AA’s Higher Power: How Can I View It?

For many people, AA’s suggestion that they give themselves over to a higher power, a term originally coined in the 1930s by the program, can be easily achieved while, for others, it can be very difficult. For those who grew up with religious backgrounds or find comfort in religion, their belief in a specific god can be the higher power they seek. However, you do not have to view it this way if you prefer not to.

Does the Higher Power Have to Be a Form of God?

AA higher power

The universe is an alternative higher power you can use in AA.

According to the Journal of Addictive Diseases, “Critics have argued that AA is a cult that relies on God as the mechanism of action, and that rigorous experimental studies are necessary in order to convince them of AA’s effectiveness.” While many studies have been held on the subject and have found AA to be very effective for a wide range of individuals, most people read the need for a higher power to be a specific god, which has been found over time to be unnecessary for those who do not have strong religious ties.

For some, the program can be attended and its benefits achieved if the individual views this higher power as a nameless, faceless supreme being, not any specific god that would cause them to feel the need to attend religious ceremonies or do other things they are uncomfortable with, but just as a benevolent force. This can be a helpful tool for many who are willing to make a leap of faith but do not have strong religious ties. There are other ways in which the higher power can be viewed, though, that have nothing to do with any god whatsoever.

How Can Different Individuals View AA’s Higher Power?

The higher power only needs to be something greater than one’s self, therefore, greater than the selfish desire to abuse alcohol. If you can find something like this in your life––or discover something that gives you this feeling of strength from an outside source––then you can often view it as your higher power and utilize it in the same way many others utilize their belief in a specific deity.

Some possible versions of the higher power include:

  • Music: For many, music is a form of strength, and certain lyrics in a song can tie someone to their recovery and help them continue to avoid relapse. Playing, singing, or just listening to music can provide the same spiritual experience to many individuals that prayer does.
  • Family: Knowing that you have decided to quit for the good of your loved ones can be a powerful force that may be a potential higher power for some.
  • The Universe: Attending meetings and remaining abstinent can feel like the only way to get right with the universe for some and allow the chance for positive change. There are limitless possibilities available to a person who begins to think about their place in the universe and how to improve it.
  • Charity: Dedicating one’s life to others can also be a powerful driving force for recovery.

Though AA isn’t the best treatment for every individual, there are ways the steps can be viewed to fit many people from all walks of life. Call 800-839-1686 to discuss these possibilities further.

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