Can I go to AA if I don't believe in God?

Jessica Kennedy, Mental Health America

Yes, although you may have to do some internal mental gymnastics to be cool with it.

Here’s the first three steps of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous):

  • We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable.

  • We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

  • We made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

The word God appears in some of the other steps, too. That’s because the steps come from the “Big Book” (Alcoholics Anonymous, the guidebook). Like most movements, AA has evolved.

The key thing to understand here is “God as we understood Him.”

A lot of people replace the word God with the phrase Higher Power, to emphasize that it’s not really about the capital-G Christian God. Your higher power can be someone you admire, nature, balance in the universe, or science.

Some people, especially more hardcore atheists or agnostics, really struggle with this idea. That’s okay. AA isn’t the only thing out there. There are many other options for getting help with drinking or substance use problems, including SMART Recovery or S.O.S.

Mental Health America doesn’t endorse any particular approach over another.

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