In all countries where it operates, NA has a central office which deals with enquiries. This office will tell you where there are local members.
If there is no NA, turn to Alcoholics Anonymous for help. A A has been going longer than NA and has a wider spread of offices. Often the local telephone book or the telephone operator will have their number. Local Samaritan offices usually have AA details too.
It may seem odd to send a drug addict to Alcoholics Anonymous, which is, strictly speaking, for people who have a problem with alcohol. But nowadays most AA meetings include members who have used both drink and drugs. They can help you.
Besides, AA membership is for everybody who wants to stop drinking alcohol. As the preamble to every AA meeting puts it: ‘The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.’
Every addict should stop drinking alcohol, because alcohol is a drug which alters the mood and is therefore addictive. So any addict is entitled to attend AA meetings.
In that sense too, all addicts are entitled to call themselves alcoholics. And it is customary to preface all remarks at an AA meeting with ‘I’m Michelle or Tom. I’m an alcoholic’
Alison, the recovering addict and alcoholic we met earlier in this chapter, got well in Alcoholics Anonymous in 1977 before NA had started in Britain. ‘At my first meeting I sat next to a man who talked about drugs and rock music. I think that helped me feel I was in the right place.’
That said, it has to be admitted that AA members sometimes feel uncomfortable with people who talk a great deal about drug-use. Graphic stories about fixing, scoring or pill-swallowing may even be met with the suggestion that AA is for those using alcohol, not other drugs.
It’s partly a question of tact. If you want to use Alcoholics Anonymous to get well, it is best to play down stories of your drug-using at the meeting. Concentrate on talking about the methods of recovery.
‘Some people go to AA and freak AA out with needle stories or with drug stories,’ says. ‘But that is the basis of their addiction anyway, as opposed to their dad’-s alcoholism. We say in NA, “Don’t do that. Shut up about your drugs. Don’t try to freak out the old boys in AA, because that’s what you were doing outside. That’s outside behaviour. So don’t do it.” ‘
And, if you feel you can’t yet call yourself an alcoholic, just sit in the meeting and listen, rather than talk. This, anyway, is the best recipe for recovery in the early days. There’s an AA saying: ‘Take the cotton wool out of your ears and stick it in your mouth.’ There will always be an opportunity to talk about drugs after the meeting in the informal get-togethers which most AAs have over tea or coffee.


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