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Based on the success of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, abbreviated NA, is a similar community-based support group to help individuals overcome their substance addiction. Also similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous, the only membership requirement for Narcotics Anonymous is the desire to become healthy and sober. NA does not differentiate between different types of drugs; anyone who wants help with their substance abuse problem is welcome to join.

What is Narcotics Anonymous?

Understanding the interworking of Narcotics Anonymous has proven to be helpful for addicts who may feel hesitant to attend their first meeting. The power of NA is enormous and has aided a countless number of individuals stay sober, feel healthy, and create life-long relationships with other NA members.

How Did Narcotics Anonymous Start?

Founded in Los Angeles in 1953, Narcotics Anonymous was established in response to Alcoholics Anonymous. The founder, Jimmy Kinnon, was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous who regularly attended meetings. He realized there were people struggling with many different substance abuse issues, not just alcohol.

Kinnon, along with the other founding members, started holding their own meetings to discuss a multitude of substance abuse issues, which was the beginning of Narcotics Anonymous. With permission from the Alcoholics Anonymous organization, they adapted the 12-steps and traditions and changed the wording from “alcohol” to “addiction.”

Who Does Narcotics Anonymous Serve?

Narcotics Anonymous aims to help anyone who wants to overcome their substance addition, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or disability status. Just like in Alcoholics Anonymous, anyone is welcome to meetings who wants to become sober. Although family, friends, and loved ones are allowed to attend open meetings, close meetings are reserved only for those struggling with addiction.

NA does not require any financial contribution to attend meetings. Since its start, NA now serves millions of people in 129 countries.

How Does Narcotics Anonymous Work?

When someone considering attending an NA meeting is armed with information, they are more likely to approach the meeting with an open mind. Below, we break down the ins and outs of how NA works.

The Foundation and Structure of NA

According to the “White Booklet” of Narcotics Anonymous, the foundational literature of the organization, “NA is a nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. We meet regularly to help each other stay clean. … We are not interested in what or how much you used … but only in what you want to do about your problem and how we can help.”

NA provides a nonjudgmental group of support to promote recovery as a community. In meetings, members take turns discussing their experiences and both their challenges and successes of recovery. Just like Alcoholics Anonymous, the strength of the program relies on people being able to relate to and learn from other experiences.

All of the meetings are led by an individual who has successfully recovered through the 12 steps and the 12 traditions of NA. The 12 steps of NA include:

  1. We admitted 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 the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Spirituality in NA

Many of the central ideas of Narcotics Anonymous are rooted in spirituality. This spirituality is not from a specific religion but rather just a higher power that can be different for everyone. The intention of a higher power is to promote morality and strength not promote any religion.

How to Join a Narcotics Anonymous Group

Admitting there is a problem and seeking help is the first step for a healthier life. The Narcotics Anonymous website features a search option to find one of the 63,000 meetings around the world.

Are you or a loved struggling with a substance abuse disorder? You are not alone. We are here for you and we are here to help.