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Fostering Diversity. & responding to the findings from environmental scans Carlos H. & Pam T. Northern California Region of Narcotics Anonymous for Western Service Learning Days XXVII in Los Angeles. Diversity. Part of the very foundation of Narcotics Anonymous

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Fostering diversity

Fostering Diversity

& responding to the findings from environmental scans

Carlos H. & Pam T.

Northern California Region of Narcotics Anonymous

for Western Service Learning Days XXVII in Los Angeles



  • Part of the very foundation of Narcotics Anonymous

    • Primary Purpose: To carry the message to the addict who still suffers

    • Regardless of age, race, sexual identity, creed, religion or lack of religion

    • Inclusiveness of language that’s not drug specific

  • Principle vs. reality

    • Does our membership reflect the larger community?

    • How can we help that still suffering addict find the commonalties we all share?

Who s missing in terms of ethnicity

Who’s missing in terms of ethnicity?

Here’s the ethnic makeup of members who responded to the 2011 Membership Survey:*

  • 74% Caucasian

  • 11% African-American

  • 8% Hispanic

  • 2% Asian

  • 1% Indigenous

  • 3% multiracial

  • 1% other

    NOTE: The Membership Survey tends to reflect the geographic location of the convention, not that of our entire fellowship

    *Made available at WCNA in San Diego, in “The NA Way” and at


Who s missing

Who’s Missing?

  • Environmental scanning ~ data collection

    • Observe and record at your home group

    • Tally demographics at events

    • Map out meetings

    • Our responsibility as members to notice the composition of local membership

    • Do NA’s demographics match those of the larger community?

SF: No Meetings in Chinatown

Some may say

Some may say…

  • Why should we do this?

  • Didn’t I find my own way into NA?

  • I found a chair, why can’t they do the same?

  • Isn’t NA for everyone?

  • Why should we concentrate on those few special interest groups who are not here?

Barriers real or perceived

Barriers (real or perceived)

  • What gets in the way of some groups of people finding us?

  • What gets in the way of identification when someone from an under-represented group does find us?

    Brainstorm ~ Report

Importance of first na meeting

Importance of First NA Meeting

From it works how and why tradition 1

From It Works How and Why, Tradition 1

[We] all have an interest in maintaining the unity that underlies [NA’s] common welfare…The importance of unity encourages our groups to look beyond their own little worlds to the common needs of the worldwide NA Fellowship…With an attitude of open-mindedness, we seek to understand other perspectives…When we work to ensure the vitality of NA, we’re not working just for ourselves but for those yet to join us. . . Our ability to survive as a fellowship and to reach others depends on our unity. 

Toward a more inclusive environment fostering diversity building unity

Toward a More Inclusive Environment, Fostering Diversity, & Building Unity

Experience strength hope

Experience, Strength, & Hope

  • Annual cycle of scanning and planning led to a focus on the Vietnamese community

  • Pre-publication version of translated material distributed

  • Pointed to under-representation of the Asian community at large

  • Engaged members of Asian-Pacific Islander descent

    • Established a common needs home group

    • Beginning to take on outreach effort

    • Reaching in, reaching out

What can i do

What can I do?

Individual and groups might consider the following:

  • Consider how you can make your meetings more welcoming

    • Scan and welcome

    • Include new/different people the meeting-after-the-meeting

  • Commit to learning about different cultures

  • Approach addicts from that community who have stayed

    • put them to work on outreach

    • encourage and support Common Needs Meetings

What can i do1

What can I do?

PR Committees might consider the following:

  • Recruit members from diverse backgrounds

  • Approach a local community-specific newspaper to see if they would do an interview or put a public service announcement in their paper

  • Create culturally relevant posters and ads

  • Approach local community resources to see if they would like a presentation from your PR team

  • Ask for help from people in the helping professions who are from or work with the specific community you are trying to reach

Sources consulted for further information

Sources Consulted & for further information

  • “Diversity and Public Information” by Melissa W., Blue Bonnet Region, USA and Monika C., BC Region, Canada, published in The NA Way Magazine, Summer 1998. Available at:

  • “Planning Basics: A Guide to Strategic Thinking, Preparing, and Achieving our Goals” NA World Services, Inc., 2011. Available at:

  • “Membership Survey” ” NA World Services, Inc., 2011. Available at:

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