Drug addiction not only impacts the individual suffering from the disorder, but the people around them as well. Watching someone struggle with addiction is not easy — support is necessary for the loved ones of addicts as well. Nar-Anon is a 12-step program built to assist the family and friends of those suffering from substance abuse disorder, specifically pertaining to narcotics.

How do Nar-Anon Meetings Work?

Nar-Anon offers support for individuals suffering the external effects of their loved one’s drug addiction through anonymous group meetings. Group meetings are relatively flexible — there is no requirement to speak, although it is encouraged, and meetings are focused on the attendees’ recovery, not the addicts they may be recovering from. In addition to the traditional group meetings, there are also meetings that focus on specific topics or have speakers in attendance.

Nar-Anon also utilizes the belief in a higher power. Although self-proclaimed as a spiritual program, conversations about specific faiths are avoided in general meeting settings to provide a more inclusive community. Rather, the idea of a higher power, no matter what the individual may believe in, is encouraged to help attendees reach out to another source for help and peace of mind to deal with their struggling loved one.

It is important to know, before relying on Nar-Anon meetings for complete support, that the organization is non-professional. It should not be a replacement for any form of professional treatment — it is similar to a community based Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous group for those actually suffering from addiction, except it is for the loved ones of addicts.

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Narateen, the teenage branch of Nar-Anon, offers the same services as normal Nar-Anon meetings do, just specifically geared toward young adults. Narateen meetings help the teenage loved ones of addicts learn about each other’s coping mechanisms as well as sharing experiences to create a common ground between attendees. Anonymity is protected in these meetings as well by using only first names, and no one is required to speak unless they would like to.

Meetings are donation-based and require no fee to attend. The only membership requirements are a loved one struggling from addiction and attending a meeting. Groups are self-supporting and are prohibited from taking funds from outside organizations. Meeting times and locations can be found on the Nar-Anon website. If there is no group in your area, you are able to start one by following the directions provided on the website as well.

Nar-Anon’s 12 Central Principles

There are 12 guiding principles to Nar-Anon meetings that form the foundation of how it is able to support the loved ones of addicts. Each Nar-Anon group is asked to take all of these into consideration during their meetings to best provide a stable community for each attendee.

The 12 central principles of those attending Nar-Anon meetings are as follows:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over the addict—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 a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

As is prevalent in these 12 points, the belief in a higher power is a large part of Nar-Anon’s central philosophy. However they emphasize that this belief is not specific to a certain religion, making that clear by emphasizing in the points that the relationship to a God in the program is unique to how each individual sees Him.

Nar-Anon also lists 12 traditions and 12 services that are central to their program on their website.