N.A. has no opinion on outside issues; hence the N.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
I first found Narcotics Anonymous in 2002 and attended my first NA meeting on a Thursday night in the middle of June. I had been completely abstinent a couple weeks, but I struggled with every aspect of my life. Hitting bottom was a blessing, but when the lies and deceptions are gone then the true suffering begins. The hospital addictions counsellor had given me a Narcotics Anonymous Information Pamphlet called ‘Am I an Addict’ and a list of local meetings. The first meeting was terrible but the next two were powerful experiences and I decided to stick with Narcotics Anonymous until something better presented itself. Since that time, I have never found a better solution.
Opinions Are Like Belly Buttons!
Opinions are like…well, let’s just say that everyone has one. Some of us seem to have a lot of opinions and I certain did and still do. Narcotics Anonymous claimed that ‘we meet regularly to help each other stay clean’ and that opinion was what mattered to me the most. When I went to a meeting, people were glad I was there which helped me because sometimes I did not want to be. They encouraged me to keep coming back and it seemed to be sincere, so I did. That was my first experience with being of service to others. It felt good to be a part of something and I felt a sense of unity with something that was healthy for the first time in my life. I learned over time that we worked together in our groups towards the primary purpose of carrying a message to the still suffering addicts. I found a home group that I attended regularly. Slowly my self-obsession decreased, and I began to think of others more. My opinions changed and an attitude of gratitude slowly developed. That seemed to best be expressed in service to others.
As time passed, I found myself wanting to express opinions about the program and how people worked it. What I had experienced matched up with what the literature said, and it seemed like a simple program. I had opinions about how people worked their program based on those experiences. I questioned some people’s desire to stay clean. I learned the language of recovery and gained ability to be critical of others’ behaviors and actions. I might have been trying to validate my ideas about what success looked like. Taking time to be critical of others allowed me to stop focusing on my recovery. Apathy and complacency slip into my program. My opinions might have made a difference and helped some people, but they also created division. Critical thinking and judgement will benefit in some situations but not in others. My opinions never seemed to contribute to an atmosphere of recovery. Our literature says we become each other’s eyes and ears, but you need to tell me what you want to do about your problem first before I can help. My opinions were better suited outside of Narcotics Anonymous and allowed me to form healthy boundaries in society and in service to others.
The Importance of a Home Group
My home group is the most important aspect of my recovery and for Narcotics Anonymous as a whole. A strong fellowship will successfully grow and carry a message of recovery to the still suffering addict. What other groups are doing matters as well but with group autonomy I’ve learned that those are outside issues and I try very hard to not form opinions about what other groups do. Groups seem to stagnate or even die on their own without my having to express an opinion. I learned to appreciate when groups try new ideas, and I can learn from their experiences in success and failure. It is very difficult to see the toxic cultures created by opinions as they unfold in our fellowship and the ineffective service structures that evolve from opinions. Healthy boundaries have become of increasing importance to me with each passing year.
Understanding the Grace of the God of My Understanding.
My evolving values and the application of spiritual principles shifted my opinions. New ideas emerged because of healthy experiences, and I was able to share with others. I began to see each day clean as a gift early in recovery. I started to understand the Grace of the God that is talked about in the NA Literature. Sometimes I felt like I was a miracle, but the enemy was now apathy and complacency. I can see how addiction can make my gratitude into something that I have accomplished rather than a glorious gift as Narcotics Anonymous explained it to be. My opinions still matter to me. They are not always well received. Dishonesty and self-deception are the foundation of a relapse in behaviors for those who are fortunate enough to remain clean. It is far better for me to distance myself, and vigilance has become important to me. I am learning to keep my opinions to myself these days. Each day I awaken, and I struggle with a desire to stop using past behaviors and practice new principles instead. I see new addicts arriving regularly, with their courage, and they keep coming back. That helps me with my struggles daily. The wider the base, the higher the point of freedom is in the preamble of the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous. The freedom I experience today is not just from my own self-obsession but from a society of suffering addicts who have yet to learn of Narcotics Anonymous.