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AA, CA & NA Groups

Alcoholics Anonymous was the first 12-Step-based group for those who suffer from the disease of substance abuse.  It was developed in 1934 by two men who suffered from alcoholism and realized that, rather than a moral failing, alcoholism was a disease. Bill Wilson (Bill W.) and Dr. Bob Smith (Dr. Bob) found that, to keep sober, an alcoholic needed to search diligently within themselves and begin to be of service to others.

AA is still the most widely available 12-Step group, although there are others, including CA, or Cocaine Anonymous, NA, or Narcotics Anonymous, as well as groups for relatives and friends, including Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) and Alateen and Al-Anon.

12-Step Programs

Support in sobriety and in attaining long-lasting recovery is found in 12-Step practice and regular participation in 12-Step programs and groups. These groups are designed for the addict, the alcoholic, and the family member of a child of an alcoholic. The philosophy is based on developing a relationship with a Higher Power and a helping fellowship that encourages an honest mind-set and self-sacrifice. 12-Step fellowships facilitate a daily practice for sober and healthy living.

The basis of anonymity protects each person as the individual reaches out for help and allows the person to interact in confidentiality with others who suffer from the disease of addiction. A person who is in recovery from substance abuse can help many others by telling his or her story while, at the same time, not publicly revealing personal information.

The basis of 12-Step groups and practices are combined in the original 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous:

  • We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood Him.
  • Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  • Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  • Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  • Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  • Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principals in all our affairs.

AA and NA groups are not substance abuse rehab programs.

Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous provide support for suffering alcoholics and addicts. These groups offer fellowship, not professional counseling.  Group meetings take place for an hour, and encourage open, honest, encouraging discourse and an environment in which all those hoping to achieve sustained abstinence are able to recover.

12-Step support groups are recommended as an integral part of a person’s discharge plan following rehab. A person does not have to be diagnosed as an alcoholic or addict in order to receive and participate in the support of an AA group. Any person who feels there is a problem with a substance is welcome to attend.

AA groups offer an open setting that encourages people in recovery to help one another and join socially for meals and events. Participants find they also may receive support and direction for dealing with practical needs and challenges.

Finding a Meeting

Check the Internet for local listings and schedules. If you have not been connected with a sponsor who can be your mentor and guide, you may find one in an AA group. This person’s recovery experience and empathy can help through the challenges of another’s recovery, while the sponsor gains the rewards of helping others to recover from addiction.



Mutual support groups for families and friends of addicts meet around the world.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)


These meetings are open to anyone of any age who wants to achieve and maintain sobriety. There are men’s and women’s groups, and other specialty groups such as Sober Seniors. Search online or in your phone book for local listings.

Cocaine Anonymous (CA)


The meetings are open to anyone hoping to recover from cocaine and all other mind-altering substances. Despite the name, this fellowship is not only directed at cocaine addicts.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)


This association supports drug addicts around the world.