Heroin Anonymous (HA) Meetings & Support Groups
Heroin is one of the deadliest drugs in the U.S. More than 14,000 people died from a heroin overdose in the U.S. in 2019, a number that is about 7 times higher than in 1999. In fact, about a third of all opioid deaths involve heroin.1
Despite this, heroin use is rather low in the general US population. Still, the number of people seeking treatment for heroin addiction is second only to marijuana. This shows how important it is to provide proper help for heroin addiction. One of the ways to prevent relapse is to seek guidance from heroin support groups, such as Heroin Anonymous.2,3
What Is Heroin Anonymous or HA?
Heroin Anonymous, also known as HA, is an anonymous support group providing guidance to individuals struggling with addiction. It offers heroin addiction help to individuals trying to get back on their feet and stay sober after treatment. This is a not-for-profit organization offering meetings for people in recovery. HA groups are a community of people joined by their shared experience, trying to get help with battling heroin abuse.4,5
HA implements similar programs to the ones created by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) back in 1935, even though the two are not affiliated. These programs involve heroin users helping each other fight their substance use disorder (SUD) through shared experienced and support.5
Heroin Anonymous was created in 2004 when it began as a meeting of no more than 10 people. HA meetings in Phoenix were the first official gatherings, but the group quickly expanded. Soon, there were meetings in many other locations.5
Today, Heroin Anonymous is available worldwide, providing free help for heroin users in recovery.5
Does Heroin Anonymous Involve 12 Steps?
Heroin Anonymous uses the 12-steps program adapted from AA, as follows:4
- Admitting to being powerless over heroin, to the point where one’s life has become unmanageable.
- Having a genuine belief in a greater power that can offer salvation.
- Making the commitment to turn one’s will and life over to the care of God, as one understands him.
- Making an in-depth inventory of oneself.
- Acknowledging the nature of all wrongs associated with heroin use to God, oneself, and other people harmed by one’s addiction.
- Readiness to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Making a deep connection with God and asking him for forgiveness, assistance and guidance in removing one’s shortcomings.
- Making a list of people harmed by one’s addiction and being willing to make amends to these individuals.
- Making direct amends to these individuals, save under the circumstances when doing so would have a negative effect on them or other people.
- Taking personal inventory on an ongoing basis and promptly admitting to and taking responsibility for being wrong when in the wrong.
- Turning to prayer and meditation to maintain conscious contact with God, however perceived, and praying for knowledge of His will for recovering individuals and the power to carry that out.
- Sharing the message of spiritual awakening to others in the same situation, and living by the same principles with fierce dedication in all aspects of life.
The Advantages of Going to HA Group Meetings
Heroin abuse can have extremely serious effects on a user’s health. Additionally, this drug has one of the highest relapse rates. Therefore, any kind of professional help and support such as attending Heroin Anonymous meetings, can be an important step in maintaining sobriety. Individuals join these HA meetings to exchange stories and to get to know others who have experienced similar circumstances. This helps them stay sober and lead a drug-free lifestyle.6
However, meetings for heroin addiction don’t offer medical treatment for heroin substance abuse or even professional counseling. For instance, users who may require methadone-assisted heroin treatment, for example, should seek help at specialized facilities. However, HA groups and meetings provide individuals with a support system that can encourage all its members to keep making positive changes to their lives and keep them from relapsing.4
As Heroin Anonymous is one of the youngest support groups, there hasn’t been much data on its success rate. However, the statistics from AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), two support groups that HA was heavily influenced by, may offer some valuable insight. For instance, more than 80% of regular participants in these Opiate Addicts Anonymous meetings remained sober during the past year, compared to 26% of sober people who didn’t attend these meetings.7
Similarly, attending a 12-step group may decrease the chances of relapse significantly.8
What Do HA Meetings Look Like?
There are two types of HA meetings:4
- Open meetings. These meetings are open for family members or close friends of people dealing with SUD.
- Closed meetings. Only HA members can come to these meetings.
No matter the meeting type, most meetings will entail engaging in a chant or a prayer at the beginning or end, as most are heavily faith-based.4
Meetings can come in one of these formats, or they can combine the formats of a few:4
- Step study. These meetings help understand the 12 steps and explain how to implement them into everyday life.
- Book study. Individuals will receive important material that they’ll discuss at the meeting.
- Participation. Members share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
- Speaker. Some of the members share their experiences.
- Hospital & Institution meetings. They serve to help introduce struggling individuals from institutions such as prisons or hospitals to the 12-step programs.
- Online meetings. These types of meetings are becoming increasingly popular due to the level of availability they bring.
The point of all these meeting types is to offer support to one another and to help each individual open up. At the same time, they make individuals reflect on the underlying reasons behind their addiction.4
Should I Prepare for a HA Group Meeting?
Sharing intimate information with strangers is anxiety-inducing for many, which is why a number of individuals hesitate to go to HA meetings or even call some of the heroin addiction hotlines. However, as their name suggests, all Heroin Addicts Anonymous meetings are entirely private and confidential.4
Each HA meeting typically has a specific structure that will provide each member with enough time to share their story and listen to other members. All participants will let the new member understand the guidelines and the time predicted for speaking.9
Where Are Heroin Anonymous Meetings Available?
Heroin Anonymous meetings are held in most US cities. For instance, you can attend Heroin Anonymous in Portland, Indianapolis, San Diego, and many other cities across the country.
If you’re looking for Heroin Anonymous meetings near you, you can call a local heroin addiction treatment hotline. In fact, most locations have their own HA helplines that can provide you with information about nearby meetings.4,10
How Long Does Heroin Anonymous Last?
A Heroin Anonymous program doesn’t have a preset duration. You can participate in a group for as long as you’d like. Some members stay in the program for many years, while others decide to leave after just a few weeks. However, long-term programs for addiction treatment typically offer higher chances of sustaining sobriety.8
As for meetings, most HA meetings will last for an hour. However, this is usually decided before every individual meeting.4
How Can I Get Help & Support for Heroin Addiction?
Unfortunately, overdoses are common among individuals struggling with heroin addiction. Therefore, professional and specially tailored treatment should be easily available to individuals who need more than just support offered at HA meetings.2
If you’re looking for the best treatment centers, American Addiction Centers (AAC) might be the right choice for you or a loved one. This acclaimed provider has specialized treatment facilities nationwide with many individually-tailored recovery programs. For more information, you can take a look at the numerous testimonials from patients who attended AAC treatment.
Also, if you’re looking for help for a heroin user with no money, you should know that many insurance carriers will cover the costs of treatment. There may also be free, state-funded rehab centers if you or a loved one cannot afford private treatment.Additionally, AAC has a hotline that can help you obtain insurance verification via a call or by filling out a form. So, feel free to give them a call and discuss what payment options are available to you or a loved one.