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 What if I don't believe in God?

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The spiritual beliefs and spiritual experiences of DRA members are as diverse as those found in society at large. Some members of our Fellowship work the Twelve Steps and their personal program of recovery from a perspective based in their personal spiritual and religious beliefs. Some members have difficult or ambivalent feelings about God and spiritual matters so tread lightly, searching for their own truth and meaning while working the DRA program. It is not unusual for DRA members to be agnostics or atheists. Their personal program of dual recovery may have nothing whatsoever to do with God, religion, or what we commonly think of as spiritual matters.

Working a DRA program of dual recovery is a highly individual process. It is a program of freedom and choice. We donít all think and feel the same. Our Second Tradition clearly states that DRA has only two requirements for membership; a desire to stop using alcohol and other intoxicating drugs, and a desire to manage our emotional or psychiatric illness in a healthy and constructive way. Neither of these requirements has any bearing on oneís spiritual belief system. We practice tolerance in DRA. Differences regarding spiritual concepts, or a lack thereof, do not keep us from working our individual programs of dual recovery. Therefore, we donít need to defend or debate our personal beliefs with anyone.

Members like you share their experience:

My sponsor told me to read Appendix 2 from the AA Big Book. I found out that I could define "spiritual awakening" not as the religious conversion I first feared, but as the personality change required to bring about recovery or "a profound alteration in my reaction to life." That clicked for me. After that I started to see that the Steps were basically a very practical way to work at changing myself for the better. I guess you could relate spiritual growth or awakening to gaining emotional maturity or strength.

I had to get over my aversion to some of the words and labels used at meetings. They kept reminding me of my parentís stern religious views. I couldnít deny the obvious evidence that people were doing well in DRA, but this God and prayer talk just made me gag. I got sort of angry one time when I was still in treatment and actually said that at a meeting. No one berated or chastised me like my parents would have. After the meeting one of the members talked to me about how flexible the DRA program was. She shared with me that she was a Buddhist and at first she had some of the same worries that I did. Iím glad now that I spoke up. I could see that I needed to keep an open mind.

Iím a long time AA and DRA member. To tell you the truth, I donít believe there is a God. I know that the Twelve Steps can work for anyone though because Iíve been sober for 16 years. I havenít had a major flare-up of my psychiatric symptoms for the last eight years. To me, spirituality is all about how I behave as a person--my values. Keeping connected with recovering people and helping newcomers. Things like being grateful and not letting my ego swell up too far. Itís being ok with saying Iím sorry when Iíve hurt someone and being tolerant of other peopleís views. Itís accepting my illnesses and living in the solution not the problem. To me, thatís what spiritual growth is all about.

Alcohol and pot used to be my higher power. Now itís the Fellowship of DRA. What could be a better guiding and helping force than the loving friends Iíve made in recovery?

Nature is what I use. Iíve always loved to spend time out in the forests hiking, camping, and fishing. Thatís where I find my best answers and deepest joy. I donít have to worry about who or what created all that beauty, I just have to be there and breathe it all in. Thatís meditation and prayer to me, and it fills me with life.

I call Step One the "I Can't Step."  In Step One we admit the truth about our situation--that our best thinking and all our will-power could not keep us sane and sober. Step Two is the "We Can Step."  In Step Two we identify resources that can help us. We begin to believe that with these new sources of help, we can change our thinking and actions and learn to keep our disease in remission. "I canít" do it alone--together "we can." In Step Three we decide to ask our chosen helping or higher powers for help--to accept and follow their expert advice. We become willing to cooperate. There, you see, weíve made it through Step Three. That didnít sound like religion did it?

I really liked the idea of finding my own higher power--one that made sense to me. I had been told what to believe and what was right or wrong all my life. This program gave me the freedom to finally figure things out for myself. I donít need to convince anyone else that my higher power can beat up their higher power or that mine is the only real one. I donít need to even let anyone know what my higher power is. All I say is that I have one and it helps me to recover. 

More: A Spiritual Dimension

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NOTE: For additional thoughts on this topic, read, "A Spiritual Dimension" An explanation of spirituality as it applies to DRA's 12 Steps and program of dual recovery.

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