What is a Meeting?
The following is one local addict's impressions of what a Louisville-area meeting is like. This is not NA-approved literature, but a local impression. For a more global, NA-approved newcomer's guide to a meeting, have a look at this brochure.
What is a Meeting?
In its simplest form, a meeting is just two or more addicts getting together to share their recovery. Usually, however, a meeting is more formalized - meeting at a regular place and time, with a standardized set of readings of official NA literature, and usually a set format for the meeting.
Where are meetings held?
Where ever we can get space to hold one! Often, that means a community center or church basement. It is important to realize that there is no affiliation with the building - NA does not endorse our meeting facilities, and our meeting facilities do not endorse us. Each NA group pays a small amount of rent to the facility - we are self-supporting, and do not accept donations of any kind from non-addicts, including meeting space.
Who will be there?
People just like you. Some of us know we are addicts, some aren't sure yet but want to find out more. At closed meetings, you will only find addicts and people who think they might have a problem with drugs. At open meetings, the general public is welcome to attend (but not speak). That usually means the spouses and family members of addicts may be there as well.
Addiction knows no boundaries - at an NA meeting, you'll find rich people, poor people, people of all colors, people with 20 years clean, people who can't stay clean for more than a few hours at a time. But we're all addicts, and we have a lot common.
What if someone I know sees me there?
Well, you saw them at an NA meeting, too. Maybe they know how to stay clean, and can help you. NA members take anonymity very seriously. Who we see, and what we hear, stays at the meeting.
What happens during a meeting?
Typically, an addict will act as a chairperson, guiding the meeting forward. The chair will usually open the meeting with the Serenity Prayer, then there will be some info about the meeting: turn off your cellphone, where is the smoking area, etc. Next usually comes a series of short readings, read by volunteers - these readings usually include our 12 steps, our 12 traditions, our idea of "who is an addict?", and "what is the NA program?".
After the readings, different meetings do different things. Some have one addict talk about their experiences, strength, and hope - that's a speaker meeting. Other meetings may read from our literature, and discuss what's being read - that's a literature study meeting. Some feature open discussion - individual addicts can raise their hand, and share about something that they need help with, or that is going on in their recovery. And some meetings have exotic formats that aren't listed here, like candlelit meditations. Try several meetings until you find a few you like.
At the end of the meeting, we usually pass around a basket to collect a small amount of money, to pay for rent, coffee, and the literature we give away. Most addicts put in a dollar. If you can't contribute, don't worry; as addicts, we've all been broke before. We pass the basket becuase of our 7th Tradition, which states:
"Every NA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions."
We also give out keytags. These are little keychains that you can earn for having various amounts of clean time - 30 days (in a row!), 60 days, etc., up to multiple years. The most important one, though, is the "Welcome" keytag - it's white, and you can get it just for showing up.
At the end of the meeting, we all hug in a big circle. Afterward, you can talk to people whose stories inspired you, and get phone numbers from people. When you're not in a meeting, and struggling to stay clean, you can then call another addict.
Do I have to be clean to go to a meeting?
No. In fact, if you're having trouble staying clean, we need you at a meeting.
Our only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using. You don't have to have the ability - that will come later, if you keep coming to meetings.
Do I have to say "I'm an Addict"?
Not until you're ready. You become a member when you say you are.
I have used drugs that are not "narcotics." Will NA still take me?
Yes. We are powerless over addiction, not any specific mood or mind altering substance. There are members that have never used a "narcotic" but are still very much addicts. No matter what your drug of choice is, in NA you'll find 2 things - lots of other people that have struggled with that same substance, and the realization that it makes no difference what specific drugs we used - addiction is addiction is addiction.
What is a "Home Group"?
If you like a meeting a lot, you can make it your Home Group. That generally means that you are making a commitment to go to that meeting every week. It also means that you'll be seeing the same addicts, and they will care about you and your recovery. Joining a home group is also the first step towards NA service - a way for you to feel like a useful member of society again.
Will there be coffee?
Probably. Not all groups can provide refreshments, but most try to have at least coffee.
How do I find a meeting?