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The disease of addiction is the most serious problem facing the world today. In a study conducted by Columbia University, there are as many as 40 million Americans today ages twelve or higher that meet the medical criteria for addiction to drugs and alcohol with an additional 80 million people who are “risky substance users.” There are now more people in this country living with addiction. There were over 35,000 deaths in 2015 due to drug overdoses, more than suicides, homicides, and motor vehicle accidents. While addiction is a reality, dying from it does not have to be. If you are a drug addict, there is a way to end the suffering.
Narcotics Anonymous exists for this very reason. Narcotics Anonymous is a world-wide organization whose goal is to bring a message of recovery to struggling drug addicts. NA was established 1953 as offshoot of the more famous Alcoholics Anonymous and has been broadened to help struggling drug addicts get and stay drug free. They are made up entirely of other recovering drug addicts to be a safe community for recovering addicts and to help other addicts get and stay clean. Narcotics Anonymous uses the tradition 12 step model of recovery that has been in uses since the 1930s.
Right now there are over 400 meetings throughout the week on Long Island with meetings running every single day of the year, including all major holidays. Many meetings also cater to special interest groups, meaning that there are a variety of meeting types including women’s meetings, men’s meetings, LGBT meetings, Spanish language meetings, and many more. There are Narcotics Anonymous meetings at a variety of locations and times throughout Long Island so there is never a meeting too far away. The widespread availability for anybody with the disease of addiction to find a meeting is one of the greatest strengths of the fellowship.
Narcotics Anonymous is based around the sense of unity that forms between recovering addicts. The idea being that recovering addictions are able to empathize with each other in comparison to other ways of treating addiction, saying “the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel.” Recovering addicts share their accomplishments and their challenges and learn to live life on life’s terms as a responsible and productive member of society. In essence, Narcotics Anonymous is both a program of recovery and a peer-based support network that are intertwined.
Narcotics Anonymous asserts itself to be based on spiritual principles, but is not a religious organization. Through the working of steps, many members come to identify with a “higher power” which helps guide them in their recovery. For many, this does come through religion, however this is not a requirement for recovery. Many addicts with decades clean identify the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous as their higher power. Through this process, addicts learn to recognize greatness outside of themselves and not live a self-centered lifestyle anymore.
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There are no requirements for NA membership. Narcotics Anonymous is completely free to participate in. Donations are accepted but it is not a requirement. There are also no prohibitions on membership based on societal factors, meaning that anyone is allowed to be a member regardless of their race, ethnicity, religious or political affiliations, sexual orientation or sexually identity, economic status, or drug of choice. Anybody who is living with the disease of addiction or simply just believes he or she may have a problem with drugs is welcome to join and attend meetings.
The only thing that will ever be asked of members is to participate in service of some kind. Service is the cornerstone of NA and is the heartbeat of the program. NA is completely self-supporting and does not accept outside contributions. This means Narcotics Anonymous does not have “employees” and meetings are financed entirely on donations from members. This is means that anyone working in NA is working of their own volition. Any money that is collected in meetings goes directly to anything that may be needed to run the meeting such as paying rent and buying meeting supplies. Service can be anything from sponsoring a new member or just making the coffee for the meeting. Services helps to keep NA members participating in their own recovery, to keep groups up and running, and also to keep outside groups or organizations from interfering with the NA message of recovery.
Narcotics Anonymous has proven itself to be one of the longest lasting and most effective institutions for combating drug addiction. It is the second largest 12 step organization after Alcoholics Anonymous and continues to grow daily. It’s reputation as a mode of recovery insures that it will have a long-lasting presence in the field of recovery and drug addiction for years to come.
For more information about Narcotics Anonymous or to find meetings in or outside of Long Island, please visit www.na.org