The other mental trick is to think through what will happen if you take a drink or drug. Usually when a craving hits you, you think of the first part of drug-using – the pleasurable fix, the first joint or the first drink.
But using drugs or drinking doesn’t end there. You don’t stop at one fix, or one joint, or just one small glass of sherry! After the first enjoyable bit comes the excess, the drugged behaviour, the drunkenness, the passing out, the coming to, the withdrawals, and the appalling hangovers.
And with all these things comes the rest of drug-using and drinking – upsetting the ones who love you, lying, cheating, conning, stealing money, and all the other things addicts and alcoholics have to do in order to support their habit. All these things follow from the first use or the first drink.
When a craving hits you, and you think about the first joys of using, think it through – past the initial pleasure right to the pain that follows.



Both Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous hold meetings of recovering addicts and alcoholics – sometimes in church halls, sometimes in hospitals or clinics, occasionally in homes or social-service offices. Just wherever the rent is cheap!
If you decide you want their help, all you have to do is ring their number and they will put local members in touch with you, or tell you where the nearest meeting is.
Meetings vary in format, but a fairly typical NA meeting will usually have a secretary who runs the meeting, and a speaker. Often this speaker will say something about his addiction and how he recovered from it. Other NA members then join in, perhaps adding their comments or telling something about their own experience. Newcomers are not expected to speak at the meeting – though if they want to, they can. Alcoholic’s Anonymous meetings are run in the same way.
Starting your own NA meeting-You can start your own Narcotics Anonymous meeting. All you need to do is to contact NA headquarters and they will help with advice.
It’s probably best to start a new meeting with the help of another recovering addict. If you have been to local AA meetings and have met an AA member who used to use drugs as well as drink, ask if he or she will help. Many AA members have a history, if not of illegal drugs, then of being dependent on prescribed drugs like tranquillisers.
You should look out for a sympathetic member who is sober and can give support. If possible, it should be somebody who has been sober for at least a year.



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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