addiction-recoveryAlcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been providing alcohol recovery services for eighty-plus years and has long been the recommended solution for individuals with an alcohol-dependency problem.

AA originally sprang from a Christian religious movement called ÔÇ£The Oxford Group,ÔÇØ and AA (and programs based on its model) use ÔÇ£higher powerÔÇØ imagery in its 12-step program model that can be alienating for nontheists and negatively impact their recovery. In fact, court-ordered AA is a violation of the Establishment Principle.

AA has benefitted many individuals, providing recovery programs vital to achieving individual behavior change. However, offering choice in recovery is important not only from a legal standpoint, but because research has shown that allowing choice in recovery programs results in enhanced outcomes ÔÇô especially when the program is selected based on the individualÔÇÖs needs and beliefs.

All 12-step programs have been judged ÔÇ£pervasively religiousÔÇØ in every federal appeals court and state supreme court that has reviewed pertinent cases. Recovery programs offered or permitted by the┬áfederal government such as drug court, prison, probation department, etc. which requires mandated attendance, such as that required in 12-step programs, must have a secular offering or are considered unconstitutional.

A growing number of mutual support recovery organizations do not require religious or higher power beliefs. Offering one or more of these programs in addition to the AA programs increases the probability for participant success. A list of these programs includes:

  • Addiction Center┬áreviews top treatment centers and is a comprehensive resource hub and definitive guide to substance abuse.
  • SMART Recovery participants learn tools for recovery based on the latest scientific research and participate in a worldwide community which includes free self-empowering, science-based mutual support groups.
  • Women for Sobriety is a program for women with problems of addiction. It is the first and only self-help program for women only. WFSÔÇÖ purpose is to help all women recover from problem drinking through the discovery of self, gained by sharing experiences, hope and encouragement with other women in similar circumstances.
  • LifeRing offers secular self-help to abstain from alcohol and non-medically indicated drugs by relying on a personÔÇÖs power and the support of others. LifeRing welcomes people from all faiths or none, and respects the fact that spiritual beliefs, if any, are personal.
  • SOS – Secular Organizations for Sobriety and Save Our Selves takes a self-empowerment approach to recovery. SOS addresses sobriety as ÔÇ£Priority One, no matter what!ÔÇØ Guidelines for sobriety include: to break the cycle of denial and achieve sobriety, we first acknowledge that we are alcoholics or addicts.

POLICY RECOMMENDATION: Wherever recovery programs are offered or permitted by the government, a secular option must be available.