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A 37-year-old member asked:

Is alcoholics anonymous a spiritual/ religious program?

4 doctor answers12 doctors weighed in
Dr. Glen Elliott
Child Psychiatry 44 years experience
Sort of: Aa believes in a "higher power, " but they are not per se a religious organization nor does one have to be religious to benefit from the program.
Dr. Steven Reidbord
Psychiatry 37 years experience
AA's "higher power" is sometimes translated in non-religious ways, such as the fellowship of the AA group itself. But God is explicitly mentioned in the readings. Maybe look at it this way: Churches (which are clearly religious places) sometimes hold non-religious activities that even atheists can enjoy. Likewise, AA offers a great deal, even to non-believers.
Jun 21, 2012
Dr. Glen Elliott
Child Psychiatry 44 years experience
Provided original answer
Completely agree.
Jun 21, 2012
Dr. Vasu Brown
Integrative Medicine 35 years experience
No: Aa program is not a religious program. In 12 traditions -second tradition - 2. For our group purpose there is but one authority-a loving god as he may express himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. God is replaced for truth for people who prefer a different word. Learn more at http://positive12steps.Org.
Dr. Glen Elliott
Child Psychiatry 44 years experience
This feels like a matter of semantics. "Truth" as the one authority seems like a weak substitute. Agree it is not religious per se and certainly not affiliated with any single religious creed or belief system. Even so, turning one's life over to a "higher power" is a key element of the program.
Jun 20, 2012
Dr. Heidi Fowler
Psychiatry 26 years experience
It is not religious.: It does address sobriety on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
Dr. Adam Front
Clinical Psychology 28 years experience
Spiritual vs relig'n: Aa is a spiritual program but not a religious one.There is no demand that you hold any particular religious beliefs, or any beliefs at all, religion is one of many ways to get to spirituality.You can probably think of people you know who are at peace and grounded, living in ways we might call spiritual, who are not religious at all, as well as others who are "religious" but not very spiritual.

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Last updated Oct 3, 2016
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