Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~

Why It Works12 Traditions


"Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, 
ever reminding us to place principles before personalities."

Here in Narcotics Anonymous we have one promise - "freedom from active addiction." Members who were a part of the writing of the NA Basic Text can affirm that some other promises were considered, and eventually discarded because we felt we did not need to make any other promises. It was time to let the truth about recovery be known. The point was made that freedom in recovery takes many forms and but all these forms are dependent on one thing: freedom from active addiction. In the process of recovery, what these words mean grow to mean freedom from all the avenues that addiction can take, even if we are totally abstinent from all chemical drugs. We come to acknowledge our powerlessness in other areas of our life: sex, money, prestige, fame, obsessions, gambling, anything we do to excess that creates problems for us by distracting us from reality.

Principles involve hope, surrender, acceptance, caring and sharing, honest, open-mindedness and other positive elements that help us build a new life. Personalities involve personal attack, selfishness, gang mentality, rumor, gossip, character assassination and close-mindedness. Principles revolve around what is being done to benefit others. Personalities revolve around who gets the credit and how it will affect us directly in some way. Amazingly, 'principles before personalities' has been used to justify personal issues because that is the way they appear to us when we are obsessed. It is up to our friends and sponsors to help us see through our illusions.

How does it work? "Those who keep coming to our meetings regularly stay clean." Directly or indirectly implies anything else would be promoting NA. "If you want what we have to offer, and are willing to make the effort to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps." If our meetings are not surrendering to the Steps and Traditions, there is no atmosphere of recovery. This is not attractive. By allowing newcomers to see our recovery, we become attractive.

We do many things to promote unity within Narcotics Anonymous. Occasionally, by promoting unity we begin to promote our Fellowship. We need to be personally responsible for the way we allow society to see us if we choose to let society know us as NA members.

Customs and routines give us positive ways to handle things that come up from time to time. Our use of the word `tradition' goes slightly beyond the dictionary definition. We apply it to mean that the interconnected group of principles reinforcing and combining to give us a whole much greater the sum of individual parts. Our Traditions are really a spiritual network that helps us get along with each other while fulfilling our mission to stay clean and help others.

Spiritual guides for addicts seeking recovery must be well worded and have sustained a certain amount of pressure. We cannot afford to play word games or sound good `just for effect'. If our principles do not work for us, we are in serious trouble. Personalities are neither good nor bad in and of themselves. They become one or the other through usage. If our actions and reactions produce useful, interesting and positive effects, we are sure to be honest, open and willing to a degree.

Stepping out of the labels is the spirit of anonymity. What gets done or goes undone becomes important instead of accessing blame and passing out guilt. While bringing a problem to someone's attention is still an option, the burning desire to make someone feel badly subsides. Cutting this negative habit in half is part of the change, we experience through anonymity. If our differences take precedent over our similarity, we may find ourselves stuck in a cycle of useless conflict. This is bad in as much as it wastes time and energy and fails to satisfy our desire for personal improvement. And as long as we think the problem is with the other person, we're not apt to do the things we can do to help.


Hit Counter
persons have visited this site since March 3, 2012


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.