N.A. Mental Health Ward meeting….

As discussed previously, and I know you all read this blog with avid interest and forget nothing, I really like doing the Narcotics Anonymous meeting at the local “lock-down” inpatients mental health ward at Wellington Hospital. It is not for me. It is not for N.A.

It is for the people in the ward.

The patients benefit. Directly. 

They meet me, and others, and relate to our stories. I’ve become quite good at being able to judge certain bits of my story to suit the level of problems and understanding of the people sitting in the meeting. Usually I have fifteen minutes or more of chit chat. Even with my ADHD, the key points of what makes people tick are remembered in my somewhat confused short term memory. 

I guarantee them that ANONYMOUS is a true thing and that what is said in the room, stays in the room. This is easy for me. As I truly forget peoples names and faces so quickly that many think it rudeness personified when their happy greetings are not returned in the street a month later. “HEY NZFIEND” is shouted, said, waved. And me…? I say “Hello” like they are my best friend. But don’t honestly remember much. This is good in most instances. New Zealand is small. And meeting people in the meeting whom are fathers, lovers or otherwise associated with people whom live in the same block as me… Or ex gang patch members whom once had fights with me over pissing in the gang pads hallway after sitting in the presidents seat…. Well. It is good not to acknowledge nor give time to this side of my life when dealing with these people outside the meeting. Inside the meeting it is all me relating and sharing my own problems so they can see that N.A meetings are full of people that appear different at first, but are the same in the end… This gets rid of some blocks to their involvement in recovery processes and even brings some of them to meetings once back in the public domain.

But, NZFIEND. This post is boring. Even for you. WHERE IS THE DRAMA?

The drama is that, although the meetings do good for the people in the ward, and ultimately spread the message of N.A, some old timers of N.A say that the meetings are not following the N.A structured format and that the N.A message is not carried strongly enough.

I say that MsT and myself have put a lot of effort into making this format more suitable to the level of concentration and the particular needs of the inpatients. I say that we have done well. I say the meeting structure works better than a rigid N.A one. Most of the time anyway.

Peoples attention spans vary. You have to be fluid.

If half the room erupts with applause when you say “GOD” and the other half starts reciting passages from the bible with deadly accuracy (but somewhat confusing logic) that “prove” GOD is Satan, GOD is crap, or GOD wants to KILL US ALL…….. Well… I spent a long night or two re-writing some literature as to avoid “GOD” a little. Honestly, it has saved a lot of pointless and repetitive discussion about something that requires more than thirty seconds attention span. 

The meetings work. People there are genuinely happy to talk. But less happy once the “real” meeting starts. They wander off. Little do they realise they have the seeds planted in them before the meeting even started. They now know N.A is full of people, like me, whom are open and honest about our issues and problems. AND THAT THERE ARE MEETINGS EVERYWHERE WITH MORE PEOPLE LIKE US.

I am not going to ram N.A down their throats until their assholes bleed. If they come to a meeting or the staff contact me to talk further, then it is up to them to engage with the programme.

I see my role as putting a friendly, understanding face to the NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS BRAND. Most of the patients hate the idea of NARCOTICS. They use “P”, Crystal Meth, Pot, Cannabis, Alcohol and XTC. THEY DO NOT USE NARCOTICS!

This can be a big hurdle. The staff nurses are not really that motivated on this front. If I walk around the ward I talk to everyone and convince them it is about “DRUGS” including alcohol. They then come happily.

So, for NOT HAVING A MEETING STRUCTURE (that doesn’t work) and for NOT HAVING N.A LITERATURE RAMMED UP THEIR BUMS, the patients will lose this valuable resource.

N.A people want to can it.

Another reason given is “lack of support from other N.A people”. I say – WHO THE HELL CARES? I actually do better than them anyway. The guys with ten years clean time just bore these inpatients to tears with their long tales of recovery. I actually get CLAPS from people for making seven months! Ten years is possibly totally irrelevant to the newly medicated mental health client.

So. If it is canned, I may just start “DRUGS ANONYMOUS” and do the same thing. Without reading the (C)opyright twelve steps or their prop-up-o-gander of course. But I will encourage them to go to N.A meetings.

But then I will also be able to encourage harm reduction strategies and alternative treatments. Even I, as a N.A representative, know my place. Even I will not advocate other stuff at an N.A meeting.

Beat that. Maybe this shows that fourty years on this planet is not entirely wasted.

And it is my daughters tenth birthday tomorrow. I have her for the day following. 

The drug testing place put $800 in my account. Don’t know why so small, or so much. Must check email one day soon. 

But what I do know is that I am not spending $800 on getting wasted in any way, shape or form.

This is, itself, something to be proud of.

PS – 

Was a little confused as to why the head staff there were under the impression the meetings had been stopped. We alternate every Tuesday with A.A.

I was surprised when they told me A.A did not show up last week.

But then it all became clear later in the week when talking to spiritual advisor and other mental health workers in Wellington.

The RIGID and REGULATED and RESTRICTIVE meetings that A.A hold have had complaints about them. These complaints were not taken seriously at first, but they have gone up to senior hospital management via various means. I know what the complaints are, and how they effected the support workers and peer buddy systems in helping with their addicted clientèle. All that can be said here is that MsT and I are on the right path.

N.A may not be.

A.A definitely isn’t.


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