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Secular Recovery Programs to Be Approved by Massachusetts Medical Officials

For Immediate Release

Contact: William Burgess, bburgess@americanhumanist.org, 202-238-9088 x 102

(Washington, DC, June 10, 2013) — Massachusetts state medical authorities have responded positively to a request to make available secular alternatives to religious 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, for those facing disciplinary action. The change was requested by attorneys with the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center in response to a complaint from a local doctor being scrutinized by the State Board of Registration in Medicine (BRM). 

The BRM contracts with the Physician Health Services, Inc. (PHS) to develop treatment plans for its doctors with substance abuse problems. Up until now, the PHS has not made it explicitly clear to doctors they can attend secular alternatives to faith-based programs.

While BRM and PHS officials have agreed that treatment options should not be limited to sectarian-based groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, attorneys with the American Humanist Association’s legal center continue to work with them on official wording to ensure it’s clear that secular options such as SMART Recovery and Rational Recovery are also acceptable.

“Compliance with the Constitution requires that participation in religious programs can’t be dictated or coerced,” said Monica Miller, an attorney and legal consultant with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The willingness state medical officials have shown in resolving this problem is reassuring.”

Details can be found here.

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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington D.C., its work is extended through more than 160 local chapters and affiliates across the United States. Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation and The Herb Block Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms a responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.

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