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Drinking in Narcotics Anonymous (NA): Is it allowed?

Narcotics Anonymous has so blatantly been explained as a fellowship for those who struggle with substance abuse addiction. It is intended for addicts who are seeking out recovery or the desire to stop using. When the average person hears the words “Narcotics Anonymous,” their first thought is that the individuals who attend these support groups are there to stop using drugs, which leads to the bold and confusing question – are you allowed to drink if you are in Narcotics Anonymous?

Alcohol for Addicts

Many addicts may try to justify what alcohol is to them. In fact, for many addicts in recovery, their drug of choice was never alcohol. Alcohol is generally one of the first and initial substances put into their bodies, which is what usually leads them down the road of addiction.

For most addicts, it doesn’t matter what substance is being used; what matters is that it is mind and mood altering. While some addicts prefer to have a drug of choice, it simply doesn’t matter how much or what kind as long as it takes away from whatever they are feeling at the time or place. To put it generally, most addicts could care less what is being used as long as it gets them high.

Why Alcohol is Detrimental to Sobriety

Simply put, alcohol is considered a drug and should not be consumed by anyone who is in recovery. Many addicts viewed alcohol as a separate drug before they entered into Narcotics Anonymous. Whether it was their inability to empathize with an alcoholic or to see how alcohol was a drug, it doesn’t seem to make sense as to why they can’t drink alcohol.

Man drinking alcohol

Unfortunately, this can be the cause of many relapses when an addict is in recovery. Why is alcohol considered a drug? Alcohol is simply another substance that is being used to alter the state of mind of the user. It may seem innocent when one drink is had, but as many addicts know, one is never enough; an addict usually wants to continue using whatever substance is available until they are no longer in their normal state of mind.

Alcohol can be a confusing drug, mainly because it is legal and it isn’t usually what an addict would choose to use when given the opportunity – that is why it can be so dangerous to recovery.

Why NA Chooses to Abstain from Drinking

The program of Narcotics Anonymous explains to addicts in recovery that alcohol is still a drug; whether it is legal, always around or unable to be avoided. In the “Basic Text” introduction, the literature reminds the reader that recovery isn’t limited to just abstaining from drugs; it is abstaining from any substance that will alter the mind or mood.

Addiction is not limited to one thing; it is not limited to a specific substance; it is not limited to only abstaining from one drug; it is abstaining from everything. One of the reasons many addicts choose to continue using drugs is because there is something in their lives that they want to mask, not feel or not think about.

It is a method of trying to change one or more aspects of their life that they do not want to deal with. Alcohol is no different than any other drug. The disease of addiction does not discriminate against addicts, nor does it discriminate against what kinds of drugs are being used.

AA and NA Differences

While Narcotics Anonymous is a separate group from Alcoholics Anonymous, there is no difference when it comes to describing alcohol as a drug for addicts in recovery. Although it may be more difficult to connect or empathize with an alcoholic in AA, NA wants addicts in recovery to focus on the idea that any substance used will lead them down the path of destruction.

The program and fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is based on the same principles, steps and traditions as Alcoholics Anonymous, so the differences are only slight. There is no way for an addict to use any drug successfully – whether it be illegal drugs, alcohol or marijuana. Even in the instance where an individual was able to successfully drink alcohol without getting drunk or blacking out, the fact of the matter is, no matter how in control an addict may feel, eventually, the drug will get the best of them. “Our reaction to drugs is what makes us addicts, not how much we use.”

Abstaining from Drugs and Alcohol

The key to recovery and the focus of Narcotics Anonymous is to abstain from drugs and alcohol entirely. The program and fellowship of NA can help individuals seeking recovery find solutions, utilize the tools and knowledge available and provide resources to addicts in recovery to find sober and healthy ways of living.

One of the biggest tools of the fellowship is the support system an addict in recovery can build with other members to build sober lifestyles around people and places where alcohol or drugs will not be available. It doesn’t matter what it takes for someone to stay sober – what matters is that they do it.

The fellowships of Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous both rely on the same idea that staying sober and completely abstaining from mind-altering substances is the only way an addict is going to survive. Working the steps and the program with a sponsor in the fellowship will not only keep members sober, but it will give them a solution to their problems, just for today.