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NA vs. AA: Which One Is Best for Me?

July 15, 2021
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NA vs. AA

Substance abuse is extremely prominent in America; over 22 million people deal with some substance abuse issues. However, terms like “substance abuse” and “addiction,” while a helpful shorthand for the general public, don’t do much for people suffering from those issues.

While every kind of addiction has a similar pattern of abuse and recovery, they’re all completely different experiences, completely different worlds. Narcotics addiction is inherently different from an addiction to alcohol because narcotics are illegal drugs, and alcohol isn’t only legal but socially acceptable.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have completely different mottos, mind frames, clientele, and cultures regarding recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous has expanded recently, however, to include people suffering from all sorts of addictions, so the lines are starting to become blurry.

If you’re wondering what sort of drug addiction recovery is best for you, you’ve come to the right place. This article will walk you through the right options for the right types of drug addictions.

Alcoholics Anonymous

In the world of AA, alcoholics anonymous is looked at as a disease and a spiritual affliction. A man named Bill W. founded it in 1935 based on a process of spiritual recovery. He discovered that the best way to maintain his sobriety was to help other people to become sober.

This finding principle has stuck with alcoholics anonymous into the present day. In AA, there’s as little authority as possible. A meeting leader makes sure everything starts on time and stays on track, and sponsors are responsible for other members, but ultimately everyone is equal.

This level of equality allows people to help others just as much as being helped themselves. Meetings are generally centered around topics or featured guest speakers. This Socratic method of recovery helps people find solace and advice in the stories of others.

Alcoholics anonymous involves a good deal of literature. Much like religion, however, they haven’t changed much since 1935. The information is easy to process at first but takes years to master.

It should be noted that alcohol is a legal substance, so people from all walks of life find themselves at alcoholics anonymous meetings. The lack of hierarchy helps emphasize this, and it can be comforting to know that you’re all equal in each other’s eyes.

If your alcohol addiction is out of control to the point of being dire, consider more intense alcohol addiction treatment.

Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous remains a separate culture from alcoholics anonymous. This is most likely because NA was started as a rebellion by a man named Jimmy K, who was fed up with the indifference he received from alcoholics at an AA meeting. Though they follow a similar group format and 12-step plan, this has bred some differences.

For starters, Narcotics Anonymous doesn’t put as much emphasis on a higher power. This matters a great deal to some people; while the AA program is great, it is highly spiritual. AA meetings largely focus on prayers, and the 12 steps of AA feature a lot of references to God.

It should be noted that many people choose to view the concept of “God” in Alcoholics Anonymous metaphorically: the concept of a benevolent higher spirit that brings comfort and security. However, for people who have both addictions who have had negative experiences with religion, it might be best to stick to something that focuses on the individual.

First Steps

Another thing that should be noted is the difference in step number one. In AA, the first step is — “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.” In NA, the first step is — “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.” The difference is subtle but is a strong distinction for many people.

In AA, the emphasis is put on “alcohol,” whereas, in NA, the emphasis is on “our addiction.” Adding the determiner “our” combined with the general abstraction of “addiction” contrasts the antagonization of the substance itself.

NA vs. AA

If you’re suffering from two addictions, ask yourself how you want to fight your issue. NA and AA will give you different weapons to slay the beast, but you need to figure out which ones are best for you to wield.

Do you feel the substance itself is controlling you? Does alcohol seem as though it has spiritual control over your body? Do you feel as though you need to surrender yourself to something greater to recover from your addiction — even if you’re an Atheist or agnostic?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, AA might be best for you.

However, if you feel that a personal defect within you is controlling you; that your enemy is yourself and your addiction is a manifestation of yourself; that you need to take control of your own faith and find a group of people who can help you do that, you might be right for NA.

AA is generally better for spiritual and religious people. NA is better for people who put trust in psychology and the existential philosophy of personal responsibility. No one option is better than any other; to some, it might be best to give themselves over to the grace of God; to others, the only way out is in.

Discover the Program That Is Best for You

When it comes to the question of NA vs. AA, that answer lies in your own preferences. What sort of culture do you want to be a part of? How do you want to deal with your recovery?

At the end of the day, they’re both group-based 12 step programs because group-based 12 step programs work. Don’t sweat the differences too much, and make sure you get yourself the help you need.

For more information, contact us today.

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Warren Boyd
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