Being informed about NA meetings (narcotics anonymous) before going will help ease the jitters of attending for the first time. Remember everyone in the room has had to walk through the door a first time. While each meeting leader may change up the format and order of the components, this is a general idea of what to expect.
1. Opening. Before the meeting begins most people are socializing with each other. The chairperson will hit the table to announce the meeting is starting and to take a seat. Chairs can be arranged in a circle, classroom style or around a table.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
2. Reciting the Serenity Prayer. Everyone participates in reciting the first four lines of the prayer. Don’t worry about memorizing it before attending, you will hear it often enough to become a part of your daily routine.
3. Readings. The 12-steps and 12 Traditions are read from booklets at the meeting. It is up to the chairperson to delegate readers before the meeting begins, or ask for readers during this time. Do not feel obligated to read; it is acceptable to decline. Readers either read from their seats or from a podium. They begin by stating their name and that they are an addict.
4. Announcements. Special celebrations are announced such as new NA meeting attendees, anniversaries and other group NA business.
5. Introductions. New attendees are asked to stand and state their name. This is simply a welcome and acknowledgement.
6. Talking about cravings. The chairperson will ask if anyone is having drug cravings. Those that feel comfortable will stand, announce themselves, and share their cravings. It is called “telling on yourself.” Admitting a craving for drugs will often help diminish the craving and garner support from the group. Soliciting help and support on a one-on-one basis after the meeting is also appropriate.
7. Clean time. Length of clean time is celebrated at each NA meeting. Colored coins (or key chains) are distributed to those staying clean for specified lengths of time. The first coin is given after only 24 hours of being clean. Expect applause, hand shaking and even hugs of congratulations. Clean time fosters camaraderie and encouragement.
8. The middle. This component will change depending on which type of meeting being attended; discussion, book or speaker. During discussion meetings, everyone will have a chance to speak or pass. Passing is acceptable. Everyone is expected to be quiet while someone is speaking. Speakers begin with an introduction (name, “I am an addict”), and ends with “with that I pass.” Everyone thanks them in unison. Book meetings are a reading from the 12-steps or 12 Traditions with discussion after the reading. Speaker meetings will have a guest speaker sharing their testimony.
9. The ending. At the end of the NA meeting, attendees form a circle, with arms around each other and recite the Serenity Prayer or the Lord’s Prayer.