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What is Narcotics Anonymous?

    What is Narcotics Anonymous?

    Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is an organisation which is dedicated to supporting people with drug addictions.

    NA is based on the success of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) organisation, and it is now the largest twelve-step support organisation for people with drug addiction in the world.

    The group is open to anyone with a drug addiction, no matter what the substance, and that includes alcohol.

    The only precursor to being part of NA is the recognition of your drug addiction, and a willingness to overcome it.

    When And Why Was Narcotics Anonymous Founded?


    NA was founded in 1953, as a direct response to the success of AA.

    It was created by Jimmy Kinnon, who had himself struggled with drug addiction.

    After several years of ups and downs, NA established itself as serious, effective, and international presence in the 1970’s during a time of rapid expansion.

    In 1971, NA’s first annual conference was held, and these have continued since.

    The organisation operates in over a hundred countries and has over 70,000 meetings across the world.

    What You Can Expect From A Narcotics Anonymous Meeting


    The content and structure of NA meetings vary week to week; however, they are all designed to help you on your journey out of drug addiction.

    An NA meeting might focus on the reading and discussion of a piece of NA literature.

    Attendees will be invited to read through the literature, or listen to it as it’s read aloud, before the group discuss their understanding of the literature and what it means to them.

    Through this practice, attendees can hear other perspectives and develop their own.

    Alternatively, an NA meeting could be centred around discussion more broadly, and ‘open sharing’.

    This could look like an attendee-directed discussion of your group’s own personal experiences, seeking advice on specific issues, or a round-robin where a question is posed and attendees give their thoughts one by one.


    While new attendees aren’t required to make contributions, it is highly encouraged as it’s one of the most effective ways of helping yourself and your peers learn from your experiences.

    The idea of attending your first NA meeting can, understandably, be intimidating.

    However, remember the reasons why you’re considering attending and the positive impact NA could have on your life if it helps you.

    It’s also helpful to remember that everyone who is also in attendance has had similar experiences to you and was once an attendee for the first time.

    What Are The Twelve Steps Of Narcotics Anonymous?


    The foundation of NA is the well-established twelve-step program, which was originally used as the foundation of AA.

    NA has adjusted the twelve-step program with a small change in language, and instead of referring to alcohol, the NA’s twelve-step program references drug addictions.

    The twelve steps are as follows:

    1. We admitted 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 inventory 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 contact 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 the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

    Do You Have To Be Religious To Use Narcotics Anonymous?


    While the twelve-step program, and therefore the foundation of NA isn’t explicitly religious, it does refer to spirituality, ‘God’, and a ‘higher power’.

    However, when NA refers to “God as we understood Him” it leaves the interpretation up to you.

    It does not define God as according to any specific religion and NA welcomes all form of religions and spiritual beliefs that are coherent with their twelve-steps.

    The ‘higher power’ is simply meant to refer to a source of strength and moral guidance.

    Nevertheless, some potential attendees might initially find this off-putting if they don’t have firm own religious or spiritual beliefs, or if they are active atheists.

    If you are considering joining NA and the language around spirituality and God makes you hesitant, remember that you can speak to other members about their own experiences and learn how they were able to interpret the language in their own way.

    Try to have an open mind, and remember that NA is a well-established, effective organisation with a long history of helping people to recover from their addiction to drugs.

    How Effective Is Narcotics Anonymous?


    Commitment to NA, and regular attendance to meetings, cannot by themselves guarantee your future sobriety and recovery from addiction.

    However, through the support of other members and the structure provided by the twelve-steps, NA has proved to be very effective in helping thousands of people all over the world to successfully overcome their drug addiction.

    Some people will find NA more helpful than others, but by attending sessions and allowing yourself to get involved in an open and honest way, there is a strong chance that you will learn a lot about how to sustainably battle your addiction.

    Due to this well-known success, NA is often recommended to people who have come out of rehabilitation services for drug addiction.

    NA can be a core part of your journey out of addiction and into recovery, and while it won’t be for everyone, it could help you along the way too.

    What Are The Advantages Of Narcotics Anonymous?


    NA is a very open and accessible organisation which seeks to welcome all people from any walk of life.

    At an NA meeting, your age, gender, and social or financial background are all less important than your experiences with drug addiction, and your willingness to move into a period of recovery and sobriety.

    Admittance to NA is completely free, and while consistent attendance to meetings is recommended, there is no pressure placed on you to attend when it’s inconvenient.

    However, the meetings do take place every single week all across the UK, so you can benefit from frequent, regular attendance as much as possible.

    In addition, everyone who attends an NA meeting does so with a pledge of confidentiality.

    You can attend NA knowing that everyone around you is committed to maintaining the confidentiality of your identity and any information that you choose to share about your experiences.

    However, one of the biggest advantages that comes with NA is the support you will receive from other NA attendees.

    As a newcomer, you will be welcomed by a community of people recovering from drug addiction.

    That community will provide guidance and support.

    Listening to their stories and experiences can give you new perspectives on your own experience with drug addiction.

    In some sessions, known as ‘open meetings’ you will be able to bring family members with you which can act as another layer of support, and allow them to see part of the process behind your recovery.

    How To Choose A Narcotics Anonymous Meeting


    When beginning your search for an NA meeting, you can start by looking on the UK’s official NA webpage.

    This will help you to find your nearest group, or you can find groups further afield if you prefer to attend a meeting that is less close to home.

    The UK’s NA webpage will also help you to find groups which can be attended online, which can be a useful secondary option.

    Starting with an online group can also be a helpful first step if you feel particularly anxious about attending NA for the first time.

    Finding Help Today

    Man with phone

    If you’re looking for support in your addiction recovery journey, Narcotics Anonymous is an excellent place to start.

    Their long history and widespread popularity have proven their effectiveness, making them one of the most popular drug support groups in the world.

    If you’re unsure as to whether Narcotics Anonymous is right for you, give our team a call today.

    Experienced, discreet and entirely free of charge, our experts are ready to answer any questions you might have and get you on the path to recovery.


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