• How To Find Effective Online NA Meetings

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    What are NA Meetings?

    Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a non-profit organization that strives to help people overcome their addictions to narcotics by providing a safe, secure, and anonymous place to meet with others who understand what they are going through.1 Online NA meetings are a virtual form of this gathering where people can discuss overcoming their addiction in a virtual chatroom.

    Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings were created with the same concept as AA meetings and follow a very similar “12 steps” program to help people in recovery maintain their sobriety.

    HISTORY OF AA AND NA

    NA was founded in the footsteps of the success of Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1955, twenty years after AA was founded, the first NA meetings were held. Although they are similar in their core tenets of individual responsibility and a belief in a higher power, there are a few key differences between Narcotics Anonymous meetings and AA meetings.

    One of the biggest differences is that NA welcomes anyone struggling with addiction into their meetings. It does not matter what substance a person used, including alcohol. The only requirement for NA is that someone feels that they have lost control of themselves and that their addiction has overtaken their life.

    Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings are typically longer than AA meetings, running ninety minutes as opposed to sixty. These meetings not only focus on recovery and treatment but also the science and reasoning behind addiction. They can be beneficial for those who are struggling to understand why they are addicted.

    12-STEP PROGRAM

    The 12-Step Program of NA is very similar to the AA program. Both programs emphasize making amends for the hurt that a person has caused themselves and others while under the influence of their addiction. This program includes steps such as admitting that one is powerless over addiction, accepting a greater power to restore control over one’s life, making a list of people that have been harmed due to a member’s addiction, and more.2

    These steps are meant to be worked through over months, and it is accepted that these changes will not occur overnight. Research has shown that those who attend meetings and work through the program are 50% less likely to relapse than those who do not.3  

    Online NA Meetings

    Over the past decade, online NA meetings have become more prevalent due to the now widespread availability of the internet even in rural areas. During the pandemic, these online NA meetings have become even more common simply out of necessity.

    HOW DO ONLINE NA MEETINGS OPERATE?

    NA online meetings operate in almost the same way in-person meetings would. There are different types of meetings such as:

    • Open meetings where anyone is allowed
    • Closed meetings to only those who have been invited
    • Speaker meetings involving a keynote speaker
    • Specific meetings such as men only, female only, LGBTQ+ only, etc. Specific meetings such as men only, female only, LGBTQ+ only, etc.
    • Study meetings which involve studying the 12-Steps or the Big Book

    These meetings typically begin with an opening statement from the designated group leader and then move into welcoming anyone new and allowing those who want to share their stories to do so.

    Just as in a traditional meeting, no one is required to speak up, introduce, or draw attention to themselves if they do not want to. It is perfectly acceptable to simply sit and listen, but it may be more beneficial to actively participate if possible.

    HOW EFFECTIVE ARE ONLINE NA MEETINGS?

    The answer to this question depends on the individual. Online NA meetings can be just as effective as traditional ones if a person is committed to their recovery.5 That said, NA online meetings still have flaws, and it can be difficult for those who are just starting their recovery to feel the emotional connection and support that they would in person.

    Examining the Pros and Cons

    THE BENEFITS OF ONLINE NA MEETINGS

    When a person is new to NA, it is generally recommended that they attend a meeting every day for the first ninety days of their recovery if possible. There are several benefits to online NA meetings including:

    • More accessible to members who do not have transportation
    • Accessible to members who live in rural areas and do not have access to in-person meetings
    • Allows for more flexibility in schedules and makes it easier for busy people to attend meetings
    • Meetings happen 24/7 online
    • May benefit those with social anxiety who don’t like attending functions
    • May offer more security and anonymity than traditional meetings

    THE NEGATIVES OF ONLINE NA MEETINGS

    Although online NA meetings offer many benefits, there are a few negatives that should be considered as well. Online NA meetings may not be the right choice for everyone. Some of the negatives include:

    • Members may not feel that they are being held as accountable
    • Some members may not feel as though the process is serious online
    • The lack of emotional and physical connection may be detrimental to some
    • Can be difficult to gauge emotions and there may be misunderstandings without body language
    • There is a lack of stability as people tend to come and go from online groups
    • Some members may not feel encouraged to attend regularly

    How to Find NA Meetings Near You

    Most major metropolitan areas have several locations where NA meetings are typically held. Many community centers, churches, or other public spaces offer their buildings as meeting areas. A good place to start is by asking your doctor or therapist if they know of any in the area that they can recommend.

    From there, check the official NA website and utilize their location tool to find a NA meeting near you. If you live in a more rural area, then an NA online meeting may be easier to attend. The times and dates of these can also be found on the www.na.org website.

    In many cases, if you have received inpatient or outpatient treatment for an addiction, the staff at the clinic will also be able to provide you with information about any nearby NA meetings. Many organizations work with Narcotics Anonymous to help those who are struggling with an addiction to find help, such as families against narcotics, which can help direct you to an NA meeting.

    Resources

    1. https://www.na.org/?ID=PR-index
    2. https://12step.org/references/12-step-versions/na/
    3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140338/
    4. https://virtual-na.org/howto-information/
    5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33870953/
    6. https://www.familiesagainstnarcotics.org/