Suggested links

Narcotics Anonymous

For almost 70 years, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) has been helping those dealing with alcohol and drug addiction by providing a safe and supportive group environment to focus on their sobriety. Over 70,000 of these support group meetings are held in over 140 countries to help NA members maintain their sobriety.

Battling addiction and ready for treatment? Find Treatment Now

What Is Narcotics Anonymous?

Narcotics Anonymous is a non-denominational 12-step program for recovering drug addicts and those who had a major problem with drug abuse in their past.

The concept of twelve-step recovery began with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) over 80 years ago. Since AA’s foundation, other groups like NA have grown to meet other needs in the addiction recovery community.

While AA primarily targets alcohol addiction recovery, NA specifically caters to individuals who are in recovery from drug addiction. Many drug-specific support groups also offer twelve-step programs (like Cocaine Anonymous, for instance).

However, NA support group meetings provide more generalized support for people with any substance use disorder (SUD).

How Did NA Get Started?

Inspired by the twelve steps of AA, Narcotics Anonymous was started in 1953 by Jimmy Kinnon, AKA “Jimmy K.”

Like the founders of AA, Jimmy also struggled with addiction and wanted to help others by providing a recovery program that expanded beyond just alcohol abuse and addiction.

Officially titled NA World Services, Inc., Narcotics Anonymous is now a nonprofit fellowship whose primary purpose is to encourage those in active addiction to stop using drugs and to provide accountability and support for recovering drug addicts.

NA Goals and Principles

NA follows a Twelve Step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which encourages personal growth, self-reflection, and spiritual development.

NA members share their struggles and successes through regular meetings while receiving peer support and accountability.

Like AA, NA also utilizes specific literature to guide members through their journey to sobriety.

The most common NA literature includes:

  • The NA Basic Text: The NA Basic Text is a key book used in Narcotics Anonymous (NA) that offers guidance, support, and inspiration for individuals recovering from drug addiction.

It features personal stories from NA members, practical information about the Twelve Steps, and the core principles of the NA program. It’s frequently used in NA meetings for readings, discussions, and study sessions.

  • Just for Today: NA also has a book called “Just for Today” that contains daily meditations to support members with long-term sobriety. The meditations from “Just for Today” are also published online at jftna.org, where a relevant reflection is posted daily.
Find Addiction Treatment
  • Specialized Treatment
  • Comprehensive Support
  • Personalized Care

Find Treatment Now

Paid advertising from Centric Behavioral Health

Twelve Steps of NA

Although both NA and AA follow similar core principles in their Twelve Steps, some steps may be worded differently to better suit the experiences and struggles of those dealing with drug addiction rather than alcohol addiction.

For example, NA’s steps often refer to “our addiction” rather than specifically to alcohol, and they may emphasize spiritual awakening and the importance of carrying the message to other addicts.

The twelve steps of NA are:

  1. Admit Powerlessness: Acknowledge that you’re powerless over your addiction to drugs. This step marks the first crucial acknowledgment of your struggle, paving the way for a commitment to recovery.
  2. Embrace Hope: Recognize the presence of a higher power that can aid you in your journey toward sobriety. (This higher power doesn’t have to be “god” or adhere to specific religious beliefs.)
  3. Surrender: Surrender yourself to your chosen higher power, understanding that you’ll rely on it for guidance throughout your recovery.
  4. Take Inventory: Conduct an honest self-assessment, examining where things may have gone wrong and/or led you to drug addiction.
  5. Confess and Share: Share your newfound insights and reflections with others, opening up about your struggles and experiences.
  6. Introspection: Reflect on your past and future, preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for the challenges of your recovery journey.
  7. Seek Higher Assistance: Ask for assistance from your higher power in navigating your recovery journey.
  8. Compile Amends List: Reflect on how your actions while abusing drugs may have harmed others, and compile a list of those you may have wronged.
  9. Make Amends: Apologize and make amends to each person on your list, understanding that not everyone may be receptive to your efforts.
  10. Continuous Self-Reflection: Remain vigilant in taking stock of yourself throughout your recovery journey and promptly address any mistakes or missteps.
  11. Prayer and Meditation: Stay connected to your higher power and spiritual self through prayer and meditation, finding comfort and guidance in these practices.
  12. Pay It Forward: Share your experiences and support others struggling with addiction, embodying the spirit of recovery by helping those in need.

NA Meetings

NA offers a variety of meeting types. Each meeting may vary slightly in format and focus, but all NA meetings aim to provide support, guidance, and a sense of community for people in recovery from drug addiction.

Attending an NA meeting is free, which applies to in-person and online meetings.

What to Expect at an NA Meeting

Narcotics Anonymous meetings follow a specific format that typically lasts 60 to 90 minutes. Group leaders typically provide snacks and drinks to enjoy before the start of the meeting. Once everyone gets settled and seated, the meeting begins.

At the beginning of the NA meeting, the facilitator typically welcomes everyone and acknowledges any newcomers. They might also pass around an NA booklet or “sign-in sheet” with space for attendees to write down their names and phone numbers.

This sign-in sheet allows attendees to connect with one another outside of the meeting, which offers a network of support and accountability—especially for newcomers.

Types of NA Meetings

After sign-ins, the bulk of the meeting takes place, which can vary depending on the type of meeting. Some of the most common NA meeting types are:

  • Speaker Meetings: During a speaker meeting, one person will speak and lead the meeting—sometimes a guest and other times a member. The speaker will share their story of drug addiction and recovery. Afterward, they may open the floor for members to ask questions.
  • Open Discussion: Alternatively, open discussion meetings are more like round tables where everyone can take turns sharing their stories and experiences. However, sharing is NOT required; some people prefer to listen to others’ stories rather than share their own.
  • Step Study Meetings: Step study meetings focus on exploring and discussing the Twelve Steps of NA in depth. Members share their experiences with each step, offering support and guidance to one another.
  • Beginners Meetings: These meetings are specifically tailored for newcomers to NA or individuals new to the recovery process. They provide a welcoming environment for newcomers to learn about NA, ask questions, and receive support from more experienced members.

At the end of the meeting, the meeting leader may pass out different colored tokens to celebrate periods of sobriety.

Who Can Attend Narcotics Anonymous Meetings?

The only requirement for attending an NA meeting is the desire to maintain one’s sobriety. However, some meetings are open to the general public and serve as educational or outreach, while others are set aside for members only.

  • Open meetings are available to anyone interested in attending, including individuals in recovery, their friends and family, as well as professionals working in the field of addiction. These meetings provide an opportunity for anyone to learn about NA and its program of recovery.
  • Closed meetings are specifically reserved for people who have a desire to stop using drugs, whether they are long-time members or if this is their first time attending an NA meeting. Closed meetings offer a safe, confidential space for NA members to share their experiences, struggles, and successes without fear of judgment.

Generally speaking, NA members recommend in-person and virtual or phone meetings for new members. However, in-person meetings aren’t always possible, and the more important thing is that you attend!

Find Addiction Treatment
  • Specialized Treatment
  • Comprehensive Support
  • Personalized Care

Find Treatment Now

Paid advertising from Centric Behavioral Health

How to Find an NA Meeting Near You

Narcotics Anonymous’s website makes it easy to locate meetings in your area. The “For the Public” tab lists NA meetings by phone and virtually. Here is a list of NA virtual meetings.

NA phone meetings are operated by individual Area Service Committees (ASC). To find the regional service committee for your area, visit the “Meeting Search” section of the Narcotics Anonymous World Services website. There, you can find the specific helpline for where you live.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction and could benefit from attending an NA meeting, you can view your local NA meeting list on their website to find one that best fits your schedule.

Get Help for a Drug Addiction Problem

Whether you attend NA or not, if you are concerned about your drug use, you don’t have to figure out what to do on your own.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a free online treatment locator to help you find nearby detox programs, inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, addiction counselors, and more.

You can also talk to your doctor or healthcare provider for suggestions for your situation.

Ready for Treatment?

Centric Behavioral Health, our paid treatment center sponsor, is available 24/7:
Learn More About Centric or For Immediate Treatment Help, Call (888) 694-1249.

FAQs about Narcotics Anonymous

Does attending NA meetings cost money?

No fees or dues are associated with being a member of NA or attending an NA meeting. Those attending often give money to help cover basic meeting expenses, but no donation is required.

 

Is NA religious?

No, NA is considered nondenominational. While part of the twelve steps focuses on supporting a higher power, this concept is not limited to “god” or any particular religious belief. A person’s higher power is personal and represents accepting that the forces of the universe are bigger than they are.

Who can attend an NA meeting?

NA meetings are open to anyone who has a desire to stop using drugs. This includes people struggling with addiction, those in recovery, and loved ones who want to learn more about addiction recovery.

Before attending an NA meeting, check to see if the meeting is listed as open or closed. Open meetings are available to outsiders (i.e., friends and family members) and members, while closed meetings are reserved for NA members (and new joiners) only.

How can I find an NA meeting?

Use the NA meeting search list on the Narcotics Anonymous website to find a meeting near you.

What is the difference between NA and AA?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is specifically oriented around recovery from alcohol addiction (alcohol use disorder), while Narcotics Anonymous (NA) focuses more broadly on drug addiction and substance use disorder as a whole.

Is NA religious?

No, NA is considered non-denominational. While part of the twelve steps focuses on supporting a higher power, this concept is not limited to “god” or any particular religious belief. A person’s higher power is personal and represents accepting that the forces of the universe are bigger than they are.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of AddictionHelp.com and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. About Us. Narcotics Anonymous. (2024a). https://na.org/?ID=aboutus
  2. An Introduction to NA Meetings – Narcotics Anonymous. (2023). https://www.na.org/admin/include/spaw2/uploads/files/EN3129.pdf
  3. Is NA for Me?. Narcotics Anonymous. (2024b). https://na.org/?ID=IsNAForMe-content
  4. Richmond, C. (2022, April 21). Narcotics Anonymous: What to Expect at A Meeting. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/narcotics-anonymous-what-to-expect
  5. What Happens at An NA Meeting. Narcotics Anonymous. (2024c). https://na.org/?ID=NAMeetings-WhatHappensAtAnNAMeeting

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Our free email newsletter offers guidance from top addiction specialists, inspiring sobriety stories, and practical recovery tips to help you or a loved one keep coming back and staying sober.

By signing up, you’ll be able to:

  • Stay Focused on Recovery
  • Find Ways To Give Back
  • Connect with Others Like You
Sign Up For Our Newsletter
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Find Treatment Now