Nar-Anon / Narateen – 12 Step Program

What is Nar-Anon and when did it start?

Nar-Anon is a 12-step program of recovery for individuals who have a loved one that is suffering from addiction. The program utilizes the same format, 12 steps and 12 traditions, as Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step groups. Before joining the fellowship, many members often feel like they are helpless and have nowhere to turn when dealing with a loved one suffering from addiction. Nar-Anon gives members relief, and relays the message that no problem or situation is too difficult and happiness is possible. Nar-Anon also developed Narateen, which is a program for teens who are affected by a family member or friend’s addiction.

The first time that Nar-Anon was formed, the attempt had failed. The organization didn’t become official until it was formed again in 1968. In 1971, the group had filed their Articles of Incorporation and by 1986, Nar-Anon had established the World Service Office. Once everything was properly created, by 2006, the organization held World Service Conferences and delegates from each region where Nar-Anon was present, to help develop literature, meeting formats and more. There are groups all over the United States and have formed in over 10 countries worldwide.

How does the program work?

Because addiction is a family disease, everyone who is close to someone who suffers from addiction is impacted. For many members, Nar-Anon is considered a family. It is a place for individuals to make true friends who understand what is going on and can relate to the problems that many members suffer from. The fellowship focuses on getting members the help they need with their attitudes, behaviors and emotions, giving them a chance to gain back their sanity. In meetings, members have the opportunity to find the wisdom and courage to make positive changes in their lives.

In Nar-Anon, the first step of the program asks members to admit their powerlessness over addiction and other people’s lives; this is the first step in the recovery process. Moving forward, they are able to understand that they must take care of themselves before having the ability to care for anyone else. In the program, members are suggested to obtain a sponsor to help work the steps. Because it is not an “I” program, it is a “we” program, it is important to build a support system that will help in the recovery process. Building a one-on-one relationship with a longtime member that can be called a sponsor will help individuals gain back trust, have someone close to confide in, and gain a better understanding of the program.

Sponsors can help members by offering them solutions to their problems, developing a bond, and be available to help when they need someone to talk to when the feelings of helplessness and stress can feel overwhelming. With the help of a sponsor, members can begin improving their relationships with other people, begin bettering themselves and their quality of life, and find serenity and happiness once again. By attending meetings and getting a sponsor, members can begin to work the program one step at a time. Members are also encouraged to begin reading the literature of the program, some of which includes “Thirty-one Days in Nar-Anon,” the blue booklet “Nar-Anon,” and “SESH – Sharing, Experience, Strength and Hope.” The Nar-Anon newsletter, “The Serenity Connection,” is also available online dating back to 2012, which provides members with information, stories shared by other members, and events that can be attended virtually.

Why does the program work?

Because Nar-Anon follows the same 12-step format as other 12 step groups, it has proven to be successful for those who choose to work the program. When individuals join the fellowship with an open mind, they will begin benefiting from hearing experiences from existing members, as well as sharing their own. Before joining the fellowship, newcomers often feel burdened by responsibilities in their own lives as well as the addict’s. It is too often that they feel like they are forced to try and solve their problems by curing the addict.

Nar-Anon provides the member with the reminder that addiction is an illness that cannot be cured; it can only be arrested. With this information, members can begin to understand that it is important to change themselves, as they cannot force anyone else to change. Once individuals begin to change their own thinking and behaviors, they can find relief in their lives.

Every individual in the group has been in similar situations, reaching various degrees, so knowing that they are not alone is beneficial to their recovery. Once the steps and principles of the program are begun, applying them to everyday life will give members the chance to live happily and peacefully. By attending meetings, getting a sponsor, reading the literature and engaging in service in the program, members will begin seeing positive changes in their lives.

What is Narateen?

Narateen, a crucial part of the Nar-Anon program, is a 12-step fellowship that gives teens who are impacted by addiction a place to share their experience, strength and hope. The group is in place for children in their teen years, as children younger than teens may not fully understand how the program can help. Anyone who is over their teen years is suggested to attend Nar-Anon.

Because addiction is a family disease, everyone can be affected by the behaviors and actions of an addict. For teens, finding a safe place to talk to others who are in similar situations may not feel possible until they begin attending Narateen. This gives teens the opportunity to make new friends and build a strong network so that they have other individuals their age to confide in. Narateen allows members to begin developing a sense of hope and belonging and offers new ways to cope with their problems. Instead of feeling like they have to ignore what they know is happening, Narateen gives these children a safe place to speak open and honestly about their situation.

Many teens, before joining the fellowship, don’t understand that drug addiction is a disease. They often feel as if it is their fault that their friend or loved one is an addict. In Narateen, they receive the help and information they need to live serene lives and understand that they are not responsible for an addict’s behavior. For teens who may be interested in attending Narateen, there is a short questionnaire available on the official Nar-Anon website that can help them identify if they would feel comfortable in the fellowship.

FAQs about Nar-Anon and Narateen

Do these programs cost money?

There are no dues, fees or costs for membership to Nar-Anon or Narateen. The only requirement for membership is that there is a problem of addiction in a relative or friend. Members are never required to make any monetary contributions unless they decide to for themselves. Because the fellowship is self-supporting through their own contributions, members can choose on their own time to give what they can, when they can.

Are there online meetings?

Both Nar-Anon and Narateen have meetings available all over the world for individuals looking to join the fellowship. Because of the pandemic, many meetings have been moved to virtual Zoom calls, which can be found in the general directory. If individuals are looking for face-to-face meetings, checking the directory and the regional website can help members find meetings near them and is located here.

Is the program religious?

Members of Nar-Anon and Narateen are encouraged to find a higher power to help them better themselves and find solutions to their problems today. While the phrase “higher power” is used, it is up to each individual to identify their own concept of a higher power. It does not necessarily have to be God or any religious deity. However members can find a power other than themselves to help guide through the recovery process is their choice.

What are the Nar-Anon / Narateen 12 Steps?

The 12 steps in Nar-Anon follow the same format as other groups, such as Alanon or Alcoholics Anonymous. For Nar-Anon, the focus is shifted to help members recover for themselves, not for anyone else. The 12 steps of Nar-Anon are as follows:

1. We admitted we were powerless over the addict — that our lives had become unmanageable.

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

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

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

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

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

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

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

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

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

11. 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 others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

-nar-anon.org

What are the Nar-Anon / Narateen 12 Traditions?

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends on unity.

2. For our group purposes there is but one authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants — they do not govern.

3. The relatives of addicts, when gathered for mutual aid, may call themselves a Nar-Anon Family Group, provided that as a group, they have no other affiliation. The only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of addiction in a relative or friend.

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other Nar-Anon Family Groups, or NA as a whole.

5. Each Nar-Anon Family Group has but one purpose; to help families of addicts. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of Nar-Anon, by encouraging and understanding our addicted relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of addicts.

6. Our Family Groups ought never to endorse, finance or lend our name to any outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary spiritual aim; but although a separate entity, we should always cooperate with Narcotics Anonymous.

7. Every group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

8. Nar-Anon Twelfth Step work should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

9. Our groups, as such ought never to be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. The Nar-Anon Family Groups have no opinion on outside issues; hence our name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, internet and other forms of mass media. We need guard with special care the anonymity of all NA members.

12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.

-nar-anon.org