Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~

Twelve Principles of Narcotics Anonymous


"Acceptance allows evasion and denial to be replaced by reality and peace.
With the care of God, we are granted the power to welcome
new people and new ideas into our lives."

We have found that acceptance can not happen without an individual capacity for complete and total surrender. If we are unwilling to get help, we can not expect to get better. In order to be at ease with the way the world is working, we must first receive help from the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous. We must first find a routine of recovery to help us reach deeper levels of surrender. Once we are receiving the well being that comes from working a program of Narcotics Anonymous, we begin to understand that we as individuals have no control over the world and how it works. Once we begin to let go and let the spiritual principle of surrender relieve our burdens, we start to experience the well being of the spiritual principle of Acceptance. We have come to understand that acceptance is experiencing a situation without feeling the need to change Hit Counter the situation. It is letting lifeís waves break without trying to interfere with their intensity, frequency, beauty, or grace. Acceptance is allowing life to be free of our own will.

Through ongoing recovery, we all find our addiction trying to regain control of our lives through the weakest point in our personal program. We may find ourselves, without warning, caught up in substitution _ an extension of our basic addiction. It may be obsessive eating, sex, vomiting (bulimia), gambling, free floating anger, gossip or any number of combinations that would fill the empty void we feel inside. Our first step reminds us that we are powerless over people, places, and things that give us immediate relief from pain. Surrender is a process, not an event. If we want to accept the way the world works, we must first surrender our will and gain the faith and trust in a loving God that lets us know that all will be well as long as we continue the spiritual process. The only way to do this is to work a thorough third step with a sponsor.

After turning our will and lives over to the care of God through total surrender, we find it easy to accept reality. The freedom we feel from Godís will turns our hope to faith and our faith into trust. After trusting a power greater than ourselves, we find is easier to live in the spiritual principle of Acceptance. We constantly strive to accept life on life's terms and avoid pre_occupying ourselves with blaming others. Even if there are others involved, we must find a way to better our situation. The key to doing this is recognizing personal responsibility.

The belief that our Higher Power has taken control of our lives and our wills allows us to take acceptance into every part of our lives. In short, the word 'acceptance' expands through application into something we do almost habitually. Acceptance becomes a working principle in our lives. On several levels, acceptance helps us both in our personal recovery and when serving others. On one level, we know the Fellowship got along before we came and will continue with or without us. Service can be no ego trip unless we want the pain the ego brings with its limitations. On another level, we can feel the spirit moving through us. Sometimes it can be frightening even though we know it is loving _ it's so big.! We just accept and do our part while living in faith and trusting the process enough to know that if we don the things we are supposed to do, we will have an easier time accepting the flow of the world. This is the absolute best any of us can do.

Acceptance, as a principle, can be a doorway to solutions by applying a small amount of pressure in the place that holds the door shut. Rather than breaking down or prying open the doors, we use the key that unlocks them non_destructively. Since real acceptance tunes us into reality, we waste less time, energy and emotion trying to do things beyond our personal power. This extra time and energy becomes available to help us do better in those areas of our lives where we find we are able to be effective. Imagine, if you had an extra half an hour to talk with those you love or an extra half_day to do your job. Our capacity for quality increases when we're less concerned with quantity.

As we grow spiritually, we find others will react differently to us. Some may become jealous. Our acceptance may infuriate someone who wants us upset. Many times we confuse being passive with the humility that acceptance brings. We learn not to flaunt our spirituality. We trust that others will find their way. Many times, we will experience the feeling that we have done something wrong only to find out someone is trying to manipulate our emotions. It's amazing what you can see when you wake up in recovery! Many of our old reactions simply don't give us what we need. When someone tries to help us, we accept it. We don't retaliate with negative emotion and violence to cover up the fact that we may need help. They are not trying to put us down or make us feel less than. We learn to just accept the help and be grateful. As we change, the world around us appears to change. We all have certain capabilities. There is nothing that we can do that cannot be undone by simply speeding up until we can no longer do it. At the same time, we could do many things if we just slowed down and paid a little more attention. Recovery allows us the time and opportunity to do this with the help of others who have a stake in our recovery.

Asking for help places us closer to Godís will and gives us the opportunity to accept change instead of trying to revolt against it! Acceptance places us in a better position to receive the help that we need to recover rather than picking and choosing the help we think we need. A phone call from someone who knows we are a member, a coincidental encounter or a person who shows up at an NA meeting, all give us examples of Godís will working in our lives. We have realized the vanity of trying to carry our message to those who do not want it. We have also felt the power of recovery when acceptance allows us to go immediately into the solution instead of staying stuck in the problem. Once we start moving with the world instead of trying to always respond to it, we begin to live happier lives.

Acceptance taken to the level of a principle also requires that we check out our facts and pray to make sure we know what we're accepting! While serenity applies to those things we cannot change, it takes courage and wisdom to do the things that help make the world a better place. Many of us ask, "What would God have me do in this situation?" Often, an unsuspected opportunity appears to us. Though the word acceptance may have a connotation of resignation, impotence, compromise, and other meanings for many of us, recovery places acceptance in its positive form. It is honest. For addicts who are accustomed to throwing themselves at the world, it is a new wisdom to be able to back off. It is also a new choice.

As addicts, we seem to have an innate tendency to find closed doors and brick walls to butt with our heads. Acceptance can be a way of going on, and opening ourselves to God's Will when a door is closed to us. For the time being, acceptance can be seen in a far more positive light where we are repeatedly put into positions where we are forced to face some challenge or demand. Many of us grow in recovery to be able to meet these challenges and satisfy them in every way. In our war with life, we often take a characteristic exception to things. Learning to live with ease and comfort may be a process of learning to be more accepting of things.

Accepting newcomers as members whether they act right to us or not is part of empthy or unconditional love. We accept that if God's truly running the show, many things cease to be our business. Accepting a genuine love of life allows us to get back into our routine of recovery and see things more clearly. Accepting that what may appear frightening to us is as nothing to our loving God. Accepting that others may think, act and believe differently from us and still be good people, is one of the many gifts this program has to offer, not a threat to us. Accepting that, as addicts, we simply suffer from a disease and that daily abstinence and spiritual growth are the most important items on any given day.

Acceptance in time may mellow into gratitude. It seems that without gratitude, or grateful acceptance, we never come to rest and have a tough time going on in the spiritual sense. As long as we are rooted in things, we are tied to them. When we realize that our needs are being met, somewhat regardless of our worthiness, we can take the option to slow down whatever we are doing and do it better.

We have found that addiction tries to attack the weakest point of our program. It has been our experience that following 99% of our sponsorís suggestions gives us 100% of the pain. Like the cancer patient who only receives some of the chemotherapy, the addict can ill afford to work only part of a Narcotics Anonymous program. It would be total insanity for the cancer patient to say no to the only thing that can save their life. Like other diseases, the active addicts end result is death. We have, however, found a way to arrest this deadly disease. Acceptance gives us the ability to enjoy the small moments while on the road to continued recovery via the twelve steps of Narcotics Anonymous. We cannot control the way the world works so we must instead learn to accept it.


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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.