A newbie in addiction treatment can be overwhelmed by all the talk about a “higher power.” This can especially be startling for those turned off to organized religion. Maybe you’re an atheist and believe there is no god, or you’re agnostic and wonder what god really is. Recovery without religion is a common question for those trying to get sober and healthy. 

So how do atheists and agnostics recover from alcohol or drug abuse? Most hear the word “sobriety” and automatically think of the 12 step program and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The 12 step program often gets associated with religious language and higher powers, while AA is a spiritual problem that can be fixed with the 12 step program and belief in a higher power. If the traditional 12-step way of life does not resonate with you, can you still fully recover?

This resource goes over the correlation between religion and substance abuse, as well as treatment program options for nonreligious people. Here in San Diego, our rehab center offers recovery programs for those addicted to drugs or alcohol. At Healthy Life Recovery, we provide individualized treatment where any religious or nonreligious needs can be accommodated. No two people are the same, which is why no two treatment plans should be the same either.

recovery without religion

Religion and Substance Abuse

Studies have been done about the contribution of spirituality and religion for recovery from substance abuse from decades ago to present time. Overall evidence suggests people who adopt spiritual or religious aspects to recovery express greater satisfaction and improved quality of life. Still, the evidence is hard to fully understand with the approaches used for these studies.

Both religion and a spiritual approach can help reduce stress during the recovery process. Certain practices can be used as protective factors, which in return lower the risk for a potential relapse. Although, religious and spiritual people do have lower rates of substance abuse.

Treatment programs that embrace religion (12-step program) and spirituality often face backlash for their loyalty to this part of recovery. There is no clear evidence that proves people with spiritual and religious beliefs have a better or more successful recovery outcome than those who do not.

The medical professional has acknowledged how religious beliefs can affect treatment approaches for various conditions. Medical professionals often try to support these religious and spiritual beliefs to better serve the person in the recovery process.

Options for Nonreligious, Agnostic, or Atheist Individuals

There are recovery groups and programs for people who wish not to focus on religious doctrine and still want to be part of a peer support group. These support groups can allow you to openly engage with others during the recovery process that suits your needs. 

Some major organizations that offer a nonreligious environment include: 

  • Smart Management and Recovery Training (SMART recovery) is a nonspiritual, nonreligious approach to enable people to achieve recovery from substance abuse successfully.
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a nonprofit network of secular recovery programs.
  • Life Ring is a secular group whose goal is to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
  • Moderation Management (MM) is a secular program whose goal is the controlled use of alcohol in recovering individuals. This program may not be for everyone.
  • Women for Sobriety is a nonprofit secular organization for women in recovery.

Whether you incorporate spiritual or religious aspects into your substance abuse treatment, the above programs are effective treatments for everyone.

recovery without religion

Recovery Without Religion is Possible

Nonreligious people, atheists and agnostics recover just as religious and spiritual people do. It is important to choose the path that works best for you at a treatment center. That path may evolve and change over time, but you should always feel connected and living your best sober life. 

Our treatment facility in San Diego provides addiction treatment that accommodates your needs. We put your physical and mental health first, making sure that living sober is achievable and long-term. We have witnessed tremendous success from our evidence-based treatment plans. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, give us a call today. We have treatment plans that can fit all your needs, even if that means recovery without religion.

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