What is H&I?
This is a brief overview of one addict’s understanding of Narcotics Anonymous Hospitals & Institutional (H&I) service and aims to answer some basic questions about H&I and explain how to get involved with your local area H&I committee. H&I service consists primarily of carrying the NA message to addicts that cannot attend regularly scheduled NA meetings because they are confined to a hospital, rehabilitation facility or penal institution.
H&I is one of several ways that NA groups practice the 5th Tradition: “Each group has but one primary purpose — to carry the message to the addict who still suffers.” Historically, the Area H&I Committee were formed to serve as a staging place, in which many NA Groups from within a specific area, pool their resources (money & people), for the express purpose of carrying the NA message to addicts that cannot attend regularly scheduled NA meetings.
PURPOSE OF AN AREA H&I SUBCOMMITTEE
The area H&I subcommittee plays a central role in the overall H&I service effort. It initiates, coordinates and conducts all local NA hospitals and institutions presentations within the area. This subcommittee is the hub of H&I planning and organization. The following items set out in the WSC H&I Handbook provide the guidelines for the operations of H&I subcommittees:
1) Conduct monthly meetings to pool resources and act in a unified manner
2) Prepare H&I policies and guidelines
3) Serve as a link to Regional H&I
4) Elect members who are to conduct the H&I presentations
5) Serve as a distribution center for literature that is then freely given at H&I presentations
6) In cooperation with Public Relations, make all initial contact with facilities
7) Conduct learning days and workshops
8) Act at the single point of accountability for all H&I-oriented services within an area
Similar, if not identical guidelines entitled, “Purpose & Definition of the H&I Subcommittee”, are included in most area’s H&I policies. When these guidelines get adopted into an area’s H&I policy they are then considered “required” H&I activities. A clearly stated policy helps the H&I committees to be accountable to the local NA community by defining the scope of their service: ” For each responsibility assigned to the service structure, a single point of decision and accountability should be clearly defined.” NA 5th Concept
H&I service requires practice, knowledge of the fellowship’s H&I experience and a willingness to follow direction. H&I is about trying to plant a seed of hope; its about keeping what we have by giving it away; its about the therapeutic value of one addict helping another; and these things connect H&I service to the 12th Step: ” Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Through a process of trial and error, we (NA) have acquired knowledge of what often works best with H&I presentations. The NA fellowship compiled that information resulting in the World Service Conference “Hospitals & Institutions Handbook”. That piece of NA literature is a “work in progress”, meaning it’s a set of guidelines and suggestions, not rules. It’s also safe to say, as a result of the WSC H&I Handbook, most of the areas have similar methods for doing H&I service: an example of NA’s shared experience and unity.
In the NYC Area, to be a H&I Panel Leader Trainee, 6 months minimum clean time is required. To be a H&I Panel Leader (take a commitment) 1 year clean time is required. The H&I Panel Leader training process, involves going 8 times to an institution with another H&I member, and also monthly attendance at the H&I subcommittee meeting. The overall commitment of time per month is approximately 5 hours. In most cases H&I service requires less time than group level commitments. H&I Panel Leader commitments are for a 1 year term. At the facilities the presentations are for 1 hour and done on a weekly or biweekly basis.
The training process to become an H&I Panel Leader is fun, educational and (we strongly believe) service helps to support one’s own personal recovery. An easy way to find out more about H&I is to attend our monthly subcommittee meeting which is held the on the second Saturday every month at 149 Christopher Street — 1PM — St Veronica’s Church Basement — October 9th is the next meeting.
In Hospitals & Institutional service, our #1 goal, is to ensure that no addict need die without having an opportunity to hear the life saving NA message. To be most effective in fulfilling that effort, we strive to give a clear, concise introductory message of hope: that an addict, any addict, can stop using, lose the desire to use and find a new way of life through following our simple spiritual, not religious, program called NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS.