By Bianca Silva and Gregory Aldridge
The first open Grahamstown Narcotics Anonymous meeting was held on campus last Thursday evening, March 15.
A local businessman, who prefers to be known as Dave, helped to organise the Narcotics Anonymous meetings. The support group aims to facilitate a 12-step recovery program for people with any form of an addictive personality, including narcotics, alcohol, gambling, sex-addictions or eating disorders. It also functions as an on-going support group for people who have resolved their addiction.
The meetings take place at 7pm in the Rob Antonissen Room in the Union building and will last for an hour and a half. Dave explained that the Union is a central venue and in some cases the people who need it the most may not have transport. The meetings will be open to both Grahamstown locals and students alike.
Larissa Klazinga, secretary to the Dean of Students, explained that Dave contacted her asking for a venue and permission to hold the Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Klazinga explained that Rhodes University believes that people should be responsible for their actions and she said “part of an education is assisting people to take charge of their lives. If you have a problem, Narcotics Anonymous helps you to solve it.” Klazinga said that “It’s a level of confidentiality that you cannot even get from a counsellor.”
Narcotics Anonymous’s Western Cape Area Committee provided the literature for the meetings. Narcotics Anonymous is a self-funded organisation. Dave explained that there is a toll-free help line, based in Cape Town, which re-directs the calls to someone in Grahamstown so that the caller can be helped locally. The support-group will also be taking on sponsorship programmes in which someone one who has resolved their addiction becomes responsible for providing support for another recovering addict.
Dave stressed that the support group is not affiliated with Rhodes University in any way, apart from utilizing a venue on campus. He said that “If people know it’s safe, they may be more open to ask for help.” Dave stresses that the meetings are strictly anonymous.
Dave explained the meetings will take place each week and that there will be someone there to help regardless of how long it takes for the meetings to get started. “Even if I’m sitting there with the kettle on my own, I will be there to help you” he said. Dave explained that there will be open meetings where people can bring friends or family members for support and there will be closed meetings for recovering addicts only when needed. “It is just there to give a safe space for people to talk and it will morph from there into whatever is needed” said Dave. “There is no judgment, no matter how bad people think they are” he said.