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Fostering Diversity. & responding to the findings from environmental scans Carlos H. & Pam T. [email protected] 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.

[email protected]

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

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. 

Experience strength hope
Experience, Strength, & Hope Building Unity

  • 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? Building Unity

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? Building Unity

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 Building Unity& 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: