Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous. Information on 12 step fellowships.

Discussion in 'General Addiction discussion' started by Dickon, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. Dickon

    Dickon Platinum Member

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    The information on DF concerning the twelve-step fellowships, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is patchy at best, and often highly prejudicial. I am starting this thread to try to provide a more balanced point-of-view and to give members the opportunity to make an informed choice about whether these recovery groups would be beneficial to them. This thread is for information on the twelve steps. Please use the thread N.A. or not N.A?: that is the question. For or against 12-step recovery? to argue your views, pros and cons. I'd be really glad if people posted how NA in the USA or other countries differs from NA in the UK, etc.

    There is a fairly prevalent view that these groups are cults, religious in nature, and this position is usually backed up by pointing to the 12 steps (of which more later) and observing the mention of the word "God". I shall start by outlining the principles of "The Programme" as it is often called.

    Abstinence

    First and foremost it should be unequivocally stated that these are abstinence-based programmes. AA advocates total abstinence from alcohol and NA from all mood-altering drugs (except caffeine and nicotine). That does not mean you have to be abstinent to attend a meeting, simply that a majority of members will be abstinent, and this is what they will expect you to aim for. In NA the literature says "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using". In AA "using" is replaced by "drinking". Let me clarify what this means. These programmes frown upon controlled using or drinking, or rather AA's "Big Book" (the programme's "Bible"), says something along the lines of "if any man can turn round and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him", but then clarifies that such a man is not properly an "alcoholic". Similarly in NA a man who can control his using of any drug is not properly an addict. Those on substitute prescriptions (methadone, buprenorphine (subutex, suboxone), etc.) are considered no more clean than those using heroin. In NA alcohol is also classified as a drug. This leads to the somewhat strange situation where someone 10 years off opiates is said to have "relapsed" if he has a small glass of port at Christmas. There is no distinction between a lapse and a relapse, and emphasis is put on obtaining large contiguous chunks of "clean time" or time sober.

    Henceforth I shall limit my discussion to NA. I shall outline the differences between NA and AA later on. This might be seen as arse-over-elbow as AA was the parent fellowship, but this is drugs-forum, and my own experience, though of both fellowships, is greater of NA. The programme is often said to rest on four legs, meetings, steps, sponsor and service. For someone at a first meeting, there will almost certainly be some odd language, some of which I shall decrypt for you here. This may put some off, lending credence to the cult hypothesis. But go to a gym and you'll hear talk of abs, reps, quads, lats, sets, etc. which to the uninitiated might sound like gobbledygook. Gym-goers do not belong to a cult!

    NA meetings

    So what should one expect from a first NA meeting? First off, NA is free, although a pot is passed, usually at the end, for voluntary contributions. These go for paying for the venue, printing literature, running helplines, bring NA into hospitals and prisons etc., and other things. Usually there will be tea and coffee on offer. In the more organised meetings there will be a greeter who's job it is to welcome people, especially newcomers, but even if there is no greeter, in most meetings a newcomer will be welcomed anyway, offered a cup of tea or coffee, and chatted to before the meeting starts. Then the secretary of the meeting will start the meeting proper. Although meetings differ, at least in England, for the majority of meetings, the format is fairly standard. Usually the meeting will be started with a moment of silence to remember the "still suffering addict", i.e. the addict who has not "found" NA yet. Then it is customary for everyone to introduce themselves. This is a case of "Hi. I'm/My name is X and I'm an addict", where X is a first name. Then there are a series of readings from cards. These are often laid out on chairs, or handed out. If offered a card, you do not have to accept if you do not wish to read; alternatively, don't sit on a chair with a card on it! These describe "Who is an addict?", "What is the NA programme?", "Why are we here?", "How it works", and sometimes "The 12 traditions of NA" (these describe how NA is organised. Do not concern yourself with these for now.)

    The preamble over, the "main share" will start. Main shares vary enormously in content, but usually they are a life-story, focusing on the sharer's drug use, and on how he (s/he or they if you prefer) found NA and managed to achieve abstinence for such and such a period of time. They might include descriptions of any relapses along the way. Usually a main sharer will have several months or years of abstinence to his credit. If said sharer is "conscientious", he will describe how he "works the programme", which will usually involve having (and using) a sponsor, working the steps, doing service, and of course attending NA meetings. He may refer to his higher power or to God. These two are for many one and the same, but a higher power, i.e. a power greater than ourselves (see the 12 steps later, specifically step 2) can just be NA, or the particular NA group. These concepts are left vague and God is always qualified in the steps with "as you understand him". For the atheist wishing to fit in, God could just be nature, the universe, or some non-monotheistic concept. Not all main sharers talk about God, or even believe in God, but some do. If this is a first meeting, and you get a religious zealot sharing, remember this is just HIS story. NA is a broad church (bad analogy!). Usually main sharers express gratitude to NA, and often go so far as to say NA saved their lives. Shares as people may be exciting or dull, inspiring or otherwise.

    Once the main share is over, they usually last about 20-30 minutes, the secretary will thank him for sharing, and talk briefly himself, identifying with similarities and then will open the meeting for sharing from the floor. [there may be a cigarette break if the meeting is a non-smoking meeting]. Here anybody may share back, usually identifying with the main sharer, and/or talking about their own problems/situations/successes etc. The last 10 minutes are often reserved for newcomers or people who find it difficult to share.

    When the sharing time is over, the pot is passed (the 12 traditions are sometimes read at this point, not the beginning) and the meeting is closed 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" sometimes followed by "keep coming back, (it work if you work it, so work it you're worth it)". Often this is done holding hands, which can be strange for a neophyte. Often people hug after this; hugging is quite common in NA, and can be a source of discomfort to some. It is not obligatory, although non-huggers are rare. The meeting then disbands, although often people go for coffee, and a newcomer might well be invited, or given phone numbers of other members. This is more likely if a newcomer shares himself, even if just to say that this is his first meeting, and he finds it bewildering, or wants to stop using.

    The 12 Steps

    So what on earth are the 12 steps and how do you "work" them? A little copy and paste will give us:

    The 12 steps of narcotics anonymous

    1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.

    2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.

    4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

    5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

    6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

    7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

    8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

    9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

    10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

    11. 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.

    12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of those steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


    Many people on seeing these steps are put off by the like of "powerless", "unmanageable", "sanity" (so I'm INsane now?), "God" and "power greater than ourselves". Many, if not most NA members had difficulties with these concepts at first. Let me soften the blow. A "using addict" (as opposed to a "recovering addict") is powerless over his addiction means that he can't stop. Often the idea of being powerless over "people, places and things" is discussed. My understanding of this is that people can't always be controlled and shit happens! unmanageability is the idea that one is not in control of one's life when using. One is forced to lie or rob or break one's moral code to obtain drugs. Sanity is derived from a latin word meaning health. One is clearly not healthy (physically or mentally) if one is addicted.

    God and Higher Power

    I have discussed higher powers (often abbreviated to H.P.s) earlier, but will say a few words about NA and religion. NA is not religious (even though AA is firmly routed in Christian tradition, specifically the Oxford group) and a lot of members would aspire to spirituality rather than religion. However I can understand that steps 3 and 11 would at a first reading seem daunting or weird to an atheist or someone traumatised by bad experience of religion. Although for those who choose to follow a 12-step path, these are questions the individual must solve, let me posit a couple of brief ways to understand these in a more secular context. Maybe one could see these steps as an attempt to align one's conscious self with one's subconscious; maybe to achieve enlightenment or find one's own Buddha-nature; maybe to find one's true will. Meditation and Prayer (why not doing yoga asanas as prayer if that's your thing?) are simply tools to achieve greater harmony. I think it is vitally important to point out that NA is not a bunch of happy clappies, or Christians, although neither happy clapping nor Christianity is a bar to membership. NA members have carte blanche to explore these concepts. One solution for the atheist is to identify God with the acronym Good Orderly Direction.

    Sponsors and Sponsorship

    Working the steps is done with a "Sponsor". He is like a mentor, and should usually be of the same sex as you are. A newcomer is encouraged to choose a sponsor, someone one has something in common with, respects, and who has more clean time. A sponsor should also have a sponsor of their own and be "working the steps". Not everyone has a sponsor, and asking someone to be one's sponsor can be a little daunting. It should also not be rushed into. Sponsors are there for telephone conversation or visiting when the sponsee feels like using or is having a hard time, or just to touch base. Also a good sponsor's "job" is to guide a sponsee through the steps. This more formal aspect of "working the steps" consists usually of written work centred around the steps. About 10 years ago NA bought out a "step-working guide" that had a list of questions a sponsor could use to guide a sponsee through the steps.

    Service in NA

    Doing service simply means committing to a regular "job" at a meeting. These usually include making tea, collecting the money (treasurer), chairing the meeting (secretary), a literature secretary and Group Service Representative (GSR), and maybe a greeter. The GSR represents the group at the area level, which usually involves buying literature and keyrings for the group and taking any excess money to support wider NA service, as well as representing the group's views in any decisions made by the area. The literature secretary brings the literature in and sets it out before the meeting. Usually literature is free to newcomers.

    AA v NA

    AA is similar to NA except there is usually just one reading from the "Big Book" (called simply Alcoholics Anonymous). In most AA meetings the amount of sober time is greater than equivalent clean time in NA. The tempo is, generally speaking different (slower, calmer, some would say more mature), and the average age is higher. I understand these are somewhat crass generalisations, but I stand by them as a rule of thumb.

    Pros and Cons of NA

    OK, so let's look at the positives and negatives of NA. NA provides a great place to network socially, and feel at home. A good NA group can be incredibly supportive and welcoming, and for a battered addict, getting a cup of tea and a hug and a smile can mean the world. Undoubtedly many people have success with the programme, as evidenced by many members with years of clean time. One can go to a meeting feeling alone in the world, and the realisation that there are others like one can lift the dreaded isolation that plagues so many addicts, and lessen anxiety. The fellowship is worldwide, and so one can find like-minded individuals almost anywhere. It is rightly said "there is a lot of love in NA".

    On the negative side, NA can be dogmatic and monolithic. Abstinence is the only way to go, and working the programme is the only way to get it. There are a couple of fudges such as "if you can get away with controlled using, you're not an addict". All drugs are lumped together, so an ex-heroin user who takes LSD or peyote for a spiritual experience has simply relapsed. I never could quite understand why caffeine are nicotine are not considered mood-altering drugs (from which NA members must "abstain in order to recover"). There's a guilt-trip inducing distinction between "staying clean" and recovering. Someone simply staying clean is not doing enough if he is not "working the programme". This is a valid distinction at some level. Being angry, lonely, and an arsehole while clean is not fulfilling, but "working the steps" is often seen as the only means of betterment. Other recovery philosophies are pooh-poohed despite scientific evidence to the contrary. Despite the literature saying honesty, open-mindedness and willingness are needed in order to recover, these principles are lacking regarding other methods of getting and staying clean, or the ability to reduce drug / alcohol use to sensible levels. I think this is a necessary evil for a fellowship such as NA. Perhaps the oft-repeated sentiment that drug use inevitably gets worse after relapse (simply not universally true), and that for an addict drug use inevitably ends in "goals, institutions and death" are useful fictions [Life inevitably ending in death notwithstanding]. To "dilute" the message would only serve to confuse, and there is evidence that people with serious drug problems benefit from abstinence.

    To conclude I shall state my own position to allow the reader to asses better if I have slipped from fair and objective exposition. I was a member of NA (I escorted my cat) for about 3 to 3 1/2 years. I managed periods of abstinence of just under 2 years and just under 1 1/2 years. I was an NA zealot, but I found it increasingly hard to belong to an organisation that was not entirely honest with itself. As I write this I am a mere 74 days off everything (no drugs or alcohol or cigarettes for the cat, but he drinks tea and coffee), and am not certain I will not go back to NA one day. I miss it. I made some wonderful friends, and I sometimes curse the fact that I am so bloody-minded. However I know that spontaneous remission from addiction happens, and that NA is not the only way to recover.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2009
  2. Richard_smoker

    Richard_smoker Gold Member

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    wow Dickon, that was excellent.

    Exactly what i wanted needed to know about this group. One of the most daunting things about finding out good information about NA is maneuvering around various roadblocks to obtaining info (on the net anyways)--for example, this forum tends to bias against it (naturally! haha), and the 'recovery' sites/forums tend to use too much jargon and undecipherable talk as well as what I previously thought was a judgmental attitude both of which i personally found off putting.

    I think the idea of the groups being 'cult-like' is only partially due to the mysterious higher-power/God requirements. In my opinion, the obsessions with endless meetings and working the steps and counting the days of being completely sober from anything mind-altering but cigarettes and coffee might be hitting closer to the real concerns about being a quasi-religion.

    And it is a valid question--what the hell is so good or 'ok' about nicotine?? the death rates & complications of smoking are right up there with alcoholism. It couldn't be that tobacco is LEGAL because so is vodka! I don't even need to mention that cigarette smoking is one of the most addictive of all drug-using behaviors... all i can come up with is that
    1. smoking was acceptable at the conception of AA/NA and thus, allowing tobacco use is a lasting, living archive from the past. OR
    2. the nature of cigarette smoking has somehow been found to be distinct from drug or alcohol relapse and is not a trigger to use other things. In other words, if someone were to be completely 'clean and sober' for 3 years, his odds of relapsing on cigarette smoking may be rather high... so, perhaps coffee and nicotine are 'ok' because if someone were to 'give in' to their cravings to smoke, there's no inherent danger of discontinuing their sobriety efforts at remain off alcohol and drugs.

    To this degree, it could be reasonably argued that quibbling over smoking is possibly counter-productive and takes everyone's focus off what is important--maintaining "sobriety" being more important than a 100% healthy & clean, toxin-free mind and body.

    After reading your posts, I can see how the 'cult'-claims are probably invalid judgments. It is most likely that adherence to the 12 steps and the remainder of the program must be of absolutely vital importance when dealing with severely ingrained bad habits (addictions yes, but also what addictions attempt to hide or cover-up: avoidance, self-destruction, depression, insomnia, hopelessness, shame, guilt, inability to cope with the past or with specific trauma, anger, inability to forgive others, etc).

    While anyone can become addicted to a mild-altering drug, perhaps there actually is kind of a 'rock-bottom' requirement for inclusion into the group of addicts which NA/AA considers actually worthy of total abstinence and thus inclusion in their club(?). I have a feeling that if i were to bring up these concerns at a meeting, i would be told that i am living in denial of my own nature... and perhaps that might be technically true, but i'm really asking these questions for the sake of OTHER people who may have problems with drugs or alcohol...

    is it necessary for a problem drinker who is able to stop drinking entirely on their own to believe that he/she cannot smoke an occasional joint or take hallucinogens or pain-killers after surgery?

    or is the inevitable way of finding oneself at the program only AFTER this ex-drinker discovers that his/her life has AGAIN become unmanageable?

    great thread Dickon. I plan to add to this discussion a psychological/philosophical non-religious interpretation of the steps & faith in a higher power for atheists, agnostics, and those who've been burned or put-off by religion.

    -DICK
     
  3. Ilsa

    Ilsa Platinum Member & Advisor

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    great write-up, D :thumbsup:

    thanks for clarifying the 'higher power' thing...it always struck me as very religious, esp considering my history, but i think i was just being overly sensitive to that rather minor point. the program itself is pretty dogmatic, and Dick makes a valid point about quasi-religion, but overall i'd be willing to give na a try if i hit another really difficult patch. i've also heard that na has a slightly different atmosphere than aa...very informative and much needed ;)
     
  4. methMADMAN

    methMADMAN Silver Member

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    Dickon, sorry I did not respond to the PM, just got busy then forgot. Looks pretty good to me, although I must say that about AA being rooted in Christianity, is not quite completely accurate. Yes the 12 steps were adapted from the six steps of the Oxford group which is a Christian organization. The original members were for the most part Christians but as time went on many who came were agnostic (thus the chapter "We Agnostics"). I think some of the founding members also stumbled onto the knowledge, (and this is only my belief) that really there is a higher power force and it's the same from religion to religion, it's just that smaller minds have to be divisive. I just know I have seen the "God as you understand it" concept work for so many different people with different views.

    The thing is that all of the twelve steps suggestions can be found in the Bible and I am told also the Koran. I know most of the concepts can also be found in the I Ching. I suspect as well they would be found in just about every holy book known to man.

    Further there are even Atheists among us who it works for, but I won't like, they are rare, but that is why the step says "God as we understand him". Though if there was one and only one thing I would change about that is to replace "him" for "it".

    AA and NA and the concepts they are based on are by no means new stuff. As a group to help addicts and alcoholics recover, yes, but not as what I would consider to be "truths of universal law".

    All AA steps are exactly the same as NA save for the word alcohol is replaced by addiction. Personally I find more more direct and enjoyable reading from the AA book but I also like the NA basic text.

    Another thing that should end the whole religious connection once and for all is found in two of our traditions:

    Lastly there is a lot of BS going around the internet about AA being ineffective. The truth is that for those who are involved and do what is suggested it is very effective. This Powerpoint presentation, from this website, shows a much more comprehensive, scientific, and accurate study of AA's effectiveness.

    If you do not have Micro$oft Office, then Open Office can be downloaded for free here, and it can read the file.
     
  5. missparkles

    missparkles If you like crazy you've come to the right place. Platinum Member & Advisor Donating Member

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    Swim attended NA and AA whilst she was in treatment. She found some very positive people there. Some took the bits they could use, the rest they discarded. But some people who use NA/AA appear to have swapped one addiction for another, albeit a healthier addiction.
    I found it did help her gain some awareness and insight into her specific problems and was a whole social network of support if she wanted it.
    However, swim found the "disease" and "powerlessness" aspect of the programme very difficult to internalise. Both of these concepts took personal responsibility from swim and gave it to the group as a whole, and for swim getting clean and staying that way was about personal choice, not something anyone, or anything, could take or give.
    If swim wanted it, it was hers.
    Having said that I has some friends who use the steps and they're still clean and sober, so for swim it works.
    The bottom line is they do save lives that might be lost to addiction. And one thing I has learned is that recovery is personal to every person doing it. The 12 step programme helped her when she needed it, and if necessary she would use it again.
     
  6. Dickon

    Dickon Platinum Member

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    I suffer from the disease of asthma over which I am powerless. I do have an inhaler which I can use to treat it with (the symptoms of the disease, not the disease itself) over which I am not powerless. If I do not use the inhaler when an attack is imminent my breathing could become unmanageable.

    This would be an analogy that makes sense of disease and powerlessness (I even worked in unmanageability here - another NA buzz-word) in a way that is not ultimately disempowering.

    We could make this analogy with poor eyesight and glasses, diabetes and insulin, and so on and so forth. The disease concept is useful as many people find it impossible to return to a "normal" (read "non-addictive") pattern of drug use after being in active addiction. NA would hold that should you be able to do this you do not suffer from the disease of addiction. In this sense it would be possible to differentiate dependence from true addiction. Someone who is heroin dependent may be able to quit and then use drugs in moderation, but an addict is forever doomed to fail should he endeavour this.

    Please note, I am trying to elucidate a perspective here. I argue to some extent for it's internal consistency and for the fact that it is not necessarily, I believe, disempowering, at least no more so than suffering from treatable asthma, poor eyesight, diabetes etc. I make no claims as to the validity of the perspective. I've come to the conclusion that should cat ever be well enough to be able to use drugs again sensibly, he would not want to do so. I leave it to those with a logical frame of mind to see how neatly this view kicks a whole host of question into touch! We can see the "disease of addiction" now as treatable or not. Maybe thinking "I suffered from the disease of addiction but I was cured when I stopped using and became sufficiently well as to no longer to desire drugs" is more palatable than "I suffer from the disease of addiction, and will do so until I die".

    That's a new thought to me.

    Dickon
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2009
  7. methMADMAN

    methMADMAN Silver Member

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    I think what I take from the words "powerless" and "unmanageable", are quite different from what I see people seeing them as.

    To me I am not powerless over whether I drink or do drugs anymore, the say so would be ludicrous. I am, however, powerless over the effect they have on me when I do drink or drug. By that I mean I have tried it a thousand times and it invariably ends up badly for me.

    To me, life itself is unmanageable. Yeah that's right, even now, working a 12 step program and being clean and sober I have come to accept that life is an unmanageable game. I can of course control what I do, how I react to life, and the people I choose to have in my life, but I have no control over anybody or anything else. For instance if I plan a picnic and then it rains, there was never anything I could have done to change that. If I ask my wife to do something a certain way, if she doesn't do it, I have no real control. I can either accept the unmanageable aspects of life and "roll with the punches", or I can rail against the things which ultimately I have no power over. Not very constructive but a lot of people, including myself sometimes do it anyway.
     
  8. sweetsugar

    sweetsugar Titanium Member

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    Thank you for posting this, its extreamly useful as I will be attending her first NA/CO meeting tomorrow. Is it normal to be feeling so apprehensive??
     
  9. missparkles

    missparkles If you like crazy you've come to the right place. Platinum Member & Advisor Donating Member

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    Yes of course it is, it's something so totally new and unfamiliar. I also think it has something to do with the fact that unless we choose to tell a person, our addiction stay hidden away where no one can see it. Like some awful shameful secret. When you go to a meeting you know everyone there knows exactly why you're there. You feel vulnerable.

    But they will know that, and in my experience, they usually make newcomers extremely welcome. My advice would be don't have any expectations, take away with you what helps, and leave the rest. And please, don't feel that you must agree with their religious/spiritual approach if you really don't want to. You don't have to take a blood oath swearing that you'll strictly adhere to all of their ideas.

    Just remember, all you need to have is the desire to stop using, nothing more. I hope you get a lot out of it love.:thumbsup:

    Sparkles.:vibes:
     
  10. On The Nod

    On The Nod Silver Member

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    Deleted: I don't wanna put anyone off going to NA its worth it really swim just has weird emotions to it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  11. missparkles

    missparkles If you like crazy you've come to the right place. Platinum Member & Advisor Donating Member

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    I think this post is so totally one sided and its quite obvious that your friend didn't like NA/AA. But passing on that prejudice under the guise of informing is really not very honest is it? And recovery is about honesty, isn't it?As to them all being "me, me, me" of course they were, that's what its about, sharing your experience strength and hope. Not someone else's. And yeah, it would be fair to say a lot of them have issues...they're addicts for Christs sake, of course they have issues.

    Look, its ok to give someone who has already admitted to being apprehensive, a rough breakdown of the average meeting, but hell, I'd be afraid to attend a meeting like the one you're describing. And I'm afraid of no one. Remember, a lot of people find meetings extremely helpful, to the point of life saving in some cases. It's important to keep an open mind.

    Sparkles.:vibes:
     
  12. On The Nod

    On The Nod Silver Member

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    ^^ It was a bit excessive, stuff like that does go on their but I dont want to derail the thread when Dickon obvioulsy started it to help people.

    I like NA, I do, it does good stuff and long may it carry on, I has freinds who have got clean through the meetings and have done really well since being there and are now alot stronger for it, so fair play.

    When I stated them all being "me, me, me" what I meant by that is there can be 'clicks', newbies being ignored, older more 'well' memebers blanking the newcomers and just focusing on people they have known for years. Okay the majority of older members will take the time to say "Hello" but when it comes to spending quality time with a newcomer at fag breaks or including them to often it is left to the 'loners' of the group to talk to them which is basically the outsider talking to the outsider.

    I think alot of people will agree that NA is 'clicky', an example would be we all go to a christmas party, now there are three tables- the less 'well' people are sitting on the outside ones while the long term members are all cuddled in the centre one excluding the newcomers/ people under a year from having any contact with them. I could not have posted this and leave these problems out of the spotlight however I think it is fair that people known what it can be like in some meetings. Of course alot of people in general are like this and it is no exception to NA however I always felt an 'inclusive' enviroment(which it is most of the time) setting like NA should always go to the upmost effort to make people feel welcome.

    Just to add that definately alot of people in NA are extra freindly and people often make the extra effort to make newcomers feel welcome however there are many users who switch to CA/AA because they feel less pressure and there is less of a macho air in the atmosphere. I dont go to both but I think he would try CA before going back to NA although he would go back to NA if he needed it as when combined with Rehab can definately work.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  13. sweetsugar

    sweetsugar Titanium Member

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    A brief update;
    SWIM attended four meeting's and decided it really wasnt for her.
    But can very much see how it has and is helping many people, so a positive thing for sure. I am now attending 'group' sessions at a womens only centre - Replase Prevention. It is an 8 week course and SWIM atttends twice a week. The centre provides regular drug testing too, and people are offerd to stay longer than 8 weeks if they feel they need to. It's very open and friendly, very different atmosphere and the approch and advise they take and give really works for SWIM.
    Has any other SWIMer's been on such course or any of the like?


    SS
     
  14. kgphoenix6

    kgphoenix6 Newbie

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    A nice guy that my friend knows recently quit doing drugs for two weeks and is in the middle of relapsing. He is feeling incredibly guilty, weak and paranoid that everyone is against him in one way or another and feels that marijuana and mephedrone have caused these feelings. He wants to go to an NA meeting but is very afraid that he won't be accepted partly because he isn't sure if he wants to ask for help even though he's certain that he needs it, but mostly because the meeting starts in an hour and he might still be feeling the comedown of the mephedrone. Please help this poor fella by telling him if he will be shunned for attending a meeting after just having used. Please help, he is supposed to go in an hour or two hours maximum.
     
  15. kailey_elise

    kailey_elise Gold Member

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    Sorry, I tried to post this yesterday in the timeframe provided, but the server was overloaded. :(

    Anyway, for future reference, the only desire for membership is the desire to stop using; no one said you have to be drug-free to attend. Now, I don't think I'd raise my hand to speak at a discussion meeting or anything, but you certainly can go!

    Some meetings ask Newbies (whether first timers or just coming backers) to raise their hands, I would do so. Sometimes some meetings ask for Newbies to introduce themselves, in which case I'd do a quick "Hi, I'm XXX, I don't know how it works around here, but I'm tired of being fucked up all the time" or something to that effect - don't go into your whole story or anything; the point of the Newbie intro is so oldtimers can see who's new & come up to them during break/after the meeting. Keep it short & simple. If the meeting doesn't have anything like that, BUT reserves the last 5-10 minutes for anyone with a "burning desire" (and that's how they'll say it), you can raise your hand, introduce yourself & say "I'm new/coming back & kinda lost but I just wanted to reach out" & leave it at that (esp if you're still kinda under the influence).

    If, after that, some how no one comes up to talk to you @ the end of the meeting, you found one of the shittiest meetings on the planet, I apologize in advance for their behaviour & implore you to try a different one. But it won't happen - someone will come up, don't worry. ;)

    ~Kailey
     
  16. Concerned Hubby

    Concerned Hubby Newbie

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    Hi,

    I'm new here and seeking advise. I am very concerned about the impact NA is having on my wife and I'm hoping to find some balance, leads and advise, pro or con.

    Due to a serious back injury at work she spent the past 12 years or so on methadone. As time went by she became increasingly depressed, more than I had realized until lately. She determined the methadone was causing this. She also used Norco and a couple of other meds for flare up pain as needed. She also likes pot quite a bit. She did her research and has now tapered completely off of everything (her back pain seems to be about the same as before she detoxed so getting off the meds was probably good despite the side effects she is having while cleaning up).

    So, one night she announced out of the blue that she was going to go to these NA meetings to help during her detox. I'm a supportive guy and said I'd support whatever she needs to do (we've been happily married 15 years). I expected a weekly meeting or something. Beginning the next day she began going to the meetings 2 or 3 times day. She has spent I don't know how much money buying NA, AA, MA, tapes, books etc. They gave her a key chain that announces to everyone who sees it that she an "addict" -- which seems very dangerous to me but she refuses to not advertise in this way. Some woman (apparently her "sponsor") calls her and she rushes from the room to talk with her, seemingly so I wont hear.

    Her personality is changing. She is becoming secretive and aloof from me. If I question the group she gets upset and acts in ways that are not normal for her. At first she was going to these meetings in the roughest part of our town, an area where drug dealing, robberies, violence and rapes are prevalent. She also goes to a "closed meeting" in a slightly safer area one night a week.

    After a lot of talking she has agreed to go to meetings in a safer area of town (other than the "closed meeting" which she still attends). She's agreed to let me accompany her to the meetings, other than "closed" one where she says they "get real serious" about "working the steps" and non-addicts are not allowed -- I would NEVER go anyplace she was not allowed! That she is going hurts and is solidifying this new wedge between us. I have no idea what they are telling her there. She says they talk about god and the 12 steps, but legitimate religions do not bar husbands from attending lessons with their wives! At least one other couple that I know of attend these lessons, but I am not allowed in with her.

    I know that in the meetings I now attend with her that they open with rote prayers affirming their inability to survive without the group (not in those words but that's essentially it), individuals then drone out rote material in a monotone voice that is hard to understand. Then people identify themselves as so and so "an addict" and generally share how they would have died without the group and could not survive without the meetings and "no one understands me out there in the world but "in the rooms" (which seems to be code) I am loved and accepted..." They keep stressing "the most important people here are the newcomers... we're here for you... we understand..."

    My wife is NOT powerless and she is not an addict but she is now taking those traits on! She has always been a capible person and is currently dealing with physical pain and withdrawal from medically proscribed drugs. It seems to me they are turning her into a drone. She really seems to believe now that without these groups she would kill herself. I asked if she plans to stop going once the detox symptoms are gone and she says no, that she is finding God in the meetings and will keep attending, apparently even at the cost of our marriage if needs be. Of course that god is completely undefined except as presented in their books so I have no idea what god she is finding nor where he/it will lead her.

    I've now done a fair amount of research about NA and AA around the Oxford group and Initiatives of Change (I'm still studying them).

    In what way is this not a religious cult that seeks to control its members through guilt, devotion and mind control? She says its not but it meets most of the classic qualifications.

    Whatever it is, its threatening our marriage and I'm at a loss for what to do about it. I would be grateful for whatever advise, corrections etc. anyone may have to offer.

    To be clear, its not my intention with this to criticize anyone's beliefs, I'm just concerned about my wife and our marriage.

    Thanks
     
  17. ZenobiaSky

    ZenobiaSky Queen of Zen

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    I think there is a lot of great information here. As a newcomer to the 12 steps I'd like to invite anyone who is interested or curious as to the program to read the big book, otherwise known as "Alcoholics Anonymous" be sure to read the preface, the doctors opinion, and forwards too. It's a little tough to read at times since it was first written in 1935. Also a good movie to watch is "Bill W." the co-founder of AA.

    To those that were turned off by NA, let me suggest that you don't base your opinion on one meeting. Not all meetings are right for everyone. Please "shop around" before writing off going to an NA meeting, you may find one that you find very helpful. It's like finding a sponsor, if your first pick isn't right for you, don't feel like your stuck, you can "shop around" for the right sponsor also. I wish I had this information when my dad was alive and suffering from alcoholism, I learned a lot about his life while in treatment.

    I also had a hard time accepting a few things especially in steps 1-3:
    admitting I was POWERLESS over my addiction and my life was UNMANAGEABLE, that a power greater than myself could RESTORE ME TO SANITY, and turning MY WILL AND MY LIFE OVER to the care of God.
    These were then explained to me in simple terms. I'm a thinker, and tried to make it more difficult than it was, keep it simple, and these aren't so bad. Just take the meaning of the word, don't think it too much. Your just admitting you have a problem. I also have bi-polar, so return me to sanity, I had a problem with that. But when I looked at the insane behavior I had while using, it made more sense, again, keeping it simple. Step 3 was really hard, till someone defined GOD to me: Good Orderly Direction.

    I hope this also helps with any reservations or difficulties.
     
  18. Concerned Hubby

    Concerned Hubby Newbie

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    An update on our situation

    Thanks to those who contacted about my posts here. Here's an update and a few thoughts.

    My wife has left the program and given her books etc. to the local group. After some initial displacement ("now what do I do") she is now back to her normal self again and still off the medications that caused her the problems. This has doubtless saved our marriage, her sense of self worth and possibly even her life. She is a strong independent woman again.

    When one comes to the realization that he/she has a problem with drugs, alcohol, etc. it is understandable to look elsewhere for a solution and to feel powerless. The 12 Steps movement preys on this tendency. The solution however lies within Self, not in surrendering ones individuality to group-think. Trading an addiction to a controlled substance for an addition to group-think is not healthy and in the long term may be even more dangerous.

    One can not "let go and let God" through a religious movement that is devoid of theology. What god or "higher power" is one relying on through this movement? The only god present in the Big Book and meetings is the hive mind of the participants and the greater 12 Steps community group-think.

    This "New Age" philosophy stems from the "Third Great Awakening" period of the 1800's. The "Steps" are the byproduct of the Humanist Oxford Group (now defunct) and the philosophy violates the essential tenets of every religion on the planet. For Jews, Christians and Muslims this philosophy should be viewed as particularly offensive as it denies the very core beliefs of all three religions.

    Who or what is this "Higher Power" Steppers are relying on and praying to ("God grant me the serenity...")? It is clearly not the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob, Who forbids praying to anyone or anything else.

    The vast majority of the people (90-98%) who join 12 Steps Programs return to their addictions within a year feeling weaker and less in control of their lives for having "failed" at "doing the steps." The will power required (and no you are NOT powerless without them!) to quit addictive behaviors is fundamentally weakened and finally destroyed by repeated failed attempts. Those who replace individual responsibility with the 12 Steps group consciousness and then find themselves without that support network for whatever reason typically become dis-empowered and devastated as individuals, devoid of a personal center or meaningful faith in God.

    People will of course do as they wish, but I am so glad my wife saw the light before it was too late!

    Think and do your research before joining such groups.

    ~ No more a Concerned Hubby
     
  19. PianoHarry

    PianoHarry Titanium Member

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    I've been a member of both NA and AA for 15 and 18 years respectively. I can honestly say that I doubt I could have gotten clean and sober without them. I had tried, really tried and I did manage a few fairly lengthy clean periods. One time I lasted for 5 months. But inevitably I would use or get drunk again.

    I felt tortured by loneliness at the time and this was worse when was sober. I felt such a wretched despair for the loneliness to end, and my chemicals helped to alleviate this pain.

    The point of telling this, is this: if the 12 step fellowships provided nothing else that I could accept at that point, I was too jaded and cynical to contemplate God, the steps seemed New-Agey, airy-fairy, they provided companionship. And I really needed companionship. I couldn't bear to ask a member for their phone number as I was encouraged to do, and I probably wouldn't have called if I had. I never stuck around and socialised after meetings but bolted out the door. Never-the-less for an hour or so during the meeting I was safe, with like minded people, and was shaving just a slither off the pain of the loneliness. Very slowly I started to get better and yes, eventually I took the steps and was able to offer the hand of companionship and support to another who suffers.

    At the most basic grassroots of levels, stripped of all the slogans, the steps, the books and the program talk, the 12 step fellowships offered me fellowship.

    Alcoholism at least, is called the lonely disease and I readily identify with that. Every day I am thankful that I live in a generation when these fellowships exist and that there were people there to give me the companionship to 'take the edge off' without me needing to use.
     
  20. Budgetadvisoryservice

    Budgetadvisoryservice Blue Water Scum Silver Member

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    I just got my white NA chip last Thursday.

    I'm having a little trouble finding a good meeting in the town where I live and have even considered relocating to find better support.

    I'm 32 years old, feral in appearance with dreads and a gnarly beard. I am from the mountains and can't stand the urbanite Dao, yet I feel that my experience and beliefs are a little too broad to live in my redneck home town without getting lynched for asking where the mungbeans are at the local market.

    I don't want a haircut, a shave, or a job at Pizza Hut, yet I do want support in kicking my lifelong addiction to drugs. I asked about a sponsor at my first meeting and I got the distinct impression that nobody in the group wanted to actually touch the lepper, much less receive a 2am phonecall begging for distraction.

    Am I missing the point? Have I posted this in the wrong place? Should I just knuckle up and turn into one of the clones who don't need substances since they converted to white bread, wage slavery and the missionary position? Do I just smell bad?

    Please let me know, coz I'm in pretty deep shit with myself and I don't know if I can keep up this momentum towards recovery without a more supportive goup.

    BTW, I'm in Auckland, NZ.