ReligionSkepticism

Ask Surly Amy: Nonreligious Alcohol and Addiction Help

Dear Surly Amy,

I’m an alcoholic. I don’t believe in AA’s religousness/sprituality. I’m also not sure about total abstinence. Where do I go?

~Desparately Requiring Useful Nonreligious Kinfolk

Dear DRUNK,

First of all, TEN bonus points for the excellent pseudonym! Well done!

Second of all, I completely hear where you are coming from. AA in my opinion is total garbage. I had a friend who was involved with AA, who was agnostic and I asked her how she could have possibly dealt with extreme religiosity of it. She said that whenever they said anything that had to with with a god or a higher power, she just substituted Felix the Cat in her mind. Which was a cute idea – give your power over to Felix the Cat, but still doesn’t address a lot of the other problems that I see are inherent with AA.

As usual let me say, that I am not a doctor nor am I a psychiatrist or anything even close to that but I do have some anecdotal experience with addictions. The one thing that really upsets me about AA is that they teach that you have no control over your addiction. I think that you do have some control. Quitting anything addictive is very difficult but you can do it if you really want to.

If you are physically addicted to alcohol you should be under medical supervision when you detox. Alcohol detox can be a very dangerous thing but once you have passed through the physical detox stage then it becomes a challenge of rewiring your brain by breaking bad habits and substituting them for good.

Here is one of my anecdotes, take it as you will:

I was a-pack-a-day-sometimes-more-smoker for over 20 years of my life and quitting was a very difficult process for me. I failed 2 or 3 times before I finally got the quit to stick. It was a battle of myself against myself. I literally had to kill off the part of Amy that was a smoker and create new neural pathways that would overwrite the areas that were a trigger for smoking. I had to reinvent myself as a non-smoker. I had to reevaluate who my friends were. I had to analyze who I really wanted to be. It seems sorta cliché but almost every single aspect of my life was somehow connected to smoking. Everything down to talking on the phone was somehow linked with the need for a cigarette.

To deal with this, I had to face the addiction head on with a whole lot of inner rage. Rationally, I realized that cigarettes were going to kill me and I had to fight the addiction off as if it was a physical enemy in order to survive. Did I mention I have asthma? So one random day I quit cold turkey with an open, almost entirely full pack of cigarettes. I kept that open pack of cigarettes in the freezer for 4 months because I knew that I had to able to deal with the temptation being right in front of me or I would never be able to be rid of my addiction. I battled through the physical withdrawals by hiking and battled the mental withdrawals by finding success stories online and reminding myself that I wanted to live and I wanted to be healthy. I hiked a lot. I took a lot of walks. I cried a lot. I refused to give up. It was a long process that was extremely difficult for me but in the end completely worth it. It got much easier after the one year mark. I used to count the days that I hadn’t smoked like I was adding up rare golden coins. Now, I sometimes tally up the years.

The moral of this is that you can stop drinking or smoking or whatever your addiction is if you really want or really need to. You can do it. You are not helpless or hopeless.

Also? You are not alone.

There is an alternative to AA that may help you a lot.

SOS is the Secular Organizations for Sobriety. Also known as: Save Our Selves.
From their site:

SOS is an alternative recovery method for those alcoholics or drug addicts who are uncomfortable with the spiritual content of widely available 12-Step programs. SOS takes a reasonable, secular approach to recovery and maintains that sobriety is a separate issue from religion or spirituality. SOS credits the individual for achieving and maintaining his or her own sobriety, without reliance on any “Higher Power.

The international headquarters for SOS is housed at CFI West in Los Angeles but they have meetings all around the world and online resources as well. Here is a link to their website for more information. They also recently celebrated 26th year anniversary.

Whether or not you need to quit or gain control is not something that I can not say. Regardless of what path you take just remember that you can overcome.

Got a question you would like some Surly-Skepchick advice on? Send it in! We won’t publish your real name, unless you want us to and creative pseudonyms get bonus points! Just use the contact link on the top left of the page.

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Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics. She is the fearless leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+. Tip Jar is here.

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28 Comments

    1. Yeah, I worked with SMART for awhile. It’s mostly just based around cognitive/behavioural skills…no submitting to a higher power required. I found I ultimately didn’t get too much out of the meetings, in that I didn’t feel I had much in common with the other people there, but the literature and materials were useful.

      But I totally understand the hesitancy about 12 step organizations. I had some pretty bad experiences with them… at one point, a few of their members were making an active effort to recruit me into it, and used some very overtly manipulative and deceitful tactics. It felt more like they were trying to lure me into a cult than to actually help me with anything.

  1. I am an atheist AA member. I am lucky enought to live in an area (SF Bay) where AA has not been (entirely) co-opted by Xians or New-Agers.

    AA does NOT tell people that they have no power, that trope seems to come from treatment centers and NA. I have known sober members who worked as bartenders or waiters, who serve alcohol to friends etc. etc. The book itself says:

    “In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure.”

    Depending on your location, you may find a good community of like minded folks by looking at AA meetings. Are there any atheist/agnostic meetings listed locally?

    AA is under seige by religious nut-jobs, and the literature is tainted by all sorts of clap-trap. Still the IDEA of AA, that sober drunks share the truth of their experience with each other in order to stay sober without nail-biting stress, is central. You can toss all the stepwork-sponsor-higher power stuff down the toilet and still be a member in full of AA.

    Check out http://aacultwatch.co.uk for information on AA without conformity or coercion. Feel free to use more securely secular resources like SOS. Just try to find a community of like-minded folks, a kind of alcoholic peer-review committee, where your experience can be helpful to others. Screw any organizational system that threatens your integrity.

    Thanks
    PS: ‘It’ has been working for me for 8,501 consecutive days. I am not ‘powerless,’ even over alcohol, as long as I don’t swallow any.

    1. “AA does NOT tell people that they have no power,”

      Um, as someone outlined below, they actually say you are powerless, in their 12 steps. It’s very blatant. I don’t know how you could have missed that, if you are actually an AA member and read the 12 steps.

      1. Sorry Marlow, the word ‘powerless’ appears just ONCE in the book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous” (besides in the personal stories in the back). …’we were powerless over alcohol…’

        A drinking alcoholic has plenty of power to wreck cars, beat their partners and children, vote Republican etc. etc.

        Like cult members, very very few alcoholics break away spontaneously from their impaired thinking. There is plenty of power great enough to lead us into freedom. Suggesting that such a power would have to be a deity is grandiose and silly.

  2. People may believe that AA tells you that you powerless because seven out of the twelve steps tell you that you are powerless, or that a greater power (usually God) is needed to restore “sanity”, that you need to have a spiritual awakening, or that you need to ask your higher power for His help.

    1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
    2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
    6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
    7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
    8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
    10.Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
    11.Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
    12.Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

    That and the fact that AA is dishonest about its success rate (only counting long-term members for example) makes me think that, while there are some who can benifit from their help, the orginization itself is less than fully truthful. What help is provided may come from the fact that it is basically group therapy; unfortunately the success of group therapy can vary wildly depending on the moderator.

    Plus the insistance on total abstinence has also come into question with some saying that moderate intake among alcoholics is possible.

    To be fair there are no doubt some groups that are far less religious than others, but since AA is quite often given as the only treatment option in some court cases the fact that most are is simply unacceptable. I am glad that you are able to go without being harangued for not being religious, it is not an option in many parts of the country.

    BTW – Congratulations on your sobriety, I’m glad they have helped you.

        1. A study published by the NIH concluded that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to determine AA’s effectiveness in a scientific manner.

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1084198

          I know of at least one person, very close to me, whose membership in AA is closely correlated to him living 25 years longer than he would have if he did not go to AA. I know this is anecdotal, but then this blog entry is already an ocean of anecdotes.

          And even if it’s no better than doing nothing, so what? If the addict is failing by using their own willpower alone, then if another solution is available that gives them another “roll of the dice”, if you will, to achieve success, then why would you want to deny them that extra roll? (Note that this isn’t the same thing as altmed, which gives no extra roll at all.)

  3. FWIW, my friend, an atheist meth addict and alcoholic (now 8 yrs sober), said that his “higher power” was the friends and family that loved him and wanted him to succeed. That sounds pretty good to me. He used AA, but he went to rehab (Betty Ford) for a couple of months to get him on the right foot. He was completely sober for about 5-6 years, but can now drink one beer and stop.
    All that being said, he was extremely motivated… in the parlance, he had hit bottom. He succeeded because he had to or he would have died. And he didn’t want to die.

  4. It seems to me that ‘John the Drunkard’ is talking about a group of atheists subverting the religious aspect of AA. Way I look at it is that there are lots of different kinds of people out there and some programs will work better for some than others. BTW is there any science articles(not behind pay walls) out there on why some people respond to certain programs better than others? Not which ones work better for a higher percentage of people.

  5. One thing AA has going for it is that, at least in large metropolitan areas, it is easy to find meetings; the same with the sister program Al-Anon which I attend. If you feel alone and want to be with people who share a common problem, that is a big positive. The alternatives to the 12 Step based programs may in fact be better, but that doesn’t help if you can’t find them.

    Nevertheless, it is hard to argue that AA and its derivatives aren’t religious or quasi-religious. They are. The Big Book, like the Bible is to Christianity and the Koran is to Islam, is for some the sacred text of AA. As with Christianity (and, unfortunately to a lesser extent, Islam), people intepret the sacred texts with varying degrees of literalism.

    I am pretty sure that some people in AA see Bill W. as a sort of prophet who received inspired knowledge from the creator. Folks of this ilk are akin to Christian fundamentalists. To them Bill W was more than just a drunk who figured out a way to stay sober. To them he is Moses coming down off Mt. Sinai with the stone tablets (the Twelve Commandments in this case). As with Christianity, there are folks who value the community that the 12 Step programs provide, the same way many folks find community in their church, but who apply a much less literal interpretation to the “sacred text”. Folks of this ilk are more akin to Unitarians than they are Southern Baptists. In my experience, it runs the spectrum from cool-aid drinkers to atheists. The strange part is that they are often all in the same room together and for the most part they manage to get along.

    My shameless plug for Al-Anon is that it emphasizes self-care. Being powerless has to do with the illusion that you can control how other people behave and the notion of making your happiness in life conditional on how those others behave. The solution is learning to take the emphasis off controlling others (conditional happiness) and instead putting the focus on self-care.

    For me, doing step 2, actually forced me to confront my demons regarding God and religion on an emotional level. The process helped my realize that deep down I was still afraid of angering the God of my childhood (a mixture of the Catholic God and the Methodist God) who might punish me for embracing atheism and skepticism.

    Because the emphasis in Al-Anon is on a “Loving God”, I realized that I needed to have a conversation with this God of my childhood where I told him that I didn’t believe he existed. It was at that point that I realized that a loving God wouldn’t give a shit if I doubted his existence. A truly loving God would actually be pleased that I was striving for intellectual integrity. This relationship with my “higher power” has become an ongoing conversation (no, he doesn’t answer back – at least not yet).

    My relationship with my “higher power” was further strengthened by listening to the audiobook version of Christopher Hitchens’ “God is not Great”. Specifically, in the portion of the book where Hitchens very eloquently discusses non-believers throughout history going back to Socrates and his “Oracle at Delphi” and the whole idea of that “small, but persistent voice” that is our conscience – the source of our moral impulses. Making the connection between this and the concept of a “higher power” was very important for me.

    So in a change twist of irony, Hitchens may have unwittingly helped me successfully work step 2 and develop a much better relationship with that “small, but persistent” voice; an important development for someone who grew up with and still has a great propensity for self-loathing.

    If this all sounds like self-serving rationalization, it is. But you have to understand that I have the equivalent of an Asian mom in my head. Asian mom’s are great if you are a genius who is good at piano, violin, and molecular biology and a shoe-in for Harvard medical school. Unfortunately, I am none of those things and my “Asian mom” really gets down on me when I don’t measure up to all those superstar genius kids who live on my block. My struggle is to learn to muzzle my “Asian mom” (i.e. my “conditional lover”) so as to give the unconditional love of that “small, but persistent voice” a chance to get through.

    In any case, do whatever works. Life is too short to spend it in self-destructive self-loathing.

    \BCT

  6. I gave up drinking 3 weeks ago. I’ve been a heavy drinker most of my life (with the exception of a year back in my 20s where I gave it up), and now that I’m in my mid-30s I’ve realized that it is having real, serious consequences on just about everything I do.

    I think you nailed it (maybe inadvertently) when you talked about using massive inner rage. I’m finding that that’s my most common emotion right now, just this inarticulate anger at just about everything. I’m angry at my failures, I’m angry at myself for putting booze ahead of other priorities, I’m angry at my biology that makes alcohol so problematic for me while others seem to be able to enjoy it without going overboard, and I’m angry at these others because they can have something that I probably can’t.

    I think I’ve always been a bit of an angry person, so I can’t entirely blame alcohol on that, and at least while I’m sober I’m better able to keep my anger under control and keep from doing destructive or self-destructive things, but it’s still unnerving being able to see how much anger there just IS.

    So, it’s good to see it acknowledged in posts like these.

    Thanks to everyone who’s posted links. I’m not a terribly social person, but I’m sure I’ll find stuff to help me out.

    And to the original asker, I guess just know that you aren’t alone. When I gave up booze for a year, I did that mainly on my own, so it’s possible. If you are physically addicted, you definitely should see a doctor, because withdrawal can be deadly. Good luck and take care.

  7. Another option for controlling the initial withdrawals is to use the “tapering method”. This is described in the HAMS Alcohol Harm Reduction Support.

    Depending on your goals, they focus on harm reduction (managing withdrawals), complete abstinence, or moderation.

    Having said that, I’ve never used it or known anyone who has, but it seems like a reasonable alternative to me.

    http://www.hamsnetwork.org/

  8. What would surprise (or disgust) the skeptic even more so than the religiosity of the program is the blatant magical thinking that is both practiced and encouraged in the common language. At least once per meeting (I attend 3-5 weekly) there is some claim of a mystical force altering probability to improve the outcome for the one in recovery. Things as little as annoying smoke detectors being silenced (an actual anecdote) to the miraculous cancer cure.

    Most attribute these interventions to the Judeo-Christian ‘god’ though any AA member will swear up and down that the program is in no way religious – it is ‘spiritual’ you see. It is replete with simple slogans, a common parlance among members, a messianic figure (Bill Wilson) and even a holy text (called “the big book” by members). These things would immediately seem cultish to the casual observer, but there is one very significant difference between a cult and AA, and that is: you can leave any time you wish.

    If you disappear from meetings, stop returning phone calls, ignore your sponsor, etc., the effort to chase you down and return you to the flock is quite minimal, if at all present. This “going back out” (an internal term for taking up drink again) is considered a inherent risk and a personal choice. The wish to return to the program is one made only by the addicted person. I could easily sever ties with the program with nary a phone call and never be contacted again, and should I return, I would be welcomed with open arms and lauded for my courage in doing so. It is also important to note that there is really no central authority.

    So why do I attend? A number of reasons, and those I would share with anyone suffering from alcohol addiction. The meetings are more numerous than you realize (you can find one in your home town meeting tonight, likely multiple ones) so they are easily accessible, they are FREE, the community is one of support, freely offering help to anyone who asks (the 12th step) and the members are numerous and varied enough that you will find someone of like mind if you attend long enough. Yes, you will have to endure the constant attributed praise to the supernatural and the woefully non-critical assessment of the universe. But this very deadly condition (it very nearly killed me three times) is not one you attempt to remedy through anything other than brute force. For some (myself included) the answer was in a community where the natural peer-pressure of the environment discouraged the consumption of the thing that was killing me. Which is why I personally believe the program benefits its members (just don’t tell them that groupthink is probably responsible for their sobriety.)

    I chair a meeting, have spoken at recovery centers, and help as often as I can, and whenever I get the chance, I inject as much secularism and rationality into the speech as I am able to do without outright offending anyone. Many atheists (a bad word in AA, ask me about their light creationism as well) and agnostics come into a meeting desperate for a life saving method of recovery. If I can offer them an outlook that doesn’t involve the appeal to the supernatural, with myself as a powerful example of a sober atheist, then I may have actually helped. The bottom line is that if you really are looking for help, AA can be there for you, and you can succeed in your recovery without ever having to alter your personal beliefs, or lack thereof. You’ll have to do some extra work, re-interpreting things like the 12 steps, but it can be done and it is rewarding.

  9. Another issue with AA and similar programs is the whole notion of codependency. This idea sprung up in the 1970’s and has little if any empirical evidence to support it and more often than not it requires a 12 step program to deal with the supposed problem. Here’s a quotation that gives the issue some framework.

    ….the codependency movement…does not recognize or confront the social and economic realities in people’s lives. It does not distinguish the dependencies that are healthy and desirable (loving and needing others) from those that are economically imposed (such as not having the financial resources to leave a violent marriage). It speaks of self-esteem as if it were air in a balloon, something that can be inflated and deflated with sheer willpower, unrelated to anything that people do, to their experiences in the world, to the context of their lives. –Carol Tavris

  10. I saw an episode of Penn and Teller’s Bullshit on this subject too. Interesting.

    What I want to say here is: go you. Addiction recovery is horrible and hard and it sucks physically and emotionally and mentally and you’re probably going to have a moment where you wonder if you’re even going to make it, but I am so, so happy to see people here trying to recover, and those who have.
    I don’t know enough about this personally, but I come from a long line of alcoholics and drug addicts on both sides of the family. I am extremely lucky I didn’t catch the addiction bug (I have some trouble with food, but it’s not as serious). I have seen what my family members have gone through because of it, and some of them I wonder how they’re still alive. Drinking killed my beloved Uncle Kenny, and I don’t want it to kill anyone else.
    Whatever you do to find help, I hope you find it and you get over this addiction.

  11. I have mixed feelings about the “alternative” groups (it’s ironic where an “alternative” treatment for something is more likely to have some scientific basis, and the common mainstream treatment recommended by doctors is an outright religion!). I attended SOS sporadically during the 1990’s, and also during the late ’90’s I was involved with the online SOS group that splintered off and renamed itself Lifering Secular Recovery. It was a bit of a stepping stone out of AA for me, but I already didn’t feel the need to “attend a group” to remain abstinent from alcohol.

    While their recovery rate seems be no better or worse than AA or even no “support group,” the secular alternatives have one big thing going that AA does not: They don’t beat people down to the point where they commit suicide. I attended about 1,000 AA meetings over a ten year period, during which I knew maybe a dozen people who committed suicide. It was always, ALWAYS blamed on “the disease of alcoholism.” AA is as strong a belief system as is any fundamentalist church. Anyone who attends for long enough learns to reject all non-AA advice and only respect the statements of AA elders, as if their time in AA and taking the steps gave them more of the elusive yet God-like substance of “spirituality.” Not following the teachings gets one treated like a newcomer (like an unknowledgeable child), or shunned as a dangerous heretic, about to drink (in AA, drinking is an act worse than committing any crime or even death).

    Oops, I’m ranting, which I’ve done many times before on forums and in other blogpost comments. James Christopher, founder of SOS, had some AA rants (not just that it’s religious, but examples if how AA members were mean-spirited and emotionally abusive) in his first book “How To Stay Sober: Recovery Without Religion.”

    For one, I left a longish comment on the Friendly Atheist blog a few month ago, in a post prompted by the Toronto atheist AA groups being taken off the Troronto AA Central Office meeting list. I also write about how there’s not been enough discussion of AA among skeptics:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/06/04/secular-alcoholics-anonymous-groups-in-toronto-have-been-kicked-out-of-aa/

    The first rule of not drinking is stay away from AA at all cost! Many drinkers don’t have good self-esteem to start with, and AA only beats people down with slogans such as “Thy Will, not mine, be done.”

    From there it’s hard to “give a program for stopping drinking” but I rediscovered interests I had before drinking began to interfere with my life, and also discovered brand new interests. Look for something you enjoy doing that has nothing to do with drinking alcoholic beverages, and do those things.

  12. And along with the Penn and Teller episode, there was the South Park episode “Bloody Mary” (available online, probably on Youtube). It was right on about AA and alcoholism. Joseph Califiano strongly objected to the episode because of how it treats Catholics, but he has also been active in the alcoholism treatment field in organizations that are basically fronts for the promotion of 12-step groups, and no doubt THAT is at least as much of why he objected to the episode.

  13. I was just thinking… one thing that is especially sad and tragic about stuff like this is how it’s yet another of the many examples of those who peddle spirituality preying on those who are at their most vulnerable, scared and desperate. Like terminally ill cancer patients turning to psychic surgery, someone in the darkest throes of addiction is desperate for an answer, anything that can offer them a way out, or offer them the strength to make it through.

    Not too long ago, I overcame a pretty severe three-year heroin addiction. I still wear concealer over my scars whenever I go out in short sleeves. I wanted so, so, SO badly to believe that there was a God who could have made that easier for me, and my addiction drew a tremendous amount of strength from my nihilism, my feelings of hopelessness, my sense of being lost in a chaotic and meaningless world, and that I should simply take whatever happiness I could find where I found it. At least my drawing comfort and peace from a needle was a lot more honest and simple than going through religion and careers and gyms and relationships for pretty much the exact same chemicals to do their thing in my brain. Or so I told myself, anyway.

    But in a funny way, my skepticism actually became a bit of a tool in dealing with it and working through the addiction. I knew what was going on in my brain. I knew how my executive functions had been compromised, how my reward circuits had been restructured, what was going on up there that made me feel those “needs”, and that feeling like I “needed” something was not the same thing as actually needing something. I learned to question myself, second-guess my impulses, know that what I was thinking wasn’t always what I was really thinking, giving myself a chance to think something different, etc. I learned to understand the systems of associations and triggers… that getting within two blocks of the corner of Hastings and Carrall would cause my brain to start lowering its endorphines in preparation of a big wash of…ur… extorphines? So I knew it wasn’t a good idea to get within two blocks of Hastings and Carrall.

    It was a matter of acknowledging what was going on in my brain, understanding the addiction, and finding ways to work around that. Sort of like emotions, I guess… you can deny them or try to suppress them, but that won’t really work and will promptly turn you into a jerk. And you can give in to them totally, but that ends up being pretty destructive, too. Or you can accept them, learn to work with them, and find ways of allowing them to be a healthy part of who you are. And that’s what I sort of had to do with the addiction… it was there, it wasn’t going away. And probably it emerged from some kind of endorphine deficiency or something that I had been spending most of my life trying to self-medicate, and will probably have to live with for the rest of my life (especially now that I broke it even more). But by understanding it and accepting it I could find ways of dealing with it and working around it. Things like avoiding triggers whenever possible, learning to find other ways of coping with my pain and anxieties, actually *addressing* my problems instead of trying to suppress them, finding other ways to meet all the internal needs I was meeting with heroin.

    Most people don’t become addicts, and the drugs don’t create the addict or contain the addiction. Just like most people can eat without developing eating disorders, most people can play video games without becoming hardcore forget-to-eat 24/7 gamers, and most people can drink alcohol without becoming alcoholics, most people (as counter-intuitive as it may sound) can try cocaine or heroin without becoming addicted to them. I have never, in all my life, EVER had even the tiniest issue with coke, crack or speed, despite the fact that I’ve tried pretty much every drug on the planet. I just didn’t take to it. But opiates… when I first tried them, it was like I had found a missing piece of myself. The junkie in me was already there long before I found the drugs, and she’ll always be there, no matter how long I continue to stay clean. It’s a neurological thing. That can come across as an excuse, or a shirking of responsibility, but knowing that this is an element of who I am can help with shedding the feelings of shame and self-hatred that often fuel the addiction in a bit of a vicious circle. And most importantly, I found, at least for me, that understanding addiction, without turning to illusions or spirituality, and looking at it honestly, as just a brain making itself worse by trying to make itself better, that gave me what I needed to adapt and move forward.

    So… I don’t know why I wrote all this, really. I guess just to get it off my chest, and to say that a higher power and spirituality and illusions aren’t the only thing that can carry someone through recovery, and that an honest look at the realities can be just as powerful. I guess in a funny way, for me, it wasn’t that I needed to believe in a higher power, but that I stripped the addiction of ITS power by learning to see it for what it really was. Which was nothing, really.

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