What is NA?

Frequent questions before participating & our answers

  • How does NA work?
  • I think I might have a problem, what do I need to do to get help?
  • What happens at an NA meeting? How much does it cost?
  • Can anyone attend NA meetings?
  • Is NA a religious organization?
  • Should I go to an institution or to an ambulant therapy?
  • If I go to a meeting, does that commit me to anything?
  • What do you mean when you say “clean“?
  • Does a person have to be clean to attend an NA Meeting?


How does NA work? Addicts helping each other recover are the foundation of NA. Members meet regularly to talk about their experiences in recovery. More experienced members (known as sponsors) work individually with newer members. The core of the NA program is the twelve steps. These “steps“ are a set of guidelines outlining a practical approach to recovery. By following these guidelines and working closely with other members, addicts learn to stop using drugs and face the challenges of daily living. How does Narcotics Anonymous work ?

I think I might have a problem, what do I need to do to get help? We suggest that you attend one of the many meetings available, as soon as possible and let someone there know that you are new and seeking help.

What happens at an NA meeting? There are many different kinds of meetings. Some are topic discussion meetings, some are speaker meetings, some are literature discussion meetings and some are part of or combinations of these and perhaps other variations. Many are open to the public and others are for addicts only. There are no counselors or professional people present at closed meetings; unless they are addicts and there for their own recovery. NA meetings are run by addicts for addicts. Regardless of format, NA meetings usually start with readings from our literature. Addicts share their successes and challenges in overcoming active addiction and living drug-free productive lives through application of the principles contained within the twelve steps and twelve traditions of NA.

How much does it cost? There are no dues or fees for NA membership. An NA group will usually have a collection during the meeting to cover expenses, such as rent, coffee, etc., and to this all members are free to contribute as much or as little as they wish.

Can anyone attend NA meetings? There are two types of NA meetings, open meetings and closed meetings. Anyone may attend an open NA meeting regardless of whether they have a problem or not. This includes family members, professionals, students, etc.
Only those who think they may have a problem with drugs or may consider themselves addicts may attend closed meetings. This is to insure the anonymity of members who wish to have their identity remain private.
Remember, you are an NA member if and when you say so. The only requirement for NA membership is a desire to stop using.

Is NA a religious organization? No. NA is not associated or affiliated with, nor endorses any religious organizations and espouses no religious beliefs. Our program is a set of principles; twelve steps and twelve traditions which are spiritual in nature. While these principles mention god, each member is free to develop their own concept of a higher power. What is important to us is that our recovery is based on these principles and they work.

Should I go to an institution or to an ambulant therapy? Only you can decide whether or not to attend a facility. NA neither deters or recommends that one attend facilities of these types.

If I go to a meeting, does that commit me to anything? No. NA does not keep membership files, or attendance records. No one will bother you if you don’t wish to continue. But we wish that you keep a open mind and understand how NA could help. You do not have to reveal anything about yourself. You do not have to speak, read or sign anything. We usually introduce ourselves before we speak, but even that’s not mandatory. We use only first names in meetings.

What do you mean when you say “clean“? “Clean“ is a term that refers to being abstinent or free of any type of mind or mood altering substances.

Does a person have to be clean to attend an NA Meeting? Newcomers don’t have to be clean when they get here but after the first meeting we suggest that they keep coming back and come back clean. We want the place where we recover to be a safe place. For that reason we ask that no drugs or paraphernalia be brought to any meeting. If you can’t stop using for now, don’t stop attending meetings or not attend them. We do not turn people away from meetings because they are not yet clean or because they relapsed.