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Forced into the AA?

Many people, particularly in the U.S., lose licenses (professional, medical, driver’s) due to addiction or substance-related issues.  Stanton is also an attorney, and has spent a good deal of time addressing such questions.  It is obviously beyond the scope of LPP to take on specific legal questions here, however you should know that it is illegal in the U.S. for a person to be compelled by a court or a government agency to participate in Alcoholics Anonymous or similar support groups or in 12-step rehab when the 12-step philosophy, or its references to God, violates their beliefs. (This has been held by federal courts, for example, for people who are atheists, Buddhists, or Jewish.) Your attorney should be aware of the legal decisions referenced here.

If you are being required to join AA or a similar program against your beliefs, your attorney should write (you may do so as a citizen/defendant/parolee) the court, parole or probation officer to inform them that AA and the 12 steps violate your personal/religious beliefs and to ask for the opportunity to have an alternative type of remedial program (including SMART Recovery®, for instance).  In the first place, it is important to have it in writing if the court et al. refuses to grant you this right.  In the second you may indicate you are accepting the court’s or parole board’s decision to seek help, and that you only want to use another method.  It is important in this case to indicate that SMART Recovery, for instance, utilizes proven, effective methods.

SMART meetings are not available everywhere, and thus you might request permission to participate on-line.  If the court or parole board is amenable to such an approach, you might also indicate the you wish to utilize LPP.  It is not within the scope of LPP to participate in helping you make this request.  But please inform us of the court’s or other agency’s response to such requests.

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