Are Online NA Meetings the Future of Support Groups?
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What are NA Meetings?
NA is an abbreviation for Narcotics Anonymous, which is a program that aims to create a suitable community for individuals struggling to recovery from substance abuse. Narcotics Anonymous creates a system where individuals can help one another while going through the recovery process and overcoming their addiction.
There is a relationship between Narcotics Anonymous and AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) since they both function based on the same principles and philosophies. Narcotics Anonymous is originally from Alcoholics Anonymous, which was initially founded by Jimmy Kinnon in the mid-1930s. The first meetings were in Los Angeles, California in the United States.
The 12-Step Program
In 1953, AA meetings permitted the operation of the NA and its use of the 12 steps and traditions.2 Now, the 12 steps and traditions are called the “12-Step Program.” The different steps and principles under the program include honesty, faith, surrender, soul searching, integrity, and acceptance.
Online NA Meetings
The online NA gatherings are the conventional Narcotics Anonymous forums, except that they take place over the internet. Each of the gatherings does not have strict requirements compared to rehab facilities. Either a counselor or an ex-rehab patient can provide an online NA meeting.
Most online NA forums occur over video calls, but some also occur over text messaging or voice messaging. There are different types of these meetings and some examples include:
- Open meetings
- NA Speaker meetings
- Closed virtual meetings
- Specific NA online meetings
- Topic meetings
- Big Book study
- 12-step study
How do Online NA Meetings Operate?The open meetings allow anyone experiencing substance use disorder to attend, while the closed virtual meetings are for specific individuals that the moderator invites. The NA Speaker meetings involve a speaker that engages in discussions about a topic related to substance use disorder. For the Big Book study, each member needs to have a copy of a specific book containing the guidelines of AA, which they discuss with one another. Note that both the topic meetings that involve an attendee and the Big Book study may either be closed or open. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NA became mostly virtual with the appropriate online resources available. According to a survey involving different participants, most individuals had a successful transition from conventional physical meetings to virtual.3
Benefits of Online NA Meetings
Online NA is becoming increasingly common due to its various benefits. For better comprehension of the advantages of Narcotics Anonymous meetings, here’s what you need to know:
- Members without transportation can attendSince online NA forums are virtual, individuals do not need a means of transport. It cuts out the need for the usage of resources like money for transportation. Online NA doesn’t require members to move from their location.
- Members in remote areas can attendIndividuals that are far away from major cities or areas where most people reside can also attend NA online. The sessions occur online so being in a remote region is not an imperative factor.
- Can be more flexible for schedules The presence of NA online makes it possible for individuals to have a more flexible schedule for attendance. The meetings require full concentration, but they are less demanding than those that occur face-to-face.
- Can aid those with social anxiety Social anxiety disorder is a mental condition that typically causes a significant level of fear in social gatherings, especially when they are physical. Individuals with the condition are usually scared of judgment or scrutiny from others.
Negatives of Online NA Meetings
- Members may feel they are not held accountableAccountability is an important factor in substance abuse treatment and recovery. Due to the nature of the online NA meeting, most members may feel less accountable compared to the physical sessions.
- Security and anonymity concerns In an open online NA, individuals may feel less secure or comfortable. Members usually understand and agree to the fact that anything discussed in the meeting does not result in any public leak of information.
- Lack of emotional connection NA gatherings typically involve different individuals that discuss their struggles in substance use disorder or other related affairs. Some people may find the method of sharing uncomfortable due to the appearance of low emotional connection.
- Easier to hide substance abuse behind a screenThe meetings are typically virtual, making it easier for individuals to hide their challenges with substance use disorder behind a screen. Continual attendance of the virtual gathering may still provide valuable help.
How Effective are Online NA Meetings?
How to Find NA Meetings Near YouThe official Narcotics Anonymous website makes it possible for individuals to find available gatherings. With the Narcotics Anonymous website or the local helplines, it’s easier to find local meetings. Follow the necessary steps on the site, starting from selecting a state or province within the United States or Canada. Note that if you want to perform a world search, that is also an option. Apart from going through the official NA website, you can also find close gatherings by going through rehabilitation centers or clinics. Note that the sessions may be virtual, depending on the available gathering around you.
OutlookOnline Narcotics Anonymous meetings have various benefits, especially for individuals with tight schedules. It helps certain individuals in addiction recovery without the need to move from a region to another in the United States. Due to the nature of the gatherings, it is essential to try finding a trusted individual to keep you accountable.