The purpose of an H&I subcommittee is to carry the NA message of recovery to addicts who do not have full access to regular Narcotics Anonymous meetings. H&I panels, except for those in longer-term facilities, are intended to simply introduce those attending to some of the basics of the NA program.
When local members of groups see the need for an H&I presentation at a facility, the local H&I subcommittee should be contacted. H&I panels are a function of the H&I subcommittee. Individuals should not take it upon themselves to do H&I work and groups should only do it in places where an area H&I subcommittee has not been formed, with guidance from their regional H&I subcommittee. At these presentations, outside participation should be limited to the panel members who are invited in advance.
If your subcommittee plans to send out letters to facilities introducing them to NA and offering to hold an H&I meeting/presentation in their facility, it is advisable to have letterhead stationery printed. All your letters should be on that stationery and should be typewritten, formal letters with examples of NA literature enclosed. Keep copies on file of all letters you send.
Before you approach the facility to suggest holding an H&I meeting/presentation there, the first step is to find out in advance who is the appropriate administrative person to contact. Your initial calls or letters of inquiry should be addressed to that person. If that initial contact is by mail, it should be followed up shortly with a phone call.
If the facility is interested in an H&I meeting/presentation, you should schedule an initial interview to make the arrangements. Before the first H&I meeting/ presentation is held in the facility, thorough discussions should take place between the representatives of Narcotics Anonymous and the representatives of the facility. The final agreements about proper procedures and expectations should be put in writing. See Appendix B, page 111, for a sample form to use during the initial interview. The completed form will serve as a written agreement between your subcommittee and the facility.
Remember when you show up for that initial interview that you are seen as a representative of Narcotics Anonymous. The fellowship as a whole may be judged by how you conduct yourself, so common courtesy is essential. For example, show up on time for the appointment. Be neat in your appearance and be courteous. Be prepared to make your presentation: bring Narcotics Anonymous literature, think through in advance what points you need to cover, have your checklist in front of you so your presentation is clear. When your material is covered and your contact person wants to finish the interview, do so promptly and politely.
The use of Narcotics Anonymous conference-approved literature is an important part of an H&I meeting’s effort to carry the message. These initial discussions provide a good setting to determine the proper methods for distributing literature inside the facility. Many facilities will agree to buy Narcotics Anonymous literature on their own. We encourage that. If the facility is unable to do so, the local H&I subcommittee may be able to assist. For information on the budgeting necessary for this, see page 9 of this manual.
Once these steps have been taken, and the H&I meeting/presentation is being held regularly in the facility, it is important to keep channels of communication open. Anyone involved in H&I should be familiar with and respect the facility’s policies that affect us. We should also be familiar with our own policies, as outlined throughout this handbook. Orientation sessions for new H&I workers should be used to accomplish this.
An H&I meeting provides the first exposure to recovery in Narcotics Anonymous for many addicts, so it is imperative that we carry a clear and consistent message of Narcotics Anonymous recovery, and project a positive image of our fellowship. This also applies to how we handle the facility administration. In order to keep any difficulties to a minimum, take care to maintain consistent contact between the facility and the subcommittee.