Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a global organisation of recovering addicts. NA members are people from all walks of life for whom drugs had become a major problem, who meet regularly to help each other stay clean, and recover from the effects of addiction in their lives. The NA programme is one of complete abstinence from all drugs, following a twelve-step programme, and regular attendance at meetings. It is based on a set of spiritual principles that are not associated with a particular religion.
Although our steps call for finding and believing in a “power greater than oneself”, this is a personal decision for each and every member to make. Experience of our members has shown that the spiritual principles work for all members, from the devoutly religious to the atheist and agnostic.
NA is not affiliated with any other organisation or institution. There is only one requirement for membership, the desire to stop using. There is no cost to attend meetings.
The basic premise of anonymity allows addicts to attend meetings without fear of legal or social repercussions. This is an important consideration for an addict thinking about going to a meeting for the first time. Anonymity also supports an atmosphere of equality, meaning that no individual’s personality or circumstance will be considered more important than the message of recovery shared in NA.
Even though our members used a variety of drugs, in NA we speak of recovery from the disease of addiction, rather than specific drugs. We believe that drugs are a symptom of our disease, and recovery from the disease of addiction is through application of the principles contained in the Twelve Steps.
Someone who is still using drugs is welcome to attend NA meetings. Many NA members came to meetings while still using drugs and are now drug-free and recovering today. Often, if a member is still using, the person will be asked to refrain from speaking during a meeting. Instead, these addicts are encouraged to speak with members before or after the meeting.
How it works
NA’s approach to recovery is the belief in the therapeutic value of one addict helping another. Members take part in NA meetings by talking about their experiences and recovery from drug addiction. More experienced members work individually with newer members explaining the twelve steps and the program. This type of support is called sponsorship. The twelve steps are at the core of the NA program; these ‘steps’ are a set of concepts outlining a practical approach to recovery. By learning the twelve steps with a more experienced member and how to work the NA program addicts learn to stop using drugs and face the challenges of daily living.
Narcotics Anonymous is not a religious organisation and does not mandate any particular religious belief system. It does teach basic spiritual principles such as honesty, open-mindedness, faith, willingness, and humility that may be applied in everyday life. The specific practical application of spiritual principles is determined by each individual. Recovery in NA is not a miracle cure that happens within a given period of time. It is a process, ongoing and personal. Members make an individual decision to join and recover at their own pace.
NA meetings are held regularly at the same time and place each week, usually in a public facility rented by the group, informally structured, and are led by members who take turns opening and closing the meeting. NA meetings and other services are funded entirely from donations by addict members and the sale of recovery literature. Financial contributions from non-members are not accepted.
There are two basic types of meetings: those which are open to the general public and those closed to the public (for addicts only). Meetings vary widely in format. Some formats are: participation, speaker, question and answer, topic discussion, and some have a combination of these formats. The function of any meeting is always the same: to provide a suitable and reliable environment for personal recovery.
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