Some Points From an NA Member

I have been told about your site for a while now and just got around to checking it out today… of course, this topic has been floating around in recovery circles for months and considering I don’t live in Volusia County, I haven’t worried about it too much. Upon reading over your site, I have to say I agree with a few of your points and I have a couple of objections. I’m an open minded person, I’m not one to think that as soon as someone opposes twelve step recovery they are immediately wrong. I question the program a lot myself. I’ve been a devoted member of NA for over X years and I think I’m qualified to present my opinion. First, in many larger cities NA doesn’t meet in parks…its something they tend to do around here. If you care to have a party or use a park for the day, parks and recreation generally wants you to rent a pavilion or something of the sort, so I agree that using a pavilion 5 days a week for free is indeed accepting an outside contribution. Often times, there is a lot of conflict within the program about the traditions and how people interpret them. Just like laws, different people take them different ways. Also, I personally have always had an issue with the park meetings because I am not a big fan of all of the smoking and I also figure that an anonymous fellowship meeting in such close proximity to a playground or a shuffleboard court, etc… poses somewhat of a conflict of interest. I will attend these meetings, however, when I need to make a meeting and there is nothing else available. I am not able to make group decisions about meeting locations or tradition interpretation, I can only offer my opinion and my single vote. I think we are clearly guilty of taking the easiest route…as finding other meeting locations can be difficult and meeting in a park is cheap (free) and easy. I am not advocating this. I also think you raise an excellent point about drug court. In three years, I have seen very few, very very few, drug court members stay in recovery after getting off of drug court. It does not appear to be a program that works and it brings a lot of people into our fellowship that do not want to be there. To say these people represent NA isn’t fair, because our third tradition tells us that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using. Many of these people don’t have that, they have a desire to not go to jail. Therefore, they are not members, they are simply taking up space. I have empathy for them and hope they will hear something that will help them get clean, but a person sitting on a bench at a park who is not seeking recovery is not an NA member. Minors should not be mandated to go to NA meetings, and special consideration should indeed be taken for young women (by the courts, not by NA). Our program was not designed for people who are forced into recovery. As far as the religious aspect goes… I am an agnostic. I have no religion. I may use the word god because people in meetings prefer it, but the word itself means nothing to me. NA is not a religious organization. It is not an organization at all. We are often refused meeting space at churches because of our lack of religious affiliation. NA World Service has officially mandated we not use the lord’s prayer in our meetings. We have plenty of literature stating that we should not use any language in our meetings that may confuse a new person and lead them to believe the program is religious. The word “god” is used often in our program…but without a need for recovery, the way it is used will not be understood. Our literature literally speaks against dogma. Very literally. “God” does not reflect religion, it reflects the spiritual aspect of the program. If NA was a religious program, I would have immediately headed for the door, as nothing makes me more ill. I know very few religious people in recovery and many spiritual beings. I hope you will understand that I have taken all of your points seriously, agreed with a lot you have to say, and consider my views. NA is powerless over what the courts are doing, we cannot kick the drug court people out of meetings. Our traditions tell us we are to accept and love everyone, regardless of their past. NA has helped me find a new way to live, as it has done for countless others…but I think your heart is in the right place if you are looking out for your community. NA members should not be taking over local parks, littering, having meetings next to playgrounds, etc…but not everything you are saying is accurate. Feel free to use my letter in any capacity you wish.Thanks for reading.