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Episode 281: Matt Gardiner’s Recovery Roadmap

Everyone’s recovery story is unique, but in the case of my guest for this episode, there are some unmistakable parallels that resonate with us both. Matt Gardiner is a certified recovery coach, sound therapist and podcast host whose journey has been marked by turning points that share some similarities with John’s, as their conversation illuminates with humor and insight. We learn about how Matt...

Episode 280: LaDawn Did It For Real

Are you ready to meet a secular force of nature? Then you won’t want to miss this episode. Our guest, LaDawn, shares with us the harrowing passage she made from hardened alcoholic to master of a YouTube channel that regularly delights, inspires and informs viewers on a range of mental health, lifestyle and sobriety-related topics. A woman unafraid to be 100% herself, LaDawn gets real in a way...

Episode 279: Atheism and Sobriety Podcast No. 3

The following essay was authored by John Huey for the purpose of outlining the discussion of our third episode in the Atheism and Sobriety series. Abstinence and The Purity of Atheist Thought By John Huey As Atheists we see things not only as they are in personal terms without the veneer of belief, but, as we look at ideas and states of being as they may apply to the wider world, we can, if...

Episode 278: About Relapse

Although relapse is often a source of shame, it needn’t be. As we learn on this episode, there are ways to understand such stumbles as part of the larger process that is recovery. This livestream conversation features co-hosts John Sheldon and Mary C., who together explore the healing opportunities available to us when we respond to, reflect on and ideally avert relapse altogether. They are...

Episode 277: Martin Lockett | Prison to Purpose Pipeline

Highjacked by trauma and a profound desire for validation, Martin Lockett attached himself early on to gangs, drugs and violence – all in the name of fitting in. It was a path that took him into a world of trouble, including a DUI accident that resulted in the death of two people. Sentenced by the state of Oregon to 17.5 years in prison at the age of 24, his life might have been ruined by...

Episode 276: My Story for the 34th Time

Today, July 20, 2022 marks thirty-four years since my last drink, so in the spirit of sobriety anniversaries, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my recovery story. It’s a story I’ve told many times over the years, but each telling is a little different as I continually gain additional insight and learn from my past. In this talk, I didn’t spend a lot of time on my drinking years, but...

Episode 275: Fake It ‘Til You Make It?

Anyone who has any experience with AA has heard the saying, “fake it ’til you make it.” Often, the statement is made to someone who isn’t buying the concept of needing a higher power to stay sober. They are told to just pretend and sooner or later, they will come along. But is there another way to think about this saying? In this livestream, Angela and John attempt to...

Episode 274: Sober With Purpose

Every Tuesday at 7:00 PM Central, we have a meeting for listeners of the podcast, that you are free to join anytime. Typically, we’ll have a guest from a previous episode speak or we’ll play a clip from one of our episodes to use as a basis of conversation. This week, I needed to get an episode published and I was having a hard time.  So, I asked the group if they would mind if I used the meeting...

Episode 273: Higher and Friendly Powers

Is it possible that the “higher power” concept that animates Bill W.’s framework for Alcoholics Anonymous is based on an overly narrow reading of William James, a preeminent psychologist and intellectual giant of the early 20th century? On this episode of The Beyond Belief Sobriety Podcast, author Peg O’Connor unpacks a compelling theory as well as insights from her new book, “Higher and...

Episode 272: HIGH: Confessions of a Cannabis Addict

Things could have played out very differently for Leonard Lee Buschel. A powerful combo of early-childhood trauma, a “professional” opportunity, and luck combined to foster a 27-year drug dealing career that might have gone disastrously wrong. In fact, a great many things did go wrong, which became undeniably clear when Leonard looked at the Top 10 catastrophic close calls he was asked to list...

Episode 271: Embrace the Truth

I met my guest for this episode a few years ago at a meeting of the We Agnostics AA group in Kansas City. She had been attending meetings at another 12-Step Fellowship, so AA wasn’t a foreign experience. However, an AA group that was specifically tailored to meet the needs of atheists and agnostics was new to her, and as an atheist, she was excited about the opportunity to meet like-minded people...

Episode 270: What is Recovery?

Today, I want to talk about recovery. What is it anyway? To answer the question, I am borrowing heavily from the pamphlet “SAMHSA’s Working Definition of Recovery” published in 2012 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. I start each episode introducing Beyond Belief Sobriety as a podcast and community for people who are seeking or who have found a secular path to...

Episode 269: UnAddicted To You

Can you become addicted to a person and if so, how can you become unaddicted? With her book, UnAddicted to You: Loving Yourself Through the Darkness, Etel Leit answers these questions through the sharing of her own personal story and the lessons learned. Etel is a PhD. candidate, a best-selling author, motivator, public speaker, and an expert in human communication. She is the founder of Sign...

Episode 268: Improving Addiction Treatment & Accessibility

In this episode, I speak with Sam Arsenault Wilson, the Chief Quality Officer, and Co-founder of Confidant Health, an app-based hub of resources and clinical providers that help people with mental health and substance use problems. I was happy to feature Confidant Health on this podcast because I believe their model, which is grounded in science, helps make addiction treatment more accessible to...

Episode 267: Road to Recovery with Danny Castro

Danny grew up in a religious household and drinking was considered a sin. When he was around sixteen, he began to question the teachings of his religion. One question: Where does it say in the bible that you can’t drink? He waited until he was twenty-one before he has his first drink. In this episode, Danny describes how his drinking progressed, how it impacted his life and his view of...

Episode 266: How to Handle AA as an Atheist

In this episode Ben and I had a conversation about how to navigate Alcoholics Anonymous as an atheist, agnostic, freethinker, or otherwise secular person. We briefly touched upon what a person can expect to experience at their first AA meeting, and how to handle the overtly religious nature of most AA meetings. Topics covered in this episode include: How to deal with the praying. How to approach...

Episode 265: LifeRing Secular Recovery

In this episode, we meet Robert Stump who has been the Executive Director of LifeRing Secular Recovery since 2012 when the founder, Marty Nicholas stepped down. In this episode Robert shares his personal story of recovery and how he found LifeRing to support him in his sobriety. His journey began in 1997 when the only available option was Alcoholics Anonymous. This posed some difficulty for...

Episode 264: Secular Sexual Sobriety

For this episode, I had a conversation with Jack J. from Bristol England. Jack is a recovered sex addict who has created a new peer support group called Secular Organizations for Sexual Sobriety (SOSS). In this interesting conversation, Jack explains how his experience with other mutual aid groups inspired him to start this new secular option. Jack’s first encounter with a mutual aid group...

Episode 263: Kimiko G.

Kimiko values inclusion and believes the best way to help people is to meet them where they are. Though, she may prefer a more secular and practical approach to recovery for herself; she can easily adjust and relate to someone who values spirituality, and who is comfortable using spiritual language to describe their experience. As she shares her story in this episode, we learn that Kimiko has...

Episode 262: Roger C. and the Story of AA Agnostica

This episode highlights a website that has been a welcome refuge for alcoholics seeking to decouple religious faith and sobriety. Roger C. founded AA Agnostica a decade ago to publish the kind of information he could find nowhere else: Narratives about the experiences of secular members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Through his tireless work, Roger has afforded thousands of people a safe space to...

Episode 261: Dr. Daniel Hochman | Self Recovery

Our guest for this episode has built a unique online addiction treatment program that features many modalities because – as we know – recovery isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Dr. Daniel Hochman, a psychiatrist and founder of SelfRecovery.org, shares a platform that weaves together science, behavioral change and self-knowledge to sustain not only sobriety, but a multi-dimensional journey...

News & Announcements for Week of April 3rd, 2022

I just wanted to take a few minutes to touch base and fill you in on what’s happened on the podcast, livestream and in the Beyond Belief Sobriety community. Podcast The podcast is doing well. I’ve been consistently posting an episode every week. I always post on Wednesday morning. So, if you subscribe to the podcast, you probably get a notice on your phone every Wednesday. If you don’t subscribe...

Episode 260: Gabe Rosales

Gabe Rosales, is a professional musician, and a sobriety and criminal justice advocate from San Juan Capistrano, California. He got sober in 2007 after serving time in prison for crimes committed during the time he was actively drinking and drugging. The experience inspired him to earn a degree in Criminal Justice with the goal to help reform the system and make the world a better place...

Episode 259: The Sinclair Method with Katie Lain

In this episode we meet Katie Lain, an advocate and mentor for the Sinclair Method, which is a means for treating Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) based on the principal of pharmacological extinction. Those who use this method to treat AUD will take the drug Naltrexone one hour prior to drinking. Naltrexone is an opiate blocker that over time removes one’s craving for alcohol. Katie started with...

Episode 258: Measuring Addiction Treatment Outcomes

When Joanna Conti’s daughter was admitted to the hospital and placed on a 24-hour hold for a life-threatening addiction to alcohol; she wanted to find the most effective rehab for her daughter. After calling several addiction treatment centers, Joanna was surprised that none of them were measuring treatment outcomes and were therefore unable to tell her how successful their programs would...

Beyond Belief Sobriety News and Announcements: March 12, 2022

Weekly Meeting Tuesday March 15th at 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Mountain, and 5:00 PM Pacific. It’s a Zoom Meeting with ID 883 3035 4802. I’ll open the room about 15 minutes early. No password required. This week our speaker will be Serge Prengle, author of “The Twelve Proactive Steps.” Serge has been on the podcast twice. Most recently, he appeared on Episode 239, and back in...

Episode 257: Fireflies

In this episode, you will meet Lea Lauks, the author of Fireflies: Finding Light On A Journey Through Addiction. Lea, a gifted writer, put her talent to use painting with words, a realistic picture of the recovery process with all its ups and downs, challenges, and triumphs, and promise of a hopeful future. In this conversation, Lea shares her story of recovery as told through this amazing book...

Beyond Belief Sobriety News & Announcements

Weekly Listener Meeting We had our first weekly listener meeting on Tuesday, March the 1st. The meeting was a success. Beth Aich, the author of “We’re Not All Egomaniacs” spoke for about thirty minutes, and then we opened the floor for comments and questions. There were 27 people at that first meeting. This Tuesday, March the 8th, we will be meeting again and our speaker will be...

Episode 256: Atheism and Sobriety: Personal Responsibility and Recovery

John Huey discusses the second essay in his five-part series on Atheism and Sobriety. This episode focuses on personal responsibility and recovery from the perspective of an atheist, and how John’s atheism was a primary driver of his recovery. Personal Responsibility and Recovery – An Atheists View By John Huey To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you someone else is...

Episode 255: Atheists, Agnostics, and Alcoholics Anonymous

Anne Porter has been a listener of this podcast for a number of years, but recently she felt compelled to contact me after listening to “Episode 208: Ibby A”, and “Episode 250: Atheism and Sobriety”. In these episodes, I expressed a reluctance to serve as a sponsor, and I spoke derisively about the concept of an “AA way of life.” Anne feels strongly that...

Beyond Belief Sobriety Announcements

As a person in recovery, I learned that community and connection are vital to my well-being, and as a podcaster, I know that I’m connecting with thousands of people from all over the world, many of whom I may never meet. It’s a tremendous experience and I’m grateful for this opportunity. Now, I want to do my best to make the most out of it. Today, I am announcing some initiatives that I hope will...

Episode 254: The Untapped Keg

This episode features a conversation with RJ Zimmerman and Montee Ball from the Untapped Keg podcast. RJ and Montee share their personal stories and talk about how and why they started their podcast. An interesting conversation develops covering topics such as; the difficulty many men have with expressing their feelings, being open about our recovery, and the experience of podcasting about our...

Episode 253: Another in the Fire

This episode features a conversation with Aaron Reed, author of “Another In The Fire”, a book that chronicles Aaron’s addiction to methamphetamine, his experiences as an international drug smuggler, and then finding recovery in a Colombian prison. What we discussed What interested Aaron to work in Cambodia. His first experience using methamphetamine. The culture of prostitution...

Episode 252: Psychedelics and Addiction Treatment

In this episode, we have a discussion with Ted Perkins about the use of psychedelics to treat addiction and other mental health challenges such as PTSD, and clinical depression. About Ted Perkins When Ted grew up, he was surrounded by alcohol use as something entirely normal and necessary as part of life. His parents worked as diplomats and cocktail parties were part of the job. In his adult...

Episode 251: SMART Talk with Joe Gerstein

Welcome to SMART Talk! In this episode Arthur and I spoke with Joe Gerstein, founding President and a current Board Member for SMART Recovery. Joe has facilitated SMART Recovery meetings since its inception. He has developed many of the tools in the SMART toolbox and he helped start SMART meetings in several countries around the world. The Basics of SMART Recovery SMART is an acronym for Self...

Episode 250: Atheism and Sobriety | The Moral Center

In this episode, I have a conversation with John Huey about atheism and sobriety. This is the first in a series of essays that John will be writing about atheism and sobriety, and in this essay, he examines the moral structure of atheism and how that relates to recovery. ‘What is the “Moral Structure” of Atheism as it Relates to Sobriety?’ By John Huey At the outset, I need to state, at the very...

Episode 249: SMART Talk with Arthur Shenker

Arthur Shenker is a certified meeting facilitator for SMART Recovery and works as SMART’s National Outreach Liason to introduce SMART Recovery to treatment facilities. Arthur previously appeared as a guest on Episode 220 where he shared a little of his own personal story and talked about the SMART tools and how to use them. Recently, Arthur contacted me to ask if perhaps I would like to do...

Episode 248: Computer Gaming Addiction

Scott’s Story Scott J. was attending AA meetings for seven years and was sober, happy, and doing well. In fact, his life improved so much that he didn’t think he needed as many meetings. Eventually, he stopped going altogether and began playing computer games. Initially, his gaming wasn’t a problem, but this changed when he started to use gaming to cope with stress. In time, he became obsessive...

Episode 247: A New Year for Beyond Belief Sobriety

Happy New Year. I like New Year’s Day because I can’t help but reflect on the year that has passed and think about all the ups and downs, the people I’ve met, and what I learned along the way. I do that with my life in general, so why not do the same with the podcast. In this episode, I’ll take a look back at 2021 and look forward to 2022. It was January 1, 2021, when on episode 204, I announced...

Episode 246: The Language of Recovery a Conversation with Dave G.

Dave G. enjoys his sobriety. He runs, dances, and swims in the open sea. He gives back by talking at schools about his experience with addiction and recovery, and through his involvement in Toastmasters, he is working on improving his speaking skills even more. As we talked, I noticed a recurring theme throughout our conversation—language. Specifically, the language used in recovery circles, and...

Episode 245: After Gambling with Jamie Salsburg

Jamie Salsburg is the host of “The After Gambling Podcast.” He is a former problem gambler who hasn’t gambled since July 15th, 2010, and he created the website and podcast “After Gambling” to help people who are struggling with compulsive gambling. He also provides peer support for recovering gamblers, as well as their friends and family. You can learn more about Jamie and...

Episode 244: Barb’s Secular Sobriety

Barb was adopted into a conservative, Catholic family where she had a happy home life with parents who cared and provided for her. There wasn’t anything in her childhood that was especially traumatic, but she did get pregnant in high school and put her baby up for adoption. It was a Catholic school, and though they told her she did the right thing, no counseling was offered and it was never...

Episode 243: Addicted to Recovery with Tara Boyce

In this episode, we meet Tara Boyce who shares her personal story of recovery and talks about her podcast “Addicted to Recovery: The Interactive Memoir.” Her podcast has a unique format that involves Tara reading from her own memoir and then discussing her feelings about what she wrote. She also responds to listener comments and questions from previous episodes. Tara is an incredible talent. Her...

Episode 242: Is Moderation Ever an Option?

In this episode, I had an interesting conversation with Dr. Joseph Volpicelli about the idea that some people in the early stages of losing control over their drinking may benefit from therapy and naltrexone as a means of not stopping but instead, moderating their drinking. This may be a controversial topic among those of us in the recovery community, especially those of us involved with Twelve...

Episode 241: Multiple Paths – Life Ring and Women for Sobriety

Mary Beth O’Connor from Life Ring Secular Recovery and the She Recovers Foundation, teams up with Adrienne Miller from Women for Sobriety to discuss the importance of respecting multiple paths to recovery, and issues specific to women in recovery. Topics Discussed The origins and purpose of Women for Sobriety. Life Ring Secular Recovery. The She Recovers Foundation. The importance of multiple...

Episode 240: We’re Not All Egomaniacs – Adapting The Twelve Steps for Alcoholics with Low Self-Esteem

The book Alcoholics Anonymous written in 1939 describes alcoholics as power-driving egomaniacs who are self-centered in the extreme. The idea put forth in the book was that recovery from alcoholism would require crushing this oversized ego and learning to live with humility. This may have been an apt description of the less than 100  mostly men who were helping Bill put the book together, but is...

Episode 239: The Proactive Twelve Steps 6th Edition

Serge Prengel is a therapist and life coach, and co-founder of the Integrative Focusing Therapy Online Training Program. He is also the author of The Proactive Twelve Steps: A mindful Program For Lasting Change. The sixth edition of the book was recently published and Serge visited with me to talk about what is new and why. What we discussed Why Serge wrote the book. How the steps become more...

Episode 238: Jan Winhall | Treating Trauma and Addiction With The Felt Sense Polyvagal Model

Jan Winhall is a Clinical Social Worker and Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Toronto in the Department of Social Work. She is also the author of Treating Trauma and Addiction with the Felt Sense Polyvagal Model: A Bottom-Up Approach. In this episode, Jan explains how and why addiction becomes a way of coping with trauma and bridges the worlds of trauma treatment and addiction. Topics...

Episode 237: The Road to Sobriety: A Personal Experience

Timothy Clancy is an independent Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Counselor who specializes in self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse and eating disorders. He is a certified SMART Recovery meeting facilitator and the author of The Road to Sobriety: A Personal Experience. In this episode, Timothy shares his story and discusses alcoholism, treatment, and recovery. What we talked about...

Episode 235: Dr. Robb Kelly | Understanding and Treating Addiction

In this episode, we discuss the latest in the science of addiction medicine with Doctor Robb Kelly. Robb earned his Ph.D. in Psychology at Oxford University in 1984 and today lectures on addiction medicine at the University of Texas-San Antonio. He founded the Robb Kelly Recovery Group to help people suffering from addiction find recovery and purposeful lives, and his memoir Daddy, Daddy, Please...

Episode 234: Seeing Things Differently | Recovery in the Age of COVID

In this episode, I caught up with Joe K. who we met back in January 2020 in episode 145. At that time, Joe had just started a secularly formatted AA meeting in Chatham New Jersey, and a few months later the world changed profoundly as did the way we understand and experience recovery. In this conversation, Joe and I talked about the various ways our perspective on recovery changed. What we talked...

Episode 233: Sex Addiction

In this episode, we will talk about sex addiction with David S., a member of Sex Addicts Anonymous. David will help us understand sex addiction from his personal experience, review the terminology related to sex addiction, and describe a typical Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting. What we talked about Dave’s story. The nature of addiction and living a dual existence. How sex addiction differs...

Episode 232: The Sobriety Diaries with Nate Kelly

Meet Nate Kelly, host of a new video podcast called “The Sobriety Diaries.” Nate shares his story of recovery, how he got involved with podcasting about addiction recovery, and his hopes for the new podcast. I enjoyed the conversation and I look forward to following Nate’s podcast and YouTube Channel. Subscribe to Nate’s YouTube Channel Subscribe to The Sobriety Diaries Podcast Transcript John:...

Episode 231: Keeping it Simple with PJ

PJ takes a minimalist approach to staying sober based on three fundamental actions: not taking the first drink, participating in AA meetings, and getting involved in service. After learning about secular AA meetings during a visit to the US, he and a friend started their own secular meeting in Brookvale, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. The meeting has been growing and is doing well despite the...

Episode 230: Holmes Complete Guide to Stop Drinking Alcohol

Mark Holmes is the author of Holmes Complete Guide to Stop Drinking Alcohol and the CEO of the Addiction Help Agency located in London, England. In this episode, Mark shares his personal story of recovery and how he was inspired to write this book and make a career change from education to helping people overcome alcohol use disorder. What we talked about The reason people start drinking alcohol...

Episode 229: Paul Churchill From The Recovery Elevator

In this episode, we meet Paul Churchill, author, podcaster, and a person in long-term recovery. When Paul’s life went into meltdown in the summer of 2014, he came to a realization that he needed to stop drinking. More importantly, though, he was ready to stop, and he wanted sobriety. Then, after about six months of sobriety, Paul feared that he was overconfident about his sobriety, so he...

Episode 228: Why Do Atheists Bother with AA?

In this episode, John Huey returns to ask why atheists and agnostics bother with AA. Is it a waste of time for them to try and find a place in an organization with deep religious roots? Questions for our discussion Should atheists talk to or engage with traditional AA people at all? What good does it do for atheists to be involved with AA? Shouldn’t atheists start their own organization...

Episode 227: Sacred Masculinity with Sam Morris

Sam Morris learned that instead of waiting for someone else to save him, he was responsible for saving himself. Overcoming severe anxiety, depression, and struggles with drugs and alcohol, led him to his purpose of creating and holding space for men to experience deep healing from the things that scare them and that they are afraid to talk about. What we talked about Early childhood trauma from...

Episode 226: Happy Hypnosis and the Twelve Steps

Don Ross is a certified hypnotherapist and a person in long-term recovery who has incorporated hypnosis in his recovery and helps others do the same. In this episode, we learn how Don incorporates hypnosis with the Twelve Steps What we talked about The basics of hypnosis. The difference between self-hypnosis and being guided by a trained and certified hypnotherapist. The difference between...

Episode 225: Story and Connection with Kayla Connor

Kayla was introduced to AA while in treatment, and though she had a problem relating to the religious language of the program, she could appreciate the importance of community and the connection that comes from the sharing of personal stories. Seeing a need for more literature tailored to people in recovery who hold a secular worldview, Kayla would like to compile a book of stories from secular...

Episode 224: ARISE Interventions with Jack Bloomfield

Jack Bloomfield is a person in long-term recovery with over 45 years of sobriety. In this episode, Jack shares his story and talks about how he became involved with interventions and how an ARISE intervention differs from traditional models.
You can learn more about Jack on his website adesignforliving.com.
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Episode 223: Recovery Coaching with David Greer

Meet David Greer, a successful business coach who also happens to be a person in long-term recovery. Seeing a connection between the two, and a need to meet, he added recovery coaching to his services. In this episode, we learn how he helps people in recovery identify and reach their recovery goals. Links to David’s website and social media pages Website: Coach David J. Greer Coach Dave on...

Episode 222: Katie’s Godless Awakening

Katie drank abnormally from the start, and early in life, developed a pattern of working hard and playing hard. In high school, she got involved in a relationship that became an obsessive attachment and from that point on, obsessive relationships, alcoholism, and workaholism would form her adult life. Now in recovery and her eighth year of sobriety, she had an awakening as she began to question...

Episode 221: Kylie Butler – A Meaningful Life By Design

Kylie Butler is a podcaster, a writer, a career coach, a recovery coach, and a person in long-term recovery. Through her podcast and coaching business, “A Meaningful Life By Design”, she helps people bring their unique gifts to the world in a meaningful way. In this episode, she shares her journey of recovery and how she came to find purpose and meaning in her life. What we talked...

Episode 220: SMART Tools with Arthur Shenker

Arthur Shenker, a certified SMART Recovery facilitator talks about the basics of SMART Recovery, and its tools for building and maintaining motivation, coping with urges to use, managing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and living a balanced life. What we talked about Arthur’s background History of SMART Recovery Four Points of SMART Medically Assisted Treatment Motivational Enhancement...

Episode 219: The Online Soberish Book Club

In this episode, we meet Susie Darin from the Online Soberish Book Club, a monthly, international, free, alcohol-free, sobriety-focused book club, open to anyone on the spectrum of questioning their relationship with alcohol. The group meets via Zoom, and in non-social distancing times, those in Tampa Florida can opt to meet in person and hang out with the others who join through Zoom. Susie...

Episode 218: The Power of the Group

In this episode, Angela and I talk about what makes a 12-Step group unique and effective. Our conversation is based on a chapter from the book, The Alternative Twelve Steps: A Secular Guide to Recovery, by Martha Cleveland, PhD., and Arlys G. What we talked about The uniqueness of 12-Step groups. • Each person works a self-directed program. There is no facilitator or professional leader. •...

Episode 217: Books, Podcasts, and Sobriety with Matt M.

Matt didn’t ease into alcoholism. He got drunk the first time that he drank when he was in the seventh grade. By the time he was in high school, he was taking all the drugs and alcohol he could find, and at the age of fourteen or fifteen, he realized that he needed to stop. He managed to stay sober for short periods of time, and this on and off sobriety continued for years until eventually...

Episode 216: Mari Q.

Mari Q. shares her story of addiction and the phases of her development over the many years she has been in recovery – a process she describes as a healthier practice. The Twelve Steps are only one piece of her recovery, there is a lot more that she learned outside of Twelve Step meetings that she incorporates into her recovery. What we talked about Mari’s introduction to the Twelves Steps...

Episode 215: Modern 12 Step Recovery, by Glenn Rader

Modern 12 Step Recovery: Alcoholics Anonymous for the 21st Century, published in January 2021, provides a contemporary introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps. In this episode, I had a conversation with the author, Glenn Rader who talked about why he thinks it’s important that AA and the Twelve Steps be framed within the context of modern psychology. What we talked about...

Episode 214: Randy Haveson | The Ego Cleanse

Randy Haveson is a person in long-term recovery, a life coach, an author, and a full-time keynote speaker with a passion for helping people build their self-esteem. In this episode, we learn about Randy’s life-journey and discuss his book The Ego Cleanse: Becoming Your Own Best Friend. In this book, Randy discusses the difference between ego and self-esteem, the common obstacles to building...

Episode 213: Misery is Optional

John Huey makes his eighth appearance on the podcast, and in this conversation, he is expressing his concern about agnostics and atheists who make themselves miserable by comporting to someone else’s ideas of recovery. What we talked about Sources of stress in AA. Why people are seeking a secular alternative to traditional AA meetings. The importance of holding yourself to your own...

Episode 212: Until You Try

Stephanie S. crossed a line when her drinking changed from a want to a need. In this episode, she describes the insidious nature of addiction and shares a song that she wrote about her struggle entitled “Until You Try.” The song, performed by her son David, does a magnificent job of capturing the emotional pain of repeatedly trying and failing to stop drinking. What we talked about...

Episode 211: Seth Perry

Meet Seth Perry. Clean since April 12, 2010, Seth grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, and today he is a clergy person living in Kingston, Ontario. Seth’s problem with addiction started in Vancouver, and for the last six years of his drinking, he worked as a stand-up comedian. After burning all his bridges in the industry because of his drinking, he left that life behind. Since getting...

Episode 210: Ben’s Friends

This episode features a conversation with Mickey Bakst from an organization called Ben’s Friends, which provides a forum for people in recovery who work in the food and beverage industry. Micky talks about the history behind the group’s founding and the special challenges facing food and beverage workers in recovery. You can learn more about Ben’s Friends at their website...

Episode 209: AJ

Meet AJ who helped start a secular AA meeting in New Jersey. In this episode, he talks about his early experiences with alcohol, his evolving thoughts on spirituality, the progressive nature of alcohol use disorder, and how he managed the AA program as an atheist. As we were talking, AJ related an anecdote about what he was thinking of saying to his ex-wife one morning when she was upset with him...

Episode 208: Ibby A.

Meet Ibby A.  who has been sober since November 30, 1996, and shares her story of recovery from trauma and addiction, and how she views her recovery through a secular lens. Key points discussed Childhood trauma. Geographical cures. Impact of defective relationships on addiction. The benefit of a self-appraisal. Repairing relationships with family. Early experiences with AA and white-knuckling it...

Episode 207: Secular AA Oz

Justin M. from Canberra provides an update on the progress of secular AA meetings in Australia and New Zealand and talks about his views on AA’s singleness of purpose. Key points discussed A brief history of secular AA meetings in Australia. How secular AA is closer to the founding principles of AA. A discussion about the singleness of purpose in AA. How COVID impacted secular AA meetings...

Episode 206: Rich L.

Rich L. is from Mountainview, California, and he helped start a secularly formatted AA meeting in his community. In this episode, he shares his personal story of recovery, how and why he started a secular AA meeting, and how things are going today for both him and his group. Key points discussed Growing up in an alcoholic home. Drinking makes Rich feel normal. Rich’s feeling about religion...

Episode 205: Brendan from Rainham Freethinkers

In this episode, I spoke with Brendan from the Rainham Freethinkers Group located in London, England. I met Brendan at the online International Conference of Secular AA where I was working behind the scenes and he was participating in the panel about The ‘God’ Word Pamphlet.  Brendan shares his story of recovery and his experience as a secular person in Alcoholics Anonymous. Key...

Episode 204: A Message for a New Year

Happy New Year, friends. I want to begin the year by writing to you about AA Beyond Belief. These last five years have gone by so fast. It’s been like a dream. I never imagined that I would ever have such an experience, but it’s been an incredible ride, and I am honored to have this opportunity to be of service. Thank you, Roger C., for making this possible in the first place. Of...

Episode 203: Secular Overeaters

In this episode, we meet Jenne M., and Jim D., both secular members of Overeaters Anonymous. We talk about their struggles with food addiction, the difficulty they experienced as atheists in OA, their experiences starting secular OA meetings, and their website secularovereaters.org. Topics Discussed Jim’s Story Jenne’s Story What makes a secular OA meeting, secular. Overcoming the...

Episode 202: Colette

Colette’s date of sobriety is December 23, 2006, and on the date of this posting, she is celebrating fourteen years sober. In this episode, she shares her journey as a person in recovery from anorexia, depression, and alcoholism. Her’s is an inspiring story and she does a great job describing her early struggles as well as the joy she has found in being sober.  Topics and key points...

Episode 201: Birds of a Feather

Marty B. is a recovering alcoholic and a retired airline pilot. He got sober in AA and after his first year of sobriety, another pilot introduced him to Birds of a Feather, a worldwide network of AA meetings established for airline pilots and cockpit crewmembers. In this episode, Marty describes the unique needs of pilots in recovery and how Birds of a Feather offers a helping hand.  Key points...

Episode 200: Twelve Steps for Agnostics

In this episode, we meet Andy F., an agnostic who got sober in AA and is now writing a book about his experience overcoming his initial objections to the Twelve Steps.  Key points and topics discussed  Andy’s experience as a child in foster care. First doubts about God and religion.  Mental illness and alcoholism. Time in prison. First impressions of AA. Obstacles with the Twelve Steps. Why...

Episode 199: Twenty-Five Years of Listening

Glenn S. is a recovering alcoholic, a “Richard Dawkins atheist” who helped found three humanist AA meetings in New York City, and an artist who for twenty-five years brought a sketchbook to meetings where he took notes and sketched the people around him. The sketchbook helped him listen during meetings and resulted in a wonderful book that he titled Twenty-Five Years of Listening...

Episode 198: Inside Addiction with Luke Worsfold

Luke Worsfold is an entrepreneur who fell into addiction as he began to equate his self-worth with his net worth. Quickly, his life spun out of control and he lost everything. In this episode, Luke tells the story of his recovery and how his podcast Lisa Inside Addiction inspired him to become an addictions counselor. Key points and topics discussed  Luke’s early life and first experiences...

Episode 197: Measuring Recovery Capital

In this episode, we meet David Whitesock, who shares his story of addiction and recovery, and how his journey led him to develop the Recovery Capital Index, a useful tool for measuring recovery capital. Key points and topics discussed  Dave’s story of addiction and recovery. How studying architecture influenced the development of the Recovery Capital Index. Dave’s recovery plan...

Episode 196: Secular Al-Anon Boise: An Update

About a year ago, we posted Episode 137 about a secular Al-Anon group that started meeting in Boise, Idaho. That episode featured a conversation with one of the group’s co-founders, Kim L., who talked about the challenges with starting the meeting. In this episode, the group’s other co-founder, Chia provided an update on how the group has been fairing and how COVID has actually helped...

Episode 195: Listening

Listening is perhaps the most valuable gift we can give to another person, and it is a great strength of AA. People don’t necessarily need to have others solve their problems, but from being heard people can learn to face and resolve their own challenges. This episode is all about the importance of listening when helping people we sponsor, or a new person at a meeting. This was a live...

Episode 194: OMAGOD Online Secular AA Meeting

In this episode, I speak with Mikey J. from Our Mostly Agnostic Group of Drunks (OMAGOD) located in Orlando, Florida, and now meeting online every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00 pm Eastern. Mikey takes us through the history of the group and what they learned about hosting online AA meetings.  Key Points and Topics Discussed  The history of OMAGOD and their online meetings.  How to keep a...

Episode 193: The Plague Year

In this episode, John Huey talks about his thoughts on COVID and alcoholism, and what the two have in common. He thinks back on friends who didn’t survive their drinking and realizes that we don’t think often enough about those who don’t make it. You can read more in John’s essay,  A Journal of the Plague Year.  Key points and topics discussed  Either COVID or alcoholism...

Episode 192: AA Beyond Belief at Five Years

John and Angela celebrate the fifth anniversary of AA Beyond Belief by taking a look back at when and how it all started.   Key points and topics discussed  Meeting Roger C. at the We Agnostics and Freethinkers International AA Conference.  Roger encouraging John to start AA Beyond Belief.  John explains why he started the podcast.  What about AA Beyond Belief materialized as first imagined and...

Episode 191: A New Era for AA?

Has COVID brought in a new era for Alcoholics Anonymous, or is it our responsibility to help bring one about? As meetings moved from church basements to Zoom, we are now hearing more diverse experiences from a greater number of people, as well as new ideas about the Steps or recovery in general. Maybe sharing our experience as secular AA members is making more of a difference now?  That’s...

Episode 190: Decisions

In this episode, Angela and John have a discussion about making decisions and how they learned to make better decisions in recovery. Angela talked about how attending meetings and working the Steps helped her learn to become more mindful and less reactive, and John talked about the difficult decisions he had to make early in sobriety. This was recorded from our Friday night live stream and...

Episode 189: Sober Gratitudes with Sarah Elizabeth

Our guest for this episode is Sarah Elizabeth from the Sober Gratitudes podcast. Now, I’ll tell you, this isn’t a typical episode for AA Beyond Belief, because Sarah doesn’t identify as either an atheist or agnostic. In Fact, she describes her experience as spiritual, and she attributes her sobriety to a higher power, which she identifies as the God of her understanding. Now, that being said...

Episode 188: Something Light and Easy

Angela and I have a free-flowing conversation covering a variety of topics ranging from our memories and thoughts about or first AA meeting to whether AA Word Services should publish a new book that covers the program of recovery. We take a call from Fred in Virginia and respond to comments on Facebook and YouTube.

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Episode 187: Friendships in Sobriety

Angela and I talk about friendships and how they were impacted by our drinking and what we learned from our friends in sobriety. When I got sober, I didn’t have any friends left from my drinking days, but Angela continued to maintain those relationships after she got sober. This was recorded from our Friday live stream. We had one caller and several comments from the YouTube and Facebook...

Episode 186: Our Question and Answer Episode

Angela and I take questions from callers and the live chat on Facebook and YouTube, and then we ask each other a few questions. There is an interesting discussion about the importance of self-care, and the need for AA to modernize.

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