What are your thoughts about addicts in AA instead of NA?

There is absolutely no reason why addicts shouldn’t attend AA meetings.  However, AA has traditions that are important to the fellowship and to many of the members.  One of those is that they generally confine their discussions to alcoholism and recovery from alcoholism.

Disregarding the fact that alcoholism is an addiction like any other, and disregarding the “a drug is a drug is a drug” of NA, keeping drugs out of the conversation is the custom at the majority of AA meetings.  Everyone attending — cross-addicted people like me, and people not addicted to alcohol at all — should follow that custom in most cases.  It’s simply good manners.

There are, however, situations where a person is in crisis, and simply needs a meeting of whatever kind.  In that case it is perfectly proper — hell, it’s a life-threatening emergency — to say whatever we need to say in order to get whatever kind of support we need.  What I would do in that situation is simple.  I’d raise my hand and say “I’m not an alcoholic, but I really, really need help because I’m about to use.  Will someone come outside and talk to me about it?”  I would probably be invited to stay and say what I need to say, and if not I’d have a horde of people headed for the door with me.

Really, the substance has nothing to do with it.  What matters are the emotions, the behaviors and the solutions.  Those are the same for all addictions, and anyone should be able to talk about them in any meeting without ever mentioning alcohol or any other drug.


  1. Anyone regardless of what is going on with them, is welocme. Yes, over the years, pople from sides have complained about people who have had other problems being in the rooms. Well my friends at AA used to let the people into our meetings from the group home. They came faithfully, and had some coffee and plenty of cigrettes. Sometimes it was draining to me. One Day I was in Akron Ohio visiting on Founders Days. A man was walking up the street….remember me, My name is Chailes. One can call me Charlie. These people got alot out of our meetings and so did I. I came in using both mixtures of Alochol and Drugs and was affected from living in a Alocholic home before I was eight years old. Quite frankly the guys at AA just did not know what to do with me. It took me asking 30 guys before a I got me a sponsor. It took years of meetings for me just to understand that I too am just another chronic drinker as well. I did not mix, the up the lingo, Program Talk, at all. I just discuss AA at AA. NA stuff at their meetings. And most of all my life was saved…and I owe it all to AA. Cannot be greatfull enough about this. Going on in June on the 4th, 1980 One Day at a time, comming up on my 33 rd year. In the Pa. meetings of AA around Pittsburg, Pa, they take whoever walks into the doors, it just doesn’t matter. We are to be helpfull. In my area in Ohio, we had had problems over the differences, and this led to us starting NA in Ohio way back in the 1980’s. People from AA often come to our meetings today also. The disease of addiction affects every area of our lives. Mentally, psysically and most of all spiritually. We can eat too much. Laugh to much. Have too much fun. Anything we do can be too much…shopping ect. I am thankfull for all the help that I did receive, regardless of where it came from. People were betting on me that I was not going to make it…glad that my higher power saw fit, otherwise… Paul

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Paul. We pretty much agree, I think.


  3. AA is for “alcoholics“: Tradition “Three—Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover (from alcoholism) …”

    Drug use is an outside issue contemplated in the 10th Tradition: “Ten—No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues—particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.”

    Bill W. wrote an article for the Grapevine supporting the proposition that persons who have substance abuse issues other than alcoholic cannot be members (or attend closed meetings). “Problems Other Than Alcohol: What Can Be Done About Them?” by Bill W. — A.A. Grapevine, February, 1958.

    NA teaches alcohol is a drug, but googling the definition of a drug finds that that is not universal. For example: “chemical substances prepared and sold as pharmaceutical items, either by prescription or over the counter.” The intent is to show that a drug addict is not sober if he/she uses alcohol. Likewise, AA doesn’t consider a member sober if he/she uses “mood altering substances” generally dugs.

    Let’s not overlook, as an extreme example, because an extreme example is the best illustraion, someone who is not dually addicted cannot identify with someone who shares their story at an open speakers meeting whose story mostly consists of drugs, I cannot not.

    While drug addicts and alcoholics share some common behavior, the extreme dishonesty and unlawfulness, the weapons, violence, and related crimes that drug addicts engage in are not shared with alcoholics who are not dually addicted. One of the Big Book stories talks about identifying and not comparing, I cannot identify with the drug culture. I live near a large Midwest city rife with drug use, so many AAs here can identify with the drug culture, but that is not true throughout jus the U.S. What about the rest of the world?

    Look at it this way, just because you drink alcohol doesn’t mean that you are an alcoholic; otherwise virtually everyone who drinks in a bar is an alcoholic. Another extreme example (and profundity).

    Look at the blogs, drug addicts feel entitled to violate the principles and traditions of AA to then participate in them. Isn’t there something wrong here? NA is not enough, drug addicts have to be special. Among others, there are Heroin, Cocaine, and Marijuana Anonymous. Ever hear of terminal uniqueness? Conversely, this is an admission that an alcoholic is in fact different from a drug addict. I had a self-identified “addict” at my table the other day justify his presence at an AA meeting stating that a 12-step program is a 12-step program. So why not go to Sex, Overeaters, or Gambling Anonymous or Adult Children of Alcoholics? Thus, drug addicts hang on to their character defects and feel entitled to engage in any conduct that makes them feel better. Sounds like addictive behavior to me!

  4. Martin Cleary says:

    Could not agree more with the above comment ………am sick of drug addicts taking over AA meetings …i travel abroad a lot and i assure you this is a petulance american issue ….in other countries you will be told to shut up or leave if your talking about drugs at a AA meeting….I think they do not go to NA meetings because other addicts will see through their BS ….

  5. Steve G,

    You are all over it! The justification of addicts for attending AA instead of where they belong, NA, is out of hand where I live-Cincinnati. I believe that most addicts are hiding in AA. They really don’t want to confront their addiction. They can feel unique in AA. Most addicts don’t stay clean in AA. In fact, most heroin addicts die. It’s tragic and a travesty that AA allows this to happen. Addicts need to be told the truth-whether they like it or not.

    That truth is that NA is their 12 step program. AA does not need to apologize for being for alcoholics. It’s are primary (and only) purpose. Deviation from it has wrought disaster on both alcoholic and addict alike. Cemeteries are loaded with “alcoholics” who died of heroin overdoses while attending AA meetings. I’m afraid that it will continue unabated as most AAs either know nothing about or dismiss our Singleness of Purpose.

  6. Thank you guys for standing up for our Singleness of Purpose. It was those such as yourselves who saved my life.

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