Narcotics Anonymous: A Resource in Your Community
Narcotics Anonymous sprang from the Alcoholics Anonymous Program of the late 1940s, with meetings first emerging in the Los Angeles area of California, USA, in the early fifties. The NA program started as a small US movement that has grown into one of the world’s oldest and largest organizations of its type. For many years, NA grew very slowly, spreading from Los Angeles to other major North American cities and Australia in the early 1970s.
In 1983, Narcotics Anonymous published its self-titled Basic Text book, which contributed to tremendous growth. Within a few years, groups had formed in Brazil, Colombia, Germany, India, the Irish Republic, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Today, Narcotics Anonymous is well established throughout much of the Americas, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Newly formed groups and NA communities are now scattered throughout the Indian subcontinent, Africa, East Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.
Narcotics Anonymous books and information pamphlets are currently available in 23 languages, with translations in process for 16 languages.
An Early Meeting of Narcotics Anonymous
“NA is a nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. We … meet regularly to help each other stay clean. … We are not interested in what or how much you used … but only in what you want to do about your problem and how we can help.”Membership is open to all drug addicts, regardless of the particular drug or combination of drugs used. When adapting AA’s First Step, the word “addiction” was substituted for “alcohol,” thus removing drug-specific language and reflecting the “disease concept” of addiction. There are no social, religious, economic, racial, ethnic, national, gender, or class-status membership restrictions. There are no dues or fees for membership; while most members regularly contribute small sums to help cover the expenses of meetings, such contributions are not mandatory. Narcotics Anonymous provides a recovery process and support network inextricably linked together. One of the keys to NA’s success is the therapeutic value of addicts working with other addicts. Members share their successes and challenges in overcoming active addiction and living drug-free productive lives through the application of the principles contained within the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of NA. These principles are the core of the Narcotics Anonymous recovery program. Principles incorporated within the steps include:
- admitting there is a problem;
- seeking help;
- engaging in a thorough self-examination;
- confidential self-disclosure;
- making amends for harm done; and
- helping other drug addicts who want to recover.
The First Flyer Introducing the NA Program
- distribution of NA literature;
- telephone information services;
- public information presentations for treatment staff, civic organizations, government agencies, and schools;
- panel presentations to acquaint treatment or correctional facility residents with the NA program; and
- meeting directories for individual information and use in scheduling visits by client groups.
The mailing address, telephone number, fax number, and website address appear at the end of this pamphlet.
The First Meeting Place of Narcotics Anonymous
Positions on Related Issues or Institutions
In order to maintain its focus, Narcotics Anonymous has established a tradition of non-endorsement and does not take positions on anything outside its own specific sphere of activity. Narcotics Anonymous does not express opinions–either pro or con–on civil, social, medical, legal, or religious issues. Additionally, it does not take stands on addiction-related issues such as criminality, law enforcement, drug legalization or penalties, prostitution, HIV/HCV infection, or syringe programs.
Narcotics Anonymous is entirely self-supporting and does not accept financial contributions from non-members. Based on the same principle, groups and service committees are run by NA members, for members. Narcotics Anonymous neither endorses nor opposes any other organization’s philosophy or methodology. Its primary competence is in providing a platform upon which drug addicts can share their recovery and experiences with one another. This is not to say that Narcotics Anonymous believes there are not any other “good” or “worthy” organizations.
To remain free of the distraction of controversy, NA focuses all of its energy on its particular area of purpose, leaving other organizations to fulfill their own goals.
A Typical Narcotics Anonymous Meeting Place
Cooperating with Narcotics Anonymous
Although certain traditions guide its relations with other organizations, Narcotics Anonymous welcomes the cooperation of those in government, the clergy, the helping professions, and private voluntary organizations. NA’s non-addict friends have been instrumental in getting Narcotics Anonymous started in many countries and helping NA grow. NA strives to cooperate with others interested in Narcotics Anonymous by providing contact information, literature, and information about recovery through the NA Fellowship. Additionally, NA members are often available to make panel presentations in treatment centers and correctional facilities, sharing the NA program with addicts otherwise unable to attend community-based meetings.
To offer some general informal observations about the nature of the membership and the effectiveness of the program, the following observations are believed to be reasonably accurate. The socioeconomic strata represented by the NA membership vary from country to country. Members of one particular social or economic class start most national NA movements, but as their outreach activities become more effective, the membership becomes more broadly representative of all socioeconomic backgrounds. All ethnic and religious backgrounds are represented among NA members. Once a national movement reaches a certain level of maturity, its membership generally reflects the diversity or homogeneity of the background culture.
Membership in Narcotics Anonymous is voluntary; no attendance records are kept either for NA’s own purposes or for others. Because of this, it is sometimes difficult to provide interested parties with comprehensive information about NA membership. There are, however, some objective measures that can be shared based on data obtained from members attending one of our world conventions.