What Is SOS?
SOS is an alternative recovery method for those
alcoholics or drug addicts who are uncomfortable with the spiritual content of
widely available 12-Step programs. SOS takes a reasonable, secular approach to
recovery and maintains that sobriety is a separate issue from religion or
spirituality. SOS credits the individual for achieving and maintaining his or
her own sobriety, without reliance on any "Higher Power." SOS respects recovery
in any form regardless of the path by which it is achieved. It is not opposed to
or in competition with any other recovery programs.
SOS supports healthy skepticism and encourages the use
of the scientific method to understand alcoholism.
SOS is a non-profit network of autonomous,
non-professional local groups dedicated solely to helping individuals achieve
and maintain sobriety. There are groups meeting in many cities throughout the
All those who sincerely seek sobriety are welcome as
members in any SOS Group. SOS is not a spin-off of any religious group. There is
no hidden agenda, as SOS is concerned with sobriety, not religiosity. SOS seeks
only to promote sobriety amongst those who suffer from alcoholism or other drug
addictions. As a group, SOS has no opinion on outside matters and does not wish
to become entangled in outside controversy.
Although sobriety is an individual responsibility, life
does not have to be faced alone. The support of other alcoholics and addicts is
a vital adjunct to recovery. In SOS, members share experiences, insights,
information, strength, and encouragement in friendly, honest, anonymous, and
supportive group meetings. To avoid unnecessary entanglements, each SOS group is
self-supporting through contributions from its members and refuses outside
Sobriety is the number one priority in an alcoholic's
or addict's life. As such, he or she must abstain from all drugs or alcohol.
Honest, clear, and direct communication of feelings, thoughts, and knowledge
aids in recovery and in choosing non-destructive, non-delusional, and rational
approaches to living sober and rewarding lives. As knowledge of drinking or
addiction might cause a person harm or embarrassment in the outside world, SOS
guards the anonymity of its membership and the contents of its discussions from
those not within the group.
SOS encourages the scientific study of alcoholism and
addiction in all their aspects. SOS does not limit its outlook to one area of
knowledge or theory of alcoholism and addiction. To break the cycle of denial
and achieve sobriety, we first acknowledge that we are alcoholics or addicts. We
reaffirm this truth daily and accept without reservation the fact that, as clean
and sober individuals, we can not and do not drink or use, no matter what. Since
drinking or using is not an option for us, we take whatever steps are necessary
to continue our Sobriety Priority lifelong.
A quality of life - "the good life" - can be achieved.
However, life is also filled with uncertainties. Therefore, we do not drink or
use regardless of feelings, circumstances, or conflicts. We share in confidence
with each other our thoughts and feelings as sober, clean individuals. Sobriety
is our Priority, and we are each responsible for our lives and our sobriety.
In James Christopher's book, How to Stay Sober:
Recovery Without Religion, Christopher, founder of SOS, describes his own
"recovery without religion." He focuses on the practical aspects of his triumph
over alcoholism and includes guidelines for the formation of secular support
groups. In Unhooked: Staying Sober and Drug Free, Christopher recounts the
evolution of SOS, invites the reader to sit in on a fictionalized SOS meeting
and offers further strategies for achieving and maintaining sobriety and
self-respect. In his most recent book, SOS Sobriety: The Proven Alternative To
12-Step Programs, James Christopher describes the proven methods of alcohol and
drug abstention advocated by Secular Organizations for Sobriety (also known as
"Save Our Selves"), the world's largest non-12-Step addiction recovery program.
The SOS movement began with an article in the Summer
1985 issue of Free Inquiry magazine, the leading secular humanist journal in the
country. James Christopher, the son of an alcoholic and a sober alcoholic
himself, wrote "Sobriety Without Superstition," an account of the path he took
to sobriety. This path has led Christopher from seventeen years of a fearful and
guilty alcoholism to a fearful and guilty sobriety with Alcoholics Anonymous.
Christopher felt that there must be other alcoholics who wanted to achieve and
maintain sobriety through personal responsibility and self-reliance. He also
felt that turning one's life over to a "higher power" was not compatible with
current research that indicated that addiction is the result of physiology, not
psychology. As a result of the tremendous response to the article from
alcoholics and addicts who wanted to maintain sobriety as a separate issue from
religion, Jim Christopher founded the Secular Organizations for Sobriety.
Today there are SOS groups meeting in every state, as
well as in other countries. SOS has gained recognition from rehabilitation
professionals and the nation's court systems. In November of 1987, the
California courts recognized SOS as an alternative to AA in sentencing offenders
to mandatory participation in a rehabilitation program. Also, the Veterans
Administration has adopted a policy which prohibits mandatory participation in
programs of a religious nature.
The SOS National Clearinghouse publishes a quarterly
newsletter that is filled with items of interest to all recovering substance
abusers, to professionals, and to the families and friends of alcoholics and
addicts. The SOS International Newsletter serves as an information source for
group convenors and as a forum for newsletter subscribers. Subscriptions are $18
For information about a group in your area, information
on book purchases or newsletter subscriptions, or if you would like to start a