Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~

Twelve Principles of Narcotics Anonymous


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

We didn't get clean overnight and our Fellowship did not start growing overnight. Patience as a spiritual principle may also be called creative waiting. Life will force us into positions where the only good thing we can do is wait. This may not happen often but when it does, we should know that sometimes watchful waiting has to be enough. Our self-will made us want everything in our time. In recovery, our world expands and we find ourselves on God's time schedule. Like in the 9th Step, sometimes we have to wait for the opportunity before we can act. Until then, we can only be willing. Our willingness gives us something real to hold onto while we wait.

Accepting the waiting, asking God to ready us for the time of action, and spending our time well, are all benefits of spiritual patience. We can all recall the many times we acted through sheer force of will, ignoring warnings from those we had some reason to trust. This accounts for much of our pain and trouble. Going off half-cocked insured our failure most of the time. In recovery, we use the maxim, "When in doubt, don't." Almost by definition, the person who fails to consider their resources and acts without the benefit of prayer is setting the stage for disaster. It is not spiritual to commit to action without considering your resources and the depth of the need for what you're about to do. Taking time allows the rest of our mind to come into play.

By utilizing patience, we automatically reduce the pressure we place on ourselves to act, whether weíre ready or not. We gain time to check our assumptions about a situation; time to hear from our sponsor and fellow members. All this reduces our sense of urgency to rush into quick fix techniques. Impatience may be a habit carried over from the way we used to do things.

Some of the landmark events in the history of Narcotics Anonymous only came after a series of quick fix approaches failed to work. When enough members agreed to commit themselves to a solution, solid discussion, planning and action became possible. We had to learn to work together, staying open minded and above the defective trap of pride and ego. This was true of our service structure, our world service office, our Basic Text, and "Narcotics Anonymous." as a whole. Cutting corners, proceeding without consulting the people involved, and failing to appreciate what has gone before, only wastes time. Even good changes will fail if people don't understand them or are not given an opportunity to study and support the changes.

Trust bonds are formed among members who are committed for the duration. These bonds stay bound when we are patiently willing to search each otherís hearts and minds to achieve at least a basic level of conscious agreement. This grew into spiritual unity and real results soon followed in most cases. Some of our struggles have been long and hard. Patience has proved itself indispensable.

Addicts continually resist attempts from do-gooders. We have found that each one of us must wait, patiently or not, for the beginnings of an answer to arise from within. Until this process has begun, we remain blind, deaf and dumb to even to the most inspired appeals to better judgment.

The Twelve Steps guide us in these awakenings gently and steadily. So, our growth will be paced with the changes that must take place in our individual environments. We're often baffling to non-addicts and even sincere well_wishers. This is only a restatement of the need we have for other addicts who have a desire for recovery in NA. All rests on the desire. We do not make amends until we have gained surrender, a power greater than ourselves, and asked that power to remove our defects. Amends come after the defects that caused harm to other are removed.

Sometimes the patience we exercise is coupled with a readiness on our part to act. It may be that having said or done what can be done, we have to wait. "In God's time, not mine," is a phrase we have heard used repeatedly at meetings. Acceptance of this idea is patience. As addicts, we usually want what we want instantly. Our entire existence had centered on immediate gratification when we were using drugs. Many of us find that even in recovery, we seek the rush brought on by "quick fix" solutions.

We want to have five years clean before we get six months. We want people whom we've harmed many times in our addiction to believe that we have really changed and expect to receive their forgiveness overnight. We may have come into Narcotics Anonymous financially destitute and deep in debt, yet after a short time clean we can't understand why we can't get a loan or a credit card. "Don't they know I'm clean now?, we've heard some members ask indignantly. Many times, they don't care and can't even imagine what being clean might mean. We must never forget that we enjoy a special environment constructed patiently by the love, goodwill and positive example of other clean addicts who care about us. They are paying back those who helped them the only way they can: by helping us. We in our turn, help those who are to come.

Eventually we learn to accept that because we live and recover "just for today," that doesn't mean we will get everything back in a day. If our lives to come are a puzzle to us, we realize we get a piece of the puzzle on a daily basis. We put our best foot forward and do what needs to be done, laying the groundwork for a brighter future. Asking our Higher Power for the patience to see our vision become a reality is part of the recovery process. "It's easy to have patience when things are going my way," said one member with a smile.

We agree, but the challenge of spiritual growth is to "practice these principles in all our affairs", not just the easy ones. We have come to realize that the discomfort felt when things aren't going our way or happening fast enough is simply our egos crying out for attention. The same egos that drove us into the depths of our disease drive us today. In time, a proper, healthy sense of self guides us with the benefit of conscious contact with our higher power. This comes little by little through the 12 Steps. Patience allows us to adapt to the new ways. If we go too quickly, we are apt to fall back on our old ways in a crisis. We even know how to create that crisis when we need one! Most often we are only trying to get back to what we are accustomed to.

Practicing patience takes a surrender of self-will. We come to believe that whatever the outcome, we will be taken care of. We look at our part to be sure that we've done all that we should have today. We ask that our will be aligned with God's will and we let our fears go with love. We rely upon the faith weíve gained through working a thorough third step and begin to trust outcomes instead of dread them. Patience is realizing itís going to be Godís way anyway!

Our experience has shown that practicing patience doesn't dilute or postpone miracles, it enhances them. We are able to feel serene and be understanding in the most trying of circumstances. The freedom experienced from not having to be in control of the future feels like a great weight lifted from our souls. Patience is the practice of peace.


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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.