Narcotics Anonymous: Support for College Students in Recovery from Substance Abuse

Article Contributed by Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope

NarcoticsAnonymousThe college years are ripe with opportunity and potential, offering a myriad of experiences that will shape the future for any student.

Students in addiction recovery will face the college years with unique challenges and obstacles as they navigate their college journey. While many resources are available for addiction recovery support, not all resources will be conducive to the lifestyle of a college student.

The Importance of Support Groups for Students in Recovery

Support groups are an invaluable part of the recovery addiction process, as they offer the needed accountability to maintain sobriety and a safe place for processing the trials encountered in recovery. The good news is that there are a plethora of support groups offered for addiction support recovery.

Whether a student gains access to an addiction support group through their college campus or off-campus, plugging into a place that positively supports recovery is a tangible opportunity.

Initially, finding an appropriate support group for addiction may feel overwhelming. A fantastic place to begin this search is with the Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Program. As a college student seeking resources to uphold and fortify your eating disorder recovery, you may wonder what exactly this organization is and what services NA may offer.

What is Narcotics Anonymous (NA)?

Narcotics Anonymous is a “nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women from who drugs have become a major problem” [1]. As one of the largest 12-step organizations, Narcotics Anonymous uses the traditional 12-step model that has been established for individuals with substance abuse issues [2].

Founded in 1953 in California by Jimmy Kinnon, Narcotics Anonymous has more than 60,000 group meetings in over 130 countries [3]. These regular meetings are the core foundation on which the NA organization is based, with meetings held in a widespread number of places, such as parks, church facilities, community centers, libraries, and any other place that can reasonably accommodate a group meeting.

Participants have the option of attending an “open” or “closed” NA meeting. Open meetings allow any participants to attend, in contrast to closed meetings, which limit their meetings to members with more severe addictions and drug problems.

The Basic Premise of Narcotics Anonymous

While the format of the group may vary among meetings, the basic premise of the groups comes from the Narcotics Anonymous’ Fifth Tradition, which is “to carry the message to the addict who still suffers”.

In addition, Narcotics Anonymous operates through the belief that “any addict, can stop using drugs, lose the desire to use, and learn a new way of life”. [3] These beliefs give a hopeful foundation to the message that is carried and promoted by this organization.

Benefits of Attending NA as a College Student in Recovery

Attending a Narcotics Anonymous group while attending college would be beneficial to a recovery from addiction for the following reasons:

  • Students have an opportunity to stay connected to support during their addiction recovery at no cost, as fees are never demanded in NA groups.
  • Students in recovery would have a safe haven for which to disclose any struggles or obstacles they are facing.
  • Students can connect to other individuals in their local community who have had similar experiences with addiction recovery. Opportunities for mentorship may develop.
  • Ongoing efforts in recovery can be maintained through the principles and traditions promoted by NA groups.

College Years Can Be Difficult for a Student’s Recovery

The college years, while full of opportunity and promise, can also be a time that tests the recovery and sobriety of a student in recovery. Addiction recovery can be sustained through an ongoing support system, such as a Narcotics Anonymous group. If you or a loved one is a college student and looking to establish a support network during your time at school, be sure to consider Narcotics Anonymous as an option.

To find a meeting that meets near your university or in your community, visit the Narcotics Anonymous website at Most importantly, know that you are not alone in your recovery journey. There is a community of individuals ready to stand behind you as you fight for your hope and freedom. Be sure to get connected and find a support group today!

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope

[1]: Narcotics Anonymous. “What is the Narcotics Anonymous Program?”. Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
[2]: “NA History Workshop”. June 5, 1999. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
[3]: “Information about NA”. Narcotics Anonymous World Services. September 4, 2014.

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.