Dealing with drug addiction is a challenging journey, not only for the individuals struggling with the addiction but also for their friends and family members. The impact of addiction on loved ones can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of helplessness, frustration, and fear. Fortunately, there is a community that understands the struggles faced by those supporting someone with addiction— Nar-Anon. In this article, we will explore what a Nar-Anon meeting is, how it can help, and why it is a valuable resource for anyone impacted by an addicted loved one.
Below are 10 things you can expect at a Nar-Anon meeting.
1. A Safe Space
Most Nar-Anon meetings take place in community spaces like churches, organization halls, or rented rooms in office buildings. To encourage open communication, a circle of chairs is a traditional setup, as you may have seen in movies. Do not expect cliques or for a Nar-Anon meeting to be exclusive. It’s a free gathering that is welcoming to everyone.
2. A Welcoming Atmosphere
Support is crucial when facing the challenges of addiction, both for the addict and their loved ones. Nar-Anon provides a welcoming and understanding environment where individuals can freely share their frustrations, fears, and worries without judgment. Connecting with others who have faced similar struggles can help alleviate feelings of isolation and provide valuable insights and coping mechanisms. Nar-Anon offers a sense of belonging and community, creating a strong social connection that can help friends and family members better navigate the complexities of addiction.
3. The Serenity Prayer
Nar-Anon meetings are based on the 12 steps originally introduced in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Therefore, the serenity prayer—which is repeated, chanted, and absorbed in all different types of 12-step meetings like AA, NA, and Al-Anon—will be recited here too at the beginning and the end. Don’t worry if you are not familiar with it. They will hand you a booklet with the mission, the 12 steps, and of course, the serenity prayer.
4. The Icebreaker
Depending on the type of Nar-Anon meeting, they may ask you to read aloud. One of the ways people feel more comfortable speaking is by taking turns reading different sections of the booklet, like the “Newcomer’s Letter” and “Changing Ourselves.” Something is reassuring when you hear your voice echoing through the room. Yes, you can speak up at your first Nar-Anon meeting; however, if you are too anxious to do so, you may simply say, “Pass” and indicate that you want to listen.
5. “The Family”
People attending Nar-Anon and Al-Anon meetings come from all walks of life, backgrounds, and religious beliefs. You might feel awkward at first and think that you can’t relate to the cat lady or the restless punk rocker girl seated next to you. But there is a reading called “The Family” that, in a few well-crafted sentences, describes the lives of every single person in the room. It puts everybody in the same boat. That’s when bonding and healing begin. It reminds you that you are not alone.
6. Announcements and Donations
Before the meeting, there may be announcements about local events occurring that pertain to Nar-Anon. The person chairing the Nar-Anon meeting will read the announcements. At this point, they may ask if there are any new members. Feel free to introduce yourself, but don’t feel that you have to the first time. Prior to or during the meeting, there will be a basket passed for donations, which helps run the support group. Just like Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, the meeting is self-supported. However, there are never dues or fees for attending Nar-Anon, so do not worry about donations if it’s your first meeting.
7. A Positive Vibe
Worry and sadness can bring people together, but don’t expect Nar-Anon meetings to be depressing. It’s a refuge where people can be honest with themselves and others. Not only will you find this level of understanding and positivity at Nar-Anon, but you will find it also at Narateen, which is a support group specifically designed for teenagers who have an addicted loved one (often a parent) in their lives.
8. The Stories
Finally, it’s time to share your story. You may choose not to your first time, and that’s okay! If it’s a speaker-type of Nar-Anon meeting, you won’t need to worry about speaking at all. In general, you will hear stories of recovery, stories of overdose, remembrances from a faraway past, or what happened that morning. Keep an open mind, and remember that everyone attending, just like those who attend Narcotics Anonymous, is at a different point in their healing and recovery journey.
The Nar-Anon group is not affiliated with any religion, but they do address God, or whichever higher power resonates with you, throughout the meeting. Members are encouraged to let go of any form of control over the addicted person and leave it to their higher power. This can be quite challenging, but the group believes that letting go of control is crucial to personal recovery. It is a spiritual group. Meditation and prayer are recommended as ways of seeking serenity.
The cornerstone of Nar-Anon is, “What happens in there, stays in there.” No personal story should be broadcast, gossiped about, or undermined. You take a vow to protect your privacy and the privacy of others. But if you still struggle with the idea that people in your community will find out about your addicted loved one, you can always join a meeting in a neighboring town. Don’t be surprised if you make great friendships. That’s the power of people sharing their stories.
Supporting a loved one with drug addiction can be an overwhelming experience, but you don’t have to face it alone. Nar-Anon offers a supportive community where friends and family members can connect, share their challenges, and find understanding. Through its 12-step program and inclusive environment, Nar-Anon meetings provide a path to healing and personal growth for those impacted by addiction. If you are struggling with someone’s addiction, reach out to Nar-Anon today and discover the power of community in your journey towards support and recovery.