Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a 12-step program whose primary approach to recovery is its belief in the therapeutic value of one addict helping another. As members, we take part in NA meetings by talking about our experience and recovery from drug addiction.
NA meetings are informally structured, held in space rented by the group, and are led by our members who take turns opening and closing the meeting. NA meetings and other services are funded entirely by our contributions and the sales of recovery literature. Financial contributions from non-members are not accepted.
There are two basic types of meetings: those that are open to the general public and those that are closed to the public (for addicts only). Meetings vary widely in format. Some formats are: participation, speaker, question and answer, topic discussion, and some have a combination of these formats.
The function of any meeting is always the same: to provide a suitable and reliable environment for personal recovery.
Who is an addict?
NA is made up of a diverse assortment of addicts joined together by the strength of our mutual commitment to recovery. As a fellowship, our ability to reach still-using addicts is tied to our willingness to offer meetings that are accessible and attractive to those addicts. We offer recovery from the effects of addiction through working the Twelve Steps.
One reading states “Most of us do not have to think twice about this question. We know! Our whole life and thinking was centered in drugs in one form or another—the getting and using and finding ways and means to get more. We lived to use and used to live. Very simply, an addict is a man or woman whose life is controlled by drugs. We are people in the grip of a continuing and progressive illness whose ends are always the same: jails, institutions, and death.”
Participation in Narcotics Anonymous shines light on the truth that we do recover. The promise of NA is freedom from active addiction and finding a new way to live.
What is the Narcotics Anonymous Program?
The core of the NA program is the Twelve Steps. These “steps” are a set of guidelines outlining a practical approach to recovery. By following these guidelines and working closely with other members, we learn to stop using drugs and face the challenges of daily living.
NA does not mandate any particular belief system. It does teach basic spiritual principles such as honesty, open mindedness, faith, willingness, and humility, which may be applied in everyday life. Recovery in NA is not a miracle cure that happens within a given period of time. It is a process, ongoing and personal. We each make an individual decision to join and recover at our own pace.
Our “What is the Narcotics Anonymous Program?” reading in our meetings sums up what the program is by saying “NA is a nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. We are recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean.
This is a program of complete abstinence from all drugs.
There is only one requirement for membership, the desire to stop using.
We suggest that you keep an open mind and give yourself a break.
Our program is a set of principles written so simply that we can follow them in our daily lives. The most important thing about them is that they work. There are no strings attached to NA. We are not affiliated with any other organizations. We have no initiation fees or dues, no pledges to sign, no promises to make to anyone. We are not connected with any political, religious, or law enforcement groups, and are under no surveillance at any time.
Anyone may join us regardless of age, race, sexual identity, creed, religion, or lack of religion. We are not interested in what or how much you used or who your connections were, what you have done in the past, how much or how little you have, but only in what you want to do about your problem and how we can help.
The newcomer is the most important person at any meeting, because we can only keep what we have by giving it away. We have learned from our group experience that those who keep coming to our meetings regularly stay clean.”
One of the first things many of us hear when we begin attending NA meetings is get a sponsor. As newcomers, we may not understand what that means. Our Basic Text tells us that “the heart of NA beats when two addicts share their recovery,” and sponsorship is simply one addict helping another. The two-way street of sponsorship is a loving, spiritual, and compassionate relationship that helps both the sponsor and sponsee.
Sponsorship is a personal and private relationship that can mean different things to different people. An NA sponsor is a member of NA, living our program of recovery, who is willing to build a special relationship with us. Most members think of a sponsor, first and foremost, as someone who can help us work the Twelve Steps of NA, and sometimes the Twelve Traditions and Twelve Concepts. A sponsor is someone in whom we confide. We can share things with a sponsor that we may not want to share in a meeting.
We have an array of literature available. NA World Service produces a number of different kinds of publications, Only NA-approved literature is appropriate for reading in NA meetings. We have books, pamphlets and service related items available.
All literature is written by addicts FOR addicts.
We have a Basic Text that talks about the Twelve Steps and contains personal stories. It Works How and Why does a deeper dive into each of the twelve steps as well as the twelve traditions.
Living Clean: The Journey Continues states “that this book is not a catalog of advice, but rather a collection of experience, strength, and hope about living clean as we experience it in our daily lives, in our relationships, and in our service to others.”
Just for Today: Daily Meditations for Recovery Addicts shares daily snippets from the various literature and includes a personal reflection of shared experience. The many various IPs (informational pamphlets) focus on specific topics, including: Self Acceptance, The Triangle of Self Obsession, Am I an Addict?, Recovery and Relapse, The Loner, Staying Clean on the Outside, and many more.
We Do Recover.
At the end of the meeting there is a reading that reminds us that we really do recover and that our program can help.
When at the end of the road we find that we can no longer function as a human being, either with or without drugs, we all face the same dilemma.
What is there left to do? There seems to be this alternative: either go on as best we can to the bitter ends—jails, institutions or death—or find a new way to live. In years gone by, very few addicts ever had this last choice. Those who are addicted today are more fortunate. For the first time in man’s entire history, a simple way has been proving itself in the lives of many addicts. It is available to us all. This is a simple, spiritual—not religious—program, known as Narcotics Anonymous.
To find NA meetings in Maine visit namaine.org or call 1-833-436-6166. For more information about NA, visit na.org.