Narcotics Anonymous (NA) started out as being a place for those dealing strictly with drug addiction but now welcomes anyone dealing with substance abuse and addiction.
What is Narcotics Anonymous?
Founded in 1953, Narcotics Anonymous is a global, community-based nonprofit fellowship that now holds nearly 76,000 meetings weekly in 143 countries.
While it’s known for helping those who have a major problem with drugs, you don’t have to be addicted to drugs to join. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop using.
The Goal Of NA
NA’s goal is to create a community where people with substance abuse issues help each other on their recovery journeys. Whether you’re a new member or a longtime one, there are no fees or costs associated with joining or participating in NA meetings
The “A” of NA is the key to the organization. Anonymity ensures nothing leaves the meetings and that everyone feels comfortable enough to share their stories. It helps keep to the group’s primary purpose, which is spreading the message of recovery to those who need it.
How Did Narcotics Anonymous Start?
Narcotics Anonymous was established in response to the success of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It was first established in Los Angeles in 1953 by Jimmy Patrick Kinnon, and has spread around the world since then.
While AA accepted only those with alcohol addiction, NA was created to bridge the gap and welcome those with drug or alcohol addiction.
The group first started out with a booklet called the White Booklet. In 1983, NA’s Basic Text was published and membership increased exponentially. The Basic Text is considered one of the most important pieces of NA literature.
Narcotics Anonymous Program Guidelines
As a twelve step program, NA has a list of guidelines it recommends its members follow.
The guidelines/principles are similar to AA and include admitting a powerlessness over drugs or alcohol, believing a Higher Power can restore well-being, making amends to those who have been hurt by substance abuse, and more.
Narcotics Anonymous Meetings
NA meetings come in a couple of different forms: closed and open. A closed meeting means that only members of Narcotics Anonymous are allowed while an open meeting is for anyone who wants to come.
Discussion & Speaker Meetings
Additionally, Narcotics Anonymous meetings are either discussion or speaker meetings. In discussion meetings, members share their personal stories of addiction and recovery. Everyone can share in these meetings but no one is required to.
In speaker meetings, one or more members share for the majority of the meeting.
There’s also usually a specific topic for each meeting, but what you share doesn’t have to incorporate the topic.
With the coronavirus and pandemic changing the way things are run, many groups are running virtual meetings instead of in-person ones.
When searching for your first meeting, make sure to check out the Narcotics Anonymous World Services (NAWS) website. It allows you to find a meeting close to you and also lets you pick if you want an online meeting.
NA Meeting Rules
There are also some general rules for all meetings to ensure everyone is safe. The meeting rules include:
- every attendee should be treated with respect
- personal sharing is voluntary.\
- only first names are used, and attendance is kept private within the meeting
- meetings are free to attend; money is accepted by voluntary donation only
- meeting location does not necessarily indicate affiliation; meetings may be held in public spaces or religious buildings
- no drugs or paraphernalia allowed
Once newcomers feel comfortable with the rules and the structure of the group, they can seek out a sponsor from the NA members in their group and that member will act as a mentor to them.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol or drug problem, you’re not alone. Call our helpline today and we’ll help you find the treatment options that work for you.
Does Narcotics Anonymous Have A Hotline?
Narcotics Anonymous does have a hotline that offers support for those looking for NA meetings. However, the phone number changes based on where you are so it’s best to look for your local hotline via NAWS : Find a meeting.
What Are The Demographics Of Narcotics Anonymous?
Although information regarding NA meeting attendance isn’t readily available, a 2018 membership survey reveals the demographic makeup of some participants.
The survey found that nearly a third of members had been drug free for more than a year, over 60% of participants reported full-time employment, 70% were caucasion, a quarter were 51 to 60 years of age, and more men participated in meetings than women.
Is Narcotics Anonymous Effective?
Studies show that attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings is linked to decreased drug abuse in the long-term. However, about 40% of NA attendees in some studies stopped going to meetings after a year.