PI Within the NA Service Structure
Please note that the following was written during the Conference Year of 1997-1998 for the Draft PI Handbook and reflects the thinking at that time.
We can raise the fellowship’s awareness of Public Information service—and its spiritual rewards—through direct communication with our groups. When we educate the groups directly, we ultimately increase their involvement with Public Information service.
One way PI committees can interact with the fellowship is by making a PI presentation to the group itself. We start by announcing, through flyers and at meetings that, upon request, our PI committee is available for group presentations. We can use set formats for presentations at group business meetings, or specially scheduled meetings, to share our PI experiences.
Members of NA groups can, and often do, perform some basic PI work to help carry the message of recovery. Groups sometimes help us by posting bulletins, distributing meeting schedules and fliers within the community, and by assisting staff PI booths at health fairs.
Although groups may be useful by helping PI committees communicate within the fellowship and with the general public, they should certainly focus their chief efforts on their own primary purpose. It is extremely important that groups not make statements or commitments which overstep their abilities. Our spiritual foundation of anonymity can be seriously damaged by group members acting alone, or at least independently of their group and the fellowship.
The Area Service Committee
The Area PI Committee is a subcommittee of the Area Service Committee (ASC). It serves the ASC, the fellowship, the groups and the NA community. The members of the Area PI Committee are responsible for answering requests for information and presentations, both from the public and from the fellowship. The Area PI Committees must be ready to respond to referrals from their local Helpline, from the Regional PI Committee, and from other subcommittees. It also reaches out to the public through mailings and phone calls.
Billboards, Public Service Announcements (PSAs), bulletins, flyers, and bus posters are some other ways in which Area PI committees communicate with the public.
The Area PI Committee is also a key member of the Regional PI Committee. Area PI Committees help promote effective communications within the fellowship by regularly supplying written reports. Through interaction with other areas at the Regional PI Committee meetings, Area PI Committees help each other by sharing their experiences and resources.
The Regional PI Subcommittee
The Regional PI Subcommittee serves the Regional Service Committees (RSC), the fellowship, the groups and the NA community.
In addition, the RSC PI subcommittee is responsible for coordinating area PI efforts and for cooperating with other regions in joint PI efforts. The RSC PI subcommittee is the communication link between the areas, other regions and the World Services. This means that the RSC PI subcommittee should provide all information and material developed for Public Information at World Services to their areas.
Area and Regional PI Committees can help each other by sharing resources and experience. Area and Regional PI Committees can assist each other by providing the personnel and/or experience necessary to give a PI presentation or staff a PI booth. They can also support each other at workshops and learning days. In some cases, the financial burden involved with larger projects may be shared by several area PI committees.
Here is an example of such mutual cooperation. At the regional PI meeting there was much discussion about placing a PI billboard somewhere within the region. A location was agreed upon which would be seen by the communities of two neighboring area PI committees. The cost of the billboard was $300 for three months, far exceeding the budgets of either area PI committee. They agreed that each Area PI Committee would contribute $150 ($50 per month for three months) in support of the PI billboard project. The area PI committees involved also agreed to share the setup footwork. One area PI committee offered to contact the billboard company, while the other one agreed to create and submit the artwork for the billboard.
Regional PI subcommittees can respond to inquiries or requests received from outlying areas, or ASCs without a PI Committee, and can assist by forwarding such requests to neighboring ASCs that are willing to help.
NA World Services serves and is responsible to the fellowship through the World Service Conference (WSC). The World Service Office (WSO) receives information about events or requests about PI subjects, these are passed on to the World Board if they are not handled by Fellowship Services. If a request can or should be handled by a local PI committee, attempts are made to forward the communication. It is important that area and regional PI committees register with World Services to receive this information in a timely manner.
PI and the H&I Committee
The Public Information and the Hospitals & Institutions committees are of great importance to the Fellowship. Both serve the Fellowship to reach the still suffering addict by presenting the NA message in different forums. The PI committee “reaches out” to the addict through public forums while the H&I Committee “reaches in” by facilitating presentation panels to addicts in hospitals and other institutions who do not have full access to regular Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
There are situations when these two committees’ purpose and method will come together for a common project to serve the Fellowship. This can be best accomplished by cooperative efforts for shared communications and shared presentations.
- A hospital calls for a presentation to their doctors and nurses.
- A treatment center calls for a presentation to their staff and clients.
- H&I subcommittee reports communication problems with staff at a prison. The staff has misunderstandings about what NA is about.
If a PI subcommittee doesn’t exist in an area or region, H&I subcommittees may take on many of the responsibilities generally performed by PI subcommittees. Ask your ASC/RSC for support and information. If there isn’t a PI subcommittee in your area or region, start one.
Generally, a PI activity is geared to people outside our fellowship and includes people who come in contact with addicts and can help addicts to find NA. The approach with non-addicts differs from the more personal sharing appropriate to talks given to addicts.
However the PI subcommittee may make presentations to clients of an out-patient facility as the purpose of H&I is to bring the message to addicts that do not have access to regular NA meetings. Clients of out-patient programs do have access to regular meetings hence the H&I committee may choose not to facilitate a panel in that facility.
Common Guidelines for H&I Committees
All H&I committees (regional, and area) should remain in frequent contact with their counterparts in PI. Whenever possible, a liaison should be selected by the H&I committee to attend any PI meetings held within their area or region, so that a spirit of cooperation can be fostered which will better enable us to carry out our primary purpose.
The purpose of an H&I meeting is to carry the NA message of recovery to addicts in hospitals or other institutions who do not have full access to regular Narcotics Anonymous meetings. H&I Panels, except for those in long-term facilities, are intended to simply introduce those attending to some of the basics of the NA program.
When NA members or groups recognize the need for an H&I meeting at a facility, the local H&I committee should be contacted. H&I meetings are a function of the H&I subcommittee. Individuals should not take it upon themselves to do H&I work. Groups should only do it in places where an area H&I committee hasn’t been formed yet and seek guidance from their regional H&I committee.
For a more comprehensive look at Hospitals and Institutions service work, read the Hospitals & Institutions Handbook, which is available from the World Service Office.
Suggestions for PI Committee Cooperation
PI subcommittees should always check with the H&I subcommittee before making initial contact with any H&I type facility. These facilities are usually one of the following: hospital, methadone clinic, jail, prison, detoxification center, or drug treatment facility program. This Contact with the H&I subcommittee will determine whether H&I services are already being provided and if not, whether H&I is able to provide them if requested.
PI presentations are simply an information giving activity—whom and what NA is. We do not give in-service training on addiction or drug abuse. Whenever making a presentation, PI members should have the name of an H&I contact to supply to the facility if it becomes apparent that an H&I meeting is requested or required. Do not commit H&I services. Refer requests for H&I services to the proper H&I subcommittee.
PI and H&I Committee Cooperation
Cooperation and flexibility are the keys that will allow H&I subcommittees and PI subcommittees at all levels to keep be informed on what is being done by other subcommittees in their area or region. If When we work together, we can accomplish any task. Unity of purpose is vital to our efforts.
In some geographical areas H&I and PI have started cooperating by sending a liaison from one committee to the meetings of the other committee. This is done on an regular basis to ensure that both committees carry a unified message of recovery. The use of liaisons is also more efficient, preventing duplication of work and improving communication. NA’s public image will be improved when we present a unified image of our fellowship to the community at large.
Some possible ways to cooperate and improve participation are:
- Schedule monthly H&I and PI subcommittee meetings in the some location.
- Schedule some meetings so that both committees meet together.
- Schedule meetings so that each committee meets separately but at the same time.
Some possible benefits of cooperation are:
- Increased interest and participation (on both committees)
- Ability to share different points of view
- Increased communication
- Continuity in project planning
- A more effective service structure
Some specific examples of common benefits are:
- H&I people volunteer to take phoneline shifts
- Members of both committees learn to do presentations together.
- PI and Phoneline volunteers find ways to fit an H&I commitment into their schedule.
- Offers an efficient way for new NA members to learn he or she can best fit into the local service structure.
Any efforts which improve communication and cooperation between the two committees will serve to carry the message more efficiently both to the still suffering addict and to the public who have yet to learn about Narcotics Anonymous.
Some areas and regions have been successful with the following joint efforts:
- Conducting Learning Days.
- Presenting single topic workshops.
- Conducting workshops at conventions.
- Placing NA literature in facilities served by H&I, such as jails and prisons.
- Maintaining a booth at events, such as a community resource fair.
- Maintaining a booth at jails and prisons on visiting days.
- Providing literature and meeting schedule in recovery facilities.
- Supporting joint PI/H&I presentations to parole and probation departments.
- Supporting joint PI/H&I presentations to corrections departments.
- Providing statewide or regional phone lists for facilities served by H&I.
How can PI Enhance H&I Efforts?
PI has the responsibility of creating a greater awareness that H&I is bringing the NA message into an institution. This can be done in a variety of ways.
Through panel presentations to correction officers’ training classes:
- Explain how a NA H&I meeting is conducted.
- Provide samples of our literature.
- Describe how and why we are different from other twelve-step fellowships.
- Through panel presentations to the counselors, parole and education:
- Inform them what days or nights NA brings H&I meetings into their institution.
- Explain how a NA H&I meeting is conducted.
- Provide samples of our literature.
- Explain that they may feel free to refer inmates or patients to attend NA H&I meetings.
- Provide meeting schedules and phone lists.
Through presentations to pre-release and other types of inmates or patients:
- Inform them what days or nights NA brings H&I meetings into the institution.
- Describe what is appropriate conduct and sharing in an NA meeting.
- Explain what they may get out of attending NA meetings.
- Explain how to find NA when they leave the institution.
- Provide meeting schedules and phone lists.
- Have a plentiful supply of appropriate literature, such as Am I an Addict? Staying Clean on the Outside, Welcome to Narcotics Anonymous, etc.)
PI committees may do presentations to the staff in recovery homes, psychiatric facilities, detoxification centers, homeless shelters and similar facilities which may currently or potentially host H&I meetings. When H&I does not have the resources to support meetings at certain facilities, PI can step in to bring information about NA to the clients:
- Inform the staff what NA does and does not do.
- Explain what the clients may expect in a NA meeting.
- Provide appropriate literature to the staff, such as In Times of Illness, NA, A Resource In Your Community, Welcome to NA, Am I an Addict, Some Facts About NA.
- Describe the difference between NA and other twelve-step programs.