While hundreds of addiction recovery groups exist, one focuses on the actual nature and disease of addiction rather than specific addictive behavior. Called Chemically Dependent Anonymous (CDA), members do not single out addiction problems to one particular drug; instead, they strive to help one another for addiction recovery as a whole.
CDA groups explain that the concept is uncomplicated and straightforward: they desire to help guide people toward recovery from the entire spectrum of substances that can change moods or alter behaviors.
CDA is based on the big-picture perspective that at the root of members’ “disease” is an addictive-compulsive nature. In agreement with theories that call addiction a genetic or brain chemical imbalance, members believe that using any substance that can alter their mood could trigger a relapse.
The concept behind CDA is not new; people have been battling addictions for generations. Many of the members’ philosophies are based upon the longstanding beliefs of Alcoholics Anonymous, founded decades ago to help people overcome an addiction to drinking.
Also called substance abuse or drug addiction, chemical dependence can actually involve an addiction to both drugs or alcohol or only one substance. Once a person becomes chemically dependent, they cannot resist cravings to abuse a substance, even when it means their jobs and relationships will suffer harm. Like other diseases, chemical dependence can bring serious health consequences or become deadly.
The CDA recognizes the progressive nature of addiction and the reality that maintaining recovery can be a lifelong endeavor. Similar to other 12-Step based groups, there is a strong belief that group sharing of members’ experiences creates a fellowship that heightens people’s chances for recovery. Also resembling other 12-Step based programs, members of CDA say that addicts have lost their ability to control their substance abuse, and no amount of willpower alone will bring positive change.
Over time, the thought patterns of people addicted to mood-altering substances may become illogical and distorted, often deeply rooted in denial. The user can also quickly become unnaturally preoccupied with a substance or go from one substance to another – a condition they can freely and confidentially discuss in group meetings.
The program acknowledges that many people have addictive tendencies by nature and may have experimented with a long list of substances. Particularly as new “addictions” continue to emerge and be named, the members encourage people to address their addictive thought and behavior patterns themselves, rather than specific disorders.
Their literature also offers the premise that if a person is honest with themselves and their patterns of compulsive behaviors, they may benefit from the fellowship of others who also struggle with addictive behaviors toward substances. The group encourages people who suffer from both drug and alcohol addictions simultaneously to seek their support and help.
A notable element of CDA is that total abstinence from any substance that can change or affect a person’s mood is called for in some chapters in order to help prevent people from jumping from one addiction to the next.
Though it may be a challenging road, the program is part of a path some recovering addicts are choosing to follow as they become more aware of lifelong addiction patterns and learn to utilize the support that is offered by others with the same experiences.