AA or NA: Which One is Right for You?

AA or NA - Which One is Right for You

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are the two oldest and largest 12-step programs out there. Two alcoholics formed AA in 1935 in Akron, Ohio. The founders created it to help those who have developed an unhealthy dependence on alcohol. It remained the only 12-step program in existence until Narcotics Anonymous was founded in California 18 years later.

The two deal with a similar problem, namely the debilitating effect of substance addiction. However, the two organizations deal with distinct forms of dependence. AA focuses on alcohol, while NA is an organization dealing with controlled substances we commonly refer to as ‘drugs.’

12 Step Programs & Religion

12 Step Programs and religion

The less religious someone is, the more they notice how prevalent the focus on God and religious symbolism is in AA. The word God appears 315 times in the Big Book of AA.

What makes the 12-step conception of religion unique is that every addict can use their spiritual conception. Since there is no specific dogma that guides belief, there is an infinite variety within the membership of the groups.

The Christian Background of AA

The first 12-step program was Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and it is very much a product of its time and place. Founded in a time when the United States was a very Christian and Protestant nation.

The two founders of the organization, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, were firm believers in Christianity and many of their ideas had blossomed out of religious-oriented seminars they had participated in. Not surprisingly, the basic AA literature is strongly influenced by these beliefs. When they refer to a Higher Power, they explicitly refer to God.

Another religious element in 12-step meetings is the “serenity prayer”:

“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.”

Although it does not contain material that is strictly Christian, it was written by an important theologian of that faith. However, the wisdom behind Dr. Rheinhold Niebuhr’s prayer transcends religion and belies a deeper universal truth.

However, the founders of AA were well aware that not all of the members of the fellowship are Christian and they wanted the program to work for everyone. Therefore, the original literature does not refer specifically to Christian doctrine, even if it does use that language extensively for cultural reasons.

What is the Serenity Prayer?

12 Step Serenity Prayer

What is the Serenity Prayer?

One of the things that help alcoholics and other addicts to recover from their addiction is the Serenity Prayer. If you have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, learning the Serenity Prayer could help you throughout your recovery process.

Defining the Serenity Prayer

The basic part of the Serenity Prayer, that is used the most, is this – “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” The intention of this prayer is to bring faith, certainty, and peace into the hearts and minds of those who need support. When you say the prayer, you are asking your higher power to give you wisdom and guidance to accept what is in your life. You are also asking your higher power for the ability to manifest what is in your best interest.

What Are The 12 Traditions? What Do They Mean?

The 12 Traditions

AA and other 12-step recovery organizations run surprisingly smoothly. Despite differences in culture and purpose between the groups, they tend to remain focused on their goals. They usually avoided excessive infighting or bad publicity. The various groups within 12-step fellowships have managed to run their affairs well while maintaining their autonomy.

The 12-traditions allow these organizations to manage their day-to-day affairs competently while remaining focused on their mission.

History of the 12 Traditions

AA was created in the 1930s and soon enjoyed a terrific amount of success. Groups spread all around the United States and, not long after, the entire world.

However, there were no clear rules for the structure of the organization. The different groups were intended to be self-contained and self-sufficient, and they indeed were. However, organizational questions and controversies began to bedevil the fellowship. No matter how autonomous the various groups are, they need a way to deal with administrative and financial issues.

What Are The 12 Step Promises? What They Mean

The 12 Step Promises

The 9th Step in the 12-step program is a highly consequential one. It is the step wherein a recovering addict makes amends for the harm they have done to other people in their lives and mainly due to their addiction.

As it says in the Big Book of AA, when working this Step, we: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

As part of completing this crucial step, individuals make and fulfill a series of promises, which appear in chapter 6 of the big book of AA. Though conceived as part of working a specific step, they often become an essential part of the outlook of recovering addicts.

What is the 12 & 12 in Alcoholics Anonymous?

12 and 12 Cover

What is the 12 & 12 in AA?

The 12 & 12 (12 and 12) refers to combining two lists of 12 items that have shaped the approach, the steps, and the traditions. The 12-steps are a roadmap that facilitates a path to recovery from addiction. Meanwhile, the 12 traditions are the organizational principles by which 12-step groups maintain autonomy while working towards a common goal.

The founders of AA came up with the 12-steps very early on in its history. In 1950, they added the twelve traditions to solidify the organizational principles that allow groups to avoid distractions and help addicts recover.

In 1953 founder Bill W. published the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. It emphasizes the equal importance of both the steps and the traditions. Indeed, the two are inseparable. The steps illuminate the path an individual can take towards recovery. But the completion of that path without the group is impossible, and the group cannot provide that support without the traditions to guide it.

How to Find Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings Near You

Hot to Find an AA Meeting

There are Alcoholics Anonymous meetings all around the world. Just about every country has chapters, and most big cities have multiple meetings every day. Meetings types vary. Some are open to the public, while others are closed and designed to protect anonymity. There are meetings designed exclusively for men or women and co-ed meetings as well. Therefore, every member of the fellowship should be able to find the right arrangement for them.

Regional Service Centers

Many cities and counties have service centers dedicated to local AA chapters. Many of them operate hotlines, sometimes 24-hour ones, which you can contact to find a meeting nearby.

Volunteer members of the fellowship answer the hotlines and are eager to help newcomers. They will tell you which meetings are currently available and open. They can also help newcomers find an individual to meet with them and prepare them for the first meeting.

Local AA directories list all of the meetings in their areas. However, the guides are often closed to non-members.

12 Step Programs for Heroin Addiction Recovery

12 Step Meeting for Heroin

When it comes to the disease of addiction, finding a 12-step program is crucial to one’s physical, spiritual and emotional health. In many cases, it is a matter of life or death. For struggling addicts, 12-step programs are commonly used in order to help one arrest their addiction because there is no cure for this disease. Although there may not be a cure for drug addiction, recovery is possible within the rooms of 12-step meetings.

12-Step Programs

While there is no cure for drug addiction, it has proven to be a treatable and manageable disorder. 12-step programs are usually non profit organizations that come together in order to help individuals recover from their addiction. While Alcoholics Anonymous was the first 12-step program, many groups began forming after its founding in the 1930s and started addressing other problems, such as substance abuse and behavioral compulsions. Because there are so many different problematic areas, it is important to find a group that can specialize in the addiction that one is suffering from.

How to Safely do a 12-Step Call

12 Step Call

A 12-step call is the act of an individual who is working the steps or has worked them, talking to a struggling addict and helping them start the road to recovery.

When does a 12-step call occur?

This very often occurs when a person struggling calls a helpline or calls the headquarters of an official 12-step program and asks for help. At times, these are personal affairs and involve an addict calling a friend or relative in a 12-step program.

Other times, this looks more like an intervention. Sometimes individuals are reticent about receiving the help they deserve and need a nudge in the direction of recovery. In some cases, a friend or family member of an addict reaches out and asks for help in the name of the suffering individual.

The traditions of AA and other 12-step organizations stress the importance of addicts coming independently to the conclusion that they need help and that 12-step programs operate through the principle of attraction rather than promotion. Still, sometimes it can be useful to reach out to those in need, as long as it is not done in a heavy-handed or forceful manner.

The moment where a person reaches out for help can be a pivotal moment in their lives. Therefore, the individual taking the call shoulders a heavy responsibility and a sacred duty to guide them in the right direction.

How Effective are 12-Step Programs?

Do 12 Step Programs Work?

Addiction can be incredibly difficult to overcome. It has psychological, physical, and spiritual components, and every individual experience it differently. Also, there are so many different types of addictions that can shatter the lives of those suffering.

There are a plethora of substances to which one can develop an addiction, from alcohol to organic plants, through narcotics, not to mention nicotine, and even readily available cleaning products and bath salts. Meanwhile, behavioral addictions can turn out to be just as debilitating. People report addictions to gambling, overeating, sex, and compulsive behavior such as hoarding.

Finally, every individual addict has a different genetic and psychological makeup. For some, addiction has a strong genetic component, passed on from generation to generation. For others, it can be a specific traumatic event or process they underwent earlier in life which sparked addiction. Meanwhile, for some, the cause is mostly physical. For them, addiction may be the result of a desire to numb significant physical pain.

Therefore, there is no one size fits all solution to addiction and no magic bullet which can cure every type of dependence.