SOS offers addiction recovery without religion
For atheists who are addicted to alcohol or drugs, recovery programs that urge reliance on a “higher power” can be problematic. What is this higher power? Despite protestations to the contrary, the term is obviously meant as a synonym for God. Substituting “nature,” “or “science” or some such thing doesn’t quite cut it.
There is an another approach for those uncomfortable with the spiritual content of 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Secular Organizations for Sobriety — SOS, also known as Save Our Selves — credits the individual for his or her own sobriety. Despite this emphasis on personal responsibility, SOS members don’t have to go it alone. At anonymous meetings, members talk about their experiences, offering each other information and encouragement.
The SOS movement began with an article in the Summer 1985 issue of Free Inquiry magazine, by Jim Christopher. In “Sobriety Without Superstition,” Christopher gives an account of the path he took to sobriety which led him from 17 years “of a fearful and guilty alcoholism to a fearful and guilty sobriety with Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Christopher felt that turning one’s life over to a “higher power” was incompatible with research that indicated that addiction is the result of physiology, not psychology. The article got a big response from alcoholics and addicts who wanted to maintain sobriety without religion, leading Christopher to found SOS.
In a telephone interview Thursday, Christopher noted that SOS is not faith-based, “It’s of this world” he said.
He rejects the Alcohol Anonymous claim that a ” higher power'” does not necessarily refer to God. “That’s nonsense, ” he said. “It’s in all their literature.”
SOS meetings are held in every state, as well as in other countries. SOS has gained recognition from rehabilitation professionals and the nation courts, some of which have ruled that state-funded programs can’t require participation in AA because of its religious nature.
Christopher said there have been meeting in Riverside and San Bernardino in the past, but there are none currently. However, the organization will send out packets for anyone interested in starting a group.
The organization will celebrate its 25th anniversary Saturday at the International Festival of Recovery to be held at its headquarters at the Center for Inquiry in Los Angeles. Those attending will get a free lunch, and can attend workshops, presentations, seminars, talks by major presenters in the addiction recovery and mental health fields. Parking is free. Doors open at 8: a.m. for the daylong event.
For information, contact:
SOS International Clearinghouse
The Center for Inquiry – West
4773 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90027
Phone: (323) 666-4295
E-mail: [email protected]