The most recent Narcotics Anonymous membership survey found that of those working the program, 58% of members had been sober for more than five years. And research shows that if a patient remains clean for three years or more, they are more likely to stay off of narcotics for good.
Although research tends to be conflicted on whether or not NA meetings works, one thing is clear: if you work the program then it should work for you.
So do NA meetings really help after heroin addiction? Or are you better off skipping them?
Read on to find out.
Addiction is a brain disease. It manifests itself as compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences. An addict has such an intense focus on using that substance that it tends to take over their life.
Addicts may be aware of their substance abuse problem but they’ll find themselves unable to stop using – even if they want to. Addiction tends to cause a variety of problems – from health problems to work problems to family problems and everything in between.
Addiction can have impacts not just on your behavior but also on your cognitive function and your emotions. It leads to a lot of changes in how your body works, acts, and thinks.
What Are NA Meetings?
Narcotics Anonymous is a global network of recovering addicts with 67,000 weekly meetings in 139 countries. NA meetings don’t focus on one particular drug – instead, the focus is on getting clean and staying clean while dealing with the trials and triumphs of addiction and recovery.
Much like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous is a 12-step program. The whole goal of NA is to create a community of addicts who can help each other and draw strength and wisdom from one another.
Meetings have addicts at all stages of recovery, from just a few days to years upon years of being clean.
NA uses a primary text called the “Basic Text” which is a guide for recovery from drug addiction. However, no part of NA is compulsory.
There are two types of meetings: “open” and “closed”. Open meetings are open to anyone, including visitors who are not addicted. Closed meetings are for members and prospective members only. All meetings are free, although there is a voluntary collection that helps to keep the meetings running and self-sustaining.
Anonymity and confidentiality are the cornerstones of NA meetings. Members agree that what is said in a meeting and whomever they meet in a meeting both remain confidential. This allows members to feel safe and clear to share honestly and openly.
The Arguments Against NA Meetings
The main argument against NA meetings is that the abstinence-only model makes it hard for addicts who are using drugs like methadone or suboxone to help get them lean. It can lead to recovering addicts feeling attacked or less-than.
However, the NA program can still work even if these drugs are being used because, once again, there is no part of NA that is mandatory or compulsory.
Why NA Meetings Really Work
Narcotics Anonymous is a 12-step program that outlines the step-by-step journey that leads from active addiction to recovery and sobriety.
One of the main steps of the NA program is admitting that you are responsible for your actions – for the things you did when you were high or using – and taking steps to amend the hurts caused by those actions. This is especially important because it helps to repair your relationships and one of the most important parts of recovering from an addiction is making sure you have a support system in place.
NA also builds on a reliance on a higher power. This doesn’t necessarily mean a god – just that there’s something out there that’s bigger than all of us. This is helpful because one of the hallmarks of addiction is a sense of hopelessness.
The idea that there is a higher power out there makes it feel like you’re not alone.
Additionally, the community that is built by NA helps with those feelings of isolation and hopelessness. It shows you that you’re not the only one struggling with this and that there are others out there who are willing to help you and support you on your journey.
Finally, NA meetings place a huge focus on helping others and giving back to your NA community. This can be done by supporting others during meetings and sharing time – or even by becoming a sponsor to other addicts once you’ve been clean for a while.
This can help to reinforce the notion of sobriety for you in particular. Because if you’re helping another person work the 12 steps then it helps you remember the philosophies so they’re never far from your mind.
Myths About NA Meetings
1. Marijuana Doesn’t Count as a Drug
This depends on who you talk to within the AA meeting. Some will call it a drug that opens you up to the risk of relapse. A drug is a drug is a drug, they say.
However, there are those who think that marijuana is okay when used for medicinal purposes – and as prescribed.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what works best for you and your recovery. But many will insist that marijuana is a drug and should not be used.
2. I Don’t Need a Sponsor
Again, this comes down to what is best for you and your recovery, but almost all NA members will encourage you to find a sponsor within your first 30 days of recovery.
This is because your sponsor will help guide you through the 12 steps and will be a touchstone for you when things get hard or feel out of control
3. I Don’t Have to Do the 12 Steps
One more time, no one can tell you how to do your recovery and there is no part of NA that is compulsory. But that being said, for anyone who is a severe addict just attending meetings doesn’t seem to be enough.
The 12 steps provide direction and guidance and help you on your journey of recovery. It gives you a direct path to follow and will keep you in line.
The Brass Tacks
If you work the program and follow the steps, keep up with meetings, and find a sponsor then the program should work for you. It’ll help with cravings and accountability and keep you on the right track after you get clean.
Do you need help getting clean first though? We can help with that! Contact us for help finding a suboxone clinic or doctor near you.