Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~


Fate is what is going to happen unless there is some kind of change or intervention. The spiritual reality of recovery brings with it the power and responsibility to defy fate at its worst. Recovery allows us to first see and then participate in Godís miracles. Sometimes the new sense of personal power overwhelms us. It is not our own personal power that works these miracles, it is the power of life and God in us all that is awake and directs all action in our lives. We can see it around the edges of everything. Occasionally, we can see it head on. It is mind blowing. It can seem impossible, frightening, intimidating and just too much for someone new to living a spiritual life. We try to be gentle with someone just starting on the road to recovery. The power that links us together as humankind is a force in our daily lives. We missed a lot of this in our former lives simply because we didn't hold still long enough to see it or think things through. It may be the power that most religions call God. Regardless of our differences as to language, culture and personal experience, the principle of reflection plays a role in our miracles. Whatever we do is matched by the universe surrounding us. We never stop being a part of the whole. If we are indifferent and uncaring, we can expect the same from life. If we show concern for others and an ability for self-improvement, we cannot escape the attention of those who treasure such inclinations. If we show concern for others and ability for self-improvement, we cannot escape the attention of those who treasure such inclinations. What we get is a reflection of what we give.

The changes for the better we permit ourselves add up to a lot of positive change for humanity. Just because we are clean and trying to live better lives, we are very definitely removing things from our future. Auto accidents, jail time, broken friendships, love affairs and marriages might not occur. Families might not be broken and children might not be hurt. Being clean changes everything. Where the mistakes eat up our lives in active addiction, the corrections we make in recovery refill our lives and lead to a steady supply of good times. There is always one more miracle ahead of us. We just have to keep the faith and trust that things will work out. No doubt tragedies will occur but very often, beautiful occurrences and surprising outcomes will amaze us. One explanation for this is that we have become so accustomed to bad things happening that we just don't expect the good. Miracles seemed unlikely or impossible in ordinary times. Miracles occur by the grace of God and represent evidence of the spirit working in the world.

An addict seeking recovery finds the only meeting in town. A member plagued by a need to make amends runs into someone on the street they thought was dead. A member who really needs a job, tries one more time, and gets it. Large and small miracles seem to take place endlessly among members who are active in recovery and working their steps. Like so many other things in life, we get more out when we put more in.

Many of us come to believe that God is the doer of all things. We can participate, try to block the flow or get pushed out of the way. Naturally, when we were loaded, we were out of it most of the time. The Ďití we were out of is a healthy and functional state of mind, body and spirit. While wounds of the mind and body are more obvious in our society, wounds of the spirit show in our attitudes and our inability to process certain feelings, like enthusiasm and joy. Because of our addiction, we became accustomed to despair and misery to some extent. We must learn or re-learn happiness, acceptance and courage. Clean, we not only get to see the divine force move in our daily lives, we get to participate and play a role as part of the greater hand that is moving. Through working the 12 Steps of NA, we are reformed into people who can live in God's love, be selfless and occasionally angelic. It happens.

As one addict shared this story the way it was told to him. A lady in the rooms for a few years said, "I was going with a guy who looked and acted a lot like Charlie Manson. I was sick of the way my life was going. It got so bad that I actually got down on my knees and prayed for God to help me, help me any way He could. As the intensity of my pain and disgust over my situation subsided, I realized nothing had changed. Somehow, I had always had the notion that if I prayed, really prayed, it would make a difference. Since nothing had changed, God had let me down. I was really shocked in a way.

"After a time, I decided to take a walk down to the Korean Market and get some smokes. Along the two lane road, I was suddenly struck with a need to take a pee! It was awful, I couldn't just go along the road and there were no bushes! I ran to the nearest house and knocked on the door and when a man answered, I immediately asked if I could use his bathroom! It was embarrassing but I really, really had to go. A few minutes later, very relieved, I walked back to the front of the house and the guy who had let me in was sitting on the front porch.

"For some reason I felt comfortable talking with him and told him what had happened earlier in the day when I had prayed and nothing had happened. I really hated the way I was living and there seemed no way. As I shared more of my story, the man who let me in got kind of quiet. He asked me if I knew where I was? I said no, I just had to use the restroom and he let me in. He said this is the only clubhouse where NA meetings are held east of the Mississippi."

The biggest miracle we get to experience is the adventure of personality change. The more we learn, the more we realize that people just lose the capacity to change as they grow older. Many forces outside themselves make change almost impossible. Anonymity is one way we elude these forces. As long as we are clean, the old labels don't apply to us. By staying clean and living differently, new labels begin to apply. This is not a bad deal for society - or for us. Without an alternative, we are generally useless to ourselves and others. Most of us begin making amends immediately without realizing it. We subtract the burden our using takes out of the general economy, and especially those close to us.

The catch is that we stay clean and grow spiritually. If we do not, we will miss out on the rest of what recovery has to offer us. It is all set up so that the benefits stay hidden until the moment they are released to us. How often have we in ongoing recovery reached points where we had no real reason to go on and yet we did? Later, we found out that our fears were for nothing and miracles of precisely the type we yearned for were moving right to us. We forget that part of our human condition prevents us from being able to see through our present reality to what is headed our way. We just have to have the faith to wait and see.

Many of the miracles we experience come from the application of what we call spiritual principles. Although, the words we use to describe these principles seem to change for us as we grow in recovery, they are convenient. They give us a basic way to communicate our inadequacy along with areas of proficiency. We are able to navigate life in this new world of recovery. Over time, everything changes.

When we first hear the phrase "surrender to win," we assume this is a quaint way to sugar coat the fact that we can't handle many parts of life or any part of using drugs. Later in recovery, we discover that surrender means not having to waste energy. We can let our egos subside and escape graciously from situations where we used to feel the need to assert ourselves uselessly. Assertion is no substitute for ability. While the world will still step aside for someone who appears sure of themselves, it helps to know where you are going.

When powerlessness became a word in our vocabulary, we lost the need to interfere in the affairs of others. Also, we could more clearly see when someone was actually meddling in our affairs. We are getting somewhere when we realize we are the 'someone' we have been looking for to straighten out the messes we have made of our lives. Finding a way to communicate with our higher power through prayer and meditation allows us to grow into our own solution. Fellow members can and should be allowed to help us out. We help others in our turn. Recovery is interactive. As we change, changes appear in those around us. Still, we must bear the burden of our choices whether they be the most we could hope for or the least. Strangely, reality doesn't seem to care much what we get as long as we're happy with it and can take care of what is entrusted to our safekeeping.

When death is staring us in the face, we get a whole new perspective on life. Honesty helps us match up our feelings with reality and the result is almost magical. Workable solutions appear close at hand and we may have trouble understanding that it was our ego that stood in the way of our happiness. Defects of character which we were barely aware of, assured our misery through self_defeating actions carried on with unvarying regularity. By taking personal responsibility for our choices, we gain the control we need to better our lives. No one can do this for us because we will stop them. We can defeat the best efforts of those who would help us. This is why we have to want recovery before we can get recovery. Once we make this basic shift of direction, things start to happen that surprise, amaze and may frighten us. For all our tough talk, we addicts donít venture far from certain habitual patterns. The weakness of addiction shows up clearly as our disease progresses to where we begin to have difficulty making simple adaptations in our daily lives. Being able to jump out of these habit patterns is miraculous to us and those close to us. A coincidence is a miracle in which God prefers to remain anonymous.


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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.