Episode 75: Addictus: A Nonbeliever’s Path to Recovery

This podcast features an interview with Derreck Bennett, author of Addictus: A Nonbeliever’s Path to Recovery. In this newly published book, Derreck provides an honest account of his transformation from theistic belief to atheism, and from chronic alcoholism to sobriety. It’s an inspiring story that shows recovery is available to everyone and possible to anyone.

Derreck grew up in a family that practiced an unorthodox form of Christianity that takes literally the bible verse John 11:26: “and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” Derreck and his mother believed they would never experience death if they accepted Christ fully. His father, on the other hand, was less enthusiastic with accepting this belief, which was a great concern to Derreck and his mother—a concern that grew more serious when Derreck’s father was diagnosed with cancer.

After much pleading from Derreck and his mother, his father finally accepted this belief. Much relieved the family was certain that Derreck’s father wouldn’t die from his cancer. Unfortunately, cancer ultimately took Derreck’s father, which tore his family apart and set Derreck on a quest to learn the truth, a quest that eventually led him to conclude that he’s an atheist.

Alcohol enters into Derreck’s life during his senior year in college. He gets drunk for the first time, and it’s all downhill from there. Before he realizes it, he has a serious physical addiction to alcohol and eventually finds himself in treatment.

While in treatment, Derreck received the devastating news that his mother died in an automobile accident. This set off a difficult time, he relapsed and found himself in treatment again. While in treatment he received some exposure to AA, but couldn’t tolerate it because of the religious nature of the program. Though AA is not for him, he doesn’t discourage participation for those who find it helpful. In fact, he was able to find some good in AA that he’s been able to incorporate into his life. 

Derreck’s sobriety is enhanced and strengthened through maintaining a network of support from good friends who support his desire to remain abstinent from alcohol. The following passage is taken from his book and describes his approach to recovery. 

Through it all, the ups and downs, the good times and the bad, I’ve stayed strong. Not to say that there haven’t been moments of temptation. But when they arise, all I have to do is play the tape forward, conjuring up those painful memories from the past and recalling what is in store for me if I give in. Equally important is finding the courage to reach out to someone, whether I want to or not, during my times of need. Having close friends, a network of support, is instrumental. And, above all, recognizing that I am not powerless, but I do possess the deep, inner strength—the will and resolve—to do he right thing when time calls for it, no matter how hard it may be. That strength is within you. It is within me. And it is profoundly reinforced by the love and support that is available to all of us, just by reaching out.

—Derreck Bennett

I hope you enjoy this podcast. It was a pleasure to speak with Derreck. He’s a fascinating person with a great deal of passion for life. He has an interest in comparative religion and enjoys working on his Facebook Page, Heresium. If you enjoy history and learning the truth about the origins of religious belief, I would highly recommend Heresium

Addictus: A Nonbeliever’s Path to Recovery is available in Kindle format at Amazon.

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  1. Gerald December 2, 2017 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Yes, self-love and self-acceptance & forgiveness, an antidote for shame. AA doesn’t know much about shame, just guilt, which is n.o.t. shame. ACA, they know about relieving us of the burden of shame. They call themselves advanced recovery over AA, by the way, and they say AA got it wrong for calling resentment the number one offender; really it’s shame, the number one offender.

    You know, a newcomer to AA has to get lucky two times in order to make it. He’s lucky to ever make it to a meeting in the first place, but then he has to get lucky again to actually find what he needs in AA 🙂 And what he needs just might be very different from what I need 🙂

    Looking back over twenty four years of continuous sobriety, I see that I was attracted to old timers who carried the self-love message & freedom from shame, and that I was naturally repulsed by the “Pauline” world view you discussed in the podcast.

    At age ten I became an atheist. I realized that God was just Santa Claus for grown ups. I came into AA at age twenty. I simply ignored & accepted & f.o.r.g.a.v.e. the God talk, etc., inside AA as I had been accustomed to ignoring it, accepting it, and forgiving it in the outside world the previous ten year time period, which was effectively my whole life, you know, at that age.

    I should explain, though, that I had never been traumatized by religious experiences and that my private, Catholic elementary school years had been very pleasant; actually, I liked those years and I hated the public schooling years that came afterwards. ACA talks about “religious trauma,” and that’s how I learned that suffering addicts, codependents, & adult children can be so traumatized by childhood religious experiences that the “God talk” in AA can actually kill these poor people before they even have a chance to get lucky that s.e.c.o.n.d. time in AA.

    Thanks,

    Gerald

    • John S December 2, 2017 at 5:34 pm Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to leave such a well-thought out and intelligent comment. I enjoyed doing this podcast and I’m glad that others liked listening to it.

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