Narcotics Anonymous Isn’t For Everyone

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Narcotics Anonymous is one of the ways that recovering addicts maintain their sobriety.  Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is for people who are or were addicted to drugs.  Similar is Alcohols Anonymous (AA) which is specifically for people recovering from an alcohol addiction.  I, a recovering drug (heroin) addict has attended hundreds maybe thousands of NA meetings throughout my attempts at recovery.  As recovering addicts, our ultimate goal is to find a way to get sober and stay sober.  It doesn’t matter what our method of treatment was, as long as we make it there.  So while NA may work for you, it doesn’t work for everyone.  Take a look and decide for yourself, you might just learn something new.

Narcotics Anonymous Isn't For Me

What is Narcotics Anonymous?

Narcotics Anonymous, NA for short is a worldwide non-profit organization that is designed for people who suffer from the disease of addiction.  It does not matter what type of drugs you use or how you use.  They welcome people from all walks of life.

The definition given by the program itself is as follows. 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.

The program is based on a 12 step program that the NA members follow in order to help them maintain their sobriety.  The program suggests that each person gets a sponsor.  A sponsor is simply a fellow recovering addict who has been in recovery for years, works the steps of the NA program, and can help to guide you through the recovery and NA process.  You can confide in a sponsor and talk to them about your addiction, recovery, and anything else you feel is necessary to discuss.



NA Meetings

There are millions of different groups that host meetings.  There are different types of meetings including speaker meetings, group meetings, studying the NA Big Book, and so on.  It is recommended that you attend meetings as often as possible.  For newcomers, the slogan is 90 in 90, meaning 90 meetings in 90 days.  Along with getting a sponsor, a person is told to pick a home group which hosts different meetings and you will be a part of this.  Each home group has a specific set of rules and their own way of doing things.

If you would like to know the specifics of NA, you can visit the official Narcotics Anonymous website, here.

In Narcotics Anonymous, the meetings especially speakers meetings are where you will tell your personal story of addiction and what led you to recovery.  The format is always the same, what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like today.  Members of NA believe that sharing your personal story will help others. Fellow members will be able to hear your story and the similarities, the differences, the hopes, the experience, and the success you have had.  If your story helps at least one person, you speaking was a victory to celebrate.

Narcotics Anonymous Speaker Meeting

NA Is Not For Me

Personally, I don’t do NA.  Over the years, I have attended numerous NA meetings, I’ve had a sponsor, and I worked the steps.  No matter how many times I have tried, Narcotics Anonymous simply wasn’t what I needed for my recovery.

My main reason for not being a part of Narcotics Anonymous truly is the program itself.  It’s simply not for me.  My past is something I don’t want to discuss.  I feel as if a big part of NA is war stories.  To me, it’s a constant reminder of the worst time in my life.  I measure my success on my urge to use and how much I was able to change and improve my life.  I do not like to constantly have my past brought up to talk about. For me, it’s something that I choose to leave in the past.

Please remember, this is a personal choice.  Narcotics Anonymous may be perfect for you and where you are in your recovery.

Don’t think that I am saying NA is bad.  It is really good for some people. People that are very vocal about their past and need to express that to others need NA.  I on the other hand like discussing my issues with a therapist or with someone who understands.

As I just mentioned, even though Narcotics Anonymous is not right for me. By no means does it mean that it’s not right for you.  Why don’t we take a look at the pros and cons of NA so, that you can decide for yourself?

Here is a list of the ways that NA can be beneficial to your recovery and for you personally.  After that, are the cons of NA.  Simply, NA may not be what you need.


    • Each person has a sponsor to hold you accountable for your actions.
    • Also, a sponsor will guide you and help you work through the steps.
    • NA is a fellowship of organization and structure with a detailed program
    • Be part of a fellowship with other individuals who are in similar situations.
    • Shows you how to have fun while being sober.
    • Many people in addiction live in solitude, now you are a member of a group.
    • Easily be able to hear similarities between you and your peers.
  • Make healthy and long-lasting relationships.


    • Newcomers can feel unwelcome.
    • There are cliques in the rooms.
    • Newcomers may be prey to some (victim to the 13th step)
    • Some meetings are social events with no recovery.
    • People can be singled out,
    • You will be able to point out people who are actively using which can be a trigger to some.
    • Others feel as if people glorify war stories.
  • 13 Step – Place to hook up

One thing that you must keep in mind is that there are pros and cons to every form of treatment.  Unfortunately, at Narcotics Anonymous meetings, there will always be people who have a legal or work obligation to attend these meetings.  For instance, people at inpatient rehab facilities or on house arrest must attend these meetings to get a signature on their form. This further encourages the meeting to become a social event and a place to hook up.

There will always be people who don’t take their recovery seriously. Furthermore, there are people who lie about their current phase of recovery, their amount of clean time, or their clean date.

Step 13

It is known that Narcotics Anonymous is a 12 step program so, what is this talk about a 13 step?  Honestly, it is not an “official” step. Thirteenth-stepping is when a recovering addict who is not new to the rooms tries to begin a sexual relationship with a newcomer or a person who has been sober for less than one year.

Narcotics Anonymous suggests not to start any type of relationship for the first year of your sobriety.  This is due to the fact that your first year of recovery is the hardest.  The potential for relapse is at its highest.  If you fall victim to a bad relationship it is a risk for your sobriety. Not to mention, during the first year of your sobriety, you are to focus solely on yourself.  A relationship takes the focus off of you as you are constantly thinking about the other person.

People who have been in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous for more than a year often prey on the newcomers.  Newcomers are naive, fragile, and emotional since they are in the early stages of recovery.  They need guidance and long for acceptance.  Sadly, they are taken advantage of.  This is one major con of the Narcotics Anonymous fellowship.  Yet, the fellowship does not condone this behavior nor tolerate it.  There truly isn’t much one can do.  It’s not illegal to have a sexual romance blossom.

What You Want

Even though, Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous span the globe, the programs are not the only way to recover.  There are treatment options for addiction to fit your own personal needs.  You have to do what you want.  Choose the method of recovery that best suits your personal needs, requirements, and values.

Recovery is not only about becoming abstinent from drugs.  It’s about finding yourself, trying to amend all the destruction you caused during active addiction, and creating a new life where you are proud, happy, and healthy.  I didn’t need NA to get there.  Choose your own way to recover, NA is not mandatory for recovery.

Narcotics Anonymous Is A Personal Choice

Leave a comment and let me know what you think of Narcotics Anonymous? Good or bad, I’m curious to know your experience.

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I am NOT a licensed therapist. For immediate help call the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Adminstration’s 1-800-662-HELP. It's a free 24/7 service for ppl facing mental +/or substance use disorders.Or you can use the online treatment locator HERE.


  1. Craig Latiimer says

    A flawed description of Narcotics Anonymous; one that leaves the blogger’s credibility deeply questionable.

    • Natasha says

      Sorry that you feel that way. I can promise you that my credibility is not questionable. I simply do not like NA or AA for the reasons I have above mentioned. I have been to more than enough meetings, had sponsors, and have been a productive contributing member of more than one homegroup. This is nothing more than my personal opinion. NA does work for some people, for me, it didn’t. I am a strong believer that there is no one fits all treatment for a recovering addict. It is what works best for the individual person. There are people that NA works for, you obviously being one of them and if you were able to succeed in recovery with NA than Kudos to you. But it’s not the only way or the most successful way and that is according to numerous statistics.

  2. Phillip says

    I have a few questions:

    1. Are you still clean?
    2. Who are you to judge a fellowship that seems to be working for millions worldwide?
    3. Instead of pointing out the flaws in the rooms, why not be the change you want to see? (AKA Speak about cligue-ing, 13th stepping, and the particular Social hour meetings you speak about.)

    • Natasha says

      1. Yes, I am.

      2. I was by no means judging, simply stating why the program does not work for me. To use an exact quote from the article,

      “Please remember, this is a personal choice.  Narcotics Anonymous may be perfect for you and where you are in your recovery.
      Don’t think that I am saying NA is bad.  It is really good for some people.”

      To go by what you said, it SEEMS to be working for working for millions. Key word being SEEMS. The facts and statistis clearly show that people who stay in the rooms do remain clean which is great. Yet, a very small amount of people actually remain in the rooms. 12 step programs were the beginning of addiction treatment. Yet, as time go on and treatments continue to evolve and grow, the facts prove without a doubt that there are other treatments with a much higher success rate.

      3. This is a personal opinion and what I saw and personally witnessed time and time again. I am a recovery mentor and I do help, guide, coach people to create the sober life they truly want and go after their dreams. NA or AA is not my choice of treatment so I am not going to burst into the rooms and advocate for change. I do my part in the recovery community and will continue to do so. AA/NA is not going to change. They do things how they do it because it works for them. If it works for you, that is wonderful. Great job. It simply did not work for me (and yes I tried way more than once or twice).

      As stated again and again, I AM A FIRM BELIEVER THAT EVERYONE RECOVERS IN THEIR OWN WAY. THERE IS NO ONE FITS ALL TREATMENT FOR ADDICTION TREATMENT. Each person must do what is best for their recovery and their sober life. I am the person to help you pick up the pieces and create a sober life that you truly love, where you do more than just live as a productive member of society but you thrive in a sober life that you love. After all, that is the ultimate goal of one getting sober, right?

      If I offended you, I do apologize. As that was never my attention. But people do need to know if they don’t like the 12 step program for any reason that they can still recover.

        • Natasha says

          Thank you and so do you! I believe that NA works, it just isn’t the only way. Each person has to do what feels right for them when it comes to recovery. Which you are well aware of. 🙂 I wish you continued success in your sobriety.

    • Nathan Robson says

      I make natasha exactly right after 12 years in and out of NA. CA. AA I’d say that was a well rounded and fair insight into the rooms of fellowship. It is simply closed minded to say that the steps are the only way to recover for the “real” addict I’m very grateful for the program because I would be in prison or dead. But saying that I’ve yet to see much clean time possibly 4yrs out of 12 and a lot of that was my unwillingness to change in the very beginning. I continue to serve in my home group and attend meetings I have a sponcer and work the steps but am I interested in other programs yes I am….. sometimes when the thought of using is powerful praying for it to be removed or taking some inventory hasn’t done much for me. I’d like to see what science has to say on addiction and the brain. Thank you natasha for your peice some people in fellowship take it as a direct insult to suggest another way. I’ve never understand that thanks again Nath

      • Natasha says

        I love seeing how different types of recovery works for different types of people. We are all different and unique so we are not going to be able to recover the same way as everyone else. It’s all what works for you!

  3. gratefull says

    ı agree with you. ım joined long time na meetings for some people its working . But this is not just recovery program. And other signıfıcant point some old timer speaking about medicine and doctors. This is very dangers. I saw its and hear. Theyr 10 th tradition is well but some pyschos whos in program and old timer violeted. .

  4. Sharianna says

    N.A. was my life for a long time. It saved my life, gave mea life. I do not regret the time I spent there. But yes, during that time, I was constantly speaking out about the inner circles, social hours, old timers keeping to themselves, 13 stepping, violations of traditions and all fell on deaf ears by the people who were exhibiting this behavior.
    I got so tired of it. I once went to a speaker meeting and the door was locked as the speaker, very popular and kind of feared in the area, did not want to be interrupted. There was a newcomer outside the door, in obvious detoxing distress. I had 15 yrs clean at the time. I was enraged and took her to another meeting I knew about where there were mostly newcomers but she got some support. When I later approached the members who had locked the door I was told I “should have banged on the door”.
    Another time a male newcomer was at a meeting in clear need of support. I tried to introduce him to the guys at the meeting who said hi to the guy and moved on. FOUR MEN did this! That addict took his life that night. When myself and another female tearfully mentioned this in that same meeting, those men callously told us it was that persons prerogative to take his life etc.
    I kept going to N.A. because I had friends not of the cliques, and I loved the literature. I knew not all N.A. meetings were this way and that particular Area it was worse. Eventually I became chronically ill and couldn’t often attend meetings. II now attend 12 step meetings online, video for people with chronic pain and illness.
    I have long been upset that N.A. literature is “conference approved” not “fellowship approved “. I’m also in strong disagreement about N.A. conference approved stance on MAT. While I used to assume addicts on methadone or naltrexone, suboxone were not clean, my professional and personal experiences have shown me this is only sometimes the case, not always. For so many, MAT saves lives,
    I don’t hate N.A., I love N.A. but there were a lot of irreconcilable differences, only a few I’ve rambled on here. I do love all addicts trying to get and or stay clean! I am passionate about that. I want to be there for the addict who suffers from the horrors of addiction, and I need others there for me. Where I now live, NA is not the place that has happened Btw, the old timer cliques were in all of the 4 Areas where I attended N.A. some were harmless, others I still believe were dangerous.
    I have no right to tell another person how to recover. If NA works for you I applaud BHC the old literature saved my life its great. There is a lot of black and white proselytizing in these comments here. I applaud the author of this article for speaking up. There is always more than One Way and I pray every addict finds their way…to be more than be happy human and free from the chains and horrors of active addiction.

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