Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous was founded in 1953 by a group of people in Sun Valley, California whose primary addiction was to drugs. At that time, the only 12-step program available to them was Alcoholics Anonymous. Because of AA’s success, the members decided to utilize AA’s steps, principles, and meeting formats to establish a recovery program for people who struggled with drug addiction. NA grew slowly at first; however, in the 1980s, there was an explosive growth in NA meetings worldwide. There are currently estimated to be 43,900 weekly meetings in over 127 countries worldwide.

The Narcotics Anonymous Program states:

“NA is a nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. We are recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean. This is a program of complete abstinence from all drugs. There is only one requirement for membership, the desire to stop using. We suggest that you keep an open mind and give yourself a break. Our program is a set of principles written so simply that we can follow them in our daily lives. The most important thing about them is that they work.

Your path to recovery is waiting
and we’re here to help.

Our admissions specialist are available 24/7 to listen to your story
and get you started with next steps.

Why call us?

There are no strings attached to NA. We are not affiliated with any other organizations. We have no initiation fees or dues, no pledges to sign, no promises to make to anyone. We are not connected with any political, religious, or law enforcement groups, and are under no surveillance at any time. Anyone may join us regardless of age, race, sexual identity, creed, religion, or lack of religion.

We are not interested in what or how much you used or who your connections were, what you have done in the past, how much or how little you have, but only in what you want to do about your problem and how we can help. The newcomer is the most important person at any meeting, because we can only keep what we have by giving it away. We have learned from our group experience that those who keep coming to our meetings regularly stay clean.”

How Narcotics Anonymous Works

Narcotics Anonymous utilizes A.A’s highly effective structure, including meetings, sponsors, and application of twelve-step principles to remain substance-free. It has been demonstrated that the approach taken by “anonymous” programs has resulted in many people remaining drug-free.

Meetings have different formats, with some being open to anyone seeking help for themselves or a loved one to closed-step meetings where members participate in an intense study of the principles that have helped them recover. Your local N.A. website will have meeting schedules and a list of meeting formats. Many new members will attend 90 meetings in 90 days to connect to people and begin recovering from addiction.

Most newcomers will look for or be guided to find a sponsor who is another recovering person who helps you put new principles into practice in your life and support you through difficult times. The belief behind sponsorship is “the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel….for one addict can best understand and help another addict.”

When speaking (sharing) in a group, members introduce themselves by their first name and identify as an addict. It’s unnecessary to specify what drug you used, so there is no need to say, “I’m a heroin addict.” Recovery programs like N.A. welcome and accept people who are seeking recovery. In fact, members often say that the newcomer (new member) is the most important person in the room.

The common goal of recovering from addiction is a powerful bond for members. Everything said in a meeting is regarded as confidential. It is common to hear an announcement at meetings that “who you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here.” This helps members share openly about their addiction.

N.A. encourages members to abstain from all drugs, including alcohol. When someone comes into N.A., they may not view alcohol as a drug, though it is a mood-altering substance, and it is considered a drug. Personal experiences in the program have also shown that alcohol has been a gateway to relapsing on other drugs. Recovery begins by abstaining from all substances.

The 12 Steps of Narcotics Anonymous

The steps are a secular guide to living, this means they are spiritual rather than religious. People don’t have to subscribe to a specific religious belief to benefit from living a drug-free life. It is truly up to each person to decide on what a power greater than themselves is, and many agnostic or atheist members utilize nature or karma as their personal power.

There’s no requirement to follow the 12 steps. All that’s asked is that one keeps an open mind, listens to others, and reads some literature to decide for oneself.

1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Should You Join Narcotics Anonymous?

The decision to join N.A. is a deeply personal choice. Begin by attending different meetings in your area; ideally, try 30 meetings in 30 days. If you find N.A. isn’t for you, other options are available, such as SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, Recovery Dharma, or Celebrate Recovery. Whatever you choose, support meetings can boost the odds of staying drug-free by 75%, according to a New York Times article. Most sources agree that N.A. is an effective way to recover.

+ Sources

US National Library of Medicine

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