The Impending Crisis
The Impending Crisis Redux
July 14, 2011
copyright © 2011 Bo S. 6685 Bobby John Road Atlanta, Georgia 30349 firstname.lastname@example.org
Table of Contents
Narcotics Anonymous Continuum
In Times of Illness
What Triggered NA Growth?
A Closing Note
"People want to know how much you care before they care how much you know."
The Impending Crisis attempts to tell the side that has been left out for over twenty years, not to be upsetting
or negative. Surely there has been a degree of glossing over details and deletion of important information over
the last twenty years, so some of this material may seem biased or upsetting. Should this be the case, please
refer to study materials and consultation with some long term members who can verify or deny the items that
concern you. It is better for us to deal in truth than to enjoy pleasant fantasies. Do pray a lot while reading this
People sitting in a circle among their peers, people who know and love them consider and discuss things that
might be done to help. Occasionally, they come to a resolution and pass along a vote, motion, suggestion or
request. They know in advance that their concerns and issues will be taken seriously, because it is a matter of
faith and they are part of a greater whole. They do not act capriciously or come from base motives. They are
prayerful and believe themselves to be guided by a loving God of their understanding. A single man or woman
carries word of their concerns or decisions to an assembly where votes are tallied and decisions determined
from the input or responses of members. This process can involve tens, hundreds, thousands of hundreds of
thousands men and women. When accord is reached, great unity can act to change lives and bring hope to the
About the time I was entering college, I read the first editorial in an underground newsletter, The Great
Speckled Bird a.k.a. "The Bird" in Atlanta in the 1960's which made clear from the beginning that the
newspaper would have a bias so as to present views and opinions not be found in other newspapers. The point
of this document is to bring into print things I have said and heard for years and years. Since a corporation
controls the copy and policies in all the official Fellowship publications, we are quite happy to present another
view in this, our unofficial/official publication. Pro-fellowship side views of issues and concerns of NA members
allow a freedom of expression and experience that is not covered else where.
The main issue at present is the corporation trying to change our service structure in the United States of
Remember, when many of us got clean, there was no book, no large Fellowship, only a few hundred meetings
and so forth. We made specific prayers of selflessness that blinded us to ego and we did not divert our attention
to 'play it smart,' we just prayed for strength and guidance to do God's footwork.
Suffice to say, this did arouse envy and jealousy in others. The growth created a new, vocal, more educated
When working on the Basic Text during the 1979-80 fiscal year, we had fantastic problems with the minutes
of the First World Literature Conference at Wichita. The next year, we had toughened up our attitude towards
what was possible and not. So, when the Conference at Lincoln began, we announced minutes would be taken
as we proceeded. There was an immediate outcry, ''We can't do that! That's impossible. No organization does
the minutes that way." Whew, it is hard to believe just how much this upset some people. As the Chairperson,
I said, "Well, you may be right but we're going to try anyway, ok?" They couldn't say anything to that so that's
what we did.
The minutes of the morning session of the whole conference were on the tables as members filed in from lunch
and the afternoon minutes were on the tables after dinner. That's how we did it. The members who complained
just shrugged but it saved us a ton of trouble at Lincoln, Memphis, Santa Monica, Warren, Miami, and Philadelphia.
We even pasted them on the walls at the access points of the building where we held the different conference.
I don't recall anyone complaining about inaccuracies in the minutes and it certainly went a long way to keep peace
in the valley as we proceeded. Also, we gave away copious copies for attending members to take home with them.
Remember, they paid a registration fee of $12 and bore the expenses of their travel and food. We gave them copies
to offset the Monday morning effect of, "God, I had the weirdest dream last week. I thought we were writing a book!"
The copies not only gave them evidence that the book was actually being written in the conferences by being able to
read through the newly written chapters, we gave them plenty to give to their friends! Of course not many members
know these factoids but it is part of your heritage and you should know it.
I have only recently discovered there are corporate activities all over the planet that seek to own community
water supplies - including Atlanta, Georgia! In South America they call it 'selling the rain' - where they dry up
available water supplies to force populations to buy the 'corporate' water! They call it 'privatization.' People in
some cities died fighting for the right to drink water from a stream! NAWS, Inc. is attempting to do the same
thing to us. We are not against the good folks who work at WSO. It is up to NA members to keep world services
spiritual by advisement and election processes. Surely you know general corporate trends will creep into NAWS,
Incorporated. Only watchfulness and positive action will preserve the spirit of NA. It is not improper or negative
to keep NA spiritual! Without the watchers and occasional readjustments, NA will drift, in purpose and focus, off
One over-simplified version of what's happened is that the members who were more experienced with
surrender and spiritual principles zoomed ahead and built the new Fellowship in the early nineteen eighties.
Those who were left behind were horrified and confused and put forth terrific energy to capture positions of
perceived power and control, to restore order as they saw things. While some had long time recovery, they did
not write the book, Narcotics Anonymous. Any society has polarization. This means a measure of disagreement
among members is healthy. Their lack of experience and knowledge has been passed down to members coming
into NA ever since. The idea that the Fellowship is not adult in nature is perpetuated by those who don't quite
realize the Fellowship wrote its Book!
There are several ways a society can be formed. It can arise out of common cause, forced regimentation and
either the breaking down of larger groups into smaller societies or the reverse: the gathering together of smaller
groups into larger assemblies. The groups can be held together by force like a military state or share a common
goal or vision that is strong enough to make common cause and hold them together. In NA we share the pain of
active addiction and the trials and joys of recovery. NA is people. NA is addicts seeking recovery - not a service
board, committee, literature or any other thing. NA is people like you and me.
Of course, it often goes without saying that our surrender and our recovery depend very much on how we feel
about NA. This underscores greatly what we euphemistically call our NA politics. These conflicts of policy injure
our ability to carry our message by bringing outside issues into sharp focus. Naturally there are at least two sides
of the coin: those who have a correct notion about recovery and NA and those who fail to understand. In general,
you are better off if you can really see both sides of the coin whether you agree with them or not.. If you think
there is only one side that is right, you are leaving out the all mighty X-factor.
But the most important information for NA will always be the how and why of spiritual living. There is a vast
difference between the person who uses anger to fire their enthusiasm vs. a person who disagrees and tries to
work towards a point of remedy. There must be a hundred thousand NA members out there who have the
knowledge and information awaiting an opportunity to help make it better. There are probably twice that number
who know better and refuse to do anything because they are bogged down in fear and resentment. Certainly
those who hide out in other fellowships do nothing to help. As others have shared, AA never had another program
to run to!
While our Traditions stress the importance of keeping our groups together, the Second Tradition warns us of
people who would seek to govern rather than serve us. We are abjured against lending our name to outside
enterprises. It also stresses that while we as members, and as a Fellowship, have the inalienable power to create
service boards and committees - they must remain directly responsible to those they serve. They serve our
needs; we do not serve their needs. Neither can they rule, censor, dictate or decide things for us. When the
voice of the NA Fellowship gets forgotten or played down, we have the option to correct or replace the service
A major flaw exists in the poorly written 12 Concepts of NA. It says the Concepts were written to guide our
service structure - implying the 12 Traditions only address group needs. This is where our service structure
took a wrong turn. This is the focus of the Crisis. When more members realize this - the crisis will no longer be
impending, it will be here! When you realize you have done something wrong, you have to stop doing it, admit
you have been wrong and get the word out to others who don't yet know better. It is not about blame, it is about
integrity and protecting ourselves from random error or human failings.
Narcotics Anonymous is not the WSO. Narcotics Anonymous is a 12 Step spiritual fellowship of men and
women with a desire to stop using and find a better way to live. World Service Office is a business entity we set
up as a service office to fill literature orders and conduct our official business for us and at our own direction
through the World Service Conference.
There would be little need for this essay if there was no conflict hurtful to our mission and our unity in NA.
Sometimes I think God may have set it up this way. If so, God also impels us to do what we can to resolve at
least the larger issues so that a pattern consistent with our goals and aspirations emerges. We absolutely do
not have to agree on everything. Ever since we wrote our Basic Text and expanded our way of life all over the
world, it has become more obvious that we have some trouble with the bureaucracy attached to our primary
service center. No one complains about literature orders getting filled and many services have maintained a
high standard of excellence over the years. There are however certain matters that seem to come up repeatedly.
Conflicts of interest, mis-information, irregularities with minutes of WSC by WSO staff, and other problems have
upset and demoralized members over the years. The only maneuver by the corporation is to avoid embarrassing
mentions, deny or mislead those who question. Unfortunately this leaves the door open to recurrence. . They may
complain but if corrections are not made, they just walk away in dismay or disgust. The issues here is they know
if they are not taken seriously.
Narcotics Anonymous Continuum
Only a thief would take something leaving nothing in return. - from Nick Verdi, fine art painter
The basics of recovery are the same today as they were fifty years ago. The basics of recovery will be the
same fifty years from now and on into the future from there. Addicts discover it is the disease and taking away
the illusions without replacing them with factual information would be a disservice. Once a newcomer starts
asking good questions, there is no end to their potential for recovery. The acts associated with using are found
to be causing the problems. For this to lead to recovery, you discover, and admit, that you are powerless over
your addiction and that your life has become unmanageable. Pretty simple isn't it? But people die every day for
the lack of this knowledge.
The way to peace in exploring and considering the many wonderful and exciting things that have happened
to bring NA to the stage of today gradually gives you a rich field of ideas reflecting the diversity and ingenuity
of our membership. If you were to list all the people, places and things associated with the idea of NA, it would
fill volumes! Somehow our disease makes it seem possible that NA is just a big dream and that it could all
suddenly go poof and be no more. Well, that is just impossible. Of course people kind of go nuts once in a while.
Believe it or not it is normal! Everybody does it, even non-addicts. Our NA history shows that spiritual principles
In our NA history, we include diversity, not black list the people who see things differently. NA is for all
addicts seeking recovery. We draw the line that they of their own volition must achieve cleanliness which is the
real denominator of sincerity. We must stand apart from any organization that wishes to control us. The future
is open to those who build on bed rock of total abstinence, a voice in NA and the sharing through gratitude that
has characterized NA all along.
For a spiritual Fellowship like ours to exist, we need to constantly bear in mind that our lives are at stake.
While there may be pressures and adverse conditions we have to deal with, we have already dealt with worse
- on many occasions. It used to be, not long ago, we were not welcome to hold a meeting in many places. Of
course the big pharmaceutical companies are going to react to our path of total abstinence with horror! They
believe everybody needs a few drugs. Whoop-ti-dew! Doesn't that just make your little heart jump and twist?
One has to have survived our own insanity as well as the world's. People in the business of selling drugs will
always see us as customers.
The Basic Text employed a conference method wherein all members of NA were completely welcome and
privy to any sort of information they desired. This proved to be highly productive and it was amazing how some
of the newer members went straight to effective solutions and made many contributions. This is where our
principle of inclusion first proved itself workable and practical, keeping faith with the democratic processes
stressed in our early NA service writings. It was of course also very attractive and somewhat comforting to
members with more clean time who could perhaps appreciate more fully the miracles they could see unfolding
after thirty years of waiting for a Basic Text.
I first got into world services when I was five years clean in 1979. My perspective is probably very different
from someone getting clean and into service after 1990. People with little clean time say there is no difference
between someone with a little vs. someone with a lot of clean time. Those with clean time and recovery know
better. Recovery teaches us the error of our ways and so long as we remember the lessons, we don't have to
keep making the same mistakes. Also, many times we know what to do next. After many years in service and
recovery, someone told me about the two NA's: the spiritual and the corporate. It made sense that some
members would migrate to the business-like aspect of NA functions, events, logistics and similar concerns.
Others were more interested in the spirituality of the program, personality change and learning the important
lessons of living clean. The principles of honesty, open-mindedness and the willingness to try ay seem general
and vague but when applied to hundreds of daily situations, they become very pertinent and well defined. Each
viewpoint created over time its own little world. The two were seen as complimentary while any conflicts were
seen as poor understanding that would be corrected as an individual learned more about NA.
It may be important to realize that NA in America and more especially the growth of NA was related to other
events taking place in society. It was not until 1964 that freedom of speech became a legal reality in the United
States when the Supreme Court struck down the 1798 Sedition Act which forbade spoken or written criticism
of the government, Congress, or the President. After the First World War. for example, Eugene Debs was arrest
ed for making a pacifist speech [page 269, Understanding Power, Noam Chomsky]. He was a presidential
candidate sent to prison for ten years because he gave a speech against making war. America is unique for its
hard won freedom. Think about it. There was a reason no one would admit to being an addict in the early days.
Suffice to say, people have been fighting for these rights for hundreds of years and NA is one of the blessings
born out of their struggle.
The start point for the modern form of NA was the creation of a service structure in the mid 1970's. It took
several years to partially implement the written service structure. It expanded NA on the principle that each
and every member of NA has a say in their Fellowship. This healthy form of personal responsibility enhanced
and ennobled the volition in each member that grants them membership identifying through aspiration and pain.
All of NA rests on their shoulders.
At the point where the writing of the Basic Text was completed, there were only three Regional Service
Committees fellowship-wide. With the creation of the Basic Text, a large number of participants got quite an
education in NA, our 12 Steps and our 12 Traditions. With the Text done, we expanded our primary service
center, WSO with a vastly increased cash flow. We went from three Regions to twenty-eight in one Conference
year. Unfortunately, a sort of gulf grew between the volunteer service workers of NA and the paid WSO staff.
As one member put it succinctly: "Part of the Group's responsibility is to provide the service structure with direction as well as the human and
financial resources to accomplish the expressed Will of the Groups. Our service committees and the service
structure as a whole has a responsibility to carry out the will and spirit of the Groups. Only the Groups have a
right to vote. All other votes must faithfully represent the expressed will of the Groups. Members vote according
to their will or what they think best for themselves or the group in which their Fellowship GSR has already
expressed their personal vote and must then carry the Group's conscience to the Area. ASRs (RCMs) must in
turn carry their Area's position to the Region and so on down the service structure to the WSC who in turn have
the responsibility to govern and direct world services in the name of the Groups. Our Second Tradition makes
"Sound like a pipe dream? It's what was promised to me when I came in."
A strange animosity grew between the two viewpoints. An example of this were the typos in the original
printing of the Basic Text. The unpaid, grateful members who wrote the Text were blamed for the typos by the
paid WSO staff. Nobody thought it through at the time that WSO was in charge of production and the literature
service volunteers had no opportunity to proofread the document before WSO issued the print order. This type
of confusion fueled the separation of the two classes of workers: the volunteer and the paid professionals. And
of course the problem was never rectified or amended, with the knowledgeable members insulted and the WSO
staff blithely unaware. The spiritual service volunteers are still active in NA today and do much needed work.
Cutting costs would seem a solution. Who would over-spend? Not our trusted servants, I hope. Are there any
other people who have a say in NA? Are they subject to the 12 Traditions? If not, they are not NA. If they are not
directly responsible, they are not NA. Fiscal responsibility with regard to our copyrighted materials requires
prudence in spending. Nowhere in our service structure is there justification for excessive spending beyond our
means. Should such spending occur, it might be an indication that someone within the system has other goals in
mind than the Fellowship s welfare.
God, like water, finds Its own way. Where it is blocked, God will back up and move through every crack
available. In time, God always wins. When our service structure became the play thing of a tiny group of people,
the energy began to find other ways to flow and move into the lives of people who depend on It. Mentation or
thought processes will never beat out the spiritual. Mentation is the tiny mind of man. Spirituality hooks us up to
the universe. There is a defacto service structure already in place. Your reading this essay is an example. When
structural service began to flop as the energy that comes from group conscience fell off, people in NA found new
ways to meet their needs. The accumulation of information and contacts has resulted in an unexpected boon for
Fellowship communications. We used to have to construct expensive and burdensome committees to collect,
discuss and propose solutions.
Now we can just do what we are doing here: sort it all out on a big screen, worldwide Fellowship computer
screens! In a few months, the Fellowship will begin reviewing just how much is being spent on the marketeering
to change our service structure. Members in the NA Continuum are watching intently. They just haven't quite
figured out that they are the ones really in charge.
Service in NA used to be great fun! The spirit of the thing, the newness, the feeling of doing something good
and unique to addicts who were discovering how to live clean, help others and grow spiritually. Make the
atmosphere stifling, attract officious types with delusions of management, create a jigsaw puzzle of policies
that makes it hard for someone to get involved, and suddenly service isn't so much fun. We call the problems
associated with conflicting policies "politics." The joy of giving rarely comes into play. Onerous rules outweigh
the accomplishments. Any bureaucracy gets old. It takes a lot of talent and energy to keep it going. Our trusted
servants in many, many cases have been subjected to hundreds of hours of listening to members who didn't
take the time to study and ask endless questions they wouldn't have asked if they had attended one or more
learning days before taking up the service committees time. The Regional servants who take time from work
and family to spend long days away from home with no regional motions carried at the WSC. It is easy to see
where they feel like a big rubber stamp for whatever the corp thinks is best that year. It is deadening to lose
your say in things that directly affect your life and well-being. .
Corporate Narcotics Anonymous
Ask yourself: what does NAWS actually do for you? Surely you can think of some good things! We wrote a
book with no NAWS. We carried our message to the world with no NAWS. What do we need someone to tell us
what to do for? We do need a WSO. We do need a Conference to bring together all the Fellowship periodically.
Why do we need a ten or twelve person service board that actually created itself with no guidelines? If you do
not know this is true, check out the facts.
Officiousness has never been the NA way of doing things. We do not accept leaders by right of title or position.
If they cease to serve by example, well, that's it, isn't it? We have no big shots or little shots in NA: one shot and
we're all shot. Democratic processes save time and match up human aspirations with organizational goals and
accomplishments. Leave people out, the system is left out and becomes irrelevant. This invalidates the collection
of funds and expenditures of those funds. There is no support for a motion that is forced on a surrendered and
unsuspecting Fellowship. It only has force if the people are kept in the dark. It is one of those things where the
only way to win is do not play the game. Working for change in a system from the inside where the very
mechanisms of positive involvement and change are damaged doesn't make much sense.
One member observed that the WSC Literature Committee was WSO's dream come true. They wrote
literature that sold into the millions of dollars and yet never asked for or received a dime from, WSO. So, all these
years, money has flooded into world services from the sale of the Basic Text while at the same time all the people
who were directly involved in the writing are alienated and derided by WSO through their systematic control right
down the line to the people who answer the phone at WSO.
One member shared:
"I was talking to Bo S. I called him to see if he could help us with an event we 're going to be having this Labor
Day and during our talk, I recalled another talk I 'd had in the last couple of years, with Steve R., a WSO fellowship
facilitator. I believe in his position, concerning the guide to PI and why it was no longer available to the fellowship
after the release of a new version, the new PI guide. I was concerned because my group had not voted on this and
I was told that my RSR had...I tried explaining to him that my RSR did not have anything to do with my group
because my group is traditionalist with no ties to the NAWS, Inc. structure. Somewhere in our conversation I
brought up Bo S. and the comment from Steve was, 'Bo S. has been trying to destroy NA for the last 25 years.'
"As an informed member of NA, I know that nothing could be further from the truth. If it wasn't for Bo S., and
a small group of people that believed that God could direct us to write a book, we would riot have the fellowship
of NA we do today. I have a very clear understanding of the fact that the people who wrote the book went on to
start 10,000 meetings. It is at the very least unprofessional and at the worst it is blatant character defamation.
This type of behavior should not ever be tolerated and certainly not from someone who is a paid professional of
a non-profit organization. Not only is this allegation unfounded and insulting, it is directed at one whom I and
thousands of other members consider to be one of the last defenders and pillars of the truth of what is in our
Traditions and the ability of groups to promote recovery in complete creative freedom in accordance with our
Higher Power's will. "
This kind of consistent character assassination is inconsistent with spiritual principles. It creates a new
category of "personalities before principles." And it happens all the time. Rather than get into a he-said,
she-said conundrum, there are other examples that can be found. Like a rock rolling down a hillside, it will not
stop until it hits a bigger rock or rolls all the way to the bottom. Repetition creates false memories, no matter
what the truth may be!
Why is the corporation flooding us with all this concern for our service structure? Could it be that they regard
all attempts at group conscience as externalties that just take up funds that they would prefer to run through
Are we that expendable? After all there is a chance the Fellowship will find out why the Concepts are so dear
to their hearts. Without the Concepts, they would have to do what they were told by the groups. Some lawyer
told them this single line, "The Steps were written to guide us individually, the Traditions were written to guide
our groups but the Concepts were written to guide our service structure." would relieve them of the obligation
to do what the groups and members of NA have to say on any given topic. Did anyone tell you about the power
in the AA Concepts to order resignations and restructuring of their General Service Office? It does not say this
anywhere in the NA 12 Concepts.
Corporations hire public relations firms to create buzzwords to put across ideas they wish to promote. Terms
like 'service system' undermine our staunch reliance on the NA 12 Traditions by sounding like a fresh viewpoint
when it is just repackaging baloney. PR firms stretch or represent information to build sales. They do not deal in
truth or accuracy. It sounds to me like NAWS has noticed members don't like picking up the tab for officiousness
and cost overruns. So much money goes to WSO from literature sales that there must be a leak somewhere.
Nothing new is happening. The last time we got hit with massive structural changes was in the 1990's. NAWS
has commanded such great loyalty that today's Fellowship does not recall what a real group conscience process
is like. It is when a large predominance of active members are aware of a problem, discuss and research it from
various angles, submit ideas and proposals which are then placed before an active and informed Fellowship and
voting determines the outcome - members will support the process, even it doesn't go their way because it is all
open and above board. There are reasons why today's Fellowship doesn't trust the process. Documentation:
when is the last time a motion originating in a region of NA has passed at the so-called World Service Conference?
It was 1996. One small motion carried in 2010 to do a Traditions Workbook that was obviously supported by the
corporation to make money and further the corporate spin on our Traditions.
Who owns the copyrights on our literature? Many members see a quiet attempt to copyright new literature
written after the 1990's as a move to put our copyrights into the hands of the corporation. Could this be?
Like a coat of paint on an old tool, the proposed structural changes pretend to be something new. But on
closer examination, it just puts NAWS in charge of everything with fewer voting members so it is easier to control
and plan outcomes while maintaining the appearance of democratic processes. Many other corporations do this
to create the illusion of democratic processes. It is probably financially motivated to save money also. Gone is
the idea that our worldwide Fellowship can count on its primary service conference to inform, involve and take
time with members who are kept up-to-date so that when we are asked for a group conscience, we don't have to
go into an orgy of study and discussion.
You will notice the appearances of democratic processes are highly visible in the current move to make new
radical changes in our service structure. What is not so visible is that we, as a Fellowship, did not ask for these
changes. Also, it will be consistent with past behavior if we later find that NAWS has already planned the printing
and implementation of their proposals because today's Fellowship is so uninformed that most folks will rubber
tamp the shutting down of our Twelve Traditions like it is simply business as usual. Business as usual can
encroach on matters of grave concern in a spiritual Fellowship.
New ideas come to mind when we face a tough piece of adversity. I have no doubt that unless the Fellowship
wakes up to what is happening, the NAWS corporation will be broke again within ten years and probably want to
change our service structure again to fix themselves. There seems to be a pattern here. I believe NA is going to
survive whatever happens but just like we lost control of our "CAR" a few years back, now we are being asked to
put on blindfolds and ear plugs! All before December some time. What and who does this serve?
When I served on the NA Board of Trustees (WSB), I went back to the college I attended in Atlanta. I asked the
Dean of the Political Science Department a few questions. He politely directed me to the school library to a book
entitled Bureaucracy, I found the following sentences: "In bureaus of a financial or profit-making nature, individual
opinion is sacrificed in favor of efficiency. In bureaus of a spiritual or religious nature, efficiency is sacrificed in
favor of individual opinion." This permanently cleared up a host of situations for me.
Group conscience was developed and refined during the writing of the Basic Text in the years between 1979
and 1982. The World Service Conference operating under The NA Tree and its adapted forms was called The
Temporary Guide to our Service Structure. It was then systematically eroded out of existence over a period of
years by the people on the WSO Board which later became known as NAWS, Inc. They saw their mission as
running NA so they could bring order into world services which, perhaps, they did not understand because they
were not that involved in the literature process and did not understand the absolute necessity of involving
members at all phases of what was going on at the world level.
They began by taking over the secretary and treasurer functions of the WSC and the WSB (Board of Trustees).
Everyone was very trusting in those days. They also took over the NA Way Magazine. At that point they controlled
all NA publications. In the 1990's, the same people who were involved in these changes did one more thing. They
took world service out from under the umbrella of protection afforded by the Twelve Traditions by pushing
through the NA Twelve Concepts - no relation to the AA Twelve Concepts. Then they engineered the shut down
of the WSC subcommittee system for six or seven years and pushed through the Super Board in the late 1990's.
All this further centralized administration of NA resources and financial activities. The people who engineered
it all were in upper level administrative positions and/or on the Super Board. Consensus Based Decision making
puts pressure on the informed or questioning members to conform to a majority opinion and does away with a
coherent voting system. So, with CBD, if you are aware of concerns or issues not known or visible to the majority,
you are forced to go along with the group by social pressure.
It may be that Consensus Based Decision making is another way of saying 'tyranny by the majority' because it
doesn't allow participants to abstain or oppose. Another interesting factor is when we decided by simple majority
or two-thirds on major changes, you could tell if a motion passed unanimously or if by a close vote. Also, if there
were a lot of abstentions - it gave a sure sign that discussion had not reached the point where it was clear to the
participants where they stood on the matter under consideration. If a vote was too close or had too many
abstentions, a wise chairperson would then call for more discussion. Also, at a later date, a close inspection of
the minutes shows how things went because of the Y/N/A counts. Consensus Based Decision has no such
footprint. Of course, administrators at WSO had other ways to doctor the minutes - just re-word or delete motions
or amendments and leave out important elements of discussion.
Well consider the following ways in which our members have been buffaloed into chumming along with things
they knew were 'kind of funny.' Funny. Yeah, right! Look up "Philosophical Fallacies" with Google or another
search engine. Here are a few items for your consideration:
'Wait My Chance Syndrome:" Some members won't contend on issues because they are concerned that it will
only make the problem worse. They are worried that the conflict will diminish those who are weak in their desire
for recovery - that they will just go out and use if they are disheartened by a conflict. So they hang on and console
themselves with the idea that if things get really bad, they'll be in a position to oppose or prevent more serious
The "Can't Fight City Hall:" is another excuse for inaction by members close to or directly involved with,
untoward orchestration of motions by NAWS, Inc. attempting to push the Fellowship in a direction they might
find objectionable or in violation of our 12 Traditions.
"Work inside the System:" is a gimmick to neutralize members concerned about improprieties who are so
concerned about doing the right thing the right way, they attempt to make others aware of their concerns until
they are worn out. It never seems to occur to them that those who would abuse our processes for personal
preferences and regardless of our Traditions and guidelines would not conduct counter efforts to keep the
objections relegated to a low priority with those objecting held in contempt or low esteem.
"Not My Job:" I might speculate that some of the personnel working at WSO are aware of improprieties and
choose to remain silent - staying out of things that don't directly concern them. This too is a good way to insure
that such improprieties will continue. It is not dishonorable to blow the whistle on deliberate contravention of our
Twelve Traditions and proper even-handedness in matters of concern to the Fellowship. Conflicts of interest
especially should not be allowed to play a role in Fellowship decision making processes.
"Appeal to Authority" (false authority) You appeal to authority if you back up your reasoning by saying that
your position is supported by what some supposed authority says on the subject. Appealing to authority- is
fallacious whenever the authority appealed to is not really an authority in this particular subject. Example: The
moon is covered with dust because the president of our neighborhood association said so.
"Appeal to the People" (bandwagon) If you suggest that someone's claim or argument is correct simply
because it is what most everyone believes, then you've committed the fallacy of appeal to the people .
Agreement with popular opinion is not necessarily a reliable sign of truth, and deviation from popular opinion is
not necessarily a reliable sign of error: but if you assume it is then you're guilty of committing this fallacy.
Example: You should turn to channel 6 for the best most informative news because it's the most watched channel
"Poisoning the Well" - Poisoning the well is a preemptive attack on a person in an attempt to discredit their
testimony or argument. A person who thereby becomes unreceptive to the testimony reasons fallaciously and
has become a victim of the poisoner. This is a kind of ad hominem, circumstantial fallacy. Example:
[Prosecuting attorney in court] When is the defense attorney planning to call that twice convicted child
molester, David Barnington, to the stand? OK, I'll rephrase that. When is the defense attorney planning to call
David Barnington to the stand?
Several likely occurrences included selling the Fellowship the innocuous notion that today's Fellowship is
larger and worldwide and so needs to be updated. This simplistic idea will serve to shoe horn in 'certain drugs
are ok' to appease the pressure groups advocating drug use as a business. This faction is ignoring a basic
tenant of NA's program of recovery. A program of total abstinence is being bulldozed aside as a consequence.
We have become an externality to NAWS, Inc. which functions as a corporation - meaning it is only concerned
with the bottom line: making money. The part that gets side-stepped is we the members built NA and maintain it
not for our financial well-being but for our very lives and the lives of the newcomers. Exploitation of this as if it
were a weakness just because members as a whole support world services is unthinkable to most.
Quoting from a recent public news article, the following seems appropriate:
"You shouldn't quit your jobs, as you have kids to raise and families to look after, you don't have to speak up
and risk being fired, but, you can quietly become a rebel in sheep's clothing. Don't follow the party line. Don't
fall for the trap. Don't buy the government propaganda. Be on the good side. Be on the side of truth, freedom,
and justice. We will win with or without you, so join the awakening, and be part of the resistance of the mind,
and soul. Humanity is calling out for you. The rest of us are waiting for you. Take that leap. Leave the land of lies.
You're not safe there. None of us are. Only the war criminals and state terrorists can call that land their home.
We must make a new home, built on the rule of law, and grounded in the principles of liberty and human
While this article addresses wide-spread problems facing the world today, it should be obvious that we are
part of that world and what happens there, happens here, to some extent. We may think of this as a wake-up
We have a well established custom against governance in NA's Second Tradition. This means full disclosure
and explanation of changes where they occur. We don't tell people what to do, we ask what they want and try
to deliver according to their wishes. The ways in which we go together and agree on certain things is miraculous
and not the result of connivance or manipulation. Those who ask and gather information along the lines of group
conscience are never going to be too numerous.
The idea of spiritual service is that the few do for the many. But the results have to prove their accord in the
minds and hearts of people to garner support and have effect. Doing with surrender and respect breeds
mutuality. Common goals become clear. Abusing trust and conflicts of interest are not service. It is not
inconceivable that a group within the Corporate system would attempt a power play to capture the 'gullible
vote' and change the entire nature of NA. The yardstick or template to measure this is to be found in our
My advice? Stick with the Twelve Traditions. The 12 Concepts of NA service may have been written by the
business office but the members who approved them had little idea or understanding that they directly
contravened the NA 12 Traditions. The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions are spiritual principles - the Concepts are
NAWS, Inc. employs corporate techniques to attain their goals and we in NA need to learn a little more about
this if we are to successfully deal with issues stemming from these techniques. We don't have to be hateful or
vengeful, just informed and consistent. One way we can do this is to bring out into the open just what corporations
do to insure compliance with their policies and the sanctions they impose to encourage some behavior and
discourage others. What's at stake is our spiritual integrity. We simply cannot endure as a spiritual Fellowship
without maintaining certain standards and values which have made NA great over the years.
After all, our primary service in NA is personal service, member to member. NAWS, Incorporated controls the
paperwork that goes out from WSO. The power has been concentrated in a few hands on the NAWS, Inc also
known as the Super Board. Problems of money, property and prestige have resulted in the notion that we get
our strength and guidance from a corporate authority. This is perfectly fine with someone who has never
experienced anything else. It is not fine with those who got clean on group conscience processes.
Today, WSO and NAWS, Inc. are so walled off from the rest of us, they believe those who speak out against
their policies are misinformed and not too numerous. That is because they are not accustomed to hearing from
informed members and don't check source documents, even where sources are cited. Newer members who go
along with what they say are regarded as more valuable over the longer term members who may ask
embarrassing questions and challenge the authority of the corporate members who seem to think they know
better. Also, in any society, those who track, discuss and study are fewer than the main body who trusts the few
to look out for them.
The only legitimate role of our service structure is to serve. Our Twelve Traditions dictate that our leaders
ought never govern (Tradition 2) - and while we may create service boards and committees, they remain directly
responsible to the groups and members (Tradition 9), we do not lend our name to outside groups or organizations
with specific warnings against problems of money, property' and prestige (Tradition 6). Many if not nearly all
members think the Basic Text and 17 of the IP's came from WSO - not from NA. This erroneous idea is never
dispelled by the corporation. In the business world, professionals get paid for telling us what to do. In our case,
this is ridiculous. Every NA member knows we are about 12 Steps, 12 Traditions and total abstinence. All else
is not NA.
"It is the height of irresponsibility in service to allow personal interpretations to get in the way of doing our
service jobs.. If discussions of policy begin to take precedent over getting the work done, something is wrong.
The thing to do then is to renew our sense of primary purpose, apologize to those who have distracted us and
pray to be used as instruments. There are times when almost nothing we do can avoid or even diminish the
times of difficulty. Sometimes, like in other phases of our recovery, all we can do is just stand there and hurt.
One concern of members familiar with world services has been:
"I know several years ago the WSO was found to have a written black list. I am wondering if today NAWS, Inc.
has such a list." If so, we need to re-think our position relative to the corporate entity that thinks it owns and
controls all of NA. In our 12 Traditions it states clearly that our service boards and committees are 'directly
responsible' to the members of NA who created them. It means just that. A black list is a list of members known
to oppose or question corporate policies. It also violates a members anonymity by labeling them and keeps their
concerns from being heard.
Making the Fellowship into a random crowd of uninformed people who haven't a clue what is going on in World
Service nullifies their capacity to participate in meaningful voting at any level of service. Plus from the groups all
the way down to the executive branches which are confined by our 12 Traditions to carry out the will of the
Fellowship as expressed in group conscience. The executive branches are put at the bottom because they are
furthest removed from NA. It is seeming more and more like the information coming out of NAWS, Inc. is
excessively complicated so as to be unreadable by most NA members. This means they are more likely to vote as
they are told and not question things they might disagree with or disapprove. Centralized publishing requires
precautions to insure Fellowship views and concerns are not pushed aside by business interests. Principles come
before profit because if we maintain our principles NA will grow. If we abandon them, the business will fail as a
One new idea being propagated by NAWS, Inc. is the notion that the inverted pyramid is poorly thought out
and does not really represent reality. This is another example of corporate management. The report style is
designed to be readable without giving the membership information that lends itself to coherent voting on issues
that affect the growth and continuance of our Fellowship.
The service structure was designed to be reflective of the basket and literature sales from the Fellowship. The
whole idea was to style WSO so that a friendly, service oriented WSO would always be well taken care of by the
Fellowship it served. And likewise, a belligerent, selfish, money-hungry and governing WSO would soon have
financial problems. Raising prices and haranguing the Fellowship, rigging deceptive changes in our service
structure and manipulating group conscience processes to suit the NAWS Board of Directors who think they run
NA. Just as I know of improprieties, I also know of Fellowship loyal Board members who may be outvoted. This
opposes all concepts of NA service. Lip service, slick displays and corporate betrayal should not be allowed to
fool the Fellowship into bowing and scraping before tricksters in a business suit.
The whole reason voting representatives were well treated by the general Fellowship in the 1970's and 1980's
is because they went way out of their way to discuss and define what the members wanted to happen and then
worked hard to bring those very things about. They were respected because they carried group conscience.
Without group conscience, the structure is just a business. Without the Twelve Traditions, the corp is free to act
in any manner it chooses. It has no bounds. Let it be known that there is a large and aware body of membership
tracking the events of sabotage against our group conscience system. These people are not happy. Many
members participated directly or indirectly in the writing of the Basic Text and knew the Book came from the
Fellowship, not a group or professionals. The membership was very aware of the principles of group conscience
To see this more clearly, consider money problems. We print and publish literature within NA. The profit
margin from literature sales is great so there should be plenty of money in our coffers. If there are problems of
money shortages, there can be only one explanation: over-spending and poor budget controls. With no other
goals than helping the addict seeking recovery, how can this occur? Saying the money goes for services beyond
what money comes in is not an answer, it is an excuse.
Is there any problem of prestige? Are there any prestigious positions in our service structure? Who is the
Executive Director of WSO? Who is Chairperson of the WSC? Who is Chairperson of NAWS? Is our Area and
Region noted for its dedication and service to the needs of the NA services provided? Is world services noted
for its humility and impressive record of following the Will of the NA Fellowship? Looking at things in this way
may help us sort out where some of our problems are coming from and what we can do to help restore good
order in a loving and caring manner. Anger won't do the trick. If someone left the barn open, you can't blame
the animals for getting at the food. Shut the door and get someone else to watch it.
In detective work, they say follow the money trail. That might be a good idea for us to keep track of since
I heard someone got another raise at WSO. It would be less insulting if they weren't broke and down to two
months operating expenses. Wonder if that is before dipping into the prudent reserve or having spent the
prudent reserve down to that point. Money, property and prestige has a certain allure but no one has ever
called it recovery. Spiritualists throughout all time have warned against noisiness, transience and fame as
substitutes for reality. It is not what you have, it is who you have to share your life with that counts. As soon
as you begin compromising your values, your worth as a person begins to fall off. You simply cannot feel good
about yourself if you are violating your own code of honor. This may sound simplistic but it can be the greatest
joy on earth or it can be a living hell.
From New Attitudes - NA Newsletter
"We haven't always had serious service disorders. In the middle seventies in the new Fellowship of the East
and South, we all used the newly written and approved N.A. Tree as our service structure. We didn't argue the
content of the service structure because any reader could see that it was written in a clear and open style and
the carry over between the feelings of love and trust from our recovery meetings into our service structure was
obvious. Members of good spirit could make anything work. Then, in the early eighties, when we really started
growing someone got the bright idea that our service structure had to be updated. What was meant by that was
there were two or three places in the work that seemed mildly contradictory. In the rush of growth and expanding
change, the notion that our structure wasn't perfect led to a succession of efforts within our service to come up
with something better than the service structure described in The N.A. Tree which has essentially been carried
forward under the title Temporary Working Guide to our Service Structure (TWGSS).
"While the effort attracted widespread support, two things seemed obvious 1) that the 'work' being done was
really bickering over terminology as opposed to a respectable work like you would find in a library book on the
subject and 2) it was really about POWER and that the people who were able to push through their version of the
structure would also be the people who wound up running things.
"Well, no one came out and said it but as time went by, serious people withdrew from the effort. The pitiful
versions of the structure that were advanced are only taken seriously by the inexperienced and the uninformed.
The Twelve Concepts were referred to as the 'Twelve Cons' in the late eighties. They were approved during the
time when WSO launched a lawsuit against a member who was upset about the high cost of our literature and
the fact that group conscience approved versions of our Basic Text had been set aside in favor of a version
merely approved by fifty or sixty people at a WSC one year. An entire generation of devoted members withdrew
as a group from the structure when the Concepts were passed. Even now, years later, there is an serious
polarization between people who support the Concepts and those who do not.
"Without attempting to explain the positions once more, I would just like to say that when you watch two
groups contending and one is basing their position on books and study and the other on conjecture and hearsay,
I will go with the ones who have been open-minded and sincere enough to check out what is written in books on
the subject. There is no parity between an informed group and an uninformed group. By definition, the
uninformed group will never understand. They may even feel downtrodden and unfairly criticized for their
unwillingness to read, study and become informed. If they are numerous, as they are in this case, then no one
would dare speak out against them would they?
"Any reader who thinks that there is a similarity between the Concepts of NA and the Concepts of AA has
never compared them. One is around a hundred pages long and well written; the other is much shorter and full
of jargon and slogans. Guess which is which. One gives the Fellowship the ultimate right to order reorganization
and resignations; the other gives voting representatives the right to vote the way they want to regardless of what
their regions instructed them to vote on motions presented in advance and deliberated on by the Fellowship.
"This has the effect of nullifying the Fellowship's involvement in its affairs because they can study an issue,
direct their representative how to vote on an issue, pay for their trip to California or wherever the WSC happens
to be and then have the "representatives" vote however they want to effectively eliminating the Fellowship's
voice and seriously cutting into the idea that representatives represent and leading to the idea that what we
really have is a system of elected governors who do what they want and may or may not tell us what they did in
"Fewer and fewer members know or care what is "happening" at the world level because they have been left
out for the last four or five years and a new generation of servants are in place who are forced to go along with
things without the benefit of really knowing our history or exactly why we are so unsettled on basic issues while
we have a structure that has been in place for over twenty years now.
"The service structure, as written, has been abused and often is ignored unless it can be used to justify
someone seeking to get their way. The theoretical, unapproved and unproven Guide to Service is supposed to
be a real contender to the Temporary Working Guide to our Service Structure, yet few members have even seen
it! Perhaps the time has come for us to recommend that our members read the AA Twelve Concepts not to gather
an opinion on an outside issue but to become informed in the subject.
"Since there is a strong mistaken notion that our Concepts are based on the AA Concepts, at least this error
would become obvious to all. Then perhaps we could rejoin as a Fellowship to work out something that would
really suit our needs. It is hard to ask those who have done their homework and studied both sides of the issue
to give in to those who are too lazy or too arrogant to at least become better informed as to the facts to these
basic issues before any real harm is done.
"You know, sometimes you just gotta tell people when they are out of line and don't really know it. Maybe I am
out of line to say this but the Fellowship through the WSC told me to go and study the materials as a member of
an Ad Hoc and I submitted a sixty page typewritten report on the A.A. Twelve Concepts to the WSC one year. I
don't say theirs is a perfect system but I believe that a member reading it would feel comfort and support for the
vital importance of their membership.
"Sharing from the experience of someone who was around in the 'good times,' we did better when it was
understood that no one was above the principles of our structure. We surrendered and served side by side.
- New Attitudes Newsletter - June/July 96
Instead of building on the actuality of members experience, newcomers will vote in almost anything. Our
leadership is rendered obsolete, casting aside many decades of clean time experience. Also, in my experience,
powerless people are always looking for a 'power move' and so inexperienced newer members will vote for the
corporation just to stick their lip out - against informed members. We have to be aware of these 'reverse reactions'
if we are truly expect to help. It is best to answer questions and give members ways to check the facts for
themselves. They love to see old-timer writhe! Our disease is full of tricks to evade recovery. And with our own
service structure-system-corporate overlords putting a rope around their necks and telling them to jump off a
chair. Fewer old timers does not mean more newcomers. It means fewer members period. Old-timer's have
encouraged hundreds if not thousands of newcomers in their clean time. It may be that the bureau just resists
anyone who dares question or challenge the positions of people on the board who have succumbed to the notion
that they are powerful. This is dangerous for any addict and the more so for those in sensitive positions.
The Twelve Concepts
The NA 12 Concepts drive a wedge between group conscience and world services by making the service
structure a corporate management system. The Fellowship had no reason to expect such a thing could happen
in their times back in the early 1990's and had no ready-made defense for it. To a great extent, the bureaucrats
in world service exploited these weaknesses, converting trust and surrender into deficiencies. Where was God?
Pain makes a man wise if it does not kill him but it may take a while. We are learning what it is like to have a
spiritual Fellowship ruled by mercenaries who were supposed to do our bidding. The tone and import of this
chapter may seem extreme but just wait until you have had a chance to review and study the subject a while.
That this was done by intent rather than ineptitude is sure to impress you.
When some members in world services methodically acquired control of our information systems, it gradually
moved towards "NAWS way or the causeway." Any member not according with NAWS corporate policy was
treated as a heretic and excommunication was accomplished by simply ignoring the member in the paperwork.
The corporate strategy was to take over, eliminate the opposition and then revise our writings to cover their
tracks. The second task was altering the approved materials which might prove embarrassing after the
membership took a longer look. Much like in the book "1984".
Most NA members are unaware of the disparity between the 12 Concepts of NA versus the AA 12 Concepts.
A direct comparison is the only way to see the difference for yourself. The similarity of the Steps and Traditions
of NA to those of Alcoholics Anonymous make it easy to suppose the Concepts are very similar. But consider
the following comparison:
AA Concept 12
12. General Warranties of the Conference: in all its proceedings, the General Service Conference shall observe
the spirit of the A. A. Tradition, taking great care that the conference never becomes the seat of perilous wealth
or power; that sufficient operating funds, plus an ample reserve, be its prudent financial principle; that none of
the Conference Members shall ever be placed in a position of unqualified authority over any of the others; that
all important decisions be reached by discussion, vote, and, whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; that
no Conference action ever be personally punitive or an incitement to public controversy; that, though the
Conference may act for the service of Alcoholics Anonymous, it shall never perform any acts of government;
and that, like the Society of Alcoholics Anonymous which it serves, the Conference itself will always remain
democratic in thought and action.
NA Concept 12
12. In keeping with the spiritual nature of Narcotics Anonymous our structure should be one of service, never of
When the service structure changed removing the 'world representative' from the World Service Conference,
the Super Board could be engineered. Our name was now lent to a legal corporation: Narcotics Anonymous
World Service, Incorporated. When it suits them, NAWS cites the Traditions. When the will of the Fellowship
goes against corporate policy, they cite the Concepts. With our Traditions compromised, the corporation can
proceed to appease the big pharmaceutical interests and treatment industry by eroding our stand on total
abstinence and justify it all in the name of profits. We have heard big money is a threat to spiritual Fellowships
but what can that mean? Exactly how is it a threat?
One member noted:
"My friends have told me that the chaotic Twelve Concepts were a necessary step towards the radical
changes in our service structure in the late 1990's. I had trouble understanding just how this is so because I
must be the earliest member of NA to read, digest and study the AA 12 Concepts at the request of the NA
World Service Conference. From the beginning I found the NA concepts so poorly written and spiritually
distasteful it was hard for me to take them seriously. I was sort of lonely in my view point but that's the way
it is when you study. I am a former member of the World Service Board of Trustees and have always believed
in group conscience. I mean group conscience is an instance of divine will. Like you can't beat it, betray it or
get around it because the people know, they somehow find out...
"Several times in the 1990's I built myself up to a real positive level. Then I sat down to see if maybe just
changing a few words would help make the NA Twelve Concepts read better. Each time, I found the experience
just horrible. Like the one about "right of redress." For one thing, who the heck do you know who uses language
like that? In my experience, the same lynch mob that hanged you on Friday, will hang you again next week, if
only to avoid the possibility of admitting they made a mistake.
"Several of the Concepts contain sentences that are arbitrary misrepresentations. The best example of this
is the one with the line about the 12 Steps were meant to guide our personal recovery; the 12 Traditions to guide
our groups but the 12 Concepts were meant to guide our service structure. Either it is a flagrant joke or most
people don't realize the implicit attack on our 12 Traditions. It is probably the most gross and obscene attack on
the 12 Traditions of NA that has ever occurred. I know this may seem kind of shocking to some readers but
maybe someday you will take a look at the AA 12 Concepts and it will dawn on you just how massively we as a
Fellowship have been duped."
Abuse of surrender and trust among the members of Narcotics Anonymous carries its own penalty: loss of
conscious contact and growing shame and guilt. I believe all people have an internal witness that monitors their
personal behavior. When we go against our internal values too far, we begin to punish ourselves with
self-destructiveness. The Fellowship has endless options to retain their recovery and find ways to go on. But
those who abuse the spirit of NA will punish themselves, even if they do not wind up in court for malfeasance.
Our Spiritual Condition depends on our Mental State - for NA to reverse the dwindling meeting count we
need to build up our positive energy and begin to erode the negativity. Those who perpetrate the things that
result in negativity, will deny their complicity and attempt to put the blame on members who raise the questions
about their policies and actions. NA must be strong against outside influences. This should go without saying,
yet there is no mention of this that I know of in NAWS, Inc. publications. Despite the marketeering of big
pharmaceutical companies to push drug replacement involving habit forming drugs, the whole subject is
dismissed as an outside issue. If doctors decided a good stiff drink now and then would help an alcoholic, would
AA members regard it as an outside issue?
Poor thinking is like using. Power is a strong drug, triggering chemical reactions in the body similar to drugs
that give a person a temporary sense of power and energy. It is scientifically known that the human body has it
own drugs like serotonin and endorphins which can be triggered by moods, anger, extreme selfishness, fear
and other personal states. These natural drug releases that can be minimized or eliminated by spiritual principles.
This is one of the factors in the 'hey, look at me' behavior. It is an easy trap for an addict struggling with recovery
to fall into.
Our Twelve Traditions grant us the right to create service boards and committees and when they become too
burdensome or expensive, we can un-create them as well. I'm not saying this is our only option but it is certainly
an important thing to know. The AA 12 Concepts give their General Service Conference the right and ability to
order resignations and restructuring of their General Service Office should that ever become necessary. Is this
true of the NA 12 Concepts? No. Also, it would probably spin off into a Fellowship civil war. The answer would
seem to be in education and progressive changes. Certainly there have been valiant efforts to assemble and
make available factual material on our history so that members can become more informed. If you do not know
where we have been and what we have tried, it is impossible to know where we are or where to go from here.
The Twelve Concepts are the greatest violation of our Twelve Traditions ever. Take a fresh look. Highlight the
lines to go against, or conflict with one or more of our Twelve Traditions. When they were being composed,
some grateful, loving, and caring members on an ad-hoc committee worked hard to build something good for
NA. Then someone else came in and after the project was taken from the members working on it, and they put
in a line or two, here and there. You can tell. Some of the sentences are forced and don't fit the flow. It would be
a good project for someone to try and locate the lines that were added before the Fellowship got to see them.
The line about the Concepts being written to guide our service structure is the killer. It takes the protections
afforded by the Twelve Traditions and moves the structure under the Concepts. Of course, the Traditions still
apply in all cases but it is a lawyer thing. The membership's voice was throttled.
The best examples of this are contained in the document In Times of Illness. Now, an effort is underway to
deceive the Fellowship into voting away our Second and Ninth Traditions. Of course the group conscience
system was dismantled long ago, leaving only the vestiges of our old service structure. For those of you new
to this information and perspective, the original service structure gave every member a vote, built the World
Service Conference and spread NA all over the planet earth. Being in on things was very attractive to addicts
seeking recovery. It is immoral to still their voice.
IN TIMES OF ILLNESS
The original Informational Pamplet In Times of Illness is fairly good and useful. The new revised forty-seven
page NAWS document says,
"Some members have found that they were fully capable of fulfilling their service commitments while taking
medication to treat an illness or injury, while others have made the choice to step down. This is a deeply personal
"We will want to consider what is best for both the fellowship and ourselves." Pg 18 In Times of Illness pamplet
This statement completely negates our clean time requirements outlined in all our previous Service Manuals.
It refers to ALL Levels of service. Quite a sweeping statement for a NA piece of approved literature. Doctors and
other educated readers of ITOI (pronounced: e-toy) will conclude with a shake of their head that NA is basically
a clap-trap street gang.
The bulk of the material reads like a college student learning thematic structure wrote it and got a 'C' on the
test. I doubt many members of NA are aware of just how far the revised ITOI goes to undermine the principle of
total abstinence and misrepresent our magnificent Fellowship. It was sent out in the WSC Conference Agenda
Report! But you know, members don't read the CAR like they used to. If a mistake has been made, the Fellowship
has a duty, not just a right, a duty to correct it. It is the duty of the Conference to get the word out to the regions,
areas, groups and members, It takes a lot of work to do this but from my own experience, I know it can be done.
We did it with volunteers and no financial support so we sure can do it now with the money we have coming in and
with new technology like the Internet.
Allowing the flawed document to bear the 'approved' marks is like flushing fifty years of miracles down the
tube. Sound a little dramatic? If the indications in the recent NAWS, Incorporated book "In Times of Illness" is
any indication, some of us may have to tell our newcomers that certain books are just not accurate. Is that a
pleasant way of saying it? Like, it is OK to use some drugs, just watch it. That's not like saying, "Now you have
power over your addiction and can use small amounts of certain addictive drugs that have severe withdrawal
side effects safely." How far down this road can you go without stumbling into the conclusion that NA just isn't
What Triggered NA Growth?
And why does this kind of problem exist in the first place? The writers of the Basic Text were all asked to say
a prayer, "God, free me of self-will and ego and give me the strength and guidance to do your footwork." I believe
this prayer changed the nature of NA. Each member experienced a degree of transformation wherein they felt
appreciated, their self-worth rose to a level of effective comfort, and their personal growth and development was
restored. Not only could they write, they could do other things as well.
After they wrote the Basic Text, members steeped in the Twelve Steps of recovery as well as the spiritual
Twelve Traditions, went home and started meetings. Ohio went from none in 1980 to four the first year, forty the
next year, eighty the year after that, a hundred and twenty the next year and on and on. The program of Narcotics
Anonymous was enhanced by the experience of writing it's Basic Text and there were more informed addicts
seeking recovery than ever before. Changes in our service structure in 1990's closed the door on group
conscience as it had existed during our great expansion.
We addicts depend on learning to advance our lives by discovering and adding to the building blocks we know
so far. It has been obvious for thirty years that something odd is taking place in our Fellowship. First of all, we got
no fiscal support during the writing of the Basic Text. Our proudest old-timer, Jimmy K., refused to even allow the
World Literature Committee writing the Basic Text to utilize the portion of the White Booklet, Another Look,
verbatim in one of the newly written chapters. And the book Narcotics Anonymous was in a review form, not a
final: a review piece to gather input from the Fellowship. No reason to block its inclusion in the Basic Text Review
form except it might not be to his personal liking. Basically, this sent a very clear message that all was not well in
the NA community. To be distrusted in the very midst of writing the Fellowship's long awaited book spoke reams
about why it had not yet been written. Well, that's a personal thing. But the Basic Text, Narcotics Anonymous, is
a Fellowship thing. So maybe God's Will was done despite the good intentions of the Literature Committee. The
material in the Informational Pamphlet Another Look was left out of the Basic Text, Narcotics Anonymous.
The reason for writing this all out is there is a peculiar species of presumption that if it isn't written, then it
really didn't happen. Our membership deserves to know. So, we the Lit Committee members and significant
supporters have been accused of locking Jimmy out of his World Service Office when really it was his own
distrust beginning with the denial of permission to include Another Look that locked him out. Not coming in to
work and picking up his new door key may also be a factor. Huffing off and presuming he was locked out may
be yet another. We'll never really know. And that no one will speak allows the lie to tumble forward endlessly in
time with no other means of resolution but to tell the truth. Only a fear-based person would be afraid to tell the
truth. It doesn't hurt his reputation or diminish his magnificent contributions, but it is childish to imagine the
collective "Fellowship" as uncaring and ungrateful. These people were very wide awake when all this happened
and everyone I was in touch with was saddened and embarrassed. We found out later that the whole thing happened because the guy who was supposed to tell Jimmy a new
WSO manager had been chosen by the WSC just couldn't bring himself to tell him. He was close to Jimmy and
very responsible and his emotional loyalty to Jimmy prevented him from heading off the terrible misunderstanding
that ensued. Also, the notion of an ungrateful Fellowship seems to be the brain child of Bill Beck, who admitted
as much just prior to his death a few years ago. Mr. Beck probably meant well somehow - he did a lot of good in
his life for addicts seeking recovery. So, while a few may know these things, it is not exactly common knowledge.
So, when it comes time to honor the old-timer, those who know only the misleading rumor will think, "Oh, we're
supposed to be ungrateful." Actually, Jimmy K is regarded with respect and affection and people don't give much
credence to the rumors. This applies to other areas of our Fellowship and specifically the matter at hand. Again,
shrouding these things in a veil of secrecy serves no one.
The 2007 CAR describes the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous in the United States as "flattened." What an
odd choice of words. It seems to mean that NA stopped growing at twenty-seven thousand meetings. This is
seventeen years after WSO demanded an inventory to 'find out what the Fellowship expected of world services.'
It is also about ten years after the creation of the Super Board. And this was published in the 2007 CAR report. A
quick check revealed the number of US NA meetings dropped in 2008 to 25,000 meetings and stayed at 25,000
meetings in 2009.
The rapid growth of our fellowship after the release of the Basic Text fro 1979 to 1989 versus the "flattening"
of it now, indicates there is a problem. One strong possibility is by strangling the group conscience process,
altering the service structure and writing strangely worded new 'literature' is clearly sending a message to
anyone caring to listen.
One member shares:
"I have been careful to make clear when I speak to large groups that no one is complaining about the
secretaries, the shipping department or any other WSO employees. Just the incredible 'agree to disagree' line
from the telephone inquiries and the general management by the NAWS, Inc. corporation. If world services were
still known for friendliness and transparency, this letter would be pointless. It is not our wish to defame or heap
scorn or ridicule on those who are already having a rough time trying to steer the NA ship. Perhaps that is the
purpose behind the Second Tradition. No small group of people can ever expect to satisfy the needs and methods
of the many. But where are our WSC and RSC leaders in this storm and why aren't they asking for help?"
Asking for money is not asking for help. It is like, "We blew what you sent in last year, so we need you to buckle
down and support our corporate maneuvers financially so everything can work out swell." It is starting to look like
the national government and our wonderful US financial corporations! What an unwieldy model to emulate.
As someone who got clean on the first NA service structure, the NA Tree, witnessed and participated in
writing the next several versions, including the Green Service Manual where the sections Member, Group, Area
and Region were approved, I have seen the service structure work. But the rule is simplicity and consistency,
not complexity and exceptional special cases. I think the time has come for the Fellowship to take time to
seriously consider stopping the encroachment of an outside issue corporation that has taken over NA. NA is a
spiritual Fellowship and therefore our members go through considerable trouble to stay apprised of our growth
and changes. Things go good when members pull together. An increasing number of members take issue with
the way NAWS, Inc. and some staff members overrun their Second Tradition boundaries.
But the most important information will always be the how and why of spiritual living. There is a vast difference
between the person who uses anger to fire their enthusiasm vs. and a person who disagrees and tries to work
towards a point of remedy. There must be a hundred thousand NA members out there who have the knowledge
and information awaiting an opportunity to help make it better. There are probably twice that number who know
better and refuse to do anything because they are bogged down in fear and resentment. Certainly those who hide
out in other fellowships do nothing to help. As others have shared, AA never had another program to run to!
While this may be taken as a negative observation, it just puts those who care in a wonderful perspective. They
carry forward the first addicts who had the gumption and temerity to step out on faith and help the program take
her first painful steps. We in NA have never gotten anything easy. We generally proceed by making every mistake
in the book! If anything at all works, we move through that of necessity.
There is nothing new in all this. There has always been a war between the spiritual and the worldly with the
same old questions being puzzled out again and again. There is a new saying - it is not what you have, it is who
you have. And that includes the person in the mirror. In the past we have not been on good terms with ourselves
and now we can move on. But recovery is not about making a little progress and then helplessly sliding back into
the same old patterns of me and mine. The more I learn about you and yours, the less afraid I am and the more I
can enjoy the peace in my life.
Most, if not all, members who get tired of fighting NAWS, Inc. find it easier to go to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Rumors for over thirty years have it that AA is filling up with displeased and unhappy NA members who love
the NA program but hate the politics. Many other members stay in the rooms of NA but refuse to get involved
with service again. Why is this? There are NA watchers in business, medicine, law and government as well as
media and other 12 Step programs. Certainly our families are another big audience.
Adjudicating the Baby Blue Federal Court case, Judge Louis Pollock stated formally that we had become
divided among ourselves and lost touch with our primary purpose. Later the same day the trial began on January
1, 1990, lawyers hired by WSO arranged a meeting in their offices and had me sit next to George H. who
represented the WSO in court. George sat beside me with his head in his hands for quite some time. This was
underscored by the fact that there were no chairs left by the time George came and the senior attorney glanced
at the tableau and got a chair from the adjacent room and placed it beside me, seating George where he thought
it might do some good.
I was a witness that the writers of the Basic Text didn't want money or personal recognition. As principled as
this was, without a named author, a vacuum was created that power hungry people were drawn into like flies.
Character assassination campaigns raged for decades with baseless accusations whispered like inside trader
knowledge. There is a saying from AA that mentions 'contempt prior to investigation.'
As the gulf widened between the volunteer service workers who built up NA from scratch through active
involvement in the newly formed NA World Service Conference we learn the vocabulary of deceit. First comes
the misinformation and disinformation. One involves omission of important facts, the other deliberate lies. Then
'inappropriate' was a way of being politely damning. After that the strange word used by court room attorneys
was learned: dissembling. Dissembling involves the careful presentation of facts which only support the client's
side of the questions about what really brought about the case at hand. So, very far from simple 'contempt,' you
enter the land of deep and deliberate personal attack, character assassination, black listing. There are many
shades of deceit. All this takes the addict seeking recovery far from the subjects of complete, creative freedom
and worthy spiritual goals.
A rumor that I was paid $25,000 apparently swept through the members active in world services for years and
probably to this day. While untrue, what a juicy little lie to impress people with your knowledge of what 'really
happened.' We can feel for an individual so bereft of personal accomplishment as to need such a ploy to bolster
their flagging egos. Our tolerance and compassion does not exempt them from the self-destructiveness that they
bring on themselves from deliberate wrongdoing. I didn't hear the rumor until around 1995. I finally heard the
rumor and said 'publicly' that the only time I recall $25,000 coming up was one time Bob Stone asked me how
much money I had spent over the years working on the Basic Text. I responded by taking into account lost time
from work, travel, food, incidental expenses, the work came to about $25,000. Neither I, nor any of the others
writers wanted money. We all agreed we wanted our people to stop dying, live better lives and the proceeds to
shower down on the Fellowship forever. And that is still what we want.
Where the subject of money comes up, it is a plain fact that profits derived from Basic Text sales has provided
the bulk of funds for world services since 1983. By distancing the book writers, and the dominant group in world
services failing to face the facts, a strange situation has slowly developed. The writers are treated as loose
cannons because they have their remembrances of their actual experience as a reference point. These
remembrances coincide with the written records, minutes, correspondences and other eyewitness accounts. All
of us wanted our people to stop dying and have a chance at living a better life. But this does not make the
corporation look good, so it is given the hush treatment.
If we ever get this mess straightened out, we need to hold workshops to make our members aware of the
prices paid by their predecessors for the freedom and liberty they enjoy. We as a Fellowship have never gotten
anything easily and yet, it has been our experience that once we become willing, a loving God steps in and takes
care of things for us. But only after we become willing.
Along with distancing the writers, the corporation has continuously operated so as to distance themselves
from the general Fellowship as well. Changing the service structure in the 1990's is the most graphic example
of this. It is well known the drug replacement and court ordered attendance are the two big threats to the growth
and continuance of NA today. Drug replacement was invented as a way to switch addicts over from street drugs
to government and medicine approved pharmaceuticals that have the same withdrawal effects as heroin and
Many NA members today belong to the "No Matter What Club" that espouses the belief in total abstinence by
declaring "I will not use no matter what happens." This is a potent counter to the idea that total abstinence is an
obsolete notion in the modern world. Except in unusual medical cases, the human body is pretty well equipped to
function on food, water, rest and exercise by millions of years of evolution and biology.
It is unpleasant to bring some of these matters up. Certainly great steps were taken by the Fellowship from
1975 when the NA Tree was approved by the NA Board of Trustees to date - but I hardly credit the corporation
with a positive role. I have heard from so many how they worked hard for years only to be summarily dismissed.
And many told stories of being in session and uttering the words, "Oh, I don't think we have a mandate to do that.
We need Fellowship direction on this." And then being dismissed even when they have been elected at the
annual WSC for a one year term. To make this clear, they were told that there had been budget cuts and there
just was no way the Office had funds to fly them to LA and put them up in the Airtel Plaza. They real reason was
they had broken the unspoken rules and suggested that they were acting beyond their directives from the WSC.
Bringing this up would be pointless if the errors had been admitted and discontinued. Instead, they have
accelerated into greater miscarriages and violations of trust. Changing our service structure to allow for a
'Super Board' was never an idea brought forth from the Fellowship. We were weakened by the change. It made
NA less attractive to diminish or remove the members voice. Others WSC participants simply sided with the
Fellowship often enough to be tagged as 'not a team player' and whoosh, they were gone. I was contacted by a
few of these but surely there were many more. I tried to give them hope as best I could but I will never forget their
feelings of violation and betrayal.
The world has seen wonders worked against unfair and impossible odds by non-violence. Every time a person
changes their mind, they change their life. Every time we sit in an audience and have the feeling, "Yea, I felt that
way" in response to a spiritual speaker, the world changes just a little bit. If in reflection, we find truth in the
words we heard spoken, that change becomes potent, able to make things better. In today's NA, we not only have
cd's and audio cassettes of inspirational speakers, we have dvd's, transcripts and free downloads.
Court ordered attendance becomes a problem when groups are overwhelmed with people who don't want to
be there. We, as the informed membership of NA, have to open discussion on these topics and formulate real
solutions if we are to survive.
We have a real need to address and evaluate these things if we are to go forward without endless repetition of
one power group displacing another in an endless series. Power groups are the problem, not the Fellowship or
even necessarily the policies - however flawed they may be. Sweeping real problems and issues under the carpet
makes it hard to walk on the carpet. Easy things become difficult or even impossible to resolve when you can't
ask questions or talk openly.
Commendations are in order for WSO shipping, clerical and all the nuts and bolts of running a world office. I
have nothing but praise for them. But I learned important lessons when I administrated portions of the World
Service Conference as WSC Literature Chair for two years, WSC vice-chair, an ad-hoc committee for convention
guidelines and an ad-hoc on service structures of other Fellowships, especially Alcoholics Anonymous. Then
five years on the WS Board of Trustees. I saw how hard they worked on policy to keep things spiritual in AA. I
learned if you trust people, they trust you. In a spiritual organization, praise your workers, and pass over lightly
those unable to fulfill their tasks at present or ask for help. All Glory to God because belief in a loving God is
what keeps us all going.
Guile, trickery, even second-level agendas undercut and undermine our spiritual Fellowship. Yeah, we have
faith and we know everything is going to work out but in our case especially, the wrongdoers will 'do' themselves
in before anyone else even knows. So, our service is to the wrongdoers also. They probably don't like what they
are doing anyway. They have just been sold a bill of goods - that's where you pay the price but don't get anything
but the bill! - and can see no alternative. Some stay in the arena of world services to keep things from getting any
worse. What seems to be happening is world services is overspending and running out of money. So somebody
got the bright idea that there were tons of money being spent out in our service structure on regional and zonal
events and that if that could be changed, the money saved could be sent to NAWS, Inc. That is typically the way
corporations think. So, they set out to change our service structure for the financial rewards. The involvement
and interface with the membership was deemed unimportant.
When I and many others serviced the Fellowship in the 1980's, we were a Fellowship-wide network of honest,
loyal and enthusiastic recovering addicts with no goals but to increase our common welfare. The level of
commitment was total. Businesses play by different rules! If you don't understand this, take an old-timer aside
and ask them to explain it to you so that you can understand. Our volunteer service workers need to be praised
for their courage and dedication through some pretty rough years. I still wince at the many courageous members
who spent years hoping it would get better.
But real service engages the joy of giving and that is a precious part of our NA program. It is up to the few to
awaken the many. They may need a little time to absorb the information withheld by those in power over them.
The strength of propaganda is so absolute that without care and concern, you can literally have brother fighting
brother and sister fighting sister to the death over differences in what they have been told. If we are to be winners
in the struggle, we certainly don't want to look back on wreckage and more needless suffering.
Chuck Skinner, one of the most devoted and honorable of our long time trusted servants once shared with me
when talking about some of the changes in the early 1990's. I asked him if I hadn't put my concerns clearly
enough or if they just couldn't hear me. He was my sponsor at the time and we were close. He said, and I will
never forget, "No, Bo. We heard you and understood what you were saying. We just couldn't believe something
like this could happen in NA." Honestly, I can not recall just what the item was but I guess the principle is the
important thing. We have to be up-front and clear if our communications are to be effective. The important thing
is that because they could not believe 'something like this could happen in NA' a serious mistake was made. I
think the matter at hand was the hiring of a professional writer to work on some of our literature. Chuck is among
the best and most loyal, dedicated members of NA ever and yet he was man enough to admit a mistake!
If all goes well in an organization, there are no complaints and no suspicions. Unwarranted suspicions and
accusations may be written off to a lack of faith and surrender or simple projection. But after a long time, it
becomes obvious that the problems may be real and the simplest explanations that fit the facts are the first to
be considered. The trust of the newcomer is underscored by their belief if something were really going wrong,
the old-timers would speak up. But what if the old-timers were afraid they might be subjected to a smear
campaign like so many others? What if the old-timers had never been prepared to face such an internal crisis?
Hey, how about, "It's not my problem." or "I'll let someone else more qualified solve this. I'm outta here! I didn't
sign on for this."
We in NA are modern people faced with modern problems. There is always a chance that those entrusted with
our world services will be lured into roles and decisions that once begun are hard to rescind. We have to do our
own housekeeping. Conflicts of interest are nothing new. Many of those who designed our service structure did
not see certain problems as inevitable or that safeguards could so easily be removed when training didn't
prepare trusted servants to deal with corporate tactics. Remember, the corp has all year to plan these things and
many trusted servants at the world level have only a few years to prepare.
A Closing Note
What makes NA great is the ability to reach right into the hearts of people with terrible living problems and
help them sort out their difficulties on a daily basis. Many of the problems seem large but turn out to be a fear
of remembered pain or embarrassment. Others have injured their physical systems and it takes time for their
bodies to repair themselves. All have reached a point of desperation and despair sufficient to quality for NA
membership. They need hope to start on the road to recovery. We need to clear up the contention within our
Fellowship. The only hope I see is learning to deal with the avoidable problems that come up when a bunch like
us get together and learn to communicate honestly.
Here are some questions you might want to get answers for if there is any chance your position will have an
effect on NAWS, Inc.'s move to tour the country making a case for the changes they think are important.
1. Where did NAWS get their direction to make these changes? Who is in charge here?2. Since they authored the last changes in our service structure that didn't work out, why would they think they are knowledgeable?3. Do you think efficiency or the will of the Fellowship is most important?4. Do you think we should model NA after a church style organization or a business for profit?5. Is it more important to make money or keep NA spiritual?6. How much does it cost to operate NA WS, Inc. ?7. What do we as a Fellowship get out of it?8. Do we want a corporation writing our literature?9. As an NA trusted servant, who are you responsible to?
There is nothing new in all this. There has always been a war between the spiritual and the worldly with the
same old questions being puzzled out again and again. There is a new saying - it is not what you have, it is who
you have. And that includes the person in the mirror. In the past we have not been on good terms with ourselves
and now we can move on. But recovery is not about making a little progress and then helplessly sliding back into
the same old patterns of me and mine. The more I learn about you and yours, the less afraid I am and the more
I can enjoy the peace in my life.
Addicts in recovery are entirely capable of constructing elaborate fantasies wired together by resentments,
unmade amends, plain poor thinking and hearsay all to justify their next usage. Knowing doesn't make any
difference if a person doesn't make any changes. Many, many fall into the trap of trying to understand the
program before they will take the corrective actions found in the Twelve Steps of NA. A moments hesitation
turns into the rest of our life. This is all the result of trying to solve our addiction with our mental powers alone.
Some people believe recovery is really a miracle that comes from a divine source. Recovery is where you wake
up one day to discover you are becoming a different person, someone you feel good about and can accept. Pain
and guilt fall away and we are guided by a gentle optimism. Making recovery hard, complicated and elusive is
not our way.
Exploding the illusion that world services has got it together would be a cruel thing without giving a vision of
equal or greater value to us. In our case, we have the spiritual Fellowship of NA with decades of massive clean
time to evaluate our history and explore our future history in writing and dialogues. NA means "Never Alone."
Let's call it the Narcotics Anonymous Continuum. The corporate model is so limited and controlling that the best
synopsis I can think of is, "Who would want to be King of the Gypsies?" The joke here of course is that gypsies
do as they please, whatever the times, and whatever the weather, and so do we. Almost anyone may be king, as
long as they follow the chosen trail and they don't disturb the gypsies too much. Our services were much more
effective when they were more open and friendly.
It is very much our shared responsibility to clean up our own backyard. No one else can be expected to care
about, or understand, our problems. Our members need to know they are taken seriously and respected for their
recovery, their help to others, and their ability to grow spiritually, despite our horrific disease. In fact, our
program of recovery is centered around learning to take personal responsibility for our lives and our associations.
We simply cannot leave it to someone else. Whether we listen to members who care and share their hard-won
experience with us or we listen to slick politicians, is very much up to us. If we allow ourselves to be gulled into
voting for propositions we don't agree with or understand, then we are letting everyone down, starting with
Out of three hundred members at the Houston World Convention in 1978, over half were from California. They
gave us their best and we from the East and Mid-West tried to improve on that in our programs back home! Trust
ing in the Fellowship was crucial to our evolution. Trust must first be earned, then carefully maintained. If those
watching find errors, it is important to make corrections lest the errors endure and eat away the bonds of trust
that hold us together. If the watchful are dismissed as uninformed or disaffected, lasting injury occurs. Some
things just have to be dealt with before we can go forward. Keeping people in the dark and not trusting the
Fellowship with the truth is no solution. Our people can deal with the truth but don't leave it to the addicts
Don't you recognize your old friend Fear? Fear is used to control people. Sometimes the risks are real. Usually,
they are completely impossible in the field of reality. In effect, a good actor can read their lines so effectively that
you really expect Frankenstein to walk into the room! As long as the effect is there and it pushes people in the
right direction, fear seems a useful tool. Now, of course, we are not talking about spiritual principles here. We are
talking about raw and terrifying money, property and prestige that our Twelve Traditions try to warn us about.
A really moral person lives so that they don't make trouble for others and they help when they can. They avoid
consciously participating in things that are hard on people, deliberately hurtful or unfair. When you switch tracks
over to business it is all too easy to hide behind one of the saddest phrases that can be uttered in a spiritual
program, "Don't give me that God stuff!" Business as usual is not spiritual. Manipulating people with fear and
untruths is not NA. If you are illiterate or mentally challenged, don't worry about it. If you have a working brain
and anything like some education and allow yourself to participate in things that are wrong, shame on you.
Be it known that NA was conceived of to be a program of total abstinence for addicts seeking recovery. Not
a stepping stone to something else, not a informal treatment program, not a pawn in a game designed to get
everyone to take at least some drugs. Addicts like this have no where else to go, so there is a measure of cruelty
for those who are attempting to change NA. We don't want it changed. We have built new lives here. It is our
program - outsiders have no business creeping into positions of trust and re-writing total abstinence into oblivion.
Narcotics Anonymous involves drug-free recovery.
I regard myself and my friends as the correct ones because we produce much of what we call our common
welfare. Not just slogans and rash ideas, I mean copyrighted material that accounts for most of the cash flow in
NA and its service boards. This is group service, personal service, volunteer structural service and written
materials based on group conscience processes. We are not egotistical or self-centered about this because we
made prayers of selflessness and scrupulously attended to the will of the NA Fellowship in person and in writing.
The strength of this statement lies in the popularity and universal appeal of our writings.
Somehow, through interesting mental acrobatics, our opposition seems to characterize us as un-businesslike
and non-professional and therefore unrealistic. Perhaps they are jealous or fear we will take over some day. This
is all pretty far-fetched and may be based on the fears of persons either dead or neutralized by health and age.
You can't catch them expressing this out loud but it is obvious in the way that many of us - as a group - are left out
of the goings and comings of world services at present. If a member of the corp thinks of it, it might be good. If a
regular member thinks of it, well, it is probably not good. Where did this blatant disregard of any other member
of NA for any reason come from?
Much time has passed since the 1990's when the radical changes in our service structure have resulted in
making the regional levels of service an extension of the NAWS, Inc. management system. In other words, the
small California based NAWS, Inc. controls the direction and content of all world service publications. Therefore
those publications represent only the corporate point of view. The more free Fellowship writing we have, the
better for us all. We are not a branch of the Federal Government or Homeland Security nor do we condone
replacing some drugs with others and calling it recovery.
Fortunately for everyone, there are now many alternate sources of publication making a free Fellowship system
of announcements, discussions and concerns available to anyone with a computer, a friend who has one, or
access to a library. Printouts make it easy to propagate the Fellowship service system. All real Fellowship
services are conducted at the regional level and above that at the area and group level. The lowest pits of
service are under the illusion that they have control, so don't upset them by letting on that they have somehow
missed the boat.
In light of their lack of vision, we will be kind and gracious to them, though they have been less than kind and
gracious to we the members of NA to whom they are directly responsible. Instead of meanness of spirit and
vindictiveness, let humor and freely available information be our weapons to diminish the moguls of NA to their
proper role of carrying out the will of the Fellowship. Or they can leave, resign or keep on until the Fellowship
rises up and impeaches them.
Sure all the workers at WSO could get a raise if Drug Court/Homeland Security took over administration of
NA. We do not care. We don't want that. If our road is made a little bumpy by those unwilling or unable to credit
our history with consistency and carefully formulated intention, we can weather that storm. But the idea that a
few bureaucrats can tamper with our proven program is not only absurd, it is illegal.
From what we are seeing right now, it is time to re-visit the entire subject. We don't need a corporation to
control us or run NA like a business. It is not a top-down system. It is a democratic organization that comes
together and decides its future directions and choices based firmly on the lessons learned in the past. Right
now, our bureaucrats are trying their dead level best to pretend that past and those issues have not yet be
debated and decided. They have no right to do that. It is conceivable that they are so uninformed that they don't
even realize what they are doing. But we do and it is very proper for us to rise up as a Fellowship and determine
our future go or along the pathways of what got us clean in the first place.
We need to articulate that fear is driving the problems that exist between world service and the Fellowship. It
seems to me that fear that the Fellowship will do something stupid or irrational compels the corp to keep making
bad moves justified by poor thinking, thinking they are protecting us from ourselves.
I mean, NAWS needs help, so they come up with some new distraction. Changing the service structure
figuring the regional level of service doesn't need to exist seems to be the latest thing NAWS want to change.
Understand, this may be how they see things. After all, when was the last Regional motion carried at the WSC?
Ah, they plan on getting more money saved by cutting the expenses incurred by regional service. If it passes, I
believe it will back fire. There will be less money for them because even in the short run the more distance there
is, the less the Fellowship will feel obliged to help the NAWS, Incorporated.
The real injury in all this is that the world of recovery, of peace, of light and living close to the will of our higher
power gets second billing to the 'busy-ness.' After a time, the spiritual life becomes a dream again as money,
property and prestige take over our conscious mind again. Recovery is about a person finding themselves - of
remembering, or discovering, why they were born in the first place. Of learning how to live beyond the reach of
obsession and compulsion. It may be that our mood swings, our jumping from place to place, person to person is
a reflection of knowing something better is possible if we can just find it.
It is not improper for us to take up for ourselves! Indeed, if we do not, who will? We have come a long way in a
relatively short time. But we still have a long way to go if we are to endure as a spiritual Fellowship. Our society is
as yet poorly formed and many do not even acknowledge our society, because they have not been taught about
it. But the NA Society involves and includes all who call themselves members. All are important and none are
expendable. You can't clear away darkness with more darkness. Hate begets only more hate. It takes light and
love to dispel darkness and hate. Learning and faith are what helps us with fear. There are members working
hard to bring information on our NA history to you through the internet and in written forms. There are still plenty
of eyewitnesses around to speak at workshops and gatherings. The more you learn, the less power goes to fear
Part of my problem is I know what I know but am coming to realize that not everyone reads and studies like
my friends and I do. I realize I don't read everything either and that makes holes in my viewpoints and proposed
solutions. This is why I believe in "open-participatory" democratic processes. If there is an important point being
missed, someone will catch it and the trick is to thank that person, not punish that person!
I believe we are slowly climbing the hill towards structural competence and can hope for better to come. But
I remain adamant about giving broad powers to a tiny little, non-representative board with no accountability and
no elective power to constitute that board. The NA Continuum is a better model because it takes in everything,
right now, as is and as it will be, whatever changes occur.
Anytime you get misquoted and tagged by adversaries - there is some value in having stated your positions in
writing available where people can get it, no matter how long it takes! What we hold in common is real and it is
precious but it fades when there is contention and other goals are put before it. It is not weakness, it is the same
as driving a car. As long as the steering mechanism is directed by the Twelve Steps towards something special,
something careful and magical: divine loving and caring. The way is easy and all things fall into place as if
planned. Allow your vehicle to swerve a little off the road, too much or too little, and you can quickly lose sight of
your goal, the goal that feeds you energy, hope, enthusiasm and fall back into despair. Surrender and the power
of positive expectation are great to keep our spirits up!
Even after years clean, an addict can relapse and die using. You cannot buy, sell, bottle or meter out what we
hold in common. That's why we cannot lend our name. If and when and where we do, our name becomes
something else: a product, an item, a corporate possession. Should we pay for the rain?
We are faced with a crisis wherein our beloved WSO and its outgrowth corporation NAWS, Inc., have decided
to take over NA. It is evident from their actions that they have created a sort of virtual reality where what they
know, think and feel is real and everything else is conjecture. Those of us who have been around long enough to
know better are relegated to the status of trouble makers and resentful old-timers out of touch with the 'new
reality' of NA today. We'll get to that. For the sake of inclusion, this document will be added to by as many
members as can come up with something not yet expressed.
There are many so brain-washed they will be unable to read this material in its entirety. But to the faithful
reader, I would say that the reason they are angry is because they are afraid, afraid they will have to do
something - what? All it takes is a little study and good humor and we have all the people needed to change
things for the better. They are right there, sitting beside you. They have been waiting for you to give them the
go ahead, restore order and uphold the Twelve Traditions! We have proved we can be surrendered and faithful.
Now let's show what we can do when we have had enough. If you don't agree we have had enough, just wait,
more is on the way.
In recovery, faith progressively replaces fear. Fear and fear-based thinking is the basis for the disease of
addiction. Not trusting the Fellowship has long been a problem for many - outsiders and members alike. Unless
you have studied bureaucracy as a subject, you have no way of understanding that corporations make decisions
based on insufficient information. Information costs time and money and no decision is based on much more that
51% accurate information. For example, a corp needs to know if there is enough business in an area to construct
a parking deck. They only need to know how many people drive to work and how many parking spaces are
available. That's it. To spend any more money to find out more than these statistics before making a decision is
a waste of funds and cuts into profits from the proposed project. Project, research, decide. Repeat the process.
Corporations do fail but they try to prosper. When they fail, it is generally because their information was
incomplete or inaccurate. They may fear failure but they have faith in their data. Faith-based decisions function
around the idea that we check all the visible data but feel assurance within ourselves that a loving ultimate
authority will be taking care of everything and everyone as well.
Now, the trouble comes in where the fear-based people will usually not admit their lack of faith. Maybe they
just trust the mental perceptions more than the spiritual perceptions. So they proceed to take control of things
but yet have a gnawing fear that they are missing something. And that something is known somehow to the faith-
based folks who won't tell them what's going on. So. the faith-based folk are deliberately withholding information
to insure the failure of the fear-based. So, faith somehow gets interpolated into something akin to sabotage. And
yet the fear-based cling even more tightly to their schemes of control and their perceived sanity, while the
faith-based folk look on in wonderment at the lack of surrender.
One simple truth is that when you are relaxed and clear-headed, you can see and hear better. While the
fear-based folk will never admit the role played by the faith people, the faith people credit the earnestness and
grinding efforts of the fearful. They have been there. And for all the wisdom and relief to be found in the 12 Steps
of NA, fear will never loosen its grip in those who cannot surrender.
What is at stake here? It is the right to express and embody message or hope in written, audio and any other
media so that the spirit of NA rings true. This is not a corporate possession to be used like a meat axe chopping
away at those who oppose their policies. If we are to be firm and correct, we must be diligent in our studies to
come at a truth we can live with, a truth that co-insides with our principles of Honesty, Open-mindedness and a
Willingness to try.
The important, basic rule about policy changes is this: unless you understand and agree with every single
word, do not vote in favor of a motion, however persuasive and engaging a presenter may be. You do not buy
a car or even a burger this way if the information is not completely correct and understandable, the only proper
thing to do is vote it down. That's what it means to have a vote. Getting a crowd of voting "delegates' whipped
up, hungry, tired or confused and then calling for the vote is a dirty trick. If this is attempted, get up and leave
the room to destroy quorum.
If you are unhappy with the effects to the motion later on, you may hear them say, "Well, you voted for it!"
They'll say it whether you hear it or not. We are not little children and we have not come this far as a Fellowship
without learning from our mistakes. Admission of error is a positive thing here in NA! We get new lives by
correcting our mistakes.
Our recommendation is to pray and ask for strength and guidance. Don't stop your ears and close your eyes
in hopes the car won't run off the road. Please take charge. Higher Power always has a plan that is beyond what
we can see. But it is good to have the Fellowship waking up a little after all these years.
Loud voices demonstrate lack of faith and a desire to control. No one can trick God - that's why faith works. It
is something inside people that comes out when they really understand what's happening. We learn to win by
surrendering where we are powerless and stepping out on faith when the Spirit moves us. Everyone in the world
is on a learning curve and no one can help where on that learning curve they are. It is up to each of us to find
people we can learn from and those we can help up. This is the great process that separates us from the other
life on the planet. This learning is always reflected in the general welfare of both ourselves and all those around
us. It is what makes the world full of hope and wonder when there is plenty of hopelessness and despair.
And what is available for us mortals on the planet? One of the upsides of being a dope addict is living
outside the system and being able to see beyond what normal people see. We have incredible sensitivity to right
and wrong. Betrayal of trust and dishonorable acts make us feel dirty and guilty and that may trigger our
self-destructiveness. Living in the light may hurt our eyes in the beginning. After working the first Nine Steps,
we learn to still the mind and relax the body to the point of being able to recall, or surface, our dreams. By
spending time thinking about our dreams we realize ways for those dreams to come true. Loud voices and
worldly concerns distract us but we return to dream realization and get results. Many of us suffer in recovery
because we can't figure out what to do when nobody is chasing us! Peace un-prayed for can be mistaken for
boredom. Most people walk through life with a tightness in their shoulders. Stress is a common denominator for
many health issues. Getting past our fearful nature into the earnest consideration of a loving higher power can
lead us to begin trusting on a whole new level. We lay down the weapons that may have served us in the past
and seek the grace of our higher power to shake off the acts which were born of our despair and desperation.
We renew our friendships and amend our broken ties to humanity to enter fully into the new life. Inventory,
prayer and meditation keep us on the path and allow our deadened spirits to find some worthy task to give
meaning and focus to our lives.
The more we learn through science about the power of the mind to contain thoughts, the more amazing an
individual mind becomes. Get two minds working on a common cause and their minds hold much more. Take
ten thousand minds and the energy becomes incredible. And we are at least a hundred thousand addicts strong:
that is what yields group conscience when it is tapped. And it is just a glimmer of what a loving God holds in
store for us.
Narcotics Anonymous is people, pure and simple. Forgetting this, we fall prey to various distortions. If it is a
mental construct, it can be defeated. If it is a product, it can be marginalized. If it is a proposition, it can be
broken. People aspiring to do better and rediscover lost dreams that can now become reality. Each person who
makes a daily decision to pay attention and find something they can do to help, they act on their better nature.
It builds up and those who come to tear it down are confused when the hope springs up elsewhere and they
hurry there to make safe their fragile mentality and avoid their surrender to the Ultimate Authority.
More than anything this writing is to give voice to the unheard miracle workers of NA who breathe life into the
aspirations and dreams of a better life at the various important opportunities that dot our history. May the
dreams and miracles keep coming along with the people who will say yes to the challenge and pick up the flame
when those who carry it fall. Remember to listen to the whispers, not the loud voices.
"If you remain silent, the stones will talk." - Without the King, movie on Swaziland
From Nevada, USA Read NA in Crisis and it's nice to see what we're going through put into words. Just want to know what to do
about it. My recovery was formed on the group conscience process that ran through everything before these
concepts came into being. I tried running a meeting using the old service structure and trying to stay disconnect
ed from WSO. However, it became apparent that people seem to believe we have to do what WSO says and not
the other way around. When I would tell people we didn't want to be a part of the service structure -which also
meant not being in their meeting directories -1 had "well meaning" people put our meeting in the directory
You could tell immediately when this would happen by the new influx of people coming in to tear apart the
meeting. I tried this three times and finally gave up. Addicts are self centered people by nature anyway - so
helping them to understand why this affects them is next to impossible because well let's face it - there's a whole
generation of addicts raised under the new service structure that are every bit self will run riot and there's just
so many more of them that addicts like us come off sounding like some crazy person raised by wolves.
My recovery has suffered under this new service structure. My only solution I see is to move back east where
there's more groups now formed under the old service structure and well frankly where there's more like me.
But finances play a part and I don't have the money to move right now. Each time I think I can move something
comes up and I can't. Being in Nevada is like being in quicksand - I keep trying to get out but I can't.
Nor am I in CA where I might have an impact on WSO either. So what does an addict like me who is between
the devil and the deep blue sea do? We can distribute things like NA in Crisis -but honestly I don't think you're
going to get a lot of people to read it. Out of those who do - how many are going to understand it unless they
know what it was like before?
I've been around long enough to know the difference between how an addict acts while not taking any
medications vs. while taking legally prescribed medications. I know that an addict may not be "acting out" or in
a relapse while on prescribed medication. But I also know that the way they perceive the world and the way they
interact with the world is different when on these prescribed medications.
I've been through enough surgeries to know that I myself am not "myself for about 90 days after a surgery.
So I understand why an addict should not be holding certain service positions while under the influence of
anything. But we have huge numbers of addicts who have been raised on shows like A&E's "Intervention" and
other shows who seem to be based in the concept that our disease lies in the drugs and not in us. But that's
because of all these treatment centers who put addicts on a shopping list of medications now and call that "
getting them clean".
I started putting together a continuing course for drug counselors on how to treat people coming out of sex
work who are also trying to get clean. I've been contacting the schools and programs that teach the drug
counselors out there what they know. I was pretty shocked to see that nothing is being taught on this subject.
I was even more shocked to see that nothing is being taught about the concept of "drug free" recovery. There
is a huge list of classes on things like "dual diagnosis" and basically how to get someone off street drugs and
onto pharmaceutical drugs though. But nothing on the concept of an addict getting through treatment without
drugs of any kind.
So we have crop after crop of counselors going out there and populating the drug treatment field - who
aren't being taught this either in a home group (that concept seems to have died now also), or in school.
From Kathmandu, Nepal: There are people all over this world dying of our disease, and, believe it or not, we are truly the only people
who can really help them. You and I have been given, through illness - through suffering - and through disease,
a talent for helping other human beings like ourselves. Let's never forget that.
Wilmington NC USA: My main interest from this whole NAWS new IP deal has been the realm of self-medication (those who still doctor
shop) and drug replacement "therapy". Personally, I am not on any meds... Back when I had six years clean and
my appendix burst, I held out as long as I could and cried when they administered morphine for the pain finally.
After surgery, I only used the pain prescription for two days out of the prescribed months worth. (My personal
belief is that, if you enjoy the feeling pain meds bring - you haven't surrendered yet.. .1 hate feeling that way,
and want it to end ASAP.)
My experience with psychiatrist prescribed drugs, is limited to what I have seen in some others. Right now,
I am dating someone, who, without those drugs, would most likely kill herself or I'd end up killing her.(not very
PC of me to say, I know.. .but honesty is sometimes harsh.)
Her drug regime is very different than someone else I know...that person self medicates, takes this or that to
get up or down depending on how they feel at the moment, etc.. .her scrips do not seem like any of the type we
used to "pill pop"... but his are.
What goes on is between their doctors, higher power, and conscious. Her I consider clean; she doesn't take
anything past what is prescribed, she doesn't enjoy taking them, and hates the fact that she needs to.
Him: I don't consider clean. He lies to doctors, takes what he wants when he wants it, hoards pills, etc...all the
Drug replacement therapy and clean time? Sorry... .you ain't clean until you get off the drugs you're taking to
get off your drugs. Period. NAWS can say what it wants because Hazelton needs to sell more literature, and it is
going to cause a shit storm in NA. It's just the excuse addicts are looking for. It will never be the message I carry . . .
nor would I ever knowingly vote someone into a position of service who is on it. I will share it loudly at meetings no
matter whose feelings it hurts.
To those who have found alternative methods with their psych stuff...! commend you. To those who have fully
discussed it with their doctors, attempt to take the minimal amount of psych stuff and do not enjoy having to take
them - I commend you.
To those who look for excuses to get pills, those who are still using drug replacement therapies.. .keep coming
back, maybe one day you will understand what being clean is.
To those who think new NAWS literature is the greatest thing since apple pie: You're either an ostrich, a
mushroom, too new to tell the difference or junking for a paid position further down/up the service chain. The
former need to open your eyes and read some original literature...the latter need to go f*** yourselves.
* Suggestions "
DVD's - personal and group readings from the material with some discussion. IP's of sections drawn from this material - some people can only read short items. WWW - Webpage breaking all this document into individual webpages for ease of reading and comprehension.
HITS IN 2011 - Impending Crisis Redux
N.A. FELLOWSHIP USE ONLY
Copyright © November 2010
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.