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How the Helpline Works

The following information is being provided to Area Helpline and Public Information Committees, so that it can be explained to NA members how our present Helpline System works. In the past there have been misconceptions. This description is exact:

1. This is a statewide Helpline, not a hotline; we do not answer the calls ourselves. The Helpline receives well over 25 calls per day or over 10,000 calls per year. Our system answers calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are never closed.

2. We have a phone number, 732-933-0462. This is for Meetings and Information. The caller pays for the call. It is answered  by our automated system which speaks slowly and clearly and gives the caller a choice of menu options. It also allows the caller to have the information repeated. The system gives out meeting times and locations, information about NA, information to professionals, and information on how to report changes in meeting information. The caller has the option to speak to a live operator at any time during the call. The system also includes a Spanish menu.

3. Additionally, We support a toll-free number, 1-800-992-0401.  The fellowship ultimately pays for these calls through group donations. The 800 number links the caller with the automated system. The caller has the option to speak to an operator at anytime. The 800 number is accessible in New Jersey only.

4. During the call, if the operator is requested, the call is forwarded to an answering service company. We do not answer the calls ourselves. The operators have our instructions on how to answer our calls. They give meeting times and locations, Public Information source phone numbers, and can also give the caller the first name and phone number of our Helpline volunteers. Men's numbers are given to men and women's numbers are given to women (the automated system presently does not give out Helpline volunteer phone numbers, these numbers are available only through the operator).

5. When a call is received by a live operator, it is answered "Narcotics Anonymous answering service." The operator then deciphers the nature of the call.

  A. If the caller is looking for meeting directory information, they are asked what town they are looking for and given times and locations of NA meetings. The operator suggests that the caller get to a meeting as soon as possible.

B. If the caller is extremely distraught or possibly suicidal they are told to call 911 or their nearest hospital.

C. If a parent or spouse of an addict is calling for help, they are referred to Nar-Anon and advised that this is a separate 12 step program not affiliated with NA.

D. If the caller is an outside enterprise, such as school, police, parole, counselor, rehab, etc., and wants information about NA, they are referred to the nearest Public Information contact.

E. If the caller is a suffering addict reaching out to speak to a member of NA, the operator asks what town he/she is looking for and provides three phone numbers of NA Helpline volunteers closest to that town. Men are given men's numbers, women are given women's numbers. The  service does not directly connect the suffering addict to the Helpline volunteers. The caller must hang up and call one of the provided numbers, paying for the call. The caller is told that if they do not reach anyone, to call back and three more numbers will be provided.

F. If the operator cannot decipher the nature of the call, the caller is referred to the nearest Public Information contact or regional Helpline chairperson.

6. Our Helpline volunteers are not scheduled by time or day. It is very important that our Helpline volunteers have an answering machine. The answering machine message must be clear and simple, not bizarre. It is most important that the volunteer returns the phone message as soon as possible. If  the volunteer's phone is not private, other members of the household must be made aware that Helpline calls will be received. It is imperative that if anyone else picks up a Helpline call, that a simple message be taken, without any questioning. This is serious.

7. If a Helpline volunteer moves or changes phone numbers, they must let their Area PI or Helpline chair know. We are only as good as the information we receive.

8. Our statewide Helpline is a shared service between the NNJRSC and the NJRSC. Our NJ Statewide Meeting Directory is also a shared service. Both Regions, serving all groups, share the expenses.

It is our hope that this explanation clears up any discrepancies about our present Helpline system.