Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are self-help groups based around mutual support, where people who have problems with alcohol or drugs meet to share their experiences and provide mutual help. The founding idea of AA is that alcoholism is a disease and the individual is powerless over it. It is estimated that there are over 2 million members of Alcoholics Anonymous worldwide, over 3000 groups in the UK and groups can be found in any country of the world.
Joining these groups requires only one thing – a desire to stop drinking or taking drugs. Membership is free and anonymous and not aligned with any external organisations. People usually attend one or two meetings a week, but can attend as many as they wish.
Other groups include Gamblers Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, Workaholics Anonymous.
Al-anon offers support and understanding to the family members of problem drinkers of Alcoholics Anonymous, and Ala-teen is for teenage children of alcoholics (aged 12-17).
Other Self-Help Groups
The 12 Step approach has helped millions of people around the world, but some people look for an alternative approach. There are some other groups for those who are looking for alternatives:
- SMART Recovery – (Self-Management and Recovery Training) is an abstinence-based organisation that uses ‘common sense self-help procedures’ to empower participants to develop a more positive lifestyle. It has not yet built up the reputation or evidence base of AA and NA, but there are a growing number of meetings around the country.
UK Self-Help Groups Database