How do most recovering drug addicts or severe alcoholics maintain normal lives? Is it because they simply stopped drinking or using the drugs that were so toxic to their well being, and in turn their lives got tremendously better? If this was the case, there would be a massive influx of sober people maintaining healthy lifestyles. Unfortunately, recovery is rarely this simple, and many individuals who have sustained successful lives after addiction attend regular meetings or are a part of a self-help group. No matter what addiction you’ve suffered through, there are many self-help groups to choose from.
Alcoholics Anonymous is the oldest and one of the most successful 12-step based programs. To become a member of this self-help program, all you need is a desire to stop drinking. AA holds regular meetings all across the globe, and there are a wide variety of meeting types. There are men-only meetings, women-only meetings, open meetings (anyone can attend,) closed meetings (exclusive to members of AA), and even meetings catered to the LGBTQ community. The program is based around spiritual principles and the same solution has been passed down since its founding in 1939. AA has helped millions of people worldwide recover from alcoholism. After thoroughly completing the 12-steps, people who once struggled with addiction and recovery are promised a better life.
Narcotics Anonymous is a program that strictly focuses on getting drug addicts clean. NA uses the same 12 step model as Alcoholics Anonymous and is virtually the same program. In fact, when it comes to the actual steps, they’re essentially identical with the exception of one word in the first step. In AA it states: We admitted we were powerless of alcohol- that our lives had become unmanageable and in NA the first step states: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction– that our lives had become unmanageable. Narcotics Anonymous is a great program that has been around since 1953, and many people have had successful recoveries through regularly attending meetings
Cocaine Anonymous is another 12-step based program, and success relies exclusively upon its members. The steps are the same Alcoholics Anonymous, but the primary subject in these meetings is helping those with cocaine addictions. Cocaine and crack addicts are the typical members of this group but it isn’t a requirement to be addicted to cocaine to join. Cocaine Anonymous is also a self-help program, designed to allow individuals to maintain a healthy sobriety long after they stop attending meetings.
Crystal Meth Anonymous
Based out of California, Crystal Meth Anonymous, or CMA, is a non profit public-benefit group working as a 12-step program of recovering crystal meth addicts. In this program, members share their experience, strength, and hope in a self-help setting that revolves around abstaining from methamphetamine. CMA is one of the newer 12 step groups, as the program was established in 1994; but now the group is growing in popularity and is present in over 100 metropolitan areas all over the world. Like many other successful programs, the steps and tradition stem from Alcoholics Anonymous.
Marijuana Anonymous was established in 1989, and is a unified 12-step recovery program for marijuana addicts. The program uses the 12 step module, and has come a long way since its inception. There are meetings all around the world, and the only requirement for joining is the desire to stop using marijuana. Marijuana usage has nearly doubled in the United States over the past decade, so this group is more important than ever. If marijuana controls your life and you lose interest in everything but smoking, MA might be for you.
Dual Recovery Anonymous
Dual Recovery Anonymous is a self-help group that is independent and nonprofessional, implementing the 12 steps as a solution for people suffering from a dual diagnosis. Mental illness often times goes hand and in hand with addiction, as many people suffer from both. This results in a dual diagnosis, which can be extremely dangerous if left unchecked. The goal of DRA is to help people with dual diagnoses to get better and live a happy, normal life. There is a strong need for this program as many addicts also suffer from an underlying mental illness. Those that suffer from depression, anxiety, ADHD, or any other mental illness have a higher probability to becoming addicted to drugs, so this program helps to put a stop to both issues before a dual diagnosis forms.
SMART Recovery is the leading self-help addiction support group. SMART recovery is a non-12 step program; the members of the group learn tools for addiction recovery based on the latest scientific research. The program uses a 4-point system, which helps people recover from all types of addiction and addictive behaviors. In this system, SMART recovery aims to help individuals build and maintain motivation, cope with urges, manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, all while guiding them to live a healthy and balanced life.
Alcoholism and drug addiction are family diseases, meaning they affect the family as a whole. Each individual family member is affected by the addict’s behavior, and living with substance abuse means living in an unsafe environment typically filled with tension and dysfunction. Al-anon and Al-Teen are 12 step programs designed to help family members cope with living their own lives. Members of this program do not give direction or advice; instead, they share their personal experiences and stories and invite other members to “take what they like and leave the rest.” Al-Anon is a great resource for family members to go to seek help for themselves.
Want to try something different other than a 12-step program? Narconon is based on the discoveries and writings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. Narconon is not part of the Church of Scientology, and you do not have to become a member of the religion to be a member of the program. Narconon believes in a drug free-withdrawal, a new life after detoxification, and teaches addicts new life skills. The main goal for anyone joining Narconon is long-term success and sobriety.
No matter what self help group you choose – whether it’s 12 step or non 12 step, religious or non religious, spiritual or non spiritual – all of these programs are designed to help people get and stay sober. Choose the self help group that caters to your needs the most, and give recovery and sobriety your best shot.