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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Michael McCombDavid BWillow Fbob kJon S Recent comment authors

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Michael McComb
Michael McComb

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.

 

Mike

David B
David B

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 »

Willow F
Willow F

I just attended the Widening the Gateway workshop in Olympia Wa yesterday. I recently realized I am atheist and with 27 years sober thanks to AA, I have been on a terrifying yet exciting journey of discovery recently to try to figure out how to reconcile these two things.  With all of the other things I have started to discover over the past couple of months, from this site and others like it – and finally with listening to this podcast this morning, I realize I am not alone.  I spent the first 30 minutes sobbing while trying to listen… Read more »

John S

Willow, you just told my story. I was in AA for 25 years a confirmed believer of the steps and the Big Book. When I first realized that I was an atheist, it scared the hell out of me. AA has been such a huge influence on my life, and I was afraid that I would no longer belong.

Today, some two years later, I am more involved and excited about AA than any other time in my recovery.

Thank you so much for listening to our podcast.

Jon S

Thank you Willow. Thank you so much. JS

 

bob k
bob k

Jon Stewart came across as very bright and articulate, AND as balanced and reasoned. He is all those things, as well as being brilliantly funny. Although Jon and I clearly disagree in a few areas, he is a total charmer, and this was an OUTSTANDING interview.

Lovinglife52

Thanks for the great Podcast, I think you made some great points about how AA can be helpful for people who do not believe in God. The religious side was certainly an issue for me and I wish I had found the type of meetings that you talk about which are agnostic. I live in London and went to the culty type meetings for a while, until I traveled and found there was more to AA than Big Book thumping. I moved on from AA, but am still very grateful for the support, fellowship and inspiration to get sober when… Read more »