Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

Rochester, NY Chapter

Frequently Asked Questions

Does SOS encourage or tolerate moderate drinking?
Absolutely not. We are dedicated to helping each other live completely free from alcohol and other drugs of abuse. We are not in any way connected to groups that support the continued use of the very chemicals that caused such damage and pain in our lives.
What is the format of meetings? Do I have to participate, or can I just observe?
Our meetings are usually less formal than those of other recovery groups. We start by reading a brief summary of our beliefs. After that, people are encouraged, though certainly not required, to talk about their thoughts or experiences on sobriety-related issues in their lives. Not everyone chooses to participate, and we never pressure anyone to do so. At the end of the hour-long meeting, we read a short closing statement. We take our sobriety very seriously, but we try to keep the mood friendly and cheerful. And we always welcome newcomers!
Do I have to be an atheist or agnostic to be a member of SOS?
Definitely not. No-one is excluded based on his or her religious beliefs. However, topics directly related to religion are generally not discussed at our meetings, since we feel that our sobriety is a separate issue from religion or spirituality. Different SOS members have different views on religion, ranging from atheism to active membership in a church, synagogue, or other place of worship. One of our members, who is a practicing Christian, expressed her views this way: "I don't believe that God turned me into an alcoholic, and I don't expect Him to make me sober".
Is there a charge for attending meetings?
No. However, we do "pass the basket" at the end of every meeting. The voluntary contributions pay for things like refreshments, our telephone voicemail box, etc.. Nobody is ever pressured into contributing.
Is SOS opposed to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or other 12-step groups?
No. Rather, we think of ourselves as a non-religious alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Some of our members are also active in local 12-step groups. We are in favor of anything that helps people maintain their sobriety. We certainly don't discourage our members from attending other groups.
Isn't it true, though, that people can only become sober through attending a 12-step group, like AA or NA?
No, but that is a common myth or misconception. No single group or method has a monopoly on sobriety. People recover through a variety of different ways. Some people benefit from attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. However, research and experience have shown that many others recover with the help of SOS or another support group. Some people even quit drinking or using drugs on their own, or with the support of family and friends. Still others achieve sobriety by working one-on-one with a psychotherapist. In short, different strokes for different folks!
Are meetings strictly limited to alcoholics and addicts, or can friends and family members also attend?
Our meetings are open to anyone whose life is affected by substance abuse, even if the effect is indirect. Family members, friends, co-workers, etc. are always welcome to attend SOS meetings.
What is your success rate?
We don't keep track of any statistics, since we maintain very strict standards of anonymity. We measure our success based on the direct feedback that we get from our members, rather than on any formal studies.