March 19, 2012

Is a higher power needed to get sober?

Is belief in God or another higher power a necessity to overcome alcohol addiction or substance abuse?

While this tough question doesn’t have a clear-cut answer, the open discussion and dialogue is valuable.

Last week on Canada’s CBC Radio, during a nearly hour-long discussion with a range of guests on Ideas’ “The God of Your Understanding: Religion in AA” the immense subject was delved into.

Click here to listen to the entire show.

Steeped in the thought that a higher power is needed to get sober because those struggling with addiction have no control over alcohol, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous created the 12 steps in the late 1930s.

As radio host Paul Kennedy points out in the “The God of Your Understanding: Religion in AA,” this theme of God or a higher power in some AA meetings can make some agnostics and atheists seeking help “shift uneasily in their chair.” There are some looking for guidance who want to get sober without religion.

So, do they simply designate their own version of a higher power? Or leave it out completely? These questions are asked in the open dialogue.

During the radio discussion, CBC Radio talks with a number of guests on the subject, including a rabbi that says some kind of higher power is necessary to sobriety, some anonymous members of an agnostic-formed AA group in Toronto and a woman who says a “spiritual awakening” helped her beat alcohol addiction.

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