An Introduction to NA

An Intro To Meetings

If you’re new to NA or planning to go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting for the first time, it might be nice to know a little bit about what happens in our meetings. The information pamphlet to the left is a clickable link to give you an understanding of what we do when we come together to share recovery. The words we use and the way we act might be unfamiliar to you at first, but hopefully this information can hep you get the most out of your first NA meeting or help you feel more comfortable as you keep coming back.

Showing up early, staying late, and asking lots of questions before and after meetings will help you get the most out of every meeting you attend.

“Effective meeting formats keep the primary purpose in focus and encourage members to participate in a way
that expresses recovery”.
Tradition Five, It Works: How and Why

Our Basic Text, Narcotics Anonymous, provides the best description of who we are and what we do: “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.” The Twelve Steps of NA are the basis of our recovery program. Our meetings are where we share recovery with one another, but applying our program consists of much more than simply attending NA meetings.

People have all sorts of reasons for attending NA meetings, but the purpose of each meeting is to give NA members a place to share recovery with other addicts. If you are not an addict, look for an open meeting, which welcomes non-addicts. If you’re an addict or think you might have a drug problem, we suggest a meeting every day for at least 90 days to get to know NA members and our program. NA literature is also a great source of information about our program. Our Basic Text (Narcotics Anonymous) or our informational pamphlets (IPs) are good places to start. Most meetings offer IPs for free, while NA books are generally sold at the group’s cost. Much of our literature is also available to read or order online at

General information that applies
to NA meetings

  • We are not concerned with types or amounts of drugs used; we focus on the ways addiction and recovery affect our lives.
  • NA meetings are not classes or group therapy sessions. We do not teach lessons or provide counseling. We simply share our personal experiences with addiction and recovery.
  • Meetings are often held in churches, treatment centers, or other facilities, because these places tend to be affordable, available, or convenient. NA is not a part of or connected to any other group, organization, or institution.
  • To respect the anonymity of all of our members, we ask that people who attend our meetings not talk about who our members are or what they share in meetings.
  • NA has no membership fees or dues, but it does cost money to hold meetings and provide other services to further our primary purpose. Our members make voluntary contributions at meetings to support the group and other efforts to carry our message. Nonmembers are asked not to contribute so NA can remain fully self-supporting.
  • Newcomers are generally encouraged to focus on listening, but they are welcome to share during the participation portion of the meeting.
  • Newcomers are encouraged to listen closely to identify experienced members they can relate to who might make good sponsors or friends, or offer other guidance and support.

Cultivating an atmosphere of recovery in our meetings

Groups may vary on how they choose to address some meeting-related matters. We encourage you to check each meeting out for yourself to get a better idea of what is expected at that meeting. The following basics are common in many meetings.

  • Some meetings have a short break for members to talk, get refreshments, use the restroom, or smoke. At meetings with no break, we usually wait until after the meeting.
  • We don’t allow drugs or drug paraphernalia in any NA meetings.
  • We strongly discourage any harassment, threats, or disturbing behavior before, during, and after our meetings. This includes unwelcome sexual, romantic, financial, and religious solicitation. Our meetings are for sharing NA recovery. If you feel harassed or threatened, share your concerns with the meeting leader or a trusted servant.
  • We ask latecomers to find a seat quietly and avoid distracting people.
  • We discourage side conversations. Even at a very low whisper, they distract others.
  • Phone calls and text messages also distract others. We ask members to turn off or silence their cell phones and other electronic devices during meetings.
  • In many places, hugs are a common NA greeting. If you’re not comfortable hugging, don’t hesitate to say so. Most members will be understanding about this.

Our meetings vary widely in size and style. Some are small and intimate; others are large and loud. The practices and terms used in our meetings also vary widely from one place to another. Most importantly, our meetings are where we share our experience, strength, and hope. If you’re an addict, keep coming back and share recovery with us!

Some helpful NA terms

Addict—the term we use to refer to ourselves because we see addiction itself as the problem, rather than the use of a specific drug
Basic Text—the book that contains our core ideas, entitled Narcotics Anonymous
Closed Meeting—meeting only for addicts or those who think they might have a drug problem
Group—members who hold one or more regularly scheduled NA meetings (see IP #2, The Group)
Higher Power—any loving force that helps a member stay clean and seek recovery
IPs—information pamphlets about NA
Newcomers—new NA members
Open Meeting—meeting that welcomes anyone to attend, including interested non-addicts
Relapse—a brief or extended return to drug use
Sharing—offering personal experience with addiction and recovery
Sponsor—experienced member who offers guidance and support through the Twelve Steps (see IP #11, Sponsorship)
Trusted Servants—members who have service positions in NA

Copyright © 2014 by
Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc. All rights reserved.
World Service Office
PO Box 9999
Van Nuys, CA 91409 USA
TEL (818) 773-9999 FAX (818) 700-0700 WEB