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What is Narcotics Anonymous?

“Narcotics Anonymous 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.”
-Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text ©, page 9

Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship similar to alcoholics anonymous, founded in 1953 in Los Angeles. Ever since its start, it has spread to over 129 countries. It provides support to not only alcoholics but people recovering from any drug addiction.

The membership of Narcotics Anonymous is open to everyone regardless of race, religion, age, gender, and substance they are addicted to. The only condition is the will to overcome the addiction. Narcotics anonymous societies accept people addicted to any substance including alcohol. People with polysubstance dependence are also welcomed.

What to expect from your first Narcotics Anonymous meeting?

Deciding to join a support group like NA requires courage. People have many reservations regarding the first meeting.

  • Whether the members be supportive enough?
  • Should I open up in front of strangers?
  • Will joining a support group be helpful at all?
  • Will other members judge me?

The fact is, members of such support groups are incredibly supportive. They have been through similar and they know exactly how you feel. You do not necessarily have to say anything during your first meeting if you do not feel like. You can simply hear other member discuss their problems.

The initial discomfort dissipates as further meetings are attended. New members are warmly welcomed by the existing members.

The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions:

Narcotics Anonymous uses the same 12 steps and 12 traditions initially introduced by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. They have expanded and adjusted the steps as per their needs to accommodate people suffering from any drug addiction. After Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous is the 2nd largest 12 step organization.

Types of Meetings:

Narcotics Anonymous offers physical and online meetings. Physical meetings are of two types: discussion or speaker.

  • Discussion Meetings:

During discussion meetings, the members come together and discuss their issues, recovery stories and struggles. The members are allowed to share as much as they feel comfortable with. However, it is important to keep time restrictions in mind. Members are only allowed to share their personal stories and experiences. Quoting the stories of others is not allowed.

  • Speaker Meetings:

During speaker meetings, only one or two members talk and share their experiences while the others hear for most of the time.

  • Online Meetings:

Online meetings are held using electronic devices and internet facility rather than coming together in a physical place. It is a feasible option for the members who cannot attend physical meetings due to any reason.

Reservations against Narcotics Anonymous:

12 step programs like narcotics anonymous are often regarded as unscientific and unpractical. However, they have helped millions of people around the world to recover. Narcotics Anonymous meetings are not confined to a certain religious group or religious people. In fact, they are based on spirituality rather than religion. You are required to admit that you have a problem and become determined to overcome that problem and undo the damage it has caused to you and your loved ones.

During the process, you seek help from a power higher than yourself. But it is not specified what the higher power can be. It can be different for different people. People can replace higher power with God, whatever helps them feel better.

Different treatments work for different people. It is important to find out the one that works for you.

Terminology used during Narcotics Anonymous meetings:

Here are the terminologies used during NA meetings as stated in the official ‘introduction to NA’ guide.

  • The term we use to refer to ourselves because we see addiction itself as the problem, rather than the use of a specific drug.
  • Basic Text.The book that contains our core ideas, titled Narcotics Anonymous.
  • Members who hold one or more regularly scheduled NA meetings.
  • Higher Power.Any loving force that helps a member stay clean and seek recovery.
  • Information pamphlets about NA.
  • New NA members.
  • When a lapse in recovery results in a brief or extended return to drug use.
  • Offering personal experience with addiction and recovery.
  • Experienced member who offers guidance and support through the 12 Steps.
  • Trusted Servants.Members who have service positions in NA.