When it is founded in 1953, Narcotics Anonymous adopts the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions from AA with minor changes. The founding of NA sets a precedent for other fellowships to adopt the Steps and organize around problems other than alcoholism. NA’s literature shows that it has a social style of Stepwork, reminiscent of the interpretation of the Steps found in AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

NA’s first piece of literature, the Little White Booklet, suggests that each NA member must work out his or her own interpretation of the Twelve Steps.

Begin your own program by taking Step One…Go onto Step Two, and so forth, and you go on you will come to an understanding of the program for yourself.

Little White Booklet

The White Booklet is not so concerned about forwarding a particular interpretation of the Steps as it is about emphasizing the importance of social interaction and accountability with other recovering addicts. An often quoted phrase from the White Booklet suggests that each individual addict derives his or her wellbeing from the NA fellowship as a whole:

As long as the ties that bind us together are stronger than those that would tear us apart, all will be well.

Little White Booklet

This is a clear expression of a Re-Socialization view of recovery. The statement suggests that addicts get better primarily through interacting with and depending upon other addicts.

The White Booklet has relatively low expectations for addicts who stick with the NA program; addicts are expected to struggle every day to stay clean.

[At times] freedom can only be achieved by a grim and obstinate willfulness to hang on to abstinence, come hell or high water, until a crisis passes.

Many times in our recovery, the old bugaboos will haunt us. Life may again become meaningless, monotonous, and boring. We may tire mentally in repeating our new ideas and tire physically in our new activities, yet we know that if we fail to repeat them we will surely take up our old practices.

Both Quotes from
Little White Booklet

When NA publishes Narcotics Anonymous, commonly called the Basic Text, it offers the program’s first fleshing out of the Twelve Step program. Some important concepts in the Basic Text are borrowed from AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, including the non-spiritual interpretation of Higher Power, and a psychological style of moral inventory.

NA’s Basic Text says this about the addict’s choice of Higher Power:

Our understanding of a Higher Power is up to us…We can call it the group, the program, or we can call it God…Many of us understand God to be simply whatever force keeps us clean.

NA Basic Text

In its instructions for the Fourth Step, the NA Basic Text suggests a style of moral inventory that is an open-ended process of introspection and reflection upon the addict’s liabilities and assets.

In Step Four, we begin to get in touch with ourselves. We write about our liabilities such as guilt, shame, remorse, self-pity…Assets must also be considered…such as being clean, open-mindedness…kindness and generosity…If the word moral bothers us, we may call it a positive/negative inventory.

NA Basic Text

NA’s interpretation of the Twelve Steps is social in nature. It is open to non-spiritual understandings of Higher Power, a psychologically oriented inventory, and an emphasis upon the importance of social interaction with other recovering addicts. The social style of Stepwork in NA sets the stage for the Twelve Step Boom, when many new Twelve Step fellowships will adopt social and psychological versions of the Twelve Steps.

138 Comments so far
Leave a comment

This is a very good analysis of NA and how it differentiates itself from AA, as far as the Program.

I am a dual, both addict and alcoholic. I thought I was only an addict and was in NA for the first year and a half of my recovery. I had to leave NA for all the reasons stated above – I was dying of untreated alcoholism, and the useless and potentially lethal (for me) process of the psychological 4th step was making me sicker and sicker.

My solution is in the 12 steps as they were originally written down – as a Path to God so that I don’t have to die from my disease. If you are in the rooms of NA and are wondering, “is this what recovery is all about? Why do I feel worse at a year clean than I did the day I got out of detox?” then you may want to head to the nearest AA meeting and find a sponsor who is willing to take you through the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It may save your life. It saved mine.

You don’t have drink to die of alcoholism, you don’t have to use to die of addiction. If you have the disease, there are only two treatments for it – go back to drinking and using, or go through the twelve steps in their entirety. The AA twelve steps did not beat me up further like the NA steps did. Just my experience.

If this is resonating with you, then please get moving in the right direction before this disease either a) puts you in a speeding car blacked out and loaded, or b) puts a gun in your hand.

If this is not resonating with you, then you are probably on the correct path for you.

Comment by DCW

it must be difficult thinking you have two separate diseases.

Comment by Puh-lease

Exactly. And what’s with implying double A is better than NA? Wrong.

Comment by Kristine

If alcohol is a drug (and it is!) how can you conceder yourself to be duel addicted. A drug is a drug.

Comment by david r

What this first poster probably did not realize, given his words, is that NA does not recommend not endorse continuing to drink alcohol while in recovery. If he was not continuing to drink, then his with his 4th step he might have needed a bit more compassionate help than he got, but the two fellowships treat the 4th step similarly. “Alcoholism” is becoming an outdated term, though “addiction” is not. NA uses solely “addiction”, because it’s the addiction not the chemical that is being treated.

Comment by Tony

I truly believe God sends you where you need to be 💚❤️💜💙💛 for me that was BA29 years ago … I am happy joyous and free and never had to relapse or use again since I walked in the rooms of narcotics anonymous … Love Is All 💜💜

Comment by Lin

Hopefully by now you have learned both, or at least one of the fellowships Traditions and came to respect them.

Comment by Tonia Nelson

AA is for alcoholics as stated in their literature. NA focuses on the disease, addiction, rather than the symptom. Many lives have been saved by working the NA Steps, including my own.

I am sad for the person above who decided to focus on the symptom and let their disease go untreated. NA works if you work it but you got to work it every day!

Comment by NA Boy

I think the guy above (although a little confused) was merely saying the the na steps focus on the problem more than the solution. A step a year is not really a joke. 90% of people in na have never even got through a step 4 because it is so complicated and long, let alone made amends. The na way keeps people sick and even stops people taking responsibility for there lives because they blame everything on their bloody disease. The aa way works for everyone, no matter what the substance. You na lot should actually try being open minded and not just talk about it. Get yourself to a ca meeting and get well

Comment by Colin Desmond

I’m 26, 2.5 years clean and completed 7th in June, working on 8. The 12 steps are the 12 steps. No matter what fellowship you’re in the pace and process are on the individual. My sponsor only has 18 months more than I and obviously to sponsor me she has to have worked her steps prior to me. My point is that it’s the attitudes of intolerance and indifference that defeat us, nothing else.

Comment by Courtney

I worked all 12 steps in under 4 months. It only took me 3 days to write my 4th step. I did it through NA, with the Basic Text, IWHW, and Step Working Guides. My sponsor told me that I had worked the steps both more quickly and more thoroughly than anyone she had ever seen before. What I’m saying is, it’s complicated if you want it to be. But if you tell yourself it’s simple, it’s very simple.

Comment by Kelly Bailey

Similar to my experience; NA meetings, sponsor, steps in a few weeks, service, fun and clean 20 years. These differences exist in most 12 step fellowships around the world. I don’t see them as intrinsic to any particular 12 Step program. Find a home group and stick with the winners.

Comment by patrick mahoney

We blame nothing on the disease and learn to take responsibility and be accountable for our actions. If looking at ourselves is difficult, I say YES!
it’s what is needed in a completely honest way and not to be taken lightly.
With every step we take we gain the knowledge and strength to take the next, and the next.

Comment by Guy

i agree with how this analysis describes the n.a program and fellowship. I am a addict spent a lot of time trying to recover in n.a. and almost died, that approach to recovery might work for some but i am a person who uses under any conditions and couldn’t stop by just doing social interacting and making a bunch of meetings and telling war stories and talking about my problems. i lack power, so i needed a solution. the problem was that people in n.a would give me a phone list and tell me to call if i felt like using. but the would not take the time to emphasize god and the 12 steps. so after many failures in n.a i finally met a man in a a.a meeting who was on a spiritual path and was doing his job as a recovered member of a.a and he has help me threw the book and my life is better than ever he didn’t only talk about the steps but this man actually took time to show me how they work. now i still go to n.a meetings and help hopeless addicts to a solution to the disease of sorry if you are a real addict and your life depends on getting connected to god and you cant find it in n.a i am a addict who works out of the big book of a.a. and get show you exactly how to recover as outlined in the big book. if you are interested leave an email at this site!

Comment by teddy blackmon

I cant find a way to email you, i am deff a hopeless addict lacking power even though my power is growing. and the worst part is im 19, my tolerance kick’s 40 year addict’s tolerances to shit, my withdrawal is uncomprehendable. i know i still have a huge life ahead of me and im pretty sure ill get better because of what im making myself go through at this moment, with the help of my clinic of course. I dont know, i felt every word you said in your hopeless lacking power addict little comment thingy up I’ve finally learned to let people think they understand what im going through but they really fucking dont so i spend most of my time alone but i will be going to a meeting soon. whatever, i need help.

Comment by Dan

Dan, you’ve been heard.

Comment by Ann Marie

Hey Dan! I am a 48 year old man who has been a drug addict since I was fourteen. I was even on subtext (buprenorphin) for fourteen years but have now managed to get off of it. I have felt the way you described for most of my life. Alone and alienated from everyone else. That is until I entered the doors of AA and Na. They made me realize that I wash´t as unique as I thought when it came to my addiction. I was simply sick and my illness had all the same ingredients as everybody else’s in the fellowship. That´s what gave me hope. Finally there were people who got me. Now I am a member of Na and AA. I definitely resonate with Na regardless of what these posts say about our interpretations of a Higher Power. God is essential for me to stay sober. And I´m not talking about a Freudian psychobabble god. As long as God is a force of good in your life that empowers you, believing could save your life. All you have to do is be willing to surrender your suffering and character defects to this Power that is greater than yourself.
I hope I don´t seem preachy because I so can´t stand people who do. You are 19. That means that if you take one step in the right direction today it could make the rest of your life so much more meaningful. And to end this I would like to say, the cause of all my problems was drugs. I thought they were the solution but I was hitting myself in the head with a hammer to relieve my headache. I hope you give the fellowship a chance because they will likely surprise you if you do. Yours sincerely, Julian

Comment by Julian

Again UTTER RUBBISH! This is utter rubbish. Either you are putting way too much emphasis on your meetings, or you are not paying attention. Whether you are in AA or NA, the program is not in the meetings, the program is in the book/literature and what you do with your sponsor. Any of you that have not figured that out yet, no wonder you are feeling hopeless and feel like dying. It has nothing to do with whether it is NA or AA, it is whether you are participating in the program (not the meeting) to the same extent that you used to participate in the getting and using of either alcohol or drugs! Get over yourselves and start working THE program not YOUR program!

Comment by Daniel Bombard

So right you are! Meetings are water wholes in the desert. The program is the air keeping us alive.

Comment by Julian

Agreed. All these people want to complain about a meeting but probably don’t have a sponsor. Open a book and work some steps. And for God’s sake you are clean or sober not clean and sober. It’s okay to go to both fellowships but it’s really not necessary anymore.

Comment by Michael h

Im interested in the aa way of staying clean. I have 1 year clean and sober. I’m open minded too all programs.

Comment by paul

The NA way is derived from the AA way however we include ALL addictions and acting out – shopping, sex, gambling, alcohol, drugs, food, etc. All addictions have the same purpose, to fill a spiritual void you probably don’t even realize you have. I was able to stay clean in AA for a while, however the problem of alcoholics just as those in NA is ADDICTION, not alcohol use. Use of Alcohol is a symptom of a obsession, physical dependence, and a spiritual (NOT RELIGIOUS) void. Recovery is not about self-will, a big part of it is letting go of the ideas that you can control every aspect of your life and acceptance of what is. You can change your behavior and how you react to life, but you cannot control people/places/things. Behavior change involves addressing every addiction you have and even those you don’t yet realize you have. Even if you want to do things the “AA” way, please understand that your disease is ADDICTION, not alcohol. Drinking is a symptom of things much deeper than you yet realize. Quitting the alcohol is the easiest part, learning to live without it is your challenge for the rest of your life. We recover, we are not cured. I wish you clarity and recovery for all your addictions.

Comment by Kym Hanley

Hi my name is Anthony and I am also confused. I have been clean in NA for two and half years my hearts in Na however I feel the steps are screwing me up, I just want the solution and not to feel that everyone is sharing to compete rather to help one and other so Teddy your help would be appreciated.

Comment by Anthony

Seriously?! I’m glad clean and sober. Seems like a lot of extra work though. If you would just stick with one fellowship you would find that staying clean would only take half the effort.

Comment by Michael h

In N.A more addicts get clean n stay clean with the N.A approach better than ever before… A lot of people get scared off by the mere mention of God… I however have a beautiful conciousness contact with God (of my understanding) & believe I get closer to spirituality & source everyday… As in any fellowship you shall find your path to God if you seek it… there is no right or wrong way to God… You have to choose the path you wish to follow by working 12 spiritual principles & being open minded enough to progress will guide to to God in any fellowship.

N.A got me clean & keeps me clean ‘just for today’ through a loving God as I understand him…

Do whatever works for you guys – this is life or death :)))

Comment by Sott E

I stayed clean for 13 years in na. When I first started na in 1996, the steps were worksheets not a long book asking the same questions in different ways. The worksheets we’re simple and to the point. I was taught the steps are a path to relationship with god. The meetings are suppose to help counteract the denial and available for 12th step work. Defects of character that have not been turned over to god for removal will kick your butt in all areas it can manifest. I isolated alot and meetings helped me with shyness and helped me love others unconditionally. 5 things will keep you clean in aa and na. 1. Prayer 2. Step work 3.sponsor 4. Read literature 5. Meetings. Fellowship will not keep a person clean or sober. Only the program of recovery (steps, sponsor, etc). Focus on the positive and it will grow bigger. Love you all. Rita

Comment by Rita

if you read the forward to the first edition in the big book of alcoholics anonymous it states on pg. xiii in the first paragraph last sentence that this way of living has its advantages for all.
thats were na came from. na wouldent even have a program unless aa allowed them to adapt them.

Comment by teddy blackmon

Does that mean we don’t deserve to recover too just because we were adapted our programs from AA to a BROADER view of the disease of addiction? I started getting clean in AA and believe you are incredibly self-righteous thinking that all 12 step programs – GA, OA, CA, NA, etc, only exist because of AA and imply that somehow they are lesser programs. Yes, they are adapted from AA but they work for the people willing to devote themselves to those programs. None is better than the other but rather they focus on different things with the same groundwork and principles. If CA works for an alcoholic (any substance is simply a symptom, not a disease, addiction is our problem) does that make the alcoholic lesser in your eyes because they are unfaithful to the program specifically written for them? I find your commentary VERY offensive and I wonder how great your recovery actually is with that kind of exclusive mindset. Read the principles of the steps and actually LIVE them before you spout out ignorance.

Comment by Kym Hanley

Beautifully, well expressed. Thank you. Vicki

Comment by Vicki Mason

This webpage is a disgrace to recovery. It is written from a closed minded AA perspective. I am a member of both fellowships, and enjoy both. First of all, NA does not have low expectations for the quality of recovery…that is obserd. When the white book was written, NA was experienceing growing pains. NA is grateful to AA for laying out the 12 steps, but the emphasis is on “We”…and I believe AA is moving more in that direction as well. And the part about non-spiritual forms of a higher power is bull. Whoever wrote this page has obviously not done their research…KEEP COMING BACK!!!

Comment by Noah A.

Thank you Noah…well said and true! If I am on the prowl to find something negative to say I can always find it and that has happened here. I am a member of Alanon and my husband is a member of both NA and Alanon. His experience was that when he went to AA years ago and was honest, he was told to leave and to go to NA. He did and has been clean for many years thru working the steps and having a HP…God. I am active in alanon and also have worked in the recovery field professionally for some time. I love many many people in AA but, as a fellowship, NA has been MUCH more supportive of Alanon than has AA, which I think is sad and weird Let’s focus on the positive in each fellowship (as I have seen miracles from ALL fellowships) and encourage people to be led to the group where they feel the strongest spiritual connection. As all of the groups are made up of mortals…I am sure there are some groups that are not as healthy as they should be…but that is a group issue NOT a whole fellowship issue. AND, it is not just in NA…there are unhealthy Alanon and AA groups as well. Let’s face it….most of us would be better off in the worst group imaginable than where our disease had us when we got here. Do we really want to be bickering in the doorway when precious newcomers come into our rooms? And that is the answer…if all we have to do is focus on perceived flaws of other fellowships we may need to ask God to provide us a newcomer to work with so we can see the disease through THEIR eyes and we could eat up some of that free time that apparently is available.

Comment by lisa


Comment by Alison C.

This is such an important point. I had a similar experience as your husband at an N.A.meeting a few times ( because I said sober insyead of clean). It hurt my feelings and made me feel unwelcome. Luckily, I had enough time clean/ sober (whatever it is just a word) to realize it was the view of somebody who was stuck on word rather than the importance of welcoming some one walking in who just needed a meeting. We all are people who have struggled to feel ok and shouldn’t we be celebrating the courage it took to just walk through the door of a meeting- ANY meeting and speak up to save our lives, and not condemming them for picking the “wrong fellowship”. Besides humans are smart enough to make their own decisions and if they are in the “wrong” fellowship they will find their own way.

Comment by jill


Comment by Kym H.

Yep, tradition ten please all.

Comment by Karl

AA for Alkies NA For Addicts.. Simple.. WHEN WILL WE LEARN……..

Comment by Jim

Obviously u havent. Its a new way of life

Comment by jarid

99 percent chance a true drug addict/alcoholic will not obtain long term sobriety or find happiness sober without a solution. if u do u r a better man than me. Apart from divine help real addicts are most likley hopeless. without finding god through the steps of aa myself and many others would be dead, still using, or white knuckling it suicial. AA/NA today is not much more than a social club, it has been watered down to the max. If u r a real hopless addict alcoholic, willing to go to any lengths to get better you can find someone who has recovered through the AA steps to take you through the process and you will get better, if u put an effort in.

Comment by psmi

This is utter rubbish. Either you are putting way too much emphasis on your meetings, or you are not paying attention. Whether you are in AA or NA, the program is not in the meetings, the program is in the book/literature and what you do with your sponsor. Any of you that have not figured that out yet, no wonder you are feeling hopeless and feel like dying. It has nothing to do with whether it is NA or AA, it is whether you are participating in the program (not the meeting) to the same extent that you used to participate in the getting and using of either alcohol or drugs! Get over yourselves and start working THE program not YOUR program!

Comment by Daniel Bombard

That is so true the bottom line is if you’re in the 12-step program and you’re not working the 12 steps why are you here basically don’t give up before the miracle happens

Comment by Richard

Last night I went to a NA steps meeting. I heard, about old mates problem with his brother. Heard about a girls problems at work. Another person is having trouble losing weight, I think someone in there mentioned somethong about a step. This is what I hate about NA meetings, the lack of focus on the steps and how to work them in your life. So many, many people come to debrief the bad day they had.

I am asking myself today, how will this work for me, when I can not get anybody to actually tell me how to work the steps.

Comment by Andrew P

I am really sad to hear ALL of these stories and ppl pretty much bashing NA. I have been coming to NA for 15 years- since the age of 15. NA has been my home since I first walked in the doors. I felt I was right where I belonged. Being a using drug addict who used regard of consequence even at such a young age; there were ppl who had been where I had been and had made a life for themselves and were thriving. Which was a dream to me.
Have I gone to some crappy mtgs in those 15 years? Of course! Have I been to some life saving, life changing mtgs in those 15 yrs? Of course! Way more than the crappy ones. Ever since I started coming to mtgs in 2001 it was “Work the steps or DIE” so I’m not sure where you were going to mtgs. There are many different types of mtgs; open speaker, step; tradition, concept, literature, specialty mtgs, etc. If you don’t like the mtg, you have many others to choose from. I live in Mass and I have the opportunity to choose from at least 10 different types of mtgs in a 30 minute radius each day. I suggest and prefer step or literature mtgs. In my first few months identifying with ppl’s stories was important. After that I needed to learn how to recover and about the steps. I also got very involved with service which I feel NA excels in more than any fellowship. Giving back what was so freely given to you. I have always been involved in service from sponsoring women and helping the brand new addict of any sex and informing them about NA, where the mtgs are, introducing them to other members, H&I, PR, Activities, home group service, GSR, Secretary, Treasurer, chairperson, greeter, key tag person. And area and regional service as well as subcommittees. Going to tradition and concept mtgs and digging into the literature and how NA works and how it thrives. Because after some time it is no longer about you. It is about carrying the message however you can.
If you’re not getting what you need go to a different mtg. You would be surprised how different each mtg is even if it’s 10 minutes away. No matter where you are it is all what you put in. The solution is in the steps, always has been and always will be. Having a loving, caring, compassionate sponsor is vital to that process as well. I’m not knocking the AA step process, I just don’t quite understand it. I’ve done the NA steps many different ways; but they’ve all been written out. From what I’ve been told from AA members your sponsor just asks you if you think you’ve surrendered and you say yes and you’ve completed step 1. Then they ask if you think a power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity- you say yes and you’ve completed step 2. You say the 3rd step prayer and then you’ve completed step 3. For me writing the steps out of the step working guide was extremely thorough. Answering 69 questions and going over them with my sponsor was one of the most beautiful, enlightening and life changing experiences of my life. Seeing how the disease of addiction manifested itself in my life- specifically in my life. And really taking a look at MY disease and where it had taken me. I learned SO much just in writing that first step. I grew leaps and bounds! But in AA your sponsor asks you a question? How do you even know what the disease is? In the second step I was able to write about my higher power and find out about that power. This is coming from someone who did not believe anything if it was not tangible. Building a relationship w a Higher Power is IMPERATIVE to working a 4th step. Not to mention a 3rd. Building that trust and having faith in that power to guide you and trust your life with it. I don’t know anyone who can trust anything they know nothing about. The NA literature is also important to explaining the program and is a HUGE form of identification. It is written so simply and in current terminology that most addicts can understand and relate to on a deep level. Without the literature addicts would Lost. I Was speaking w newcomers tonight at a mtg and a sponsee was sharing about the literature and me entering her life and how important both were And how she learned about NA and the program and without those two things she would be lost. I have seen hundreds and hundreds of addicts lives changed from NA and the step process. To say that you haven’t heard of the steps talked about in NA makes me question how many mtgs you went to and what you put in. Wherever you see fit to recover is your choice, but don’t bash something that you clearly know nothing about, or made the effort to know anything about. I know for this addict NA has given me a life I couldn’t even if have dreamed up. Not because of the the car I have, the house I live in, the family I have or the job I have. But because of how I feel inside about myself and my life, and the fact that I have the ability to touch and drastically change people’s lives. That is all do to the Narcotics Anonymous program and the God of my understanding. God brought me to NA and NA brought me to God.

Comment by belovely

Back in the 40s most addicts worked the steps their first time between 1-3 days. Most never used any substance again.I am a drug addict who used for 33 years continously. I only wrote on 1,2,3,4, and8. My sponsor took me thru in 8 weeks thru bigbook. I believe na workbook is the most in depth way to do the steps. Due to the small winDow of opportunity (pink cloud) I wouldn’t take a chance taking a sponsee thru the steps their first time with that format. My first time,my sponsor applied a spiritual tourniquete because I was spiritually bleeding to death. I have been taken thru na workbook since then. I take all my sponsees thru big book first to get relief from the progression of disease as soon as possible. I attend both fellowships because it increases my chance to be of service to others I try to help. I’ve never heard of anyone going thru steps the way you described people told you about aa. I’ve never seen a “get well later” card. If I had any other treatable deadly fatal disease, and a doctor told me to take my time,it’s not a race with my treatment,I would fire him and get a doctor to start treatment for a disease that was progressing.

Comment by John Lauzon

Get a sponsor and find a group that is in the solution and sticking to our primary purpose…dumping is a major problem in NA thought it might have been just around my area…I think its sucks and it drives me to distraction…but there are homegroups that stay in the solution which is the steps…

Comment by noah

NA has shown me a new way of life. Without my recovery, I will surely die. I walk away from each and every meeting with something beneficial to my program, ever placing principles before personalities. I give thanks to those who take the time to share with me a piece of their recovery. One addict helping another is without parallel.

Comment by Jamie

A nice bold statement about NA. Very complimentary. It does however, miss the point that NA’s version of the 12 Step is still rife with God Control brainwashing that came from the Oxford Group. The rest of the literature turns out that way as well and continuously points the recoverer to dependence on a Higher Power or God. No amount of apologist sentiment can escape us here.

Like all the rest of the 12 Step programs, NA is over 90% ineffective. It takes 1,000 addicts coming into the room for one to stay clean twenty years. I ought to know. I have twenty three years clean. NA helped in the beginning, but now hinders me. It does not support the atheist very well and a nonspiritual approach. The word spiritual is used hundreds of times in NA literature and it is a disservice to the recovering addict.

I recommend getting non process oriented therapies and outside helps to beat addiction. Which in my long experience and in helping others and viewing through the scientific method in which I was trained, is not a disease but a set of behaviors.

Comment by recoveringfromaddiction

There’s nothing more unsettling to me than misinformed people blatantly misinforming others to justify their own reality. Like another said, there’s no way to arrive at such an absurd statistic with decades of well documented research of thousands of anonymous people. And I know from experience that NA supports atheists and there’s a number of us in my area that are doing just fine, and some of us are finding God, and not because NA is forcing it upon us! Spread hope, not fear. Preaching negativity might discourage someone who needs help from walking thru that door! By all means, do what works for you, but don’t limit the options of others who haven’t found what they’re looking for.
And thanks to the people who posted Positive info about either or both fellowships. Bashing fellowships serves no purpose, and it certainly isn’t helping anyone in need. There are many paths to same destination!

Comment by jm217

I stayed clean for 13 years in na. When I first started na in 1996, the steps were worksheets not a long book asking the same questions in different ways. The worksheets we’re simple and to the point. I was taught the steps are a path to relationship with god. The meetings are suppose to help counteract the denial and available for 12th step work. Defects of character that have not been turned over to god for removal will kick your butt in all areas it can manifest. I isolated alot and meetings helped me with shyness and helped me love others unconditionally. 5 things will keep you clean in aa and na. 1. Prayer 2. Step work 3.sponsor 4. Read literature 5. Meetings. Fellowship will not keep a person clean or sober. Only the program of recovery (steps, sponsor, etc). Focus on the positive and it will grow bigger. Love you all. Rita

I was taught that all of it is genetic. Your either born with it or your not. There are many people in both programs that are not even addicts or alcoholics and yet they stay for years. They are dangerous people to listen to. They are more codependent than anything and they just got sent there due to trouble or just partied hard. Get qualified and find out for sure exactly who and what you really need. Love you all

Comment by Rita

I am 19 years old and have been an active, committed member of Narcotics Anonymous since the age of 14. And as anybody with knowledge and uderstanding of our literature will show you, the attitudes, doubts, and negative opinions that have come against us are always from people who have not had any experience with the program but rather came to their own conclusions and believed they were not like “those people”. Sombody’s lack of willingness is not to our discredit, nor could it so in relation to any organization where partaking in the program and commitment to the organization is voluntary. There is no way to keep a record of success rates on an anonymous program, but there is te fact that no one who lives our program relapses. So before you bash something you dont understand take stock of how hard you tried to find hope versus how badly you want to diprove your hope. We Do Recover

Comment by Billy

I was told in the rooms of NA that I would achieve recovery ONLY if I work the steps.

I was told that I needed to find my higher power (and that my HP should be loving and forgiving, not judging and vengeful) and that my concept of a higher power will likely evolve in time. I have a very personal relationship with my HP.

I suspect the writer of this article confuses spiritual with religious. Ours is a very spiritual program NOT based on a religious GOD but a personal God.

Beyond my wildest dreams is something else I hear frequently in the rooms of NA. (a quote from the basic text) How does this translate into low expectations?

Yes staying clean can be VERY difficult at times. To deny this is absurd. Losing the desire does not happen overnight. Part or the PROMISE of NA is that we will lose the obsession to use. Until that happens staying clean can be difficult.

Our own interpretation of the steps? I do not think so… It is clearly stated that one needs a sponsor who already worked their steps in order to work your steps properly and that the wrong way to work the steps is on your own.

The reason the steps are not spelled out is because we are not supposed to work them alone. (and thus create our own interpretations)

Your quote “As long as the ties that bind us…” is from the introduction of the TRADITIONS…. the rules for the GROUPS, for NA as such.

Yes there is a social aspect to NA. Thankfully. I needed friends who did not use and I did not have any. I needed to learn how to have fun clean. I had to re-learn all sorts of social skills.

If AA works for you Good for you! Why the need to bash another fellowship?

NA was born because addicts were not made to feel welcome in AA. I know members who were around before NA who were told things like,”People like YOU do not get better.” Members who were told to leave a closed AA meetings because the were addicted to drugs also and not just alcohol. Who were shunned at open meetings. Called names and insulted.

So if AA historically did not want drug addicts in their meetings why are you bashing a different fellowship which asked permission and got it to use the steps? Where were drug addicts supposed to go?

I could never call myself an alcoholic. I hated the feeling of being drunk. I could not hold my liquor. I never thought about drinking and getting drunk. I preferred drugs!

NA helps so many addicts get clean and stay clean. You cannot knock that.

Comment by Robin

Very, very well said! Thank you. Maybe some will hear.

Comment by lisa

The writer of this White Book is Narcotics Anonymous founder Jimmy Kinnon. In his audio talks he is remarkably modest, disarmingly frank about his defects, and open-minded about the nature of the program. Love and tolerance, as Bill W wrote, is his code.

I love and admire my Alcoholics Anonymous brothers and sister. AA is the prototype for NA. I use, appreciate and welcome both. In keeping with the traditions of both fellowships, I identify as a straight alkie or an addict in each fellowship, because I value the unity of each fellowship, and that relies on their language being kept separate from one another. Before introducing the other fellowship’s material to a sponsee I ask for permission to use AA or NA material.

Also in keeping with tradition ten, I try to avoid controversy. It is not enough to just present information about NA and AA. It must be presented in a way which supports the unity of these fellowships as a whole.

Jimmy Kinnon talks about our creative freedom in the Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text in the italicized section of ‘We Do Recover’. Despite the modest claims of the White Book, NA in fact has a remarkable spiritual program that people use to contact their own Higher Power and experience miracles in their lives.

There is absolutely no basis for controversy between AA and NA. However, I would like to suggest that AA is usually better at Hospitals and Institutions, and at Twelfth Step Visits. NAs would do well to phone AAs in their area for advice and guidance in these areas.

Likewise, NA is superb at presenting a very gentle surrender and inventory process. AAs could also benefit from asking NA for advice and guidance in steps 1 to 4.

Finally, I would like to share that my original impression of AA was the their problem was not lack of power but an obsession with it; whilst my impression of NA was that they had difficulty not with power but with experiencing feelings and grasping a coherent identity. Later impressions show it is not so simple, of course, but as generalizations this has held water fairly well.

Correspondingly, NA emphasizes two aspects which I do not hear about in AA:

NA has a “community of practice”. This is the circle around the square in the NA symbol, meaning we share what works with one another freely.


NA sponsor’s tend to use “dynamic living systems.” This is the square within the circle, which signifies that we address body, mind, spirit and emotions holistically. No NA program is complete, no spiritual awakening in NA is complete, unless all aspects of life are addressed. That is why there are many NA meetings where work, relationships, stress, illness, and money are discussed: these issues may be just as spiritual as step work.

Comment by 8YSTEM

What a beautifully worded gentle “setting stright” of so many out of context quotes and ego-based opinions. Without the NA fellowship in my area, I died a few years ago. My children have no father. My wife has lost her second dru-addict husband. Oh…it is really clear to me that alcohol is a drug. My problem was, is and will always be addiction. I don’t need to be “dual” poly, multi or anything else. Behaviouism may take care of the symptoms – but I need a spiritual solution to continue to arrest my disease and to grow. I put down the drugs. I have lost the desire to use – knowing that it will never be totally extinguished and can rear its ugly head at the most inappropriate times – happy or sad. But I have tools and a fellowship to weather the storms – which are rarer and rarer. Now I am learning how to live. This is not pie in the sky…This is my life. And I love it. Just being clean is beyond my wildest dreass. I spent 34 years using 365 days a year everything under the sun. I did not know that I knew I should be clean, but not that I could be clean – one day at a time. I owe NA my life and the only way I can “repay” what I was given is to give it away. Here it is – Take it Or Leave It. If you try something else and it works good for you. If you try something else and you you are still alive to crawl through the doors – NA will welcome you with a hug and the certainty that Any Addict can Put Down the Drugs, Lose the Desire to Use and Find a New Way of Life. That knowledge is a big part of the love that you my not have for yourself.Stephen

Comment by Stephen

think we should all stop bashing fellowships , if they help addicts/alcoholics good cos am a one of the 1s they talk about , hes no a alkie-no a addict, traddition3 says only a desire yes a desire were recovery Grows,Am now 4 years clean and sober, and wrk,n a program cos a keep come,n back. o.d.a.a.t.

Comment by wullie.glasgow

As long as the ties that bind us are stronger then those that will tear us apart all will be well!!!
I wonder if most of you remember where you come from? I do! NA is a way of life for me and countless others. The odds of staying clean are against us however we get to decide if we want it. I have tried everything to stay clean only the spiritual not religious program of NA has worked. Not AA but NA I am not a alcoholic addict thats just like saying I am a german sheperd dog!
If someone dumps at a meeting why don’t you get out of self and try HELPING them!

Comment by Douglas McMillan

“take what you need and leave the rest” & “we can not be all things to all people” – I’m an NA purist, AA works for drunks, and works even better for alcoholics seeking recovery, very successfully ! Addicts who have the disease of addiction are not covered by AA traditions!
However, admitting that I’ve got a disease called addiction doesn’t mean that I’m “fine” because I haven’t used today. I was clean & sober for almost two years and realized that things were not okay within me, even though I was “sober as a judge” and hadn’t used any mind or mood altering substances. I surrendered to the fact that I had the disease of addiction, and that alcoholism was too limited of a term for what I got! I am clean today, and in one week will have 7000 days in a row without relapse! It’s an inside job when it comes to the recovery process for addicts, and using chemicals is just the tip of the iceberg. The steps, especially the 4th step inventory process can lead to getting to know the real person inside each and every one of our members. Steps 5 through 12 allow the change into a recovering person to happen. NA saved my life, and makes it worth living. Take some ownership for what goes on in NA! Be part of the solution. Some of us have no where else to go, because just not drinking,one day at a time doesn’t cut it for me today ! ! ! I am a just for today kind of guy, and when that gets to be too much, just for an hour, or just for a minute. peace & love. figure out who and what you are, and quit your bitching !

Comment by Billc

AA has alot of NA people hostage. let our people go…with love and concern for the sick.

Comment by Mark i c.

Willing captives. NA still thrives.

Comment by Geoff

A relationship with God (there is only 1) you are not trapped in addiction anymore, you have a clear mind with a clear choice. When circumstances happen you decide, you have the power!!!! What’s it going to be? Bow down to “it” whatever “it”may be?
Me ? I’ll bow to Christ, he gave me strength, lots of different recovery, an open mind, free will & a relationship I work at everyday. I chose to work at it. It’s not poor me, educate yourself don’t take the easy way out and stop relying on “things” “We Do Recover”

Comment by Des

I have been trying to get clean in NA for the last 10 years. Ive picked up enough white tags to roof a house. I kept coming back and getting the same result. I moved to St.Paul MN and have been given the solution, the 12 steps and recovery as outlined in the first 164 pages of the Big Book. The fellowship here is unbelievable. The people actually walk the walk. I checked out the NA meetings around here. Every time I go to an NA mtg someone bashes AA at some level. The language used is offensive and the3 solution is diluted and full of ego. AA IOU…thank you for focusing on the solution……grateful

Comment by Steve

I attended AA meetings for the first 18 months of my recovery. I struggled with the concept that I could use a variety of mind altering substances, yet as long as I did not use alcohol, I was sober. I also struggled with the concept that alcohol was my problem.

NA is all inclusive because we know our problem isn’t a particular substance. We focus on the feelings associated with seeking things outside ourselves, in order to feel good about ourselves. Drugs, including alcohol, being some of them.

God is mentioned over 100 times in our Basic Text. I was never under the impression that going to meetings and fellowshipping with other addicts was the lone solution to my problems. God, and God alone removed my obsession to use drugs. Once that obsession was removed, applying the spiritual principles embodied within the steps helped me change my life. My relationship with God has also improved each time I’ve worked the 12 steps.

Personally, I’m grateful for the Step Working Guide and the writing on each step. I’m also grateful for the suggestion that, like the peeling of an onion, we work them over and over again. I’ve had many aspects of my character, good and bad, revealed in each step. Writing on each step helps me compile evidence, and helps me create a case against my disease. Working them again helps me see how the disease of addiction continues to manifest itself in my life, despite the fact I’m no longer using drugs. Writing on 2 steps, and only working them once seems absolutely proposterous to me. While the faith on a mustard seed will move a mountain, I better bring a shovel. If I expect to get to the true root of the problem, I need to do the work. I have to meet God in the middle and the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous help me do that.

I’m grateful for AA, too. It was the basis for our program and without it we wouldn’t exist. I also believe what evolves from one thing, can sometimes be greater than the original article. This was certainly the case for myself, as well as countless other clean addicts.

If a single solution worked for us all the other 12 step programs wouldn’t exist. The founders of AA know this which is why NA received their blessing.

Comment by Dan

Where in the AA literature does it state that it is ok to use mind altering chemicals so long as it isn’t alcohol?

Comment by freedom

What it says is this; “Sobriety–freedom from alcohol–through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps is the sole purpose of an AA group.”

That statement implies freedom from alcohol equals sobriety, when if fact it doesn’t.

The same piece of literature also says; “A.A.’s who have suffered both alcoholism and addiction”

This implies there are two diseases, when in fact there isn’t.

I quoted from the following piece of A.A. approved literature:

Click to access p-35_ProOtherThanAlcohol1.pdf

Comment by Dan

No doubt! Lol.

Comment by Rita

Here are a few excerpts from A.A. literature that clearly defines the purpose of AA. Nowhere in A.A. literature does it state that AA’s focus is anything other than the drug alcohol.
Found at:

Click to access p-35_ProOtherThanAlcohol1.pdf

Conversely, A.A. literature clearly states “Sobriety” means “freedom from alcohol”. To put my money where my mouth is, I am willing to apologetically retract my statement to anyone who can show in A.A. conference approved literature where it states that A.A. is a :program of complete abstinence from all drugs”

Below are statements from Problems other than alcohol –
A.A. conference approved literature which was written by Bill W. (co-founder, Alcoholics Anonymous) and appeared in the AA Grapevine in February 1958.
This literature was approved by the A.A. General Service Conference in 1969 and reaffirmed by the A.A. General Service Conferences of 1970 and 1972.

Here are clear and concise statements found in the document:

“Now there are certain things that A.A. cannot do for anybody, regardless of what our several desires or sympathies may be.
Our first duty, as a society, is to insure our own survival. Therefore, we have to avoid dis¬tractions and multipurpose activity. An A.A. group, as such, cannot take on all the personal problems of its members, let alone the problems of the whole world.
Sobriety — freedom from alcohol — through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps is the sole purpose of an A.A. group. Groups have repeatedly tried other activities, and they have always failed. It has also been learned that there is no possible way to make nonalcoholics into A.A. members. We have to confine our membership to alcoholics, and we have to confine our A.A. groups to a single purpose.”

“Therefore, I see no way of making nonalco¬holic addicts into A.A. members. Experience says loudly that we can admit no exceptions, even though drug users and alcoholics happen to be first cousins of a sort. If we persist in trying this, I’m afraid it will be hard on the drug user him¬self, as well as on A.A. We must accept the fact that no nonalcoholic, whatever his affliction, can be converted into an alcoholic A.A. member.”

“We cannot give A.A. membership to nonalco¬holic narcotics addicts.”

I hope that this provides clarification.
A.A. is for those who have a problem with alcohol and who wish to
“be free from alcohol”.

Comment by Jim H

Thank you for helping clarify both my points. As you stated, alcohol is a drug, and sobriety equals freedom from alcohol.

Comment by Dan

There is a pamphlet for that. “The AA member-Medications and Other Drugs”. Other drugs starts on page 16 of that pamphlet.

I am a heroin addict. So therefore an addict. So therefore an alcoholic. I just didn’t get to that “yet” yet in my actual use. We all sit around arguing semantics. I am sober 3 years thanks to working the steps in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”.

Comment by Mimi

It has been my experience having been involved wholly in both fellowships I am an alcoholic and an addict. Therefore I believe for me I have the disease of addiction. I have met people in AA that share with me they have the disease of alcoholism but not the disease of addiction. I thought that was true for me at one time in my life only to find out the hard way (as usual) that for me this did not work. Not only could I not take just one drink, I couldn’t take just one mood altering drug either. For that matter, not just one of anything mood altering. I believe whether you have one or both diseases that you check out which ever fellowship, wherever God or chance leads you to, works best for you. From my experience there are great meetings for both fellowships, great people in both with blessed recovery, and there are also immature meetings and immature people at both. Don’t ever give up and you have to work the steps for any fellowship to work, for me a few percent of my effort brings a hundred fold results from either! Oh, and I have also learned not to worry for my pride when precious lives are at stake.

Comment by KeithN

1st, this articles is sad. sad as in it is AA biased and trash talking NA.

2nd, i have no respect for ppl of either or no fellowship who judge a whole fellowship on a few bad seeds….i’m an addict in recovery tho NA for 3yrs and have the upmost respect for AA, or any other A and any club/religion/fellowship that helps ppl overcome their struggles.

3rd, i didnt see the line in the 6trad from the basic text about “cooperation not affiliation” with other fellowships.

– rob k., addict.

Comment by rob

i am trying to find halt [hungry angry lonely tired] in the basic text. can you help?

Comment by brian g.

its not there… lol

Comment by Billy Hill

read the basic text it is their and it reads we must not take ourselve seriously also.

Comment by chris

Chapter 4, Step 10

Comment by Pippa Brannan

Someone really needs to let me know how an alcoholic isn’t an addict on the most basic level…. there is no difference, and if you see one, maybe you should do some more step work.

Comment by Chris

An alcoholic is an addict who goes to AA meetings.

Comment by Geoff

In reply to the post above, I would say that pretty much all alcoholics are, in fact, addicts. Alcohol is a drug after all. Most alcoholics just don’t admit/realize that they too, are addicts. The majority of the people in AA tend to not understand the difference between the fellowships. NA treats the disease of addiction, which is all encompassing. We begin by treating our addiction to drugs, but that is only the beginning. Drug use is merely a symptom of our disease. After getting clean, we see how our addiction manifests itself in many other ways, and we work on them and continue to grow.

Comment by Rob

ummm,,, sorry if this is out of context , i don’t give a dang about AA. YEAH ,, If you want to go to AA Then go to it ,I’m not really interested in dr. bob’s opinion or his nightmare ,cute little limerick about going to pot ,though ,,, I am grateful to our predecessors and I will go aa when i feel like it, since the grouch and the brainstorm, is the dubious luxury of the normal man ,will just have to be tolerant and try not to be bothered when people try to turn N.a into AA.

Comment by Mr. Dan

well put Dan. I only go to NA …. and it works well for me…. that’s my experience for 18 out of the 20 years that I’ve been clean…… ! work the steps or die ! Huggz

Comment by Bill C

well, i didn’t read all the posts but i have been clean in NA for almost 10 years and most of time its been a cakewalk compared to active drug addiction. there is a lot of garbage in the Big Book and in NA literature (i’ve never used the disease concept) but only NA literature has the “approved literature” ammunition required to shoot down the swarms of control freaks who insist they know the only “right” way to work a 12 step program. its a phrase used by AA counselors in treatment centers everywhere but does not appear in the Big Book anywhere, its simply “take what you need and leave the rest”. it converts NA into a “cafeteria program” where there are 100’s of things that may work and you are encouraged to try them out, keep what works for you and toss the rest (which is precisely what i did). if you try that approach, chances are very high you will eventually find a combination that works for you. i don’t know who put that language in there but I am very thankful they did, because listening to the control freaks was really getting on my nerves until i found it. sometimes i pull out the phrase like a sword during a meeting and flash it around a time or two to restore order and poke a few oldtimer pro’s with it. peace out, i’m a retired drug addict who learned to really ENJOY life without the use of drugs in NA. George B.

Comment by George B.

Take away using, alcohol or any oher drug, and you will deal with the real sickness. We know using alcohol or any other drug is just the sympton. Once obsession is gone, we start working on the causes. I have no problem relating to both fellowships. God bless you all

Comment by Joe

personally, i think there is one core problem at the root of all addictions (including alcohol addiction) but its not the self loathing “self obsession” identified in AA, its simply “addictive or obsessive thinking” that we use drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, over-work in an attempt to escape and find peace of mind. i wouldn’t call addictive thinking a disease because it seems all humans suffer from it to one extent or another, but people with a history of drug or alcohol addiction seem to have it to a much greater extent than the average Joe.

Comment by George B.

If it wasn’t for jesus Christ and the new testament , there would b no recovery . Bill and Bob were not the founders, reverend Sam shoemaker was

Comment by Nathan

It’s all bullshit…..15 years in NA….2 in AA…..NOW I HAVE 2 years with neither and I am the happiest I’ve ever been…Some of my closest friends don’t talk to me cause I left. Just lets me know where the friendship stood in the first place. The minute you start to question anything or think for yourself…watch the cult members start looking crazy at you and start moving away from you…Mine was that at 5 years I didn’t feel comfortable saying addict or alcoholic. I hadn’t drank or drugged for 5 years so why should I?…My sponsor and support network convinced me that it was my denial, my disease, so I got back on the bus for about 12 more years even though it didn’t feel right ….I’m still clean and sober almost 20 years! I’M NOT A BOZO ON THE BUS ANYMORE!!! I’m living my life….because I have recovered!!! I don’t drink or drug by choice because I love being of clear mind!

Comment by Athena

You might not be an Addict, drugs may not have been a major problem for you, Thankss for sharing.

Comment by Derrick W

Athena, have you ever considered that had you not gone to NA or AA, that perhaps you wouldn’t have the luxury of being clean now? Maybe (as suggested here) you are not an addict, however you are not using drugs and somehow that makes it “all bullshit”? All I can say is wow.

Comment by Daniel Bombard

Athena, try identifying as a “retired” drug addict and watch as they try to figure out whether they should be pissed off about it or not! Seriously though how do you get past the part of not being available where all the newcomers are sent to find help?

Comment by George B.


Comment by BILLY E.(STIXXZ)

i like keeping it simple and spiritual, i dont get involved in all that Froyd stuff. I worked the steps in less than two weeks and brought other people threw. I have RECOVERED from shooting dope smoking crack and drinking a bottle a day habit. And since i worked the steps at 16 days sober i havent found a reason to use again. God has lifted the obsession from me im positive i couldnt have lifted the obsession my self being only 30 days off crack heroin meth oxys and alcohol. i go to both programs i choose AA more often because i am shunned when talking about working the steps in just weeks. The average time on the steps of NA in central florida is 2 years. i feel bad because i was brought through very simple the way the big book of AA states and i just let people know i didnt have to suffer from untreated addictions. i dont need 21 meetings a week. i work around alcohol and drugs and the 10 step promises are true for me. but i do hope one day i can get a chronic relapse guy from NA to understand the simple spiritual program that is in the steps and not in therapy but in
God. i just started going to NA and i have a few people that are drawn to me, maybe prospects but God has all power.

Comment by Billy Hill

oh and im now almost 7 months sober and previously a 90 day chronic relapse guy at NA. but like i said worked the steps in AA and have been sober longer than ever.

Comment by Billy Hill

ive been clean and sober for 25 years through both programs and a GOD of my own understanding
LB calif

Comment by cynthiA REESE

i go to both and for me if i don’t work on what’s going on between me ear’s i’m in big trouble. i can blame booze and drugs all i want but there not the real problem ,the problem is me and my bad choices,until i came to terms with that i couldn’t stay clean and the grace of the god “i” understand i have 2 yrs.

Comment by art c.



this is horrible! No understanding of the NA program at all. Our solution is spiritual in nature we gain a spiritual understanding of the steps. we are a spiritual not religous program. ourbasic text states that through the developement of a concious contact with God no addict need die without a chance to find a better way of life

Comment by Diane

I have not read all of the comments. I started out in NA and at a time was what might be called an “NA Nazi”: “NA is the only way, do not breathe a word of AA, sober, etc”. I was amazed when my late sponsor (who was hard-core NA and not an AA member to my knowledge) told me to read the Big Book when I started asking questions about NA’s history. Today I am a member of NA. I go to AA when I need a meeting an NA is not available. I consider myself a member of AA. In my opinion, it is impossible to know our (NA) history and not have a deep love, respect, and appreciation for AA. Many of our founders (Jimmy K in particular) were members of AA. They had recovered (were recovering if you prefer) through AA and recognized many addicts needed to identify at the level of apparent symptoms in their early recovery. AA and NA cooperate (loosely and unofficially) but neither endorse not oppose one another out of respect for, and in order to preserve our Traditions.

This analysis is simply an analysis of the social approaches to and interpretations of step work in our respective literature.

I am NOT a “dual” because alcohol is a drug. I NEVER introduce myself as an alcoholic-addict (or vice-versa) . In NA I am a clean addict because alcohol is a drug. In AA I am a sober alcoholic because I can’t be sober and use drugs.

The Twelve Steps ARE THE TWELVE STEPS in both AA and NA. NA does not prescribe one, single way to do a Fourth Step (nor does AA); all that is required is that you take an honest moral inventory.

All that being said (at least in the meetings I have attended around the Western United States) AA tends to be a bit more pious than NA both socially, and in regard to literature. Examples of this are AA’s chapter to the agnostic (We Agnostics) which advocates an acceptance of a divine HP, as opposed to the last personal story in the 5th Edition of the NA Basic Text which details how one may work an agnostic program, complete with the “God Steps”, replacing God with the NA group or group conscience. There are also numerous examples of this approach throughout the White Booklet, Basic Text, and Just for Today.

NA does not take a “less spiritual” approach; rather a “less pious” approach. NA is a spiritual program, even from an atheist or agnostic approach. (Yes, many atheists and agnostics in recovery define spirituality as being balanced or in touch with a higher self, etc. We don’t need a debate on that.) The atheist approach is also extremely rare in NA, but is acceptable by the NA literature.

Let us not forget that both the Big Book and Basic Text present SUGGESTIONS to recovery.

Long story short, if you consider yourself a dual, I don’t feel sorry for you. Do what works as long as it keeps you clean or sober (depending on the language of your particular fellowship).

I would submit that if the “NA Fourth Step” makes you feel worse, try a different Fourth Step. (Back in the Day MANY of us in NA did the AA Fourth Step. There was a time when AA literature was actually used.)

Do what works. If any of us have a need to bash “the other fellowship” from our various perspectives perhaps we are in need of some Fourth or Tenth Step work!

Much Love,


Comment by ChubDaddy Cowles

CORRECTION TO MY ABOVE COMMENT: The last personal story in the 5th Edition of the NA Basic Text lays out how one may work an atheist 12 Step program of recovery. I inadvertently said “agnostic”.

Comment by ChubDaddy Cowles

All this silliness of debating labels with the same meaning. Addiction and alcoholism are in essence the same. AA and NA are both great. I love AA literature and I love the NA pamphlets. I like some of the questions in the NA workbook and I like the Big Book. We are ALL in this together, there is no separation.

Comment by Peter A.

Need to know what year was the first meeting in milwaukee,wisconsin and were was that meeting held

Comment by Rodney B

Alcoholic and Addict implies TWO diseases…..
The disease is ADDICTION and is about one’s self…..not about an inanimate-bottle on a shelf….
IMHO “Alcoholics” are simply Addicts-Addicted-to-Booze.
Remember…Alcohol is a DRUG….PERIOD!

Comment by Mark

Addict or alcoholic does not imply two diseases..they’re simply idenifiers…I think some folks just like to divide..this bs came from the arrogant NA purists who basically hold the same attitudes as the AA assholes that busted our balls for talking about drugs even though both AA founders used drugs

Comment by jimmy

LOL Good point!

Comment by Patrick R. Mahoney

Na did not come up with the disease concept AA say that AA focuses on a symtom rather than the disease is untrue..the big book talks about alcohol being a symtom it just doesnt say it till just before the fourth step…I left NA because they refuse to talk about their addiction anymore..mentioning drugs specifically is frowned on…Sadly I could not idenify with the addict in NA and I’m an addict,plus the purist bullshit is enough to send anyone running for the hills…they told me that I had to choose so I went to an AA clubhouse where members openly talked about their drug use..a man approached me,whizzed me thru the steps and pressed me into being a sponsor…it was perfect

Comment by jimmy

I have seen good and bad comments on both programs through this this whole biog. I am sure what everyone is saying is true as they see it but all meetings are different and you cant judge the whole program of NA or AA because of one bad experience.

Comment by steve p


Comment by Patrick R. Mahoney

I have been attending 12 Step meetings since I was 5 years old. LOL (My mom got clean and sober in 1958 in AA in Southern California). I continue to be an active member of NA, clean for 15 years. Amazing how after all these years the same concerns keep popping up. Both 12 Step fellowships have local customs, concerns, problems and outlooks that change over time. Regional differences are common. People who attend AA and or NA have a wide spectrum of experience that they often project on the fellowships as a whole. We know the “Program” is outlined in our literature and often not reflected in the the way we conduct ourselves in the fellowship. We have very diverse personal experiences and ideas that often get attributed to the NA and AA programs universally. I hear folks talking about something that is observed in some groups at periods of time that are completely foreign to other groups in the same fellowship elsewhere. We ought to be careful about generalizing and assuming that what is going on in some meetings and fellowship around the country is typical of other communities or a reflection of our primary purposes. There is not a single criticism of one program that I have not at times observed in another. If the meetings we attend are not “recovery” oriented, there are better ways of dealing with that than bashing any 12 Step program. Just my 2 cents. LOL

Comment by Patrick R. Mahoney

Read a piece of program related literature everyday
call my sponsor
WRITE on my steps @least once a week
attend lots of meetings 3-5 a week
get two service commitments
look in the mirror and tell yourself I LOVE YOU

still working for me

Comment by Mr. A

Thank god for bringing me to na i lo
ve yer all x

Comment by margaret pool

Both fellowships stem from the 12 steps. Alcohol is a drug. A drug is a drug. The issues are that we are promised that the program is loving and caring. If we relapse we are supposed to be grasped with helping hands. We make mistakes. Some don’t. However, if we are lucky enough to walk back into the rooms of recovery we should be grateful and loved, not talked about or a topic of people’s gossip. A loving woman in my early recovery (4 1/2) years ago said something I’ll never forget. Gossip kills. Save a life. Love the program and each other.

Comment by Candy

All I have to say is work the steps incorporate them in your everyday life, it works if you work it. Clean for 21 years.

Comment by Fairlea

What worked for one might work for all but the only thing NA promises is freedom from active addition nothing else so kill the noise and get to going up the steps when you get to the top their is freedom from self what most of us are looking for freedom good luck and hold on to the railing going up the steps they get steep at times one love

Comment by harris

Reading these commentaries has been really interesting, what I find in most places are quotes, that are used either to support misinformation, or taken out of original context.
I’m 10 years clean and still having problems in both fellowships with group service. It doesn’t mean I don’t get involved, but most people don’t read the chapters in the Basic Text (NA), or have some re-interpretation of the AA Big Book.
The most prevalent problem in my experience with others is prescription drugs, allowing a doctor or professional with limited knowledge or experience to interfere with the PROCESS.
I have been in the rooms since 1995 and clean since 2004, and we used to step down from a service commitment if there was a surgery involving home use of prescribed narcotics, or a serious health problem requiring same. Nobody judged it, we did it out of respect for others. If a member got off the narcotic medication soon enough, CLEAN TIME INTACT.
In fact we understood what Chapter 10 in the basic text really meant “More Will Be Revealed”. AA is really only dealing with alcohol, but addicts do stay clean there too.
God conscious membership, through social change occurs thru a spiritual/emotional transformation, sometimes slowly, or less often traumatically.
I’m not the typical recovering person, I like moving around some, different areas, and groups even crossing state lines to go to a meeting and meet some new people.
Finally the meetings that use literature in their formats (both fellowships) have proved the most effective for me, because when it comes down to the bottom line, HIGHER POWER OR GOD is built in to all the literature. I don’t need to force this, and I stress this ” Keep it Simple” because what is Simple IS EASY.

There are four critical relationships in the beginning of any twelve step program

Comment by paul c

post script to my last commentary:
there seems to be an abundance of new people at open meetings, of which few seem to have not even come close to hitting some type of bottom, this was not my case, I fit into Chapter 2 (basic text) without reservation “NA IS A PROGRAM FOR MEN AND WOMEN THAT HAVE A MAJOR PROBLEM WITH DRUGS”

So much for all the “BOTTOM RAISERS” out there, trying to convince the new people how much better their lives could be.

When all we can do is carry the message—-STOP, LOSE the Obsession, live differently.

Comment by paul c

Whatever WORKS right? I am always uncomfortable with any sort of one size fits all approach to recovery. What enables us to get clean, stay clean and learn to live and enjoy life certainly varies. If I am honest about it, my definition of positive recovery is just my definition. I have seen many people fail doing what I did, and I have seen many people succeed doing what has not worked for me. The only requirement of any 12 Step program is a desire…Jimmy K. is suppose to have said, “if it’s spiritual, it’s practical, if it’s practical, it’s spiritual”. Pragmatism is really useful sometimes. LOL I personally don’t like regimentation and dogma. I try to respect the Traditions and local practices of any group or fellowship I might be associated with. I find it funny that what we think is “normal” or kosher in one area of the country is views as peculiar and strange in another, all within the same fellowship.

Comment by Patrick R. Mahoney

Wait until you go through something in life and see if the meeting is crappy. Cry out for help and see We in N.A. will be there for you.

Comment by Tommy W Great X

When I got clean in 1980 the big book was all the addict had. So we used it. But today the basic text, it takes us to the core of addiction not just from drugs. I did mostly AA and some NA for 25 years. But then I used drugs and found myself in 2008 in NA all the time. I then used NA books and today I use it for all my addictive behaviors. When I was clean all those years I went from one obsessive compulsive addiction to the next. Today I have open eyes as to what is happening in the whole big picture. I am grateful to all for anything written for addiction but I stick to NA texts for all of my issues.

Comment by Michele Ashby

Silly debates. Both programs work. stop debating, start working. The only difference is the emphasis on the group versus God. NA preaches the group, AA preaches God. Pick one and go for it. Ego driven arguments aren’t suggested in either program.

Comment by Randy Davis

If one is basing the program, and their recovery, solely on the Little White Book that may become a problem.
NA is the only thing I do, but I’m not discounting additional means for others.
I AM going to say that the LWB could be a beginning to working the steps for someone.
For me, taking the steps with the guidance of another addict was the way to attaining freedom.
Along with service, regular meeting attendance, and looking at myself honestly I continue to progress.

Comment by guy

Generalizations abound in and out of 12 Step recovery, especially when we try to promote one program fellowship over another. The failings of one group are often seen in other fellowships as well. No 12 fellowship has a monopoly on human defects of character and shortcomings. Practice the principles and carry the message. Remember an old AA slogan said “live and let live.”

Comment by Patrick Mahoney

I’m curious as to who the hell wrote the info referencing the white booklet and the basic text? What makes their opinion and ignorant perception of Narcotics Anonymous dictate the opinion of a whole site,
For starters it’s not the “Little White Booklet” it’s called the “White Booklet” and prior to that it was called the “White Book” which was published in 1962 as NA’s first piece of literature.
NA did not really boom until the 1980’s as it had much struggle prior to that for various reasons including its lack of literature. A literature committee was formed for this reason in 1979 and Narcotics Anonymous also known as the Basic Text’s first edition was released in 1983. Since there have been 5 additional revisions and the 6th edition represents the worldwide fellowship of NA.
It is extremely disappointing to hear all this negative banter about Narcotics Anonymous. Back in the 80’s and even 90’s depending what region of the US you lived NA was just forming. Over the last few decades NA has grown tremendously and is now in over 150 countries.
I’m not sure where people’s views are coming from in regard to Narcotics Anonymous’s steps and that the program being based on socialization. I believe this is a clear misinterpretation. For instance the phrase “The therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel.” That may be misconstrued but all it is really saying is that no one can understand or help another addict like another addict who has been there and gotten through it.
In reference to the steps, NA is a 12 step program, that is the basis of the program and why it exists. In 1998 the WSO released the “Step Working Guides”, an in depth workbook to guide addicts through the steps. TO BE DONE WITH A SPONSOR. A sponsor being a guide through the 12 steps and often times the 12 traditions and 12 concepts as IP #11 Sponsorship explains. The workbook states that the only wrong way to use the book is alone. And the only way to begin is completely abstinent.
NA’s 12 steps have nothing to do with a specific substance. They deal with the disease of addiction. Each individual may be effected differently and have different manifestations, but what initially brings people to NA and writing the NA steps is drug addiction.
Is it a thorough workbook? Absolutely. Does it lack direction? Absolutely not. If someone is having a hard time with this format they should speak with their sponsor for help. If their sponsor is unable to help them for whatever reason they should think about finding a new sponsor to help them. There are also varying ways to write the steps. The ultimate goal is to live them.
For those that have said negative things about NA meetings, I’m not sure if you’ve heard the phrase to go to 90 meetings in 90 days? They say this for multiple reasons, including that if you do not like a meeting you will be going to a different one the next day. As well as consecutively for the next 3 months. Often times meetings are very different even within the same town or city. Literature and step meetings tend to have people who are more interested in steps and the solution. Just because you have one bad experience doesn’t mean you should stop going altogether. If you had a bad experience with a drug dealer or obtaining drugs would you stop calling or trying to get them? I never did. I would call and call and do everything in my power to get them. Even if I continued to get beat. It’s interesting how easy ppl will give up towards a positive goal compared to a negative death sentence like addiction. But that’s the disease in action. Anything that will combat its deadly nature it wants no part of.
As far as the experiences with being shunned for using particular language, that happens in both AA and NA, and it is a lack of understanding of the traditions on both parties. Speaking on behalf of my experience in NA it is often a newer member who will make a comment about it and they just don’t know what they don’t know. Learning the language of either fellowship come with time and someone teaching you. I’m not going to delve into that much bc in the grand scheme it’s not important to this convo.
Lastly I just want to say that tradition 10 talks about having no opinion on outside issues. So whatever your views are on either, just keep it to yourself, especially the negative ones. Because NA or AA as a whole has no opinion on outside issues. By making statements this can confuse new members or the public about these matters and we have the ability to influence ppl and by someone saying you shouldn’t go here or this place sucks or you won’t make it if you go here or whatever is said, it is a direct reflection of negativity and could potentially send someone to their grave. No one here is God and no one should choose where someone should recover. Do I have my opinions? Of course. NA was created for a reason. The main reason was because AA was not sufficient for drug addicted people. Along with the fact they were not welcome in AA. Addicts attending AA and sharing about drugs veers away from AA’s message and makes pure alcoholics feel as if they don’t belong in what is stated to be a drug/substance specific fellowship. Also alcoholics believe in alcoholism which I gather covers everything for them. Just as NA deals with addiction which covers it all. Alcohol is clearly stated as a drug in the NA literature.
NA has saved the lives of millions of addicts. I have experienced a 180 beyond my wildest imagination transformation of my mind and spirit. I was beyond hopeless. I wanted to die every single day and I honestly thought death was the only option to leave the misery I was engulfed in. If it wasn’t for the unconditional love, support and encouragement I received in NA from other addicts, who believed in me when I couldn’t possibly believe in myself. Along with sponsorship, the 12 step process, the following and expression of the 12 traditions in meetings, the posture of the heart that is service, all of NA’s phenomenal (someone climbed in my head and wrote books about me) literature and living Just For Today, I 110% know I would be be buried in the ground, no question.
No matter what program you belong to it is your responsibility to carry the message of that program and practice these principles in all your affairs as well as the traditions. So think about that next time you go bashing this or that. Better yet think about it all the time.

Comment by JustForToday27

I am a member of both fellowships, I sponsor and work the steps with many people. If you study the literature it states there are many paths to recovery. Both fellowships agree working the steps, being honest open minded and willing, there is a good chance to recover.depending on the step I’m working on with someone. Some steps I use AA some steps I use Na literature. It’s about what it takes not about words. The 12 steps are the twelve steps. I have seen the results of using both and the results are good. In the end I stay in recovery. Even if someone I help picks up what ever.

Comment by Tom

Well put!

Comment by John N

Are you working the steps alone or with a sponsor?
I have found that participating, ie: taking the steps, in multiple programs blurs the message regarding placing one drug above another rather than focusing on the disease of addiction.

Comment by Guy

Is HALT in the basic text?

Comment by Georgia

I believe that every 12 Step program encourages us to be mindful of our daily activities. H.A.L.TBeing active in recovery involves the “steps before the steps” LOL. Getting up in the morning, daily quiet time, and other good habits including eating well, dealing with feelings like anger in a positive way, avoiding isolation, getting some proper rest (H.A.L.T.). In recovery, we practice the principles of the program to continue learning to live and enjoy life without harming ourselves or others. Chapter 7 in It Works How and Why “Recovery and Relapse” say it better than I do. lol
BTW, in my opinion, our abuse and dependency on substances is a symptom of our disease. My mom called it the “ism” of alcoholism. The Steps help us address this on a daily basis.

Comment by Patrick Rickard Mahoney

Hi Georgia,
The NA literature does not include that phrase. From my experience that particular phrase (along with countless others) have made it into people’s vocabulary and potentially repeated in meetings from the treatment and mental health industry (detoxes, halfway houses, therapists etc.) As many modalities are incorporated into such places. Due to attendees of NA having experience in those type of facilities, as well as other fellowships can cause some of that information to be infiltrated into meetings and members’ or attendees’ vocabulary. But to answer your question that particular acronym along with its definition is not in any of the NA literature.
Take care

Comment by JustForToday27

Yes, HALT is in the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous. It is in Chapter 4 Step 10 where it explains the purpose of continuing inventory (step 10).
“We can ask ourselves if we are being drawn into old patterns of anger, re-sentment or fear. Do we feel trapped? Are we setting ourselves up for trouble? Are we too hungry, angry, lonely or tired? “

Comment by bcsister

Yes. Chapter 4, step 10. “We can ask ourselves if we are being drawn into old patterns of anger, re-sentment or fear. Do we feel trapped? Are we setting ourselves
up for trouble? Are we too hungry, angry, lonely or tired? “

Comment by bcsister


Comment by Rodney Butcher

If you think people in AA don’t relapse you obviously have not attended very many meetings there either. “We have never seen a person who lives the program of Narcotics Anonymous relapse.” If you live the 12 steps AA or NA you will not relapse…..period. Trust God, Clean House and Help Others. I am no poster child for NA but after relapsing 9 times i have now just a little over 13 years clean and gone through the 12 steps in the Step Working Guide of Narcotics Anonymous 5 times so far. So tje program will work if you work it.

Comment by Michael Bivins

People always say that NA is Non-Spiritual…well why then does the Badic Text mention God 164 times? That’s a lot of God-talk for something non-spiritual. The pamphlet Working Step Four In Narcotics Anonymous lays out a fourth step done in columns just like how AA does it, going more in-depth to our part in it and actually being more thorough than AAs’ fourth step. Do your research before trash-talking please.

Comment by John N

I have a few corrections to this post:

1) The word “always” is not accurate, should be “sometimes”. Thank you fellow (Guy P)member for pointing this out.
2) The Basic Text uses the word “God” 105 times, not 164.

Ive grown alot in my recovery since I wrote this a year and a half ago, wow! I appreciate all of you.

Comment by John N

People don’t “always” say that NA is Non-Spiritual, in fact the only ones that I’m aware of that consider NA to be a drug program are either newcomers, people who aren’t familiar with our literature, or people who don’t do step work.

Comment by Guy P.

Why do folks (idiots) think practices and ideas common to their neighborhoods & communities (lower companions) are shared universally by all members, groups, service committees or other meetings and fellowships around the world? I find it unproductive (stupid) to assume my home group (the only group that does it right) is an accurate representation of diverse (crazy and unorganized) world wide fellowships like NA or AA. People like me (pompous and opinionated) often have opinions about things they know little or nothing about! LOL Honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness help keep us on track and less prone to “ass-holiness”, as a good friend used to describe it. (Thanks, Jim, we miss you very much.)

Comment by Patrick R. Mahoney

Thank you, Patrick, for a condescending and judgemental reply.

Comment by Guy P.

I Would like to know about the Colors that are represented the different points in the NA Symbol ??????

Comment by Christopher Oliver

The steps will help if you’re ready

Comment by Richard A White

Judging other Faith’s, fellowships, spiritual practices, belief systems, programs, level of service, vocabulary, etc.etc, are the opposite of what all 12 step programs stand for. Freedom to recover the way that best works for you. We have a suggested program of recovery. Focus on the spirit not the law.

Comment by GEOFFREY C.

Please can you send me the information

Comment by Lisa Hayden

Hi guys I’m a recovering addict I’ve had the experience of both AA 12 steps and the NA 12 steps basic text guide and also the experience of the Green and Gold step working guides and I can say they have both been very similar experiences and I’ve enjoyed them all . To the new commer if you found narcotics anonymous find a sponsor and work narcotics anonymous steps and sponsor another addict . If you have found an AA meeting find a sponsor go through AA steps and take someone else through those steps .

If your in AA speak AA language that’s how they like it there.

If your in NA speak Na language referring to NA literature that’s how they like it there .

All the rest of the crap the differences of opinion if it dont apply let it fly. ..

God bless all 🙏🙏

Comment by James

Leave a Reply to harris Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s