Episode 6: Podcast Interview with Jon Stewart | Leaving AA and Staying Sober

Jon Stewart from Brighton, England was kind enough to join me for a conversation which I found immensely interesting, and I hope you do as well. Unlike guests from past episodes, Jon is not a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. In fact, he left AA after fourteen years in the program, and his blog Leaving AA, Staying Sober: New Perspectives on Recovery tells the story.

Jon’s experience certainly isn’t foreign to me. I was once at that crossroad. I was no longer comfortable in AA and honestly had I not learned about the Secular AA groups, I may have chosen another path. I can understand why he left and why scores of others leave. It’s something we in AA should think about. Why are people leaving, and should we care?

During the conversation Jon makes it clear that he is not anti-AA, in fact he wants AA to succeed. His primary complaint about AA is that it’s not sharing the spotlight with other options that could help people suffering from alcohol and drug addiction. I think he makes a good point. After all, don’t we acknowledge that we know only little, that we aren’t the only way? Well if that’s the case, why not be aware of SMART, and Life Ring, CBT or for that matter Naltrexone?

Whether you agree or not, I am sure you will enjoy this thoughtful discussion.

About Jon Stewart

Jon is a lecturer in cultural history, a blogger, and a public speaker on secular recovery. His blog Leaving AA, Staying Sober: New Perspectives on Recovery provides useful information for anyone interested in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. 

Referenced in the podcast

Leaving AA, Staying Sober, Jon’s blog

SMART Recovery

Life Ring

aacultwatch, a site based in the UK that keeps a watch on AA.

The Sinclair Method

One Little Pill, A documentary film about the Sinclair Method

Asch Conformity Experiment

The Thirteenth Step, A documentary by Monica Richardson

Safe Recovery, Monica Richardson’s blog and podcast

Common Sense of Drinking, by Richard Peabody

Why We Believe in Gods, Andy Thomson

The Ra-Men Podcast, Aron Ra’s podcast on which Jon will appear as a guest in January, 2016.

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9 months ago

I understand where you are coming from. I’ve been in AA for 8 years, and I’m coming up on 6 years sober. I’ve done the steps a few times, big book awakening, sponsored people, spoke, volunteered at events,etc. The last year I started to wonder why am I doing this? I do genuinely owe my life you the program, I just started to wonder why it was so emotionally stagnant in the rooms, and questioning it was met with hesitation and and almost a level of aggression to even pose a question like that. I’ve been Alanon and ACA and… Read more »

M. P.
M. P.
2 years ago

As someone who was diagnosed with OCD a decade before finding the Rooms, I am so incredibly grateful to have found this. My OCD is back with a passion and I’m becoming convinced the steps are no longer helping me like they used to. This is such a relief to hear!

2 years ago

Oh…this isn’t the Jon Stewart I expected.

Michael McComb
Michael McComb
4 years ago

Listening to the podcast now. Very interesting! I’m 11 years sober without AA. I was deeply involved at one time. Although I am not an atheist nor an agnostic, I congratulate you on your new found freedom. I completely understand the courage it takes to do what you’ve done. I look forward to reading more of your blog.



David B
David B
5 years ago

Thanks for this podcast. It was everything I needed to hear about AA, especially the idea that one can either find a way forward in the Fellowship as an agnostic/atheist (as John has done) or strike out on his own, finding recovery in other places and with other methods (as Jon has done). Taken together, I was gifted with a wonderful, more full view of what recovery can look like for this non-theistic practitioner of buddhism. The heart and humour that ran through this interview was a breath of fresh air, and I am immensely grateful to you for making… Read more »