If you’re a woman struggling with a substance use disorder, different options are available for getting help. The most important thing is to find what works for you. For many women, what works is a 12-Step program. If you’re addicted to drugs, the Narcotics Anonymous 12 Steps might be something you consider participating in.
Often when you attend a drug treatment center, you’ll start working on the 12 Steps of Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous while you’re there. Then, when you return home from treatment, you can continue that work you started. So how do Narcotics Anonymous 12 Steps work, and how might it improve your quality of life if you struggle with the disease of addiction?
What is Narcotics Anonymous?
Narcotics Anonymous is also called NA, and it’s the second-largest 12-Step organization. Someone named Jimmy Kinnon or Jimmy K. founded the program. NA began after Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous started in the 1930s, while NA was founded officially in 1953 in Los Angeles. Now, the program is available in thousands of cities around the world. Narcotics Anonymous follows the same model as AA, but it’s for people addicted to drugs rather than alcohol.
When you participate in an Addicts Anonymous group, there’s no distinction between the type of drug you use. You can also join in NA if you also have a co-occurring alcohol abuse problem. There are some drug-specific programs, too, like Cocaine Anonymous, but NA isn’t specific. These programs recognize polysubstance addiction and dependence, meaning you abuse more than one substance, whether it’s drugs or alcohol addiction. If you want to recover from substance abuse, you’re welcome to participate. That’s the only requirement for membership.
The goal of participation in this 12 Step program is to help in your recovery from drug addiction so you can reclaim your life or find a new way of life free of addictive behaviors or destructive behavior. NA is a nonprofit community fellowship of men and women, and you can find single-gender meetings if that’s what you prefer. You meet with other recovering addicts, all of whom share the goal of staying clean and sober. When you participate in a 12-Step program, you are abstinent from all substances.
There’s no affiliation with any other organization, no dues or initiation fees, and you don’t have to sign anything or make any promises. There’s no particular religious affiliation, nor is this support group politically associated. You can join a 12-Step program like Narcotics Anonymous regardless of your race, age, sexual identity, religion, or lack of faith.
The program is spiritual, even though it’s not religious. You don’t have to believe in God to attend initially, and the model of the program is that addiction is a disease, and you can treat that disease by staying abstinent from all substances and working the program.
Fundamental principles of NA and Twelve-Step groups include:
- You’re committed, one day at a time, to not using drugs or alcohol as part of twelve-Step programs.
- Programs often follow a set format, including a serenity prayer or acceptance prayer.
- Regularly attending meetings is essential. Meetings typically last for an hour and are held around the world. Meeting schedules vary, and some are closed meetings, but most are open to anyone.
- When you participate in a 12-Step program, you might get a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can help you stay on the path of sobriety, again, one day at a time. They work you through the 12 Steps.
- You apply the principles you learn in your everyday life and personal recovery.
- 12-Step attendance is a chance to fellowship with other addicts in recovery and create a support system of sober people.
- 12-Step fellowship groups tend to be a lifelong commitment rather than something you do for a brief period.
What Narcotics Anonymous Isn’t
We wanted to clarify that participation in a 12-Step recovery program isn’t the same as going to detox or participating in rehab. No licensed addiction specialists are running the programs. Many members of these programs are licensed counselors or therapists, but this isn’t their role in meetings. While they’re in meetings, they’re just sharing their own experiences and sense of hope. You’re not receiving treatment for your actual addiction or symptoms of addiction like you do in a treatment center in a 12-Step NA Recovery Program.
For someone who requires detox and addiction treatment, you should go to a formal program first. Then when you’re ready, you can find a 12-Step program in your community to continue the work you do while in treatment.
What Are the Narcotics Anonymous 12 Steps?
The 12-Steps Narcotics Anonymous follows include:
- Step One: Admitting that you’re powerless over your addiction and that your life isn’t manageable is the first of the 12-Step concepts.
- Step Two: A belief in a Higher Power that can restore you to sanity.
- Step Three: Deciding to turn your life and will over to God as you understand Him.
- Step Four: Search and make a fearless moral inventory of yourself.
- Step Five: Admitting to God, yourself, and others the nature of your wrongs.
- Step Six: Being ready to have God remove your defects of character.
- Step Seven: Humbly asking God to remove your shortcomings.
- Step Eight: Making a list of people you’ve harmed and been willing to make amends to them.
- Step Nine: Making direct amends to people when you can as part of your recovery from addiction.
- Step Ten: Taking a continued personal inventory and, when you’re wrong, admitting it promptly.
- Step Eleven: You seek through meditation and prayer to make conscious contact with God as you understand Him and pray for the knowledge of God’s will.
- Step Twelve: Having a spiritual awakening as a result of the previous Steps, and then carrying your message to other addicts while also continuing to live the above principles in your everyday life, including complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
Who Does Narcotics Anonymous Aim to Help?
Even though the 12 Steps of Narcotics Anonymous tend to focus on God, they also specify that it’s as you understand Him. You don’t have to be religious or even believe in God to participate in NA. If you have a substance addiction, you can participate. There are a few things to keep in mind with NA and 12-Step meetings. While it’s helped millions of people to participate in this nonprofit fellowship, it isn’t for everyone.
Some of the possible drawbacks of participating in a 12-Step program include:
- There’s no attention to the physical elements of substance dependence or drug abuse in 12-Step fellowship programs. You need to go to a detox program for this.
- You do have to be involved socially with the group, and some people don’t prefer that. There are virtual options if you want to socially distance.
- Not everyone believes an abstinence program is the best path forward.
- You have to identify as an addict fully, and that can become an ingrained part of how you see yourself. For some people, that’s a positive of a 12-Step program, but it’s not for everyone.
- You must adhere to the belief that you are powerless over your addiction as part of the 12-Step program elements. There are alternative programs that position you as being empowered and able to overcome your drug use and signs of addiction through your own will, which some people prefer.
- It’s time-consuming to participate in 12-Step groups regularly. Weekly meetings are usually around an hour long but can be as long as two hours each.
Overall, there are many benefits to the 12-Step model. Before you can get to the point where you’re participating in regular meetings, you need to undergo substance abuse treatment for active addiction. Once you’ve received treatment for your addiction and underlying mental health disorders, participation in a support group can help you remain sober, following a 12-Step philosophy.
If you’d like to learn more about detox and addiction treatment centers and what programs we have available for women struggling with drug addiction, please contact Anchored Tides Recovery by calling 866-600-7709.