Narcotics Anonymous in Southern Florida and how it relates to the rest of the World

1 out of every 20 people in the state of Florida has a problem with drugs. In the past month, 3,361,700 Floridians aged 12 and higher have used illicit drugs. Out of those 3.4 million, 816,000 have had an ongoing drug dependency in the past year. This is a disease that affects adults, children, senior citizens, lawyers, police officers, grocery store clerks, pizza delivery drivers and almost any other profession out there. As one local addict stated “From jail to Yale, from the park bench to Park Avenue, we all have this one thing in common.” This is a disease that does not discriminate. This is the disease of drug addiction. Narcotics Anonymous is a program designed to help those with their drug problems. NA states in their literature that they are a nonprofit fellowship of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem, and the only requirement for membership is the desire to stop using drugs. “It is through this unity, that we stay clean. Just going to meetings doesn’t help you stay off drugs. You have to be involved, you have to relate to other addicts, you have to share and you have to listen, it is just like going to the shrink, only it’s free and every addict helps each other. Knowing that somebody else is going through the same stuff as me makes it just seem easier, like I’m not doing this alone.” said one addict from Bradenton, FL.

NA defines an addict as “Very simply, an addict is a man or woman whose life is controlled by drugs.” This is mentioned in NA’s basic text, a complete guide to their program. In the basic text, it goes on to mention that addiction is a disease that involves more than the use of drugs, many addicts becoming hostile, resentful, self-centered and self-seeking over time. Addicts justify and rationalize their usage of drugs, giving themselves permission. NA states that it isn’t interested in how one became addicted, they are only interested in what the person wants to do about it and how they can recover.

One of NA’s mottos is “Just for today” which translates into many different meanings. It is most often referenced regarding the abstinence from drugs, “Just for today, you never have to use again.”  Anonymity is the foundation for NA. This anonymity provides comfort for many addicts seeking shelter and refuge within a program that will accept them no matter what. Placing “principles before personalities” simply means that everyone is equal. Their eleventh tradition also states that they must maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.

 Catherine L. said “I don’t want a lot of people knowing about my problems. I like being comfortable expressing myself knowing that my anonymity is sacred. I can give a quote for an article without being mentioned by my full name. It feels good to be protected.”

NA was founded by Jimmy Kinnon in California in 1952. Alcoholics Anonymous was the inspiration, when at the time Kinnon and other drug addicts felt that they required their own special group. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when the whole idea of NA caught on and there were actually more than 20 meetings across the United States. Slowly over time, more and more literature became available to addicts to learn about their disease and how to recover. NA is a twelve-step program, each step focusing on one aspect of your life and how you can make it better. The most important step is the first step which says “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.” A local Sarasota resident who wished to remain nameless said. “The first step is admitting that you have a problem and coming to terms with it. Nobody else can tell you that you’re an addict, you have to get it yourself. We are powerless over our addiction, the obsession of addiction, but we are definitely not powerless over our recovery. The first step was the hardest for me, it took me a very long time to admit to myself what I was doing.”

            NA will always have its doors open for the drug addicts in the world who want to get clean. Everybody is accepted regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion or lack of religion, and race, as precisely stated in their literature. If you or somebody you care about has an addiction, NA wants to help. 

If you or someone you love has a problem with addiction please check out the following resources:

Narcotics Anonymous

National Institute of Drug Abuse