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Bible-Based Recovery Vs. AA


I have a very unique situation. I am married to a self labeled “recovering” addict that is very involved in AA. We met in recovery. i have since joined a church that does not believe in the recovery process and has taught me that only Jesus can heal me. i have recently had a serious relapse in my sobrity. i do not understand how it is my husband can help all of the people he does and he cannot help me. he knows i do not believe in AA anymore, just the bible. he wants me to go to treatment for addiction and my only problem with that is that i do not believe in it, thus believe it is a waste of time. i would rather do this the church way. we are on the brink of divorce (his idea not mine) and i would like for everything just to go back to normal. what do i do? should i go thruough something i do not agree with just to appease him or do what i do believe in. are there any bibically based drug treatment facilities in the area?

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I’m rather surprised to hear about a Church that rejects the principles of AA and its’ twelve steps of recovery. In fact, AA was founded by religious people and that institution has a very spiritual bent to it. The early steps of the twelve step process talk about the need to submit to a higher power (“God as we understand him to be”) because without the aide of that higher power’s assistance the addict/alcoholic is otherwise unable to resist temptation. This sort of thing would appear to complement rather than conflict with a person’s relationship with God. So far as I am concerned, AA qualifies pretty well as a faith-based drug treatment facility. However, you may wish to consult this list of faith-based recovery programs. Perhaps one of them is near to you.


p> I can tell you that I’m not surprised that your husband is upset with you and wanting to divorce you. Your judgment is bad, you are acting in a self-destructive manner, and you are maybe going to take him down with you if he isn’t careful to distance himself from you. I’m sure that he loves you, but he would be acting self-destructively himself if he stays with you under the circumstances.


p> I can also tell you that it seems particularly ill-advised for your church to recommend to you that you stop doing something that was helping to preserve your health. Personally, I think your particular church leaders are out of touch with reality, not unlike other churches out there who encourage members to refuse medical care to babies, resulting in the death of those babies. I think you should return to AA with all due speed. I think you should find another church group to worship with which is interested in preserving all aspects of your health: physical, mental AND spiritual.

More "Ask Anne" View Columnists

  • Joe W

    Hi MY Name Is Joe W. A RECOVERED Alcoholic only by the grase of God I thank God for leading me to A.A., when i did not evan believe in Him ! I thank A.A. for showing me a SPIRITAUL path to God that i could understand. And by letting me grow in my conception of God ! The most blessed thing in my life today is my relation ship with my new found FRIEND. A friend that is allways there to listen to my good times and my bad times. He loves me weather i have a bad day or a good day. He stands be side me lifting me up whin life gets rough. To day i'am a CHRISTAN in RECOVERY thanks to God leading me to A.A. . Thanks to the Big Book of A.A. showing me how to live when i did not know how, or want to !!! Today i'am in a program called CELEBRATE RECOVERY where i'am dealing with the rest of my problems in life. The SOLUTION for me is 12 steps the way the Big Book of A.A. has them laid out for me. Pluse living a CHRIST CENTERED LIFE !!! Love & Service Joe W

  • vincent

    I think what you need is "something" to believe in.What my solution was to that problem was to finally decide to believe in myself and it would work for you too. I went to AA/NA for several years 'after' I stopped drinking and taking drugs like a lot of other people do. What I began to realize more and more was that it was my decisions that were keeping me clean and making me healthy,not endlessly working steps, drinking coffee, and listening to bad advise. I respect everyones right to believe what they want to, but if I think what you believe is part of the problem I will tell you, in your case I think you may be suffering from some of the AA programming you received earlier in your recovery.I'm sure they told you that you have a disease and that if you don't stay in AA you can't make it, but that is definitely not the case. My guess is that somewhere back in your mind some of those dire AA predictions are haunting you and becoming self-fulfilling prophecy. I repeat,what they told you there was far from true. On the other hand, most churches don't have resources that you may need and from what you said about your churches beliefs about recovery I doubt they can help you. You may consider talking with a therapist and also seeking a mental health care provider to address the possibility you may have an undiagnosed problem you are self medicating with alcohol/drugs.++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ If your husband is a hard core AA member he actually has a need for you to fail unless you are doing it AA's/HIS way. It is built into the AA world view that that they have a monopoly on recovery from alcoholism. For everything that he believes to be true would mean that you have to fail unless you go to AA. Sad but true. Don't expect any support from him unless you are going to AA. I have even seen people sabotage others efforts so they can be right. I'm not saying your husband would do this consciously but the AA belief system runs his life, just like you want Jesus to run yours. The truth that sets you free is that you are running your own life, make better decisions=get better results. I wish you the best no matter what you decide.

  • hank henry schafer

    I am an experienced mental health worker(MHC). As an ex-fundamentalist believer and ex-AA member with 21 years mostly very active in aa, you might come to agree with me this dilemma is unnecessary. Deep in your heart you must turn to Jesus or your H.P. THAT IS IT! Enlist the help of other church members, and get help from experts in spiritual warfare. AA can work if you want to believe their stuff-- eventually all of it as written in the first 164 pages of their sacred BigBook. But it's no questions asked if you are truly powerless. I was in with a cult that worships doorknobs, ketchup bottles, etc. And I knew it! Fundamentally they "just say no" to using, then promote the holy 12 steps! Question their lines on powerlessness, disease, alcohol ISM, progression, anonimity. Watch the coercion--signing of papers-- with the courts and treatment facilities. Anne writes, "AA qualifies pretty well as a faith-based drug treatment facility." This is typical misinformation coming from people who have no experience with the AA Traditions. You can google lots about religious treatment facilities, esp. Christian. I see them sponsering Yahoo "recovery" related groups I have joined. Also search Orange Papers and find many alternatives. CONTROL IT OR JUST DO NOT DRINK.

  • Dick B.

    Alcoholics Anonymous andBill Wilson’s Bible Witnessing
    Fragment Number Eight
    By Dick B.© 2009 Dick B. All rights reserved

    The Bill Wilson that many do not know became an “evangelist” almost immediately after he was discharged from Towns Hospital, having had a spiritual experience. For example, Lois Wilson’s biographer wrote:

    The doctor [Dr. Silkworth] always allowed Bill to share his God-experience with some patients, hoping somehow it might help. . . . Dr. Shoemaker [the Episcopal rector at Calvary Church] encouraged Bill to spread the message of change and spiritual recovery to others like himself. Bill took the preacher at his word. With Lois’s full support, he was soon walking through the gutters of the Bowery, into the nut ward at Bellevue Hospital, down the slimy corridors of fleabag hotels, and into the detox unit at Towns with a Bible under his arm. He was promising sobriety to every drunk he could corner, if they, like he, would only turn their lives over to God. [See William G. Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story: When Love Is Not Enough: A Biography of the Cofounder of Al-Anon (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2005), 170.]

    In fact, Rev. Sam Shoemaker wrote to Bill on January 22, 1935, commending Bill for his witnessing to Frederick E. Breithut who became known as the “chemistry professor.” Shoemaker wrote:

    I hope you realize the guided-ness of your having known Jim Williams previously, as I understood you did, in business. His wife, Margaret, is fulltime in the Group and he has held out for a long while. You may be just the person that cracks the shell and brings him over. He drinks a lot and is desperately unhappy and inferior and needs what you have got for him. I am grateful for what you did for Breithut. [See Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., new rev. ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1999), 531.]

    And in a 1935 issue of Shoemaker’s parish newsletter, The Calvary Evangel, there was the announcement “that Frederick E. Breithut was confirmed on March 24, 1935, as a member of Calvary Episcopal Church, having previously been sponsored at a baptism on March 14, 1935, by William G. Wilson as his godfather, with Reverend Samuel Shoemaker performing the baptism.” [See Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 558]

    The October 1929 issue of The Calvary Evangel contains a photograph of Sam Shoemaker and his staff in full vestment preceded by a member of the church who is carrying a cross. The photograph caption states, “On our way to rejoicing to Madison Square.” One church member in the 1928 photo was carrying a sign which stated, “Jesus Christ changes lives.” Other sign urged onlookers to “Come with us to Calvary Church.” L. Parks Shipley, Sr., a long-time Oxford Group activist, specifically recalled to me marching to such events in the 1930’s where the march would be followed by public witnessing at a park from a “soapbox.” Shipley said he believed Bill Wilson was among the “rejoicers” at one or more of these events during Wilson’s involvement with the Oxford Group. [See Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 556.]

    Bill Wilson’s enthusiastic witnessing with the Bible and to the power of Jesus Christ bears a distinct relationship to what Dr. William D. Silkworth told Bill Wilson during his third visit as a patient to Towns Hospital prior to Bill’s getting sober. Dr. Silkworth’s biographer states that Bill had a discussion with Dr. Silkworth on the subject of the “Great Physician.” And then Bill reached the conclusion, “Yes, if there was any Great Physician that could cure the alcohol sickness, I’d better find him now, at once.” [See Dale Mitchel, Silkworth: The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks: The Biography of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2002), 44.] Silkworth’s biographer stated, “that it was Dr. Silkworth who used the term ‘The Great Physician’ to explain the need in recovery for a relationship with Jesus Christ.” Author Mitchel states further:

    In the formation of AA, Wilson initially insisted on references to God and Jesus, as well as the Great Physician. [See Mitchel, Silkworth, 50.]

    Wilson’s fervor as to the power of Jesus Christ is evidenced by his statement on page 191 of Alcoholics Anonymous (4th ed., 2001): “The Lord has cured me of this terrible disease and I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.”

    Gloria Deo

  • Dick B.

    The problem posed is common. On May 15-16, 2009 at Mariners Church Community Center in Irvine, California, Christians in recovery will gather from all over the United States and Canada to share the problems they have encountered in existing fellowships, churches, meetings, and treatment programs when the issue of the early A.A. Christian Fellowship in Akron and its 75% success rate is raised. A New Way Out of mental illness, alcoholism, addiction, homlessness, prison, therapy, church antagonism, A.A., Twelve Step fellowships, life-controlling problems and misery simply involves knowing and applying the love and power of God in any situation (without leaving an entity) in the same manner that the early AAs did when they abstained, surrendered to God, obeyed His will, grew in fellowship through Bible study and prayer, and helped others. More details in our special website

  • Tony


    Your advice, I'm sure, was not easy to give, but I believe it to be sound. It seems to me that her church is more concerned with their needs than the needs of this woman. I spend a fair amount of time and energy directing individuals on how they can take advantage of the 12 Steps without becoming a 'religious fanatic'. This would be an easy move for this woman. Her husband is making one of the most difficult decisions one can make in recovery: Maintain control of one’s sobriety, or place that control in harm's way by being around someone (especially someone you love) who has relapsed. The web of pain and distruction that substance addiction weaves throughout our planet's population of humans is a sad situation that could be better dealt with if only we as a whole had the will.

    Thank you,


  • runoyhu keppen

    there may be hundreds of methods people use to tackle addiction, basically even me from the same backround of addiction and has cover nine secular rehab which emphasise on twelve steps and other holistic approach, but the conclution is jesus christ which i found in bangalore life challenge in india, no doubt i'm from a christian background but never particular about following it.i can only say today that jesus is the solution which i've found in 'bangalore life challenge' ahome away from can give it a

  • Brian

    My wife has been attending AA for the past year and a half, and it has changed her from a loving caring wife, to someone that I am seriously thinking about divorcing. She has taken a 180 degree change in her entire lifestyle and who she was when we married 7 years ago. She always held me as the number one person in her life, behind God, now because I don't want her attending because of what it has done to her as a wife, the dog is a higher priority, just after AA. Her life is now AA. She met someone and had an emotional affair with from AA, had tried to book a hotel room for the two of them, but I caught her before she did it. lied to me about almost everything she was doing, and her son from before we met, wants to move out of the house and with his dad, and he has never wanted anything to do with his dad. This is all since she stopped drinking. Unlike most people, she was a more loving person when she was drinking than she is since joining AA. Personally, I would like to see the AA program closed down. Also, the church we attend is against the AA and other 12 step programs. She is no longer involved in the church because they don't belive in the AA program.

  • Brian Kercheval

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5

    The list of the fruit of the Spirit describes an emotionally balanced, psychologically stable person. Because the Holy Spirit produces this naturally, why would anyone turn to worldly psychology and CR?

    Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14

    “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

    In His Grip!


  • Brian D. Kercheval

    "Everybody is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts."

    And the facts are tallied:

    Any success rate that is less than the usual rate of spontaneous remission indicates a program that is a real disaster and is hurting the patients. AA/12 steps is that deleterious program.

    Simply: AA does not work period, ALL studies prove this fact.

  • JR

    Anne wrote -

    "I'm rather surprised to hear about a Church that rejects the principles of AA and its' twelve steps of recovery. In fact, AA was founded by religious people and that institution has a very spiritual bent to it. The early steps of the twelve step process talk about the need to submit to a higher power ("God as we understand him to be") because without the aide of that higher power's assistance the addict/alcoholic is otherwise unable to resist temptation. This sort of thing would appear to complement rather than conflict with a person's relationship with God. So far as I am concerned, AA qualifies pretty well as a faith-based drug treatment facility." (Et cetera).

    What a strange response. The fact that "AA was founded by religious people", and so on, cannot be taken to mean that all religious people, let alone religious leaders, will be comfortable with the beliefs and practices of AA. Nor can it be taken to imply that all religious people can be taken to agree that the practices of AA are beneficial to those who follow them, not least as a "treatment" for problem drinking. It is a pity that more, not fewer, religious organisations did not give more thought to the question of whether the 12 Step groups that meet in their halls and basements are following a programme that is consistent with their moral, ethical and traditional beliefs. If they did, there might suddenly be a shortage of "rooms" and, perhaps, more incentive for society in general to rethink its (usually) uninformed approach to what such groups actually practice and believe, and to the question of whether such practice and belief is socially, morally or ethically beneficial.

    By the way - I am mystified as to what "a faith-based drug treatment facility" might be ? It sounds like the sort of idea I might myself have come up with when I was too closely acquainted with the cognac bottle. And that does not suggest particular coherence of thought.

    Yours from Beyond the Rooms,


  • Brian Kercheval

    Most people assume that the founders of Alcoholics’ Anonymous were Christians. After all, Wilson talks about God, prayer, and morality. On the other hand, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is absent from his spiritual experience. There is no mention of Jesus Christ providing the only way of salvation through paying the price for Bill Wilson’s sin. Wilson’s faith system was not based on Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Nor is there any mention of Jesus Christ being Lord of his life.

    Not only is there clear evidence that Bill Wilson did not embrace Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior and as the only way to the Father, but Wilson was also heavily involved in occult activities in his search for spiritual experiences. These are the roots of Alcoholics Anonymous rather than Christianity.

    in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men
    Mat 15:9

  • Richard G. Burns, J.D., CDAAC (pen name Dick B.)

    Errors in the article and comments abound. All the first three AAs were born again Christians. AA sprang from many Christian organizations like the YMCA, Salvation Army, Christian Endeavor, the Rescue Missions. And early Akron AA was, and called itself, a "Christian Fellowship." The talk about "higher power" and "God as we understood Him" are terms that do not speak to or for a monolithic AA. There are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands Christians in A.A. In early AA, the Bible, prayer, acceptance of Christ, and Christian literature were required. See

  • Recovered

    My husband and I are in the process of recover for three years now and since then has relapsed. I asked him to go to treatment because I loved him and I needed to know that he was serious.

    I have only went to maybe two AA meetings and I have been to church a few times. My honest opinion is that if you really want to quit then you should seek out some professional help. Getting the help inside will give you the tools to live on the outside. The most important thing to remember is that you can not live sober if you are still talking with your "old croud".


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