Based on the 12-step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous offers face-to-face meetings when possible, as well as phone meetings, Internet meetings, and publications to those who wish to break their addiction to nicotine. Members also communicate via e-mail and regular mail. Nicotine Anonymous operates worldwide, including in countries such as Russia, India, the United States, and Egypt. Meetings are organized and governed on a local basis with guidance from the parent group. Like Alcoholics Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous does not keep statistics regarding its membership, nor does it endorse any products offered by other organizations or companies.
The alkaloid nicotine is an addictive substance in tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco. Although it is the nicotine in tobacco that is addictive, other substances in tobacco products can cause cardiovascular diseases or cancers. Addiction to nicotine can be difficult to kick because of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that can last for months, such as insomnia, depression, and weight gain. Many smokers try to quit several times before succeeding. In fact, nicotine may be as addictive as heroin.
Nicotine Anonymous was founded in Southern California in 1982 by members of Alcoholics Anonymous who realized that nicotine addiction was a problem in their lives. Unable to address nicotine addiction under the Alcoholics Anonymous umbrella, these early members, with the permission of Alcoholics Anonymous, adapted the 12-step program to fit the needs of nicotine addicts. Like Alcoholics Anonymous, members of this nicotine withdrawal support group believe in a higher power. In addition, this stop-smoking support group protects the identities of its members. The organization exists to help members live a nicotine-free life.
This support group has four organizational levels. The groups that hold meetings for local members are the basis for this organization. This level is followed by intergroups, which are organized to help provide support, such as retreats, to local groups collectively. Yearly conferences, the third level, are sponsored by an intergroup in the United States and are designed to address issues such as structural changes as well as offer the opportunity for members to meet other members from around the world. The final level is the Nicotine Anonymous World Service Center, which is located in the United States in Huntington Beach, California.
Nicotine Anonymous is a non-profit organization that does not require dues from its membership. All funds needed to support Nicotine Anonymous are contributed voluntarily. Nicotine Anonymous may charge a small fee for its publications.