AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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Abstract‘In return for a bottle and a hangover we have been given the Keys to the Kingdom’ (The ‘Big Book’ Alcoholics Anonymous) Many who find recovery from alcoholism through the twelve steps speak implicitly or explicitly in terms of a salvific experience. Active alcoholism is experienced phenomenologically as a totally hopeless condition from which there is no escape; yet escape is made possible for millions by the discipline of the twelve steps and the support of twelve step mutual help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and/or treatment centres. For many, the profound transformation of recovery from a hopeless and terminal condition can be understood only by reference to a Higher Power, or even a transcendent being, and thus the experience is understood as ‘spiritual’ in nature. In a volume which interrogates and widens discourse about salvation, this chapter questions the utility of soteriological language in the context of addictions recovery. Is such language in this context descriptive, or normative? What are the risks in using it? Are new languages of release from addiction being developed? The chapter draws on some case studies from the Higher Power Project, a qualitative study of spirituality and recovery at the University of Chester to explore these questions.
CitationDossett, W. (2015). Reflections on the Language of Salvation in Twelve-Step Recovery. In H. Bacon, W. Dossett, & S. Knowles (Eds.), Alternative salvations: Engaging the sacred and the secular (pp. 21-30). London, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury.
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