The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous offers a spiritual program but is not based on any specific doctrine from any religion.

Although many experts say that the 12 steps were created with principles from different religions and Christian principles, the program does not require anyone to accept the definition of anyone else’s God.

In fact, the book states that no matter how inadequate your conception of God is, it’s enough to do the steps.

Why is it non-religious?

Many addicts and alcoholics have serious issues with religion and God. Some believe in a God with all their heart, but cannot stay sober, which causes problems with their relationship on the spiritual side of life. Others have grown to be agnostic and atheist through their addiction.

Addicts and alcoholics can have religious and philosophical convictions galore, but it will have little effect on their sobriety. The reason is that addiction is a chronic disease, and it needs treatment.

You can look at the 12 steps as a form of treatment for alcoholism. With it, an addict or alcoholic needs a spiritual awakening, attitude adjustment or psychic change.

“Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.” Page 27, Alcoholics Anonymous

This is what they mean by spiritual experience, it’s a completely new way of acting, thinking, believing, and being.

How do 12 Steps work with religion?

The 12 steps complement your religious views. You do not need to adopt any type of doctrine or view based on religion.

You do need to be willing to believe in a higher power. But that is as far as Alcoholics Anonymous takes it.

The book also states that you do not even need to believe if you cannot muster the courage to do so. Instead, you just must be willing to believe in a higher power.

Again, it doesn’t matter how inadequate your conception of this higher power is, as long as it is something bigger than you. Even if you have trouble trusting religion the big book asks you to “Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer.”

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