Does anyone have any experience with AA?

I am working on my book about being an atheist with a mental illness, and in my 17 years of recovery from schizoaffective disorder and an eating disorder, I have noticed a lot of recovery or support programs have a spiritual aspect to them. Almost like you have to have a spiritual side to have any sort of balance in your life. I have included thoughts on this in my book.

I recently read in another book about an atheist not feeling welcome at Alcoholics Anonymous. I decided to check out the famous 12 steps online and I was shocked. God’s all over those steps. I thought maybe I was looking at an outdated document but apparently not.

Just for fun, I wrote my own 12 steps with more empowerment and less god. I’m trying to decide if I should include it in the book.

Does anyone have any experience with AA that they’re willing to share? Not for my book but just for my own curiosity.


    • ashes says

      If you feel comfortable sharing, I’m really interested in why you consider it a cult. When I read the 12 steps for AA I was shocked at the language used and not just the god stuff. I was really turned off by the term “powerless”. I don’t think people should be submissive, either. My own recovery from mental illness has been about independence and empowerment. I guess I was expecting to see something similar and I was blown away to see something that was the opposite.

      • says

        Apply the BITE model to 12 Step.

        Behavior Control — one may argue that, yes, that’s the point, but 12 Step goes far beyond “don’t do the thing” and takes heavy control over the entirety of the member’s life, right down to who to marry and who you can socialize with.

        Information Control — Outside information is verboten. Anything that doesn’t comport with the 12 Steps is verboten.

        Thought Control — “Your best thinking got you here.” “Stop your stinkin’ thinkin’.” 12 Step discourages (at best) any kind of independent thought or questioning of the group doctrine.

        Emotional Control — Your feelings are only valid if The Group agrees.

        Telltale has a better take on this here:
        And here:

  1. Katydid says

    My career field has a lot of alcoholics in it. Not sure if that’s a cause or effect. Regardless, over the years I have been to a number of AA functions (anniversaries, dinners) to support co-workers and people I supervise. I certainly don’t love all the “godding” that goes on–don’t be fooled, the “higher power” they’re supposed to submit to is just a code name for the Christian god. I never said anything to people in it because I figure it’s their choice to attend.

    Another thing I spotted, which I believe is related, is the overwhelming question I’ve been asked at these functions: “What are you addicted to?” When I’ve replied that I’m not addicted to anything, I’m told, “Oh, no, everyone is addicted to something!” That directly echoes the question about what faith you are, and if you say none, the answer is an insistent, “Everyone worships some god!”

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