“Sharing and caring the NA way”. What does this mean?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

On Mentioning Specific Drugs.

When I first came to NA it was important for me to hear people share about a wide variety of experiences so that I could hopefully identify with them.  It was helpful for me to hear people share about the specific drugs they used and hearing stories that included experiences relating to specific drugs.  Particularly enjoyable were hearing stories that included paranoid and delusional episodes.  I remember one guy sharing that he heard voices and was sure “it was coming from the freezer so “I opened the freezer door and looked behind the pees”.  Funny and crazy it sounded but I loved hearing that stuff.  In some areas (like Indy) there are many people that think it’s not sharing the NA way to speak about or mention specific drugs. That may be true but, it helped me to know I was in the right place when I heard people talk about the insanity.  I heard people that did things that seemed unspeakable to me and others that seemed “lightweights” compared to what it did.  Nevertheless, without hearing it all I wouldn’t have found the identification that I so much needed to hear in order to believe I might find help in NA.  For others, they get so squirmy  when they hear specific drugs mentioned or hear about experiences people have on specific drugs.  I understand this too.  The thing we have to be careful about is caring the message “the NA way”.  We want to make sure we are carrying the message and not the mess.  We also have to be careful not to present our opinions in a meeting as “gospel”.  It’s not acceptable for me to say in a meeting or here in this Newsletter that one way or the other is right or wrong. 

11 thoughts on ““Sharing and caring the NA way”. What does this mean?

  1. I don’t know about other addicts, but hearing a particular drug (even my particular drug of choice) doesn’t make me uncomfortable. When people say “dope” in a meeting, I assume they mean heroin, but then again maybe they don’t? As a person who was a pill addict, it would be helpful for me to know other people with the same drug of choice and to hear their stories. Of course, I get something out of everyone’s share … but one of the things that made me feel awkward when I first came to NA was the thought that, since I wasn’t using “hard drugs,” I somehow didn’t belong.

  2. I figured I’d check out this online newsletter. I was delighted to see this topic as one of the articles. I guess I understand why we don’t focus on the using(mentioning specific drugs), but at the same time I loved hearing about specific drugs, especially when I was new. As a new person, everyone seemed so put together, and didn’t seem like “addicts.” It encouraged me to hear people mention specific drugs, and the stories behind them, because it let me know that I was in the right place.

    If a homegroup decides they don’t want drugs mentioned in their meeting then I’ll do my best to respect that. Eventually, as people stick around, the focus will naturally grow more centered to recovery and be less about the using days. So, I definitely feel like there’s a place in our meetings for mentioning specific drugs, and their crazy stories.

  3. As already mentioned, I too needed to hear about specific drugs when I was new. It was the only way I could identify. I came to NA without a sense of belonging and looking for a reason not to stay. I was focused on the differences and assumed I was unique. I did not believe that anyone truly understood what it was like for me. I knew of other junkies on the street but I did not expect to find any clean junkies in NA. All I knew was as a kid my friend’s dad made him go to NA meetings because he caught him smoking weed. This gave me a preconceived notion that NA was basically marijuana anonymous.

    Thank god that my very first meeting my future sponsor talked about shooting dope (cocaine and heroin) and the misery, desperation, and daily trap that came with it. I believed that there was a distinct difference between drugs and the effects and the addiction to them and the physical dependence and the psychological dependence and the withdrawal symptoms. If you primarily shot heroin the I did not believe you really knew what it was like to have that strong cocaine psychological addiction drawing you in. The dreams, the self deception etc…

    If you primarily shot cocaine then I did not feel like you could relate to the physical dependence on heroin and the inability to function and work if you did not have your daily or several times a day dose. The daily lie that you’ll get just enough to get by today then taper yourself off over the weekend.

    I could go into plenty of more detail how the different drugs have different effects when it comes to trying to get clean, but my point is that I would not have stayed had I not found that specific identification. Identification is the most important factor in sticking around. It is the reason NA works and having a certified drug counselor does not work. There is no identification. The same reason we say that church and psych wards did not work for us.

    As I have stayed clean for several years now I have learned that addiction is addiction and the specific drug we used should not be the focus. The focus is on addiction in general and recovery, but I would not have been here long enough to realize this unless I was able to identify with other addicts who used my specific drugs of choice.

    I respect the autonomy of groups who include in their meeting format the request to not mention specific drugs, however, I don’t like it. Groups have a right to be autonomous but I wish they would consider how eliminating this opportunity for us to identify with newcomers could be doing harm. Furthermore, I really don’t appreciate individual members requesting that others don’t speak of specific drugs if it is not written into that particular meetings’ format. I was taught that anything that affects my recovery is meeting material and identification with another addict certainly qualifies.

    I feel that we should be made to feel welcome and to talk about whatever we need to. I understand why some members don’t like the war stories and why groups choose to include this rule in their format. The intentions are good and the attempt is to provide a safe atmosphere for those addicts who could be triggered. But this is NA. We should be allowed to talk about drugs. This is Narcotics Anonymous. We allow people to talk about all kinds of non addiction related topics ranging from pets to music, kids, money, cars, jobs, etc… We allow people to ramble on and on about non recovery related issues which could easily run off a newcomer because they don’t know what the hell we’re talking about.

    Hell, most of us who are asked to give a lead for the first time don’t know any better but to talk about our whole using life for for 90 percent of our speech followed up by 10 percent recovery. We don’t cut them off. We mention specific drugs then. All the stories in the NA book mentions drugs. Why? Identification!

    What I have been very displeased witnessing is a newcomer being cutoff in the middle of sharing told he is not allowed to say that. We need to be made to feel welcome, not called out in front of a large group of people.

    Just let people share what they need to share. If we really feel that it was excessive we can pull her aside after the meeting and compassionately mention that we try to focus a little more on the solution and that less mentioning of specifics next time would be nice. Let their sponsor talk to them. Let the person who got triggered talk to their sponsor. Or share in burning desires that they now feel like using. But we cannot be fair in saying that mentioning specific drugs causes people to go use any more than saying that refraining from ever mentioning drugs prevents newcomers from identifying and coming back.

    It is not ok to put rules and regulations on what people can talk about. Use the stories in the book for guidance. Because they freely mention that they were once members of AA before coming to NA, but we also seem to have some kind of quandary with this, saying things like “that other fellowship” as if AA or SA or CA or any other kind of A is taboo. Just let people speak freely.


    1. thanks for expressing your feelings or an internal turmoil, was starting to feel like what
      did I get out of this meeting, if aparticular member wants to bring back up some of the
      trigger words or as you stated non recovery related issues during the burning desires
      segment of the meeting

  4. The issue is more about what happens when specific drugs are mentioned. Quite often, the person sharing goes into a drug-alog that almost sounds like glamorization of how bad an addict they were… If someone is sharing about heroin and the next person shares about it as well, the addict across the way who never used it can begin to get a complex that they might not be an addict and can leave us. All drugs will eventually lead to jails, institutions and death…that includes alcohol, prescriptions and street drugs. All addicts in the rooms of NA are equal, they all used something, they all identified a problem, and they all found recovery…

    1. I don’t like the drug-alogs or the glamorization of the using lifestyle and find it uncomfortable when newcomers OR oldtimers share in this manner. I am also uncomfortable when people share about masturbation and watching porn. And there are a number of other things that I find either uncomfortable, annoying, or just boring. However, it is not my place or that of anyone else to try to control how and what others share about. Everyone should be free to discuss what they want and we should try to make them feel welcome.

      I do not want to run off the addicts who can’t relate to heroin or cocaine just by me mentioning it. I also don’t want to run off a junkie who can’t identify with us because someone is talking about eating too many cookies. Maybe after some time in recovery we see how addiction is all inclusive and can affect us in many ways other than drugs but as a newcomer I could never have identified with that. I needed to hear about my drug of choice. And if my drug of choice was marijuana or pain pills, then I would have needed to identify with that. That’s why its important for us to use our diversity and all share our stories so we can reach as many addicts as possible. If a newcomer can’t identify with the hard drugs being mentioned, then perhaps he can relate to someone else if they would be willing to mention their trouble with pot or alcohol.

      I don’t want anyone to be run off or not feel welcome or comfortable. I trust that everyone will have the opportunity to identify and receive the message if he or she is willing. But it is wrong to control what people share about and how they talk. This is Narcotics Anonymous and drugs are going to be mentioned.

  5. A drug is a drug is a drug. We all ended up in NA so it doesn’t matter. We focus on the disease of addiction, not the substance.

  6. “We don’t care what or how much you used, who your connections were, only what you want to do about your problem and how we can help.” When I think about this topic I think about what it was like for me when I first came into meetings at 16. I had never done half the drugs I would end up using in active addiction, nor did I feel I could relate to those who had. It was this inability to look at the similarities instead of the differences, and my own choices that led me back out for 6 more years of active addiction.

    I feel that an inclusive fellowship such as ours, which refers to recovery from addiction (not drugs) is better served when we refer to using without naming drugs. Those of us who have been around awhile have a much better understanding of the idea that addiction is progressive. However, I prefer to think of the newcomer in this regard, and hope that when someone says the word dope, he or she can envision the substance that has brought them into the rooms, instead of thinking they haven’t used mine yet. When I think about how difficult it can be as a newcomer to try to relate, I wonder why we would want to blur the message further by mentioning specific drugs.

  7. I gave my first lead with 90 days clean. It sounded like a pharmacy list. I was asked to speak at 3 other three meetings! I thought I was on my way to World! On the Circuit! My sponsor explained to me why we do not mention specific drug, so the next three leads I did not mention them. So much for the circuit. I understand that we have many people who used many different substance. when we were using we thought we were at once, better and worse than everybody else and we take this attitude into meetings. We l came here, I looked for every reason possible to disqualify myself and hearing about shooting and sleeping in dumpsters and having sex with pigs (yes, that too) only served to make me feel as if I didn’t belong. I couldn’t relate even to the personal stories. Today nobody will tell me I do not qualify for a seat in NA. I know the horrors of addiction and they existed and continue to exist inside my head. I finally related when people talked about desperate loneliness, even in a crowd, hating themselves, and all the other deeper levels of addiction everybody can relate to regardless of drugs. That is why we do not mention drugs. The other fellowships do talk about them, but as the BT says, “our identification is on a deeper level.” Yes I can’t remember my kids names but I can still recite the text.

  8. I didn’t need “hard” drugs to ruin my life and I didn’t let that keep me from recovery. I heard a speaker say once that “if you’ve had a hit or a drink and you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, you belong here.” I’m so glad he said that because I know there are probably other addicts like me who only used “soft” drugs and found their lives out of control who may think they don’t belong.

Comments are closed.