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I am going through a bad moment in my life because I live with an alcoholic girlfriend and I was recommended to go to Al-Anon, a group for families or friends of alcoholics. The first thing they told me is that I have to follow the 12 principles and 12 traditions of this group and the first one is that I have to believe in a "higher power". As I have been a rationalist all my life and I am pretty old, I found the first obstacle to really open up to this group. Then I have the issue that I don't know what spirituality is. Maybe I am spiritual and I don't know it. I feel compassion for human beings but I don't trust anybody. This is the reason why I have very few friends. I have problems with the concept of love, too. I believe that love is an irrational emotion but of course it's beautiful to be in love and to feel loved. I have reached a point in my life after raising 4 very successful children that I don't know why I am still here. I really don't serve any purpose and sometimes I feel like I am a disturbance in their lives. Anyways, to summarize: What is spirituality? What is pure consciousness? Does reincarnation exist? Do animals have a spirit or is it something that applies only to thinking people? What's the difference between mind and soul? Is soul just a religious term invented to make us believe that we'll go into a "better place" after life?

By Condorandino5
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I was in that exact position some 30 years ago. I also joined Al-Anon but there was no 12 step program BS. The program was about helping us recognize and deal with our enabling tendencies and how said tendencies made the addiction worse. I think too many of us want to help without thinking about if the help actually helps. Alcoholism can be a disease and that idea tends to absolve the person of responsibility. However, it's not the disease but the behavior of the person that is the problem. My Al-Anon program helped me hold the other person responsible for her actions. She was what was known as a maintenance drinker holding her responsible helped her control her drinking and even enter a detox program.

In the program I met others in the same position. One was so interested in the addiction issue she took classes and became a drug abuse counselor.



Al-anon 3 Cs; (1) You didn't cause. (2) You can't control it. (3) You can't cure it. I am an alcoholic but don't know much about Al-anon. Nature is my higher power (works just fine). The essence of the 12 steps is to quit blaming your problems on others. Instead, look at yourself and what you are doing or not doing that causes you distress. And what you can do or not do to solve the problem for yourself. Ignore all that religious or supernatural stuff. As your head clears your answers will come to you naturally.

Thank you for your comments. I did not know that there was a group for the family or friends of alcoholics. I am not the alcoholic. It's my girlfriend. What it bothers me is that the group called Al-Anon which is not the same as AA, has the same 12 steps and 12 traditions of AA. It looks like it is the same shit with different smell.

There is a lot of bullshit in AA, and I imagine also in Alanon. There is a sign over the door to my home group that reads; "Through these doors walk the world's sickest people." Ignore all the bullshit and look for what you can use to restore your peace of mind. When you have done that, and only then, you can help other people.


The higher power is you and your mind. The ability to think for yourself. Look within yourself for the power to conquer it all and find enlightenment, do not look outward for it.

noworry28 Level 7 Dec 11, 2017

I agree with you. We can only trust our mind.

We should trust our minds, but getting some new ideas from others is a good thing too. No one is an island. That doesn't mean that AL-Anon is the right place for you. Just don't shut out the successful ideas that come from others. We all need some inspiration sometimes.


Have to find a new purpose in life. There are millions to choose from.

Rudy1962 Level 9 Dec 11, 2017

I'm sorry you are going through this. This disease is horrible. It never goes away. I live with a recovering alcoholic, and everyday is a struggle for him. I walk on eggshells and I may have to ask him to leave. Good luck, and make sure to take care of yourself first. If she refuses to get help recovering you may have to leave. The number 1 thing to learn from the group is how to NOT be an enabler and keep her locked into her disease.

Kojaksmom Level 8 Dec 11, 2017

My main problem is that I have never understood addiction. It's a completely irrational behavior or mental illness if you want. I know that it has a complicated genetic component but environment has an important role.Usually alcoholics have an addiction personality disorder and they are not only addicted to alcohol but also to caffeine, nicotine and several other words ending with -ine. Luckily my girlfriend is only addicted to alcohol.


IMO, spirituality is simply something you make it out to be. It's derived from "spirit" which means "breath". Around the 13th century, the term became bound up with notions of immaterial souls, supernatural beings, ghosts, etc. Sam Harris expresses his opinion:


Most beliefs, I think, sprang from duress, mental disorders, and fear of one's finality. As far as your other questions, why does it matter? I'm sorry to read that you're going through a difficult time right now. I wouldn't recommend getting tangled up in a group that has a very poor success rate. People, such as your girlfriend, who are told to say over and over that they are alcoholics will reinforce those neural connections. AA is a band-aid.

I hope you'll stick around. It's a great community here. Welcome to the group.

Victoria, thank you for your comments. I read Sam Harris' "Wake up" and I found it very interesting, however, I have never been able to meditate. I have like a mental block to even imagine the need to shut off my "ego" or my thoughts when trying to meditate. Sam mentions the concept of "pure consciousness" where you feel love for everybody even for Donald Trump and you forget completely about your ego. I cannot even imagine that state. Maybe I am extremely rational.

I have just realized that you also sent me an article on The Atlantic about Al-Anon. Thank you very much for that. I like statistics and the ones for Al-Anon or AA do not look very encouraging.

I could never feel love for Donald Trump. I do, however, pity and have empathy for him. He is a narcissist, and according to the clinical description, behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation.

Like you, I don't meditate in the traditional sense, and IMO, the term "ego" is woo based. I have felt a connection with humanity, but I don't love everybody and why should I?

Thank you for taking the time to look at the link I posted below. I have a family member who battled with alcohol addiction and spent years attending AA to no avail.


You can create your own higher power. For me it's all the many different things I am just a part of: friends, family, my society/culture, the environment, my country, our planet etc. I only have real meaning as parts of these greater wholes and that is what I surrender to. I'm not spiritual at all but for me something that fits into that slot is 'connection'. All the 'god' stuff in meetings can definitely be off-putting but I just pass when it's my turn to read and the passage has too much god or spirituality for me. Don't know how it is in Al-Anon but in EA if anyone gives me too much crap about my atheism I just quote from 'The Twelve Traditions' #3. "The only requirement for EA membership is a desire to become well emotionally."

kmdskit3 Level 8 Dec 11, 2017

Thank you very much for your comment. I am very similar to you and in the first meeting of Al-Anon I had the same issues as you had. I will give it a try until it becomes intolerable.

@condorandino Good luck. The program can help. Just try to find a way for you to fit into it. Also, if you don't like one group there's probably another one and lots more atheist/agnostic 12-step info out there.


My first meeting with an Al-Anon group I was told that I would not be required to participate and that any reference to a higher power/god could be defined any way I liked (the universe, nature, or my own consciousness). I was also told that each group had its own personality and they would give me a list of all the groups in my area and they recommended that I give Al-Anon six weeks before deciding on joining or not.

I would suggest that you find a group that is more suited to your personality and views. smile001.gif

Betty Level 7 Dec 11, 2017

Thank you for your comment. I will follow your advise fro 6 weeks and then I will decide.

Attending Al-Anon meant I was an enabler which helped the addict continue being an addict. It was a vicious circle that wore me down. Al-Anon helped me see the pattern of behavior that was damaging to me. The quotes/tools helped me to break those patterns and to work on getting my self-worth back. Any quotes with the word god in them I would change (let go let god changed to let go get my sanity back). It took me three years to break the cycle completely and I do like myself so much better now.

I hope you can find a group that is more comfortable for you. It can work if you really want it. Good luck. smile001.gif


Long story short.

Spirituality is believing in an existence in the non-physical form

Pure Consciousness is understanding and taking responsibility for your actions. Being aware of what you do.

Reincarnation in the physical sense exists (the atoms in our bodies will live on in the atoms of other humans, animals, plants, etc. But so far there is no evidence to support the idea that non-physical reincarnation exists.

All creatures have a "spirit" which is basically a form of organic intelligence. It allows all lifeforms to take in information from their surroundings and make future judgments based on these experiences in order to prolong their lives.

Mind is tangible, referring to the computational capacity of our brains. Soul is an intangible abstract term used to describe a religious belief that there is life after death in order to make them feel better by imagining their loved ones existing in a peaceful realm when the truth is that they do not have any supporting evidence of that.

There is no information to prove or disprove the existence of an after-life. Therefore it is not yet possible to determine if we do truly die. Although it is very likely we just cease to exist, the same as before we were born.

Lancer Level 7 Dec 11, 2017

Sounds like the al-anon thing isn't for you. Nor is your girlfriend. You can't fix her, only she can, so maybe being a lone wolf is a good thing, even if it's just for your peace of mind.

For all the other questions, there is no one answer that anyone can give you, unless you want to believe what some religious whacko will try and sell you. They are deep philosophical questions that should keep you busy answering for the rest of your life. Maybe that's why you're still around... smile009.gif

Hominid Level 7 Dec 11, 2017

It is true you can't fix your girlfriend. if she recovers she will be told that a non alcoholic can never understand an alcoholic. It's very frustrating living with someone and want to help them and just not knowing how. I have found that selfishness is a big part of alcoholism ,and selfishness is even a bigger part of recovery.


If you don't follow the 12 steps and worship a higher power it won't work. Been there and done that.

Thank you very much for your input. I was shocked to find 2 atheists in the group. They told me that after several months of attending these meetings, they still don't believe in God. That gave me some encouragement. Maybe I need to talk to somebody about my problems without being brainwashed. Who knows!

If if you do, it still only has a 5 - 10 percent success rate.


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