Should I Go to NA or AA Meetings? - Garden State Treatment Center

When an addict has the desire and willingness to get sober for the first time, they probably wonder which twelve-step program is better, Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous? What is the difference? Do I have to commit to one? A lot of questions go through our heads about the programs of recovery and rightly so. You should ask and explore all the similarities and differences to find out which one or if both are right for you or a loved one.

Should I go to NA or AA meetings

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous is the older of the two programs starting in 1935 by a few men who had the same goal of wanting to help alcoholics gain sobriety and pass it on to other alcoholics.

The Twelve Step Program is what AA is centered around, which is 12 steps that alcoholics live by. They are a guide to help them grow spiritually and to help them become aware of the damage they have done to others and to themselves in their addiction.  Through these steps, they also get to make amends and make their wrongs right.

As the person continues to live by these 12 steps in his/her everyday life and gains life skills to live by, they start seeing the importance and the joy they bring and want to share this with the next person who is looking to better their life through recovery.

AA is also centered on group therapy or support groups, which are the meetings that are held around the world. This is where other alcoholics can get or give support through others who have been where they were and share similar experiences.

Narcotics Anonymous

While AA was growing and gaining praise, there were people who struggled with addiction to substances besides alcohol who needed support as well but felt they were not included since the AA program was based around alcohol. This was when Narcotics Anonymous began.

There are many similarities in both AA and NA. They both use support groups as their therapy and hold meetings. And they both use The Twelve Step Program as principles and guidelines to living life.

So AA and NA share many similarities, but there are a few differences that go beyond which substance is used by the addict.

Differences Between AA & NA

The first main difference is AA’s basis of their program is to help the person who suffers from the substance of alcohol while NA’s program is there to help people who have an addiction to any substance. In relation, the twelve steps that both AA and NA base their programs off of are similar except the first step. AA states “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.” Where NA states, “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.” It may seem like only a couple of words that are different, but it means a lot more than that.

AA’s first step claims only the alcohol needs to be managed; then everything will be good to go. NA’s are saying “our addiction,” which can mean anything and everything that brings us to unmanageability. That could be drugs, food, money, our thoughts, our actions, etc. It goes a lot deeper and is more of what is whiting a person rather than an external substance.

Now we can compare till we are out of breath, but what many suggest is try both and see what works for the individual seeking recovery. There is no wrong answer. They both have the same message and goal: “to help the next alcoholic or addict achieve sobriety.”

Garden State Treatment Center is an outpatient and partial care addiction treatment facility that offers nuanced levels of care for individuals struggling with the horrors of substance abuse. Garden State Treatment Center’s 12-step addiction treatment based on the philosophy of the 12-step program as outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous. When you enroll in the program, we will work with you to draw you out of hopelessness into a new way of life.


  • What are the differences between Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous?
  • Does Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous use the same steps?

Published on: 2019-10-04
Updated on: 2024-05-24