Wednesday, July 17, 2024


When and how did NA begin?

Although there are documented occurrences of NA meetings taking place in a “Summer School for Alcohol and Drugs” at Yale in 1948, and in New York, a woman within the ranks of the Salvation Army, named Dorothy Berry, who rose in rank to Brigadier General, encouraging and providing meeting space for NA meetings in their facilities, as well as a Father Dan Egan, who also worked primarily among prostitutes and addicts, the generally accepted “when” comes from the west coast: Sun Valley beginnings’ minutes of meeting in July, 1953.

The “how” is a result of addicts who found the 12 steps of AA to be the solution to recovery from addiction, but who also saw the initial identification of new addicts lacking with alcoholics in AA. With several other addicts and some members of A.A. who had great faith in us and the program, those early addicts formed what we now know as Narcotics Anonymous.

Who are NA's members?

Our members are quite diverse and come from all walks of life. Anyone with the desire to stop using drugs may join our Fellowship. In spite of our differences, the drugs we used, the circumstances of our lives and the degree to which our active addiction had progressed, we share two important things in common: the disease of our addiction and the desire to stop using drugs.

Where do NA meetings occur?
Our meetings are held in any variety of facilities. We cultivate relationships with many facilitators to hold a credible presence in the community, which makes it more possible for suffering addicts to find us. Regardless of where our meetings are located, they are in no way affiliated with any facility and our traditions require that we pay rent (or donate) for the space we use for our meetings.

How can addicts locate NA meetings?
If addicts have never heard of us, they cannot seek us out. If those who work with addicts are unaware of our existence, they cannot refer them to us. Most cities have NA phone lines listed in their directories. The Coastal Carolina Area of Narcotics Anonymous Helpline number is 1-800-691-5427. The system is geared toward delivering a nearby meeting schedule directly to your phone. You’ll also have the option to leave a message for a trusted servant to return your call should you have further questions. If no phone line is listed in your area, feel free to contact our World Service Office at P.O. Box 999, Van Nuys, Ca. 91409, or call them at (818) 773-9999 ext. 771.

How do such diverse addicts relate to each other?

NA has its own vocabulary which is common with our recovery. We do not set any addict or drug apart from others. We use the term addict when describing ourselves, regardless of drugs used. We use the terms “clean,””clean time,” and “recovery” to refer to the recovery process, rather than terms that apply to specific drugs. This way we carry one consistent, clear message that applies to us all.

What about dual addiction, cross-addiction, dual diagnosis, etc?

The term dual addiction has no application for us. The drugs used were just a symptom of the same, singular disease we call addiction. All addicts are welcome in NA. We make no distinction among them.

Does an addict need to be clean to attend an NA meeting?

Newcomers don’t have to be clean when they get here. After the first meeting, we suggest that they keep coming back and come back clean.But it is not required; the only requirement for membership is the DESIRE to stop using. Member using DRT/MAT, while not clean by NA’s standards, are encouraged to keep coming back. Our hope is that using addicts will eventually want what we have found and their desire to stop using will grow into actuality. However, we want the place where we recover to be a safe place for addicts as well as maintain good relations with the facilitators where we meet. For that reason we ask that no drugs or paraphernalia be brought to any meeting.

Do you help with other problems, such as suicide?

We do not, as we are not equipped to handle anything aside from helping addicts stay clean and to find a new way to live. We only deal with recovery from active addiction and only have an opinion about our own program. If you or someone you love is feeling suicidal, please call the national suicide hotline at: 988.

Can non-addicts become NA members?
Non-addicts are very important to NA; but not as members. Many professionals who work with addicts attend our open meetings to find out for themselves how NA works. Family and friends of addicts often attend our social functions and open meetings. Membership, however, is restricted to addicts. We need to preserve the atmosphere of trust and identification so necessary to our recovery. The highest priority at our meetings is the maintenance of an atmosphere where a suffering addict may find hope and recovery.

Is NA only for narcotics addicts?

No. When our Fellowship was named in the 1950’s the understanding of the words narcotic and addict was different from today. The influence of the drug culture in the 1960’s and the 1970’s changed that understanding. A greater variety of drugs are in use today. Only a few are known commonly as narcotics. Over the same period of time the program of Narcotics Anonymous has remained the same. We believe our problem is not the use of any specific drug or group of drugs. Our problem is the disease of addiction and our program is one of abstinence from all drugs.

What are NA meetings like?

Since NA meetings are autonomous, there are many different kinds of meetings. Some are topic discussion meetings, some are speaker meetings, some are literature discussion meetings and some are part of or combinations of these. Many are open to the public and others are for addicts only. There are few common threads running through them all. The primary purpose of every NA meeting is to carry the message to the addict who still suffers. There are no counselors or professional people present. NA meetings are run by addicts for addicts. We have found that the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel. Regardless of format, NA meetings usually start with readings from our literature and move into the portion mentioned above. There is time for announcements and perhaps more reading at the end. They usually close with the serenity prayer.

What is the difference between an 'open' and a 'closed' NA meeting?

An “open” meeting is one which non-addicts may attend to see how NA functions. A “closed” meeting is for addicts and for those who think they may have a drug problem only.

Is NA a religious organization?

No. Narcotics Anonymous is not affiliated with any religious group and espouses no religious beliefs. Our program is a set of principles, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions which are spiritual in nature. While the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions mention God, each member is free to developed their own concept of a higher power. What is important to us is that our recovery is based on these principles and they work.

Is there a formal organization to NA?
NA is made up of thousands of self-governing groups. These groups are held together by common principles: the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of NA, We have learned that, for our Fellowship, leadership by example of selfless service works and that direction and manipulation fail. We choose not to have presidents, masters or directors. Instead we have secretaries, treasurers and representatives. These titles imply service rather than control. We’ve formed a network of service committees whose function is to unify and strengthen the NA groups. These committees exist to help groups carry the NA message. Some committees provide services to help increase the number of addicts who know about NA so they may attend meetings. Others provide services to groups such as literature development, phone line operation, guidance in applying our principles, etc. These services are provided by recovering addicts, all members of the NA Fellowship. There is no governing body in NA. No part of NA has authority over any part of the Fellowship.

What about meetings held in hospitals, jails, treatment centers and such?
NA Service committees facilitate presentations of NA recovery in jails, treatment centers and, in some cases, recovery houses. If a facility wishes to have one of these meetings held regularly, they may call the local phone line 1-800-691-5427 or write the World Service Office P.O. Box 9999 Van Nuys, CA. 91409, Attn: H&I Coordinator.

Is there a membership fee?
No. There are no initiation fees or dues. NA is not professional. We are all addicts here for our own recovery. We take a collection at every meeting from members who wish to contribute. This money pays the group’s expenses: rent, coffee and literature. The balance is sent to other levels of service to help carry the NA message to the addict who still suffers. In this way we remain free of outside control and self-supporting through our own contributions.

What are NA service centers?

Primary, NA service centers are distribution centers for our literature. At times Regional Service Offices serve as meeting places for our service committees. Our NA phone lines are often located there. These service centers may employ management, clerical and shipping personnel as special workers to get the work done. Some offices are funded wholly by the sale of NA literature. Others are funded by member and group contributions. The World Service Office, located in Van Nuys, California is the Fellowship’s World Service Center.

Does NA operate detox or treatment facilities?

No. NA is not a professional organization, we are not affiliated with any professional agencies or facilities, and we provide no professional services. We have no opinion about these facilities and how they operate. We employ no counselors or treatment staff. Many treatment centers introduce their patients to NA before they release them. We are grateful for their cooperation but do not allow this to influence us in any way. We remain a Fellowship of recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other to stay clean. Our program is a set of principles written so simply we can follow them in our daily lives.

Why is NA anonymous?
The principle of anonymity protects the membership and reputation of the Fellowship and provides a safe setting for each and every member to seek recovery on an equal basis. No individual inside or outside the Fellowship represents Narcotics Anonymous.

How may I learn more about NA?

Call our phone line,1-800-691-5427, the phone line in your community, or contact our World Service Office (818) 773-9999 ext. 131. In Central Broward County 1-888-524-1777, and someone will be glad to answer any further questions you may have.