Midwest Regional Guidelines for Open Nar-Anon Speaker Meetings
HOPE – Hearing Other Peoples’ Experiences
Prepared by: Ruth M, Delegate and Theresa C, Alternate Delegate
Why these Guidelines?
- Address the question of whether speakers can be incorporated into a Family Group Meeting without compromising the Traditions or Concepts of our program
- Provide some suggested avenues for identifying potential speakers
- Address the question of how speakers meetings can be organized
- Offer suggestions on how a speaker can be effectively utilized in a meeting
Why consider having a speaker at your Family Group Meeting?
- Gives hope. People DO recover. Can see and hear about the transformation of the speaker.
- Change of perspective. Insightful to hear experiences from the addict’s side.
- Courage to change when we hear a loved one of an addict share their story of recovery and inner peace.
- We share the reality of powerlessness.
- All stories are unique, with common threads: the desire to change, willingness to accept help, do the work for recovery, take life a day at a time, learn to use the tools
- Identification happens. We really do belong. We hear our story in another’s, hear our secret thoughts coming out of another’s mouth.
- Attraction happens, isolation begins to break, we do not need to go through our struggles alone.
- Peace and healing are possible.
Where to find an NA or Nar-Anon speaker?
- A recovering addict or transformed relative or friend of a Nar-Anon member.
- An NA or Nar-Anon speaker heard elsewhere.
- An NA member, sometimes regional outreach person, who lines up willing speakers reflective of recovery.
- A local treatment center may have a therapist (recovering) or contact information on a recovery speaker they use in their program to share their personal story.
- Contact local NA group or attend an open NA meeting or convention. Ask for help or simply see who may cross your path.
- Attend a local Nar-Anon meeting, assembly, convention or outreach event with eyes and ears open.
- Ask a member of your group to share their story. We usually only know parts of each other’s stories.
Who is a recovery speaker?
A recovery speaker is any person whose life has been transformed by their recovery and through their story and experiences. Their story carries the recovery message of hope: no family need be destroyed by this family disease, healing is possible.
If a person is a recovering, spiritually-transforming person, trust he/she is going to share what someone present needs to hear. That seems to be how recovery often times works at meetings. A person’s story and experiences are theirs alone. Their reality is not something we can or should judge as being good enough or recovery enough. It is their story and their miracle. We all have a story and when we speak it, some part of it will help another person move closer to understanding and recovery.
When telling their story, a speaker will often touch on the long rocky road into destruction but more focus will be on their journey of recovery. If you are concerned when approaching a potential speaker, simply ask the speaker to elaborate on the course of events that have unfolded since working their program (questions like: How have things worked out over time? How do you use your recovery today versus in early recovery? How has their relationship with a Higher Power and others changed?)
How to conduct a speaker meeting?
- Have a speaker (story) meeting. One speaker for 30-40 minutes or two (possibly one of each fellowship) for 20 minutes each.
- Have a speaker meeting on a specific recovery topic ( i.e. working the steps, traditions, or sponsorship) with guest (s) NA and or Nar-Anon speaker sharing their experiences.
- Have an Open Nar-Anon meeting, inviting other local groups, family, NA speakers, Nar-Anon speakers. Host an evening of recovery, celebrate a family group anniversary, kick off a fund-raiser or outreach event.
- After each speaker allow for a brief time of sharing and response by those in attendance
Is it appropriate to utilize other outside speakers (that is, addiction, intervention, or life-saving professionals)?
It is good to be educated and informed about the disease of addiction as well as treatment facilities, treatment modalities and current drug therapies. There are other places you can go for this information. These change rapidly, as do medical insurance coverage and requirements and/or restrictions of use. Understanding our addicted relatives or friends is part of our program but dissemination of addiction information and treatment suggestions is not part of the Nar-Anon 12 step recovery program; we are not professionals. Be aware that if your group decides to have an outside professional speaker on addiction, like a counselor or doctor, they may not be working or understand a recovery program. Our recovery precepts hinge on the 12 steps.
What about outside spiritual speakers?
Unless they are sharing from the perspective of a recovering Nar-Anon or NA member, it is suggested that they do not belong in a meeting setting. People need to be free to share their personal spiritual experience in the context of a meeting. Nar-Anon meetings are the place for honest sharing with sensitivity to those persons who have different beliefs, or none at all, but are still willing to give a recovery program a chance. Family groups are spiritual but no particular religious belief is emphasized. The steps walk us along our own recovery path…and the chairs we sit in at our meetings, well, you know, they are magic…
How do I find an open NA meeting?
- Open NA meetings are usually monthly depending on the group or Fri or Sat nights in some regions; check local listings. Search on the internet for open NA meetings in your area. A meeting list will specifically give info on the day it is open (i.e. Week 1, Week 4). Further the directory will say if it is closed or open speaker meeting.
- You may be uncomfortable if you go alone. Take a friend.
- Attending an NA meeting builds our NA & Nar-Anon affiliation. It lets them know we are available for their family members who need Nar-Anon.
- You can hear different people speak and allows you to identify who you would like to hear more from.
- When attending an open NA meeting, Nar-Anon members do not share at all. The focus is on the NA program. Often at the end of an open speaker (story) meeting there is a brief time of sharing, gratitude and reflection on the speaker’s share.
- For your convenience, if you would like additional information a link from NA is noted below in the Citation Section with more information on open and closed meetings.
Closing thoughts and comments
- All Family Groups are autonomous. Despite all the cited sources, the decision to host an outside speaker is an individual family group decision, determined by Group Conscious if there are opposing views.
- Family Groups that have outside speakers may only have 1 per year with some having as many as 1 per quarter. It is a group decision.
Nar-Anon tradition 5: Each Nar-Anon family group has but one purpose: to help families of addicts. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of Nar-Anon ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our addicted relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of addicts.
Guide to Local Service, 2014 edition
- p2-2 “It may be helpful to invite guest speakers from other Nar-Anon groups. NA speakers may also be invited to speak.”
- p3-2 “We ask that you speak only as a member of Nar-Anon unless you were invited as a speaker from NA”
- p3-6 “Don’t rely solely on visiting speakers.”
- p3-7 “Comment on the value of attendance at open NA meetings.”
- p4-4 “Group Conscious is the collective viewpoint on matters affecting the group. Arriving at a GC requires informative discussion by its members using the Guide to Local and World Services and adhering to the steps, traditions and concepts of Nar-Anon to reach a decision. As members of a spiritual program, we invite our HP to guide us throughout this process. Each group is autonomous but still has an obligation to work within the guidelines of Nar-Anon.”
- p7-2 “At open Nar-Anon meetings, group anniversaries, conventions or workshops where non-members may be present, Nar-Anon and Narateen members are free to decide how much anonymity they prefer. It is well to open such meetings with a brief explanation of the 11h and 12th”
- p12-1 “A group comprised of relatives and friends of addicts whose primary purpose is to serve NA is NOT a Nar-Anon Family Group. Members of those groups, which do not follow Nar-Anon’s stated precepts, may NOT speak as Nar-Anon members at open NA meetings, conventions, etc.”
- p12-1 “It is from Nar-Anon and Narateen members that we hear ideas and experiences that put us on the road to recovery. Outside speakers at Nar-Anon and Narateen meetings may divert the focus from our recovery. Professionals from the field of drug addiction may provide valuable information but can be heard in other places.” Our 6th tradition which states, “Our Family Groups ought never to endorse, finance, or lend our name to any outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary spiritual aim…”
- p12-1 “In any announcement of a Nar-Anon or Narateen meeting at which a clergyman or professional is to speak, it is suggested that a statement such as the following be included: “Nar-Anon/Narateen is not affiliated with any sect, denomination, political entity, organization or institution.”
- Step 1 “We admitted we were powerless over the addict…”
- Step 2 “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
- Trad 1 “Our common welfare should come first…”
- Trad 4 “Each group should be autonomous…”
- Trad 5 “Each …group has but one purpose; to help families of addicts…”
- Trad 6 “…never to endorse, finance, or lend our name to any outside enterprise…”
- Trad 8 “…Twelfth step work should remain forever non-professional…”
- Trad 10 “…have no opinion on outside issues…”
- Board of Trustees act as guardian of all Nar-Anon traditions. (Guide to World Service p9)
- Concept 2 “The final responsibility and authority for Nar-Anon services rests with the Nar-Anon Family Groups.”
- Concept 6 “Group Conscious is the spiritual means by which we invite a loving HP to influence our decisions.”
- Concept 9 “…have the responsibility to carefully consider all viewpoints…”
Narcotics Anonymous link to info on open versus closed meetings: