April 12, 2010
Save OurSelves / Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) has released its spring 2010 schedule of meetings in the greater Western New York area. SOS is a nonprofit network of autonomous, nonprofessional local groups dedicated to helping individuals achieve and maintain sobriety. With more than 20,000 members worldwide, it is an alternative recovery method for those alcoholics or drug addicts uncomfortable with the spiritual content of widely available 12-step programs.
SOS has been operating in Western New York for 10 years. An open, general SOS meeting is held at 7:30 p.m. each Tuesday at the Center for Inquiry/Amherst, 1310 Sweet Home Road. SOS also meets regularly in Buffalo, Lancaster, Lockport, Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, and Williamsville.
“In the past decade, I’ve witnessed SOS grow from one weekly meeting at the Center for Inquiry to more than 20 held in a wide variety of settings,” said Eric Chinchon, the New York SOS coordinator and a chemical-dependency counselor at Erie County Medical Center. “SOS has helped many hundreds of people here since 2000—persons grateful to have found a support group that offers solutions to their alcohol and/or other drug problems in a secular, non-religious manner.”
SOS is the brainchild of James Christopher, whose disillusionment with Alcoholics Anonymous led him to develop his own approach, Secular Organizations for Sobriety, in 1985. Christopher’s article in the Summer 1985 issue of Free Inquiry magazine gained him worldwide attention and support. Now SOS—the world’s largest nonreligious alterative to AA’s traditional “faith based” 12-Step program—is set to mark 25 years of service this year when it hosts its third-annual Festival of Recovery from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 24, at the Center for Inquiry’s Los Angeles branch. Set to be held in the shadow of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 75th anniversary, the ecumenical festival will feature all recovery options known to the organizers, including AA, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, SOS, Women for Sobriety, SMART Recovery and mental health community recovery groups.
SOS takes a reasonable, secular approach to recovery and maintains that sobriety is a separate issue from religion or spirituality, crediting the individual for achieving and maintaining his or her own sobriety, without reliance on any “Higher Power.” However, SOS respects recovery in any form regardless of the path by which it is achieved; anyone who sincerely seeks sobriety is welcome in any SOS Group. One variant of the program available in Western New York is SOS Badge to Badge, a confidential, secular self-help addiction recovery support group for law-enforcement personnel and corrections officers only.
“SOS has received support from all quarters of the community, including substance-abuse and mental-health treatment providers, medical professionals, court judges and officials, and members of some faith-based organizations,” Chinchon said, noting that there are as many roads to recovery as there are people. “An honest respect for the individual demands that alternate routes are encouraged—avenues where a person can find the effective support that he or she needs to be successful. The horizon for help needs to be broadened; there are too many people lost using the old map.”
Visit http://sos-nys.org/ for more information on New York chapters.
For detailed information on S.O.S. history and its international impact, download the newsletter PDF at: