Positions on related
issues or institutions
Cooperating with NA
Rate of growth
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 its type.
For many 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
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 34 languages, with translations
in process for 16 languages.
earliest self-titled pamphlet, known among members as "the
White Booklet," describes Narcotics Anonymous this way:
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 help."
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 is 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.
Narcotics 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 include:
Central to 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 "spiritual awakening."
admitting there is a problem;
engaging in a thorough self-examination;
making amends for harm done; and
helping other drug addicts who want to recover.
Narcotics 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.
In Narcotics 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.
primary service provided by Narcotics Anonymous is the NA
group meeting. Each group runs itself based on principles
common to the entire organization, which is spelled out in
NA’s literature. Most groups 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;
presentations for treatment staff, civic organizations,
government agencies, and schools;
presentations to acquaint treatment or correctional facility
residents with the NA program; and
meeting directories for individual information and use in
scheduling visits by client groups.
In some 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.
An 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.
on related issues or institutions
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
Narcotics 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.
Narcotics 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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with Narcotics Anonymous
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.
NA strives 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.
offer some general informal observations about the nature
of the membership and the effectiveness of the program the
following observations are believed to be reasonably accurate.
The 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
All ethnic 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.
Membership 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:
Gender: 55% male, 45% female.
Age: 3% 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 11.07 years.
no 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
In 1978, there were fewer than 200 registered groups in
In 1983, more than a dozen countries had 2,966 meetings.
In 1993, 60 countries had over 13,000 groups holding over
In 2002, 108 countries had 20,000 groups holding over
In 2005, 116 countries had over 21,500 groups holding
over 33,500 weekly meetings.
In 2007, there are over 25,065 groups holding over 43,900
weekly meetings in 127 countries.