Narcotics Anonymous is a nonprofit, international, community-based organization for recovering addicts active in over 113 countries. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) members learn from one another how to live drug-free and recover from the effects of addiction in their lives.
If you have considered recommending Narcotics Anonymous to someone who has a drug problem, you may have a few questions about our organization. This page is designed to answer those questions.
You don’t have to be clean when you get here, but after your first meeting we suggest that you keep coming back and come clean. You don’t have to wait for an overdose or jail sentence to get help from NA, nor is addiction a hopeless condition from which there is no recovery. It is possible to overcome the desire to use drugs with the help of the Twelve Step program of Narcotics Anonymous and the fellowship of recovering addicts.
Who are members of NA?
Anyone who wants to stop using drugs may become a member of Narcotics Anonymous. Membership is not limited to addicts using any particular drug. Those who feel they may have a problem with drugs, legal or illegal, including alcohol, are welcome in NA. Recovery in NA focuses on the problem of addiction, not on any particular drug.
Who is an addict?
Most of us do not have to think twice about this question. We know! Our whole life and thinking was centered in drugs in one form or another – the getting and using and finding ways and means to get more. We lived to use and used to live. Very simply, an addict is a man or woman whose life is controlled by drugs. We are people in the grip of a continuing and progressive illness whose ends are always the same: jails, institutions, and death.
What is the Narcotics Anonymous program?
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.
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.
Why are we here?
Before coming to the Fellowship of NA, we could not manage our own lives. We could not live and enjoy life as other people do. We had to have something different and we thought we had found it in drugs. We placed their use ahead of the welfare of our families, our wives, husbands, and our children. We had to have drugs at all costs. We did many people great harm, but most of all we harmed ourselves. Through our inability to accept personal responsibilities we were actually creating our own problems. We seemed to be incapable of facing life on its own terms.
Most of us realized that in our addiction we were slowly committing suicide, but addiction is such a cunning enemy of life that we had lost the power to do anything about it. Many of us ended up in jail, or sought help through medicine, religion, and psychiatry. None of these methods was sufficient for us. Our disease always resurfaced or continued to progress until, in desperation, we sought help from each other in Narcotics Anonymous.
After coming to NA we realized we were sick people. We suffered from a disease from which there is no known cure. It can, however, be arrested at some point, and recovery is then possible.
The basic premise of anonymity allows addicts to attend meetings without fear of legal or social repercussions. This is an important consideration for an addict thinking about going to a meeting for the first time. Anonymity also supports an atmosphere of equality in meetings. It helps insure that no individual’s personality or circumstance will be considered more important than the message of recovery shared in NA.
NA’s primary approach to recovery is its belief in the therapeutic value of one addict helping another. Members take part in NA meetings by talking about their experiences and recovery from drug addiction. NA meetings are informally structured, held in space rented by the group, and are led by members who take turns opening and closing the meeting. NA meetings and other services are funded entirely from donations by addict members and the sale of recovery literature. Financial contributions from non-members are not accepted.
Most NA meetings are held regularly at the same time and place each week, usually in a public facility. There are two basic types of meetings those which are open to the general public and those closed to the public (for addicts only). Meetings vary widely in format. Some formats are: participation, speaker, question and answer, topic discussion, and some have a combination of these formats. The function of any meeting is always the same: to provide a suitable and reliable environment for personal recovery.
How does NA work?
Addicts helping each other recover are the foundation of NA. Members meet regularly to talk about their experiences in recovery. More experienced members (known as sponsors) work individually with newer members.
The core of the NA program is the Twelve Steps. These “steps” are a set of guidelines outlining a practical approach to recovery. By following these guidelines and working closely with other members, addicts learn to stop using drugs and face the challenges of daily living.
Narcotics Anonymous is not a religious organization and does not mandate any particular belief system. It does teach basic spiritual principles such as honesty, open-mindedness, faith, willingness, and humility that may be applied in everyday life. The specific practical application of spiritual principles is determined by each individual. Recovery in NA is not a miracle cure that happens within a given period of time. It is a process, ongoing and personal. Members make an individual decision to join and recover at their own pace.