My experience with Narcotics Anonymous began in 2002 with an introduction to a local fellowship of addicts. I was told we could meet regularly to help each other stay clean. I didn’t understand everything that was presented. Some of the information I wasn’t willing to believe or even try to adopt but I was encouraged to keep coming back. Members shared what was working for them and I experimented with new ways of living. There were challenges I encountered but the literature we read at every meeting presented solutions. Many members continued to meet regularly to share their experience, strength and hope. I was encouraged by early results and committed to working thru the 12 Steps with a sponsor, but I also took on the commitment to join a group and learn about the 12 Traditions. This became my home group. I attended regular business meetings where I found conflict I had to deal with. Home groups hosted meetings where the priority is to carry a message to newcomers. The business meetings of my home group allowed me seek help on a deeper level. Strong, intimate relationships became possible when we meet regularly to help each other stay clean. (Narcotics Anonymous Grey Book, Chapter 2, “What is the N.A. Program”, page 7)
- We are not interested in what or how much you used or who your connections were, what you have done in the past, how much or how little you have, but only in what you want to do about your problem and how we can help.
I took the suggestion, and when problems presented themselves in my life, I would try to come up with new solutions with the help of other members. The best results were from the intimate relationships that developed with my homegroup members. People learned a lot about who I was and how my thinking processes worked as I became more honest and openminded. The gifts of recovery for me has been what I have learned about myself in terms of both my assets and my liabilities. I was willing to listen and try new ideas. When the COVID 19 pandemic hit my life, all the tools I earned were upended and scattered. The face to face meetings I attended regularly closed as facilities adhered to new rules. All the home groups I knew of had collapsed. I found myself struggling with a few close friends and a support group of members committed to carrying the message.
I was very fortunate to have the resources of a virtual Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship. For decades the hard work of many dedicated members has laid the foundation of what has become the salvation of an entire Fellowship. Many of these virtual groups have operated for years, and even decades, despite the lack of recognition by some service bodies, including Narcotics Anonymous World Services (NAWS). Pioneering members have freely shared their experiences with others. Virtual meetings have multiplied a hundred-fold. As you talk to other members and visit various groups around the world today, I would invite you to talk about what has worked for them in carrying the message. I have seen a regional sponsored meeting used as a fundraiser for NAWS, but no one yet has held a fundraiser for the Autonomous Region’s pending lawsuit against NAWS. Some meetings are now by invite only and are not listed publicly. Are all these meetings Narcotics Anonymous meetings? The 12 Traditions of Narcotics Anonymous specifically talks about groups and not meetings. (Narcotics Anonymous, The 12 Traditions)
- We keep what we have only with vigilance, and just as freedom for the individual comes from the Twelve Steps, so freedom for the group springs from our Traditions.
One of the benefits of being part of Narcotics Anonymous is understanding my gifts and sharing them is perhaps the greatest gift of all. I believe that many of the gifts I have today were given, and not earned. Gifts can also be abused. I’ve often heard in NA that ‘Leadership is highly valued’ but that ‘our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.” Leadership skills might be balanced by defects or shortcomings that a healthy home group will come to expect from another member. We try not to be organized and everyone is treated as equals. The group becomes the perfect vehicle for recovery and when working with others we attract newcomers. I love what the literature says; (Narcotics Anonymous Grey Book, Pg. 69, Chapter 7, Recovery and Relapse, preamble)
- Many consider continuous abstinence and recovery as noteworthy and therefore synonymous, while relapsers are sort of pushed aside, or worse yet, used as statistics that in no way give a true picture of the entire addiction pattern. We in the recovery program of Narcotics Anonymous have noted with some satisfaction that many of the relapsers when again active in the prime or substitute addiction have dropped many of the parallel behaviors that characterized them in the past. This change alone is significant to us. Honesty of a kind has penetrated their character. Yet there are others, completely abstinent, whose dishonesties and self-deceits still prevent them from enjoying complete recovery and acceptance within society.
Today I seek out strong home groups where members are committed to carrying a message to the suffering addicts who are both inside and outside the Fellowship. When I work with people who have tremendous compassion for others, I find the best of who I am. Today my biggest challenges are not just in my life, but in fulfilling the purpose of carrying a message to others that recovery works in Narcotics Anonymous. You can help me by studying our history, talking about what works and what doesn’t. Accept me where I am at. The spiritual principles I have learned in the application of the Steps and Traditions in my life became the tools for practicing a new way to live on an ongoing basis. I do not believe it is possible to find Narcotics Anonymous any where but at a home group. Service bodies should consider that they are outside enterprises and abandon the manipulation and control. This prevents unity and continued growth that groups are currently experiencing worldwide.