If you have been struggling with addiction but are avoiding professional help because you are uncomfortable about the 12 step reliance on a higher power, be aware that you can find treatment centers that don’t require you to rely on any form of a higher power. If you’re thinking, “Do I need a higher power to overcome my addiction?” and shying away from treatment because of religious skittishness, stop denying yourself the care you need.
For some addicts, the need to control every facet of life means that the decision to “let go and let God” can be quite soothing. However, other addicts who have suffered trauma, particularly religious trauma, find this whole concept extremely off-putting. For ACOA addicts, a focus on religion in childhood can make the idea of leaning on a higher power abhorrent. There are other recovery tools that can give you comfort and relief.
Grooves in the Brain
Often, the early stages of full-blown addiction are a habit. You have a long day at work, so you stop off for a bottle of wine on the way home. You have a fight with your mom and step away to use cannabis and relax. You’re tired from working two jobs so you use a little speed or another upper to help you focus for your roommate or your family. No matter what starts it, that initial habitual behavior soon becomes a necessary step in managing your life.
The early stages of addiction are generally mental. For those who use tobacco, it’s possible to cut back to just one cigarette a day. Technically, your body can possibly give up that little dose of tobacco, but your brain needs to know that you can step away, just once a day, and do nothing but smoke a cigarette. The idea of going without that one cigarette can actually leave you a little panicky.
Benefits of Non-Religious Treatment Programs
Non-religious treatment centers can support you through the hazards and risks of detox. They can also help guide you into treatment, including one on one counseling and group therapies. Even a facility that offers spiritual support can help you to build a program that doesn’t require you to rely on your higher power. For many struggling with addiction, the core of isolation is born of shame. If your attitude toward addiction is that it’s a sign of weakness, you may have chosen to not seek support because you are embarrassed that your habitual drug use has become a necessary facet of your daily living. The idea of increasing that sense of shame by giving your life over to a higher power can be brutal. To maintain a sense of confidence and control, many prefer a program such as SMART recovery. This addiction treatment program relies on self-management and recover training that helps you to better
- understand your triggers and urges
- re-route your reactions to triggers and managing your feelings
- living in safety and balance
Having a friend, online community or counselor that you can vent to when you get triggered can be as beneficial as prayer for those who gain no benefit from the idea of a higher power. It’s important to note that many members of the 12 step community are not especially comfortable with the intensity of religious focus that has grown up over time. Because many 12 step groups meet in churches, the unposted agendas found in some groups may be especially off-putting.
Because many who struggle with addiction also deal with trauma, such as abuse at the hands of a parent who may have also been a religious figurehead in the household, you may gain benefit from 12 step meetings held in community centers instead of churches. No matter which supports you choose, it is critical that you get help. Long-term drug and alcohol use can do irreparable harm to your brain, spirit and body. Detox is miserable and can be dangerous; the longer you use and abuse, the worse your detox risk will be. Addiction is a disease, not a sign of weakness. With detox and treatment, you can find a community to help you move into recovery for long-term health. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 833-846-5669.