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When most of us get here, everything sounds great until the topic of God comes up. For a lot of folks, this is an extremely contentious issue, but it really needn’t be.

The Higher Power Dilemma: “The Jesus Freaks”

Lots of people simply assume that AA and NA are referring to the Judeo-Christian god when they say “Higher Power,” but that isn’t necessarily true. Of course, for many of us, this is indeed the case, but there are also many people in recovery that found different paths to spirituality.

There is nothing in the Big Book or any other 12-Step literature that says “You’ll get drunk/high if you don’t accept Christ/Mohammed/Buddha/whatever into your life!” Many find that their drinking and using led them astray from the God they knew in their youth, but for others, it means a new path entirely.

Oddly enough, the Big Book is very clear about this as well. All that is needed is that the alcoholic “not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance and belligerent denial.” Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?

Under this stipulation, even atheists are able to get sober, provided they remain open-minded, tolerant, and accepting. Of course, for many atheists, this can be a real challenge. However, arguing against something that doesn’t exist inherently implies that it exists—otherwise it would be a non-issue.

But that is neither here nor there. All that we ask is that the newcomer accept the possibility that he or she does not have all the answers. Especially if he or she is in an Orange County drug and alcohol treatment center, this is usually not a very difficult sell.

Although many of us come in as devout atheists and agnostics, though, a change begins to take place. When surrounded by countless miracles, it becomes increasingly more difficult to deny that surely something out there has to be responsible for these once hopeless people.

Whatever best fits your conception of a Higher Power, that choice is yours. So long as you keep an open mind, there is hope. Once that open mind closes, though, even after long stretches of sobriety or clean time, we put ourselves in a dangerous position. That position is tantamount to sitting on a time bomb, without any idea of when the timer will go off.

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