I’ll have a BMLT, on rye
From its inception in 1953, Narcotics Anonymous have been independent groups meet who regularly to help each other stay clean and host meetings to carry the message to other addicts. The success or failure of a group is largely dependent on the members of that group and their efforts to carry a message of hope to other addicts. Recently I listened to a member named Richard M. who was involved in starting NA in Northern California in the 1960’s, when all they had was each other, the 12 steps, the 12 Traditions of NA and a desire to help other addicts find recovery. From the earliest beginnings, many groups realized the benefits of working together. They offered services to addicts with the idea that the primary purpose is to carry a message to the still suffering addict and that was best served by working together. Basic services like creating and distributing meeting lists in the community grew the fellowship. There were many other services like the production of literature that also benefited groups and their ability to carry a message to the still suffering addict. Groups would develop literature and other groups could adopt it or develop their own. Recently I experienced one of the most exciting developments I’ve seen in Narcotics Anonymous since an Addict named Bo S. chaired the World Literature Committee and the Basic Text book started to come into existence (approximately 1979). A new meeting started in our town and I was able to update a BMLT (Basic Meeting List Toolbox) server with the information. Within a short time, this meeting information was available online around the world to any addict seeking recovery. What a remarkable development in our Fellowship. There are other efforts to carry a message as well.
The Basic Meeting List Toolbox (or BMLT) was first officially released in 2009. They are a non-profit service body of addicts who donate their time. They operate independently of any other service body and provide services to any group wishing to support their efforts. Currently the BMLT database contains about one third of the meetings in the world. You can read more about this amazing service by going to https://bmlt.app/
Virtual NA is a collaborative effort to inform the public and the Fellowship of NA about online and phone meetings. https://virtual-na.org/about-virtual-na/. These efforts are supported by members and groups. The Highlands and Islands Group of NA (https://www.higna.org.uk/) have pioneered efforts to carry the message and are one of the oldest online groups.
The European Fellowship Service Conference is meeting in Zevenaar, Netherlands on October 10 -13, 2019 where the Fellowship will meet to work on literature. The EFSC are advocates for the free literature movement in Narcotics Anonymous and information about the conference is available at http://nahelp.nl/
The NAWS Corporation claims to control the Fellowship Intellectual Property Rights of Narcotics Anonymous and is supported by many groups. The goal is to ensure that the use of the Narcotics Anonymous name, symbol and literature is protected. They are currently looking to revise those guidelines and will require input from many groups. The Grey Book of Narcotics Anonymous attempted to clarify the relationship of the Fellowship with the service bodies created to serve that fellowship; (Grey Book, Published 1983, page 100)
Each Group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting other Groups, or N.A. as a whole.”
The autonomy of our groups is necessary for our survival. A dictionary defines autonomous as “having the right or power of self-government...undertaken or carried on without outside control.” This means our groups are self-governing and are not subject to outside control. Every group has had to stand and grow on its own.
One might ask, “Are we truly autonomous? What about our service committees, our offices, activities, and all the other things that go on in N.A.?” The answer is that these things are not N.A.
When Richard M and others moved to Northern California in the 1960’s, they sought to establish groups. They believed NA was a proven method of recovery from the disease of addiction. I doubt if they were concerned with copywrites and ownership of the Narcotics Anonymous name. A similar situation emerged with a small group of addicts returned to Iran in the 1990’s. They began to carry a message, translate and produce literature independently. Narcotics Anonymous Iran is currently the second largest Fellowship in the world and arguably the most successful. NA Iran is supported by approximately 5,000 groups who offer 18,000 meetings regularly. They are largely self-reliant on donations from groups, offer literature at cost and donate 20% of the literature published to carry the message. When two or more addicts meet regularly to help each other stay clean and carry a message to other addicts, the autonomy of that group is critical to their success. The services available must be beneficial to the group in their efforts to carry the message. When a group loses the ability to carry the message it will suffer and die. Some groups may never see a benefit to or use the services offered. There are many places in the world where poverty is so prevalent that Narcotics Anonymous will only spread because of the efforts of members who care. That is why Narcotics Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women who meet regularly to help each other stay clean and to carry a message to other addicts. Narcotics Anonymous will never be a service body.