The Secular AA Board met on April 18 to discuss the future status of ICSAA 2020 in the wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic and resolved that a one year delay was in order. The Website information is updated to reflect that decision.

New Dates Oct 29 – 30 – 31, 2021 — Same Hotel and Venue.

ICSAA 2021 Washington DC

washington skyline

4th Biennial International Conference of SecularAA

Friday – Oct 29, 2021 – Sunday – Oct 31, 2021

Hyatt Regency Bethesda Maryland
1 Bethesda Metro Center
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

 Covid 19 Re-scheduling Announcement 

The International Conference of Secular A.A.has been postponed for one year.  It will be held at the same hotel (Hyatt Regency Bethesda, Maryland, USA) from Friday through Sunday, October 29 – 31, 2021.  The special ICSAA hotel rate of $129/night (not including taxes) will remain in place for 2021.  Dr. George Koob, the Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, will remain the Keynote Speaker for ICSAA2021 and the focus will remain on the latest science on alcoholism and recovery.

Those who have registered for ICSAA2020 using PayPal will receive a return of your registration fees via PayPal in the near future. There will not be a PayPal charge for this transaction (but PayPal did take a non-refundable small percentage of each original registration, so the refund you receive will be slightly less than your original payment.

Alternatively, if you would like to allow your original payment and registration to remain in place and automatically transfer to ICSAA2021, then please e-mail a message saying “Leave my payment in place” or something to that effect to Host City Chair.  If you have questions, please e-mail them to that same address.

If you made prior hotel reservations for ICSAA2020, your 2020 hotel reservations will not automatically cancel or roll over to ICSAA2021.  The Hyatt Regency Bethesda will automatically cancel your 2020 reservations, but you will need to make new reservations for ICSAA2021.  The hotel will not start taking reservations for ICSAA2021 until one year prior to the event, or on October 29, 2020.  We will post a telephone number and website link for making your new reservations closer to that time.

The Host Committee welcomes Conference Participants to visit the Capitol District of the United States and its rich array of Historical and Cultural Sites. ICSAA 2021 Conference Visitor Information.

The Conference Hotel is the Hyatt Regency Bethesda in suburban Bethesda Maryland adjacent to the Capitol District. A great location to fellowship with our friends in the Secular (Without God) AA Movement.

Come join us and be Welcome!

Register Now Book Hotel

To Volunteer to help out at the Conference, Please click on the link below and let the HostCity Chair know you are interested.

ICSAA 2021: The Science of Alcoholism and Recovery

By Gregg O.

What causes some of us to become alcoholics?  Can it be predicted?  Can anything be done about it?  What should I tell my family?  Are my children and grandchildren at risk?  What are the best ways to treat alcoholism, to abstain from drinking and drugs, and to live a fulfilling and productive sober life?

These, and many other relevant and timely topics will be the subject of presentations at the International Conference of Secular Alcoholics Anonymous (ICSAA), to be held just outside Washington, DC, at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda (in Bethesda, Maryland), from Friday, October 29, through Sunday, October 31, 2021. The cost of registering for ICSAA 2021 is US $125.

This will be the fourth biennial ICSAA, the first three having been held in Santa Monica, CA (2014), Austin, TX (2016) and Toronto, ON (2018). While those conferences unquestionably set a very high bar, ICSAA 2021 promises to meet or exceed all expectations.

In addition to the fascinating, educational and enlightening speakers and workshops at ICSAA 2021, the Washington, DC area should be beautiful at that time. Washington’s springtime Cherry Blossoms are well known, but less recognized is how beautiful the city and its surroundings are in late October and early November. Not only is the weather typically the best that autumn has to offer, but there are fewer tourists and school trips, making a visit at that time less congested, with no lines and easy access to the famous Smithsonian Institution, Capitol Building, art galleries, and monuments.

The conference hotel – the Hyatt Regency Bethesda – not only has offered a special rate for ICSAA attendees (US $129/night, plus taxes, compared to the standard nightly rate of over $200), but it has also extended the time for receiving the special discounted rate. The discounted ICSAA 2021 rate will be available from Monday, October 25, through Thursday, November 4.

This is an excellent opportunity to combine ICSAA 2021 with a vacation and sightseeing tour to the DC area! The conference hotel sits literally atop a Washington DC Metro (subway) station, so it will be easy to go see the sights. In addition to the world-class museums, galleries and monuments in Washington, DC, historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is 75 miles to the north, and Colonial Williamsburg is around 150 driving miles to the south, and day tours are available to both. A number of links to nearby tourist and historical destinations are listed in a PDF at the end of this article.

Some of the speakers at ICSAA 2021 will focus on the brain chemistry and state-of-the-art science behind alcoholism, and current theories and approaches to prevention, treatment and recovery. Other speakers and panels will investigate staying sober through the arts, through meditation, and through participation in secular AA and other programs. We will have a speaker who will show us how to interview and record oral histories in AA. One of the breakout rooms will offer an AA meeting every hour the conference is in session, each hosted by a different group from around the world. The conference will also feature at least two live interviews, on topics of current interest:  specifically, Joe C (the author of Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life) will interview William Schamberg, author of the newly released Writing The Big Book – The Creation of AA, and John S (producer of the popular podcast AA Beyond Belief, will interview John H, a “determined atheist,” as to why he is no longer associated with Conventional AA and some ideas he has for a new approach to what is now SecularAA that he refers to as Secular Recovery.

Special Speakers

We are fortunate to have as a special keynote speaker Dr. George F. Koob, the Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which is one of the 27 National Institutes of Health that fund and undertake cutting-edge research. Dr. Koob is an internationally recognized expert on alcohol and stress, and the neurobiology of alcohol and drug addiction. As NIAAA Director, he provides leadership in the national effort to reduce the public health burden associated with alcohol misuse, and oversees a broad portfolio of alcohol research ranging from basic science to epidemiology, diagnostics, prevention, and treatment.  More information on Dr. Koob can be found on the NIAAA Director’s Page.

At ICSAA 2021 Dr. Koob will speak on “Recent Advances in Alcohol Research: A 50-Year Perspective.”

Another special speaker is Dr. George Kolodner, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Kolmac Outpatient Recovery Centers, a board certified addiction psychiatrist who specializes in the intensive outpatient (“IOP”) treatment of substance use disorders. In 1973, he designed and founded the first IOP program in the US.  Since then, Kolmac Outpatient Recovery Centers have helped more than 30,000 patients recover from alcohol and drug addiction. Dr. Kolodner will speak about the IOP approach to recovery and another counsellor from Kolmac will speak on the latest recovery methods.  Dr. Kolodner and his staff have worked to increase awareness of IOP and to keep Kolmac on the cusp of leading-edge treatment for women and men. More information about Dr. Kolodner can be found here: Kolmac Outpatient Recovery: George Lolodner MD.

We are also very fortunate to have a special speaker from Britain, Dr. Jon Stewart, a well-known academic in the field of popular culture and popular music.  He also campaigns for greater recognition of the wide range of non-spiritual recovery options via his blog (Leaving AA, Staying Sober: New Perspectives on Recovery), interviews with the BBC and The Guardian, and public speaking engagements at groups such as The Humanists Society, Skeptics in the Pub and QED Conference.  He outlines the benefits of various approaches including secular AA, SMART Recovery / CBT, and The Sinclair Method.  Jon’s work is shaped by a strong familiarity with the methodology and history of 12 Step recovery movements – but also informed by important recent developments in evolutionary and social psychology that are rarely discussed in AA meetings.  Here is a link to a popular podcast with Jon from AA Beyond Belief: Leaving AA and Staying Sober.

Those are some of the speakers and topics available at ICSAA 2021. This will be an excellent and exciting conference, with an opportunity to learn from some of the world’s greatest scientists and alcoholism and recovery experts. In will also be an ideal time to enjoy some wonderful sightseeing. Best of all, and like the three conferences that have paved the way for ICSAA 2021, it will be a time of fun and fellowship, with the opportunity to meet new people, renew old acquaintances and make new friends from all around the globe.

Make your plans now!

Useful Links ↓

Interview with Gregg O. Host Committee Chair

 Volunteer Info

Area Attractions

Guide to Getting Around Washington DC

Host Committee Visitor Guide

Bethesda Row