Sorry NAWS

By rebelsmed 01/17/20
Narcotics Anonymous, addiction, recovery

My last post included figures that were not entirely accurate and I wanted to apologize for misleading readers. I read hundreds of pages of information about Narcotics Anonymous, The NAWS Corporation and service structures that exist. The information presented in the audited financial statements that have been produced by the accounting firm of Millar Kaplan and included the financial information for Payam Omega, which is the Iranian branch of the NAWS Corporation. I was not clear on this fact and did not report accurate figures. The 1.4 million dollars in total publication inventory for 2018 includes more than half a million dollars of inventory located in Iran.  Unfortunately, the Annual Reports produced by NAWS do not include a statement indicating that all Payam Omega’s financial information is included. I made assumptions that proved to be erroneous. Having the correct information benefits everyone and ignorance serves only a select few. If you are a member of Narcotics Anonymous, then you are likely involved in carrying a message to the still suffering addict. Honest and open communication has been critical to me in my recovery and I am sure many would support this idea for their recovery.  The concept of helping others is another critical part of membership and as early 1956, the literature would emphasis this. The 12 Steps benefit the member and the 12 Traditions benefit our primary purpose and allow us to work together to a common goal. Any member who attends regularly is reminded that our primary purpose is always been to carry a message to the still suffering addict.  Literature has been an important part of the growth of Narcotics Anonymous.   The controversy surrounding changes to the Traditions in the Basic Text in the 1980’s halted North American growth and has never been resolved.  Infighting between NAWS supporters who have funded themselves with literature profits, and members who are opposed to this practice have resulted in a fractured fellowship which is now spilling out over the planet and will continue to impede the growth of NA until it is resolved.   

I have been reading the 146 page “2020 Conference Agenda Report” (CAR) and the latest Annual Report (2018, 64 pages) produced by NAWS for the World Service Conference. The Conference is supported by a segment of the Fellowship who meets every two years to vote on motions presented in the CAR that directs the NAWS corporation.  Anyone can do the research and see that the Iranian fellowship pays much less than the $12 advertised price for a Basic Text. In fact, they pay much less even if you apply the best discount (24%) offered by the NAWS Corporation.  Little is reported about the translation and production prior to 2011 but we do know that the Iranian Fellowship translated, printed and distributed literature independently of NAWS with great success. Today the most they appear to pay for a Basic Text is about $5 and I suspect that is a high estimate.  You will not find an Iranian NAWS Literature catalog online, so it is difficult to confirm. We do know that the number of Farsi language versions of the Basic Text sold in 2018 were 98,083 (compared to the English version selling 265,821). That works out to $905,698 with a 24% discount if NAWS figures are used. Iran reported total sales of $611,687 for all literature, including Basic Texts, pamphlets and other items. The bulk of those sales must be in Iran where there is a huge fellowship and a large publication inventory.  How many of the Farsi language books were shipped and sold outside of Iran is not reported and NAWS has resisted all attempts in the past to disclose specific details on literature sales to the Fellowship they serve.  The sanctions between the USA and Iran prevents NAWS from transferring profits to the head office in California. If NAWS was to markup up the literature in Iran at near the same rates as they impose on other fellowships, they could assign services to Payam Omega. Nothing is revealed in the CAR motions that leads anyone to understand their plans. I was surprised that literature distribution and pricing was not a topic in the CAR report or in any of the motions. Iran is a huge success that may not have happened if literature policies contained in the CAR are adopted. Iran is not the only success story of independent literature production.

In the 2012 Annual Report produced by NAWS reported that over 50,000 Basic Texts had been sold in ‘Brasillian’ (18,000 were sold previously in 2011 and 30,000 more in 2013). What is alleged to have happened is that the Brazil Fellowship were producing and selling an abbreviated and translated Basic Text, at low cost. If NAWS had been involved in the project, they would likely have known the language of Brazil is Portuguese (not Brasillian) and reported it accurately in the 2012 Annual Report. This independent translation project was to support a rapidly growing fellowship that was about 700 meetings in 2012 and has doubled by 2018.  In 2014, NAWS made available a more expensive Basic Text which became available for sale in the native language of Brazil by 2015. This new Basic Text only sold 5,000 copies in 2018 and is available locally for $20 R (about $5 USD), which is half a day’s wages in Brazil. In North America it is listed as $12.15 USD from NAWS directly. Over 100,000 of the low-cost texts were produced before they were replaced by the expensive NAWS version. 

There are an estimated 30,000 groups worldwide but NAWS and the WSC have never disclosed how much support the WSC receives when they tabulate results for the CAR motions.  Brazil and Iran are examples of the tremendous growth and success the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous has achieved. The independent translation and production of literature must have played a role. The complexity of the CAR motions prevents many groups and members of NA from participating especially given the short time frame. The first motion contains;

Motion 1 (Proposed by the World Board);

NAWS Long-Term Goals

In a continuous effort to realize our vision, NA World Services strives to achieve these goals:

Item 5. Every member understands the concept of self-support and demonstrates commitment to the Fellowship by contributing of their time, abilities, and available resources.

Independently of NAWS, Iran and Brazil produced low cost literature and served a growing local fellowship and that was a demonstrated commitment. Worldwide, there are groups who carry ‘Grey Books’ and ‘Baby Blue’ versions of the basic text in many languages, independently of NAWS. These groups who are given no voice at the WSC and are not recognized by NAWS as groups. The same is true for the growing online community of virtual NA meetings. All those groups and members are demonstrating a commitment. Membership in Narcotics Anonymous is guaranteed on one simple concept. Tradition 3 states that the ‘only’ requirement for membership is a desire to stop using. Motion 1, which was presented by the World Board violates this. The Board is recommending the WSC support a motion where NAWS strives to achieve the goal of having every member “demonstrate commitment to the Fellowship by contributing of their time, abilities, and available resources.” Some members find other ways of contributing in society when diseased service structures parade themselves as Narcotics Anonymous.  Members of NA are not required to do anything but have a desire to stop using.  

The changes to traditions 4 and 9 allowed NAWS to masquerade as part of the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous and gave them the illusion of governing the fellowship. Now NAWS wants to violate Tradition 3. NAWS board members and supporters are often funded to attend workshops and Conventions worldwide to sell the NAWS brand but their addiction to profits has become clearly visible. Addicts know using addicts when we see them and it is no surprise that NAWS and the WSC do not have Fellowship support. I’m sorry NAWS but I can’t support any of these CAR motions you presented. You have a great sales pitch and your motions will likely pass but understand that members of Narcotics Anonymous will continue to do what they have always done, regardless of your rules. Narcotics Anonymous' primary purpose is to carry the message, and sadly yours no longer is. When you can demonstrate a desire to stop using profits, come and talk. There is a solution.


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