Cocaine Anonymous (CA) is a network of self-help groups for addiction to cocaine, crack, and other stimulants. As a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), members come together with the common goal of abstaining from substance use. Like other Anonymous groups, CA teaches that members should abstain from using all substances, not just the drug in question (like cocaine). Addiction is a disease that can take many forms, and transferring addiction from one substance to another is still a problem.
At 12-Step meetings, attendees have the ability to:
- Learn more about addiction.
- Share their stories of addiction and recovery.
- Hear the stories of other people like them.
- Read and discuss CA literature.
- Find a sponsor (mentor).
Numerous studies have found 12-Step programs to be effective for treating addiction to drugs and alcohol, and stimulant addiction is no different. A paper in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment reports that attendance of CA meetings is linked with higher rates of abstinence from drug use.
Principles of Cocaine Anonymous
Anyone who wants to stop using cocaine and other drugs is eligible to become a member of a CA group. Membership is free. Cocaine Anonymous groups have a sole focus of helping people abstain from drug use, and as such have no political, denominational, or organizational affiliations.
In meetings, members work their way through the 12 Steps of the CA program. The process begins by acknowledging that their drug use has gotten out of control and that abstinence is the only answer. Then, members give themselves over to a higher power, which can take the form of their choice – God, a spiritual force, or simply the group or program. With a higher power to support them, members are able to get and stay clean where they weren’t on their own. Members engage in honest self-reflection, identifying the personal shortcomings that led to substance abuse and turning to the higher power to give them the strength to remedy these problems. They identify whom they may have hurt due to their substance abuse, and make amends. By going through these steps, members experience a spiritual awakening, in which they finds a way to achieve and maintain abstinence, and strive to spread this knowledge to other addicts still suffering.
One of the major principles of recovery is service, or helping other addicts in need. For newer members, service might be something as simple as helping set up coffee and cookies before the meeting. More experienced members might act as a sponsor, take a leadership position in the group, or be active in a regional CA organization.
Cocaine Anonymous meetings typically are held in rented spaces, such as in a community center, church, library, or hospital. However, they are not affiliated with the organization that hosts their meetings.
Meetings can be closed, with only members attending, or open, with family and friends welcome. There are also a variety of ways that a CA meeting can be structured:
- Participation meetings are open for all members of the group to take turns sharing their thoughts and experiences related to addiction and recovery. Members are encouraged not to crosstalk, or respond directly to what other members have said, but instead to share their own stories.
- Speaker meetings feature one or two experienced members of the group sharing their experiences in depth, often on a particular topic.
- Step study meetings focus on studying and discussing the 12 Steps.
- Book study meetings involve reading excerpts from CA literature and discussing their meaning.
As the name implies, Cocaine Anonymous values the privacy of its members, and things discussed at meetings are considered confidential and not to be shared with the public.
Finding a Cocaine Anonymous Meeting near You
If you’re interested in attending a Cocaine Anonymous meeting, you can use CA’s InfoLines directory to look up a meeting near you, or call 1-800-347-8998 to learn more. If you’re more interested in reaching out to others online, Cocaine Anonymous Online offers email and voice meetings.
You may want additional support so you don’t have to find a meeting on your own. If so, we’re here to help. Our admissions coordinators can refer to you one of the 12-Step meetings in your area or at one of our treatment locations and talk to you about what dual diagnosis treatment can offer you. Don’t wait any longer – call today to learn more.
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.