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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Ciarrocchi

What Is Narcotics Anonymous?

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a non-profit organization that provides support to individuals who struggle with drug addiction.

The organization was founded in the United States in the 1950s and has grown into a global network of support groups. This article explores the history and origin of Narcotics Anonymous.

Narcotics Anonymous LA
Source: LA Valley Recovery

Origin Story

The origins of Narcotics Anonymous can be traced back to the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA was founded in the 1930s by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, who had struggled with alcoholism and found that by sharing their experiences, they could maintain their recovery and progress toward sobriety. The principles of mutual support, honesty, and accountability that guided AA were effective in helping individuals overcome addiction to other substances.

In the early 1950s, a group of individuals in California who had struggled with addiction to drugs began meeting regularly to support each other in their efforts to overcome their addiction. They modeled their group after AA and adopted many of the same principles and practices, including the Twelve Steps and the sponsorship concept.

The first official Narcotics Anonymous meeting was held in Los Angeles in 1953. The group was founded by Jimmy Kinnon, who had struggled with addiction to heroin and was inspired by his experiences with AA. Kinnon worked with other group members to develop the principles and practices of Narcotics Anonymous and spread the word about the organization.

In the early days of Narcotics Anonymous, the organization faced many challenges, and a great deal of stigma was associated with drug addiction. Many people were reluctant to come forward and seek help. The organization also struggled to find a place within the larger recovery community, as AA was still the dominant support group for individuals struggling with addiction.

Despite these challenges, Narcotics Anonymous persevered, and the organization began to grow and evolve. In the 1960s, Narcotics Anonymous started publishing its own literature, including a guide to the Twelve Steps and the Big Book of Narcotics Anonymous. These texts were designed to provide a comprehensive guide to the program for those who wanted to learn more about it or to join the organization.

In the decades that followed, Narcotics Anonymous continued to expand and adapt to the changing needs of its members. The organization established a presence in many countries worldwide and developed new resources and programs to support individuals in

recovery. Today, Narcotics Anonymous is a global organization with thousands of weekly meetings in over 100 countries.

One of the key components of the Narcotics Anonymous program is the Twelve Steps. The Steps are a set of spiritual and moral principles that help members of the organization overcome their addiction and improve their lives. The Steps include admitting powerlessness over addiction, making a moral inventory, making amends for harm caused, and helping others who struggle with addiction.

Narcotics Anonymous
Source: LA Valley Recovery


Another key component of the Narcotics Anonymous program is the concept of sponsorship. Members of the organization are encouraged to work with a sponsor, an experienced member who can provide guidance and support as the individual works through the Twelve Steps. Sponsorship is based on the principle of mutual support and accountability, and it is a central part of the recovery process for many organization members.

Narcotics Anonymous meetings are similar in structure to AA meetings. They are typically held in a community setting and provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to share their experiences, connect with others, and receive support and encouragement. Meetings may include various activities, such as speaker meetings, workshops, and discussion groups. Members are encouraged to share their experiences with addiction and recovery, to listen to others' stories, and to support one another in their efforts to maintain recovery.

Narcotics Anonymous Conventions

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) conventions are events where members of the organization come together to share their experiences, learn from one another, and support each other in their efforts to overcome drug addiction. NA conventions take place all over the world, and they range in size from small, local events to large international gatherings. This article explores the purpose and benefits of NA conventions and what to expect at these events.

One of the critical benefits of NA conventions is the opportunity for members to connect and build a sense of community. For many people, recovery from drug addiction can be a lonely and isolating experience. NA conventions provide a space where individuals can come together and share their experiences with others who understand what they are going through. The sense of community created at NA conventions can be a powerful source of motivation and support for those in recovery.

Another benefit of NA conventions is the opportunity to learn from others who have more experience with the program. NA conventions often feature workshops and panels where experienced members share their insights and advice on various recovery-related topics. These workshops may focus on specific aspects of the program, such as the Twelve Steps or the Basic Text, or may address broader issues related to recovery, such as coping with stress and anxiety or building healthy relationships.

In addition to NA conventions' educational and social aspects, many people also find spiritual benefits from attending these events. The Twelve Steps of NA are rooted in spirituality and the belief in a higher power, and many conventions include opportunities for prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices. For some individuals, these practices are an important part of their recovery process and can help them maintain a connection with something larger than themselves.

If you're considering attending an NA convention, knowing what to expect is important. Conventions can vary in size and format, but most events include various activities and opportunities for learning and socializing. Here are some common features of NA conventions:

12 steps
Source: LA Valley Recovery

  1. Speaker Meetings - These are meetings where individuals share their experiences with drug addiction and recovery. Speakers may include individuals with different lengths of clean time or from different backgrounds.

  2. Workshops - These are educational sessions where experienced members share their insights and advice on specific aspects of the program or broader issues related to recovery. Workshops may be interactive and may provide opportunities for discussion and reflection.

  3. Panels - These are discussions featuring a group of individuals who share their experiences on a particular topic related to recovery. Panels may be moderated or may take the form of open discussions.

  4. Social Gatherings - These are opportunities for individuals to connect outside of meetings and workshops. Social gatherings may include meals, dances, or other activities that promote connection and camaraderie.

  5. Service Opportunities - Many NA conventions include service opportunities where individuals can somehow give back to the community or support the convention. Service opportunities may include volunteering at registration tables, helping with setup or cleanup, or supporting those struggling with recovery.

Member Testimonials

Narcotics Anonymous has saved the lives of countless individuals. We felt it appropriate to get some behind-the-scenes experience shared by those in the Los Angeles area with numerous years of clean time.

Here are some testimonials from individuals who have found the Narcotics Anonymous program to be a positive force in their lives:

"I was lost and alone before I found NA. The program gave me a sense of community and belonging that I had never experienced before. Through working the Twelve Steps, I was able to overcome my addiction and find a sense of purpose in my life. I am forever grateful to the members of NA for showing me a path to recovery and a new way of living." - John, 5 years clean.

"NA has been a lifeline for me in so many ways. The program has helped me to overcome my addiction, but it has also helped me to become a better person overall. Through working the Twelve Steps, I have learned to be more honest, more accountable, and more compassionate. I have made lifelong friends through NA, and I know that I can always turn to them for support and guidance. The program has given me a new lease on life, and I am forever grateful for that." - Mark, 10 years clean

group therapy
Source: LA Valley Recovery

"I never thought I could overcome my addiction, but NA showed me that anything is possible. The program has given me the tools I need to stay clean, even when things get tough. The sense of community and support that I have found through NA has been a game-changer for me. I no longer feel alone in my struggles, and I know that there are people who care about me and want to see me succeed. I can't imagine where I would be without the program, and I will be forever grateful to the members of NA who have helped me along the way." - Emily, 2 years clean

These testimonials highlight the many positive aspects of the Narcotics Anonymous program, including the sense of community and support that members receive, the emphasis on personal growth and self-discovery, and the tools and resources that the program provides to help individuals overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery.

Narcotics Anonymous provides the organization's members an essential opportunity to unite and support one another in their recovery from drug addiction. Whether new to the program or a long-time member, attending NA meetings, conventions, and events can be a valuable and enriching experience that can help you build connections, gain insights, and deepen your commitment to recovery.


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