An atheist's higher power

Into the second day of hangover, the emotional/anxious part. The feeling like death is gone. I cleaned up all the nasty in my house.

The one saving grace is that I’m so grossed out by alcohol for a few days I’ve not become chronic. I think the first time I ever pick up the bottle as hair off the dog, it’s game over.

I’ve been in bed listening to AA material on step 1 and I think I’ve got that one down pretty well. I’ve known for a long time I can’t get sober on my own. Hence all the therapy and meds.

Step 2 gets me. In the We Agnostics chapter we’re basically shamed for not believing in God. All the way down to “who made the stars”… I’ve seriously been told before that people have used a doorknob as a higher power.

What’s the solution here?

I’m currently listening to an online meeting. Still trying to get up the nerve to go back to a live one.


I still haven’t figured that one out for myself. Maybe I just have to realise again I do this for me and no one else. So my method is also mine and no one’s else’s. Take what’s mine and leave the rest. Also in what works for me in recovery. Also what works in AA. Or doesn’t work. I haven’t been to a NA meeting for weeks because of this. I’m still working my sobriety though. Making progress. I will be back to a meeting soon too. I don’t need to be like anybody or follow any road but my own. I will not be shamed. I will not feel less or more than anybody there or here or anywhere. I like the togetherness and sharing with equals there. I don’t think the 12 steps are the literal way to go for me. I will find out if there is a place for me in NA at the right meeting with the right folks. I think the solution is to learn to listen to our hearts. Success and congrats on being sober Brad.


This thread has some good ways of looking at a higher power, there are others too :blush:

If you can’t get into AA, have you tried anything else? SMART is one option, totally non-theistic/spiritual. And Refuge Recovery and Dharma Recovery are based on Buddhist principles, but you don’t have to be a practising Buddhist.


Solution is to get to a meeting get a sponsor get on the program as you say you cant do this alone Effort and desire is required and off course face to face meetings


You got a vision of yourself as a sober and successful person? He’s got a great moral code and handles things the way you’d like to handle them?

Use that. I’ve seen all sort of higher powers, from aliens to God. I’ve used my dead grandma on occasion, would she approve of my actions? Would she want me to act in this way? That type of thought line.

Don’t get so hung up on semantics, there is only 1 requirement for AA, a desire to stop drinking.


Step 2 Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Does it help to look at it this way?

Step 2 Came to believe that something other than myself could help me out — after all, my self is what got me into this mess, so I need something else to lead me out of it.


If you read “we agnostics” I don’t think it shames us into believing in God.
It asks the question “Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?”
In this I see the question " are we , man, capable of creating the universe?"
The answer to this is no. So to me, a power way more greater than me created the universe.
Not however a man sat on a throne with a beard.
A power greater than myself. Us.


I think Russell Brand’s book also does the 12 steps in a slightly different way… Haven’t read it but it’s on my list.


Dude…please don’t get stuck on the god thing…AA was and still is a place where two or more alcoholics gather to share their experience, strength and hope, to help each other stay sober…Absolutely and 100% you are NOT required to start believing in any supernatural being…
In my experience if one just goes to meetings and is willing to listen with an open mind they will figure out their way to what ever higher power they want to use…but you don’t need to bother your self with that right now…just go to the meetings and start gathering those sober days one day at a time…the program lasts for the rest of our lives…no need to understand it in the beginning…


Use it and just quit because it is the most proven method. Personally, I think the fact that the most effective method to quit alcohol or drugs is AA is a sign in and of itself. But just use it and quit then figure it out after you are clean and in the right state of mind.


I believe in God but also believe this issue may be best looked at from a more scientific approach. God gives us the brains and free will to detach out the answers ourselves.

But if you are an atheist you should be able to look at this problem from a scientific point of view. SMART Recovery uses cognitive behavioural tools to address the issue and this naked mind looks at it from a different angle to the AA.

Worth a look.

I know you feel shit mate and I know how you feel when on the back of a bender, lied in bed feeling totally alone and like it’s never ending.

The truth is it does end and you will feel better but that’s the problem, you feel better and eventually you forget and the likelihood is you drink again.

I’ve been using a cost benefit analysis model that SMART Recovery use to help me remember.

Take care mate, you will feel better :slightly_smiling_face:


I respect you the most because you look like a dignified dog.

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You’re own way is the only way !! For me to and i know what is good or not.
Inspired though by your post about being not ashamed, less then another etc…
That part is also back in my mind now.

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I have zero respect for you sorry

Join the club

Haha I like that.

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Well you walk around smashing up cities and bridges, not on mate


I looked up refuge recovery but there’s not a lot of resources or meetings on that. I’m sincerely trying to understand AA I guess.

I’ve been listening to a lot… A lot of AA podcasts and the common theme, something I’ve been really resistant to, is that alcoholism is a spiritual disease. I didn’t really understand that. I know I’ve got some genetic issue where I obsess over the next drink.

Does it just mean that a sense of belonging is enough not to want to drink? Where do we go from physical allergy to spiritually sick?

I don’t doubt an external force has to knock you out of the addiction orbit. Totally accept that.


I think you’re really really overthinking this Brad.
Still trying to outthink something that is cunning baffling and powerful.
Have you read the “Spiritual Experience” appendix in the big book?
The bit about “educational variety”.
Our addiction, disease, psychological issue, whatever we want to call it has us at such a low level spiritually.
We are down on ourselves, on our position in life maybe on our loved ones.
The “spiritual awakening” spoken off can be seen to be a change in this thought process.
By turning around our thinking.
Making ourselves more accessible to happy good feelings however we may.
Don’t automatically see religious studies or prayers or any of these things.
Look to within yourself to build yourself a better future.
Change your outlook, your inner spirit to see this.
Whether you go to AA, SMART, refuge recovery whatever. The changes need to come from deep in yourself.
The idea of these recovery services is so you can see you are not alone and find comfort with other people who know exactly what you are going through.


In terms of Refuge Recovery, there is an offshoot, Dharma Recovery, the book is freely available online. Meetings didn’t work out for me but the book is good. How they describe addiction is something I could actually relate to - I wasn’t a daily drinker, not physically addicted, held down a good job, generally successful enough - the idea of engaging in a behaviour to escape present time reality.

In terms of the spiritual thing, this is how I come at that…

I think I’ve had depression and felt a need to get away from myself from when I started drinking, around 14. Getting wasted and being a wreck head gave me something to belong to. As I got older and started taking things on to have a more fulfilled life it gave me a way of releasing my stress. It helped me talk about my emotions and help build connections with people in a way I struggle to do sober. It gave me a sense of identity and a way of relating to the world and people around me.

My mum has undiagnosed mental health issues. I see a lot of her issues in me. So my mental health is a genetic and a physical thing. But I also believe that mental health is a spiritual thing. There is a book called The Art of Happiness where a psychologist works with the Dalai Lama to investigate the modern science which explains why ancient Buddhist philosophy works. There is also lots of evidence that being connected to people and part of a community is good for us.

The point I’m trying to make is that often the difference between science and spirituality is just a matter of perspective, especially when it relates to the human condition. Really they are both just a way of articulating a process of inquiry and discovery.

I don’t believe there is one absolute truth and I think we have no way of knowing what we don’t know (can you tell I was a social sciences student :see_no_evil:). In my very limited experience, when I have been involved in learning about a topic, the more I learn the more I realise how many more questions there are to answer! Sometimes I think we have to accept that we won’t have all the answers. It doesn’t mean we have to stop asking questions but sometimes not needing to have all the details can be liberating.

I don’t know if being connected to a group of people is enough on its own, but I can see it being a big part of why recovery programmes can work. If we can feel validated for being sober and part of a community of people who get it and want us to succeed, that sounds pretty powerful to me.