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Sobriety and Atheism: Do I need to be Religious to Get Sober?

The twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and all other 12 step programs include the word “God.” This gives some people pause. Afterall should someone really have to change their beliefs or adopt a religion to recover? To some, this might feel like a choice between their values and their sobriety. But religion is not a requirement of recovery. The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous added a chapter titled “We Agnostics” into the original 12 steps book, which emphasizes that religion or a deity is not required for a successful recovery. The higher power mentioned in the steps is of one’s own understanding, and that they call that higher power God.

So what should “one’s own understanding” of a higher power be? The answer is belief. You need to believe that you deserve to be happy and that you can and will succeed. Not just in rehab but at whatever is next too. The French have a term for this kind of belief: raison d’être or “reason for being.” You have a purpose in this world. You are alive, here and now, for a reason. That belief — in yourself and your own self-worth — is empowering. If you let it, it can be the motivation to keep doing the best you can every day. If you think about it, isn’t that roughly what religion does for those who are faithful? It provides a sense of purpose and direction. The difference is that religion requires faith, or “belief without evidence.” But you don’t need to have faith in your higher power. Your progress every day can be your evidence that you are on your way to finding whatever it is that brings you happiness, purpose, or peace. That’s your higher power.

Tree House Recovery helps men beat addiction. We reform their body, mind, and social sphere to prove every day that people are capable of so much more than they know. Our graduates know they will succeed because they have 5 months worth of proof. For information on our Orange County programs, call us today: (855) 202-2138

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