Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~

Why It Works12 Traditions


"Each group has but one primary purpose - 
to carry the message to the addict who still suffers."

Though each group is welcomed to their diversity through autonomy, there is also a spiritual consistency throughout NA meetings all over the world: this is our message of recovery. NA offers a vision of hope and a promise of freedom from active addiction to any addict who passes through our doors. An addict, any addict, can stop using, lose the desire, and find a new way of life. Carrying our message is the primary purpose of our groups.

We have found it best that we do this one thing supremely well, which is to carry our message. Being all things to all people we would quickly lose our focus. If we engaged in many related multitask, our ability to carry out our primary group purpose would suffer. Mental health, treatment centers, politics, and legislation all help people in their own right but in association, they would quickly push aside many areas of sensitivity essential to NA recovery. Narcotics Anonymous only seeks to cooperate with professionals to the extent that they will be aware of our recovery program as a possible resource to their clients. We are careful that we never affiliate in any sense of the word.

When it comes to the personal matters of our members, we must also exercise restraint. Our purpose is to share, as individuals, groups, and as a Fellowship, how we found recovery through Narcotics Anonymous. Legal, social, medical, moral, and ethical issues, as shared by our members, are welcomed in our meetings. We do, however, want to make sure that our groups take no sides on these issues outside of NA’s collective experience. Such actions could lessen our ability to carry our message. With so much at stake, we keep our focus on recovery.

The best way to keep our groups safe in this regard is to keep our meeting formats simple and focused. When our formats become overridden with issues outside the scope of our Fellowship’s experience, Steps, and Traditions, they begin to lose their effectiveness. Our group members, on the other hand, may have personal familiarity in these issues; they will do best by sharing their own experience with these matters, trying not to affiliate such issues with Narcotics Anonymous or incorporate them into their group formats.

When we allow ourselves to be used as conduits of the love that originally attracted us to recovery, we are on safe ground. when we forget our role as care givers and instruments of a loving God, we are drawn out of our area of experience. We keep in mind the supreme, all powerful, all loving creator of the universe who is the one that is really protecting all of us. Going with God, we cannot lose. we are reminded where we come from and how much we wanted recovery in the beginning. We can forget the pain of withdrawal the same way women forget the pain of child birth. to stay clean, we help others who both remind us of our own pain and help us hear the solutions we ow have to offer.

In the active addiction, there was much pain and misery in our lives and the lives of most everyone we came in contact with. Many of us found it was the selfish, self-centered fear driving us into an isolated death of mind, body, and soul. It became evident that fear, manifested in our thoughts and feelings, created many of our problems. It was our lack of faith, not the drugs; using was only a symptom of our dilemma. We should always be vigilant that our decisions as individuals and groups are the expression of our faith. The atmosphere of the group, and the message we carry, ought always reflect the commitment we have to the principles embodied in our Twelve Steps and Twelve Tradition.

For our groups to be an effective vehicle for carrying the message of recovery, it is thought necessary to develop an atmosphere of recovery in each meeting. All of our Steps and Traditions are comprised of spiritual principles just as NA is a spiritual program. We have found that we can exchange the phrase "atmosphere of recovery" with "atmosphere of spirituality," and agree that this is the message our groups should emanate. Complexity is not the key to doing better. We have seen many people new to recovery run around and try to fix all the things that have gone wrong with their lives. Simplicity and surrender offer us a better platform on which to rebuild our lives. This is particularly applies to helping others get the help they need at our meetings. We care, we share, we know it works for us. We are the living proof that the program works. We pass on what has worked for us out of our own experience. We carry the message by living in the solution to the best of our ability. we welcome the addict to our group and we try to live, through our caring and sharing, the message of hope so the newcomers can say, "I am being accepted until I can accept myself. I am being loved until I can love myself." The message that we carrying says, "We love you. You are not alone. We will help you. You too can recover."

Ideally, the practice of spirituality lies in the application of spiritual principals. If true spiritual principals are never in conflict; any or all ought to fit the phrase "atmosphere of recovery," and define it accordingly. We can take an instance where the phrase "atmosphere of recovery" is sought and introduce a series of spiritual principals in place of the word "recovery" (i.e. an atmosphere of acceptance... an atmosphere of patience... an atmosphere of tolerance... of unconditional love, open-mindedness, willingness, surrender, compassion, empathy etc). In this way, a group’s inventory will best reflect the spirit of our program without the vulnerability to our old ways of thinking.

The still suffering addict is also an important focus of this Tradition. These addicts can be anyone inside or outside of the group. Our members would do well to insure a consistent application of anonymity to each member, allowing them to express themselves in an atmosphere free from judgment. Even a member with many years clean can be a suffering member of a group. Just as possible is the member who usually displays themselves in accordance with spiritual principles. Devastation knows no boundaries and desperation takes no prisoners. The suffering addict might be the one who was absent, or who has yet to show up. Our purpose is to help those that need us, even to seek them out if need be. This tradition actuates the collective application of our Twelfth Step. As we seek to help others, we strengthen our recovery and insure against relapse at the same time.

The message we carry as a group is the practice of principles toward these individuals, however troublesome they may be. The new members begin to admire our demonstration of acceptance, patience, and tolerance, and begin learning from the start that spiritual growth comes from within. It has been said that if we do not see a leader in the room we strive to be one. If we do not hear the spiritual message of recovery we try to carry it. If the suffering addict cannot share their pain, we share ours for them. If we do not carry the message to the still suffering addicts, NA will wither and die. Without NA, none of us has any chance to recover. It is said, time and time again, that the newcomer is the life blood of NA. Therefore, it is no coincidence that one of the main themes throughout our literature states, "We can only keep what we have by giving it away."


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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.