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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:41 am 
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I've been trying to work the steps and am having some trouble... okay a fair amount of trouble. Although I've completed my fourth step and I am talking with my sponsor about getting together for the fifth, I know that I still struggle with all of the previous ones. My sponsor has continually sent me back to review the 3rd step (and sometimes 1-3). I want to make progress, but I can't lie and pretend that I'm turning everything over to God, that I'm trusting Him to keep me clean, not when I know how horrible it was without the Suboxone (and that was AFTER I had taken all first three steps the first time).

Because I don't feel 100% convinced of the 1st step 100% of the time (keep in mind that financially and physically, I have a high bottom. It was the emotional and spiritual bottom that pushed me to get help and so, when I feel sane, I don't feel powerless), my sponsor wonders if the Suboxone is "blocking" my spirituality. She has heard Methadone patients say that Methadone blocks spirituality. Of course, she also has assured me that I don't appear to be the least bit high. I certainly don't feel high. Still, I can't seem to work the steps as I've heard so many people do.

When I first detoxed, I was all excited to get on with the steps so that I could stay off the drugs. But, abstinence was so psychologically painful and unbearable that I had to seek out Suboxone again because I couldn't NOT use in that state. If I had been locked up, I swear that I would have done some serious damage to myself. Maybe that would have pushed me to the breaking point and I would have accepted a 12-step program without reservation. Maybe that would have removed what is blocking my spirituality. But, that didn't happen. I was able to take Suboxone and feel sane again.

The past few days, a line from the meeting's readings has been repeating in my head: "If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it..." Hmmm.... do I want what they have? Sure, I want to be free from the need to use. But... do I want the whole 12-Step package? If I'm honest about it, I don't. I don't want to HAVE to attend meetings or risk relapsing. But, I don't want to be an addict either. I'm not in acceptance. Is that my problem? I just don't want the hand that has been dealt to me.

My sponsor is trying to keep me moving to complete the 4th, 5th, and 6th steps because she fears that I'm at risk for relapse if I don't keep moving forward. I'm okay with trying that but I fear that I'm on very shakey ground with 1-3 (so will 4-6 even have any value?).

Any input on anything that I have shared would be appreciated (just to give a little bit more information... my NA home group knows that I'm on Suboxone and is very supportive of me, even allowing me to serve as secretary and to chair meetings. My sponsor's main fellowship is AA and that's how I'm working the steps).

I'm so glad that I stumbled on this forum again.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:35 am 
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Christin,

Unfortunately I'm not a 12-stepper by any stretch of the imagination, but I wanted to respond to some of what you said anyway. First of all, I don't think you're at all alone in your thinking. Many people - myself included - have trouble giving up our own power and control, so to speak. I feel, as others do, that I DO have the control to keep from using. I make the conscious choice everyday to not use. It's difficult to let go of that. You might want to read a thread that was started not too long ago. I think it's called "my personal, non-fulfilling story" or something to that effect. There are many "takes" on the 12-step philosophy on that thread and it might give you some added insight as well as comfort knowing you're not alone in your struggle.

I'm very glad you have found a group that supports your suboxone use. That's rare and awesome! But - and don't take this the wrong way - I find the idea that suboxone, methadone, or any medication could block someone's spirituality. It just makes no sense to me whatsoever. Maybe I'm missing something though, because as an atheist I really don't believe in spirituality, but even if I did I don't see how a medication could interfere with it.

Personally, I think you need to work the steps as they fit into your own philosophy. Maybe if you look at them from your own perspective and not quite so literally you'll find a way to make them work for you and help in your recovery. I think 12-step groups can be invaluable to many people, but I don't think it's a one-size-fits-all. Everyone has to find a way to make that thinking fit into their own life code. Don't they say something like "take what works for you and leave the rest behind"? I know that's not an accurate quote, but I think you know what I'm trying to say.

I have no idea if this helps you or gives you more questions, but at the very least I hope perhaps now you don't feel like you're the only one struggling with this. I have no doubt that you can find a way to make the steps work for you in a way that makes you comfortable.

Good luck.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:57 am 
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I will try to repeat something Dr. Junig has said on this forum several times because I completely agree with him. He has said that in order for someone to truly embrace the 12 steps and for it to work, a person has to be in a desperate place or hit a desperate place. (I will admit I am not quoting him and he says it much better). So your spiritual bottom that you hit would be a place of desperation making you completely willing to surrender and follow the program so as to get out of that place and avoid getting back into it again. With suboxone, for me anyways, it isn't like I have lost any spirituality at all. I still FEEL just like anyone else does about anything. But when it comes to drugs, I don't have to constantly think about avoiding certain people or situations because I am powerless. Because on suboxone, I am NOT powerless. Someone could come into my home and possess narcotics, leave them on the kitchen table overnight, and I wouldn't touch them.

Off suboxone is a whole different story and if I intended to get off suboxone, I would have to seriously get into a 12-step program FAST and go through it thinking about the times when I DID feel desperate and thinking about how powerless I am OFF suboxone. In that case, I think I could still do it. And then at the point that I did go off suboxone, I would probably work with my sponsor to go BACK through the steps again for good measure and to keep my head in the right place.

This is why I firmly believe they need to come up with something else for people on suboxone. They need some other program to go with it because it really doesn't mesh too well with the 12-steps in my opinion. There are other things that WOULD be helpful for people getting on suboxone however. Like learning about how the drug works. Learning about remission and what that means...i.e. not a cure for addiction. Learning different tools and ways of weaning down on it. What to expect going off of it. How to "recover" while on it. Preparing oneself for suboxone emergencies, doctor transfers, pain, surgeries, etc. Basically everything you pretty much get from this site. But it would be better if there were some kind of class prior to going on it or right at the time someone goes on it. Then some continuation while in therapy and follow up sessions decreasing in frequency as the length of treatment continues. Maybe then another course when people are going off of it so they have other people in the same situation to talk to. I haven't seen or heard of anything like this but suspect that eventually there is a lot of money to be made from it.

I think the whole "are you willing to go to any lengths to get it" line works off sub but no so well on sub. You don't HAVE to go to any lengths to get what other people have because you only have to take your sub. All of the other stuff naturally becomes a little less meaningful after that.

Am I suggesting that you stop going? No. Am I suggesting you quit suboxone? Absolutely not. I do think suboxone has given you a choice. If you want to get through the steps, you will probably have to think of things BEFORE sub. You will have to imagine what you would be feeling and what things would be like without it. How desperate would you be then? I don't know how well that will work for you. But I don't think you are spiritually dead. I DO think people seem to confuse spirituality with desperation a little in this circumstance. I mean....suddenly stop your suboxone for a week and you will begin feeling that "spirituality" and motivation for the 12-steps. But I don't think that is spirituality so much as it is desperation. Either way, you will start feeling powerless. That's for sure :-)

I am not going to get into the religious part of the 12-steps. It is a religious organization. I am NOT a religious person. I cannot turn myself over to God or an elf, or the "force", or anything. I don't believe in any of it.....at all. Although I wish elves were real....and fairies. I digress. If I believed in anything it would be more of a Buddhist nature which doesn't really mesh well with that either. So I would have a hard time with that step to begin with. Even if desperate.

I apologize for the length of this. I don't have time right this minute to go back and shorten it.

Good luck with this.

Cherie

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:13 pm 
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Hi christin :P Thanks so much for your honesty! You have a lot of questions and valid concerns regarding your 12 step program while you're on suboxone and I admire your willingness to "go to any lengths" for your recovery!

Little bit about me. I have 8 years clean and sober and 20 years experience in AA. I relapsed 3 times after 1 and a half years, 2 years and three and a half years. I grew up in AA, I got here when I was 21. I am also an addict but I find that AA works better for me. I have a sponsor, I have gone through the steps many different times and different formats (12 and 12, Big Book, Hazelden booklets) throughout these 20 years. I sponsor people and I have even sponsored a woman on suboxone. I have been in pain management these last 8 years and only took narcotics as prescribed. Unfortunately my condition forced me to take at least 1-1.5 roxcodones a day for the last 3 years. I have NEVER taken a pill for anything other than the pain for which it was prescribed and I have NEVER taken more than 2 pills a day in increments of 1/4 every 4 hours. I never had an obsession or a compulsion to take more than I needed and I was prescribed 4 pills a day. I got pregnant this past year and miscarried so I got on suboxone to try to conceive again. The WD is easier on my already compromised CNS and immune system. I started on .8 and am doing the liquid taper. I am currently on .66

I just wanted you to have all my background so you could get information from a 12 step member that has experience w/ being on pain meds and suboxone while working the steps and being in recovery. Ok....enough about me :lol:

The third step is an action step, we have to make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a HP as we understand Him although we decide to do that, that action is not enough. We need to try to turn it over every day. The third step is not something we can do just once and be done w/. I make a daily decision to "Let Go and Let God" and although I may try to take my will back or act out in self will, I know that when I took that step originally, I honestly did make that decision. I had to if I were to face the wreckage of my past in my 4th step, share all that stuff in my 5th, work on changing the alcoholic/addict that came into AA in 6 & 7, make amends in 8 & 9, continue to work on myself in 10, improve my relationship w/ my HP in 11 and help others in 12. My humanness allows me to be imperfect and maybe I don't turn everything over, every moment or every day but I do know that when I align my will to my HP's things are just inherently better, my day usually goes smoother and I'm generally nicer to be around. :D . I can't run the show of my own life. I am an alcoholic and a drug addict. I usually use my will for selfish, self centered things. By aligning my will w/ my HP, it really is a better use of my will.

Our program is just "A Day At A Time". Your HP provided you w/ an opportunity to use suboxone to aid in your recovery, to get you to a place where you could have the clarity to work on yourself and your recovery. You don't need to experience powerlessness to be powerless. If you are an addict, you know that you have no power over drugs. You know you can't just use one of your DOC. I know that where alcohol and drugs are concerned I have no power. I know that my HP kept me from using those pain pills I had to take over these last 8 years. I always have my will and my disease, but I turned it over every time I had to take a pill. I could never have taken pain pills in recovery and not abused them if I wasn't trying to align my will w/ my HP's every day and I needed to recommit to that decision every single day. I knew I was in His care and I knew I would be ok. You don't need to feel powerless over your life or your disease every day, you just need to know that you on your own have no power over drugs. This is why we need a "power greater than us to restore us to sanity" where drugs or alcohol are concerned. If you had that power you wouldn't have become an addict or needed suboxone to aid in your recovery.

I do not believe that suboxone can or will block you spiritually. Although I felt numbed or blunted throughout my years in pain management when I had to take that pill, I never stopped feeling or wanting a deeper connection to my HP, my fellow alcoholics/addicts or the world around me. It wasn't the same. I wasn't using, lying, cheating or being dishonest to get my DOC. The Big Book of AA talks about the spiritual experience in the appendices at the end of the book (p567 4th ed. Alcoholics Anonymous). Some people have an immediate spiritual experience/awakening but most have what is referred to as the "educational variety". That's what happened to me. I changed and developed feelings of sobriety, spirituality and gratitude over time and experience throughout my recovery. I didn't fully feel the impact of my 3rd step until after I had done my 5th. With every day and every experience you go through w/out picking up your DOC you grow more clean and sober, you get more clarity and make better decisions. It is very rare that a person in recovery is "struck spiritual". Again that is why we try to practice these principals "Just For Today".

It is also rare for someone to have acceptance all the time. Especially in the beginning. As long as you don't pick up or use you are doing the first step 100%. You don't have to like something to accept it. You can mourn the fact that you are an addict and feel your feelings about it all while accepting it. There is a great passage in the Big Book on acceptance and it is used in all 12 step programs as a reference point for not particularly liking whatever it is we are going through:

Acceptance


And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.
When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person,
place, thing, or situation--some fact of my life--unacceptable to me,
and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing,
or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake.
Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober;
unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy.
I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world
as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes


The serenity prayer is also a great tool for acceptance. There are things in this life that we simply cannot change but we can change ourselves, our attitudes and behaviors and that is "The courage to change the things we can". I have gone through a lot these last 8 years. I became very ill and eventually disabled. I became unable to work and support myself and I lost a pregnancy I desperately wanted. I didn't have acceptance or feel spiritual throughout any of that, but when I felt my feelings and worked through whatever it was I was going through I eventually got to the other side. After looking back I can see how my experiences have changed me, made me a better person and helped me to help someone else. My acceptance came later. I lost a lot of time and energy trying to fight the fact things that were happening to me but when I accepted them for what they were I was free. Spirituality is work. Recovery is work.

You sound like you are doing a wonderful job in working on your recovery. You have a sponsor, you are giving back through service and sharing your ESH honestly w/ your home group and you are working on the steps. You are working all three sides of the triangle of NA/AA, UNITY, RECOVERY and SERVICE. This entire 12 Step Program is a process, not an event. No one gets well overnight or feels good about going through it either. All this will change, I promise you. The more you practice this stuff the easier it gets. Recovery is about change. You are getting better while you are working on getting better and the only way out is through. I think it's an incredible testimony to your recovery and your willingness to stay clean by asking these questions, by examining your true feelings and by asking for help. You are (sorry for the cliche`) exactly where you should be.

Please feel free to pm me if you want to talk or have any questions. I hope I've helped in some way.

Samantha


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:24 am 
Nice reply smat. You really addressed christin's concerns thoroughly....from the perspective of someone who has obviously worked all the steps and from the sounds of it....continues to work a serious program of recovery. It was very nice of you to take the time. And it's nice to have some new members bringing a fresh perspective to recovery methods.
While those of us in medication-assisted recovery don't necessarily have the desperation that Dr. Junig speaks of that is often necessary to drive a serious chance at success in abstinence-based recovery, there are still plenty of us who do have adjunct recovery methods that we are working. Whether it be a step-based system or otherwise, it's just great to have others to relate to here on the forum.
I agree with you, it is a daily (sometimes hourly) decision that we actively make to turn our lives/wills over to our Higher Power, mine is God. I have seen what my will did for my life when I let it supercede my relationship to my God and to my spirituality.....not pretty! I take great comfort in knowing that God is now in control and that if I am actively working His plan, things will most certainly go much better for me...always have!
Obviously, it's up to the individual as to whether to pursue step work while on Suboxone or not. I think I understand what you are feeling. Once I started Suboxone, I no longer felt the need to attend meetings regularly or to continue working the steps. Mind you, I was 'mandated' to attend in the first place before voluntarily withdrawing from the professional entity that dictated my recovery method. So, again, once on Suboxone and no longer required to attend NA, I pretty quickly let my attendence drop off. It sounds like for you, though, that you have a nice group who is supportive of you and your Sub use, so I see nothing wrong with continuing....provided that it remains a positive experience for you. If it is putting pressure on you in some way that is deleterious to your recovery, then perhaps a 'break' would be in order. That is something only you can decide. I do think the two can work hand-in-hand though. And I do think that spirituality in some form is key to continuing to get better. Keep trying, keep seeking good advice and keep following what works for you....what brings you the most peace, day in and day out. In my opinion, progress equals a couple of things - not using our former drugs of choice (one day at a time) and drawing nearer to a peaceful (maybe peace-filled is better) existence (one day at a time) Don't be too hard on yourself for struggling with the step work....it will come when and how it is ultimately supposed to!
Not sure that added much, as you already such a great reply from smat! I hope you feel encouraged if nothing else! Hang in there and I hope you'll keep posting.

I'll stop now! I do hope you're feeling better and I hope you'll stick around the forum!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:14 pm 
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I have to agree that the response from Smat was excellent.

I believe that this is a struggle that many addicts on ORT (Opiate Replacement Therapy) suffer. Many in AA/NA refuse to even acknowledge someone as being "clean" or "sober" if they are taking subs or methadone. It's an unfortunate mentality in my opinion, but I do kind of get it, particularly with the NA crowd.

I have had many, many years of experience with both programs. I was highly active in AA for many years, despite repeated relapses, I kept going back over and over again, because I was desperate to get and stay clean. Getting clean was never the issue for me, STAYING clean, however, was a different story.

The "spiritual" aspects of both programs have always been a HUGE stumbling block for me, due to the fact that I am, generally, an atheist. I find it extremely difficult to accept the entire concept of a higher power keeping me clean. I also find it pretty much impossible to "turn my will and my life over to God" since I really don't believe in God. So then, how could I possibly work the steps? Well, I used the generic "higher power" concept and considered the groups and my sponsor to be the higher power and I put my trust in them to guide me through the recovery process. It worked pretty well for me at times. I had about 18 months of clean time at one point and perhaps a bit more than a year at another point, but I was never able to accumulate any long-term clean time because eventually I always ended up drifting away from the meetings and that eventually lead to relapse.

On the topic of suboxone "blocking spirituality" I think that's kind of ridiculous, to be perfectly honest. You either are spiritually motivated or you are not spiritually motivated.....

Those are my thoughts, I hope some of it is helpful.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:00 pm 
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I have to disagree with some comments. 12 steps are not, I repeat not religous. If that's what you are taking away from meetings you you not listening or not going to the right meetings. I've been a 12 stepper for almost 7 years, I sponsor people, I am a regular speaker at meetings, and I am involved. I am Not religous and do Not believe in that traditional god. I have never read a bible or the tora or koran or whatever. I do however lead a spiritual life. Step 1 is "I can't" step 2 is "there is a solution" step 3 is "I am going to try that solution". I stay sober by helping others stay sober. Don't het to caught up with the dialog. I trust the process and yes suboxone is part of my process. I don't think AA is for everyone but I hate to hear people give up because they think it's religous. We have to open our minds at meetings. Some of my closest AA friends are complete Jesus freaks, I don't push them in my dirrection and they know not to push their beliefs on me. Don't let god keep you from, in my opinion, a tremendous spiritual enlightenment. It's so hard to explain the difference with spiritual and religon. You ever meet those people at meetings that live in a dumpy one bedroom apartment, no money, no family, and they are at complete piece with life. That is spirituality. I have a friend who is quadropalegic, he was in a car accident 21 years ago. It takes him 3 hours every morning just to leave the house and his limitations are huge. He is the happiest most content person you could ever meet. He feels the last 21 years are a bonus because he should have died in the crash. That is spirituality. That is why I keep working the steps and try to grow a little everyday because I want what they have. It's about being above money and things and resentments of what could have been. Every once in a while I get it and it does not matter what turmoil my life is in or what problems I am facing tomorrow, I am at peace and I chase that feeling like I used to chase drugs. To me most religous people are the farthest away from that, they tend to look outward and not inward. Hope some of this makes sense. Don't leave before the miracle happens. I am on sub and anti depressants and I don't advertise it nor deny it at meetings. If people want to claim I'm not sober because of sub, let them. I am happy and I am content and dare I say I have a spirituality in my life today that no drug could ever give me.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 12:10 am 
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Me again. Wanted to explain real quick why I get defensive over AA. For about 6 months I would show up at meeting completely wasted. I would iv in the parking lot, nod through the whole meeting, make smart ass coments, and even take money from collection plate. These people put up with my shit and would always invite me back. When I finally got clean they welcomed back and after a few months put me in charge of the collection plate. When no one else in my life would trust me and wanted nothing to do with me, they treated me like a human. Never judged or brought up my past behavior in the meetings. While it took years to earn the trust back with friends and family they took me in instantly. It just drives me crazy when a three letter word (God) sends people out the door. You will see true miracles in those rooms. Remember alot of long time members were and still are athiests.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 8:26 am 
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I'm a bit hesitant about responding, because I don't want to get into a religious debate or offend anyone. And I need to be very clear that I absolutely respect everyone's beliefs or lack thereof as well as their inalienable right to hold those beliefs.

I think when it comes to 12-step programs and how they should be able to appeal to everyone, including atheists, a large assumption is being made. That assumption is that atheists even believe in spirituality. Many atheists, including myself, do not, which is why the 12-step idea feels so foreign to us. Merriam-Webster defines "spirituality" as "of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit: incorporeal". It then defines "spirit" as: "an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms". I'm including these definitions in an attempt to explain why spirituality is incompatible with many (although not all) atheists' beliefs, or lack thereof: we simply don't believe that any "spirit" exists.

Again, I can't stress enough that I'm not trying to start a debate between theism and atheism. I'm simply trying to respond to the idea that atheists should be able to find something of value in a 12-step program. I just wanted to give my point of view as to why I don't believe that to be true.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 9:23 am 
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Hatmaker,
I to did not want to start anything. Believe me I respect everyone and I meen everyone beliefs. Honestly I never even knew the definition of spirituality. Maybe what I get out of the program is a higher conscience or tap into a state of being that is already there, if that makes any sense. Again to me it's living inward and not letting outward circumstances determine my mood or well being. I just hate to see close there mind because of a word or two. Your reply was definately appriciated.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 9:35 am 
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Hi Smoothy -

Honestly, I don't think you tried to start anything - if it came out that way, I do apologize. I just wanted to offer another point of view - and I thank you for appreciating it. Honestly, I think they way everyone here shows the utmost respect for everyone's differing belief systems is to be commended. I appreciate your perspective, too, it's a point of view about 12-step programs that I think is very important to recognize.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 12:37 pm 
Reading this thread I can honestly say I 100% understand and agree with what both junkie and smoothy have said.

It's funny, I come from a church going background and when I got into NA I much preferred it to church. I thought It was much LESS religious and dogmatic, and I felt that churches should be more like it.

On the other hand if I were an atheist I don't see how I could walk into NA and believe people who told me that it wasn't religious. In the 3+ years I attended I never heard what smoothy said: Step 1 is "I can't" step 2 is "there is a solution" step 3 is "I am going to try that solution". All I heard was "we turned our will and our life over to the care of God as we understood Him" (with a capital G and capital H). So, yeah, I would have a problem with that. It's kind of like in church when they say that they don't believe God is male or a man. Yet for the whole hour it's He, Him, Our Father, etc. Somehow people are just supposed to understand that God isn't male - by why or how would they?

I do wholeheartedly understand where you are coming form, Smoothy. I, too, showed up at meetings high and was always welcomed with open arms. So that's why I felt that people were more faithful than those I found in church.
It's really a dilema. 12 step programs have so much love and support to offer. But yet I can see how the language is a stumbling block. I think AA is something like 70+ years old now (? not sure). I wonder if maybe at some point there would be a willingness to remove the God with a capital G language and replace it with more higher power language. As Mel said, that wouldn't solve the issue for everyone, but might help with a huge chunk of people who have issues with the God of traditional religions.

One final thought, people who say things like "Sub blocks your spirituality" are the ones that give 12 step programs a bad name.
How can a medication that keeps your addiction in remission block your spirituality?

I hope this message comes across in the spirit it was meant and isn't offensive to anyone.
Lilly


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:17 pm 
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I've always felt lucky to live ia a part of the country that on any given night you can find hundreds of meetings. Some even argue that AA was started in Cleveland not Akron. I never join that debate. But here in Cleveland you can really search to find a meeting that fits. I don't know if that's good or bad for the AA purists but I was able to find a very liberal group of 12 steppers that focus more on personal growth than finding God. I have attended meetings in most of the country, due to travel and vacations, and I will say some areas are very religous in there way of explaining the 12 steps. I don't thinks I would have lasted too long if someone was telling me to find Jesus. One great thing about my home group is I have a palistinian friend who sponsors 2 Jewish guys. Where else could that happen. Again I appreciate all coments, I really try to think when I hear oposing opinion instead of a knee jerk reaction of getting defensive. Thanks guys and gals.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:48 pm 
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Smoothy1125 wrote:
I have to disagree with some comments. 12 steps are not, I repeat not religous.


You can "disagree" as much as you want, but the fact is, "God" is a religious construct. That is a fact that is equivalent to other facts such as water being wet or sand being dry.

AA and NA are "spiritual" programs based on Christian religious principals. Again, these are facts. All you have to do is read the steps for the proof of this:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The reason why the program is couched as "spiritual" is to prevent scaring off agnostics and people who don't go to church and maybe even some atheists who can wrap their heads around the "group as a higher power" concept, but the fact is, ALL 12 step programs are very, very religious in nature. Denying it doesn't make any sense and it's just not very objective.....I'm not bashing these programs, in fact, I've spent many, many years attempting to bend my own personal beliefs around the AA/NA mantle, but I just couldn't do it any more because I felt like a raging hypocrite. I don't believe in God. Going to meetings and asserting that belief a "higher power" can solve my drug problem was doing ME more harm than good, because I had to completely sacrifice my core beliefs in order to do it. That's probably why these programs never worked for me.

Perspective is crucial here, and if you're an atheist, like me, then these steps are impossible to deal with. I can't "turn my will and life over" to something I don't believe in, nor can I allow something I don't think is real is "remove my shortcomings" and I certainly don't believe that a "power greater than ourselves" is going to restore me to sanity. Perspective. From the perspective of an atheist, these steps are HIGHLY religious, and let's face it, they don't say The Lord's Prayer at the end of every meeting because it's a program that's NOT based on Christian religious principals.

I begrudge NO ONE for their beliefs. If it works for you, I'm all for it. I think these are WONDERFUL programs that have done a world of good for countless addicts and alcoholics, but they are very difficult for people like me to work with, which is why I don't go to meetings any more, I was NEVER comfortable with the religious overtones.

And just for additional context, I went to my FIRST AA meeting in 1979, so I've got a bit of experience with it.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:18 am 
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You've been around AA for a while so I'm sure you know some of the history. Bill W. realized he can stay sober by trying to help others get sober. Before any steps or meetings he would go around and help people get sober and while he was not very successful he realized he was staying sober. It's a practice that has been adapted by hundreds of other circumstances. He could gain there confidence because he was one of them, unlike most doctors and specialists. Even these forums are an example. How many people post questions about lowering thier dose or about having cravings, they ask for advise from people who have been there. That is the amazing part of the program that some will never experience because of a three letter word. To see some strung out junkie walk into a meeting and watch him change over the next few months and the to see him sitting with a new guy helping him is absolutely beautiful. That is what keeps me coming back.
Most of the meetings I go to the lords prayer is not said at the end of the meeting and the ones that close the meeting with that prayer it is not required. I see
plenty of people not join in on the prayer. I've said it before maybe it's the meetings I go to or the part of the country I reside but we NEVER talk religion in the meetings. There are people I have known for 6 or 7 years and I have no clue what thier religous beliefs are. The steps IMO are about change and cleaning up the wreckage of your life. They are about honestly know who you are (good and bad), not repeating the same mistakes over and over, seeing our part in the problems we are facing (even if our part is 1%), and living in the solution. The program has taught me I have control over one thing, that is me. I am no longer a victim nor do I feel this world owes me anything. I try to be a little better of a person today than I was yesturday and that is all I have control over.
I think it's sad when an athiests or agnostic completely shut down when they hear the word god or spiritual. IMO it is being closed minded. I think a whole new world opens up when you can approach situations and new things with an open mind. "there is one way to keep a man in everlasting ignorance, contemp prior to investigation.
As far as these programs not only being religous but being christain, sorry but that is ridiculous. Bill W. himself refused to become a member of the catholic church in fear of alienating people of different faiths. Again I've said it before I am not religous, I do not believe in heaven and hell or a mythical man in the sky protecting and judging me. I don't know what is or what is not our there and I'm ok with that. Today I know who I am, I know my strengths and my character defects.
One last thought (I don't say this to piss anyone off, just food for thought). I never understood why some feel to put a label on themselves. To label myself athiests, repiblican, democrat... I don't believe in god but I believe in something, so what am I. I believe gays should be allowed to wed but I also am a strong supported of the second amendment, so what am I. Don't label yourself, be the individual you are.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 10:39 am 
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I have just recently become a fan of NA so I thought I would put my two cents in on the pro side. I am required to go by my Doctor otherwise I can't say I would have ever went. I always try to keep in mind that I can take what I want away from the meeting and leave the rest. There are still many things said that I personally don't agree with but the bottom line is there is something definitely therapeutic about conversing with other people that really "get it"and inspiration in sitting across from someone who has been clean and sober for 20+ years and partaking of their wisdom and life experiences. I think you will find a lot more similarities than differences if you look at it that way.

If I ever want to live my life without suboxone I cannot do it without another type of support and this is one of the best options I have access to. But the main point I want to make is that if your plan includes stopping the subs eventually please make sure you have an alternative form of support in place, whatever that may be. If you plan to stay on subs for life I think that is absolutely fine also. I just want to make sure everyone (myself included) stays in the fight!!

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Promise me you will always remember...You are braver than you believe, you are stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think!

*Christopher Robin to Pooh


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 11:34 am 
I promised myself I wouldn't say anything else, but I have to say that Junkie has been MORE than open minded. How can you imply that someone is closed minded who has attended hundreds of meetings over 30 years and has a lot of good things to say about the progam? I'm glad you live in an area where people are so free thinking and there are alot of meetings to choose from. Here in the non-urban parts of New England meetings are few and far between, and I would expect any newcomer hearing the CENTRAL Christian prayer, the Lord's Prayer, to come away believing that the meetings are religious.

Agian, I think AA/NA are wonderful and the rooms are filled with caring, loving people. But just because the religious aspect doesn't bother YOU, does not solve issues that others may have with it.


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 Post subject: Well said
PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:00 pm 
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I have to agree with Junkie and say thanks for spelling things out so clearly. I'm not against 12-step either but I do have problems with the language and belief system. for one thing, and i know I'm not alone here, I've never been able to embrace 'admitting that I'm powerless." If I we3re powerless I would never be able to stay off heroin. I know 12 -step helps many many people and I'm glad it does, but it doesnt' work for everyone and no one should think that it will. adn i agree with Junkie--it IS clearly religious.

Also, Hatmaker's point is well taken--not everyone even believes in spirituality at all. Personally i am not certain (how could I be?) but I suspect existence is just a random phenomenon without any plan or meaning. I don't mean to offend anyone by saying that, in fact, I WISH there were some higher power or god to turn to but...I just dont' think there is. I dont' see any evidence. But...i may be wrong. All I know is that going on faith does not always lead to the happiest outcomes. At least, it hasn't for me. On the other hand, life FEELS like it has some kind of meaning. Maybe it does. Or maybe that's just how it feels to be human. We do strive for answers...but I'm not sure there are any. Again, I really don't mean to disrespect any pne who has other beliefs,and but I have a right to mine too even if I'm not certain. No one, after all, is certain, there is mystery in existence and personally I do not think it is at all likely that humans will ever find a final conclusion about all of it. After all, there are some limits to our perceptions...and we ARE based in physical reality...

well, this stuff can get complicated. I hope I'm making sense above. Again, thanks to everyone for their thoughts above.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:47 pm 
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It does not matter if he spent 100 years at meetings and I did not say he is closed minded. I said people who shut down when they hear a word is closed minded. I'm no better, there are a hundred examples I can give. When I hear someone going on about pro-life issues I completely shut down and think they are some religous nut who will gun down an abortion doctor. We all have our areas where I minds close a little bit. That does not make him or anyone a bad person it's just human nature. I enjoy these back and forths with the people on this forum and I never think any less of them for not seeing things my way. If anything I try to take something of thiers away with me. In my heart I know AA is not religous just like some in thier hearts are convinced they are. This is not a debate to be won or lost, it's just a couple of addicts disagreeing. Coming to thier defense because I called them closed minded is probably not needed. We are all grown ups here and I'm sure junkie and hatmaker have thick enough skins that a comment on a forum will not ruin thier day. I have the utmost respect for those two because they speak thier mind, I like to be challenged, it causes me to think. If anyone ever takes offense to any thing I say then I'm sorry but I can't just agree with everything people post and I love the people who have the balls to call me out when they think I am wrong. Don't be so sensitive Lilly.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 01, 2010 5:07 pm 
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The conversation here about religion and spirituality has reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from the Dalai Lama, so I thought I would share it:

Quote:
I believe there is an important distinction to be made between religion and spirituality. Religion I take to be concerned with belief in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another--an aspect of which is acceptance of some form of meta-physical or philosophical reality, including perhaps an idea of heaven or hell. Connected with this are religious teachings or dogma, ritual, prayers and so on. Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit--such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony, which bring happiness to both self and others.


I like this concept of spirituality because it seems to encompass human intelligence, sentience, and consciousness as opposed to looking at spirit as an animating force or some kind of power that exists outside of ourselves. From this view, I can envision my spiritual practice as basically anything that connects me to these intangible qualities of self - love, tolerance, compassion, etc. - and in that way just taking a walk in the park or sitting down at the computer to connect with other people who are travelling this same path of recovery or making time to play with my daughter are all "spiritual practices."

I too have felt uncomfortable with the way the 12 step programs frame the concept of God and spirituality, though I wish I didn't. I have tried working the steps on my own as a way to further my progress in my recovery but found that I had to do too much translating of the language into concepts that I could get behind - for example, I tried to view the concept of turning my will and life over to God as just realizing that I'm not in control of everything...but it just isn't the same. I'm glad that so many people have found healing in the 12 step framework, but I found the concepts and language of SMART recovery easier to integrate with my worldview.

And lastly, thanks to everyone in this thread for keeping the conversation civil and respectful. It's wonderful to see people from different perspectives sharing and enlightening one another on what can be a very touchy subject with kindness and open-mindedness.

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