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What Is the Nar-Anon 12-Step Recovery Program?

* is not affiliated with Narcotics Anonymous, NA World Services, Inc., or any of its subsidiaries. This information is provided as a resource for those seeking third-party information.*

“Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship of people for whom drug abuse has become problematic.”Nar-Anon is the branch of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) that helps family members and friends of drug addicts. While it is a sister organization of NA, it is its own separate entity. Since loved ones of addicts often have to deal with a lot of hardship due to their loved one’s addiction, Nar-Anon is a place where they can gain support.

Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship of people for whom drug abuse has become problematic. Its 12-step program is a guide for recovery from drug addiction, and its support groups allow recovering addicts to help one another in their recoveries. Meetings form the backbone of the program; the first NA meetings took place in the Los Angeles area in the early 1950s. NA began growing quickly in the early 1980s, and today, it is an international organization with participants in about 130 countries attending more than 60,000 weekly NA meetings.

What Is a 12-Step Recovery Support Group?

The 12-step program provides a clear, progressive path to recovery. Moving from one step to the next signifies that someone in recovery is becoming more comfortable living a sober lifestyle. We won’t list all 12 steps here, in sequence, but some major tenets are:

  • Admitting that you are powerless over your addiction and that it has made your life unmanageable.
  • Belief in a higher power.
  • Admitting to your higher power, to yourself, and to others that you’ve made mistakes.
  • Making amends with the people whom your addiction has affected.
  • Bringing the message of recovery’s spiritual awakening to other addicts.

Moving through the 12 steps does not happen overnight. Progress takes time and requires dedication. The key is to keep coming to NA meetings. Programs like Narcotics Anonymous also offer support groups for family and friends like Nar-Anon.

What Exactly Is Nar-Anon? Is It Right for Me?

support groupOne of the strengths of the NA organization is that it’s open to people of all walks of life. The Nar-Anon support group program is right for you no matter what your background is. You only need to be dealing with a friend or family member who is suffering from drug addiction.

Although the 12-step recovery program is spiritual, both NA and Nar-Anon are non-religious organizations. The program has no membership fees or dues, so you can join it regardless of your financial situation. Nar-Anon also has no restrictions based on race, nationality, ethnicity, or class. It is also not affiliated with other recovery programs, and it does not employ addiction recovery professionals.

Find out more about Nar-Anon and whether its right for you at

What Happens at Meetings?

Nar-Anon support groups run their own meetings. They reserve spaces for the meetings, usually in the buildings of religious, public, and civic organizations, and individual members lead these meetings. Much of the meeting time is dedicated to members sharing their experiences about dealing with an addicted loved one. Speaking at an Nar-Anon meeting is entirely voluntary. You are not expected to speak if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. The most important aspect of a Nar-Anon meeting is your attendance. Listening to other members has a therapeutic effect that can help your own experience in dealing with your drug-addicted loved one.
“The most important aspect of a Nar-Anon meeting is your attendance.”
Visit Nar-Anon’s Find A Group page to find a Nar-Anon support group meeting to attend so you can see firsthand how it works.

Effectiveness of Support Groups for Family Members

According to surveys done, the NA support group 12-step recovery program works. A 2011 NA study indicated that 95% of NA members felt that their family relationships had improved and 89% had better social connections as a result of the program. NA’s 12-step program is effective because it is based on recovering addicts working with one another. It helps members to hear about other members’ successes and challenges in recovery, and support groups provide sober social networks for those who might otherwise be without one. The same applies to Nar-Anon meetings; member find support and encouragement from others who are also dealing with drug-addicted loved ones.

Receive 24/7 text support at your convenience with American Addiction Centers. Our team is well prepared to advise on all things treatment and help you find the care you need. We’ve helped thousands recover from addiction and we can help you too.

How to Join a Nar-Anon Support Group

Nar-Anon’s broad international presence means you will likely be able to find support group meetings taking place near you. The recommended way to get the most current information on meetings in your area is to visit, and use their site to find a group. Meetings and support groups may have different dynamics, so keep trying different meetings to find the group in which you feel most comfortable.