What Is Nar-Anon & How Can It Help Families of Recovering Addicts?

Last Updated: Oct 2nd 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

What Is Nar-Anon & How Can It Help Families of Recovering Addicts?

If you’ve been reading about substance abuse and how it affects families, you’ve likely run across information about various support groups and organizations, including many 12-Step groups. You may be wondering, exactly what is Nar-Anon? How can it help?  

What is Nar-Anon?

Nar-Anon is a 12-Step fellowship established to provide support for people with an addicted family member or friend.  Nar-Anon is separate from Narcotics Anonymous, which offers support for people who are battling a drug addiction.   

It can be confusing, but it may help to look at it this way: Alcoholics Anonymous, which was created to help alcoholics get clean and sober, is the original 12-Step group. Al-Anon is a program for friends and family members of alcoholics. Narcotics Anonymous and Nar-Anon are built on the same principles and operate much the same way; however, the focus of Nar-Anon isn’t alcohol, but drugs.

Nar-Anon Family Support Groups

Addiction is a chronic disorder that changes the chemical and physical makeup of the brain. It isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw, and it can happen to anybody without regard for wealth, education, upbringing, or social standing. Addiction is a family problem. Although the struggle is devastating for the addict, it can be just as difficult for the people who care about that person, including parents, children, spouses, partners, and close friends. 

Nar-Anon is an international fellowship created to support people with an addicted loved one and to help them understand the disease of addiction. Twelve-Step groups have a strong spiritual component, and members recite the Serenity Prayer at all meetings. However, beliefs are personal and are never discussed. Although you may hear members talking about a “higher power,” or “God as we understand him,” you will never be asked about your faith. 

Nar-Anon meetings are safe and welcoming, and anonymity is an essential component. Chairs are generally arranged in a circle to encourage open communication, and you will be encouraged to share your story with other members when you feel comfortable. Membership is free and open to everyone, and donations fund expenses such as supplies, refreshments, or rent for the meeting space. Meetings are usually weekly, although individual groups may have different schedules. 

The Nar-Anon fellowship also includes Narateen groups for young people whose lives have been affected by a friend or relative’s drug addiction. Narateen meetings are facilitated by two Nar-Anon members — one male and one female.  There’s no doubt that all family members play an essential role in recovery

What Are the 12 Steps of Nar-Anon?

The 12 Steps of Nar-Anon, based on the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, are devised to help people who are coping with the addiction of a loved one. Members focus on tenets such as looking inward, willingness to change, surrender, self-disclosure, humility, hope, acceptance, making amends, continued spiritual growth, and service to others.

1. We admitted we were powerless over the addict — that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.  

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.  

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 

5. Admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.  

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.  

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.  

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

How to Start a Nar-Anon Group

If you don’t have Nar-Anon family support groups in your area, it isn’t difficult to form a new group with at least three members. Begin by finding a meeting place, which may be a room in a church, community center, hospital, office building, or meeting hall. 

Once you’ve established a core group and a meeting place, you’re ready to register the new group on the Nar Anon website or by snail mail. You can also purchase a new group packet that includes sample meeting guidelines and formats, information for families and newcomers, and other literature to get you started. Outreach packets and posters can help you spread the word about the new family support group. 

Nar-Anon Online Meetings

Many Nar-Anon groups offer virtual meetings as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some have returned to in-person meetings, while others continue to meet online. Contact individual groups in your area for specific information. 

Nar-Anon in South Florida

If you’re looking for a Nar-Anon meeting in Florida, there’s a good chance you can find one in your area. At least 70 fellowships, including in-person and virtual groups, are listed on the Florida Region Nar-Anon Family Groups website.  You can also call the Florida Region Helpline at 1-888-947-8885.

Take the First Step: Find Support Today

If somebody you love is battling drug addiction, you may be overwhelmed with feelings of anger, frustration, confusion, anxiety, guilt, or shame. You may feel afraid, isolated, and alone. Relationships may be hanging on the precipice or damaged almost beyond repair.

If your life has been affected by the addiction of a loved one, the team at 1st Step Behavioral Health can help with resources and information on available programs, including Nar-Anon and other 12-Step support groups. If you think your loved one may benefit from professional treatment, we can discuss that, too. Contact us online or give us a call at 855-425-4846. 

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.