Sitting in a room full of people in their teenage years talking about your feelings sounds like absolute hell. I thought the same thing when I entered the dark and gloomy room. New faces everywhere. Some smiling so big it looked like they were stoned (ironically) and some looking so hard into your eyes as if wanting to destroy every bit of dignity you had left. I thought “Great now I can be even more awkward and shy and make myself look like a complete idiot.” At that moment in my life, I wanted nothing more than to be curled up in my bed watching Leonardo DiCaprio movies. However, to my surprise, these people turned out to be some of the greatest people I have ever met. They all came up to me, introduced themselves, and just started talking. This never happens in high school. People only talk to you there if they have to. But no this was not the case.

Surprisingly going to Narcotics Anonymous (N.A). meetings taught me many important life lessons that I will never forget. I will not be disclosing any of the things that were said at these meetings due to confidentiality.

1. Stop judging people
It really is that simple. You never know what’s going on in people’s heads. They can be dealing with some heavy sh*t and you judging them by what they say is not going to help them get any better. The first thing I did when I walked into that room was do exactly that because I was afraid they were doing the same thing. Confidentiality is a very important thing in N.A. meetings so you judging and talking about what someone said is not okay.

2. Sobriety is no joke
Many people at these meetings are on their 2nd year of being sober, some are on their 1st month, and some have relapsed many times. However many days or months or years you have shows that you accomplished something that is impossible for some. However, dates shouldn’t matter. The fact is that you could be in your 1st year of sobriety and still have cravings every day of your life. Urges don’t just go away; It does not work like that. The will to want to be sober is major. The will to want to turn your life around can only be done by you and you only.

3. Confidentiality is super important
At these meetings, people share things that they normally would not want to have conversations about with people they see everyday in their daily lives such as school. N.A. sponsors have taught their sponsee that meetings are a safe place to discuss things. It is the same thing as Patient doctor confidentiality. You’re probably thinking how can I trust people I barely know? I thought the same thing but trust me, people at these meetings have been right where I was because once upon a time it was them walking into their first meeting.

4. You will meet open-minded people
Sometimes when I am talking to a friend or an acquaintance, my mind easily shifts away. It’s not that I don’t want to pay attention to what is being said. It is because I am not benefiting from this conversation. The words being exchanged haven’t changed my life for the better; They have no impact. My point is sometimes we just feel the need to have meaningful and open-minded people in our lives who we can learn from but also have fun with. The people you will meet at these meetings are probably some of the most amazing people you will meet. You will get to have conversations about important things that you both care about, and you might just have a laugh here and there.

5. First step is going to the meeting
This might not sound like a big deal, but for some it is a huge milestone in their life. You just have to look at yourself, the people you are surrounded by and decide that enough is enough. My selfishness is hurting people I care about. And most importantly, do it for yourself. Stepping into your first meeting can be very hard, but it is worth it. Make sure no one is forcing you and only come when you know you are truly ready.

These five things I learned by going to N.A. meetings are lessons that will be recollected for many years to come. If you are suffering and want to get sober, just know that you are not alone and that you have such a bright future ahead of you. For information on finding a local N.A. meeting close to you, click here.

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