Going to your First Meeting?

So you are thinking about coming to an NA meeting and seeing what NA meetings are about?

Most of us were a bit nervous at our first meeting so we thought we would share a bit about attending a meeting and what happens to help you feel more comfortable. Check out the meetings list and find a meeting that you would like to attend. You can call the 0800 number (0800 628 632) or fill in the contact form and we will try to find an addict to meet you before the meeting.

The first thing to note is that you don’t have to say anything at a meeting if you don’t want to. It’s a good idea to try and arrive a bit ahead of the start time for the meeting. Meetings tend to start on time and it’s much easier to come in and find a seat when there are not too many people already there.

When you arrive the secretary might chat to you and ask if you have been before. You can say that you are visiting if you like or you can say you have come to your first meeting to find out about NA – either way you will be welcome.

When you sit down you will probably notice that there will be reading cards laid out on chairs – if you would prefer not to read the card out during the opening stage of the meeting then its best to sit somewhere where there is no card. You can always pass the card to someone else anyway.

Meetings in New Zealand start with the chair person for the meeting introducing themselves and welcoming everyone to the meeting. After this people will stand and say a prayer known as the Serenity Prayer. This is used at the opening and closing of the meeting and you won’t be expected to know it. Some meetings hold hands in a circle during the serenity prayer – some don’t; just follow the lead of the person next to you.

Once the meeting has been opened there is likely to be an introduction round. During this time members usually introduce themselves by saying their first name and identifying if they are addicts. At this time you can just say your name – or you can say your name and say you’re a visitor, or you can say you’re an addict. It’s entirely up to you – NA membership is entirely optional and saying you’re an addict if you choose to won’t mean you choose to be a member of NA unless you decide you want to.

After the introduction round the chairperson will ask members to read out the reading cards. After this the chair will introduce the topic and possibly there will be another reading and then the sharing will begin. It’s very unlikely that you will be picked to share, but if you are you can simply say “Thanks but I would like to listen” or if you like you can share about what has brought you to the meeting. Most meetings ask that you only share if you are clean for that day – so if you have used the day you go to the meeting you will still be welcome, but the meeting may ask that you pass if you’re asked to share.

At the end of the meeting someone will be asked to close the sharing. After the sharing there will be announcements and maybe another reading, and then everyone will stand to close with the serenity prayer again. People will probably hold hands and if you’re in the circle you will be expected to join hands. After the meeting someone will likely approach you to talk to you – of course if they don’t you can talk to the chairperson and let them know you are new. There are pamphlets and small booklets at most meetings that will tell you a bit about NA and meetings.

Most members are friendly, they too all came to their first meeting and most will remember what that was like and will want to make you feel comfortable. It’s quite likely that you won’t be comfortable at your first meeting and this is really normal. After you have been to a few meetings and get to know some of the members personally you will start to look forward to the support and sharing at the meetings.