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God and Recovery


One of the most crucial things I have come to understand in recovery is that alcohol is only a symptom of my disease, not the problem by itself. In fact, alcohol was a solution to my problem for many years.

The problem is me: my brain and my thinking.

Therefore I need a permanent solution that is bigger than me. I need divine assistance, not to just stop drinking, but to change me at my cellular level. That’s what I think recovery is: complete change. Yeah, I’m about to talk about God. Grip yourself.

As someone with the disease of alcoholism, I inherently don’t perceive the world, others, and myself in a way that is beneficial to me – or anyone for that matter. This misperception ultimately disrupts my relationships with other people, with myself, and with God.

When I first started drinking, alcohol helped me temporarily mend that disruption. I liked other people. I liked myself. I was full of confidence and optimism. I had compassion for others. Then I would wake up with a hangover, despising myself for being such a fool, and erasing every new number I had in my phone from the night before. The period of resolve was over. I would feel worse than before I started.

So the cycle continued.

If alcohol was the problem, then not drinking alcohol would be my solution. Yet my experience shows that in periods of abstinence, without a viable replacement, I am actually worse off than before. Without alcohol, my perceptions were still skewed, and I became even more cynical and misanthropic than I was liquored up.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains that what is needed to change me is a miracle of divine intervention. My problem is a spiritual malady that requires a spiritual solution. Chapter 2 of the Big Book, titled “There Is a Solution,” states:

The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.”

There is so much debate and contention around God in Alcoholics Anonymous. Many alcoholics would rather just leave Him out. But I think it’s pretty clear that embracing divinity is our only solution for full recovery. Without providence, we may only find a semblance of recovery. Either God is everything, or He is nothing.

I too often make Him just something, and not everything, and by doing so, I make Him into nothing. I need to continuously remind myself to turn to Him to solve my problems – to solve me. I’m grateful He is my answer, and I am not. I need to remember that I am my problem, and give this mess of a problem over to the Big Guy in the sky to piece me together into a person who is capable of full relationships with the world, myself, other people… and especially with Him.

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Filed under: Addiction, Recovery, Spirituality · Tags: AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, divine intervention, faith, God, God and recovery, Heavenly Father, Holy Father, Recovery, sobriety, Spirituality, the Big Book

  • Jamie

    I am 11 years sober and an atheist. It is people like you that I despise in AA. Higher power is unique to each individual. If you try to force your magical “Big Guy in the sky” on newcomers, you will find that many of them will not stick around. I advise you to keep an open-mind when it comes to higher power. As you know from your unique experience, higher power can be very crucial to recovery. So, cut the judgements if others don’t believe in your God. is operated by Recovery Brands LLC, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, Inc.
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