Addicted… to one or more of the Big Five? The Big Five addictions refer to people with alcoholism; plus those addicted to drugs; and gambling, those with eating disorders, and also people addicted to sex.
Addicted to alcohol?
Of the 12 step programs dealing with the five major addictions, AA is the big daddy at aa.org. Because it was founded first in 1936, the literature and organization of Alcoholics Anonymous stretches its tentacles into all the other 12 step fellowships. Because they all derive some tradition from the AA set-up there is more about AA in Everyone’s an Addict than any other fellowship. That is why, while Everyone’s an Addict purports to cover all additions universally, and there is coverage of every 12 step program, AA members shouldn’t think that they needn’t read it. There is more about AA than any other addicted group and many alcoholics have secondary addictions that they should be equally knowledgeable about.
Addicted to drugs?
Does the existence of so many specific 12-step groups for those addicted to drugs weaken the Narcotics Anonymous umbrella group? I think the answer is: please go to NA and also your drug-specific 12-step group. You will get the magnified shared understanding factor from the specific group, but you may also pick up useful information and ideas from NA. However, remember that NA is the only umbrella group. Where specific groups are concerned, it would be of much less use to everyone if you attended the wrong one. They include Cocaine Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous, and Pills Anonymous (for prescription drug addicts). Websites are: na.org, ca.org, crystalmeth.org, heroinanonymous.org, marijuana-anonymous.org, nicotine-anonymous.org, and pillsanonymous.org
Addicted to gambling?
Gambling is an insidious spending-related addiction that can rob a family of all it owns. A debt repayment program may be needed which two 12-step members may help to draw up. These can be in addition to a sponsor. Any addict can get into money trouble, but gamblers are more likely to do so. Some newcomers may not even handle any money in the early stages. Specific advice about debts can also be obtained from charitable organizations. People addicted to gambling don’t only attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings, but some go to groups like Debtors Anonymous and Spenders Anonymous. Websites: gamblersanonymous.org, debtorsanonymous.org or spenders.org
Addicted to food?
Overeaters Anonymous is a twelve-step program for people with problems related to food. No matter what your problem – compulsive overeating, under-eating, food addiction, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or over-exercising – OA claims to have a solution. The approaches of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) and Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA) to their definition of the problem are much more targeted. Both specify sugar, flour and wheat as problem food that needs to be cut out of members’ diets. And neither FA nor FAA specifically target anorexics or over-exercisers. FA also mentions quantities and has A Way Of Life (AWOL) meetings where newly abstinent members do the steps sequentially in closed groups with experienced members.
FA would win the simplicity contest, if there was one, between the three fellowships being compared, because FAA goes further: all sugar, sugar substitutes, and artificial sweeteners are restricted by its plan and dietary fats are limited, which may tip the confusion scales slightly the other way. However, if someone addicted to food found that an OA meeting was more convenient to attend, then one could transfer the simplicity approach to one’s own individual program in OA and concentrate on abstinence from sugar and flour. Websites: OA, oa.org; FA, foodaddicts.org; or FAA, foodaddictsanonymous.org.
Addicted to sex?
(SAA) Sex Addicts Anonymous
SAA was founded in 1977. This largest S fellowship offers a ‘three circle’ concept. Inner circle behaviors – having sex with a prostitute or acting out with a nonconsensual victim, say – must not be practiced. However outer circle behaviors are definitely healthy – say sex with a partner in a monogamous relationship. In the middle circle are behaviors that are not a relapse, but could lead to one if left unchecked. Website: saa-recovery.org
(SCA) Sexual Compulsives Anonymous
SCA was founded in Los Angeles in 1973, based on Overeaters Anonymous. Instead of food plans, members develop sexual recovery plans. SCA meetings are inclusive of anyone addicted who has a desire to stop having compulsive sex. Like OA, there is no simple definition of abstention, but a set of characteristics that members have in common is often read at the start of meetings – reproduced on page 268 of Everyone’s an Addict. Website: sca-recovery.org
(SRA) Sexual Recovery Anonymous
SRA was founded in New York in 1993 as an offshoot of SA with a more inclusive sex sobriety definition: sexual relations between any two people in a committed relationship. It has a strong presence of women, African Americans, Asians, and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. Website: sexualrecovery.org
(SLAA) Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous
SLAA was founded in 1976. This second largest S group encourages abstention from bottom-line behaviors. These might include casual sex and a wide variety of addictive sexual, romantic, or avoidant behaviors. These can change as members progress and many will engage in a healthy committed relationship. It is also known as the Augustine fellowship after early members identified with St Augustine of Hippo’s work, Confessions. Website: slaafws.org
(SA) Sexaholics Anonymous
SA founder Roy K put his sexual sobriety date at 31 January 1976. Its definition of sexual sobriety is the most narrow-minded: no sex except between partners in a heterosexual marriage. This includes none with yourself. It is not surprising there are so many alternative groups. Even those matching the criteria of SA may find its exclusiveness unpalatable and wish to join one of the others. Website: sa.org