Is Narcotics Anonymous Effective?
Drug abuse is a pervasive problem for a lot of people. Most of them use drugs as a way to relieve stress, and they’ve become so used to it that addiction has taken hold. Some like to “experiment” with drugs with their friends, and they end up getting addicted as well.
Once people become addicted to drugs, their lives would change completely. They would lose interest in their hobbies, for one. Also, they would begin to neglect family, work, and other responsibilities. Instead, they would spend more of their time and money in using drugs. Some would even get in trouble with the law. Offenses like theft, physical injury, damage to property, and even homicide are often linked to drug addiction.
Aside from those, drugs also have dire effects on their bodies. Different drugs have different effects, ranging from hallucinations to uncontrollable aggression. Their brains would be severely affected, too. They can no longer think clearly, and their thoughts are always fixated on drugs.
If you happen to be addicted to drugs yourself, you may be looking for a solution. Rehab is the best option, but it’s not the only one available. There are alternatives like Narcotics Anonymous, which is a popular community for recovering drug users. You may have heard of it from your family and friends. They may even attest to its effectiveness.
So, you could be wondering, “Is NA the place for me?”
What is NA?
Unlike rehab and therapy, NA is a peer support group. It doesn’t put you face to face with a psychologist, counselor, or other mental health professional. Instead, it puts you in the company of other drug users who hope to recover as much as you do.
NA is one of those so-called 12-step groups, which use a spiritual approach to recovery. These groups abide by 12 guiding principles:
- Admit you are powerless over drugs.
- Accept that a higher power will restore your state of mind.
- Make a decision to turn your life over to the higher power.
- Take a moral inventory of yourself.
- Admit your wrongdoings to the higher power, to another person, and to yourself.
- Accept that the higher power will remove the defects in your character.
- Humbly ask for the higher power to remove those shortcomings.
- Identify people who have been hurt by your addiction and be willing to make amends.
- Make amends to those people, except if doing so would harm them.
- Continue taking personal inventory. When you go wrong, admit it.
- Connect with the higher power through prayer and meditation.
- Spread the word about NA to other people with drug addictions, and continue to practice the 12 steps in your daily life.
When you decide to join NA, you will have a sponsor to guide you through the process. You would typically join meetings for a minimum of 90 days, with each meeting lasting an hour or two. Unlike inpatient rehab, you don’t have to stay in a facility for 90 days. But you do have to go to the meeting place often.
How effective is NA?
Before answering that question, it’s important to note that the success rate of NA is hard to determine. There are various results for different people. Many members never relapse, but others do. And some of those who relapse only have it once, then they stay sober for a long time.
Not a lot of research has been done to measure the success of NA. Because of the anonymous nature of the group, they often do not participate in such studies. This keeps the identity of each member a secret.
Another thing is that many members refuse to admit it if they relapse. This makes it harder to measure the success rate of NA.
Some people in NA groups drop out before completing the program. According to some studies, around 40% of members call it quits within the first year.
A number of experts say that NA suffers from low success rates. Pessimistic estimates put this number at a maximum of 10%. Others say NA is up to 31% effective only. In general, many experts cast doubts on NA because of the lack of scientific evidence to back up its claims.
So why is NA still popular?
Despite the lack of solid evidence to support its effectiveness, NA remains to be a leading method for addiction recovery.
It has a lot to do with the community of like-minded individuals. NA members all want one thing – to live sober, drug-free lives. And if a number of those people are put in one group, all of them gain a sense of belongingness. They would feel that they’re not alone in their fight against drug addiction. With that, everyone can spur each member onto the path of recovery.
Another thing: Sharing one’s struggles is therapeutic in itself. In psychology, this is called “talk therapy.” As you talk to others about your experiences with drug addiction, it helps in the healing process.
Is it still a good idea to join an NA group?
If you’re experiencing drug addiction, NA is a great way to help you get back control of your life. It’s a good idea to join an NA group, especially If the spiritual aspects are not an issue to you.
Even if you’re in a formal rehab program, you can still join NA if you like. It can be a big help on top of the therapies you’re already going through.
Take note, though, that you cannot use NA as a replacement for rehab. For one, you might need medications and psychotherapies. You won’t get any of these in NA; you can only get them in formal rehabs.
The spiritual components of NA can also be a big issue to you, especially if you consider yourself non-religious. If that’s the case, you can find other support groups. NA is not the only option; there are others that are more secular in nature. If that’s your thing, by all means find them and join them.