Narcotics Anonymous Way of Life

~ 2012 Form ~

Why It Works12 Traditions


"Every NA group ought to be fully self-supporting, 
declining outside contributions."

NA is not a business. NA is a spiritual fellowship. In those instances where we must collect or disburse funds, we have to minimize the cost to the Fellowship. Churches and other spiritual assemblies have problems maintaining their focus because money can be divisive and result in unpleasant conflicts between those who seem to have too much and those who most certainly have too little. Our service bodies are nothing more than holding companies for what we share in common. It is hard in some of the committees to remember that while the illusion of power can come with a title, service positions are nothing except opportunities to help those who may otherwise die or suffer. It is easy to see ourselves as more than we are because of this. Nevertheless, we surrender and pray for a loving God to help us remember our contribution to what we have been given only allows us to increase our being by more giving . this is how we fill the hole the gut.

The Seventh Tradition speaks about being fully self-supporting. In this Tradition, bully means completely. We decline all outside contributions to avoid influences that would change NA from the miracle that it is into something else. Many laces would like to give us free meeting rooms. We insist on paying rent. This helps to insure our autonomous groups. We also refuse donations of money, material and services from outside our Fellowship. we send back the money with a note of thanks and a friendly explanation. we cannot afford to be obligated or even to feel obligated. Our sense of obligation may affect our actions and decisions as recovery groups. Our own experience and that of others teaches us that the only way to deal with issues of integrity is before a problem occurs. After the damage is done, all you can do is hope to survive.

Integrity is bringing all parts of something together to form a cohesive whole. When an organization or fellowship takes money or other forms of support from an outside source, it becomes to whatever extent dependent. This is why NA declines outside contributions. To effect personality change, recovery has to strike close to a person's heart or soul and this is delicate. It goes beyond the outside world to the reality of a person inside. Our program is grounded in spiritual principles. To drift away from the honest caring and sharing begun in our tremendous growth period in the 1970's is to betray the spirit of NA. After all, it is the promise of freedom from active addiction that attracted so many addicts to our program in the first place. The vast numbers of incoming members assures us that our members who already know about recovery and principled living will be outnumbered. It takes principles and courage to interact with the newcomers and help them keep pace with the demands placed upon them. This is a big job and we run a severe risk of developing teams of followers, but we just have to pray and do the best we can. Our need for prayer and meditation is greater when we have the support of a great number of people - because we may, on occasion, be wrong! Listening to the inner voice may be our only chance of getting it right! This doesn't mean we act against the majority, we just bring our Higher Power into the picture. If our inner voice says something worth hearing to us, it may be interesting to others.

We also need to look at the less obvious effects of this Tradition on NA as a whole. If our service boards and committees become dependent on sales of NA materials to outside enterprises, for income, how does this affect our motivations and the development of NA recovery materials? If pressed to decide between something that is helpful to our members and something that will appeal to the treatment community, which way will we go? Our Fifth and Sixth Traditions become interrelated here. Our primary group purpose comes first. These are issues we have faced in the past and continue to face today. Money can't buy what we have to offer.

In our addiction, we were never able to be self-supporting. If we made plenty of money, we may come to realize how dependent we were in other ways. We were always dependent on others. That is why it is so important for us to be self-supporting in our recovery. It affects how we feel about ourselves and how other people regard us. By simply being self-supporting we owe nothing to anyone other than our group and the Fellowship. Dependency had become a way of life. In order to begin to recover we must break that chain and a way to begin is by supporting our home group. Money is the least part of our recovery program and self-supporting means a lot more than throwing a dollar in the basket. No one can say you owe me. One rule of life is that if you take someone's money, you take their preferences. We begin to stand on our own two feet and take pride in our independence. This doesn't mean we can't ask for help, it means we do our best to pay our way. This is part of our freedom in recovery.

Financial and emotional support from our members gives us a solid base in recovery. We have no other goals to take into account or people whose aims we must satisfy. Our sincerity protects us when things could go wrong. It would be easy for us to accept free rent from centers that would like to promote themselves as having our services available to their clients. We must not allow this so as not to become dependent upon them for meeting halls and to allow them to possibly bend our message to better suit their needs. This might be a blind spot to them. We would have no warning before the harm was done. We stay away from sliding slopes where if we get too near the edge, we will start sliding. By the time we are sliding, we can't stop. They would commit our services to their clients and that would be a lie. We in NA respect the treatment community and wasn't the respect from them needed for us to function. Our spiritual integrity is at stake here.

An addict shares, "Giving of myself is a new concept in my life. In the past, I would always try to buy your attention, friendship, etc. The self-support this Tradition talks about has a lot more to do with home group members giving of themselves in service than it has to do with the money we put in the basket. The commitment of sharing 'myself, ' 'my being' with you is one of the most effective antidotes to self-centeredness and egocentricity that I have found.

"I have had confused feeling when it comes to giving. am I giving enough? I would spend much more than this if I were using. should I make up the difference when I think the basket is short? after all this Fellowship has given me so much and I contribute so little. the amount must be an individual decision. Contribution through service and monetary means are necessary for our Fellowship to survive. Once I decided on an amount and made a commitment to it, I try to donate it regularly, not just here and there. part of the change for me is consistency and willingness to stay consistent."

We experience the concept of responsibility through our group. Our group teaches us that we need to take care of our own. We refuse money or anything else from outside of NA. Our members donate at the group level. The group, in respect to the fund flow and their autonomy, usually decides to donate to the area. If a group decides to follow the fund flow, they pass along surplus basket money to the area, the area to the region and the region to world services. they may also make books free to newcomers or do various other things to carry the message. addicts can choose to donate in their home group or in many groups. Many addicts get confused and believe the Seventh Tradition applies to service boards or committees. service boards or committees are not NA they the Seventh Tradition does not apply. They utilize funds from group donations to provide services as directed by the policies of the funding service committee. Groups are self-supporting and money after bills goes to support the service effort. We may on occasion throw a fundraiser to meet additional needs if they occur. Service boards and committees carry our group conscience with money from the groups. As we begin to respect our Seventh Tradition and begin to make healthy decisions in our lives we become self-supporting members of society.

Much of recovery has to do with awakening to the interrelationships that were invisible to us in active addiction or early recovery. We demand respect when someone intrudes on us yet express amazement when others accuse us of intruding on them. Addiction isolates us. We are not used to living so close to others. The Seventh Tradition helps us maintain some separation from their groups and purposes to preserve our focus on recovery. In gratitude, we seek strength and guidance to carry on in the Spirit of NA in many ways. Direct contact with addicts who are learning to live clean places special demands on us to keep faith. We value the confidence and trust they place in us. This requires distance and separation from outside groups and the purposes those organizations would have. We dare not alter our identification as addicts recovery in Narcotics Anonymous. Other purposes would creep in and while most would seem to have little impact, they would accumulate until we were applying for funds and preoccupied with the concerns of bureaucracy rather than meeting the service needs of NA groups.


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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.