Dr. Aaron's Blog

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) & Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

August 1, 2016 Addiction, All, Mental Health, Naturopathic Medicine, Recovery coaching by Aaron Van Gaver

For people who want to get treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are two services that offer help.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous ( AA) was founded in 1935; two men had a goal, which was to assist “alcoholics” (I hate using stigmatizing language), in giving up alcohol and teach them how to help others with their addiction.

AA uses a Twelve Step Program, which has a spiritual aspect. It guides the “alcoholic” into an awareness of the pain and hurt they have done to others and themselves and to make amends. It encourages the adoption of a higher power that helps them and teachers them the skills to assist others who are also trying to stop drinking.

AA uses a support group as a form of therapy; the premise is that alcoholics who attend the meetings will be able to gain support from their peers, especially those who have succeeded in becoming sober.

Narcotics Anonymous

In response to the success of AA, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) was formed. Many people realized that a program that was aimed at helping alcoholics might not be as successful with those who had addictions to drugs.

NA is similar to AA in that it also has a support group as a form of therapy and building an awareness of the pain they have done to others as well as themselves; it also encourages members to help other members suffering from addiction.

However, many think NA has a larger focus on the individual, instead of focusing on a Higher Power, which many “addicts” may feel more comfortable with. For some, the idea that a Higher Power is having an influence on their lives may make them feel uncomfortable. Instead, NA helps the addict accept that the responsibility for overcoming the addiction lies solely with the “addict”. The most obvious difference is that AA is designed to help those struggling with the use of a legal substance (alcohol) while NA is there for those who are struggling with illegal or prescription drugs.

Both groups were designed to help those who are addicted, whether to alcohol or recreational or prescription drugs, to succeed in overcoming their addictions. Both offer a support system that helps the “addict” realize there are others like them who have beaten their addiction and are willing to help. Members can attend as many meetings as they like, which are usually offered at several different times of the day and every day of the week in a local or nearby area. Members can get a sponsor who they can meet or call when they are struggling with the addiction and need someone who has been there to help. In time, many members may themselves become sponsors and help someone else who has just started this process.