Church or AA: Is It One or the Other?


Sober Recovery Expert Author

When it comes to maintaining sobriety, there are people who rely solely on 12-Step groups for support, while others choose to carry on their path through faith and religion. The question is, “Which one is better?”

Throughout my years in sobriety, I’ve taken both routes and witnessed many people teeter between the AA and church fellowships. I recognize that there are specific benefits of active participation in each, but deciding on the best avenue to take for long-term sobriety depends on the individual and his or her situation.

Many people in long-term sobriety teeter between AA and religious fellowships for support. Here's how you can make the right choice.

Mary’s Dilemma

Let’s take Mary, for example. She has been in recovery for several years and regularly attends AA. She has a few acquaintances there who she feels she can count on for support. Mary is a bit of an introvert who has a couple of people in her life she considers friends, but doesn’t typically reach out to people outside of AA.

Six months ago, Mary has started attending church on top of AA. She enjoys the atmosphere and has connected with her faith in a deep way. When she began attending the Celebrate Recovery group there, she received a bit of flak from some AA members because she came to AA meetings less frequently. Mary says she feels more at-home at CR because the common bond of like-minded faith help her feel more comfortable cultivating the deeper, more nurturing relationships she has always craved outside of AA. Now, she feels as though she has to choose between the AA support that has helped her stay in line through the years and the new form of camaraderie she has found at church.

Making the Choice

Only you would know what feels right for you and what truly inspires you to grow in mind, body and spirit. Ask yourself where do you feel most at-home and what path will help you stay sober and thrive at the same time.

There is no right or wrong answer here. Sobriety is about an improved life experience, which involves allowing yourself to try out various paths to see where you will flourish most. If you feel that it’s in AA, commit to your recovery there. If it’s at church, attend as often as you can and get involved. If it’s both, then find a way to balance it out as best as you can and feel good about your decision no matter what other people say.

As for me there was a season in my life when I needed 12-Step group support. There was another season when I felt that I truly flourished when I dedicated myself to church. Then, I became content with a blend of both. It’s just what works for me. Personally speaking, I think both groups aim to help us achieve the same goals—unconditional love and support among each other, freedom from our guilt and past vices, and peace of mind in our new life.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from substance addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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