Narcotics AnonymousNA is the second-largest 12-step program. Formed in 1953, it is designed to help those who wish to recover from drug addiction. More: these words may seem like something everyone has heard about, but to an addictAn individual with an unhealthy dependence on a substance or behavior. An individual remains an addict even years into recovery and must therefore remain active in recovery. Read more about drug & alcohol addiction & withdrawal at Withdrawal Info. More, they can be lifesaving. While the words may be more common to some than others, just because they are said doesn’t mean they are understood. Narcotics Anonymous is not just another self-help group that should be taken lightly; it is the life-altering step that can lead many addicts down the road to recoveryThe process by which addicts attempt to break the hold a certain substance or behavior has on their lives. This can refer to participation in a wide variety of methods. What they all have in common, is a sense that life is improving and the addict is regaining control. More.
- What is Narcotics Anonymous?
- How Narcotics Anonymous was Founded
- How the Program Works
- The Requirements for Joining the Fellowship
- Why Narcotics Anonymous Works
- Making the Next Step
- Requirement for Membership
- 12 Steps of Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- 12 Traditions of Narcotics Anonymous
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA) FAQs
- Additional Resources
What is Narcotics Anonymous?
Although many people are familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous and have been for many years, Narcotics Anonymous wasn’t as popular as it has become in recent years. Narcotics Anonymous is a 12-step program that focuses on the same principles and understandings as Alcoholics Anonymous, except it focuses on addicts and their addictions. It is a nonprofit organization that’s sole purpose is to help individuals who suffer from drug addiction by providing them with daily steps to stay cleanPhysical sobriety from a specific substance on which the individual is dependent. This can refer to either when the substance leaves the system or the amount of time since it was last taken. More and sober.
There are no strings attached when joining the Narcotics Anonymous fellowshipThis refers to the members of AA and the bonds of support between them. It is this fellowship that allows addicts to share their stories and accept each other in a world that is not always understanding. More and newcomers are always welcome. For many of the members of the fellowship, gaining experience and knowledge through the group meetings is one of the simplest ways to help maintain sobrietyIn 12-step programs, an individual is sober when they are no longer partaking in the behavior or substance to which they are addicted and living a better life following the program. Both are necessary to achieve sobriety. More. In order to keep their sobriety, the members also rely on sharing12-step meetings are structured so that member sharing takes up most of the allotted time. It is the bread and butter of the fellowship between members. When sharing, addicts are encouraged to stay on topic and avoid interrupting by engaging in crosstalk. More their knowledge and experiences with those just entering the programThis refers to any official course of treatment for addiction. This could be anything from in-patient facilities, to 12-step programs to harm-reduction programs. More.
The program simply provides twelve stepsThe term "12 steps" refers to the core principles of the approach to addiction exemplified by Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar groups. The 12 steps are a set of guidelines designed to help individuals overcome addiction and rebuild their lives. They were created by the founders of Alcoholics A... More to help those suffering from drugA name for a wide variety of chemical substances capable of altering the function of your mind and body in significant ways. These can include over the counter prescriptions, alcohol, and controlled substances. Most drugs are either physically and/or psychologically habit-forming. More addiction lead healthy, happy and sober lives.
How Narcotics Anonymous was Founded
While Alcoholics Anonymous’ founder Bill Wilson is a very public figure, NA was not founded until years later in 1953. The program’s founder, Jimmy Kinnon, was more popularly known as Jimmy K. because the program was to maintain its anonymityAlcoholics Anonymous and all the 12 step groups modeled after it, protect the anonymity of its members. Members are forbidden from disclosing the identity of other addicts to outside sources or identifying themselves with the group on any form of public media. The idea behind this is to focus on the... More. Although the program was originally called AA/NA, the Alcoholics AnonymousThe original 12-step fellowship, formed in 1935, to help alcoholics, regain control over their lives. It remains the largest 12-step organization and has contributed to the sobriety of millions worldwide. Read more about Alcoholics Anonymous More organization gave NA permission to utilize their twelve steps and twelve traditions and the name of the group was changed to Narcotics Anonymous.
Although AA had a huge impact on the world as it grew so quickly and largely from the start, NA didn’t gain popularity until the early 1980’s. According to the Narcotics Anonymous website, the fellowship now has over 67,000 members worldwide.
How the Program Works
For most addicts, hearing about these programs isn’t anything new but unfortunately that doesn’t explain how the program works for those who have never been to a meeting. The program works – if you work it.
The NA fellowship isn’t an interventionWhen an addict is in denial or refuses to get help, the people in their lives sometimes find it necessary to impress upon the individual that they require immediate treatment. An intervention usually involves confronting the addict with the impact of their destructive behavior; a recovery plan and p... More or a rehabilitation program and has no intentions of forcing anyone to get clean and sober; it simply relies on an addict’s desire to stop using. The focus of NA is to provide addicts with resources, other people who can share their experiences, strength and hope, daily steps to help individuals stay sober and the understanding that addiction is a diseaseSome refer to addiction as a disease, comparing it to physical ailments. There are similarities, as both have a detrimental influence on body and soul and are treatable through medical means. More that you can recover from.
The basis of maintaining sobriety in the NA program is by following the twelve steps, attending meetings regularly and obtaining a sponsorAn individual in a 12-step program requires a sponsor to help them work the steps and hold them accountable for their recovery. The sponsor should be readily available when help is needed. A member with a sponsor is considered to be the sponsee. More. Sponsors are individuals who have been sober for at least a year that can help newcomers begin understanding and working the steps of the program. Meetings are generally an hour long and are held at all times of the day.
The Requirements for Joining the Fellowship
There are no monetary requirements or hidden fees for joining the fellowship of NA; there is no tuition or costs to encounter; the only requirement for joining the program is the desire to abstain from using drugs. While NA is a spiritual program, members do not have to believe in God to join the fellowship – there are many agnostics and atheists who are members of NA. Members of the fellowship welcome all newcomers who have a desire to stop using drugs and are available to build a support system to provide the reality that recovery is possible.
During most NA meetings, a basket is passed around for members to contribute monetary donations if they can – but these are never required. Members give what they can to help provide for others in the membership who cannot. The self-supporting group cares for one another so that nobody feels discriminated against and that every individual feels welcome. Because the group is self supporting, they also do not accept outside contributions; they rely solely on members of the program.
Why Narcotics Anonymous Works
Narcotics Anonymous is a program that works and there are several reasons why many of its members recover from drug addiction. Simply put, once individuals have admitted that they are powerless over their addiction and have abstained from using drugs, working the twelve steps with a sponsor will not only maintain sobriety but it will encourage a better and healthier way of life. The program isn’t in place to only help members get sober; it is in place to help addicts recognize the mistakes of their past, confront their personal defects and flaws, make amends to those they have hurt and move forward with their new lives in recovery. Addiction was more than just using, so the recovery process is more than just getting sober.
Although the twelve steps are very similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, NA also characterizes alcoholAn organic compound used in many products, most notably intoxicating drinks. Alcohol addiction is known as alcoholism. The first 12-step program was devised to deal with that malady. More as a drug and recognizes that recovery is possible for those who attend meetings and work the steps. Getting clean and sober is just a small fraction of the recovery process; working the twelve steps will help individuals maintain sobriety and completely transform how a person once was to who they want to be.
Making the Next StepIt may seem like a lot to take in, but finding the first meeting can help those looking to get sober begin on their new journey. There are meetings all over the world so they can be found with a quick Google search. There are many online resources to help those looking for meetings, including the SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Requirement for Membership
The only requirement for attending meetings is the desire to stop using; it all begins with one day at a time.
“It is never easy, but it does get easier.”
12 Steps of Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
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 inventoryStep 4 recommends the addict conduct “a searching and fearless moral inventory.” This involves coming to terms with the flaws which preceded addiction and those that came as a result of it. More 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 contactBuilding a relationship with a Higher Power is a crucial element in recovery. This involves conscious contact with a Higher Power through prayer and meditation regularly. More 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.-na.org
12 TraditionsThe term "12 traditions" refers to a set of principles that guide the functioning and decision-making of 12-step recovery organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The traditions were first published in 1946 and are intended to allow the organizations to run smoothly while protecting the anon... More of Narcotics Anonymous
1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on NA unity.
2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate 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 only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using.
4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or NA as a whole.
5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry the messageThe 12th step advises addicts to “carry the message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs.” This involves taking on service work, helping newcomers, being sponsors, and living a full and sober life. More to the addict who still suffers.
6. An NA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the NA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, or prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
7. Every NA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
8. Narcotics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our serviceAA and other 12-step fellowships do not normally have employees. Instead, members volunteer and take roles necessary for the operation of the different groups and the larger infrastructure of the fellowship. Common roles of service include secretary, treasurer, and chairing meetings. More centers may employ special workers.
9. NA, as such, ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
10. Narcotics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the NA 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, and films.
12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.-na.org
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) FAQs
Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals who suffer from drug addiction and are seeking out recovery. There are no dues or fees for membership to the program of Narcotics Anonymous; the only requirement for membership is the desire to stop using. The program is focused on principles that will allow members to obtain and maintain sobriety, as well as improve their quality of life.
While there are many different types of meetings, anyone is welcome to any kind of meeting if they have the desire to stop using. In regular, closed meetingsThe typical 12-step program is closed to individuals who are not addicts interested in recovery. This structure is designed to protect anonymity. More, members who identify as addicts are encouraged to share their stories of recovery as all of the individuals do the same around the room. Nobody is required to share anything at a meeting nor required to make any monetary contributions; simply being there and listening is enough.
While Narcotics Anonymous is a spiritual program, it is not a religious one. Members are not required to be religious in any way, shape or form. The twelve spiritual principles of Narcotics Anonymous are in place to help members improve their everyday life and apply the principles in whatever ways they see fit. The twelve principles include hope, surrender, acceptanceAccepting an inability to cope with addiction alone, is a major part of the recovery process. The same process involves accepting our flaws, responsibility for our actions, and the need to surrender to a Higher Power. More, honesty, open-mindedness, willingness, faith, toleranceThe reaction of the body to an increased amount of a controlled substance. When an ever-greater quantity of the substance is necessary to obtain a high, the body has developed a greater tolerance. More, patience, humility, unconditional love and sharing and caring.
The Narcotics Anonymous symbol was created to show the program’s simplicity, but the symbol as a whole has easily understood meanings by those in the program. The circle implies a universal program open to anyone seeking out recovery, while the square, which can be seen three dimensionally as a triangle, symbolizes, starting at the bottom of the pyramid, goodwill, society, God, service, self and freedom. All of these parts are what an addict needs for their recovery.
Narcotics Anonymous did a survey in 2013 via online, fax or mail for about five months, receiving over 16,000 responses. Members with under a year of sobriety was 9%, one to five years was 33%, six to ten years was 17%, 11 to 15 years was 11%, 16 to 20 years was 11% and 19 years or more was 19%.
A sponsor in the program of Narcotics Anonymous is not only someone who will help you work the twelve steps, traditions and concepts, but it is somebody you can trust and confide in. They are there to share their experiences, strength and hope, as well as listen to things you may not feel comfortable sharing with others. A sponsor is someone who has worked their own program and has at least a year or more of sobriety. The best way to get a sponsor is to ask someone who may have had an impact on you, whether it was just through talking or what was said during a meeting.
The primary purpose of Narcotics Anonymous is to carry the message to addicts, who are still active in addiction and suffering, that they are not alone and that recovery is possible. The only requirement to join the fellowship is the desire to stop using. The fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is a place for those in recovery to help share their experiences, strength and hope with those who are still sick and suffering.
If you want to start your own Narcotics Anonymous meeting, the best way to do so is to get with other members in the fellowship and spread the word about a new meeting. Once you have chosen a time and place for the meeting, there are resources available on the Narcotics Anonymous website for meeting formats and other support materials. You can contact your local Narcotics Anonymous service body to announce the new meeting, as well as register the meeting online at the NA website.
Becoming a sponsor is simply a choice that you can make once you have worked the program, maintained sobriety and developed the willingness to help others work their own programs. Becoming someone’s sponsor can be beneficial to the sponsor and the sponsee, as it allows the both of them to share their experiences with one another. The responsibilities of sponsorship can include guiding a sponsee through the twelve steps, sharing their resources and tools to maintain sobriety, answering questions about the literature and suggesting new meetings to their sponsee.
There is never a guarantee that the program will work for everyone, but it works for those who work the program. Narcotics Anonymous offers addicts seeking recovery the opportunity to connect with others members in recovery and build the support system they need to obtain sobriety.
Narcotics Anonymous was founded by Jimmy Kinnon in 1953, or as many of the members knew him as “Jimmy K.” to protect anonymity in the program. With the approval from Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous adapted the twelve steps and changed the word alcohol in the first step to drugs. Jimmy K. also contributed to much of the Narcotics Anonymous literature, including the “Yellow Booklet” and the “Little White Booklet.”
Narcotics Anonymous is for anyone who has the desire to stop using drugs. Whether or not you identify as an addict, the program is for those whom drugs have become a major problem. The program is intended for individuals seeking recovery and provides a support system for members in the fellowship to share their stories with another in order to maintain sobriety.
With a quick Google search, Narcotics Anonymous meetings in your area can be found almost instantly, or by typing your information into the Narcotics Anonymous meeting search page. If you are uncomfortable with attending meetings because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are virtual meetings and phone meetings available as well.
Disclaimer: 12Steppers.org is not partnered or affiliated with Narcotics Anonymous. The information provided is strictly for informational purposes.
Read more about 12-step programs for substance abuse.