Secular Addictions Recovery

Byron did the right thing. He told his employer he had an addiction and he sought treatment.

He was required to attend a faith-based recovery program to keep his job and when he refused he lost his job.

Byron's story is hardly unique.

British Columbia is in the midst of an overdose epidemic, yet many treatment plans require people fighting addiction to attend faith-based twelve step programs or recovery facilities.

For those required to undertake treatment by their employer, an insurer or a court, this amounts to religious coercion.

Further, there's little good evidence to show these treatments work. At the same time, there are secular, evidence based alternatives.

Why aren't these the norm?

Join our call for an end to religious coercion in addictions recovery.

Join our Secular Addictions Recovery campaign

Please note that we do not provide addictions recovery programs.

Latest news


"I asked for evidence-based treatments and it was refused to me."

There is a risk that we are going to be forcing people, or trying to force people, to engage in a service or a support that is legitimately not right for them. Karen Urbanoski, a scientist at the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research in Victoria, told this to journalist Bethany...

Ensuring choice in addictions recovery

The BC Humanist Association today submitted its recommendations for a draft mental health and addictions strategy in British Columbia. The provincial government has been collecting feedback for a strategy following the creation of the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions last year. In its response, the BCHA calls for secular...

BC Government launches consultation on addictions strategy

The BC Humanist Association is encouraging people to share their stories about the importance of secular and evidence based treatments as part of a new consultation for a draft provincial mental health and addictions strategy. Last year, the Government of BC created the Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction. The...

BC Health Committee recommends funding evidence-based addictions recovery

BC's Select Standing Committee on Health released a report last week calling for the province to fund evidence-based addiction recovery programs and expand harm reduction services. The recommendations were part of the report, Looking Forward: Improving Rural Health Care, Primary Care, and Addictions Recovery Programs, which follows consultations that the BC...

The Province covers AA human rights complaint

Update (Oct 7, 2016): See below for our letter in today's edition of The Province. The front page story of The Province today covered Byron Wood's human rights complaint over being forced to attend Alcoholics Anonymous over secular alternatives. Wood told The Province: If I questioned the 12-step philosophy or tried to discuss scientific explanations...

CBC investigation finds majority of BC rehab clinics use 12 step model

In a report for CBC News, journalists Yvette Brend and Manjula Dufresne document their findings from calling every drug rehabilitation facility in British Columbia. They found: Many more — in fact the majority that we spoke to — adhere to AA or 12-step regimes, and resist harm reduction as a waste of time. They...

Human rights complaint over religion in AA to proceed

In a ruling released today, the BC Human Rights Tribunal has agreed to consider a complaint alleging that mandating attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) violates an individual's religious freedom. The complainant, Byron Wood, lost his job with Vancouver Coastal Health after refusing to attend AA as part of a treatment...

BCHA asks Health Committee to end religious coercion in addictions recovery

At a public hearing for the BC Legislature's Standing Committee on Health today, the BC Humanist Association called for an end to the government's tacit endorsement of religious based addictions recovery programs. Many of the treatment centres in the province still rely on the 12-step recovery model of Alcoholics Anonymous...