treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help you to redirect harmful thoughts.

You can also join a sobriety group that doesn’t use the 12 steps, or you might even join a 12 Step group that caters specifically to atheists and agnostics. AA Agnostica has resources for those who want to use the 12 Steps but need different wording. If you want to join a recovery group that doesn’t include the 12 Steps at all, you might start with any of these options:

  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety
  • SMART Recovery
  • LifeRing Secular Recovery
  • Women for Sobriety

Look online to find a group meeting in your community. When thinking about all of your recovery options, remember that you don’t have to choose just one. You might attend a group meeting after returning from rehab, for instance, or you might combine individual therapy with group therapy. Many different factors will go into your decision, and there is no right or wrong answer. The path that works for you may not work for somebody else. Use the tools and support that will best help you.

Are you struggling with a substance use disorder? Call 800-492-QUIT today.

What Atheists and Religious People Have in Common

No matter your religion or lack thereof, some things will ring true for everybody who struggles with a drug or alcohol addiction.

  • Both religious people and atheists with addictions should consider detoxing in a medical facility.
  • Both types of people will generally find it most helpful to talk to understanding people who have been through similar struggles.
  • Both groups can benefit from rehab and therapy.

If you feel overwhelmed by the amount of religious language surrounding sobriety, try to start with the things that every addicted person has in common.

Need Help?

Rehab Info is here to serve people of all religious beliefs, even if you have no religious beliefs at all. You may feel that you don’t have enough options as an atheist, or you may feel that you have so many options you couldn’t possibly know where to start.

Either way, we’re here to help.

We’ll assess your situation and help you choose the path that will help you heal from alcoholism or addiction. Call 800-492-QUIT today
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