Written by Valiant Living Recovery on Friday, December 20th, 2019
One of the ways people in a 12-Step program become alienated is when they hear they must find a Higher Power. The most confusing part of the Higher Power is that some members of a 12-Step program chose to call their Higher Power “God”. For someone who considers themselves an agnostic or an atheist, the word “God” can leave a bad taste in their mouth and afflict their ears. A Higher Power, however, should be explained in greater detail just in case you are missing a vital piece of your program. By simply being uncompromising in your beliefs, you could be shortchanging your recovery because you cannot wrap your mind around the concept of a Higher Power.
The misconception that 12-Step programs are religious unfortunately keeps people from getting sober. 12-Step programs are of the spiritual nature, yes, but that spirituality is found from within, not what other people tell you to believe in. You do not have to go to church, read The Bible or The Quran; you only need to find what makes you feel at peace and use that as your Higher Power. You can then decide what you want to call it. Your relationship with your Higher Power is between you and your personal conception of a Higher Power. If that includes a religious belief then that is your choice, although it is not required. According to the Alcoholic’s Anonymous Preamble and the Narcotics Anonymous White Pamphlet, there is no religious affiliation. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking or using.
Getting sober is difficult to do on your own. You have probably tried multiple times on your own to be successful with cessation with no avail. Using something greater than yourself to use as a source of peace, love, and faith can help you stop using and drinking. The intangibility of a Higher Power is puzzling for some to put faith into something they cannot see or touch. To get around this you can come up with your own conception of something greater than yourself. Greater does not mean “better”. Greater means “more substantial”. Taking this definition into account you could use the ocean, music, nature, the universe, or your 12-Step homegroup. Use whatever makes you feel comfortable and whatever you feel connected to – even if you feel connected to a doorknob.
Part of the problem with drugs and alcohol is that they erase your moral compass. In sobriety, you may find it hard to shake old behaviors or unable to live by recovery principles. Putting a Higher Power into place gives you a reason to strive for better things in your life. Having a purpose can better motivate you to maintain your sobriety. If you have nothing to lose, then you will most likely let the obsession to drink or use take you over. Although when your moral compass is on point, you endeavor to improve yourself making you have a better shot to remain sober for the long haul. The 12-Steps are centered around a Higher Power and can lead you to morality, improvement, and purpose with the effort you put into working them.
After careful consideration and no desire to pursue a relationship with a Higher Power, you should still carry on in your recovery. 12-Step programs are full of suggestions when it comes to a Higher Power which means that you get to decide if you choose to believe in a Higher Power. There are members who remain agnostic and atheist and still stay sober in longevity. You do not have to follow a 12-Step program to a tee but understand that omitting parts of the program mean you might have to overcompensate in other ways. Since 12-Step programs are based on unity, you can still go to any meeting and be accepted because everyone is unique in their spirituality or their personal choice to not believe in spirituality. You can find meetings for agnostics and atheists so that you can find the support you need. Groups like AA Agnostica, NA Agnostica, AA Beyond Belief, or Secular AA can give you an opportunity to be part of a recovery fellowship and to practice the steps, the principles, traditions, and the concepts without the prayers or using the word “God” in meetings. The point is to stay sober and use the resources that are being offered to you to assist in your long-term recovery.
Any way a Higher Power looks to you, just make it your own. By doing so you can get in line with your spirituality and move forward with authenticity in your recovery.
Offering a full range of recovery and mental health services, Valiant Living offers “Expanded Recovery” to enrich our clients’ lives in mind, body, and spirit. Through evidence-based therapy options and the endless adventure of Colorado, Valiant fosters connection, encouraging clients to get connected to themselves, their peers, their families, and their higher power. With the power of recovery, clients are restored to full health and experience life-changing healing. Call us today for more information: 303-536-5463