Narcotics Anonymous Still Growing and often a good choice.
by Ned Wicker
Drug treatment centers are all over the country and ads for these facilities are everywhere. The Google ads you read on this web page are probably for drug treatment centers, offering a variety of approaches to help addicts get through withdrawal and back to health.
But the old saying “the best things in life are free” is more than appropriate when it comes to the recovery phase of addiction. Organizations like Narcotics Anonymous aren’t looking for dollars, just the desire to get healthy. There are no dues, no mandatory contributions to the cause, just support from people who know addiction and more importantly understand what the addict is experiencing.
NA grew out of the AA
NA grew out of the Alcoholics Anonymous movement of the late 1930’s, offering a recovery process and support network. Instead of saying alcohol in its 12-Steps, NA used “addiction” to reflect its membership. Like AA, NA has its own book, published originally in 1983.
The NA website says the book is published in 34 different languages, and 16 more are to be added in the future. I share this with you because I’ve met people who are all too quick to dismiss organizations like NA and AA, even though there has been documented success and continued expansion.
Its literature states, “NA 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.”
All local groups are autonomous and no membership fee is required. Like AA, the purity of the NA mission is uncontaminated by the need for constant fund raising, or the urge to ask members for money.
Still, people will look for a sinister motive. They will claim a religious bias, or some other divisive force is at work. They confuse religion with the practice of spiritual principles.
Members may examine their own spiritual beliefs and learn to gain a greater understanding of those beliefs, without pressure to adhere to any religious doctrine, practice or tradition. With no proclamation of specific beliefs among members, no requirement of cash, it is hardly a target to be called a “cult,” yet those accusations persist. The fact that it’s free may irritate those who believe that there is the necessity to pay your own way.
Encouraged To Abstain
Another popular target of criticism for NA and AA, is the encouragement for its members to abstain from drugs and alcohol. For some, the idea of treatment is limited to getting well enough to use again without getting sick.
But the NA and AA approach is more holistic, regarding body, mind and spirit as being equally as important, and so drugs and alcohol get in the way. The organization is made up of people who have walked through the tunnel and who desire to help people overcome their addiction and lead a fulfilling life. It takes no stand on prescribed medications, so taking such medications under the care of a physician is not seen as a compromise to the goal of abstinence.
NA and AA do not endorse or oppose the positions of other groups concerning their methodology or philosophy. They do not weigh in on other issues relating to addiction, such as the law, public health, political dialog on drug legalization, etc. They are concerned only for the support and well being of addicts.
No Attendance is Taken
Some will claim that NA is ineffective in helping members through the recovery process. Because no dues are needed, because attendance is not taken at meetings and because there is no strict control over membership, it is difficult to determine the exact number of people who have overcome through Narcotics Anonymous participation.
Some may remain active for years, helping others and spreading the message. Others may just go back to living their lives.
If freedom is the only goal and statistics are unnecessary; if money is not the object and membership rolls are immaterial; if the activities and practices of any other group is not their concern, then it is all too easy to merely dismiss and marginalize Narcotics Anonymous.
If someone has walked through the tunnel and come out the other side alive and well, that says enough for Narcotics Anonymous.