Type of group: This meeting was a “Narcotics Anonymous Open Sharing Meeting”. This component, where anyone attending had the opportunity to share. There was no direct feedback from the other participants during the “share”, thus only one person spoke at any given time during that portion of the meeting. Organizational affiliation: Narcotics Anonymous as a group has no affiliation outside of Narcotics Anonymous. As a group they have no opinion on outside issues,” including those of politics, science, or medicine, and do not endorse any outside organization or institution.
The fellowship does not promote itself, but rather attracts new members through public information and outreach. Narcotics Anonymous groups and areas supply outside organizations with factual information regarding the Narcotics Anonymous program, and individual members may carry the Narcotics Anonymous message to hospitals and institutions, such as treatment centers and jails. Narcotics Anonymous as a group base their public relations policy on attraction rather than promotion.
Physical environment: This meeting was held in the recreation room in the basement of a church. There was an oblong table at the head of the two rows of chairs placed in a 360 degree circle. Participants: There were roughly 40-50 participants ranging in age from mid teens to late 50’s. There were only 5 females in attendance. This group’s ethnicity was about 85% Caucasian, 10% African American and 5% Latino. Leadership structure: In different areas the work is divided differently, and the particular jobs are sometimes called different names. At this particular meeting the leadership structure was as follows, ranking from top to bottom in hierarchy. Chairperson, Co-Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer and Group service representative (GSR).
What the group does for a person’s first visit? First time visitors and newcomers to this meeting were asked to introduce themselves by first name only. These individuals were welcomed by all the participants at the meeting. These individuals were given a hand shake, a hug and a white key tag (by a presenter) that said welcome on one side and on the other side had the Narcotics Anonymous logo. How members’ contribute to the group’s leadership? Members who attend the same meeting on a regular basis to establish a recovery network and reliable routine understand this to be their “Home Group”.
These group members are able to participate in the group’s business, and play an important role in deciding how the structure, leadership and the group’s meetings will be conducted. Each member has a vote in this process and the majority vote rules. Activities that occurred during the meeting. There were no physical activities during this meeting but certain individuals read inserts from the “Basic Text Book” of Narcotics Anonymous pertaining to that week’s format and agenda.
Address the following questions:
How did the group begin? The group began by the Chairperson knocking on the table to gain every ones attention, then announcing them self, followed by stating the name of this group (Dead Man Walking) then reciting the Serenity Prayer. How was the purpose of the meeting communicated? The purpose of the meeting was indicated by preamble which was read by the Chairperson also by the reading of the secretary’s report, which was read by the C-Chairperson, this stated the purpose of the meeting and the rules in which the participants were required to oblige by. How was the meeting’s agenda established? The agenda varies in whatever way seems to best suit the personality of the group and the needs of the addicts in the community.
This meeting’s agenda and format was established by the governing members (from the Home Group) and varies from week to week but was mostly based on the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Narcotics Anonymous. Techniques used to encourage people to participate. It was announced to all those attending the meeting that participation was optional. What extent were these techniques effective. There was no pressure on anyone which made the atmosphere very comfortable. What are participants’ responsibilities for the meeting process? Anonymity of the group’s participants and process were the main responsibilities from all those attending and keeping the sharing time between 3-5 minutes and not interrupting the person who was talking.
How were these responsibilities explained? These responsibilities were explained to the group in detail during the reading of the secretary’s report. How did the group demonstrate interest, acceptance, etc. in those attending? The participants showed interest by paying close attention to the individual who was sharing and when those who shared finished, everyone in the group (at one time) thanked that person for sharing their story. What emotions were observed? There were a couple of times when an individual who was telling their story began to cry.
Other times there was some laughter from the group when certain individuals identified their own story with the one the person was sharing. How did the participants respond to expressions of these emotions? The participants expressions showed true concern and empathy for those who were sharing their experience, strength and hope. Were there any decisions made for future events or meetings? It was stated in the secretary’s report that all meeting events and decisions are discussed and made during the group’s monthly business meeting. The business meeting for this group is held on the second Saturday of the month. Describe any observation of any therapeutic factors. The therapeutic value of one addict helping another gave each participant the feeling of acceptance and familiarity.
There were a lot of similarities between the structure of an Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meeting. A major difference I witness at the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting from the Narcotics Anonymous meeting was, at the Narcotics Anonymous Meeting it was suggested that those who was sharing not to acknowledge or mention there drug use. At the Narcotics Anonymous meeting it was clearly stated that “Narcotics Anonymous does not distinguish a difference between substances, they are all inclusive, “Alcohol is a drug”. It was also stated at the Narcotics Anonymous meeting that anyone from the other fellowship (Alcoholics Anonymous) was accepted at this and all Narcotics Anonymous meetings.