‘Unreachable Destination’ a pastel drawing by Brittany Mitchell
‘Unreachable Destination’ a pastel drawing by Brittany Mitchell

Secular sobriety pilot program is brought to campus

October 16, 2019

A pilot program for a more secular version of Alcoholics Anonymous, years in the making from conception to implementation, has made its appearance on campus this fall. The counseling center, a third party and various staff members have made this a possibility through campus affiliation. Aggregate information concerning meetings is to be provided to the college so that they can know the extent to which the program is being utilized without identifying individual student participants.

Matthew Park, associate vice president and dean of students, said there will not be a sign in or attendance sheet to protect the privacy of participants.

“Within all of those areas, there are certain limitations,” Park said. “If there is a legitimate threat to someone’s health or safety, there’s pretty much obligations that that information has got to be reported.”

Although this is an alcoholics anonymous type of program, there’s not a higher power for prayers. It’s open to all students, employees and the general population. The only requirement is the desire to stop drinking.

“It’s secular in the sense that it’s open to any students regardless of their beliefs so that it can be truly inclusive in that way,” Park said.

Fake happy
Fake Happy, courtesy of Lexi Towery

Keith Lamb, vice president for student affairs, is pleased that this is a resource the university can offer the community. He feels that the secular part of the program was appropriate for the student population and inclusive of all religious beliefs.

“If anyone [students] is harassed or singled out because of their participation they would be protected under the university’s code of student conduct,” Lamb said. “We would certainly initiate disciplinary proceedings against any individuals who are targeting them.”

Meetings are once a week, they serve coffee and sweets, and have a community mindset. All levels of sobriety are welcome. If a person is worried about having to attend meetings alone or needs help getting to meetings they can contact a third associated party through the offices of Mathew Park or the counseling center.

The step work and “higher power” are optional. Prayer isn’t required and reading materials are secular. Although focused on alcohol, other addictions are welcome to attend. It has been emphasized that a student doesn’t have to be alone and meeting outside of the program is also possible.

To find out the information needed to attend, contact the counseling center.

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  • L

    Liz Yarosz-AshNov 6, 2019 at 8:42 PM

    This is MSU Texas’s first AA meeting. I am very happy to be involved and to have initiated this effort with Mark C. We welcome members with open arms. Please email me concerning location, day and time if you are interested, or contact the Psychology Clinic on campus for information. Many thanks to Dr. Darrel Ray for his support and to the other responders. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking, “Robert “.

  • J

    Jim AllardNov 6, 2019 at 8:41 PM

    Finally reason is brought into the light. Religious exclusion,bigotry, and superiority have a poor track record. Secular program’s are inclusive and supportive regardless of preferences. The only requirement is the desire to stop drinking.

  • A

    AmyOct 20, 2019 at 6:42 PM

    Robert, first, you need to prove that any god exists, and then prove that people need that imaginary god to ” find the strength to battle addiction “.

  • C

    Cathy WOct 20, 2019 at 6:19 PM

    And Robert’s comment here just shows why the religious 12 step programs don’t work for the non-religious: the absolute arrogance of the religious thinking everyone needs God to solve their problems. Statistically, non-religious programs are more successful because they are founded in science and reason and not religious woo. 12 step programs just replace your addiction with addiction to the program, which is a great first step in becoming free of the addiction, but it does not solve the underlying problems that led to the addiction.

  • D

    Dr. Darrel W RayOct 19, 2019 at 8:29 AM

    Great to see this. The only scientifically proven techniques for recovery do not include any gods. Secular people should not have to endure the messages of learned helplessness so common in religious recovery.

  • M

    Mark C.Oct 18, 2019 at 9:02 AM

    Cool. Widen those gates of recovery for those who are not religious.

  • R

    Ryan BellOct 17, 2019 at 11:43 AM

    Congratulations on creating this program and this space for all members of your campus community. It’s so important that non-religious folks can find pathways to recovery that make sense for them.

    Best wishes,
    Ryan Bell
    Secular Student Alliance

  • R

    RobertOct 16, 2019 at 2:06 PM

    Taking God (Higher Power) out of recovery is like removing a transmission from a car and expecting it to work. It’s in God we find the strength to battle addiction.