Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~

Twelve Principles of Narcotics Anonymous


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

Unconditional love is a spiritual principle acquired by addicts who are willing to work the Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous and apply them in their lives. In order to love another human being without conditions, we must first learn to love ourselves. We must first clear the wreckage of our past in step five by sharing the exact nature of our wrongs with another human being. We must get freedom from the defects that have been robbing us of our dreams in Steps Six and Seven. When our defects are removed, we have more room in our spirit for the assets that help us love ourselves and others. Instead of judging others, we accept them. Instead of taking credit for supposed selfless service, we quietly and humbly serve Narcotics Anonymous and expect nothing in return except continued freedom from active addiction. We demonstrate a greater sense of empathy for addicts who are still sick and suffering when we have let a higher power remove our own pain and suffering. Then, and only then, will we be able to receive the benefits of loving another human being despite their actions and behaviors. This is a spiritual process that requires spiritual work. The spiritual work is done with a loving sponsor who is there to guide us through the twelve steps.

Unconditional love, like empathy, goes beyond simply telling another addict we love them. We must actually demonstrate this love through action. We must take the time to talk to members after the group and share our experience, strength, and hope with the solution so they too can get the freedom we feel. We must answer the telephone even when we would much rather be watching our favorite TV show. We must give rides to those members who don’t have cars and actually listen to their problems with a loving heart. When an addict is sharing off topic and complaining about how horrible their life is, we need to remember that we too were newcomers. We too entered the doors of Narcotics Anonymous bent and broken from a life riddled with fear, anger, guilt, and lost dreams. In Narcotics Anonymous, we rely on our members who have obtained unconditional love through the twelve steps to demonstrate empathy towards these addicts. We must love them if we are to continue to experience the freedom we’ve obtained.

Our Unconditional love comes from our recognition of addictive pain and the spiritual desire we find in one another. Like many of our terms, unconditional love takes on a special meaning for addicts recovering in NA. This principle lets us explore the hearts of one another. We increase our capacity to live by what we find there. increasing our willingness to help still sick and suffering addicts. Not only do we demonstrate unconditional love for the newcomer, but also to old timers and ‘inbetweeners’ who are simply going through a spiritual storm in their life. Unconditional love means that we do not place expectations or limitations on our love. When we give unconditional love to an addict we are totally oblivious to age, race, sexual practices, religious backgrounds, clean time and looks. All we need to know is that you are an addict!

The spiritual growth we find leads to an elusive empathetic understanding that seems to come just when we need it. We realize that whatever form it takes, our disease continues to focus our attention on externals, misguided attempts to change others, and a lack of effort to take care of our own spiritual condition. We avoid responsibility and stop doing the things that make us feel good. Recovering our shattered selves with spirituality lets us grow anew from within as we start to share and care the NA Way. As our experience and knowledge of applied spirituality increases, we can more often see into the heart of things. We can more easily 'read between the lines' and utilize our intuition to help someone find what is bothering them. We do this by waiting until they ask for help. It is good to bide spend our time with addicts who are seeking help or else we are intruding and they won't forget our interference. Once they ask, we can help. In many cases, we back off, knowing we're powerless until they ask. In many other cases, we are able to act on faith and play the roles of helpers, caring listeners, truth tellers, principled persons, selfless givers and occasionally take stands that are spiritually meaningful.

To do these things, we turn a portion of our attention inward and begin to ask questions about what we believe and why we do things. Along the way, our understanding passes a point where we realize the love, generosity and help we have received - yet were unable to recognize or acknowledge. After this realization, our attitude towards the needs and suffering of others is more generous. When we realize how much we've been helped, we feel embarrassed not to pass on what others gave to us. The idea of pride, arrogance, or expectation of getting things in return for our work becomes ridiculous. where We can see ourselves as the holders of spiritual truths that came directly from the God of our understanding. We cannot personally control or lay claim God's grace.

Awareness of the loving nature of and the reality that surrounds us doesn't blind us to the ignorance, cruelty, and selfishness that still exist in the world. The roles we play can reflect our new viewpoints and general awareness. We become able to see differently. Our insight enables us to make loving choices within our means and based on extending the kind of love and caring that helped us find the clean life.

The limitations of language obscure the sometimes painful fact that even `unconditional love' is dependent on certain factors beyond our control. This love may be in our hearts yet unable to find expression. Receipt of this love is usually depends on the openness of someone asking for help. One condition is that the person we would enjoy helping is open to our help. We are all too familiar as addicts with the pain of well-intended intrusion. Sometimes we feel like an exhibit at the zoo. To intrude on someone unasked is presumptuous and more likely to trigger retaliation than gratitude. Our love can only be given to those who are willing to receive it.

Another condition is that the time is right for sharing. We need to understand that a person doing things that are bound to have disastrous results are going to happen regardless of our actions. The person that is causing chaos in their lives might not know how serious there actions can be. view, may think they're in no need of help. Any effort on our part beyond a gentle comment or two may seem insulting and egotistical. If we wait until they're in pain and desperation, they may pass beyond all help. All we can do is share our experience, strength and hope. By praying to be ready and available, we are sometimes there at the exact moment when a person is open to help and asks for it. There are no coincidences in Narcotics Anonymous.

Perhaps one more condition should be brought into this rare and inspiring form of love. It is that we do share from our own experience and not wander into the role of savior. Our spiritual condition is important: God works the miracles and gets the credit, not us. The trap here is that if we see ourselves as the doers, even if we really help someone, we will sustain an injury to our spirits. The love we give does not make us better than create in those we help. It would be a case of our us pushing God away from the controlling role in our lives, canceling out our Third Step of recovery. We will find ourselves seeking greater challenges, isolated and eventually in serious need of help ourselves.

Also, setting ourselves up as saviors makes us ideal targets for our character defects to come roaring back into our lives. Our job is to help, not to find fault. for the disease in others to find fault with us. We can not expect ourselves to be perfect, but we must consider God’s will when helping addicts. Our failure to be perfect can be used by the addictive trait to discredit our recovery! Our only perfection consists of honest and complete surrender. Then, if we are attacked, we can laugh at the strange turn of events and the foolishness that makes it hard to actualize the best of intentions.

The gathering of spiritual knowledge leads eventually to a great and lasting simplicity. We spend les time figuring out when we are powerless. Lack of confusion and wasted effort help our love reflect that simplicity. We may do the right thing just because it seems like the right thing to do!

Love expands our life as hatred restricts it. Through love, we can go more places, meet more people agreeably with an honest smile, and do more things with them that demonstrate unconditional love. Increasingly, hatred cuts us off from others, leads us to avoid certain places, and limits our ability to succeed. If we want to gain the principle of unconditional love and truly feel the heart of another addict in ours, we must do the spiritual work. The spiritual work is the working of the twelve steps with a Narcotics Anonymous sponsor. The solution to all of our problems in Narcotics Anonymous are the twelve steps so it makes sense that they are also the key to eventually grasping the spiritual principle of unconditional love.


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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.