Recovered Addict

By rebelsmed 01/17/19
Narcotics Anonymous, addiction, recovery

Recovered addict can mean different things to different people. The current addiction crisis has spawned a multitude of options for people who have come to recognized themselves as addicts in one form or another.There are all manners of treatments that promise a solution. The rise of Alcoholics Anonymous had offered hope to alcoholics who were addicted to a specific substance and has a proven track record of success. One critical measure of success in AA is in years of sobriety for millions of alcoholics. Drug addicts rarely found success in AA and a new fellowship spawned by adapting the 12 steps and 12 traditions of AA. Narcotics Anonymous was formed in 1953 and grew slowly for a time as those early members figured out what worked and what did not. they created literature to help carry the message that was adopted by groups. Early literature identified members as both ‘recovering’ and ‘recovered’ addicts, but today the has literature changed and the phrase ‘recovered addict’ is almost gone. Is it possible to have a fellowship that incorporates both?

Who could be a member of NA was defined in Tradition 3, by stating “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using” which people often associate with ‘using drugs’ today, but this isn’t the case. In the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous, Version 2, Chapter 7, titled “Relapse and Recovery” published in 1981 it states;

Many people think that recovery is simply a matter of not using drugs. They consider a relapse a sign of complete failure, and long periods of abstinence a sign of complete success. We in the recovery program of Narcotics Anonymous have found that this perception is too simplistic. After a member has had some involvement in our Fellowship, a relapse may be the jarring experience that brings about a more rigorous application of the program. By the same token we have observed some members who remain abstinent for long periods of time whose dishonesty and self-deceit still prevent them from enjoying complete recovery and acceptance within society. Complete and continuous abstinence, however, in close association and identification with others in N.A. groups, is still the best ground for growth.

Self-deception is difficult to spot alone, which is why we call it a ‘we’ program. In fact, the basis of the program is from our literature; (Version 2, Chapter 2, ‘What is the Narcotics Anonymous Program?’) “We are recovered addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean”. Helping each other isn’t about taking another’s inventory. The same literature says we are only interested in “what you want to do about your problem, and how we can help.” We not only talk about our problems to each other, but we help others when asked. It starts by joining a group and supporting that group. We often call this our home group and it is where we start our journey in a new way of living. Members are encouraged to work thru the 12-steps with a sponsor which is the basis of our personal recovery.

Early versions of the Basic Text included the phrase “There exists no model of the recovered addict” or “There is no model of the recovered addict. “ By staying clean, we begin to practice the spiritual principles of hope, surrender, acceptance, honesty, open-mindedness, willingness, faith, tolerance, patience, humility, unconditional love, sharing and caring. We try and carry a message to the still suffering addict. Our literature says that ‘The newcomer is the most important person at any meeting, because we can only keep what we have by giving it away.’ What we have gains in value as we give it away to others, starting with compassion.

The world is very small for some recovering addicts, and for others broad vistas open. What bonds us together is best described in ‘our symbol’, the circle and square. (the N.A. Tree published in 1976 and the Basic Text, Version 2, preface “Our Symbol” published November 1981.)

The outer circle denotes a universal and total program that has room within for all manifestations of the recovering and wholly recovered person…All parts thus far are closely related to the needs and aims of the addict seeking recovery and the purpose of the fellowship seeking to make recovery available to all. The greater the base, as we grow in unity in numbers and in fellowship, the broader the sides and the higher the point of freedom. Probably the last to be lost to freedom will be the stigma of being an addict. 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.”

Our goal is to become honest which requires greater humility as we progress. We always seek complete abstinence and look for close association and identification with other members as we work towards our common purpose of carrying a message to the still suffering addict. Living by spiritual principles in all aspects of our lives, as best we can will become second nature if we are persistent. When a person with two days clean turns to a person with one day clean and offers encouragement, they can be considered wholly recovered, even for just a moment.

Unfortunately, because of the changes made in the literature by the NAWS corporation, ‘recovered’ is all but eliminated from our literature.By constantly focusing on recovering, we are becoming a self-help program. When we accept that for a moment, we are recovered sufficiently to offer help when asked, be of assistance to another, stack chairs after a meeting or simply be present for another, then we truly understand tradition 1; “Our common welfare should come first, personal recovery depends on NA Unity.”


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