Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, has been part of American life for more than 80 years; Narcotics Anonymous for more than 50. And for most of those years, if you’ve been struggling with a substance use disorder, these programs have been considered a staple for many on the road to recovery.
In recent years, there has been some push back on determining if NA or AA is really that helpful. Some researchers are saying that AA and NA don’t help, that there is no correlation between attending meetings and working the 12-step programs and achieving sobriety. On the other hand, there is plenty of research that covers AA’s ability to teach coping skills, such as how to deal with negative emotions and social high-risk drinking situations, and of course, anecdotal evidence shouldn’t be ignored.
First, one of the most important factors in recovering from alcohol or drug abuse is finding structure, and attending meetings regularly can provide that structure. More importantly, those meetings provide social support and a sense of meaning and purpose. They can help you see that you’re not alone, that people of all ages and from all walks of life have had the similar experiences to yours. While addiction experts point out that therapy and medication are also important components of recovery, one-on-one meetings with a doctor and taking medication alone won’t give you that sense of fellowship.
Second, AA and NA meetings are widely available and easy to find. You can attend a meeting at almost any time, in almost any place that you live or are visiting. Best of all, they’re free. While seeing a therapist and getting medication can also help, AA and NA are available almost whenever they’re needed.
Third, they give you flexibility. You can try out different groups, at different times, on different days, until you find the group that makes you feel comfortable and welcome.
You can find AA and NA meetings in your area online or by checking with local churches, hospitals, libraries, rec centers, and other places that have the room to hold group meetings. If you live in the Western New York area, check out this website for meeting locations and times. And if you are looking for group or individual counseling to help with a substance use disorder, give the team at Horizon a call at (716) 831-1800. We can help you be successful with recovery.