Are you new to Narcotics Anonymous? You probably have a lot of questions! Here are some answers.
What is an NA meeting?
NA meetings take place regularly on fixed dates and in fixed locations. As a general rule, they also take place on public holidays. Anyone who thinks they have a problem with drugs of any kind is welcome. Participation is voluntary and free. We differentiate between “closed meetings” – that only addicts and people who think they may have a drug problem may attend – and “open meetings” – where interested non-addicts are also welcome. In all meetings, only addicts are invited to speak (“share”).
Who is Narcotics Anonymous for?
NA is for anyone who thinks they have a problem with drugs of any kind. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve used, or are still using, illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, cannabis, party drugs, or legal substances like alcohol or prescription medications. You are also welcome regardless of age, skin colour, social origin, religion or sexual orientation. All you need is a desire to stop using.
How can Narcotics Anonymous help me?
NA is a global network of addicts who help each other to live clean. Inside and outside our meetings , we support each other to cope with everyday life. In our meetings, everyone shares just about their own experiences. There are no discussions, so no one will give you advice or tell you what to do. You are invited to learn from the experiences of others.
Do I have to be clean to come to a meeting?
No! Each and every addict – and anyone who feels they might have a drug problem – is welcome, even if they are not clean. All we ask is for you to keep coming back, and try to come clean next time.
Can I bring someone to my first meeting?
Yes! If you feel more secure coming with someone you trust, you are welcome to bring them. There are so-called “open meetings” that non-addicts who are interested in NA may also attend. However, we ask your companion to simply listen, as only addicts are invited to to speak (“share”) in a meeting.
What does being clean mean in NA?
Being clean in NA means total abstinence from all drugs. Drugs mean all legal and illegal mind-altering drugs and medications, as well as alcohol. You don’t have to be clean when you come to your first meeting, though. We cannot offer advice on medical issues such as prescribed medication.
Can I come to NA while I’m still in substitution therapy?
Yes! NA is open to all addicts. The only requirement for participation is a desire to stop using. Abstinence is not a requirement for coming to NA. We cannot give you any advice on medical questions such as substitution drugs or medication. However, our experience shows that members who are undergoing substitution therapy can get clean – and stay clean – in NA.
Does it cost anything to come to NA?
No, participation in our meetings is always voluntary and we have no fees. During the meetings, however, a donation box will be passed around, where every member is welcome to contribute anonymously. NA finances itself exclusively through voluntary donations from its own members and rejects any outside financial support. The proceeds will be used for paying the rent for the room, for coffee and literature, as well as all other services offered by Narcotics Anonymous such as our free telephone hotline or this website.
Is NA a drug-related therapy or substitute?
No. There are no therapists in NA. Our primary offer consists of regular meetings in which only addicts are involved. In our meetings we help each other to stay clean in everyday life – we share our personal experiences with living clean.
Narcotics Anonymous has no opinion on therapeutic methods, so we cannot make recommendations about this. We also do not offer consultations. For drug counselling or support in terms of medical, legal, therapeutic or social issues, please contact such relevant advisory organisations independently.
What is an NA meeting like?
Every meeting follows certain guidelines that are similar around the world. The focus is on personal experiences with addiction and recovery. There is no interruption, discussion or advice giving, everyone can finish speaking – within a certain time frame if necessary. You can find out more about meeting guidelines here.
I need a certificate – how do I get it?
Participation in NA is always voluntary. We have no membership register, and we do not check attendance in meetings. However, if you come as a requirement of therapy or probation, some groups offer the opportunity to certify that you have participated. This is a voluntary offer at the discretion of the respective meeting – if you need confirmation of attendance, please ask in advance.
What does anonymity mean in NA?
We put great emphasis on confidentiality – it will not be revealed what was said in the meeting or who was there. This protection of personal anonymity ensures a safe space. Social status, origin or personal details don’t matter to us. We only use our first names and we are all equal members in the meetings, no matter where we come from, how long we have been clean or what we do in our life.
How does NA work anyways?
Our main offer consists in meetings. We use the 12-step program, which was adopted from Alcoholics Anonymous and used worldwide since 1930. Additionally, experienced members work with new members and offer support with the 12-step program. All activities in NA are organized on a voluntary basis. We support each other in living clean.
What does sponsorship mean in NA?
Sponsorship consists of experienced members working with new members. A sponsor is a personal contact person, a kind of mentor within NA. With a sponsor, more personal things can be discussed, as well as things that you may not want to share in the group. A sponsor’s job is also to guide you through the 12 steps of NA. You choose your sponsor yourself, approaching someone who seems trustworthy to you.
Can literally every addict come to NA?
Yes! You are welcome in NA, no matter what drugs you have taken – and regardless of your skin colour, social background, religion or sexual orientation. All age groups are represented in NA. There are meetings in different languages (German, Farsi, English, Russian, Polish) as well as meetings for certain groups of people – for example, women, men, the queer community – in order to provide especially safe spaces. Abstinence is not a requirement – addicts in substitution programs or addicts not yet clean are also welcome.
Are there drugs in NA?
Our meetings offer a safe, drug-free space. You are asked to not bring drugs or paraphernalia to any meeting. We believe that meetings are about recovery from addiction and in NA we offer support to one another to help us get clean and stay clean. Although being clean is not a prerequisite for participation, we strive for complete abstinence from all drugs, including alcohol.
Are there any leisure activities in NA?
Our group meetings are NA’s main offering. Meetings are where clean addicts gather to share and to help each other to stay clean. This also creates friendships among members. There are regular local, regional and international events (“conventions”) where meetings and workshops on various topics as well as social events in the evenings take place over several days. These gatherings might include barbecues, various daytime events and ‘clean discos’.
NA itself does not offer any other leisure activities – although these are often organised privately amongst members.
The word ‘god’ is used in Narcotics Anonymous. Is NA religious?
No. We speak of a “God of our understanding” and by that we mean a force or Higher Power that is greater than ourselves. Everyone can imagine God in a way they think is right. In the context of the NA program, we speak of spiritual principles. By that we mean values such as openness, willingness, honesty and so on. NA has no opinion on religious or other issues. NA works worldwide, regardless of the prevailing belief system.
Is NA a cult?
No! Narcotics Anonymous is organized on a grassroots basis – there is no leader or guru. We work only on a voluntary basis and offer assistance via self-help, by and for addicts. All offers and services in NA are free of charge and are paid for with our own donations, on a voluntary basis. Membership is also voluntary.