What Is An NA Meeting
Narcotics Anonymous, also known as NA, is a group therapy methodology used to help individuals suffering from narcotics addiction. The “Anonymous” brand is well-known as its sister program, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which has seen a lot of success in recent years.
NA is a similar system to AA but focuses on the issue of narcotics as opposed to alcohol. NA delivers their help via a series of meetings where attendees are asked to have responsibility and accountability for their addiction.
There is a long list of individuals that NA has helped overcome their dependence on narcotics, and they are always open to new members.
The organization seeks to offer a way for a person to remain off a drug while not in a rehab program. The methodology they offer is relatively simple, but it works.
As a result, it fills a need for many individuals who have finished their periods of rehab and therapy yet still need that push to stay off a substance. NA seeks to empower individuals by helping them take their lives back into their own hands.
But what really is the NA, where do they come from, and what help could they offer to someone suffering from narcotics addiction?
What is the NA Program?
Narcotics Anonymous is a nonprofit organization made up of men and women who have realized the danger their addiction poses to their lives. As a peer-support group, each individual helps to keep others away from the substance they’re addicted to through support and encouragement.
The NA doesn’t have initiation fees or membership payments and is an entirely free organization to become a part of. As an organization, they make inclusivity a significant element in their methodology. The focus of the organization is helping others come to terms with their addiction and overcoming it.
Unlike therapy sessions, NA focuses more on peer support. As a result, there aren’t any trained therapists available, but the attendees have mentors that help them along the road to recovery.
For many individuals involved in the program, it’s the only thing that actually worked. For someone dependent on a drug, it can seem hopeless at times, but the group’s support is priceless.
Having someone to depend on in moments of weakness can be the sole difference between relapse and recovery. NA’s roots reach back pretty far, and their methodology is based on a system that works for many people.
A Brief History of NA
In 1953, Jimmy Patrick Kinnon, also known as Jimmy K, started the first-ever Narcotics Anonymous chapter. He looked at the success of Alcoholics Anonymous, which was in existence for about twenty years at that point.
He realized that many of the struggles that individuals addicted to narcotics would go through were similar to the struggles of alcoholics. Kinnon realized that there needed to be a program that was focused on drug use – something similar to AA, but different.
He did notice how vital the 12-step method was for overcoming alcoholism and figured that a similar approach would be precisely what narcotics users might need to recover.
NA had a relatively low membership turnout until the NA’s Basic Text was published in 1983. While word did spread by word-of-mouth, adoption in many circles was slow.
However, more people saw it as an organization that wouldn’t collapse overnight, and attendance started to rise after the publication. Before long, the organization was getting international recognition for its efforts.
Before long, several countries had established chapters and spread the word of 12-step-help to deal with narcotics addiction.
The 12 Steps and NA
In NA, there are twelve tenets that attendees use to help them recover. They are:
- We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- 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.
- Having had a spiritual awakening due to these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts and practice these principles in all our affairs.
The twelve steps are a crucial part of the program, but many new attendees see it as a tough ask. People who have been a part of the NA community for a while advise newcomers to take it easy and not try to do everything at once. It’s a stepwise program, and each step has its place.
The system is designed to be both practical and realistic. Those who understand the rigors of addiction help others to find their way out of it. At the heart of the NA programs are the meetings that allow experienced attendees to meet with those who need the help.
Types of NA Meetings and the Usual Routines
NA meetings come in many different varieties, but the most important thing to remember is open and available to all. The format of sessions will vary from group to group since there’s no fundamental concrete structure for the itinerary.
The idea is to create a sense of calm and acceptance in the gathering to feel at ease and welcome. Most importantly, the sessions would cater to the individuals within the group. In a vast majority of cases, NA meetings don’t require individuals to register in advance. The informal nature helps anyone who needs help to come to the organization.
NA meetings typically last between sixty and ninety minutes. Since meetings usually occur on a schedule, an individual that finds a comfortable group can check the dates and times when the group meets.
The program is typically available at the spot where the meeting takes place. Meetings come in several varieties, depending on the needs of the participants, as mentioned before. They can be broken down into several subtypes:
Open NA Meetings
Open NA meetings are one of the most approachable meeting formats for those who want to learn what it’s all about. They are designed for families to witness how an NA meeting goes and provide a space for someone unsure about the program to observe before jumping in.
Since many individuals who come to NA are not open about their problems just yet, only the regular meeting attendees are expected to share. This approach removes the pressure from newcomers so they can sit back and observe the proceedings, then possibly start sharing at a later session.
Closed NA Meetings
Closed NA meetings have a more controlled and secure environment. Individuals who have already accepted that they have a problem overcoming their addiction might find this to be a better option. These meetings are streamlined around getting attendees to share and socialize among the individuals within the group.
The camaraderie of members is usually a lot higher than in open groups. Persons who don’t like an open meeting for fear of being recognized might benefit from this sort of gathering.
Closed meetings usually have a group that faces their challenges together and usually form friendships that persist outside of the NA meeting.
Specific Group Meetings
Sometimes, certain groups prefer to meet on their own, as it offers them a feeling of security. Vulnerable groups may include members of the LGBTQ community, or abused women, for example.
These specialized groups usually require attendees to be part of the vulnerable group they represent. The meeting structure in these particular groups is similar to a closed meeting, and in many cases, they can be considered the same.
The only difference is the qualifier that enables a person to join the group and benefit from peer support.
Speaker meetings usually have a guest speaker and may happen at either open or closed sessions. The guest speaker is a recovered individual who speaks about their experience inside NA and the other factors that affected their recovery.
In many cases, many new people decide to commit to NA after speaker meetings, making them one of the most effective conversion tools NA has at their disposal.
Zoom NA Meetings
With many people concerned about exposure to Coronavirus, Zoom meetings have become more common. The meeting format is similar to open discussions, except attendees use a computer or smartphone to join.
Virtual meetings are not new, but they have exploded in popularity because of the lockdowns instituted across the globe to control the spread of COVID-19. Zoom NA meetings may become the norm, although some people still prefer an in-person meeting.
What You Should Bring to an NA Meeting
It might seem obvious, but the first and only thing you need to bring to an NA meeting is yourself. NA asks that attendees have an open mind when it comes to discussing their problems. Open meetings encourage people who don’t feel comfortable sharing just yet to witness the proceedings and understand what’s going on.
Newcomers might be asked to introduce themselves, but that might be the extent of their contribution, at least until they feel confident enough to speak. The addition of “…and I’m an addict,” isn’t necessary either, even if movies and TV make it a part of the meeting.
The only other rule that everyone must respect is that no drugs or drug paraphernalia should be present at the meeting. This rule helps to ensure that the temptation in the meeting space is kept to a minimum. Anyone disobeying this rule may be ejected from the meeting.
NA Meeting Topics
Meeting topics may vary by step. Typically, if you come into a meeting at one of the later steps, you will find someone who will guide you through the earlier stages to make it easier to come to terms with what’s going on. Within each of the steps, the meeting topics may include:
- Step 1: Surrender, honesty, and acceptance. This stage deals with accepting that one needs help to deal with the situation.
- Step 2: Faith, hope, and a higher power. While NA does speak about religion and accepting a higher power, it doesn’t require attendees to believe in a deity.
- Step 3: Willingness, action, and choosing to make different decisions. This stage is about the empowerment of the individual.
- Step 4: Courage, bravery, and facing fear. This stage looks at a person’s past and helps them cope with it, facing their decisions head-on.
- Step 5: Honesty, integrity, and trust. This stage helps a person open themselves up to someone else by sharing their past and decisions.
- Step 6: Fortitude, perseverance, and character defects. Identifying issues in the previous steps allows a person to go beyond that point.
- Step 7: Humility, moral character, and exploring shortcomings. This stage looks at a higher power and asks them to help the person overcome their weaknesses.
- Step 8: Forgiveness, self-compassion, and willingness to change. This step looks at all the people you may have harmed during your addiction phase and seeks reconciliation.
- Step 9: Responsibility and making amends. Finding each person mentioned in the previous step and making amends is the core of this stage.
- Step 10: Commitment. At this stage, attendees discuss a daily inventory to structure their lives and reinforce their commitment to recovery.
- Step 11: Prayer, medication, and self-awareness. This stage also looks at a higher power and their intervention, as well as self-discovery.
- Step 12: Service, sponsorship, and giving back. At step 12, a person has gotten over the climb to recovery but should give back to the community through support and service.
Getting Help from NA Meetings Near Me
NA meetings happen in several areas and finding the right group that you click with is crucial to your success in the program. The Discovery House offers support systems for narcotics recovery alongside NA meetings.
Our professional staff can help you and guide you along the road to recovery. Give us a call today and let us help you overcome this problem of addiction once and for all.