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When beginning your recovery it is easy to become overwhelmed. Many people in recovery find themselves using the 12 step program as a way to gain and maintain their sobriety. The second step calls for the alcoholic or addict to recognize a power greater than themselves that can restore their sanity. The original steps revolve around the idea that this Higher Power can be God, which for many works, but it is not limited to this conception. Twelve step programs should encourage you to find your own conception of a higher power. For some this connection with a greater power can easily be present, because they come into recovery with a pre established faith or belief. In this case, working the steps will only help to grow your connection with God, and this will help you to overcome your addiction.

What about the Atheist or Agnostic?

However, for those who may not hold faith in the idea of God, it can be challenging or even frustrating at times to find a Higher Power. The idea behind a Higher Power exists for a number of reasons. It is something to keep you grounded through living day to day. It can provide comfort and security, and fill the void that they once used drugs and alcohol to fill. But finding something or someone you can rely on can be a hard process. There is an entire chapter in the Big Book of AA/NA to the Agnostic- people who don’t believe in any higher power. This chapter neatly presents an argument for believing in something greater than you, and explains that coming to terms with this concept can be gradual, provided you are even willing to believe in the possibility of a higher power.

Conceptions of a Higher Power

If you do have trouble accepting the idea of God, look at the things in the world you know to be real. A number of people rely on the idea of the Universe or nature as a Higher Power. All that matters is you believe them to be greater than you. Both the universe and nature thrive off of science while exhibiting our existence and further what we can become. Another alternative for some may be finding something that personally can relate to more than anything, such as music. Music can act as a salvation for some and even if the song is not about what they are going through in that moment the comfort it can offer can make a world of difference. Finally, many in early recovery find that their homegroup, or twelve step fellowship as a whole, can function as a higher power of sorts. It is a group that has a solution you want, and having been through the steps before you, could be viewed as a power greater than yourself.

Don’t Stress!

Is finding a higher power critical to maintaining long-term sobriety? Absolutely. Is finding it immediately upon entering your first meeting a requirement? Definitely not. For most addicts and alcoholics, the conception of and dependence on a higher power comes gradually as they work the steps and put the program into action in their daily lives. You don’t have to explain it or define it- it will come to you and will change and grow as you work a program throughout your sobriety. All that is asked of you is that you are willing to believe. Our ideas got us into quite a bit of trouble- maybe there is something out there with a better plan for us.


If you or someone you know has a problem with drugs or alcohol, call 1-800-203-2024 for a free confidential assessment.