NJHN March Program: From Junkie to Judge: Recovery without God with Mary Beth O’Connor

March 26, 2023 @ 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Franklin Twp Public Library
485 DeMott Lane
NJ 08873


We are returning to in-person speaker programs this month! Our speaker will be Mary Beth O’Connor, author of From Junkie to Judge: One Woman’s Triumph Over Trauma and Addiction (2023).

From a junkie addicted to methamphetamines to a federal judge, Mary Beth O’Connor will share her three-phase journey from rock bottom to resilience as she forged a personal path to recovery from trauma and addiction: the abuse and trauma that drove her to shoot methamphetamine at 17, the personal and professional chaos from her addiction, and how she developed a personalized recovery plan, without a higher power, that led to nearly three decades of sobriety thus far. Mary Beth will describe how she responded when her rehab ordered her to comply with the God-based approach of Alcoholics Anonymous and how she built a secular recovery program. She’ll provide an overview of substance use disorder and treatment options, including six peer support groups and a study comparing the efficacy of several of them. She’ll explain the benefits of building a personalized recovery program and the obstacles to doing so, and provide recovery resources. 

Once in recovery, Mary Beth attended UC Berkeley Law School, worked at a large firm, then litigated class actions for the federal government. In 2014 she was appointed a federal Administrative Law Judge, from which position she retired in 2020. She is a Board Member for She Recovers Foundation and a Director for LifeRing Secular Recovery. She regularly speaks on behalf of these organizations and about multiple and secular paths to recovery. She had an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in 2020, “I Beat Addiction without God,” and one in Recovery Today, “How I Attained 28 Years Sobriety by Rejecting my Rehab’s Submit to AA Order” [Dec. 2022, Issue 82, pp. 44-46].

The program will start at 1:30 PM in the Community Room. A Q&A session will follow the talk. Mary Beth will have autographed books available for purchase. Free and open to the public. Refreshments provided.
After the meeting, everyone is welcome to join us for an early dinner at 4 pm at Ruby Tuesday, 250 Davidson Ave, Somerset.

This will be our first hybrid meeting, offering both an in-person and a Zoom experience. To attend the Zoom meeting, register in advance at:
After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Zoom with the link to join the meeting.

More about Mary Beth O’Connor:

Disclaimer: The views, information, and opinions expressed by our program speakers are solely their own and are not expressly shared or endorsed by New Jersey Humanist Network. The primary purpose of our speaker programs is to educate and inform and stimulate conversation.

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