Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~

When It Works: 12 Basics

The Twelve Principles of Narcotics 

The seeds of the miracles in NA are found in the following principles.

1. Hope gives us something positive to look for and move towards. We can admit our need for help as we begin to share in our common welfare.

2. Surrender to the things we cannot change through our own power is a way to get on with our lives. We seek a Higher Power of our own understanding and that becomes our ultimate guide and source of strength.

3. Acceptance allows evasion and denial to give way to reality and peace. With the care of God, we are granted the power to welcome new people and new ideas into our lives.

4. Honesty is the ability to match up our insides with our outsides. It allows what we don't care about to go away and what we really want to appear and develop in our lives.

5. Open mindedness is our bridge to the experience of others. It is the passageway out of loneliness into the life of the Spirit.

6. Willingness to try is the beginning of doing our part. However grand or humble that might be, it is a state of readiness replacing depression and anxiety.

7. Faith is the evidence of our trust in God. True faith is the result of surrender coupled with experience that God can and will do for us if we ask for help.

8. Tolerance is knowing the other person has the same spirit in them as us and being curious about what that spirit is trying to do.

9. Patience is taking time for things to move into place without force or breakage.

10. Humility is knowing the importance of doing our part well and being open to the many forms of help required for a full and abundant life.

11. Unconditional love is given where we sense our spirit in another human being.

12. Sharing and caring is the active and passive forms of love that keeps us alive and allowing God to use us as instruments.

Principles are the language of miracles. Increasing our language ability helps us make the right choices. Our minds often play tricks on us, due to our disease, and we use spiritual principles as guidelines to escape our old ways. These principles can be mimicked but unspiritual people lack certain characteristics associated with spiritual growth. Love, caring, patience, peace of mind are hard attributes to fake! We each have to reach a point of surrender to enter the state we call 'recovery.' In NA, we have our own spiritual awakening and this gives us our own evidence of the reality of the God of our Understanding. We have to have our own miracles for spirituality to be real to us. Without principles, it is easy to fall back into our comfortable rationales where most of the world is wrong and we, poor isolated victims, are lost in a world of fools. We learn or create words to describe what is going on in our hearts so others can help us and so we can help ourselves. Recovery is getting back with humanity.

Spiritual growth is discovering ways to put principles into action. To grow spiritually requires three things: surrender, learning and practice. We have found that maintaining our spiritual condition is the best safe guard against relapse. Our spiritual condition determines the quality of our life. Regardless of our station in life, it is possible to achieve a great state of mind and spirit. Many of our members spend a great deal of time in our meetings and functioning as part of our active service structure. Others go about their business in good faith and show their gratitude for recovery through personal service. Personal service is helping addicts seeking recovery.

As we grow in recovery, unanticipated differences of viewpoint develop from our newly acquired information. When we begin to apply it, we discover ways to reconcile what we have learned with what we have known before and the situations around us. Pretending that these differences don't exist will ensure that they dominate us. Secrets have great power. We see this happen in any area of our lives where we are not free to openly discuss our feelings. While it may be a simple matter to resolve in open discussion, when we won't even admit something is wrong it takes on the enduring quality of stone. Until we found recovery, the inability to come out into the open with living problems has kept addicts in prisons of their own making. Just the fact that there are others who share our concerns, sets us free from feeling that we are alone.

The Twelve Principles listed under Step 12 in the Fourth Chapter of the Basic Text, Narcotics Anonymous. They are the keys to joining the Steps with the Traditions. It is easier to avoid the pitfalls that come with practicing a spiritual way of life against the strains of everyday reality. Too often good members have been pitted against one another where they have common cause in staying clean and helping others. Many times, simple misunderstandings have grown into grave conflicts entirely disproportionate to the original issues. Stubbornness and close-mindedness prolong the conflict. Communicators must intervene lest nature take its course.

In keeping with our growth as a Fellowship and the spiritual nature of our program of recovery, it must be noted that we cannot serve two masters. We are spiritual first and everything else second. We cannot allow the forces of worldly concerns to erode our spiritual love and caring. We want to maintain our sensitivity and sincerity as our worldwide Fellowship grows. If we are to survive the incredible and emotional strains of our growth, we will always have to look to our roots to remain on sound spiritual ground. These roots have to do with the memories we each have of the excitement and happiness we felt when we finally realized that NA could indeed grant us a new life. There experiences put us all on equal ground in service as well as in recovery. They are our reference point for understanding what and why we do what we do the way we do it.

One thing that will doom us to stagnation in recovery is an attitude of indifference towards spiritual principles. When we are young in recovery, the world is full of uncertainty and discovery. We are forced to summon our inner reserves to learn about getting clean and staying clean. We are really trying and really listen to what others have to say. We read spiritual literature and expect to find new answers to help us reorient ourselves to the clean life. When we think we know the answers, we float into indifference. We know we don't really know all the answers, but we have been clean a while and there is no one to tell us to get real anymore. Intolerance is when we do the same thing to other people. We discount the fact that they are clean and trying, even in difficulty, to make sense of their lives and find their way out of their traps.

Instead of floating in a sea of uncertainty, we can begin moving forward in directions of our choice. Many lost dreams have only waited in the darkness of our memories. Many times, we will find ourselves waking up to rediscover forgotten feelings and lost goals that had become impossible in active addiction. Principles are what guide us around the pitfalls and away from the thin ice where reality cannot support us. We get on an honest footing with reality and it supports us. If there were really something terrible out there, waiting to get us, it has surely had its chance. We find that we have to act on the opportunity in front of us on a daily or a moment-by-moment basis to be able to see ahead to the next opportunity. If we do not do what's in front of us, we feel ourselves falling behind. If this happens, all we have to do is ask the God of our understanding for help to get back on the recovery road. We do what is in front of us, then the next thing and soon we are so busy living clean, we have trouble recalling what was bothering us! It is amazing how well this simplicity works. Even if we feel discombobulated, we can do the right thing. The power of positive action and attitude is greater than the negative.

Principles give us words to describe functional parts of our new reality. They all come from a spiritual focus inside our being. Without this focus, the principles fall back into being mere words without the spiritual force, like a candle without a flame. It is scary to experience this.

We all find we need help. This is what we do in our meetings when we get beyond withdrawal and the obsession to use is lifted from us. Most all NA members can remember times when the program seemed unreal, unsafe and uncertain. They got past the crisis and continued going to meetings and found their objections were just one more effort to return to active addiction.

Enrichment describes the way members bring their current personal experience into the rooms of NA to share what they are finding with others. This stops short of endorsing outside issues but valid experience is what keeps NA alive and growing. We carry our program with us into any area of our new lives. What we discover is brought back and shared with other members and may become part of the spoken or written body of the material we all draw in recovery. This way any experience any of us has that encourages or enhances an addicts chance of staying clean or living a better life gets taken into our meetings and shared out to those who may find it useful. This does not mean that we tell members to go to our therapist, our church or another support group. We can share what we learned there and how it interested us or helped us in our recovery. The process of twelve step recovery is amazingly resilient and absorptive of this sort of input.

From the computer field we hear, "Information overload equals pattern perception." A member might share some pain and anger from childhood that came out in a group therapy session. It is absurd that this member wouldn't say where the event took place. We can share these things without endorsing outside enterprises or expressing opinions on outside issues. The world is our preserve in recovery. No door is closed to us, why then would we shut ourselves in unless we were fearful, once again, of losing control.

The Principles we explore in this chapter relate both to the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions. There was an old idea that behind each NA Step and Tradition was a common principle. The idea is that the individual expression of the principle is in the Step and the collective expression is in the Tradition. Admission of our addiction and the foundation of our common welfare both rest on our Hope…


Spiritual Principles Pamphlet Introduction

The spiritual principles in this informational pamphlet are a gift. They are given to an addict, any addict willing and unwilling alike, who through grace is given freedom from the bondage of active addiction. It has been our experience that members who get a sponsor and work the twelve steps are able to receive this gift.

Although we acquire these principles over a period of time, it is crucial that we start with some fortune from our higher power. It is not an accident that we find ourselves at our first meeting of Narcotics Anonymous. It is usually at this meeting that we are introduced to the spiritual principle of hope for the first time. This is why it is crucial to make the atmosphere of recovery match our primary purpose. We must make absolutely certain that our groups make the newcomer feel welcome within the first few moments that they enter the room. In Narcotics Anonymous, we save the lives of other addicts by making sure the same atmosphere that attracted us to the rooms is present for the next newcomer. The essence of NA is making the group suit the needs of the newcomer. The reason why we say the newcomer is the most important person at the meeting is because they are.

After walking into our first Narcotics Anonymous meeting, we hopefully hear the lifesaving message shared by various members of the group. During this time, we might actually spend a few brief moments forgetting about our obsessive desire to use. This is the first time we experience the spiritual principle of hope. After listening and watching other addicts who have stayed clean for some time, we begin to think that maybe we too can stay clean. For the newcomer, seeing is believing. When we see other addicts staying clean, we can believe that maybe this too can happen to us. We soon discover how these addicts have been staying clean and finding a new way of life. We hear for the first time that the answers are in the steps. We hear that the twelve steps of Narcotics Anonymous are the key to finding this new way of life.

We must also experience the spiritual principles of surrender and willingness if we plan to get on the journey with the rest of the members that are clean. We must ask a member of Narcotics Anonymous to be our sponsor so we can be guided through the twelve steps. It we do not take this crucial step, we will eventually go back to where we came from. The spiritual principle called surrender must be present if we are to ask for help. We must be open to the idea that we can not stay clean alone so we must seek help. We must also be physically willing to go up to another person and ask them to sponsor us. Our journey towards freedom from active addiction begins when we surrender and find the willingness to get a Narcotics Anonymous sponsor to guide us through the steps. It is through this process that we can acquire the remaining principles mentioned in this IP. Our purpose for writing this IP is to give more information on the spiritual principles we are trying to obtain when working the steps. We have come to understand in Narcotics Anonymous that we are powerless over our addiction, however, we are not powerless over what we do to recover. Knowledge is power. We hope to provide addicts with more knowledge on the spiritual principles mentioned in step twelve of our basic text.

As a result of obtaining some of the spiritual principles embedded in the steps, the addict starts to handle problem situations with integrity. They take the spiritual principles obtained and apply them to their life. This process allows less time to be spent on the problem and more time to be spent on helping other addicts and enjoying life. Applying the spiritual principles discussed in this IP does more than just helping the addict, it helps everyone the addict associates with. We begin to feel bad when addicts are speaking negatively about another member. Instead of chiming in, they share their experience, strength, and hope about the pain they felt after speaking negatively about another addict. They share that usually the same character defect they were accusing another addict of having happened to be the same one they were struggling with themselves. They begin to tell the truth even when it makes them look bad. They start to feel the program of Narcotics Anonymous in their heart.

Another result that comes from living the spiritual principles in our lives is ability to love another addict unconditionally. The addict starts to develop empathy towards other addicts that are having a difficult time. The miracle of empathy happens when an addict feels the heart of another sick and suffering addict in their own. Empathy is demonstrating the love for another addict through action. Instead of just feeling love for another addict who is sick and suffering, we use the principles obtained through working the twelve steps and take our love a step further. We demonstrate through action that they too can get clean, loose the desire to use, and find a new way of life. We hug the addict and tell them that we love them. We stay after the meeting and discuss things that helped us stay clean. We exchange phone numbers so the addict has people to call if they need help. We review the meeting schedule so the addict knows the next place and time a meeting is taking place. Most importantly, we let the still sick and suffering addict know that we are there to help in anyway possible. It’s no wonder that as our understanding and application of the twelve steps grows, so does our understanding and application of the twelve principles mentioned in Step Twelve of our basic text and discussed in the NA Way of Life. We start to understand that all of the spiritual principles discussed in this pamphlet are used together to help make more dreams come true. The spiritual principles acquired in Narcotics Anonymous help move addicts from the problem into the solution. The following spiritual principles can be used by addicts to help their dreams come true too. With a continued commitment to working the steps with a sponsor, the spiritual principles mentioned in this IP will start to become more than just a part of an addict’s life, they will become the foundation for a new way of life beyond our wildest dreams!


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Reprinted from the 
Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life, 
Traditions War: a pathway to peace,
The Spirit of NA 
or NA Twenty Plus

being edited on this site.

Copyright © December 1998
Victor Hugo Sewell, Jr.

NA Foundation Group
6685 Bobby John Road Atlanta, GA 30349 USA


All rights reserved. This draft may be copied by members of Narcotics Anonymous for the purpose of writing input for future drafts, enhancing the recovery of NA members and for the general welfare of the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship as a whole. The use of an individual name is simply a registration requirement of the Library of Congress and not a departure from the spirit or letter of the Pledge, Preface or Introduction of this book. Any reproduction by individuals or organizations outside the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is prohibited. Any reproduction of this document for personal or corporate monetary gain is prohibited.