Narcotics Anonymous is an international,
community-based association of recovering drug addicts with
more than 33,500 weekly meetings in over 116 countries
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
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.
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 27
languages, with translations in process for 16 languages.
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NA's earliest self-titled pamphlet, known among members as
"the White Booklet," describes Narcotics Anonymous this way:
"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
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.
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
admitting there is a problem;
in a thorough self-examination;
amends for harm done; and
other drug addicts who want to recover.
the Narcotics Anonymous program is its emphasis on
practicing spiritual principles. Narcotics Anonymous itself
is non-religious, and each member is encouraged to cultivate
an individual understanding—religious or not—of this
Anonymous is not affiliated with other organizations,
including other twelve step programs, treatment centers, or
correctional facilities. As an organization, NA does not
employ professional counselors or therapists nor does it
provide residential facilities or clinics. Additionally, the
fellowship does not provide vocational, legal, financial,
psychiatric, or medical services. NA has only one mission:
to provide an environment in which addicts can help one
another stop using drugs and find a new way to live.
Anonymous, members are encouraged to comply with complete
abstinence from all drugs including alcohol. It has been the
experience of NA members that complete and continuous
abstinence provides the best foundation for recovery and
personal growth. NA as a whole has no opinion on outside
issues, including prescribed medications. Use of psychiatric
medication and other medically indicated drugs prescribed by
a physician and taken under medical supervision is not seen
as compromising a person’s recovery in NA.
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service provided by Narcotics Anonymous is the NA group
meeting. Each group runs itself based on principles common
to the entire organization, which are spelled out in NA’s
rent space for their weekly meetings in buildings run by
public, religious, or civic organizations. Individual
members lead the NA meetings while other members take part
by sharing in turn about their experiences in recovering
from drug addition. Group members also share the activities
associated with running a meeting.
In a country
where Narcotics Anonymous is a relatively new phenomenon,
the NA group is the only level of organization. In places
where a number of Narcotics Anonymous groups have had the
chance to develop and stabilize, groups will have elected
delegates to form a local service committee. These local
committees usually offer a number of services. Included
among them are:
distribution of NA literature;
telephone information services;
information presentations for treatment staff, civic
organizations, government agencies, and schools;
presentations to acquaint treatment or correctional
facility residents with the NA program; and
directories for individual information and use in
scheduling visits by client groups.
countries, especially the larger countries or those where
Narcotics Anonymous is well established, a number of
local/area committees have come together to create regional
committees. These regional committees handle services within
their larger geographical boundaries while the local/area
committees handle local services.
international delegate assembly known as the World Service
Conference provides guidance on issues affecting the entire
organization. Primary among the priorities of NA’s world
services are activities that support young national
movements and the translation of Narcotics Anonymous
literature. For additional information, contact the World
Service Office headquarters in Los Angeles, California. The
mailing address, telephone number, fax number, and website
address appear at the end of this pamphlet
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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.
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.
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.
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Cooperating with NA
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 nonaddict friends
have been instrumental in getting Narcotics Anonymous
started in many countries and helping NA grow.
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.
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some general informal observations about the nature of the
membership and the effectiveness of the program the
following observations are believed to be reasonably
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
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.
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; the diversity of our membership,
especially ethnic background, seems to be representative of
the geographic location of the survey. The following
demographic information was revealed in a survey returned by
almost half of the 13,000 attendees at the 2003 NA World
Convention held in San Diego, California:
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55% male, 45% female.
20 years old and under, 12% 21–30 years old, 31% 31–40
years old, 40% 41–50 years old, 13% over age 51, and 1%
did not answer.
Ethnicity: 70% Caucasian, 11% African-American, 11%
Hispanic, and 8% other.
Employment status: 72% employed full-time, 9% employed
part-time, 7% unemployed, 3% retired, 3% homemakers, 5%
students, and 1% did not answer.
Continuous abstinence/recovery: ranged from less than
one year up to 40 years, with a mean average of 7.4
Rate of growth
attendance records are kept, it is impossible to estimate
what percentages of those who come to Narcotics Anonymous
remain active in NA over time. The only sure indicator of
the program's success is the rapid growth in the number of
registered Narcotics Anonymous meetings in recent decades
and the rapid spread of Narcotics Anonymous outside North
there were fewer than 200 registered groups in three
more than a dozen countries had 2,966 meetings.
60 countries had over 13,000 groups holding over 19,000
108 countries had 20,000 groups holding over 30,000
there are over 21,500 registered groups holding over
33,500 weekly meetings in 116 countries
information may be obtained by contacting:
Nuys, California 91409
Telephone: (818) 773-9999
Fax: (818) 700-0700
Rue de l'Ete/Zomerstraat
B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: 32-2-646-6012 - Fax: