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A modern, community-based approach to addiction treatment for Men and Women in Charleston, SC

Secular Sobriety: Are There Secular Recovery Meetings?

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Many people balk at the concept of spirituality or “God” as being part of treatment or recovery meetings. This is especially true for those in early recovery. While many of these people eventually choose to incorporate some sense of faith or spirituality into their recovery, others choose to keep their recovery wholly secular. The good news is that there are recovery meeting options for all, including those who wish to remain secular.

Understanding Faith and Recovery Meetings

There is little doubt that the concept of faith is foundational to most recovery programs. This is most likely due to the fact that the most prominent recovery type, 12-Step recovery, has a basis in spirituality, the “spiritual experience,” and a Higher Power of one’s understanding.

Going off of this model, the belief that one should create a relationship with something greater than oneself is central. Some choose to call this “greater being” God but many people have different names for their Higher Power (including “Higher Power”).

This is important because many people push back against spirituality in recovery because they conflate spirituality with religion. In recovery, this need not be the case.

Spirituality Versus Religion in Recovery Meetings

Yes, some recovery programs have a specific religious affiliation (Recovery Dharma and Buddhism for example). However, most recovery programs make a point to have no religious affiliation whatsoever.

These programs choose to have a spiritual leaning, rather than promote specific religious dogma. Now, this does not mean that some people don’t choose to participate and read the literature with their own religious views in mind. However, it does mean that everyone is allowed to hold onto their own concepts of spirituality (or lack thereof) without the fear of judgment or peer pressure to adopt anything they do not wish to do.

Understanding the Concept of a “Higher Power of One’s Own Understanding”

There are many reasons why the term “Higher Power” is used in place of the term “God” in recovery meetings. One is that it keeps the concept of spirituality wholly inclusive. Two is that many people have preconceived notions regarding the term God and this can keep them from embracing recovery and their own well-being.

A Higher Power can be anything an individual chooses it to be. The goal is to have a Higher Power that is something other than oneself or another human being. The reason for this is that people are naturally flawed and can’t always be relied upon 100%. A Higher Power should always be available whenever an individual needs help or guidance.

However, faith in a Higher Power is only a “suggestion” in most recovery programs. This means that people may choose to have no Higher Power and focus their recovery more on facts and “concrete” evidence. One recovery that embraces this is SMART Recovery.

Secular Recovery Meetings: There Is No One Way to Recover

SMART Recovery (which focuses on peer support rather than spirituality) is just one secular recovery option available. LifeRing also offers similar secular recovery. However, it should be understood that most recovery meetings are open to people of all levels of faith, or those who choose to be agnostic or atheist. Recovery is personal, and judgment has no place in recovery communities.

There are also many specific types of recovery meetings within certain recovery programs. For example, there are many 12-Step meetings that focus on the spiritual experience. However, there are also many 12-Step meetings that are set up specifically for people who are not seeking a spiritual experience. These are 12-Step atheist and agnostic meetings.

The key is to not let the idea of God or a Higher Power dissuade anyone from seeking the recovery help that they need. There are always recovery options out there, one just has to seek them out.

Helping All People Heal at Lantana Recovery

There is a famous quote by Herbert Spencer that is utilized in many recovery communities. It is even quoted directly in the primary 12-Step text most commonly referred to as the “Big Book.” It goes, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

At Lantana Recovery, we believe that it is important to stay open and stay seeking when it comes to meeting choices. This is how one attains essential personal growth in their recovery. But, this does not mean that that act of seeking must always result in a spiritual experience. Not everyone chooses to incorporate spirituality into their recovery, and that is okay.

The most important part of recovery is taking the first step, and after that, taking the next one. All people in recovery have the same goal, no matter what their spiritual leanings are. That goal is long-term success.

Many people bristle at the concept of God or a Higher Power in recovery. This is especially true in early recovery. The good news is that there are many secular recovery meeting options available for those who wish not to make spirituality/religion a part of their recovery journey. Also, all recovery meetings are open to all, and one should never feel as though any type of doctrine is ever being “pushed” on them. If you or a loved one is struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or both, we can help get you on the right road to recovery. For more information about recovery meetings, both spiritual and secular, please reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.