Narcotics Anonymous Iran. In 2014, John Lavitt wrote an article for a website called The Fix called “The Crescent and the Needle: The Remarkable Rise of NA in Iran.” This article is no longer available online, but excerpts can be found on other sites.
It contained an overview of the rise of Narcotics Anonymous in Iran. There was faltering attempt in 1990 by a couple members but the Fellowship finally took hold in 1995. By 1998 Iran had translated and produced more than a half a dozen pieces of literature to Farsi and this likely accelerated the growth.
In 2001, Iran reached out and made The NAWS Corporation aware of their existence. By 2003 The Corporation had established the fourth World Service Office in Tehran, the capital of Iran. Members of the World Board for the Corporation documented a trip to meet with members of the Fellowship in 2006. Iran was officially recognized as a seated participant at the World Service Conference in 2006 which allowed them to vote. The Iran Region grew very large. They were so dominant that Annual Reports produced by the NAWS Corporation gave information about Finances and Literature production highlighting Iranian figures separately.
One difference is that groups generally meet daily in Iran, whereas in North America groups often meet weekly. In 2006, Iran had almost a 988 groups and almost 3,982 weekly meetings. North America had 17,324 groups hosted 26,419 meetings in 2008 and only showing small fluctuations in the last thirty years. There were 53,000+ meetings worldwide in 2008. 14,000+ of them were in Iran, or approximately 26% with zero growth in North America.
Iran accounted for 30% of the sales of Basic Texts, and 50% of the sales of IP #22 (Welcome to NA) in 2008. What has transpired over the last 14 years is a mystery but in 2022, Iran Region has voted to separate itself from the NAWS Corporation and act autonomously.
This will have significant impact on the NAWS Corporation as Iran Region represents over 30% of the global Fellowship. There are a few indicators of the growing rift with the NAWS corporation. Anthony Edmondson, the Executive Director of the the NAWS Corporation admonished them for leaving and did not make any attempts to address their concerns in a letter dated June 28th, 2022 (available for viewing on many recovery groups on social media).
In 2016, NAWS produced ‘Regional Summaries’ that contained a treasure trove of information about the Fellowships globally. The Iran Region reported 4,580 Groups and 20,598 meetings. 95% of funding came from Groups and Area.
Our tax status as an NGO [Ed. Non-Government Organization] in iran is not clear and is unknown to us. Some of the saying and or terms in our books and literature does not comply with our culture and we have asked na world service office in tehran to change them but no action has been taken so far.
There does not appear to be any discussion or action on this item. This was the last term for this Regional Delegate and the Alternate Delegate became the RD in 2018. Groups and meeting numbers were very similar, but Fellowship financial support had dropped to 80% of budget, and Literature profits now accounted for the remaining 20%.
‐ One our ASC separated from our region and declared that they are an independent region without any coordination and interaction with the RSC.
‐ Misuse of cyberspace to ruin the trusted servants in NA and spreading rumors and untrue news and also sending reports by some members before sent by delegates and secretary.
‐ Negative impact of some sponsors on their sponsees which results of in their incompatibility with the group conscience and ruin of trusted servants in NA, too.
The same Regional Delegate reported in 2020. Groups now numbered 5,512 and meetings were reported as 23,825. Fellowship financial support is no longer reported in regional summaries, but The RD Team reported that;
*We have not found effective remedies for the legal activities of buying and selling literature., *Poor member support for the basket of seventh tradition and higher cost of groups and thus less support for service committees. *Misuse of cyberspace to destroy trusted servants of NA and spread rumors and inaccuracies reports by some members before being sent by the secretaries. *Deciding part of one of the 29 areas to change their structure from area to region without coordination and interaction with NA‐IRAN and discussing many legal problems. *We do not have a precise statistics on the number of newcomer and how to attract them. we do not have a precise solution for the statistics.
It is difficult to fully understand the comments without some further investigation. ‘Legal activities of buying and selling literature’ could allude to the NAWS corporation practice of marking up literature to cover expenses rather than relying on membership donations. The comments also suggest a declining interest in membership support of the Seventh Tradition to be fully self-supporting off contributions, so it is safe to assume that NAWS Iranian operations were now increasing literature prices.
The Iranian Government may have rules affecting how Non-profits are able to finance their operations. This will likely affect other regional bodies in other countries as well. The British Columbia [Canada] Region may require Groups to pay a Goods and Services Tax on literature as profits have exceeded the $50,000 limit imposed by the government.
Other Regions may follow Iran’s lead. Brazil is the second largest fellowship outside of North America with 1,604 groups and 4,659 meetings as of the 2020 Annual Report. For many years, Brazil produced a local Basic Text and paid a small royalty to the NAWS Corporation. Annual sales were reported at more than 15,000 books annually and as high as 41,000. Despite having a Brazilian World Board member, the NAWS Corporation reported annual sales for years of the locally published Brazilian Basic Text using the erroneous term of ‘Brazilian’ for the language term in annual reports.
It’s a very simple mistake that many make but highlights that the NAWS Corporation had nothing to do with production. By 2014 they started correcting the annual reports with using the correct language term of ‘Portuguese’ and by 2015 a NAWS approved translation was available. Profits may have increased due to a higher price, but sales have declined steadily since the new approved book was made available and 2018 sales were 5,120. The primary purpose of a Narcotics Anonymous Group is to carry the message to the still suffering addicts regardless of the source of the literature.
Literature prices clearly has a significant impact on the ability of Narcotics Anonymous to carry the message. This rift between the NAWS corporation and Iran will likely continue to grow to other geographical areas. Many groups in North America and Europe have continued the practice of producing local literature available for cost but operate under the looming threat of litigation by the NAWS corporation.