Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~

Twelve Principles of Narcotics Anonymous


"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."

Willingness is vital because it allows us to get a grip on the fact that before change can occur; we have to give our permission. We have to stop holding aback inside. We have to relax our personal will, with all its preconceptions and preferences, so we can look at every alternatives. When we want to select something new in our lives, it is our responsibility to make a decision. Without our willingness, we never get to make the choice. We remain tied up in many of our past limitations, illusions and habits.

The drive for any form of personal gain is based on a fear of being unable to satisfy our wants or needs. Eventually, this drive becomes obsessive and can create problems. In our pasts, we were always losing things. Replacement was a persistent problem. Our constant efforts to find and get more of the chemicals pushed us into a world of betrayal, deceit and treachery. Addiction had enslaved us. As clean addicts, we begin to learn the living skills we will need in recovery.

When desperation born of obsessive need for and compulsive usage of drugs is removed, what is left to drive us? How do we manage? What is important enough to us now to keep us going? When our lives are washed clean of the more conspicuous aspects of our addiction, what do we do? Do we become addicted to people, places and things? Do we substitute cravings for money, property and the good opinion of others in place of the old obsessions? Do we trade one obvious form of addiction for another that may be harder to detect as a living problem? We can be just as enslaved by work, gambling, and all other mood changers. Recovery is about changing ourselves not our moods. 

Many of us have done this. Recovery from the disease of addiction hasn't been around long enough for all the repercussions to be taken into account. One thing seems safe enough to advance at this point though: swapping addictions won't work. Real freedom consists of being able to live without fear and pain. In NA, we stress constantly that spiritual principles are necessary for ongoing recovery.

A lot of us grow complacent after the initial thrill of being drug free wears off. We want more. We isolate ourselves and hide our feelings from others _ perhaps through a misguided fear of disapproval or maybe we're letting our addiction guide us into another pathway the disease is known to take. At times, something needs to shake us into remembering that to recover. We go deeper and deeper into the spiritual principles, beginning with surrender. Again, and again, we surrender to our need for help. It This opens the way to growth.

The capacity to do our part in severing the ties to the past, our personal defects of character, brings us to the threshold of a new inner freedom. All we can do on our own is become willing to let the God of our understanding take over what is otherwise impossible for us.

Games of acquisition, control, manipulation, sabotage, projection, worry, revenge, resentment, blame assessment and character assassination are no longer necessary for those in the care of a loving God. The willingness to live in His will frees us from these defense mechanisms and so much more.

Our willingness is really an extension of our initial surrender. For us to `come to believe' in a power greater than ourselves who can and will take care of our wills and our lives, we have to gain some understanding. Our old defenses grew up in the isolation, loneliness, despair and feelings of worthlessness that are the progression of our disease. A new life comes from learning new ways.

We will learn the infinite power of the truth. Truth is powerful because it fits in with reality. We will base our actions and goals on the miracles we find in recovery. Most, if not all, recovering addicts can remember numerous occasions where the principles of NA and recovery just didn't seem adequate. We went forward on faith and found our prior fears unjustified. Crisis after crisis failed to get us loaded or rob us of our inner faith and growing convictions. Even where we were forced to pay for crimes committed while we were still using, many of our members have been able to stay clean through incarceration. Severe medical problems have failed to assure relapse where our members were able to apply spiritual principles to the obstacles in their paths. They were honest about their situation, asked for help, and let a loving God take of their life and will. It takes willingness to do this. 

Money, property and prestige have the power to seduce addicts in recovery. It is easy to mistake the desire for personal gain for a blessing of recovery. Many of us who have sought these things to the exclusion of prayer, faith and meditation share in pain and desperation the addictive nature of these delusions. Instead of making us happy, they turned out to be elaborate, attractive, socially acceptable traps.

Many of us are able to reject these temptations. We succeed through the direct application of spiritual principles and the willingness to allow a loving God to work in our lives. In our hearts, we desire more recovery. We maintain a spiritual way of life.

Willingness is open-mindedness in action. It is the way we feel before we take actions based on faith. As we personally become able to let go of defects through willingness, we are able to put spiritual integrity ahead of our desire for instant gratification. When we pray for the willingness to do whatever it takes to recover, we know that we never have to use again no matter what!


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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.