For people with an addiction, it is often suggested that they attend either Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). People are encouraged to join one of these fellowships because they help people live without drugs or alcohol. Therefore, it is important to understand the differences between the two in order to decide which one best suits them.
If alcohol has been the “drug of choice” for an individual, then AA would provide the support and fellowship needed. If narcotics or controlled substances were the problem, then NA would be the group for that person. The terminology used in these groups may be slightly different; for instance, an alcoholic in recovery would be described as “sober”, while folks in recovery in NA use “clean” as a description for not using drugs. Please note NA considers alcohol a drug. Therefore, NA does not separate the two substances.
More and more, individuals seeking recovery and 12-step meetings have both alcohol and drugs in their history. There are “Open” meetings which are happy to accommodate dual addictions. “Closed” meetings prefer that attendees identify as solely alcoholic or addict. Open meetings will welcome all and whether you attend open or closed meetings, you will not get kicked out of either fellowship with how you identify yourself. The important thing is that you abstain from alcohol and drugs and KEEP GOING to meetings! A recent article discusses how AA works and the benefits of attending this fellowship.
One significant difference between the two groups is the book they use as their guide. AA is based on “The Big Book” and NA utilizes “The Basic Text”. They are more alike than they are different, mostly in exchanging the word “drugs” for “alcohol” in their writings. Additionally, most people in NA feel that they are powerless over their addiction, not necessarily a particular drug or substance. That theory is different from the consensus in AA, which is that alcoholics are powerless over alcohol. Therefore, one is external (AA-alcohol) and the other is internal (NA-addiction). Most Importantly, Don’t Use!
While these are some of the differences between AA and NA, there are certainly other distinctions. A person can only understand these by attending the meetings in person. Finally, it is of utmost importance that you seek medical attention if you are struggling with an addiction. Sometimes a person will need to be medically detoxed from whatever substance they are abusing. Once a person has completed detox and perhaps rehab then it is likely that the treatment center will suggest that he or she attends AA or NA.
The purpose of attending these meetings is to develop support and to maintain a life without alcohol or drugs. But you will only know if you try it! So, look online to find a meeting near you…