Narcotics Anonymous

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Narcotics Anonymous Essay

When first reading the requirements of this assignment I was quite hesitant in approaching group counselling sessions as I was not aware of any in my area. A friend of mine whom I had not seen in a while told me that she was in a rehab facility for a month and was attending an outpatient programme. This was fantastic news and just the opportunity I was looking for, not only was this what I needed for my assignment but it was also an opportunity for me to support her. Narcotics Anonymous Essay.

I asked her if it would be possible for me to go with her to one of her meetings and she was too happy to have me go with her.

What is NA?
Narcotics Anonymous is a global, community-based organization with a multi-lingual and multicultural membership. They offer recovery from the effects of addiction through working a twelve-step program, including regular attendance at group meetings. The group atmosphere provides help from peers and offers an ongoing support network for addicts who wish to pursue and maintain a drug-free lifestyle.


The name, NA, is not meant to imply a focus on any particular drug; NA’s approach makes no distinction between drugs including alcohol. Membership is free, and they have no affiliation with any organizations outside of NA including governments, religions, law enforcement groups, or medical and psychiatric associations.

Where is NA?
There are various meetings held all over RSA, you can have a look on their website to see where the closest meeting is, when it takes place and whether it is a closed or open meeting. This meeting was held at AKESO Crescent Clinic. Narcotics Anonymous Essay. This is a rehab facility, the meeting is held in a conference room inside. Once you walk in you will see that the chairs are placed in a circle and behind it are more chairs placed in a bigger circle.

The structure of the meeting:
Chairperson opens the meeting and advises that it’s an open meeting, meaning that anyone can join, i.e. family, friends and other support structures. He then allows all to introduce them moving from the left to right. Each individual stands up, gives their name followed by the words, and I am an addict. He then asks if there are any new comers and mentions that the newcomer is the most important person at any meeting and although it may seem confusing at first, to keep an open mind and keep coming back. He then proceeds to advise that there is one rule at this meeting: that no drugs or drug paraphernalia be in your possession. If anyone is carrying, they are to leave and come back without them. If anyone is carrying a cell phone to please turn it off for the duration of the meeting. He then asks that someone reads the preambles. These pamphlets have been randomly placed on various chairs prior to the meeting, if you have one; you have the option to read it or to ask someone else to read.

The preambles are:
Who is an addict?
Why are we here?
What is the NA Program?
How it works?
The twelve traditions
We do recover
At the meeting they then recognize specific landmarks in their recovery. 24 hours
24 hours to 7 days
7 to 14 days
14 – 30 days
30 – 60 days
60 – 90 days
90 days to 6 months
6 – 9 months
9 – 12 months
1 – 2 years
2 – 3 years
More than 3 years
People put up the hands and support is given by clapping for their achievements. Narcotics Anonymous Essay. He then asks whether there are any birthdays or landmarks that anyone would like to share. As they say how long they have been clean, tags are handed out for those achievements and the woman who is handing out the tags gives the person a hug. Below is a picture of the different tags that each addict receives for each landmark:

He advises the meeting that the views expressed by the individuals there, do not necessarily show the view of the NA and if anyone is interested in any of the official literature, the literature person will talk about it. The literature rep stands up and advises on what books are available

Living clean
Just for today
How it works and why (12 steps and stories of addicts worldwide) Sponsorship guide
The step working guide
She explains what each book is about and the price so that if anyone would like to purchase the literature, you will be able to do so after the meeting. There are also various pamphlets that are available. The chairperson then introduces the topic he has chosen for the evening and interprets how the topic relates to his life and then opens the floor so that any of the addicts are open to speak. Only the chair knows what the topic is going to be for the evening. Once everyone has had their turn to share and before closing the meeting he asks: Is there anyone who still feels the need to share

Does anyone have a burning issue? Does anyone just have an issue staying clean today?
They address these issues separately after the meeting.
Chairperson thanks all for sharing and reminds all that what they see and hear here remains here. The seventh tradition states that they are self-supporting through their own contributions. They then send around a donation basket where generous donations are requested. Newcomers and visitors are asked not to contribute and to consider themselves as guests. “Just for today” is then read, this is the last preamble. He then asks that everyone stands up and holds hands, all the addicts in the meeting and some guests who have attended before say in unison – “As long as I follow, I have nothing to fear”. The Chair then asks that we take a moment of silence for babies born into active addiction and addicts suffering inside and outside the rooms. The meeting is then ended with the serenity prayer, 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. Keep coming back, it works if you work it and work it because you’re worth it.

Personal story of recovery:
I felt it was important not to share the stories I had heard in the meeting as per the request made by the chairperson. I was however able to find personal stories of recovery from addiction available on the NA website so I have chosen to rather share a published story instead. This is the story about Greg C, the topic: Letting Go:

On the 12th of September, it will be the 20th anniversary of my baby brother’s death. Narcotics Anonymous Essay. A good couple of years ago when things were running wild, I took him into my drug business and he was that kind of a guy, a stray dog, so I knew I had to take him under my care but I was happy to do so as he was a great guy. I just got back from Australia and it was a very successful trip and there was nothing in town so I went back to Cape Town. In hindsight, the three months before his death, I was already giving him a hard time about all the money that was outstanding but in my heart I knew that he had already used it and all he needed to do was tell me that he had used it and I wouldn’t have minded. So this Wednesday the 12th, I started my period of self-destruction. I called him and he hadn’t come down from my parents place and they told me that he hadn’t woken up. My whole life just shattered and it took me 10 years of self-destruction, hitting financial rock bottom and ending up in the emergency room for a heroin overdose and a number of 48 hours spent in prison cells to get over this. What was my struggle with this? Was I to blame for getting him into this drug world? Was it the guilt that I had treated him badly for the last three months cause if I knew he was going to die three months before I would not have cared what he used or what money he owed me cause I’d pay anything today to get him back. When I walked into NA 10 years ago, I came in like everyone else, rough and wounded. Still with that street bravado and they spoke about surrender.

It took me six days to get there; I cleaned and showered, looked in the mirror and then went back to my room to use again. Eventually when I got here, it was somebody’s 1 year anniversary. I was really tired of using about two years before I got here. That birthday meeting was the greatest motivation for me because someone was clean for 365 days. I followed all the steps they told me to do and then they told me to let go. It took me 6 years before I let go of the guilt and let go about what I felt happened with Rowan. It was the most freeing aspect of my recovery was when I was able to put that stuff down and move on with my life. The other things had all changed; I got myself a job and had good friends. It was tough; I made in a month what I used in a day. It took two years before I started seeing the materialistic things of this fellowship but I was still walking around with this baggage. Narcotics Anonymous Essay.It took me a good 5 nearly 6 years before I let go with Rowan and by that time I was fully living NA, I was completely involved for seven and a half years, whatever service came up, I volunteered in the fellowship. I had quite a lot of things to get over, had a lot of meetings where addicts wouldn’t pitch and I took that personally, I had to let that go as well. About two and a half years ago I thought it was time to move out of this fellowship and go and get myself a life and start living.

I managed to let go of the service stuff of NA but it was time to let it go and my sponsor thought it was time to let it go, I didn’t want to let it go, but I knew I had to let it go. I was still working for the same company and a lot of things were promised to me and that didn’t happen, so obviously I built up a lot of resentment there. I built this picture up in my mind that I always needed a lot of money to start up my own business and I suppose it was all fear and paranoia to stay in this comfort zone. Anyway, I stopped coming to meetings, only popped in every now and again when it was someone’s birthday, that sort of thing. Not being around, nobody asked me to share and slowly my connection to NA slowly drifted. One thing is for sure and that’s what was promised to me when I first joined and that’s if I follow the 5 simple rules that my need to use will slowly be lifted. Two and a half years when I left, my obsession to use had been lifted and I felt no need to use. Eventually after many years of frustration, I decided to throw in the towel where I was and forget my fear that I needed all this money to start a business. I left there, I bought a few cars and put them on a few friend’s stands and they were selling the cars for me and I was living a half retired life, going to the gym, go swimming, go do this and that.

Things still weren’t comfortable on the inside, I was still out of sink and I knew I was still carrying around a bit of stuff and slowly I was drifting into more insanity by not being connected to this place. And then it all happened at once, I knew I was insane, I knew I had to get back to a meeting. I’d heard and read enough of it to know that I had to get back to a meeting. I found a home group and at the same time found a car lot for sale, managed to buy it and put my cars on there and now I have a good business. I know that I have to show up, I have to tell the truth; I have to live with honor, do what I’m responsible for and leave the rest of the results to my higher power. When I look back at the ten years as I have been part of this fellowship, all the good things that have happened in my life, I’ve only realized that it happened after it did and I didn’t even know it was happening; which tells me that the only way I’m going to stay clean is to let things go, stay focused and stay plugged into this place. Love having my sponsor, I get an objective point of view for my life. Narcotics Anonymous Essay.

What actually happened to me 10 years ago and I only realized this a few months ago is that I was in the middle of a desert with a bag on my back with everything I owned and a bakkie pulled up and a man said, jump on the back, I’ll give you a lift. First thing I wanted to do is take control of the situation and ask are you going in my direction. The voice said – there is only one road. I got onto the back of this bakkie and I stood there with the heavy pack on my back for I don’t know how long on this ride. It was hot and heavy. The bakkie slowed down, and this voice said, I stopped to give you a ride, take the pack off, sit down and enjoy the ride. And no sooner did I do that and the scenery changed to the most magnificent view and I’ve been enjoying it ever since.

My Reflections:
My concerns were what to expect and how to approach the meeting as I have not attended something like it before. I did not want to seem judgmental in any way as I have no idea what the reasons are for these people turning to drugs, only that they were looking for a way to stay clean. I know from what “Ally” has told me that they support each other and try to work through their problems and triggers together. My perception of what to expect and what I experienced was greatly different. I expected a counsellor to be present and do most of the talking as I have witnessed on the various interviews conducted on the UNISA DVD’s. This was not the case at all, everyone who felt the need to share did so and so much support was given to each person for the accomplishments that I felt an appreciation for such a support group. My discussions with “Ally” helped me tremendously to prepare for what I was going to enter upon. This was an open meeting where friends, family and other support people were allowed to attend; this made me more comfortable as I would not be the only new comer or outsider present at the meeting.Narcotics Anonymous Essay. This was definitely an eye opening experience for me. From the moment I arrived till the time that I left, I felt so accepted by all. I think I might even have had a moment where I felt that I wished I was an addict so that I could come back. This group was more than a bunch of addicts coming together to talk about their problems, they were like a family, talking and sharing, caring for each other and praising each other for their accomplishments.

I was truly moved by the experience and feel a better understanding for what “Ally” has gone through. I hope that when she feels the need to use that she will feel comfortable enough to talk to me and I will support her as best I can.

Conclusions about the helping relationship
I have to come to the realization that many find the support they need in groups. They feel comfort in knowing that they are not alone in this struggle. Many feel guilty for what they have put their families through and therefore I also find it important that the families also attend these meetings. This not only shows support for the addict but also helps them to understand what it is like to be an addict. I think it may be difficult for a family to believe what an addict says but when they hear it from many, it becomes more believable and easier to accept.

Self Help Group Meeting: Attend a self-help group meeting and provide a brief summary of the events. Critique the strengths and weaknesses of the process. How did the actual meeting compare to the theoretical concepts discussed in class? How does this resource fit into the continuum of care? How effective an intervention mechanism is it?

The Narcotics Anonymous meeting I attended was comprised of about twenty-two people. It was a mixed group in terms of gender ,race and age .Most of the members were men between the ages of twenty five to fourthy-five and their birthdays “Clean time”ranged two months to seventeen years.

Initially I had planned on going with one of my class mate just because that was my first meeting and I was afraid of the unknown. The meeting was in Knollwood Baptist Church. The meeting took place in the gym down in the basement . I was half an hour early for the meeting without my collegue . When I got to the door I met a lady who introduced herself to me and asked whether I was a student.We got talking and she asked whether I woukd like to go down stairs and wait .I immediately said no and told her , I would rather wait for my collegue outside.Whiles I was waiting for Connie , my heart started racing as I saw some of the members walked into the building.

I was nervous and uncomfortable walking into the meeting. The gym was huge and clean .We sat in a big cycle with a table in between two chairs were the facilitator sat. Narcotics Anonymous Essay.As I looked around the room I began to judge the people in the room .Inaddition to the judgement ,I was looking for an escape root in case of any fight or disagreement.Even before i came to this group ,I had conludeed in my mind that the group members were up to no good ,they had wasted years of their lives using drugs and they most me violent group of people. I wanted to leave immediately but I couldn’t thinking that my grade is tied to this assignment. I had to stay.

The meeting was one and a half hour long. Group members were actively involved in the conducting of the meeting. Different members performed different tasks. One member opened the meeting with the “serenity prayer “.Whlies ,the facilitator went on to welcome everyone and went over the basic rules of the group meeting. He placed emphasis on the importance of confidentiality about anything that was shared within the group. In addition, he explained the process of anonymous sharing ,meaning every guest should respect the anonymity of all of the members, and that people who attend the meetings not talk about whom the members are or what they share in meetings. The leader announced that we all should turn off or silence cell phones and other electronic devices during meetings. He related his own personal experience to how different method of how he dealt with his addiction in the past.

Another member read the general announcements. Then the members went around the room taking chances reading the twelve steps. Since I was not asked to introduce my self ,a became a quiet observer .The meeting was in a form of open discussion where members are allowed to take turns sharing their experience in coping with their recovery. members were encouraged to share their stories by selecting a topic from a jar .I found that method helpful in because it prevented one person from monopolizing the meeting.At least every one had time to speak .Having said that,there were others who couldn’t use the method because they had a burning concern they wanted to share with the group. Narcotics Anonymous Essay.

The atmosphere was friendly and supportive. A large amount of the members expressed desperate need for the meeting whiles some members didn’t .For instance ,we had two men in the group who expressed feelings of discontent with the group but the majority of the members were please.In addition,different stories were shared exemplifying some success stories and some failure sotries. I noticed that Stories of success were applauded and stories of failure were encouraged.Additionally, Some of the stories were uplifting and hopeful, while others made me feel sad ,compassionate and teary.I noticed that the common theme in the meeting was related more to guilt . Although Majority of the members have stopped using substances they were still battling with guilt of letting their families down,how their addiction has affected their children and many more.

I was deeply touched by the story of one of the member’s.This individual shared a story about how he has been in and out of jail for the past 10 years.He lost control of his life and decided to seek help by going into rehab. He went on to reveal that his visit of three days to his parent was a moment of awareness to how “self fish”he has been to his family . Inaddition to his stress most members of his family except for his mom and Dad did not believe in him and never wanted to associate with him.He shared , “I felt like an outsider in my own home” and he started crying .while he was going through that stress ,he contemplated on going back to using drugs.He couldn’t because he felt that his determination not to use was much more stronger than the feelings to use. Desperation was so apparent in his tone that it cut right through me. I can only imagine how painful it was for him and I wished I could help him somehow.

Having noticed all these dynamics ,I felt like I have judge these people wrongly.These were victims of a circumstance that could befall any one regardness of your family background. lives. My perception has changed and I admired their perseverance. I was left with the feeling that life was unfair. Why did some people have to struggle every day of their lives while others just ed through?

I alos noticed that Spirituality was the main focus of this group.However ,their were people who were not spiritual. Narcotics Anonymous Essay. Though I am a spiritual person I do respect the beliefs of others. I believe that recovery process should be objective .The environment where people can find strength and inspiration as a personal issue. However many of the group members believed that they can recover through the grace “God” or a higher power. If this spirituality helps them succeed ,that is what counts.

Critique the strength and weakness of the process
The following analysis below describes some of the strength I noticed in the group.

The meeting was an open group which accommodated members from different background and social sphere. It was very convenient for most members because it does not segregate amongst new members and those who have recovered over the years. It creates that atmosphere of acceptance which I believe majority of the members liked. Though it is an open meeting trust is still important in maintaining the effectiveness of the procedure. Simple things like introducing a new person or quest from the community will help allay the concerns of the members.

In addition to convenience and acceptance , Narcotic Anonymous meeting created a greater sense of belonging and community for it members. Since many of the problems that lead people to join Narcotics Anonymous meeting are issues that make them feel isolated and alone, this sense of community can go to great lengths towards helping these individuals find freedom and recovery. This fellowship and peer support of others struggling and succeeding through their addiction process would lend support to the new addicts in recovery. Most importantly, recent research has determined like groups will be very helful to immigrants as well as minority client population.These groups

Another strength that the group had was the life experience of the leader. In this group the leader revealed his history of recovery process which I believed will helps to establish truth and an understanding of the recovery process. This will help him lead from the perspective of life experience with a passion to assist his group members. Although life experience does not make people all greater , it is a valuable contributor that will guide the leader in understanding and respecting the client. Narcotics Anonymous Essay.

Though the group meets with the goal of recovering from their addiction, they are also helping members to develop some practical skills such as relationship building,communication and problem solving skills. I noticed the group had a secretary who was responsible for opening and closing the meeting as well as keeping the meeting’s record. She also brought in an announcement for a community events and selects members to carry the Narcotics Anonymous message of recovering as well as making sure coffee and tea was available.In addition the group had a treasurer who at some point of the meeting announced that money Jar is going around the circle and members are encouraged to contribute. She went on to explain that the money will be used for the running of the group. I was highly impressed by the diverse roles each member played within the group. Another important strength I found in this group was their sense of commitment and group purpose. Whiles the meeting was on, a basket was went around and each member donated what they had and was placed into the basket. It was great that majority donated money to help .

Members were also encouraged to share their experiences and feeling from selecting a message from a red container .This method was very effective in stimulating the group discussion as the majority of the members seemed to follow through the process , however there was one guy who refused to select a message from the container. Even though he did , he was respectful of the process and requested that he would like to talk about his judgement. To my surprise the group was very respectful of his request. In his speech, he acknowledged the fact that he has wasted some many years of his life hoping that using drugs was the only solution to his problem

Another great tip for having Narcotic Anonymous meetings is that the Narcotic Anonymous members who have been there for a longer time can share their experience, give advice about strategies that have worked best. This gives strength and hope to members who are still struggling with gaining sobrierity .

Despite the growing research and personal testimonials about the value of Narcotic Anonymous there remains critique of its effectiveness(Rick Csiernik & William Rowe).One major area of critique of this group relate to Narcotic Anonymous adhering to the medical model of disease rather than a strengths perspective of wellness. Narcotics Anonymous Essay. The members tend to focused more on the narratives of their addiction making the concept of “addiction is a disease” the dominant story of their lives. Though Some people feel comfortable thinking of their addiction as a disease ,the effects of this negative view are especially tragic and unjust to the individual. It ignores the rest of the person’s problems in favor of blaming them all on the addiction .It also attack people’s feelings of personal control of their lives. This disease model was widely accepted among this group. I can understand the compassion and assistance that many members would received from being refered to as sick .However, accepting addiction as a disease means that addicts would deal with the guilt that often accompanies a lifetime of mistake. In addition this concept actually renders addicts helpless rather than empowering them to change.

For many, one of the largest stumbling blocks to success within the twelve step program is the spiritual component of recovery. For efficiency and effectiveness of the twelve step process, the program and the 12 step principles (3) reguires recovering addicts to subscribe to guidance from a higher power, and although this higher power need not be God in the traditional sense some members still have problem with that focus of spirituality in the group .It has been determined by research that some people will not benefit from program that requires a Faith that is not genuinely felt or believed. Not withstanding that,some research have also provent the effectiveness of Spirituality in the program. For instance ,some members within the NA meeting I attended gave higher credit to this principle #3.These individuals in their sharing placed more value on spirituality as well as the positive role God has placed in their recovery.

This meeting also reguired members forces membersi for the to constantly repetition of “I am an addict very degrading.Especialy when members have spent two to five years of htheir lifes in recovery.I do understand when new members say refer to themselves as addict .I belive that must first admit that you have a problem with drugs before any progress can be made toward recoverythat

Another important area of critique was having the members refer to themselvesas “I am an addicts” Accepting this label as an addict has a great implication on both new members and those who have been in recovery for over a longer perid of time .Narcotics Anonymous Essay. It is a language that will benefits new members in recovery because admitting that you have a problem is a start of the helping process.There is nothing shameful about that .If members can identify with or accept that you have a problem ,there is a possibility that they will also identify with the solution.So identifying with the drug use means your life was or is controlled by drugs.With this knowledge in mind ,why then should members who have are in recovery for over five years continue to use this label.For me I see it as de-grading and dis-empowering.

Also ,the aspect of not discussing members concern after sharing was I big concern for me.The meeting was very tense and full of emotions .Members shared deep things about their life and the temptation to go back to using. With all these revelations ,the leader did not initiate any discussion about how members where going to handle those stressors after the meeting.

Finally, there was a great difference in the language of those who have been in the group for over a year and the new comers. I could notice the use of profane languages from those who were new as they talk about their experience .

How did the actual meeting compare to the theoretical concepts discussed in class?
There is not much of a difference between the theoretical concept we discussed in class and the actual meeting.The Narcotic Anonymou meeting that I attended had a component of five core principles for self help group except for advocacy .In this group the principle of social support was demonstrated when members had to celebrate their “birthday in the group.In addition the hug and often verbalize assurance will make a difference.

From reading different handouts, sharing of success and relapse stories members are able to gain more knowledge about the group. Before I left the meeting,the secretary offered me different types of handout ranging from “Am I an addict” to “For Those in Treatment”.Sharing of personal stories ,challenges as well as such the successes relate the aspect of information sharing and an effective method of education within the group

In addition to information sharing and education , members get to form those identifies like referring to themselves as addicts even when they have been sober for fifteen years. Although the language itself is oppressive we should consider the meaning that is being attached to the word”I am an Addict”.For some that sense of safety that they belong to a group. Narcotics Anonymous Essay.

How does this resource fit into the continuum of care?
From my analysis of the group meeting and class discussion I agree tha Narcotic Anonymous group alone is not enough to help people through their addiction . Memebers in recovery needs a combination of professional social work counselling and self help groups for a desired effectiveness of the desired goal.I strongly believe that the continuum of care is needed in this journey of a recovery process.This result has been determined by many researcher that those who combine Narcotic or other self help group with other forms of treatment seemed to do much better than those who only attend a single meeting .Having that extra support in the recovery process will provide greater likelihood of not returning back to their addiction .

The reality is that for most people, Narcotic treatment alone is not enough for long term sobriety. Despite the fact that some people just go to AA or Na meeting and never use drugs again, or even just wake up one day and stop drinking or using does not mean that it is 100% effective for every .I believe that professional should refer client to appropriate services that will meet the needs of a specific individual. It is very important for addiction treatment professional to convince the addict in their early recovery to continue their care after primary treatment is completed. I do understand that most of the members leaving primary treatment want to get back to living a normal life as soon as possible; however a better alternative is to develop a continued care plan.

Individuals or clients should have a full variety of suitable services from which to choose at any point in the recovery process.Narcotics Anonymous Essay. Addiction workers should see to it that the continuum of care should adapt a treatment regimen that is geared toward addressing all aspects of the client’s life, including medical and mental health services, and followup options(Rick Csienik &William Rowe 2010).Moreover it is not every one that will benefit from participation in an Narcotic Anonymous group.


Having said all these ,I will encourage the integration of multi-disciplinary team that will consists of psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists in the gradual transition of the physiological, psychological, and spiritual conditions of the addict in recovery .

Secondly, It is important to incorporate the traditional focus of the twelve step principle with an understanding of the addictive process and sharing personal consequences of using. However, addiction workers should also teach clients specific techniques for managing difficult feeling and situations that bring forth the desire. They should help addicts to develop these coping skills, along with enhancing the motivation to use them. I believe that both internal relapse prevention skills and the ability to use the external support structures of 12-step fellowship groups will lead to a successful recovery.

Thirdly ,I will recommend that before a client is refered to any service Social workers or addiction worker(s) should conduct a thorough assessment process ensuring clients are allocated the best treatment option based on their needs and motivation .

In conclusion ,Recovery from addiction can be one of the most rewarding and empowering experiences in an individual’s life. Integrating a continuum of care approach will prevent the unwanted from happening. Narcotics Anonymous Essay.