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Spirituality-Based Recovery From Drug Addiction in the Twelve-Step Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous

Galanter, Marc MD; Dermatis, Helen PhD; Post, Stephen PhD; Sampson, Cristal BA

doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e31828a0265
Original Research

Background: Narcotics Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship that employs the Twelve-Step model for members dependent on drugs of abuse. The spiritual orientation of its program of abstinence has not been subjected to empirical study.

Methods: Responses of 527 American Narcotics Anonymous meeting attendees to a structured questionnaire were evaluated for the roles of cognitive and psychosocial aspects of spirituality in their recovery.

Results: Respondents had last used drugs or alcohol on average 6.1 years previously. They were found to be more oriented toward a spiritual than a formally religious orientation than probability samples of the general population. Aspects of membership such as affiliation toward other members and the experience of spiritual awakening were associated with lower rates of drug or alcohol craving, whereas scores on depression were associated with higher craving scores.

Conclusions: Spiritual renewal combined with an abstinence-oriented regimen in Narcotics Anonymous social context can play a role in long-term recovery from drug addiction.

From the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (MG, HD, CS), Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York; and Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics (SP), Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY.

Send correspondence and reprint requests to Marc Galanter, MD, Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, 550 First Ave, New York, NY 10016. E-mail:

Supported by the John Templeton Foundation.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Received December 10, 2012

Accepted January 26, 2013

© 2013 American Society of Addiction Medicine