Higher Power Loses to Humanists in Treatment of Alcoholics.

Finally, the requirement for treatment of drug abuse is becoming rational. It is leaving behind the myth all addictions must be treated by succombing to a “higher power”.  In the U. S. the so called higher power has been almost exculsively the Christian god.

This case was about constitutional rights.  But, data shows the higher power never was required for success, even though many attribute it to their personal success.

These myths about the necessity of religion in various circumstances are hard to stamp out.  An existing military policy, unless it has been disgarded recently, says to be mentally fit for combat troops must be sufficiently religious.

Troops who did not respond enthusiastically enough to “do you know god” were tossed aside.  This, in spite of large numbers of known atheists who have served well and remained mentally healthy afterwards.

The Constitutional problem in alcoholic treatment arises from court mandated treatment sentences.  This is almost always to attend Alcoholics Anonymous.  As everyone knows, AA treatment requires belief in the existence of a deity.  In this case, the person did not recognize the existence of any deity and so refused the treatment required in the sentence.

We know alcoholism and other drug illnesses are under treated.  As I understand it, we would save tax dollars by spending more public money preventing and healing this illness. There is not a direct path to health that works for everyone.

That’s why avoiding myths is important.

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/08/24/5676856/atheist-parolee-wins-federal-appeal.html

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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13 Responses to Higher Power Loses to Humanists in Treatment of Alcoholics.

  1. Michael Ross says:

    “Troops who did not respond enthusiastically enough to “do you know god” were tossed aside. ”

    Cheer up Jon, seems to be a growing anti-Christian bias in the U.S. Military now-a-days.

    https://www.google.com/search?newwindow=1&q=anti-christian+U.S.+military&oq=anti-christian+U.S.+military&gs_l=serp.12…22042.27235.0.29656.5.5.0.0.0.0.86.380.5.5.0….0…1c.1.25.serp..4.1.86.BC2fEVmrePY

  2. It appears from the article that the gentleman was required to go to a Christian-based rehab, which has nothing to do with AA. I wholeheartedly agree with a person’s right to choose which treatment is appropriate for them. AA, on the other hand, does not REQUIRE anything. The steps are merely suggestions (much as when jumping out of an airplane it is suggested you pull the rip cord!). And it is a “God of our own understanding” which can be anything – nature, the universe, a group of people, or a deity that they choose. Nowhere in the AA literature does it say “you have to believe in the Christian god”, nowhere. It appears that you may be continuing the myth of the “higher power” concept in AA.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      John 1:52 Thank you for the observation.

      “And it is a ‘God of our understanding’ which can be anything–nature, the universe, a group of people, or a deity that they choose.”

      I realize that for nearly all people we would call, “nonbelievers”, this generic way of handling the “god” issue is just fine. But, for that small group which needs the service and cannot find any of those you refer to, can find no relationship with spiritual concept, a judge requiring care from such a agency presents a problem.

      • Avatar of realist realist says:

        Understanding the basis of the concept of a “higher power” helps here. Often, people with addictions become ego-driven and work only to satisfy themselves. The reason for acknowledging powers greater resides not so much in the need for a spiritual connection, but in the admission the world does not revolve around themselves. Spiritual connections are encouraged as a help, but are never required. As long as an individual is capable of seeing their right-sized role in the world their attitude becomes one of humility rather than an ego-driven self-centeredness. This change of attitude makes it easier for people to lead happy lives thereby not being as vulnerable to mind-altering substances. The laws of physics work in this regard as well as any god.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          realist 1:48 “..that the world does not revolve around themselves.”

          Well said. I agree that is the step people most often needed for recovery. Many assume the higher power concept is necessary to go there, but, from people I know well I’ve learned it is not necessary for everyone. To some it is a counter productive concept.

    • Avatar of realist realist says:

      Thank you for stating this so well. Sometimes it is hard for people to understand the absolute freedom of the AA program including freedom from religion.

      • StanB says:

        Realist, you WILL hear religion mentioned by participants in AA, those who do believe in a god or gods will be witnessing and they will be mentioning him/them. You do have the right not to listen, but not to prohibit their witness.

  3. Wanna B Sure says:

    Seems to be a conflation of the subject of alcohol/drug treatment, and the military. Two different topics. I see no mention of the military in the link provided by Jon. The title of the topic is; “Higher Power Loses to Humanists in Treatment of Alcoholics”. All the “military” inclusion does is muddy the water, and an honest discussion is difficult, if not impossible to stay on topic. A situation that happens quite often here. It’s just not worth the effort.

  4. Brad says:

    One thing I would have to say is that anyone who is addicted to drugs (I reject the term “alcoholic” because alcohol is just another drug), they do need some power greater than themselves to recover. In practical terms, it means a treatment program, a support group (AA, NA, etc), or at least some other person or persons intervening to help the person recover.

    I have yet to meet an addict who is able to recover all on their own, because they have lost all control over their own behavior.

    All of that being said, in no way should anyone ever be told that the only way to recover is through a Christian God or any other god. A lot of addicts do seem to find spirituality a part of their recovery, but no matter what they always need something or someone for assistance.

    • StanB says:

      Recovered the first time from alchol on my own, quit cold turkey and ad the DT’s for two weeks and it scared me to death. Had it beat for over twenty years and then my divorce started me down that road again. Christian retreat helped me beat it the second time. I even had three beers at my sons wedding yesterday and have no desire for one today, may be a year or two before I have another.

  5. Wolfy32 says:

    As to the military comment, I will respond to it since it was brought up. I think it’s purely psychological that our military would require any type of admission of God. Maybe a myths on religion in the military is another topic.

    I think our government may be taking lessons from jihadists. People need something to believe in to be a good fighter. Dedicated fighters that strongly believe in something are powerful and may stop at nothing short of victory. The myth may be that if they have nothing to believe in they won’t be a good fighter…

    I don’t believe for a second our military is doing anything for religious purposes. There would be a self serving agenda behind it… In this case, a more effective employee is all.. I know Christians are happy at this military indoctrination, however, imagine the fallout if our military started requiring people the claim the Muslim God in order to be in the military?? After all they have more effective fighters than us!!

    They could any day say, we tried christianity, let’s try extreme Islamism.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Wolfy32 2:31 “I don’t believe … our military is doing anything for religious purposes. There would be a self serving agenda…”

      Could well be. In my opinion, when coaches crank up their athelets with prayer and the military does the same thing, it is a case of mental misdirection. Instead of focusing on the internal motivation people may, or may not, have, they try to train minds to believe the cause is for something bigger than the game or battle ahead of them. It was identical to what authors of the Bible were up to.

      • StanB says:

        Most soldiers or sports players aren’t listening anyway. You fight for your brothers in the squad, not for God or country.

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