Narcotics Anonymous is a non-profit fellowship of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem – recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean.
The Narcotics Anonymous Program
Narcotics Anonymous is a completely voluntary organisation. Membership is open to anyone with a drug problem seeking help, regardless of what drug or combination of drugs have been used, and irrespective of age, sex, religion, race, creed or class.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using drugs.
No membership attendance records are kept. Anonymity is one of NA’s most important traditions.
There are no dues or fees for membership. Narcotics Anonymous is entirely self-supporting and accepts no financial contributions from non-members. Most members regularly contribute small sums of money at group meetings to help cover expenses such as rent, literature, tea and coffee but contributions are not mandatory.
The core of the Narcotics Anonymous program is a series of twelve steps, adapted from the recovery program of Alcoholic Anonymous. These steps include admitting to a drug problem; seeking help; self-appraisal; confidential self-disclosure; making amends when possible, where harm has been done; achieving a spiritual awakening and supporting other drug addicts who want to recover.
Narcotics Anonymous is a non-religious fellowship, encouraging each member to cultivate an individual understanding, religious or not, of a ‘spiritual awakening’.
Narcotics Anonymous believes one of the cornerstones of its success is the therapeutic value of addicts working with each other to achieve recovery. In meetings members regularly share their personal experiences with each other, not as professionals but as ordinary people who have discovered that sharing brings about solutions to their problems.
Narcotics Anonymous has no professional therapists, no residential facilities and no clinics. NA provides no vocational, legal, financial, psychiatric or medical services. The closest thing to an NA counselor is the sponsor, someone who has been free from active drug use for a number of years who gives informal support and assistance to newcomers and those with less experience of the program.
The primary service provided by Narcotics Anonymous is the local weekly meeting. Each group is autonomous, organising itself according to a series of 12 principles common to the entire organisation. Meetings, which take place in rooms rented from public, religious or other organisations, may be ‘open’, meaning anyone can attend or ‘closed’, meaning only for people who want to address their own drug problems. Meetings are facilitated by NA members. Other members may take part by talking in turn about their experiences of addiction and the recovery, strength and hope they’ve discovered through NA.
Narcotics Anonymous has no hierarchy or authority structure.
The Narcotics Anonymous program uses a simple, experience-oriented concept of addiction by defining it as a disease from which recovery is possible. Narcotics Anonymous does not qualify its use of the term ‘disease’ in any medical or therapeutic sense, nor does NA attempt to persuade others of the correctness of its views or that recovering addicts can be cured. The NA fellowship simply asserts that its members have found that an acceptance of addiction as a disease is an effective way of helping them come to terms with their condition – and finding recovery.
Narcotics Anonymous encourages its members to abstain completely from all drugs including alcohol because NA members have discovered that complete and continuous abstinence provides the best foundation for recovery and personal growth. Narcotics Anonymous however, takes no stand on the use of caffeine, nicotine, or sugar. Similarly the use of prescribed medication for the treatment of specific medical or psychiatric conditions is neither encouraged nor prohibited by NA. While recognising numerous questions in these areas, Narcotics Anonymous feels they are matters of personal choice and encourages its members to consult their own experience, the experience of other members, and the opinions of qualified health professionals to help them make up their minds about these subjects.
Narcotics Anonymous also recognises it is one of many organisations addressing drug addiction and does not claim its program will work for all addicts under all circumstances or that its therapeutic views should be universally adopted.