Men with Men, and women with women

By rebelsmed 01/22/19
Narcotics Anonymous, addiction, recovery

Men should work with men, and women with women is often repeated by members of the Fellowship. This common lie is perpetuated by a lot of people in 12-step fellowships. The perception is that the interaction and relationships that many of us crave with the opposite sex is going to interfere with the recovery process.  There is some basis in this myth, as you see people new to recovery exploring a new range of emotions, free from active addiction.  Worse are the predators who seek out newcomers. Newcomers are like children, learning to deal with feelings and behaviors for the first time in many years.  The people who seek out newcomers are unable to form healthy relationships. They seek the vulnerable so they can control and manipulate them, or simply lack the principles to think about anything but themselves. There is also all manner of people with social and psychological problems that struggle with any interaction regardless of gender. There are a lot of problems created when we promote this separation.

When we look at segregation in other forms and how it could be applied to the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous, we can begin to see the problems created more clearly. For instance, some white people come into recovery with strong opinions about people of color. Imagine if we applied segregation and suggested white people with white people, and black people with black people. Segregation has never solved any problems in the past and perpetuate the myths that prevent unity. We could segregate based on the drugs abused, or financial status which would further damage unity. Segregation of any form hurts unity.

When we come to Narcotics Anonymous, we’re told that we meet regularly to help each other stay clean. There are no qualifications on who we help, or who is able to help us. We follow the suggestions and get a sponsor and work the steps. We not only learn about ourselves in the process but the application of a set of spiritual principles in all our affairs.  The spiritual principles we learn about are beneficial as a set and only when we apply them in all aspects of our lives. There is no benefit in selectively choosing which principles apply in our lives or to what aspect of our lives. Our responsibility is to understand what defects and shortcomings we have in the application of all those principles.  We repeat at every meeting that ‘Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on N.A. unity.’ By joining the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous, we have tied ourselves to the welfare of others who have also come to Narcotics Anonymous. 

My friend says when she puts on her makeup and clothes and comes to a meeting, it isn’t because she wants to get hit on by men. She’s at a meeting because her life is in danger.  Unfortunately, the rape culture that is so prevalent in our society bleeds into the rooms. When an attractive woman walks into a meeting, the men will smile and look at each other, knowing what each is thinking. The anonymity we promote as the spiritual foundation of all our traditions is lost.  We deflect away from the spiritual aspects of the program. ‘Look at the way she was dressed or behaved, what did she expect would happen’ takes the responsibility away from the men and places the blame on the woman.  We perpetuate the myth that certain situations allow us to abandon the very spiritual principles we came to learn about.  The reverse holds true with men but might look differently based on other stereotypes.

When we truly apply the program to our lives the most critical aspect is being of service to others, regardless of our preconceived notions. We work together to create an atmosphere of recovery.  When we promote unity, we learn about the application of spiritual principles from each other.  While there is a suggestion that you work with a sponsor of the same sex, it is only a suggestion, and a gay man might prefer to work with a female sponsor, for example.  We learn to interact in socially acceptable ways with each other so we can rejoin society in a healthy way. In the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous (Baby Blue Version, published 2014, “Our symbol” in the preface)

Goodwill is best exemplified in service and proper service is “Doing the right thing for the right reason”. When this supports and motivates both the individual and the fellowship, we are fully whole and wholly free.

In order to live as a recovered addict, our behaviors must be for the common welfare of all, ahead of our personal desires. We truly become free from our disease.


Join the conversation, become a Fix blogger. Share your experience, strength, and hope, or sound off on the issues affecting the addiction/recovery community. Create your account and start writing: