Narcotics Anonymous, regularly referred to as NA, is an organization that caters to men and women that are struggling with addiction to drugs other than alcohol. It is rather similar to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but it welcomes all those struggling with any type of substance addiction, including alcohol. NA meetings
For anyone preparing themselves to attend an NA meeting, it is important to familiarize yourself with what NA is and how it works.
It’s crucial to understand how NA can be of assistance to you, so you can get the best help available. The program works only if you understand that you have to work it as well.
So, What is Narcotics Anonymous?
Narcotics Anonymous is a 12-Step program that is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. It offers a safe haven for people recovering from addicting to any drug or substance. It provides meetings, a tried and true 12-Step program to follow, and literature to help guide people through recovery.
NA meetings are the main component of the recovery program offering by NA. Meetings allow addicts to gather together and discuss problems that they are facing. It allows them to share their own stories and clear their consciences. In NA meetings, addicts can share success stories and celebrate milestones.
NA’s 12-Step Program
While the 12-Step Program featured in AA is based in Christianity, the NA 12-Step program is more focused on using spirituality to guide people to recovery.
- We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a power great then ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision 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, to ourselves, and to 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 the 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 as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
While the 12 steps used in NA meetings do reference God, they refer to God as he is understood to each individual person. This allows all religions and spiritualities to openly and fully accept and work the steps as they are laid out.
NA offers literature for educational and recovery purposes. Some literature educates people on the dangers of drugs and addiction while other NA literature promotes the steps and helps to guide recovering addicts through their recovery.
Additionally, NA offers literature for those that are affected by addiction. From brochures to books, NA makes sure that they provide adequate information to fight addiction and its effects.
How to Prepare for Your First NA Meeting
Whether you are planning to attend NA because you are an addict or because you have a loved one that is an addict, you may still experience some anxiety about attending such a meeting. The easiest way to prepare yourself for an NA meeting is to simply research what they entail.
What Happens at NA Meetings?
NA meetings will have people in attendance that are in various states of recovery. Some will share their stories; others will listen and observe, readying themselves to share their own stories.
There are two basic types of NA meetings – discussion meetings and sharing meetings. Discussion meetings allow all in attendance to share as little or as much as they’d like. Sharing meetings normally have one person that shares for the majority of the meeting.
NA meetings are able to offer a caring environment for addicts and nonaddicts alike to share their stories in a nonjudgmental environment. There is a mix of people in attendance – people there for the first time, addicts midway through the steps of recovery, addicts that have been recovered for years.
Terms to Know Before Your First Meeting
When you start to attend NA meetings, you will hear a variety of terms that are used often in situations that involve addicts.
Some terms you should know before attending an NA meeting are:
- Addict – This term refers to the person that is suffering or has suffered from drug addiction.
- Basic text – This refers to the book titled Narcotics Anonymous that states the core beliefs and ideals of NA.
- Group – This term refers to people who host NA meetings.
- Higher power – This term refers to whichever guiding force an addict uses to work through their 12-Steps.
- IPs – This term refers to informational pamphlets that NA provides.
- Newcomers – This term refers to new members in NA meetings.
- Relapse – This term refers to the act of returning to drug use during your recovery.
- Sharing – The term refers to the personal experiences that people discuss in NA meetings.
- Sponsor – This term refers to a veteran member of NA that has worked through the 12 steps and regularly helps others work through theirs.
- Trusted servants – This term refers to people that hold service positions in NA.
Knowing these terms makes it much easier to follow the discussions that happen in NA meetings.
What Should You Bring to an NA Meeting?
The most important thing you should bring to an NA meeting is an open mind. There are over 65,000 NA meetings that are held all around the world, and each meeting will have a different group of people, resulting in a different dynamic at each one.
You must bring an honest desire to recover from addiction. You must possess a determination to overcome your personal obstacles. Your first NA meeting may not go as well as you hoped but having the drive to get better will allow you to persevere and continue to go to meetings until you find your home.
You must bring with you a willingness to try different types of NA meetings and meetings in various places to find the one that works for you.
The Normal NA Meeting Agenda
All NA meetings tend to stick to a certain agenda, although sometimes the order of the events will vary.
The typical NA meeting agenda includes the following events.
The chairperson of the meeting announces that the meeting is beginning. Everyone settles into their chairs and gets quiet. Chairs are typically arranged in a circular or rectangular format to allow more personal sharing, but larger meetings will have seats arranged around the entire room.
The Serenity Prayer
The chairperson asks everyone to join him or her in saying the first four lines of the Serenity Prayer. Those lines are: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The chairperson will ask for readings to be read. Sometimes people are chosen before the meeting to read, and sometimes the readings are read by anyone who volunteers. Readings come from NA literature that is present at the meeting – usually pamphlets and books.
Before reading, the readers introduce themselves by stating their names and that they are an addict. Readings at each meeting vary, but every meeting includes readings of the 12 steps and the 12 traditions.
This is the time in which announcements that deal with NA are made.
During this part of the NA meeting, the chairperson asks if there are any newcomers or people from out of town that would like to introduce themselves.
Talking About Cravings
During this part of the meeting, the chairperson invites anyone struggling with cravings to share their struggle with the group. The group gives their support, helping the sharer realize that cravings are a part of the recovery process and that they do not mean that they are failing at recovery.
Clean time is the part of an NA meeting where sobriety chips, tokens, or keychains are given out. The first sobriety celebration is 24 hours sober, celebration the decision to beat addiction. There are different colors for different months and years of sobriety.
This time is important because it shows newcomers and addicts in early recovery that recovery is possible.
Middle of the Meeting
The middle of NA meetings varies according to the type of meeting that is being held. No matter the kind of meeting, though, this is where the “meat” of the meeting happens.
Those attending the meeting either share their stories, discuss the steps, listen to a designated speaker, etc.
End of the Meeting
At the end of the meeting, those attending usually form a circle, hold hands, and recite the Serenity Prayer together.
Comprehensive List of the Types of NA Meetings
There are various types of NA meetings that can be attending, and this allows for addicts and those needing NA services to find the meeting that works for them.
The different types of NA meetings that are offered are:
- Discussion meetings are normally focused on a single topic. Those in attendance take turns to discuss the chosen topic.
- Speaker meetings feature a designated speaker who is a recovered addict that tells the story of his or her addiction and recovery for the majority of the meeting.
- Beginner meetings are for newcomers who want to know more about the NA program.
- 12 Step and 12 Tradition Study meetings are specifically for discussing and learning about the 12 steps and traditions of NA.
- Basic Text meetings focus on the main book of NA and its teachings and readings.
- Men’s and Women’s meetings are like regular NA meetings, but they are for one specific gender. These meetings are great for finding a sponsor.
- Candlelight meetings take place at night and feature candlelight, which gives a new and exciting change to meetings.
- Open meetings are NA meetings that are open to both addicts and those that are not addicts but may be dealing with a loved one that is an addict. Everyone is welcome in these meetings.
- Closed meetings are only for recovering addicts.
With so many kinds of NA meetings available, there truly is a meeting for everyone.
Narcotics Anonymous is a worldwide organization. Because of this, there are local service committees that serve predetermined areas.
These service committees provide:
- Telephone information services
- Distribution of NA literature and information
- Public presentations for different organizations, ie. Area schools and treatment centers
- Presentations for correctional facilities
- Meeting directories for people who need a meeting to be able to find one.
Area service committees are one helpful resource that spreads the word of NA and helps people find meetings.
There is an app for both iPhone and Android phones called NA Meeting Search that helps keep a directory of NA meetings at your fingertips.
There is an online directory that can be used to find meetings, as well.
NA meetings are available all around the globe. There are over 65,000 opportunities for people to attend an NA meeting worldwide.
Addictions are powerful inhibitors. Deciding to get help and seek out an NA meeting shows strength and desire to change, to conquer your addiction. While you may feel like you are at your weakest point, be assured that the decision to seek help makes you far from weak.
There are many resources available for anyone wanting to get sober.
If you or anyone you know is in immediate danger from addiction, you can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-HELP.