Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous ("NA") is an organization of drug addicts helping other addicts. The organization hosts 43,900 meetings each week in 127 countries around the world.

Narcotics Anonymous Overview

The first NA meetings were held in Los Angeles, California, in the early 1950s. Its program is based on the one used by Alcoholics Anonymous. By the early 1970s, NA established chapters in other major U.S. cities and in Australia. In 1983, NA published a book entitled, "Basic Text," which brought more attention to its activities. Enrollment jumped as a result, and by the end of the year, the group was active in more than 12 countries.


NA is a not-for-profit organization that provides help and support to people who are trying to stay clean from drugs. How long a member used drugs or how much they ingested is not important; all a member needs to join NA is the desire to live a drug-free life. The group is open to people addicted to any kind of drug.

Traditions, Steps, and Process

NA is a 12-step program that provides support to its members. At meetings, members are free to share their challenges in learning how to live without using drugs, as well as their triumph in achieving their goal of staying clean "one day at a time." NA is not a religious institution, and each member is encouraged to interpret the step of turning their lives over to a Higher Power in the way that fits with their personal beliefs.

Members of NA are encouraged to abstain from using all forms of drugs, including alcohol. The group has the opinion that complete abstinence makes it easier for its members to make the personal changes necessary to sustain their recovery. The exception to this policy is when psychiatric or other medications have been prescribed by a physician and used according to directions.

Effectiveness: Does Narcotics Anonymous Work?

According to the NA web site, a survey of its members indicated that they had a mean number of 9.1 years clean. The results of the 2007 survey also revealed that 90 percent of the organization's members felt their lives were richer after seeking help from the group. In addition, 83 percent felt a stronger sense of social connections after joining.

Controversy and Criticism

Different groups had their own opinions about the content contained in the book put out by NA, which led to some internal controversy. In 1988, the NA World Conference made a determination that the 5th Edition of the group's text is the only one that is officially approved for distribution and sale.

Famous People and Celebrities Who Have Been to Narcotics Anonymous

A London tabloid was sued by model Naomi Campbell when the publication published photographs taken of her as she exited a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.

Getting a Sponsor

Newer members of the NA group can choose their sponsor. This is a more experienced member of the group who offers guidance and individual support as the new person works through the 12 steps of the program.

Find a Narcotics Anonymous Meeting Near You

NA recommends that people interested in finding a meeting call a regional help line to find one close to them. You can also conduct an Internet search to find a web site for a regional or local group that you can join. The NA web site also has a search function available; however, the first two options are more reliable methods for finding a meeting. You can also check out our addiction recovery programs directory.