Do You Have to Be Religious to Join Alcoholics Anonymous?

Unlike other medical disorders, addiction is unique in the way it is also a spiritual disorder. Step two of the 12-step program addresses the spiritual aspect of addiction with the following concept: “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Coming into the rooms of Alcoholics as a newbie and hearing all the God and Higher Power talk, especially if you aren’t religious, can be very overwhelming, confusing, and somewhat scary if you do not believe in God or have a sense of what a “higher power” is and therefore can have a negative outlook on the whole thing. How is a person supposed to trust that a higher power will remove the addiction from his or her life if he or she doesn’t believe in the power in the first place?

What Is A Higher Power?

First, let us define what a “higher power” is. A Higher Power is a power greater than ourselves. It can be God, other conceptions of God.  For others, a higher power doesn’t have anything to do with religion. It’s just a connection that we may have with something. The benefit of having a Higher Power is the comfort of knowing that you do not, cannot, and will never be in control of anything in the universe, except yourself, and even then, we can sometimes need a lot of help. But in the end, it comes down to whatever works for you and what keeps you sober.

Being Religious Doesn’t Equal Being Sober

For those that aren’t religious and don’t believe in a God, accepting the idea of a higher power and choosing one may be more difficult. Even though the fact that it may be tempting and easier to just avoid the whole higher power thing entirely, spirituality is actually a very important part of your recovery.

Research shows that aspects of spirituality are associated with positive outcomes for trauma survivors, including those suffering from depression and PTSD. Most times, addiction is a symptom of trauma, difficult life experiences, and other obstacles that people are otherwise unable to cope with. Not to mention the trauma that is also caused by addiction. Cultivating a healthy spirituality may create meaning and purpose for living, and help individuals cope with difficult life circumstances and trauma.

A Higher Power Can Take You A Long Way

You will see the concept of a higher power throughout your literature as you go through the 12-steps. After completing the steps, the same concepts can help guide you through your life in recovery as challenges arise and when “life shows up.”

If you aren’t religious and don’t believe in a God, it is still important that you choose a special higher power and means something to you. There is no need to feel pressured by others about what they think it should be. This is your choice.

If you’re struggling to define your own higher power while working through a 12-step program, here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Nature – The Mountains, ocean, or just the trees that surround you on your morning walk could be a great higher power.
  • Love 
  • Music/Art – Listening to music or creating art is a spiritual experience. It can relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and help people express strong emotions and feelings that some people may attempt to cloak with drug and alcohol abuse out of fear or an inability to express them.
  • Journaling

Communication Of Religious Belief

No matter what your higher power is, God or some other entity, the suggestion of praying to be in contact with your higher power may be confusing if you don’t know how to go about it or a bit uncomfortable. However, there are other ways you can get closer to your higher power other than praying:

  • Meditating – If you have never meditated before, you want to start small. There are many YouTube guided videos or apps that can help you through.
  • Selfless Acts – Being selfless is a big thing to us addicts since we were so used to being selfish in our addiction. By volunteering, being sober support, doing random acts of kindness, or just being a good friend, we can often feel that sense of gratitude and hope similar to that feeling of comfort and faith that a Higher Power can bring.

If you are still not sure about the whole higher power thing, that’s ok; it doesn’t have to make sense, especially when you are new to all of this and there is no wrong or right way to go about finding recovery. Continue to talk to others in the program and hear their stories. Remember the words of AA co-founder Wilson: “The roads to recovery are many.”

Let Aria Fl Help You On Your Road To Recovery

As mentioned before, whatever your path is to recovery is up to you. Still, your first step is to be set free from the chains of addiction, and we at Addiction Recovery Institute Of America can help. The team of addiction specialists at the Addiction Recovery Institute of America in West Palm Beach knows that no two individuals struggling with addiction are the same. This is why we are careful to design a drug and alcohol treatment center for each of our clients tailored to their individual needs. From our detox programs to our residential recovery programs to our outpatient care, ARIA has the right solution for you.