Why H&I Meetings Are Needed
H&I meetings can carry the NA message of recovery to addicts who do not have full access to regular Narcotics Anonymous meetings. H&I is an important service in our public relations efforts in NA. One of our PR goals is to inform the public and the potential member about our program. When addicts seeking recovery know who we are and where to find our meetings, this means our efforts have been successful. H&I meetings and presentations, except for those in longterm facilities, are intended to introduce those attending to some of the basics of the NA program. H&I and Public Information Cooperation In NA communities that have both a PI and an H&I committee, it may be helpful for them to work together when planning activities. These activities can include presentations to drug courts or treatment centers. Generally, PI or PR activities are geared to people outside our fellowship, often people who come in contact with addicts and can help addicts to find NA. H&I BASICS | 3 Although H&I usually has the responsibility to provide panel meetings, trusted servants from both committees may be involved with presentations in facilities that house potential members. Working together is an example of communication and sharing resources in action. In emerging and developing NA communities, a group or one service committee may provide services. Meeting/Presentation Format The format of any particular H&I meeting or presentation may vary depending on the type of facility. In short-term facilities the format will be more focused on the message that panel members are carrying in to the potential members, while at a long-term facility we may want to encourage more participation. Whatever format is chosen, we usually get the audience involved with a question-and-answer session at some point during the meeting/presentation. Who Is Best Suited for Carrying the NA Message in an H&I Meeting? In our experience, it is best for members to have three months clean before attending an H&I committee meeting as an observer, and six months clean before speaking at an H&I meeting. It is not necessary for us to have been in a similar facility ourselves; any member who is willing to be oriented and trained and to share a clear and consistent Narcotics Anonymous message is well suited for H&I work. Preparation and orientation practices will vary, and are often developed by the local committee. 4 | H&I BASICS H&I Meetings/Presentations Where No ASC or H&I Subcommittee Exists As Narcotics Anonymous grows in a community, meetings and groups in the area may want to carry the message of recovery. In isolated or developing NA communities, often due to a meeting’s geographical location, or due the limited development of an NA service system, formation of and participation in an ASC with an H&I subcommittee is not yet possible or practical. Once an H&I meeting/presentation is started, the news can spread very quickly. Facilities hear about our H&I efforts and seek out local members, often requesting an H&I meeting or information about NA meetings. Usually, these original members in an area are very committed and try to say “yes” to all requests, so new H&I meetings are started. At this point, it may be helpful to inventory both the human and financial resources available in order to prioritize meetings and/or facilities that can be served effectively. H&I needs committed members, but literature and transportation costs should also be considered. It is common for H&I commitments to be taken on by a few dedicated members. We have discovered that often the demands of supporting one or more H&I meetings, week in and week out, can lead to burnout. Effective delegation and planning can help assure that the commitments are maintained and the responsibilities H&I BASICS | 5 are shared. It is possible to do H&I work with a just a few members, but in such circumstances be sure to use common sense. Here are some tips: Never take on an H&I commitment alone. In the absence of an area H&I subcommittee, any H&I work has to be the effort of one or more groups. Remember, I can’t—we can. Make sure the group is ready for the responsibility. Don't be afraid to say, "We’re sorry, but we're just not able to support a meeting in your facility at this time." You may also consider negotiating. For example, you could offer to bring in one meeting a month instead of two. Don't take on additional commitments until you are ready. Get other groups involved whenever possible, perhaps alternating weeks or months. Reach out. Sometimes members from neighboring areas or the region are able to come and help on an occasional basis. Use these guidelines. You will find much material in here that will be helpful in your efforts. If you find that you have overcommitted yourselves and cannot consistently hold the meeting, go to the facility and let them know that you need to discontinue the meeting or decrease the schedule of meetings. NA will retain its credibility and respectability when you meet face-to-face to inform a facility’s staff that you are unable to keep a commitment. Always be aware that H&I work is best done by area H&I subcommittees using the panel system. As soon as it is possible to form an ASC (area service committee) or to join one, do so.
Many Narcotics Anonymous members have found Hospitals and Institutions service to be an important part of their personal recovery. Our members, who actively participate in H&I service, are very important resources in our fellowship. A commitment to H&I service is one of the many ways to become involved with the NA service structure and help us feel a part of our fellowship. We know that active addiction leads to jails, institutions, and death. Also, NA’s primary purpose is to carry the message of recovery to the addict who still suffers. It is not surprising that carrying the NA message of recovery into hospitals and institutions is one of our priorities. NA members have consistently supported this belief by forming Hospitals and Institutions (H&I) committees around the world. Still, some NA members have been reluctant to become involved in H&I service because they have never been incarcerated, arrested, or institutionalized. With our personal experience and proper preparation, all of us are uniquely qualified to carry our message of recovery. This pamphlet is intended to be a brief introduction to Narcotics Anonymous H&I service, and to encourage more members to avail themselves of this opportunity to serve. What Is an H&I Meeting? The purpose of an H&I meeting is to carry the message of recovery to addicts who do not have full access to regular Narcotics Anonymous meetings. H&I meetings, except for those in long-term facilities, are intended to introduce those addicts in attendance to the basics of the NA program. In order to form a clear understanding of an H&I meeting, it is important to learn about our service structure. An H&I meeting is generally a service provided by an area service committee’s H&I subcommittee. These meetings occur in hospitals, treatment centers, correctional facilities, and adolescent institutions. Rather than being an NA group, it is vital that an H&I meeting always be held under the direction of an H&I subcommittee. How Do I Get Involved? An area H&I subcommittee is the center for planning and organization. This is the ideal place to start getting involved! The first thing to do is to show up at an area H&I subcommittee meeting and attend an orientation for new and interested members. These orientation meetings help members become familiar with the information and clean time requirements necessary for service in H&I. At these meetings, members are selected to carry our message into facilities. Usually, the next step is to attend an H&I meeting as an observer. Through this process members gain a basic understanding of H&I service and decide on a level of involvement. Why Do I Get Involved? Hospitals and institutions service offers addicts an opportunity to demonstrate gratitude, fulfill responsibility, and share the NA message without expectations. It is also an effective tool that helps us stay clean, and keeps us coming back. The H&I message is the same as the NA message: “That an addict, any addict, can stop using drugs, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live.”1 The gift we share is hope and freedom from active addiction through the program of Narcotics Anonymous. Any NA member who wants to carry this message is encouraged to get involved with H&I service. There are many ways to serve in Narcotics Anonymous, and many of us have found H&I service to be the most rewarding aspect of our recovery. We hope that this pamphlet will encourage you to get involved with H&I service and experience these rewards for yourself!
For more detailed information, refer to the Public Relations Handbook, Chapter Six and its resources, and the Hospitals & Institutions Handbook. More information may also be obtained from neighboring H&I committees. NA World Services may be able to help find contacts close to you with H&I experience. Sharing our experience, strength, and hope in this area of service can greatly enhance the ties that bind us together. We recognize that legal restrictions in many countries prohibit the congregation of addicts. If you live in an area where these restrictions exist, please contact NA World Services for additional information before moving forward with H&I efforts.
Copyright © 2010 by Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc. All rights reserved. This is Board-approved service material. Narcotics Anonymous, and The NA Way are registered trademarks of Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Incorporated. ISBN 9781557768384 • 7/10 WSO Catalog Item No. 2101G
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