Is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Only for Alcoholics?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a widely known program that helps those struggling with alcoholism and abuse. The program has helped thousands of alcohol addicts and continues to do so every single year. But is AA just for alcoholics? The short answer is, not necessarily. 

AA is focused on Alcoholism in particular but that doesn’t mean there isn’t AA for drug addicts. There is a lot to learn and ways to improve your own situation with addiction. 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are highly effective and can make a big difference in recovery. 

Today we’ll take a look at some of the positives of attending AA for drug addicts and some of the alternatives to AA. Whatever addiction you may be struggling with, there are always people in the same boat. 12-step programs like AA can help you see that you are not alone in your struggles. 

What is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

Alcoholics Anonymous is a program that was founded back in 1935. The main idea of AA is to encourage and provide a support system for people struggling with alcohol addiction. Particularly those who are ready to stop drinking alcohol and become sober. 

AA is a 12-step program and remains one of the biggest ones in the U.S. A 12-step program follows 12-steps that are based on fundamental principles. These principles are meant to get rid of the obsession to drink and allow the person to become happy and whole. 

If followed closely and with discipline, a 12-step program can help a person with sobriety and health. As the title suggests, Alcoholics Anonymous emphasizes a level of anonymity during the sessions. The idea is based more on the 12-steps and principles rather than on personalities. It is meant to be a private and safe environment for a person to open up without judgment. 

Alcoholics Anonymous Membership

One of the great things about AA is the fact that it is free. You are part of AA the minute you decide to be. Without any fees, there are no barriers in your way before you join. All you need is a desire to live a healthier and sober life for the future.

It is open to everyone that is willing to make a change. People who are struggling with drug addiction are also welcome to attend. AA meetings can be beneficial as an aa for drug addicts as well. In some cases, a person struggling with drugs can attend an open or closed meeting.

AA Open Meetings

AA open meetings are open to everyone. Anyone that is interested in learning more about addiction recovery (both alcohol or other drugs) is welcome to sit in. Those attending AA open meetings typically include:

  • People currently struggling with drug or alcohol addiction
  • Friends 
  • Close family members or relatives
  • Recovering Addicts
  • Guest speakers

Open meetings usually have a certain speaker talk about their personal story and the journey to sobriety. These can open up a number of discussions to those who are at the meeting. It is a great way to listen to other people’s stories and relate to their struggles.

In most of the AA meetings, the main topic is typically alcohol abuse and getting sober. Only in certain cases, it is centered on other drug addiction topics. Typically in the case of a crisis or immediate attention, a person will be open to sharing their drug-related situations. Apart from that, the AA meetings are centered on alcohol-related instances for the most part.

AA Closed Meetings

Closed AA meetings allow for a more personal look at other people’s stories. Members and non-members are welcome to share their stories and discuss alcohol-related addictions. Without the fear of judgment, AA allows for an anonymous yet personalized approach. By following the 12-steps closely, a person is able to be freed of addiction. 

Similarly to the AA open meetings, the closed meetings also center mainly on alcohol-related issues. While a person struggling with drug addiction may only be able to speak in dire situations, they will not be turned away or ignored by any means. You can still sit and listen to others struggling with alcoholism and try to reflect on your own addiction. 

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) was established around 20 years after Alcoholics Anonymous. The same principles and ideas hold true with NA. NA is a nonprofit organization that helps those struggling with drug addiction. It is for those who are ready to live free of addiction and work towards recovery. 

Just like AA, NA is completely free to attend. You are welcome to attend your local NA meeting without having to pay a dime. Both programs try to be accessible to those struggling with addiction. Both programs are also not affiliated with religious or political organizations. 

While AA might have its benefits for those struggling with substance/drug abuse, NA is a better option for drug addict meetings. NA looks particularly at the root of the problem and tries to steer clear of addictive behavior and the pain that comes with drug addiction. NA is a great option for addiction recovery.

Common Alcoholics Anonymous Questions

Whether you are struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism, you may have some questions about the program. AA is a widely used and effective program that continues to encourage sobriety and better living. Let’s take a look at some of the more frequently asked questions about AA and how it relates to drug addiction. 

What is the Success Rate of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Since ‘success’ is a flexible term it is hard to determine the exact success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous. However, with this in mind, there are a few indicators that show a good level of results when it comes to AA. 

According to a survey conducted by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly 74% of addiction centers around the world use the AA 12-step program. It is a trusted rule set that constantly shows results for those whose stick through until the end. 

American Addiction Centers provides research that showcases success based on demographic and age range. In a smaller study that was conducted by AA, over 70% of those who attended the program weekly (6-month period) were abstinent from alcohol. In total, the success rate for AA tends to be somewhere around 20-40% depending on certain factors. 

Is Alcoholics Anonymous Effective?

While AA may not be for everyone, it can be a great outlet for certain addicts looking for a holistic approach. It is important to keep in mind that AA is just one of many options. AA may not be the only thing needed to stay sober and clean in the future. 

AA is also only effective if the person sticks with it. In some cases, people may drop out of the program or just not show up. This results in a drop in effectiveness for obvious reasons. If you see it through until the end, AA can not only be effective but it can be the key to a happier and better life for addicts and alcoholics alike.

What are the Alternative Options to AA or NA?

If AA’s focus on the spiritual is not your speed, there are a number of other options available. Even though AA’s success rate is great and is proven to be an effective method, it’s not for everyone. The following programs stray away from the regular 12-step program like AA. These include:

  • LifeRing: Secular Recovery – This program focuses on substance abuse disorder and provides online meetings, forums, and face-to-face meetings
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) – This program offers drug, alcohol, and food addiction support. It is more based off a secular path to sobriety
  • Women for Sobriety (WFS) – Non-profit organization specifically for women struggling with drugs and substances. Support groups (in-person and online) as well as one-on-one support 
  • SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training) – Focused on self-reliance and empowerment, SMART seeks to help those with addictive behaviors (alcohol and drugs)
  • Moderation Management – MM focuses on self-management, balance, personal responsibility, and moderation. The programs focus is to reduce the harm caused by alcohol abuse

Whichever program you feel is best for you, there is a lot of benefit to that comes from seeing it through to the end. 

How do I find AA Meetings Near Me?

You can take a look at some of your local meetings by checking out the Narcotics Anonymous website. You can search and look at certain preferences. There are plenty of options around the U.S. so you can start living a better life. 

Get Help Today

AA for drug addicts and alcoholics is a great option for sobriety. It is important to take the first step of sobriety and get quality treatment as well. If you are or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, Unity Behavioral Health may be able to help. Contact us or visit our website for more treatment options. 


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