Suggestions for Panel Leaders in NA Hospital and Institutions Service

1) When doing the H&I commitments its important to be as mentally and spiritually centered as possible: Am I working a 12 Step and 12 Tradition NA recovery program???

2) Be familiar with the local H&I policy, World Service H&I Handbook, the Rules of the specific facility, and especially be aware of the guidelines called the “Do’s and Dont’s for Panel Leaders”. These four documents cover almost everything that one needs to know about H&I service.

3) Don’t wait to the last minute to book your speaker — this causes anxiety!

4) Know your speaker — using speakers that you haven’t  heard can result in unpleasant and/or funny surprises.

5) Adhere to the clean time requirements for H&I speakers (6 months); speakers should not be brought into a facility if they know a client; speakers cannot be accompanied by other NA members without the advance approval of the Panel Leader: if the speaker unexpectedly arrives with an  NA friend, at the discretion of the Panel Leader, the friend could/should be asked to wait outside. Lastly,bring in a diverse selection of NA speakers.

6) Meet your speaker outside of the presentation space (lobby or in front of facility) 15 minutes before the starting time.  This gives you an opportunity to feel out that all is well with the speaker.

7) Before entering the presentation space,have the speaker read the “Do’s and Dont’s for Speakers”. If they say they know them — in a nonchalant fashion, suggest that “we” quickly run through them together. By reading the “Do’s and Don’ts for Speakers”, if the speaker gets off track, it makes it easier for the Panel Leader to redirect the presentation because the guidelines have already been clearly stated.

8) Arrive at the actual presentation floor/room  5 minutes prior to the start time. This gives the staff time to announce that an NA presentation is going to start. It also allows the panel leader,if necessary, to get both the room and literature in order.

9) Follow the format — it makes it simple for you and clear for the clients as what to expect — Panel Leaders are not speakers — In the H&I setting Panel Leaders can give feedback, answer questions, and refocus the presentation back to NA recovery. However, they should refrain from “qualifying” and should judiciously give feedback! Presentations begin and end on time — If there are no clients in the room or if a group is entering the room exactly at the starting time — you wait, then start. The important thing is that the Panel Leader is prepared to start at the designated time. If the presentation starts late — it still ends at the designated time.

10) After the presentation is completed,as soon as possible, call your NA Panel Coordinator and let them know that the commitment was done and if necessary make them aware of any complications. Panel Leaders, in general, should not discuss with the staff perceived problems concerning NA presentations. Those situations get brought to the Panel Coordinators. There are probably some exceptions: if a client is disruptive — I try to give these situations the most latitude possible — but if absolutely necessary, it could be brought to the attention of the staff or the Panel Leader could simply close the meeting and report to the Panel Coordinator.

This list is not all inclusive —  it merely reflects some of the most basic guidelines as interpreted through one addict’s understanding of how H&I service works. Also, it is worth mentioning, H&I service is simple and at the same time, like many situations, experience is helpful.

The next NYC H&I meeting is Saturday Oct 9th —1PM — 149 Christopher St — in the basement of St Veronica’s Church.