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Getting Support from Heroin Anonymous

The 12-step group has been an important part of the addiction recovery landscape since Bill W. and Dr. Bob formed Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935.1 Since that time, a number of different organizations, inspired by the work of AA, have been created to help individuals with everything from gambling problems to sex addiction.

In 2004, one of these offshoot programs was created to help individuals who were in recovery from heroin dependence. Heroin Anonymous is a group of men and women dedicated to helping any heroin addict through regular meetings, sponsorship, and on-going support.

What Is Heroin Anonymous?

Heroin Anonymous is a nonprofit organization of men and women who meet regularly to support each other in their sobriety. They practice complete abstinence from all drugs and alcohol. The only requirement for membership is a person’s desire to stop using heroin.2

The group does not provide counseling, psychological treatment, or medical care, and it is not affiliated with any political or religious groups. It is fully self-supporting and does not accept outside contributions. Members come from all walks of life.2


Heroin Anonymous (HA) was founded after Paul F., a recovering heroin addict in Alcoholics Anonymous, received a call in 2004 from Mike S., another heroin addict. Mike asked Paul why there wasn’t a 12-step program for heroin addicts. They decided to start HA so that heroin addicts would have their own place to gather with people who understood their experience.2

They held the first meeting on August 12, 2004 at a halfway house in Phoenix, Arizona. Since then, the organization has grown, and meetings are now held in multiple countries.2

How Do Meetings Help Recovering Addicts?

Whether an individual is currently in heroin addiction treatment or completed a rehab program years ago, Heroin Anonymous helps people maintain recovery focus and provides the chance to get support from other recovering addicts. At regular meetings (held at different locations throughout the country) recovering heroin addicts come together and share stories about their addiction, how far they have come, and the challenges they still face every day.Sponsorship plays a key role in HA meetings. All members are encouraged to reach out to another HA member and ask them to be their sponsor. A sponsor is a fellow recovering addict—someone who is living a sober life and worked the 12 steps. The sponsor supports the person anytime they need it—including moments when relapse seems inevitable. During these stressful times, the sponsor is only a phone call away—and ready to help the person stay the course of recovery. Sponsors also help newcomers work toward completing their own 12 steps. They do not, however, give someone a job, money, or a place to live.

The 12 Steps of Heroin Anonymous

Heroin Anonymous uses a similar set of 12 recovery steps to that of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step fellowships. Members complete each step one at a time, with help from their sponsor, and often provide help to others who are also working the steps.

The steps reference God and a higher power. But the person can use any higher power they’re comfortable with, such as nature or the group itself.

People at group therapy session

The 12 steps are:3

  1. We admitted we were powerless over heroin—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. We 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 the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to heroin addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

More Facts About HA Programs

If you or someone you love is interested in taking part in a Heroin Anonymous meeting, here are some additional things you should know:

  • There is no official membership fee for Heroin Anonymous. Instead, individuals are asked to make small donations at each meeting for expenses.2
  • Anonymity is important. It is one of the group’s 12 traditions.5
  • It’s not hard to find a meeting.There are HA meetings taking place in almost every major or mid-size city in the United States. Finding one is as easy as consulting the Internet or a local heroin drug rehab facility.
  • HA focuses on heroin addiction. The organization maintains a “singleness of purpose,” which means that while they do not exclude other addicts, they recognize that they are limited in who they can help and are best prepared to help other heroin addicts.4
  • Meetings can vary. The main types of meetings found at HA are Big Book study meetings, speaker meetings, participation meetings, and step discussions. Most meetings contain similar elements, however, including welcoming new guests, reaching out to people who have a desire to use, helping people find sponsors, handing out keychains or other tokens to recognize people who have achieved stretches of sobriety, and opening and closing with a prayer.6

Heroin Anonymous, and its philosophy of giving one’s self up to a “higher power,” is not for everyone. Some people may be uncomfortable with the more spiritual elements of the group. However, HA meetings can be helpful to anyone as a form of peer support. Those who are in need of support during or after completion of a heroin rehab program may want to consider attending a group meeting or two to see if it helps them achieve their goals.

If you need help finding a treatment facility near you, contact our helpline. One of our support specialists will be happy to assist you.


[1]. Alcoholics Anonymous. Over 80 Years of Growth: Men on a mission.

[2]. Heroin Anonymous. What Is Heroin Anonymous?

[3]. Heroin Anonymous. Twelve Steps of Heroin Anonymous.

[4]. Heroin Anonymous. Literature.

[5]. Heroin Anonymous. Twelve Traditions of Heroin Anonymous.

[6]. Heroin Anonymous. Resources.

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