Before I start this post, let me preface it by saying that I do not hate NA. I have been to my share of NA meetings, some of them very good. Really, most addicts who have either ever been in trouble with the law or sent to a rehab program have probably been to there fair share of NA meetings. Some of the members are really, really great. You know, there to help you at any time. Ready to drop what they are doing if you feel like using and need someone to talk you out of it. This post is not about these members or these meetings.
This is about the people who treat NA as a cult that is the be all, end all of sobriety. I get it, it obviously worked for them. My main problem comes from the way that I am treated once it is discovered that I am on Methadone (or back when I was on Suboxone). This a group where for the entire hour of the meeting, members get up and basically confess their deepest, darkest secrets without fear of judgement or persecution and know that they will still be accepted, but being on any sort of a prescription maintenance program is a sin that is unforgivable.
What is particularly baffling to me is that NA claims that the only requirement for membership is the desire to want to stop using illicit drugs. A maintenance program is just that. Almost everytime I am at a meeting, there are people present that are currently using. It is fantastic that they are trying to get help for themselves, but the reality of quitting opiates and other addictions that have very physical withdrawls. It is very difficult, almost impossible to just quit. Medication is often needed to detox. For me personally, I have detoxes a few times and have relapsed before, so I am trying it a little different this time.
I don’t think that this is a fault of the organization of Narcotics Anonymous itself, just certain members. I was in a women’s addiction support group for years and one of the women in the group was a treasurer for the Maryland state chapter of NA. She said told me that the literature does not specifically refer to methadone and suboxone one way or another. It is just members who have determined that you are less than them if you take this route to acheive sobriety.
My main issue with this is that it turns people off to the entire organization and to treatment as a whole. I say, let people get well however they want. Let hem get their lives together. If they are not ready to get clean, that is fine too. The group should function as sort of a place for therapy. To let people get off of their chest whatever sins or problems are weighing heavy on their chests. Making people feel bad or unwanted is only going to lead them to feel alienated even more. As addicts we are already the outcasts of society, we can’t ostracize each other as well.