Is Alcoholics Annonymous ethical?

Vajradhara

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Namaste all,

i'll presume for this conversation that we are aware of what the AA is and what their mode of operation is with regards to acknolwedgement and dependence upon God.

suppose, for the sake of conversation, that a being is drunk driving, gets caught and arressted and ordered to complete the 12 Step Program. this being, however, is an avowed athiest or, to make it more personally relevant, a Buddhist that has no belief in God.

is it ethical of the judicial system to mandate that a Buddhist or atheist be forced to accept "God" before they are allowed to drive again?

metta,

~v
 
Having worked an *A program, I will say it is compatible with both buddhism and atheism - the higher power doesn't have to be a God - it works well with the higher power the group conscience. However, ordering someone into it is, I believe, unethical and likely useless. For the program to work, the person must be willing to try it - ordering someone to it won't make them willing to do the work they need.
 
Namaste Bruce,

thank you for the post.

hmm.. perhaps i should have phrased it differently. suppose said being, such as a Buddhist, does not have a belief in a "higher power" of any substantive nature?

leaving aside the question of actual conversion, i agree with you beliefs cannot be legislated, does the use of the A A program and the successful completion thereof (which is really the sticking point, i suppose) breach an ethical duty of the state (at least in America) to keep government out of the buisness of legislating a religous view?

naturally, i cannot speak for any being other than myself in this regard :)

metta,

~v
 
One of the things I heard in meetings was that the "higher power" can be anything that works - one lady used her dog as her higher power - something/someone to turn over control to since hanging on to that control didn't work for her. Others used the group - again, something outside of yourself that you can let go control to.

Now on the other hand, many meetings I went to were pervasively Christian in nature - using the Lords Prayer, and other Christian symbolism. Most of those meetings I didn't go back to, because I was not comfortable with the Christian God as my higher power. There were other groups, though, that used only 'god', and avoided specificity - and in those I was more comfortable, and successful in the program.

AA officially states it is spiritual in nature, not religious - and fits with many religious paths. I know of some Wiccan AA's who substitute "goddess" for "god" when in meetings. The focus is on yourself - not on the higher power, so whatever you choose to use as a higher power can work.

Splitting hairs (hossenpfeffer?), that would lead to the conclusion that a court ordering attendance is not imposing a specific religion, which meets the constitutional criterion, technically. I still think it's dumb, for reasons given above.
 
Vajradhara said:
Namaste Bruce,

thank you for the post.

hmm.. perhaps i should have phrased it differently. suppose said being, such as a Buddhist, does not have a belief in a "higher power" of any substantive nature?

leaving aside the question of actual conversion, i agree with you beliefs cannot be legislated, does the use of the A A program and the successful completion thereof (which is really the sticking point, i suppose) breach an ethical duty of the state (at least in America) to keep government out of the buisness of legislating a religous view?

naturally, i cannot speak for any being other than myself in this regard :)

metta,

~v

AA itself, has nothing to do with the government. In fact AA does not really exist (it isn't funded by the government, church, state). That said, what AA is is a place for desperate people to go, and learn something. That is all AA is. You got people from the school of hard knocks telling people who are about to enter the school of hard knocks, that this is not the place they want to be. The "elders" (for lack of a better term), make no bones about the hardships they have suffered, and make no bones about the hardships the new comers might or might not suffer, if they continue down the path they are apparently going down.

Step one: No control over alchohol. (no control over something else)

Step two: Something is greater than us, and we can cull/derive/accept help from that which is greater than us, over this loss of control over ------

The guy who came up with this is William W. (circa 1937). hence the term "I'm a friend of Bill".

You know, aside from Russia, the United States, Canada, Mexico...alcoholism doesn't seem a big issue in the world. I also find it ironic that the alcoholism rate is highest in the most industrialized nations, that gave up old world family ways (religion), and that do not sleep or rest during the afternoon...

my thoughts.

v/r

Q
 
When people are mandated to AA, a belief in God or higher power is not the goal of the courts. All they are interested in is that that person follow through with it and maintain sobriety. As others have said, some choose to believe in material objects as their higher powers, although these are very few and far between. Most are open to the idea of something bigger than they and tend to develop a belief in a spiritual entity or being that helps them.

On a side note, Buddhists don't believe in a God or Higher Being?
 
Vajradhara, do Buddhists view addiction as a self-feeding cycle of desire, craving, clinging, and attachment? If so, are there any specific techniques proscribed for breaking addiction? If this is the case, then perhaps a presentation of these techniques to AA might be helpful?
 
Namaste Quahom,

thank you for the post.

Quahom1 said:
AA itself, has nothing to do with the government.

nor am i asserting that it does.

In fact AA does not really exist (it isn't funded by the government, church, state).

yet, they have pamplets, meetings, advertising and so forth. they seem to exist to me.

http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/?Media=PlayFlash

That said, what AA is is a place for desperate people to go, and learn something. That is all AA is.

you are aware that for many beings which are convicted of driving under the influence, the courts mandate a successful completion of the AA 12 Step program, yes?


Step two: Something is greater than us, and we can cull/derive/accept help from that which is greater than us, over this loss of control over ------

yes, this is the issue.

from the same site...

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. (emphasis mine)

You know, aside from Russia, the United States, Canada, Mexico...alcoholism doesn't seem a big issue in the world.

it was such a large problem during the Buddhas arising that laiety have a specific precept regarding it. alcohol abuse, it seems, is nothing new.

metta,

~v
 
Namaste didymus,

thank you for the post.

didymus said:
When people are mandated to AA, a belief in God or higher power is not the goal of the courts.

agreed. it is, however, part of the successful completion of the 12 Step program.

On a side note, Buddhists don't believe in a God or Higher Being?

well... no, not really. the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are different than us but not "higher" in some sort of hierarchy or anything. we may speak in this manner however that is simply a linguistic convention which is adopted in light of upaya and not a tenet of the tradition.

metta,

~v
 
Namaste seattlegal,

thank you for the post.

seattlegal said:
Vajradhara, do Buddhists view addiction as a self-feeding cycle of desire, craving, clinging, and attachment?

i wouldn't presume to speak for all Buddhists however, from a doctrinal point of view, addiction is part and parcel of Samsara which comes about from tanha... so.. it is not so much that addiction feeds the cycle of Samsara, rather, that Samsara feeds the cycle of addiction.

If so, are there any specific techniques proscribed for breaking addiction? If this is the case, then perhaps a presentation of these techniques to AA might be helpful?

well.. the short answer to this is "yes" :) these techniques, however, would not be very useful in the A.A. setting as they do not rely upon any being other than oneself.

in some sense, the A.A. is diametrically opposed to the Buddhist point of view with regards to relying upon God to help one through their addiction. in a certain manner, Buddhism is a teaching of radical personal responsibility which often is not well received.

metta,

~v
 
Of course, the question then arises how one measures "successful completion" of the 12 step program, considering it's a life-long task.... seems the courts would lose jurisdiction at some point....

I agree - I don't think courts should be mandating AA as a sentence -that's counter to the entire principles behind it - that the person has hit bottom and become willing to do something about it. If you haven't hit bottom, the court sending you there can't make you hit bottom...
 
I havent looked at the statistics for success in the AA process.. but I know a lot of ppl that have successfully kicked the habit and have lived without the drugs that they abuse using AA and narcotics anon.. not to mention the support given to the family and children of the substance abusers.

My thought is.. if it works why shake the boat? or to be cliche.. if its not broke why fix it?

They offer an invaluable service to the abusers and the family/friends of these abusers. I do not know personally of any other alternative. Im wondering if this is another one of those Do-gooder attempts that suanni spoke of on another thread.

FS
 
I think the thread title is misleading - if you read what Vaj wrote, the issue is with *ordering* people to attend the programs. I'd argue that ain't going to work well - it's legislating a change in mindset and behavior, which can only come from within. Attending AA meetings does not cause a change - the change is in realizing nothing else is working, so try a different tack - and you don't get that by being ordered to go there.

Other treatment regimes (confinement/inpatient/etc) make sense to be ordered - they don't involve a person changing to be carried out - AA does, and you can't do that by judicial fiat.
 
brucegdc said:
Other treatment regimes (confinement/inpatient/etc) make sense to be ordered - they don't involve a person changing to be carried out - AA does, and you can't do that by judicial fiat.

Yes I agree.. That is the bottom line. If they want to change they will whatever their options are.
 
Namaste Bruce,

thank you for the post.

brucegdc said:
Of course, the question then arises how one measures "successful completion" of the 12 step program, considering it's a life-long task.... seems the courts would lose jurisdiction at some point....

therein lies the rub, doesn't it?

if it is so that Alcoholism is a disease which cannot be cured, one wonders how it is that the first beings proclaimed themselves "cured" by "God" of their alcoholism.

i have a feeling that some of this is just group think seeking to reinforce the feeling of belonging to members of the group.

I agree - I don't think courts should be mandating AA as a sentence -that's counter to the entire principles behind it - that the person has hit bottom and become willing to do something about it. If you haven't hit bottom, the court sending you there can't make you hit bottom...

i concur.

metta,

~v
 
Namaste faithfulservant,

thank you for the post.

Faithfulservant said:
I havent looked at the statistics for success in the AA process.. but I know a lot of ppl that have successfully kicked the habit and have lived without the drugs that they abuse using AA and narcotics anon.. not to mention the support given to the family and children of the substance abusers.

there are two narcotics groups, one is real and the other is $cientology. Narco-non is the $cientology shell.. be wary of beings seeking to seperate your money from your pocket due to aliens in your body.

i am not, in this thread, asserting that AA doesn't work. it seems to work fine for those beings which it appeals to and that is all that really matters in this particular regard.

My thought is.. if it works why shake the boat? or to be cliche.. if its not broke why fix it?

because it is broke for beings like myself which do not rely upon higher powers nor God. that a being must specifically state that they do accept these things is untenable to me in regards to state sanctioned disciplinary actions.

They offer an invaluable service to the abusers and the family/friends of these abusers. I do not know personally of any other alternative. Im wondering if this is another one of those Do-gooder attempts that suanni spoke of on another thread.

FS

whilst that may be so, it is somewhat outside the scope of this particular conversation.

metta,

~v
 
Vajradhara said:
Namaste Bruce,

thank you for the post.



therein lies the rub, doesn't it?

if it is so that Alcoholism is a disease which cannot be cured, one wonders how it is that the first beings proclaimed themselves "cured" by "God" of their alcoholism.

Well, for many AA folks, it's not a cure... it's merely a remission or pallative treatment... the disease is still there & just locked up in a cage for right now.

... Bruce
 
In all honesty, and I can speak from experience, AA does not force one to believe in a higher power or God. The steps are suggested as a program of recovery. Step 2 states; "came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." They specifically state that your conception of a higher power can be whatever you choose. Even as a Buddhist that doesn't believe in God you do believe in a higher self, am I wrong? A higher state of consciousness? This is a higher power if you ask me. Even though some of the subsequent steps go on to say God, it isn't a rule that it must be God.

Completeion of the program isn't marked by a profession of faith but rather a clean urine. :eek: ( as far as courts are concerned) and this comes from whatever out or inpatient program or service may be involved with the individual. AA doesn't do urine screens.

Those that are in AA don't believe that the program is ever completed. We believe that one practices the principles outlined in the program on a daily basis because one is always suceptible to falling back. Proof of this is in the countless members who drink after multiple years of sobriety.

No offense, but I find it inconceivable that Buddhists, as spiritual and open as they are don't believe in a higher power of some sort.
 
Namaste didymus,

thank you for the post.

didymus said:
In all honesty, and I can speak from experience, AA does not force one to believe in a higher power or God.

according to the Step 2, which i posted from their site, the acknowledgement of a higher power seems to be a tenet of this program.

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

The steps are suggested as a program of recovery. Step 2 states; "came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." They specifically state that your conception of a higher power can be whatever you choose.

the step 2 which i've quoted above asserts that there is one ultimate authority, a loving God, it doesn't seem to lend itself to whatever one may choose to veiw a higher power as.

Even as a Buddhist that doesn't believe in God you do believe in a higher self, am I wrong?

that would be incorrect. there is no self to begin with, let alone a "higher" self, in our paradigm.

A higher state of consciousness?

not really.. they are more subtle states of consciousness, not higher states... and these subtle states are part and parcel of every sentient beings consciousness.

This is a higher power if you ask me. Even though some of the subsequent steps go on to say God, it isn't a rule that it must be God.

they seem to be pretty clear about it, from what i can tell.

Completeion of the program isn't marked by a profession of faith but rather a clean urine. :eek: ( as far as courts are concerned) and this comes from whatever out or inpatient program or service may be involved with the individual. AA doesn't do urine screens.

it is the process by which a being generates the causes and conditions for their clean urine which is question.

Those that are in AA don't believe that the program is ever completed. We believe that one practices the principles outlined in the program on a daily basis because one is always suceptible to falling back. Proof of this is in the countless members who drink after multiple years of sobriety.

i would tend to agree.. yet, the courts often mandate a "successful completion" of such programs so that one does not lose their driving priviledge.

No offense, but I find it inconceivable that Buddhists, as spiritual and open as they are don't believe in a higher power of some sort.

no worries :) individual Buddhists could hold a variety of views. Doctrinally, there are no "higher" powers that a being relies upon nor supplicates nor venerates that can help eliminate the taints to realize Nibbana/Nirvana. Buddhas illum the way but we must walk it.

metta,

~v
 
Vaj, there is no such thing as a successful completion of the AA program. Perhaps the program they are concerned with is some form of oupatient program. Often times as part of an outpatient alcohol program one can be mandated to AA(if the courts are involved)But completion would probably entail attending a certain number of meetings. People prove this by having a slip signed. I think you may have your programs confused. Where are you getting your information from?
 
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