Recovering drug addicts in Santa Barbara are getting some added support this year during Old Spanish Days Fiesta, the city’s annual celebration of its Spanish Heritage. For the first time in Fiesta history, Santa Barbara’s fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous will sponsor nonstop, or “marathon,” 12-step meetings from 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2 to 7 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 4.

Based on the successful program created by Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous was founded in 1953 as a 12-step program to battle addiction to any drug — including alcohol and prescription medications.

The group meeting is central to the 12-step program of recovery. According to the website for Narcotics Anonymous World Services, “[t]he group atmosphere provides help from peers and offers an ongoing support network for addicts who wish to pursue and maintain a drug-free lifestyle.”

Recovering drug addicts sponsor 27 weekly Narcotics Anonymous meetings in the Santa Barbara area.

Santa Barbara’s beloved Fiesta draws thousands of tourists and families each year to its parades, music, dancing and ethnic food booths, but the ubiquitous partying can prove a challenge to those with substance abuse issues.

“Fiesta is often a trigger for alcoholics and other drug addicts to relapse,” said Ed Stonefelt, president and CEO of the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse in Santa Barbara. “Marathon meetings provide support for an addict who may feel the urge to use drugs at two in the morning.”

The marathon meetings will be held at the Alano Club at 235 E. Cota St. in Santa Barbara. After the 5:30 p.m. kickoff meeting Friday night, all meetings will start at the top of each hour and will last 50 minutes each. The meetings are “open,” which means non-addicts are welcome to attend.

— Lee M. represents Santa Barbara Area Narcotics Anonymous.