Traditions War: a pathway to peace


 Excerpt form Bob Stone's Book ... 311

Timeline ...  326

Beginnings of Traditions War book ...  328

All Else is Not NA ... 328

Correctness Cults ..... 329

The NA Tree  ....  page 330

 Excerpt form Bob Stone's Book:


The following extract is placed here not to embarrass anyone but simply because most members of our Fellowship don't know this happened. Since they cannot find a specific time and place where 'everything' changed, they believe the fun loving, caring Fellowship we had in the late seventies and early nineties is still in existence somewhere. Adjustments that have been made by people like me have been a positive reaction to these changes. But if the Fellowship has no way of knowing, they will think some of what we do is unnecessary. The NA Way of Life project for instance is far too loving and caring to survive in this kind of power politics atmosphere. It would be like choosing to go to a dumpster to have a baby.


Still, I respect the friends I have who have stood the strain of all the years in world service. We need a strong structure and a stable World Service Office. It is up to us to provide the spirit, the fun and the good humor that brings life to our Program and Fellowship. They take care of their stuff: the corporate work, the reports, the printing, distribution and all the other work they do for the Fellowship in trust. Like us, if they fail they can pay a high penalty. None of this recovery stuff is anything but a God given miracle! If we are grateful, we can wish them well and get back to what we do the best: stay clean and carry the message.


Bob Stone was a great man in our history and we will be fortunate to attract others of his caliber. I have long suspected that while he was not an addict, he held back more insanity within our world service system then we will ever know. If we don't show gratitude and respect to our trusted servants and special workers, who will?


                                                                                                                                                 - Bo S.  


Bob Stone

and the NA fellowship


Bob Stone was the manager of the NA World Service office from 1983 to 1990. He was not an addict which made for peculiar problems in his management of the Office. Our approved and carefully considered service structure of the time did not make provision to prohibit the WSO from making NA policy or manipulating information in Fellowship publications entrusted to their care. The expansion of WSO from less than $10,000 in the 1978-1979 fiscal year to a million dollars in the 1984-1985 fiscal year (figures approximate) increased the staff of the Office from none to over forty. The dynamics of this change included a range of new strains and pressures. It was hard for the workers at WSO to know exactly what pains had been taken by the Fellowship leadership. They had to answer to their boss on a daily basis and that which their boss did not know, did not reach the light of day. Heavy on the business side and hazy on the spiritual Fellowship side, it is not surprising that many mishaps miscommunications happened. Add to this all the personal interpretations that Bob was given by addicts who surrounded him at the WSO in Southern California or else on the road traveling 'for the Fellowship.' It has to have been confusing.


Several years before the end of his managing the WSO, I advised him to write a book about his experience. Our members need to know what you are learning and it may help others understand what goes on at WSO and thereby make improvements that would be impossible if they were kept in the dark. At the time, I thought no more about it. Then I heard his contract was not renewed. Greg P. who I trusted in these things told me that there were many little things towards the end of Bob's work for us that would be unimportant but taken as a whole, they were enough to get him 'non-renewed.' I now think there are other explanations. I have just finished reading his book, "My Years with Narcotics Anonymous" and may have stumbled on an unexpected explanation.



Before going into that, I want to point out that during my assignment to the WSC Literature Committee in the 1986-1987 Conference year, we were going through a document that contained a  large excerpt from a letter Bob Stone wrote to the Chairperson of the Literature Committee. He advised that the work of the Committee be suspended for a few years during which time the Chairpersons should go around a talk with members about what they would like to see written about recovery. In the course of reviewing the material, the excerpt proved to be problematic. It made good points but just didn't fit in with the piece we were working on. Sorry, I can't recall which piece. It may been concerning the Committees guidelines. Someone finally snapped to the fact that Bob's letter was not meant to be input but only contained some thoughtful and relevant observations. Bob's comments left no doubt that he believed as we did that the writing should be tuned to the reality of NA recovery and not the member coerced into doing it the way a writer thought they should. This experience based approach is what saved us with the Basic Text. State someone's experience and no one in the world can deny it. Present the same information as a suggestion or opinion, anyone can argue with you. There were other things but after that, I began to suspect that Bob was holding back plenty of insanity instead of making problems.


Reading Bob Stone's book, he refers to a 'vocal minority.' This would be funny if it were not so sad. The members who had studied and been apart of World Services the longest, whether as a Fellowship supporter or as an active participant became outraged when certain breeches of trust and written policy were violated. Hell, no one knew it all and it took a sizable group of well informed members to keep up with events and the written material in Quarterly Reports, the Annual Conference Agenda Report and any other documents to come out of the WSO, WSC (World Service Conference) or WSB (World Service Board). These few members who cared and dared enough to complain or express concern were dubbed as a group: the vocal minority. So, if something upset the 'vocal minority', he would wave it off as if the concern came from people who just liked to find fault or complain. This is what proved to be his undoing. While there may be no direct relationship between to two events, it is not lost on me that the non-renewal came after the 4th Edition debacle.


By not listening to the informed, studied and experienced members, he was left to listen to whom?  His employees? Currently elected WSC Officers and Chairpersons? So, would you expect he got a well rounded viewpoint or might his view point be restricted by the limited group of persons he let advise him. After all, he wasn't going to listen to a bunch of sick addicts who were vocal and lacking in numbers, was he? Only the 'vocal minority' could have or would have helped him, if he had asked. But a manger runs on information and any corporation places a high value on information. Once you think you have enough, you just go for it and hope for the best. Corporation go out of business because they can't read the writing on the wall. They become insensitive to customer complaints and they go out of business. If instead of fearing, dismissing or ignoring the vocal minority - who is still around, let me tell ya! - he could have brought them into the picture and heard them out. Their feelings were probably on track and it would have been easy enough for him in particular to please them. To me, this is, or should be the difference between a spiritual fellowship and a corporation. A corporation has no soul. It responds to lobbying. A spiritual fellowship takes the long view and looks out for all its members, not just a few who seem to be in power. God's really in power in NA.


As his story moves towards the last two chapters, Bob is literally globe trotting  at Fellowship expense. He goes everywhere from Tokyo for two weeks to South America and Europe. Of course he travels extensively around the United States. He was paid a good salary as WSO manager and worked very hard to achieve the directives of the Fellowship. After around ten years of involvement with us, he did know a few things about what we wanted and how we worked towards  our goals within the Twelve Traditions. He describes a group of people who decide not to renew his contract. He says he was told that they wanted to change Executive Directors because they were planning some changes in the Service Structure that he might not be able to go along with because of his well known basic beliefs. Apparently, these members succeeded because right after he was kicked out, there were some dramatic changes in our Structure. Representatives at the WSC no longer represented, now they are delegates. This means that while the tokens of representation are still there at the Regional level, they can vote their own conscience at the WSC. They don't have to vote the way their regions tell them to on issues announced in the Conference Agenda Report (CAR). Since they no longer have to follow the specific directions of their members in the region that has delegated them to vote at the WSC, the Fellowship no longer has a real vote. The linkage that used to exist between Group Member whose vote at the Group level was tallied with other groups at their area, then the area votes tallied at the region, and finally the regional votes tallied at the annual WSC. Without specific language, this linkage is destroyed. There were other sweeping changes. A big move to efficiency resulted in drying up the Board of Trustees (WSB) and the WSC sub-committee system. During the years I attended the WSC there was only one thing the Fellowship did not want: the super board composed of a few people who run everything. Today, we have a super board. No doubt, Bob Stone would not have gone along with that plan. 


To pull off this exhausting and radical change, a decade long charade called 'The Inventory' was utilized. It had the effect of freezing most WSC activity while WSO continued to function 'business as usual.' The most striking thing about the implementation of the super board is that they had two years to write their own guidelines. So, they had all the money under their control, all publications under their control, and all world service functions under their control. The only way for a member to get in is called the 'pool.' So members who want to serve at the World Level, have to sign up for a pool, fill out forms - the first in our history, and wait to be called. Presumably, if they do a good job, they are retained and even giving other assignments. A perfect management system.


I am grateful to Mr. Stone for all his work on our behalf. The man was not perfect but his position as Executive Director would have driven anyone insane. It is a wonder he did as well as he did and to credit the 1983 WSC voting group conscience, no one could have done as well. You and surely couldn't unless you're one hell of a manager! When he got sick with inoperable cancer, he wrote his truth probably as much to help him process what had happened as anything. 


So that you members reading this will have some idea of what is contained in Bob's book, I am going to present the last chapter or two of the book. The early chapters have some excellent detailed writings on the history of NA. There is also an amazing blow by blow description of some of the service politics from the 1980's. This is the stuff we will have to master if we are to do better service in the future. To spare anyone at all the feeling that I am up to something, let me say that I am telling anyone I can reach that they should pray and step out on faith to meet any perceived need the NA Fellowship may have at present or in the future. Since these people in World Services wanted the super board, let them have it. If they get in trouble, we may have to save them. After all, it is our service work they are selling.


It is the love and understanding along with useful survival information in the Basic Text that called most of them to recovery in the first place. The Basic Text was written by over a thousand members in the late 1970's and early 1980's. It is the combined experience, strength and hope of addicts in recovery from all over the Fellowship with members from one day clean to over thirty years. Their input was put in a big pot and set to boil until it became condensed into writing and met the approval of members and groups all over the world who voted through a group conscience system in days when we had representative voting. My role in all this has always been basically the same: I hate to see big guys beating the shit out of little guys. I enjoy supplying the little guys so they at least have a chance. It gives me a thrill and makes my Higher Power happy. And that is just fine with me.


Since so much of this is coming to light for many members today, my suggestion is to leave the structure alone, especially at the world level. Just surrender. They will ask for help from the only people who can give it to them, or they will drain away power hungry members from the more important tasks at the group and area level. For instance, we need to get Basic Texts into every library in our state - how about yours? We need to routinely visit young doctors just when they are graduating from medical school and do this on a regular basis to get help for addicts and help doctors better understand addiction and recovery when they are young and growing. How about visiting local police departments and letting the new policemen and women know about recovery from addiction.


Maybe then they can jump out of the Hollywood stereotyping and into reality. We can do these things through existing H&I and P.I. committees. Did you know some large groups used to sponsor a hospital meeting so when the person got out of treatment, they had existing friends in a regular NA recovery meeting? Dreaming works - when you are clean!


In Loving Service,

Bo S.




My Years with Narcotics


by Bob Stone


Chapter Twenty

I Was Stunned


                The Board of Trustees had been in their closed meeting for over four hours when they sent for me.


                Upon entering the room, I noticed that the smiling faces and jovial attitude normally present at breaks in their meetings were totally absent, and concluded this was indeed not going to be a pleasant discussion. This was the first time the trustees had excluded me from any discussion in the entire time I served with NA, so my heart was pounding quite fast.


                Jack was at the head of the table, and the only empty seat was at the opposite end. As I sat down,

                the door was closed, and after a moment Jack began.


                "There is no way to make this easy or pleasant, Bob, but the board has been discussing your tenure

                as Executive Director. No one has ignored the invaluable contribution you have made to Narcotics

                Anonymous and all the things you have done for the fellowship. No one can take those things away from your service to NA.


                "But the board is of the opinion that NA is going in new directions, and that you would probably not be able to adjust to the kinds of changes that are necessary. It is not that you have done something wrong. The board just feels that you will be unable to cope with the changes that will come about. Because of this, we feel that a change in management of the office is in the best interests of the fellowship. The trustees are therefore recommending to the Board of Directors that your contract not be renewed.


                "Is there anything you would like to say about this?"


                I was stunned! Waves of heat flushed through me as I tried to comprehend and organize my thoughts. Dozens of ideas whizzed by, but I was too numb to catch them or even make sense of the images they carried. I was fighting against this electrical storm in my mind as I tried to fathom why they had decided this --- what should I say, what words could I use? In just a few seconds my world had been turned upside down. Without hint or warning, the Board of Trustees had decided to boot me out. Through the shock, I began to feel like I was inside a roaring fire, racing in circles. I needed to say something but what, and will the words come out?


                What could I say? Having had no warning that day or any day previously that the trustees felt a

                change was necessary, or that I could not adapt to the changes taking place, my mind could not

                come up with a rational defense.


                The World Service Conference had ended only thirty day before, during which I had been lauded by the trustees and the conference for another year of excellent performance. In the weeks leading up to this meeting, not one member of the board had suggested to me or to the office directors that I should not be retained another year.


                Yes, there were three trustees who considered me their enemy because I frequently opposed their power grabs, needless junkets at NA expense, and self-promotion, but I never suspected they would convince the others that I should be disposed of. Nor would I have suspected that those among the trustees who had been my close friends for many years would have, in four hours, turned against me in such a callous manner. Frankly I was unable to comprehend what Jack meant, or really why they had reached the conclusion that a new Executive Director was essential immediately.


                Throwing out an Executive Director with no notice is simply a stupid idea unless the individual is guilty of some negligence of misconduct. And if those were the issues, every such charge requires an open and fair hearing. But I was not being charged with negligence, incompetence, dereliction or commission of some crime, or even of some mistake! I was not being given an opportunity to rebut their contention. They had already made up their minds. I was guilty of some supposed vague inability to adjust, and the trial was over. End of discussion.


                Suggesting I was unable to adjust to changes in the fellowship seemed then, and seems now, simply ludicrous. No one had been closer than I, or involved so directly with the tumultuous changes in NA for the previous fifteen years. Not only was I at the center of those changes, but many of them rested on my ability to foresee their need, convince others of their value, and then later implement them. Many important changes were simply put in my hands by the conference, the trustees of the directors, and I was charged with the duty of getting them done. If there was any quality or characteristic I possessed, it was the ability to adjust.


                Despite my disagreement with the trustees' assessment, and my demonstrated ability to adjust to changes, I didn't have many options for a response. From the very beginning of my tenure as an employee of NA, I had warned against allowing the Executive Director to become entrenched. I had even forced the issue by writing in my contract in 1983, that to remove the Office Manager (later changed to Executive Director) required only a phone call or letter of notice from the Board of Directors. I had even set up that my contract was for a year only and renewal was at the pleasure of the board.


                In some ways I was guilty of having prepared the hemlock the trustees were now serving me. The black humor of having built my foundation as Executive Director on such thin ice escaped me then, but later I would shake my head in disbelief. Equally unfortunate for me at that moment was the fact that I had trained nearly all the trustees over the years and made sure they knew how easy it was to remove me.


                Perhaps I had done it all wrong, and should have taken the more traditional approach. The more traditional approach used by Executive Directors was to write multi-year contracts that are hard or expensive for boards to break.


                Most of the trustees knew about that tactic. Jack, for example, had become Executive Director of his treatment center twelve years earlier, in part, because of my efforts to remove his predecessor. He and Chuck L. were subordinate staff members when their Executive Director grossly violated good management and even misappropriated resources of the treatment center for his own benefit. But the guy was smart, and had a lifetime contract as Executive Director. I had helped their Board of Directors remove him, despite that contract. Jack became his replacement, and Chuck had later become his assistant. Greg P. had been a trustee at that time and was a friend of the Executive Director who was removed.


                More recently, all but a few of the trustees had been active in the fellowship when Jimmy K. had fought to the very last to remain as office manager, and they knew how that conflict had rocked the fellowship to its foundation. Having gone through that had surely imbued the trustees with determination to act swiftly to remove me.


                All of the trustees knew the language in my contract that allowed for non-renewal. that factor had been openly announced at the conference several years running, and I had discussed it with each trustee personally over the years. Two were even more directly familiar with my contract as they had served as chairperson of the Board of Directors while I was Executive Director. Additionally, Stu, then the chairperson of the directors, had participated in the four hours of their discussion. I certainly had the deck stacked against me.


                But all was not lost. Trustee recommendation, even if strongly argued, might not be sufficient to sway the Board of Directors when they had to decide the issue. I had worked with most of the office directors for years, and most professed strong friendship and support for continuing my management. Most also felt the trustees were more than a little out in the ozone when it came to practical  decisions about fellowship matters. It was still possible, I knew, that the directors might reject the Trustee recommendation and renew my contract for another year or more. And I knew that many Executive Directors would have argued for a delay, and then used the time to marshal member support in opposition to such a removal.


                Unfortunately, these were not options for me.


                In the education I had given to this room full of trustees about organizational management, I had stressed that internal fights over the Executive Director had to be avoided at all costs. I had lectured them at business meetings that a board that engaged in a bloody fight with its Executive Director over tenure is dumb, and that such battles are dangerous to the interests of the organization. And the way to do that was to have the Executive Director on one-year contracts.


                Furthermore I had educated them on the notion that such easily -ended agreements served to protect the interests of the organization, and the interests of the organization were paramount. Employees could come and go, but the volunteer management had to always have the upper hand and be in control. Yes, I had indeed planted and cultivated the seeds of my own removal.


                Several trustees who participated in the discussion guessed correctly that I would not fight against their decision. I had shared openly over the years with all of them that I loved Narcotics Anonymous too much to cause a fight over my tenure. I was never told what was discussed at the meeting, so I don't know how much of my vulnerability was disclosed, but if some were as smart as they pretended to be, they should have made sure everyone knew.


                But this complex analysis really came later. At the moment I sat there with Jack's words still ringing in my ears, I was trying to formulate some kind of response. I had a decision to make and no time in which to make it. They were waiting for me to respond, and my response would set the stage for a destructive fight or my capitulation.


                Still in the trustee meeting, my head felt like it would explode and my heart was now racing so fast I could feel the blood rushing through by body. I was still trying to come up with some response. I had a faint sensation that I could see myself from outside my body and I was looking at me from the right side of the room and everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. the few second of Jack's statement and the moments before I responded seemed like a long, long time. I knew I had to say something, and I wanted the words to be right and clear. I was afraid, however, that my voice would be so quiet and low that no one would hear me. My vision had so constricted that I could not see anyone except Jack. I don't even remember who was sitting where.


                Finally, I was able to muster a response. I don't remember precisely what I said, but this was my message.


                "I don't agree with your recommendation. I think it is wrong. But I will not fight your recommendation. I believe NA should not have to fight between the Executive Director and other service boards. To do so would be harmful to the fellowship. As you know my contract is at the pleasure of the directors so there should not be a bloody fight over my removal.


                "It is a matter of confidence. If the service boards cannot have the confidence of working well with the Executive Director, the Executive Director must go. As it is obvious that your confidence in my has gone, then I must go."


                I may have said more, but I don't remember. The trustees did not record their meeting, nor did they have minuets or a written report made of their discussion of my few minutes with them.


                Jack must have said something, because the meeting then broke up and I rose to leave. My head was spinning so much that I don't recall if anyone said anything to me in any way. My first recollection was that outside the meeting room Stu T., office chairperson, suggested we have dinner together and figure out what to say to the Board of Directors when their meeting started in slightly less than an hour. So off he and I went to discuss a quick termination from what had been the center of my life for seven years. 


                Some trustees, whom I had considered friends, even close friends, had evidently not stood in the way or fought to retain my services. Heavens! They didn't even fight to have the removal handled with grace and loving care. As I walked away from that meeting, and later that weekend from the joint meeting of the two boards, these "old friends" avoided me, wanting, I believe, to hide their guilt and shame at have been so callous and insensitive. In the years since that night, only two of the trustees have made any effort to communicate. With those trustees I had felt were my friends, I was disappointed that I have never initiated further contact either. The rest still avoid me,

although I have been easy for them to call or visit. It is almost like I had died, and they did not have any further need to recognize their insensitivity or that I had ever existed. Yes, I was hurt by this experience, and it took a long time for me to recover from such a heartless removal. But time had washed away most of the sting of that hurt.


                For those who truly considered me their enemy, I am sure there was jubilation. Their victory was easy for me to reconcile. They knew that I believed their motives and actions were based on their own pride, ambition, and quest for power, and that their actions were harmful to the fellowship.


                For the few with whom I had a more neutral relationship, I was quite disappointed that they failed to consider the damage such a sudden and ill-conceived change would have upon the office and the fellowship at large. Their willingness to approve the removal of an Executive Director so suddenly and without cause is testament to their lack of qualification for service on such an important board.


                The disappointment of that day and the sadness of the last month at the office were not representative of my experience with Narcotics Anonymous. There was a time, even when controversy swirled around me or the office, that the support and affection from the boards, committees, and the fellowship at large, was strong and sustaining. 


                Even in departing, I knew the vast majority of the members who were aware of world service matters would be stunned and saddened by my leaving. They would not understand my removal any more than I did. Unfortunately it was my task to permit the last month to proceed with as little notice as possible and allow no further controversy. A wave of opposition to my removal now would not have served the interests of the office or NA, and had to be avoided. My career at the World Service Office had to be sort of like the adage about the month of March: "In like a lion and out like a lamb."


                And I truly had come into the position of office executive with the force of a lion. But is was not I    that was the lion: it was the conference and the group conscience driving it. On that day in 1983 when the conference voted to suggest I become the office manager, there were whoops, hollers and a standing ovation. Practically everyone in the room was showing their favor and support for the decision. By that vote, the conference had, for the first time, demonstrated its authority and control over its service boards.


                At each conference since then, I had received standing ovations for the year's work and overwhelming support for continuing as the Executive Director. At the conference just a month                before, the participants had again loudly demonstrated their support.


                But now the conference was over, and there was no one to effectively combat the closed-door kangaroo court session that had engineered my removal. Only if I fought against their decision and           remained as Executive Director until the next conference was there a possibility I could win against such odds. That would likely paralyze the office and the relationships among the world service boards. The only choice was to pack my bags and leave. I went without a fight. "Out like a lamb:" As the full time paid Executive Director that tens of thousands of members knew about, I had an obligation to set a proper pattern for my successors.


                As I left with Stu, I pulled Anthony and George aside to tell them the trustees had voted to recommend that my  contract not be renewed. They were stunned, and in total disbelief. I asked that they not tell the others, as I felt I should do that when I returned from dinner with Stu.


                At dinner I didn't ask what had been said in the meeting of how he had argued against the idea. Deep inside I felt he had probably been mostly silent or provided encouragement for my removal. We talked about practical matters.


                I proposed a separation payment equal to seven months salary. As I mentioned in previous chapters, in the previous three contract renewals, at my suggestion, the board had not given me a raise. Instead the board had agreed to provide an additional month to my severance payment. In this way I had earned three months severance, which was in fact earned compensation, but the payment was deferred until I ceased being an employee. The contract renewal Stu and I had discussed only days before, was to extend my earned severance to four months. I had five weeks unused vacation time and was due more than twenty working days in compensatory time for working extra days and overtime without pay.


                By suggesting seven months, I was including the already-earned compensation, including vacation, and comp-time and that the board pay me two months salary, unearned, for the sudden and unwarranted termination. I also suggested I was not willing to leave immediately, but would expect and require to remain on my job for an additional thirty days. Stu agreed to these, and promised to get the directors to agree when their meeting convened.


                I don't know what was going through his mind about how the office was going to be run or get through a period without an Executive Director, but we did talk about it. He was aware of my opinion, but I restated it during dinner.


                We had on staff two capable and skilled assistant administrators in George and Anthony. Both were fully able to run their departments without supervision. This had been proven over and again because of the long trips I was often forced to take. If the Board of Directors could provide the buffer between them and the power grab that would take place in my absence, the office would continue to run efficiently. the most critical matters would be to keep the trustees from taking direct control of office staff or their work assignments, and from getting control of office spending decisions that I customarily made in conjunction with the WSO board chairperson and the conference chairperson.


                We finished dinner quickly and returned to the office. The trustees had ended their business for the night and departed while the directors were just getting there. I had George assemble all office staff members who were still at work. I told them what the trustees had decided, and that I was not going to fight to stay on. Everyone was shocked; several were soon in tears.


                Stu called the board meeting to order shortly after six, and although we were still missing a few members, we proceeded with the agenda. There were about three hours of work to be done          before we got to the item marked as Personnel. Stu and I moved forward on all of these matters without having first informed the board of what the trustees had decided.


                About nine o'clock we finally got to personnel matters. At that time Stu explained what had taken place, and about our dinner conversation. The board was totally shocked. Martin C. quickly said that he didn't care what they wanted. "We need Bob." he argued. "He is an excellent Executive Director and there would be chaos without him. their idea is just nuts!" He was in truth voicing the feelings of nearly all the directors. Martin and several others were willing to go against the trustee recommendations, even though it would cause considerable controversy. Randy J., at his first meeting since becoming a director was incensed. Always quick to raise his temper, this afforded him a new opportunity. Others were just as heated, and had some of the directors from the early eighties been on the board -- such as Kevin F. or Mac M. -- they would have simply told the trustees to shove their idea where the sun don't shine.


                After the shock had set in for a few minutes, I quietly explained, that I was hurt by the trustee action, but that NA could not afford to have a fight over the Executive Director. We had been through that once, and by having a one-year contract for me, we had set it up to avoid fights like that again. "Essentially," I told the board, "the Executive Director is an expendable person. The volunteer leadership needs to have someone they can work with, and Trustee confidence in my ability to work with them has vanished. I believe it is best for the fellowship that the directors follow the trustee recommendation." After a little more discussion, I left the room so the board could discuss the matter in private and make decisions on the conditions of my termination. After about forty minutes, I was called back to the meeting, told of the board concurrence to the trustee recommendation, and we proceeded to finish the evening's agenda.


                I don't remember sleeping that night, but periodically took aspirin to relieve the pain and swirling in my head. The following morning the board continued with its agenda matters until just before lunch when we finished. the directors each spent some time with me sharing their dismay and disbelief. They also expressed their appreciation and that of a grateful fellowship for my years of service. Each expressed their continuing affection and concern for my well-being. On Sunday afternoon I returned to the office and, as usual, took two separate carloads of departing directors to the airport. I didn't cry until the last had left.


                There were four visiting members to the weekend's events that had a ring-side seat. Present this weekend were representatives from Hawaii and Ohio. They were also shocked when told of what had happened. I remember telling them that I was stunned by the decision but the system in place protected the fellowship against a fight over tenure of the Executive Director. I have often wondered what they thought and what they told the folks back home.


                On Monday morning Stu and Jack came to the office to preside over a staff meeting at which they explained what had taken place. It was an undignified way to treat a delicate situation. The impression given was that I was being removed for some unspeakable and unannounced cause and that Stu was going to take immediate control of the office. "Yes, Bob was going to remain on the payroll, the staff were told, but without any authority. Supervisory staff members were to meet with Stu at the end of each day and he would make all necessary decisions." From the way Stu

and Jack presented the matter, they conveyed to the staff that all trust in my decision-making ability had been withdrawn.


                The staff were in complete shock. For most it was hard to comprehend. I had hired most of them, trained them, organized them and made the whole team work. Many felt a loyalty to me that was stronger than their loyalty to the impersonal office that was to emerge from the weekend meeting.                there was disbelief, and this time, lots of tears.


                It was a tough day. One after another the staff visited my office for moments of personal grief and expressions of affection. Several cried nearly all day. Around five o'clock that afternoon, Stu arrived and commandeered George's office. He proceeded to take full and direct control of the office. I wasn't even invited into the meetings he had with the staff.


                I spend the next few days comforting the staff and taking phone calls from people who were just beginning to get calls about what had happened. I tried to work as much as I could, as there were a lot of projects on my desk that had to be finished or ready to turn over to someone else.


                Stu came each evening after working at his own job to meet with George, Anthony and other staff members. This caused a lot of friction within the staff and some lasting resentments. I took Friday off and drove to southern Utah, where I owned some property, and escaped thinking about anything but the beauty of the red hills and blue sky.


                I was sad that my service to NA was having a sudden and unhappy end. But I was also confident that the office was being left in good hands, if they would let George and Anthony do their jobs.  George, Anthony and the staff were well-organized, knowledgeable and capable of doing their jobs regardless of who was Executive Director (or even without one). We had assembled a  talented team of members and local non-members who worked hard for NA. There was very little friction at the time, and the level of commitment to the fellowship was extremely high. The

office had been organized into a fellowship services department and a support services department, responsible for internal operations. George ran fellowship services and Anthony managed support services.


                George had been the RSR from Florida in the 1981 conference. He served as vice-chairperson for two years under Bob R., and then served two years as chairperson. Shortly after his second term expired, we hired him as my assistant in the overall management of the office. We needed his vast fellowship knowledge and experience. NA had invested thousands of dollars in him when he was an officer of the conference, by sending him to many places around the fellowship to gather information and serve the fellowship. No one at that time was as well prepared to do the job he was given. George is a quiet person with tremendous restraint and tact. Yes, he does have opinions -- strong ones at times -- but he is a professional, dedicated to the service of NA.


                Anthony had been a member of the host committee of the 1986 World Convention in Washington, DC. Later, when the Convention Corporation was formed, he became a member of that board and served with considerable distinction. His knowledge of conventions was unparalleled and he was organized, assertive and straightforward. He was just the man you would want as the captain of your team, for any venture. In 1988 the position of H&I coordinator became vacant, and I called Anthony about the job. I wanted Anthony because I knew he had the skills, temperament, background and recovery that we needed in management employees. He was surprised at the call, and more surprised at the job offer. It took some time and persuasion,  but he accepted, and brought his family to Los Angeles.


                Later, when the support services division was to be created along with the administrator positions to manage it, Anthony was chosen for the job from among eleven qualified candidates. He organized the department, trained and supervised the staff, and managed it with  excellence. Anthony demonstrated that same ability when he managed the World Conventions from 1988 to 1990. Without his knowledge, experience and hard work they would not have been nearly as successful.


                George and Anthony made a good team for NA, and since I left the office they proved that confidence in them was well placed. The rest of the staff were also steady and dependable.  Several, like Bob S., Lois G. and Vida M., had been with the office for many years, and remained the rock upon which the office rested.


                These and others were very close friends, and the sudden decision was as tough on them as it was on me. But their dedication to the office was strong enough that they continued to work just as hard during that last month and after I left as they had when I was there. Throughout the staff there existed a spirited sense of purpose that was not dependent on who the Executive Director was. Even so, there were strong bonds of affection, and over the last weeks, I spent time privately with each member to talk about their beginning with the office, our special relationships and our hopes for the future.


                The fellowship at large didn't learn of the removal for a week or more. A joint letter from Stu, Jack and Ed D., conference chairperson, was sent to the fellowship announcing the decision. I felt sorry for Ed at having to apply his name to such a muddled and ambiguous communication on such an important decision. The closest they came to announcing a reason for the change was "it became clear to those present that there needed to be a change in the way the office functioned within world services." The unwillingness of the trustees to tell bluntly that I stood in the way of

their power grab was a measure of their duplicity.


                After fifteen years of adjusting to the changing factors and forces within the fellowship, it was strange to be told I was unable to adjust to the changes that loomed on the indefinite horizon. Looking back after these years, the only functional or organizational change that followed my termination was the attempt by the trustees to take complete control of world services. And yes, I would have continued to oppose that centralization of power.


                Reaction from the fellowship was mostly shock and disbelief. Members, groups and committees discussed what little they were told. Many wrote letters to the board, and many wrote directly to me. I received letters and messages of affection and support from places as distant as Australia, Canada and Germany along with many from within the US.


                In the final weeks I wrote a closing report for the board, about a hundred and fifty pages including attachments, in which I outlined many of the concerns I felt they could not afford to neglect. I gave considerable emphasis to international fellowship needs, resisting the power grab taking place, and expressing my appreciation to the fellowship at large for their affection and support.


                I also wrote a farewell letter to the fellowship at large, hoping the board would permit it to be published in the Newsline. I was pleased that it was. I reminded the fellowship of the disastrous fight over my predecessor, and implied my unwillingness to engage in that kind of battle. I expressed my regret at leaving , and my appreciation for the support and affection that had been shown me during my service with NA. I was not terribly vague in offering several warnings about personality cults and power grabs.


                During my last days with the office, we had two going-away parties. The first was the official departure party, but the second was the personal farewell to friends. Both were filled with tears and sadness. But I was leaving a strong World Service Office. It was far different from the one I started working for in June of 1983. I was proud of the changes and the success we had achieved.


                The gross income of the office for the year that ended a few months before I became an employee had been $87,000. There was one full-time employee, a part-time employee and a typewriter that didn't work. In seven years, NA and I had built a service office with forty-three employees, a five-million dollar budget, and branch offices in Canada and England.


                When I began my first day on the job, there were probably two thousand meetings worldwide and perhaps six thousand members of NA. On the day I left, there were over fifteen thousand meetings and more than a quarter million active members. It was both pleasure and privilege to have been part of that growth and to have had a significant role in its success. There had been some problems along the way, but the fellowship got from me the ultimate in hard work, dedication and fidelity to the interests of the fellowship.


                Narcotics Anonymous had become a strong, viable solution in the worldwide war against addiction. Although our Public Information philosophy kept NA out of the headlines, NA is the only entity that is truly solving the problem. Others may fight the war on drugs, but only NA is fighting the war on addiction -- and winning.


                It was impossible in 1976, when I first served NA, to have guessed that it would grow to the magnitude it had. but looking back, there was a steady course of expansion. But looking back          even further to the very beginning, it seemed even less probable that NA would have become the dynamic, worldwide lifesaver it is.


                There is no doubt that I was terribly angry and resentful over my removal. For seven years I had given the fellowship my unreserved effort and determination. I had been faithful to my responsibilities and had been summarily removed without an adequate explanation. My leaving was poorly explained to the fellowship, and they were left with the impression that I had been removed for some hidden and nefarious reason.


                Frankly I'm over that now, and writing this chapter was the start of getting over it. I spent nearly a month writing the previous pages of this chapter. As I wrote, I got through some of the anger and I rewrote it and felt better. And I rewrote it again, and again until it finally reads the way it does. The rest of this book was written two years later.






                People have often asked me why I was fired. And until I was halfway through writing the previous chapter, I really didn't know. I was never to learn what was said at the trustee meeting about why it was necessary to terminate me so immediately -- a decision I still feel was a poor and ill-considered one. While researching and writing this book, though, and in particular the final chapter, I began to gain some insight into how this happened. I seems during my last year of service, I was oblivious to the signs I now see in the record. And it seems Jack was right to tell me the trustees didn't feel I could adjust to the changes that were going to take place in NA. I didn't understand it that day, but I was the obstacle in the way of the trustees taking control of the fellowship by implementing the one board concept in practice, without actually changing the service structure. Had I understood that, as I do now, yes, I would have fought against it until I was removed.


                The problem the trustees had with me was that I had not changed. I was still doing the job the way I had started out: listening to what I heard from the fellowship at large, listening to what the trusted servants were saying, and examining my own heart to determine what was right and wrong. When my heart said something was wrong, I didn't rush forward and support it. When my heart said something was right, it got my full support. But in all cases, since I worked for the fellowship through the authority of the directors, I did whatever the directors wanted.


                From my first day the directors were the boss. Between meetings, I consulted with them and went by what the chairperson of the board said. And there were times when I disagreed with what they said. The removal of Ginni is undoubtedly the most notable example. The directors were steady and didn't change. Even when board members left and others took their places over the years, they were basically the same. They examined everything I or the staff gave them, and asked questions about everything -- and then asked questions about things we might not have remembered.


                There was a kind of unofficial division of labor within the board. Each member concentrated on  one or two areas and became a specialist. Martin C. and Kevin F. were always particular about the budget, finance reports and accounting. And when Robert McD. came along he took that role too. Stu, Bill W. and Martin knew personnel practices, policy and management, so every time  something came up on these subjects, others listened and often used their judgment as the basis for decisions. Bob R. from Missouri and Bob K. from Tennessee became the resource on legal matters, contracts and precise wording of letters, motions and reports. Chuck G., Steve B., Jim W., and Donna M. were always on top of productions matters, whether it was the Basic Text or pamphlets. Jamie S-H and Oliver S. were both very determined that non-US matters were clearly thought out and dealt with fairly. Sally E., Randy J., Bob R. from California, Mark D. from North Dakota and Mark D. from Maryland were always watching our relationship with the fellowship to be sure we were open and responsible without being in the way or controlling. Chuck G., Don D., Kevin F., Gerrie D., George K. and Mac M. were very basic in their analysis of what was right and wrong -- everything was measured against basic principles. In their eyes, we did things because it was right and not simply because we could do it, and if something was wrong in principle, then we couldn't do it.


                The board evolved a collective vision of what the office should be doing in a growing fellowship. They wanted us to be responsive to the conference, since they were the body that represented the fellowship and were truly the boss of the office. They wanted the office to be efficient and responsible for keeping the fellowship supplied with literature and information. They demanded, and got, open and complete reports on finances, inventory, and whatever else they wanted. They felt the office should be, "out there" with the fellowship, searching for solutions to fellowship

problems or concerns within the scope of the duties we were assigned. Additionally, the board knew the office was the central point in the fellowship for the exchange of information and problem-solving. They wanted the staff to be helpful to all groups, committees and boards, without being commanding of domineering.


                At the same time, the board gave me and the office a lot of freedom and latitude. They didn't demand to read every letter or get a report on every phone call. They took their job to be a board rather than quasi-staff who wanted to be in the chair of Executive Director. They didn't take opportunities to exercise more and more power or authority. And they remained consistent in their interpretation of what the office staff was supposed to do.


                But what did happen was a major power shift outside the office. While Bob R., George, Leah, Chuck and Bob H. were successively chairperson of the conference, the office took them to be the representative of the fellowship at large. And I believe each exercised that duty with determination, objectivity and devotion. They each looked at the WSO board and the trustees as            companion agencies of the fellowship, but that each was subordinate to  the will of the conference. Yet each of them felt they did not, as chairperson of the conference, have authority to dictate to the trustees of WSO. Each, I believe, felt their duty was to find consensus with the trustees and WSO on matters that came up between the annual meetings of the conference. And the trustees under Sally E., Jack B. (during his 1985-87 terms), and Bob R. acted in the same manner.


                But as the record shows, a change started at the beginning of Bob R's second term as trustee chairperson. But his plans suffered a major blow when three experienced trustees (Sydney R., Dutch H., and Bo S.) were not re-elected and Mike B., the only non-addict trustee, decided not           to run for re-election. These were replaced by three others, most with less maturity and wisdom. But Bob moved forward to take an ineffective group of trustees and attempt to make them a productive working unit. And he was successful in starting the board on that track.


                At the end of his second year as trustee chairperson, he was not re-elected nor was John F., his vice-chairperson. And equally important, Sally E., and Bob B. left the board without seeking re-election. So from April 1988 to April of 1989, eight of eleven trustees were replaced – a seventy-five percent turnover in membership. The board lost members who had each served five or more years and got as replacements people much younger in recovery and maturity.


                They new crop of trustees, on average, were ambitious, assertive, and interested in changing the trustees into the power-house that some imagined the fellowship considered them to be. The change was dramatic. Gone were the days when consensus was a watchword of trustee leadership. Gone were the days when the office board and conference chairperson were equal partners in service. Gone was the balance of power that had existed and was built into the Service Manual. It was their determination that the trustees were to supervise the staff, have first priority over spending, establish the agenda for world services and have authority over nearly              everything.


                While gathering information from the written record to write Chapter Nineteen, I was struck by realizing that the conference leadership, the office board, the staff, and myself were each working under the old assumptions and trying to adjust to the change going on, but not understanding it. As the year progressed, the record shows the trustees became more aggressive and expansionist, and this put me out of step with the new order.


                In 1994, I was told through a second party that some of the trustees didn't understand why I hadn't understood why they had removed me, "as I surely had seen the signs along the way in my last six months there!" No, I didn't see the signs, nor would I have wanted to change to serve this new type of master, when I believed the group conscience of the fellowship was already in place. I opposed the one board concept when it was being drafted into the Guide to Local Service and had I realized that it was being put into place, in practice, through changes by the trustees, I would have opposed it. Apparently some of the trustees had better vision than I had and were surprised I couldn't see.


                If NA abides by the spiritual foundation embodied within the Steps and Traditions, such ruthless actions should be unthinkable, much less actually take place. But over the years I say this same sudden termination of relationship among many world-level trusted servants over and over again. And frankly I should not have been surprised by it.


                Looking back, there were obvious examples to have been guided by. The rift between Jimmy and Greg was almost unfathomable based on their close and lengthy personal relationship. Yet it happened and had not been healed when Jimmy died. And Jimmy had been close to many others who turned their backs on him during those tumultuous years before the conference in 1983. Chuck S. had even been friends with Jimmy but in the end had very little good to say about him except for his determination.


                Many times sponsors would cut loose their favorite sponsees (and vice versa) and become implacable adversaries. I remember sitting for hours with friends like Chuck S., Hank M., Kevin F., Bob R., and Steve B., and pondering this, never finding an answer. Greg P. came as close as any, I guess, to understanding why this happens. In 1994 he told me that there is likely a recess in the personality of most addicts where they quickly jump to when they are faced with having to terminate a long-standing, close personal relationship. And rather than ending the relationship with a show of affection, esteem or honor, this recess takes them back to their using personality, and it's like "kissing off a using buddy who took your dope and turned you in." This recess seems to require an immediate suspension of feeling and an almost complete repudiation that there ever was a close relationship. This, he said, appears to happen regardless of how close they were or how long they have worked a program or how spiritual they are in other matters. I tend to think he is pretty near right.


                An interesting yet unfortunate truth is that nearly all world-level trusted servants are cast aside when their last day in office ends. Trustees, office directors and conference leadership have all had their day in service and then seemingly fell off the face of the earth. There is no provision in the system to acknowledge their participation and sacrifices. Truly I understand the application of the Twelfth Tradition in such matters -- that spiritual anonymity is the basis upon which we work – yet there is a difference between spiritual anonymity and "kissing off" the departed.


                There is much to learn from all of this. The important lessons are that we do need to treat people with loving respect, even when we have to part company. And the principles of the program should be lived in such a way that people who have given faithful and dedicated service to the fellowship are awarded comfort and affection when they leave service.


                I believe it is appropriate for the fellowship to acknowledge, in an appropriate manner, the service    that others have provided. Without those who came along before us and had the strength  and        wisdom to keep NA on the right track, NA would have died. It is important to keep the welcome mat at the door of every meeting for those who carried the burden, in their early days of recovery, the duty of making NA successful. I would like to express my admiration for a number of people who, I believe, made it possible for those just coming through the doors today, to find recovery in NA. But truly there are not enough pages to list even their names, much less write about what they



                I have attempted on these pages to give a factually-based account of what I have discovered about NA and the people who were part of it along the way. Although this book seems long, it would be twice its volume if every person and fact were fully reported. By necessity I have had to be selective, but tried to be fair and representative in covering events and the people involved in them.


                I have tried to restrain my prejudices, such as they are, and present the facts as I see them. Some events were omitted and some names were not included when to do so would have caused embarrassment or possible harm. Even when writing the history of NA, it is critical to be concerned about the ongoing recovery of people who may have been part of those events. And there are a few individuals whose efforts were, in my opinion, counterproductive to the health and well-being of the fellowship. Rather than blame such individuals, such activities were portrayed without giving their names.


                There are a number of people whose service to the fellowship deserve special recognition. These are people whose contribution were critical to the very existence of Narcotics Anonymous. I have selected six such individuals as heroes of the fellowship, as I believe their contributions were particularly valuable. These are people who have made it possible for NA to have existed, grown, or moved in a positive direction. Without the efforts of these heroes, NA could have died or been  much less than it is.


                The first hero is Houston S., who got the doctors at the US Public Hospital at Lexington to try the AA concept with their patients. Houston came to the meeting every week until 1963, when he turned his duties over to another AA member. Many addicts, having found


                                                  page 539


the message in this meeting, returned to their homes and joined AA. Many of them would eventually help NA when it started in their towns from coast to coast. From this came  the New York fellowship and also the foundation for NA in California.


                The second hero, of course, is Jimmy. He was part of the birth of NA as we know it today. He was its first "Traditions" conscience and chose to insist that "addiction" was the disease and not a specific substance. Without his determination, vision and hard work, NA would not have survived the 1959 lapse. His strength carried NA along until others were there long enough to help with the burden. And it was his service in the late 1970's when the truly established the office, that made it possible for addicts around the world to have a place to call when they knew they needed recovery from addiction. And while it may not be proper to call any member a hero for simply sharing their personal recovery, it cannot go unmentioned that Jimmy did this by phone and in person, any time of the day or night, for struggling addicts and struggling new NA communities all around the world.


                Bob B. whose awakening in Tehachapi led him to become the quiet, reliable, consistent force behind NA, is a true hero. While Jimmy was ill, it was Bob who stepped in and carried the burden of leadership and responsibility for the office. His soft but nurturing personality brought comfort and resolve to others. And his long service as a trustee -- nearly twenty-five years -- was the         basis for mature decisions and sound spiritual guidance.


                Greg P. is another hero. His vision, his skill with words, and his persuasiveness were to set the framework upon which NA came of age. His early writing of the service structure, though it never materialized in quite that way, made it possible for NA to organize itself and express a true fellowship-wide group conscience. The sacrifice he endured to help fellowships across the country is legendary. His support for the development of the Basic Text, although at personal cost, was key to preserving a unified fellowship and keeping the book project alive.


                Bo S. is an important hero of the fellowship. Despite the calamity that his service made of his personal life, his determination made it possible for NA to have a book on recovery. Without the book, the message of NA would have become fragmented, and the fellowship would have been eclipsed by other recovery movements. And without the book, NA would not have had the financial resources to meet the challenges that growth in the eighties afforded.


                Bob R. from Los Angeles is also a hero. His vision of what NA could and should be was the driving force behind the way the office grew and responded to expansion in the 1980's. Under his leadership, the conference came into its own and began to produce the tools a dynamic fellowship needed. His selfless devotion drove him to spend countless hours offering guidance and inspiration when NA needed it most. Much of what happened in world services, especially at the office between 1983 and 1990, came as a result of his vision and character.


                The seventh hero is actually a body of people rather than one person. These heroes are the trusted servants and special workers who have carried on with the daily tasks of NA service. Without each office worker or manager, without each committee member or leader, and without every group representative and secretary, NA could have dwindled and faded into oblivion.


                There are many whose combined efforts, ideas, leadership and recovery provided the spiritual guidance which has enabled NA to truly carry the message of recovery throughout the world. Those of us whose lives have been touched by NA, and all those suffering addicts yet to discover NA and find freedom, owe a deep debt of gratitude to these pioneering members, and to the Higher Power of our individual understanding.



[ exerted from My Years with Narcotics Anonymous by Bob Stone ]





The following is archives borrowed from India web page..

Thanks to the host for doing such a good job..


Following WSC '79

Work on "Our Book" begins as a project of the the World Literature Committee (members were members just by being willing to help). This was not the WSC Literature Subcommittee, that we know today but something called the World Literature Committee. Any NA member could be a part-of.


First World Literature Conference; World lit. held first conference, wrote first literature handbook.


Following WSC '80

Work on Basic Text continues...WLC-2 decides to frame chapters from little White Book...


Memphis Feb.'81

WLC-3 THE CONCEPT: POWERLESS OVER THE DISEASE - IDENTITY-very simply AN ADDICT...AND...THE 1ST DRAFT OF OUR Basic Text - THE GREY BOOK ...are developed by World Literature Committee


Memphis Mar.'81

Grey Book distributed to every known NA Group (free) for review and input.


Santa Monica April '81

WLC-4 Fellowship responds with lots of input. Edit by committee, factoring-in all input begins. WLC membership swells into the hundreds - no NA member is ever denied membership. Book is becoming outgrowth of fellowship.


WSC '81

Obvious battle between WSO & WSB. 1st real WSC - most of the fellowship is represented.


Warren June '81, Miami Sept. '81

Basic Text finalized by committee despite irresponsible, political new chairperson who eventually resigns. Strong, directly- responsible, open committee survives to serve in spite of inadequate trusted servant.


Memphis Nov.'81

WLC elects its own new chairperson, distributes Approval Form of Basic Text to the Fellowship. Every known NA group receives a copy. Policy committee (WSC) enlists help of World Lit members to help draft a new service manual reflective of current fellowship practices- including reformation of WSO, Inc.


WSC '82

Book is approved by the fellowship through the WSC. WSO instructed to produce hardcover by September. Price of book established at $8.00 until office "gets on its feet," then will be lowered - perhaps to $4.50 or less...


Mid-winter '82/'83

No book published by WSO. Most of fellowship copies approval form for use by members till hardcover is out.


WSC '83

"1st Edition" is altered from form approved by fellowship.

Justification used was that some few members feel changes are appropriate. Fellowship demands book returned to approved state by a reformed WSO, Inc.- 2nd Edition







"Original 13" pamphlets approved.



Fellowship Report, originated as open fellowship-wide communication, becomes increasingly (and unnecessarily) detailed and exclusive in tone. WSO, Inc. initiates "Newsline," presenting Office's views to every NA group world-wide, free.


Price of Basic Text is still $8.00 (printing cost reported to be $1.45).


WSC '84

NA WAY magazine taken from the fellowship and given to WSO, Inc.


World convention incorporated as a profit making venture administered by WSO, Inc.


WSC Finance committee disbanded.


World service communication persuades fellowship to accept concept of "vote of confidence" for RSR's.


WSC committee membership begins to close, eventually becomes small controllable groups of like-thinking members.


WSC '85

Little White Book revisions passed... Lit. sub-com. will factor into basic text - 3rd Edition Revised Motion passed to allow WLC to do "minor editing of Basic Text for tense, verb agreement, etc." Office hires professional editor to do lit committee's work resulting in many changed concepts - 4th edition.


WSC '86

Fellowship tells world services "no more professional writers." However, WSC takes it upon themselves without fellowship direction to re-edit Basic Text as committee of the whole - 5th edition [allowing no fellowship review/input and ignoring established fellowship Approval process]













Ah, ha! Great~! Terrific!


Just got off phone with Grover and he has come up with wonderful new idea. Make a book called the Victors of the Traditions Wars. That way we will cover in some detail our memories and just what happened in the eighties and ninties will be more available to those who want to know. I have said often lately that people can't be blamed for not knowing that which they cannot read and study. This is a good case. Further, the general histories may not cover this or cover it in sufficient detail to do it justice. We need to understand just what is in the minds of people who perpetrate their ideas on the rest of us without realizing we have done our homework. If we are unfair or leave some important thing out, it would be nice to hear a response. So far as I know there is no response to the statement that in the eighties and ninties world services succeeded in running off most of the brightest spirits and most dedicated members by exclusionist policies. The members who wrote the Basic Text sold the Basic Text. Without them WS is hard pressed to keep book sales up. How is it good business to savage your free distribution system?


Anyway, no hard feelings, right? But we do this to honor those who died along the way. We know it is the disease and not any one individuals fault. But we need to study and discuss these things openly so that our ranks of newcomers will not subject us to yesterday's horror show. Also, we want our service structure, as well as our meetings, to be safe places for addicts seeking recovery. To the Victorious Members _ YOU!


In Loving Service,


Bo S.




March 06, 2003



Long ago, there was a saying that helped members of Narcotics Anonymous deal with the various elements that try to intrude on our way of life. When the business concerns of N.A., or the committees that we form to serve us began to get caught up in themselves, we would say, "All else is not N.A."


This handy phrase helped us keep things straight. It didn't mean we weren't grateful to those who served us. It didn't mean we have an attitude towards anyone or anything not N.A. It did mean we don't like bosses. It meant N.A. members set up and were responsible for the meetings of Narcotics Anonymous in the various places where our meetings are held. It strengthened us and made us aware of our spiritual responsibilities. It kept us from feeling betrayed so badly when some of our servants get out of hand. Our trusted servants were responsible to serve us, not to control our actions or manipulate the information we were allowed to receive through service publications.


The phrase "All else is not N.A." helped us focus on the spiritual facts of the program instead of the arrangements and activities of those who act on our behalf sometimes. It is easy for us to get things like this turned around.


When our Basic Text was written, this line was included under the Traditions. It was later the subject of some discussion as a result of a few members in world services who didn't agree with the line and were in a position to exclude it from the material.


That was OK for then but now ten long hard years have passed and many members still see N.A. as a spiritual, not religious program of recovery from addiction. Not just from drug addiction or addiction to narcotics as our name would imply. We have grown. Many, if not all members, have realized for some time that once the chemicals are taken out of the picture, our addiction stands intact and ready to deal with us if we do not find a way to deal with successfully.  Our need for spiritual integrity will always be great. Emptiness seems to result whenever we try to place something other than our spiritual yearnings and experiences in the center of our programs.


N.A. is not a business. We have some needs and functions that may involve collecting and disbursing sums of money to get literature printed or to put on a convention. This is a scaled up model of what we experience in our groups. Never should our coffee chair feel more important than our members who come to care and share the N.A. way of life with one another. Trusted servants serve our group and fellowship needs at many levels. They are enjoined to avoid the error of thinking themselves governors, rulers or directors. This would be untrue and create problems. Our trusted servants have to keep faith with the members they serve. Other goals must never come ahead of carrying our message to those who come to N.A. seeking recovery. There can be no more important persons than these for us.


Those of us who are clean and reached a level of gratitude serve only to balance the scales with those who helped us. We help others in our turn and do for others what was done for us. Further, many of us believe that helping others is the key to our ongoing recovery and part of the reason we were able to escape the clutches of active addiction.


It is easy to slip back into spiritual laziness and let others deal with the things we cannot. "Can not" may be "will not." "Will not" can lead to big trouble if we expect spiritual growth. One of the greatest verities for us is that abstinence alone is not enough to keep us clean. Spiritual growth, a sense of emotional health, the ability to tolerate increases in our honesty and the alleviation of our obsessions and compulsions is fundamental to recovery. The hole in the gut must be filled.


Confusing spirituality with morality would put us in the category of churches and other institutions that seek to promote goodwill, health and well being among people in a variety of ways. There is nothing wrong with these efforts. It is just that we are not a business and we are not a church. Worldly concerns are not the source of our disease.


For our spiritual fellowship to survive, we need to look long and hard at our goals and our resources. If we promise to share freely that which we were freely given, we can hope to live up to it. If we promise to provide recovery and various levels of assistance to addicts seeking recovery, we have crossed a line and risk spiritual bankruptcy. You can't bankrupt God. Spirituality is shared human experience of what goes beyond the world and fills the needs we have for a sense of comfort and well being. Once we learn to apply spiritual principles in a practical way, our lives improve dramatically.


It is true that not everyone can do this with equal results. What is right for one may be wrong for another. We can't predict outcomes. We can say that for those of us who have given this program our best, we have been surprised and amazed. Our actions and commitment to recovery reflect our gratitude.




Correctness Cults


In the absence of real historical materials, beliefs held in common by differing groups of members within NA are free to roam at large, do battle, recruit and participate in seemingly endless war with opposing viewpoints. They function like local war lords and rule by force of verbal arms. They conduct kangaroo courts and frequently exclude NA members from participation in their groups or meetings and sometimes run people out of NA. A growing number of witnesses attest to this. Also, a growing number of survivors are coming back to NA and tell of having been run off because they wouldn't go out with someone or sought answers with unpopular questions. This is not recovery in action. It is simply fear and social ineptitude acting in an information vacuum where no one is really sure what to do because they are or have been faced with problems they never experienced.













The Service Structure of Narcotics Anonymous

(11/ 7/ 75)


Serenity Prayer :  GOD . . . Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The Courage to change the things I can . . . And the Wisdom to know the difference


. We cannot change the nature of the Addict or Addiction . . . We can help to change the old lie "Once an addict, always an addict" by striving to make recovery more available. God help us to remember this difference


An open letter to the members of Narcotics Anonymous


November 17, 1975


Dear Fellow Members:


Again, the groups in our area are being asked questions like, "Hey, what's this GSR we're supposed to be electing next week, what does he do?"; "Where does the money go, what's it used for?"; " Now that I've been elected Secretary, what do I do?"; "What's the WSO?" Most of the answers we've heard to these questions and others like them have been based on good guesses, opinion, or misinformation. There doesn't seem to be anywhere in N.A. where this kind of information is set down in plain terms.


Gathering together what we could find in old ditto sheets, letters, tapes, from the literature of other fellowships such as ours, and from our own experience, we have tried to find answers to some of our own questions and to clarify some of our misconceptions. The following is a pamphlet about the service structure of N.A. as we understand it. Its purpose is to express, in simple terms, basic ideas about how we as members and servants of N.A. relate to each other and to N.A. as a whole. It is our hope that this pamphlet will become part of our literature, available to all members; and that, in some small way, it will help ensure the continuation and growth of our fellowship.


Yours in Fellowship,

A Group of Concerned Members


copyright 1976 C.A.R.E.

Narcotics Anonymous


World Service Office

P.O. Box 622

Sun Valley, CA 91352




This presentation of the Service Structure of Narcotics Anonymous is dedicated to the following proposition:


To assure that no addict seeking recovery need die without having had a chance to find a better way of life, from this day forward may we better provide the necessary services.


Our N.A. Symbol


Simplicity is the keynote of our symbol; it follows the simplicity of our fellowship. We could find all sorts of occult and esoteric connotations in the simple outlines, but foremost in our minds were easily understood meanings and relationships.


The outer circle denotes a universal and total program that has room within for all manifestations of the recovering and wholly recovered person.


The square, whose lines are defined, is easily seen and understood; but there are other unseen parts of the symbol. The square base denotes Goodwill, the ground of both the fellowship and the member of our society. Actually, it is the four pyramid sides which rise from this base in a three dimensional figure that are the Self, Society, Service and God. All rise to the point of Freedom.


All parts thus far are closely related to the needs and aims of the addict seeking recovery and the purpose of the fellowship seeking to make recovery available to all. The greater the base, as we grow in unity in numbers and in fellowship, the broader the sides and the higher the point of freedom. Probably the last to be lost to freedom will be the stigma of being an addict. Goodwill is best exemplified in service and proper service is "Doing the right thing for the right reason." When this supports and motivates both the individual and the fellowship, we are fully whole and wholly free.







The purpose of this pamphlet is to express, in simple terms how we, as members and servants of Narcotics Anonymous, relate to one another and to N.A. as a whole; and to present an ideal Service Structure for N.A. in such a way that we can strive to improve our fellowship, and better fulfill our primary purpose of carrying the message of recovery to the addict who still suffers.


N.A. is a Twelve and Twelve program borrowed from the A.A. fellowship. In fact, three of the first committee of five were also members of A.A., who wanted to make this proven program of recovery available to addicts. So why, you may ask, don't we just use A.A.'s structure and be done with it? This would probably be a good idea except that we are not A.A.; our needs, despite the similarities, are to a certain extent different. (As addicts, the progression of our illness is normally much more rapid that alcoholism. How many alcoholics have you heard who have at some time in their lives been reasonably successful in business or family relationships? On the other hand, how many addicts have ever had anything even resembling a successful business or family relationship? This is just an example of how our basic patterns are subtly different.) We are precluded from directly using any part of the A.A. program other than the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions; and finally in order for N.A. to survive we must be autonomous, we must have a fellowship and program of our own.


In the early days of N.A. we had what have been called "rabbit" meetings; held sporadically in different places at different times. At this time with only one or two N.A. meetings in existence, a specific structure for N.A. wasn't needed and really wasn't wanted. Soon N.A. grew, and permanent meetings were established, but because these were few in number and all were located in the Los Angeles area, there was still no real need for any established service structure. However, N.A. has continued to grow. As groups began opening up in population centers other than Los Angeles, we began to feel the need for some kind of structure. Intergroup or General Service Committees came into being in various locations, each trying to take care of business on a local level, without too much regard for N.A. as a whole.


In the last 5 years, this approach has sort of backfired. The unity necessary for personal recovery has been in short supply. Each group or area moved in its own direction -- usually apart. The very existence of N.A. was again seriously threatened as it was in the 1950's when the traditions were ignored. Some positive action has been taken to try to solve this problem, conventions were held, a World Service Office opened, and lines of communication shakily established. We can see that these attempts have paid off to a certain extent. Groups in various areas are starting to work together, much of the petty bickering seems to have disappeared and it seems that many members, in all areas, are trying to establish a better environment for sobriety [in AA this word means a balanced state of mind in abstinence from the drug alcohol - this term was dropped as N.A. developed in lieu of "recovery"] in N.A. The strength and unity of purpose evident at the last N.A. Convention shows we are making progress. Maybe this is because for the first time, we now find many members with long-term sobriety [recovery] active in the meetings and in the fellowship. It's no longer a rarity to find members with years clean rather than only weeks or months. Perhaps some of the personal maturity gained in living drug-free has started to have an effect on N.A. as a whole.


Despite this progress, we are still at a very critical stage of the "coming of age" process. Today large, active fellowships are developing in several population centers and new groups are starting up in many areas throughout the United States and in foreign countries. N.A. is growing, and with this growth the need for unity and communication increases. The old adage that a house divided cannot stand applies to N.A. as well as any other group. Right now we don't seem to have any unifying structure or clear-cut lines of communication for N.A. as a whole. What structure there is, only functions on a local level and our vital lines of communication have often been both hard to locate and as changeable as the weather. It is our sincere hope that this presentation of the service structure of our fellowship, as we understand it, will help to fill in some of the gaps that separate us; and that in some small way we can contribute to the growth and future of N.A.




We keep what we have only with vigilance and just as freedom for the individual comes from the Twelve Steps, so freedom for the groups springs from our traditions. As long as the ties that bind us together are stronger that those that would tear us apart, all will be well.


1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on N.A. unity.

2. For our Group purpose there is but one ultimate authority -- a loving God as He may express Himself in our Group conscience; our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.

3. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using.

4. Each Group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting other Groups, or N.A. as a whole.

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

6. An N.A. Group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the N.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property or prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

7. Every N.A. Group ought to be fully self supporting, declining outside contributions.

8. Narcotics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our Service Centers may employ special workers.

9. N.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. N.A. has no opinion on outside issues, hence the N.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

11. Out public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.

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


It is necessary that we be aware of these principles in all our N.A. work and especially whenever our actions could in any way affect N.A. as a whole. Any undertaking such as this pamphlet must, if it is to be valid, have as its foundation all of these traditions. The N.A. pamphlet says: "There is one thing more than anything else that will defeat us in our recovery, this is an attitude of indifference or intolerance toward spiritual principles." The Traditions are spiritual principles and we have tried in writing this pamphlet to keep these principles in mind.


The First Tradition, of course, is the purpose of this pamphlet. A service structure for N.A. is necessary for our common welfare and to promote personal recovery. Unity within our fellowship is the goal we hope can be achieved by the implementation of this structure.


Much thought has gone into the structure to be described in this pamphlet. One of our primary aims has been to lay out the structure in such a way that the integrity of the conscience of each group is maintained throughout the service arm of N.A. The Second Tradition also describes the nature of those members active in N.A. Service as trusted servants and only by emphasizing this relationship between the group and its representatives can the principle of democracy and group conscience, which we have tried to build into this structure, work. We find it necessary to stress that adherence to the Second Tradition is of the utmost importance, without it no effort to strengthen N.A. as a whole can be successful.


The guarantee that our society will remain an open fellowship in which recovery is available to all and not limited to a select group is one of the principles (Third Tradition) which the implementation of a formal structure can help to ensure. We hope that N.A. will never become weighted down with rules, regulations, requirements, initiation fees, selective membership, and discrimination which prevent recovery and which have, in time, destroyed most programs designed to help addicts.


Tradition Four talks about the autonomy of each group, except as it affects other groups and members. Again this Tradition can be strengthened by lines of communication and unity, freeing the individual group from the arbitrary actions of another group.


Our primary purpose, as expressed in the Fifth Tradition is, along with some of the other Traditions, the reason we are writing this pamphlet. The hope that we can, in some way, carry the message of recovery more successfully and on a broader scale has been our motivation.


The Sixth Tradition concerns the use of the name Narcotics Anonymous. Formal service structure with active member participation can help prevent the misuse of our name and guard against the problems of money, property and prestige and their ultimate weakening of the fellowship.


Undoubtedly one of the most widely used terms in N.A. is the "7th Tradition." Most groups, in fact, even call the collection which is taken during most meetings the Seventh Tradition. This is unfortunate, the Seventh Tradition is not a basket with money being put into it; it is a principle -- probably the most widely confused and abused principle within all the 12-step fellowships. Few of us, it seems, have given much thought to this principle and its far-reaching consequences. The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous were not adopted by the fellowship until 1950 and during the 15 or so years prior to this adoption A.A. was not fully self-supporting. Numerous cash gifts from non- members and organizations were accepted, loans were taken, a cash advance on Big Book sales was accepted, stock was issued, and money came from many sources outside the fellowship. Because of the "strings" so often attached to free or easy money, A.A. had to pay its dues for this outside support. All the Traditions are there for good reasons and the reason we must be fully self- supporting is obvious in the history of A.A. It is, in more than any other way, through the practice of this principle that our fellowship maintains its freedom. The acceptance of a service structure for N.A. will give us a guide to what needs to be supported, a context in which one can see where the money goes, a chance for the group to use its funds to benefit N.A. as a whole, and some checks to help prevent our contributions from supporting someone's habit or paying someone's rent.


Tradition Eight describes the nature of people who will make up this service structure. That they should be non-professional just as we are individually non-professionals in our 12 Step work is obvious, and for the same reasons. The nature of professionalism contradicts the principle of giving freely of one's self for the common good. This principle of giving and sharing is, of course, one of the cornerstones of our program of recovery.


The Ninth Tradition has been the topic of considerable deliberation in the preparation of this pamphlet. How can we propose a structure without proposing organization? The Tradition states that we ought never be organized, but that we may create service boards and committees. This seems to be, at first glance, almost a contradiction in terms, but somehow we must untangle this mess. We ought never be organized and disorganization is killing us. What can we do without violating this Tradition? We feel that the key to this problem lies in understanding the purpose and nature of the structure we propose. First of all the purpose of this structure is service. Most of us realize that in order to keep our meetings going there are some necessary functions which must be performed, this is service. The development of lines of communication within our fellowship is service. Providing for 12 Step work is service. This Ninth Tradition says that we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve. Most of this pamphlet deals with just that. But what about mapping it all out with charts and descriptions, and everything, isn't that organization? The purpose of laying out these boards and committees in an orderly form, showing what they do, and how they relate to each other is not organizational in nature, but informational. What we are presenting is not an organization, but a method; a method by which the services necessary to N.A. can be performed with a minimum of confusion. In this sense, this service structure is fully in keeping with our Ninth Tradition.


As with other Traditions the Tenth Tradition is supported by the service structure. With such a structure functioning within our fellowship we are assured that no one person can express his personal opinions in the name of N.A. as a whole.


With a service structure, public relations as discussed in Tradition Eleven become a group matter rather than a personal one. With the group conscience working as the basis for decisions concerning public relations the chances of inadvertent anonymity breaks are greatly reduced. The individual who is going to publicly break his anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, or TV because of self-obsession, in one form or another, is going to do so despite traditions, service structure, group conscience or the advice of his friends. In establishing this service structure we do not vainly hope to prevent this type of anonymity break, we do, however, hope to minimize the occurrence of the accidental anonymity breaks which result form lack of information and guidance.


That leaves us with the Twelfth Tradition. We, as a group, feel that this tradition, as it relates to this topic and to N.A. as a whole, is self-explanatory. We pray that in implementing this service structure, principles may always be placed before personalities.



[organizational chart below]

















Considerable thought and discussion took place concerning which words should be used to describe our structure. It seems ironic that, while we were in agreement about the structure itself, we went "round and round" about the words. The irony, of course, is that it's the structure which is important, not the words. Some felt that we should use the same terms that other fellowships have used, other felt that we should use government terminology. Both of these suggestions, as well as others which came up in the course of our discussions, have merit, but neither fully serves the purpose. First of all, this structure of ours isn't exactly like any other and it can't just be plugged into an existing framework. Secondly, the use of someone else's terms would not be in N.A.'s best interest. N.A. is a fellowship unto itself; and it is of the utmost importance that we maintain our own identity.


For the purpose of this work, we decided to use the simplest possible terms which were meaningful to us all. Geographically we chose to use the words Area, Region, and World. These designations can be thought of as roughly equivalent to the telephone company divisions in the sense that they are meant to represent population rather than location. this is important because we are, and deal with, people not places. Furthermore, we tried to avoid using terms such as "organization," which might imply a lack of adherence to our Traditions. Instead, we used words like Service Board and Service Committee which could not be construed as a violation of the Traditions.


Another important thing to keep in mind is that some of the service arms which we describe in this structure are not a part of the N.A. program. They exist separately and are designed to provide services to the program. The Narcotics Anonymous program consists only of 12 Steps, 12 Traditions and addicts helping each other. We have described three types of service in this overview; these are Personal Service, General Service, and World Service. In general, the Personal Service one or more members can offer directly to the addict who still suffers is a part of the program. It is in the nature of our 12th Step work. General Service and World Service, however, are not primarily involved in this type of direct service. Rather, they are designed to support our program of recovery by providing the services necessary for our members and groups to survive and grow.


If you as a member or as a representative of your group need more information or clarification on any part of this pamphlet your World Service Office will be more than happy to help. Get in touch with them by writing: WORLD SERVICE OFFICE, P.O. BOX 622, Sun Valley, CA 91352.


The Member


The front-line, so to speak, of N.A. Service is the individual N.A. member. A member is a self-proclaimed addict who is living a drug-free life by practicing the principles of Narcotics Anonymous. Anyone can be a member, the only requirement is the desire to stop using. One qualifies by taking the First Step and remains a member as long as he or she is clean and desires membership. The services that each of us provide are the most important in N.A. It is the member who carries the message of recovery and works with others. It may sound silly but without an active membership there would be no need for a service structure, there would be no N.A.


The benefits of membership are clear cut to us all: a drug- free life, the chance to grow, friendship, and freedom. However, membership is not without its responsibilities. It is the responsibility of each member to maintain his or her personal sobriety [recovery], to share freely his experience, strength and hope with the addict who still suffers; and to work to ensure that, that which was freely given to him remains available to the newcomer.


Before coming to N.A. most of us realized that we could not stay clean alone. The gathering together of two or more member addicts for the purpose of learning how to live a drug-free life by practicing the principles of N.A. constitutes an N.A. Meeting. When these meetings are held regularly, they can become a Group.


The Group


An N.A. Group is any meeting which meets regularly at a specified place and time, provided that it follows the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions (having no outside affiliations and receiving no outside financial support) and is duly registered with the World Service Office of Narcotics Anonymous. The Group is the second level of the service structure of N.A.


The primary purpose of an N.A. Group is, of course, to carry the message of recovery to the addict who still suffers. However, it also provides to each member the chance to express himself and to hear the experiences of other members who are learning how to live a better life. There are two basic types of groups: those which are open to the public, and those closed to the public and for addicts only. Meetings vary widely in format from group to group. Some are participation meetings, some speaker, some question and answer, some special problem discussion, some topic discussion, and some have a combination of these formats. Despite the type of format a group uses for its meetings the function of a group is always the same, to provide a suitable and reliable environment for personal recovery, and to promote such recovery. The Group has proven to be the most successful vehicle for 12 Step Work. After sharing one's personal experience, strength and hope, the most valuable thing a member can do is usually to being the suffering addict to a group meeting. In this way the group meeting becomes a place where the newcomer knows he can come for help. Often the first thing that can open the doors of recovery for the addict is the recognition of himself in others. The Group provided a setting in which the newcomer can find this identification by hearing a number of recovering addicts instead of just one or two.


The Group is the level at which we first find some of the mundane business of N.A. being taken care of. There is rent to pay, literature to buy and distribute, refreshments to be provided, a meeting hall to be kept clean, a time schedule to follow, announcements to be made, and many other things to be done for the maintenance of the Group. The Group must stay in contact with other Groups in their local area and with the rest of N.A. so they can find out about activities, learn of new groups opening up, get new literature, and find out what's happening in N.A. This is also the first level or which fellowship funds are handled, and the correct use of this money is essential for the preservation of the Group. In general, there are many uninteresting things that a Group must do, in addition to its meeting, which are necessary for survival.


We have found that most members who attend group meetings just aren't interested in the "business" of N.A. As a result, a few dedicated members who are willing to do something for the group, usually have to do most of the work. It is at this point that the principle of trusted servant comes into being. Although most addicts don't want to help out with the work, they are at least willing to delegate this responsibility to someone else. This seems to be part of the nature of the addict. These members who have been drafted to do the work make up an informal Steering Committee out of which come the group officers. For the purpose of most groups these officers usually consist of a Secretary, a Treasurer, and a General Service Representative (GSR). Some groups, however, have additional officers, such as a Program Chairman to arrange for speakers of decide topics to be discussed, depending on their specific needs. Group officers other than the GSR normally serve for a period of one year and are elected by the group as a whole. One of the pitfalls which has caused many N.A. groups to suffer or even fold has been the election of officers who were unqualified to serve or did not have a history of sobriety [recovery]. Often N.A. elections have seemed to be popularity contests rather than the selection of trusted servants. The officers of a group must be chosen with great care because of the responsibilities that their offices carry and the potential effect bad officers can have on their group.


The Group Secretary is responsible for the day-to-day functions of the group. It is his primary responsibility to assure that the group meeting takes place when and where it is supposed to. He selects a leader for each meeting, makes sure the coffee gets made, keeps the meeting records, arranges for group business meetings, arranges for the celebration of "birthdays," makes sure that the meeting hall is left in proper order, and answers correspondence. This job is important because without a good Secretary a group had little chance of attracting new members.


The Treasurer of an N.A. group is responsible for the funds which come into the group from the collection and for the distribution of these funds. The money collected in our meetings must be carefully budgeted. There are numerous expenses necessary for running a group.


The Treasurer keeps an accurate record of all the group's financial transactions, he or she maintains the group bank account, and distributes monies to pay the rent, purchase literature, provide refreshments, buy supplies, and cover the costs of any miscellaneous expenses the group incurs. In order to maintain our fellowship and freedom, the monies which come from group collections and members contributions must always be used to further our primary purpose. A group must first support itself. After paying its bills, any remaining funds should be placed in a group bank account and a reserve adequate to run the group for 2 or 3 months built up. After this "prudent reserve" has been established, excess funds should be diverted to help N.A. as a whole. A group can do this by contributing to the area or regional committee which serve the group or through contributions directly to the World Service Office of Narcotics Anonymous. One of the biggest problems we have faced has been the misuse of group money. Thousands of dollars in needed funds has just sort of disappeared. This abuse limits what N.A. can do and for the individual the dues have usually been very heavy; obviously, the Treasurer has a grave responsibility and much thought should be taken in selecting a member to perform this function.


The General Service Representative is the vital link between his group and the rest of N.A. He is the formal line of communication whose purpose it is to represent his group's conscience in matters affecting other groups of N.A. as a whole. Because the role of the GSR is so important to the success of N.A., this servant will be discussed in some detail in the next section of this pamphlet.


As a general guide, we have found that the group Secretary and Treasurer are most successful if they have certain assets necessary for the performance of their responsibilities. These qualifications include:


1. The willingness or desire to serve.

2. A history of sobriety [recovery] (we suggest a minimum of 6 months continuous freedom from drugs -- including alcohol).

3. A good working knowledge of 12 Steps of recovery.

4. An understanding of the 12 Traditions.

5. Active participation in the groups they are to serve; preferably some experience with the group's Steering Committee.


These assets do not guarantee a good servant, however, they do help to ensure that those we choose will be capable of doing the job. Normally, group Secretaries and Treasurers serve for a period of one year at which time they are succeeded by other members who have been elected by the group. Of course, the use of drugs while serving as a group servant constitutes an automatic resignation for that officer. One of the responsibilities of group officers not often talked about, is to train group members to replace them. A group can be strengthened by new officers who are prepared to take over the responsibilities of those they replace. Another valuable lesson we have learned is that the continuity of service can be aided by staggering the election of servants, and overlapping terms of service. (Example: A Group Secretary might be elected in November to begin serving in January and the Treasurer elected in March to begin in May.) Remember, choose your trusted officers well, it is you who they will be serving.




The Members, the Meeting, and the Group provide what has been called Personal Service. This type of service is in the nature of the one-to-one, addict-to-addict relationships so important for our initial sobriety [recovery] and recovery. It is at this level that we find personal identification, the hope necessary to continue, and the first introduction to the program of recovery.


The General Service Representative


As we have said, the General Service Representative (GSR) is the line of communication between the group and N.A. as a whole. He or she is the link that binds the groups together in their performance of our primary purpose. It is his responsibility to keep the group informed and to express the group conscience. In all matters affecting N.A. as a whole or other groups he is, in fact, the voice of his group. Finding good GSR's who will take an active part in the business of N.A. is probably the most important thing we can do to improve the fellowship. Active representation, more than any other thing, can strengthen the ties that bind us together, and promote our common welfare.


The GSR speaks for his group at Area and Regional Service Committee meetings. He takes part in the planning and implementation of the N.A. functions which affect the members of his group. As a result of this participation he can keep his group informed about what is happening in N.A. A group member should always be able to go to his representative and find out about activities, other groups, and about N.A. as a whole. Although the GSR is no expert on N.A., a member should be able to come to him and get guidance or information concerning how N.A. works, the Traditions, and how he can get more involved. The GSR is an active group member. He serves on the Steering Committee, helps train new officers, and is normally the mail contact for the World Service Office and other groups. He is responsible for maintaining the group's 12 Step list. Often the GSR's phone is busier than that of any other member; he is the contact for his group. AS if this weren't enough, the GSR, in most groups, is also responsible for the literature. He makes sure books and pamphlets are available, and that new publications are presented to his group. He also encourages members to submit their stories and thoughts to the WSO for incorporation (anonymously, of course) in the N.A. Newsletter or pamphlets in production.


A group's General Service Representative normally serves for a period of two years. The first year he or she is an alternate who can take over in case the voting representative is ill or cannot, for any reason, continue to serve. The second year, he becomes the voting representative, taking over the full responsibilities and functions of the office, and in turn is helped by a newly elected alternate. This "apprentice" system serves two purposes: First of all, it helps to provide a continuity of service which never leaves a group unrepresented; and secondly, the year spent as an alternate provides the training necessary to a good GSR.


As you can see, the role of the GSR in N.A. service is not a simple one, or one to be taken lightly. The election of good GSR's and alternates is probably the most important thing that you, as an individual, can do for N.A. as a whole. In choosing your representative, remember that he or she is your voice and your ears in N.A. If you wish to be well represented and well informed, it is your responsibility to elect the best possible nominee. For this reason we suggest that candidates for GSR should have:


1. A commitment to the principle of creative action through service.

2. A minimum of one year of continuous cleanliness.

3. Experience as a group officer.

4. A good working knowledge of the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of our fellowship.

5. An understanding of the service structure of N.A. and the nature of the GSR.


These qualifications are not, of course, hard, fast rules. They are however, some of the things you should consider in the selection of your representative. The General Service Representative, as we have described him, is your link to the rest of N.A. He is also the tie that binds the personal service you and your group perform to the next type of service which is offered by N.A. -- General Service.




Thus far we have been dealing with the personal services that one member or a few members can offer the newcomer in his search for recovery. The next type of service found in N.A. is General Service. General Service provides the support necessary for groups of N.A. members so that they can act together for the common good. A new idea in service also begins at this level, this is the concept of community service. This kind of service not only helps the addict who still suffers but also makes available, to the society it serves, a workable program of recovery for the drug addict for who other types of help have seemed to be just so much wasted effort. Narcotics Anonymous exists in many areas as an obscure unrecognized drug program, about which little is known. It is a fact that most communities in which active groups exist, acknowledge the often surprising, success of our fellowship and are grateful to have our groups around.


General Service is divided into sections, the area and the region. These are both geographic and functional designations. The area is designed to provide service to individual groups with specific needs and the region is established to serve many groups with common needs. This difference in function is important to keep in mind as we discuss these two levels of service because in many ways they provide very similar services. The group's General Service Representative is active at both these levels and must be aware of the nature and purpose of each, lest we fall back into many of the problems we are trying to overcome.


In 1969, N.A.'s first committee, specifically designed to fill our General Service needs, was established. This group and others like it have contributed greatly to the growth of N.A. However, today it is no longer enough to have a few members getting together to keep their groups going. N.A. has grown and is continuing to grow. The absence of effort towards some necessary functions, and the duplication of efforts towards others seems like an old friend to many of us; a cure causing worse problems than the illness.


A "Designated Area" within N.A. is any local area, community, or town with a significant number of N.A. meetings. We have found it convenient to think of an area as any community or communities which comprise a single telephone directory. This concept seems adequate for our needs today, however, any set of groups within definable geographic boundaries who need to function together as an area can be a designated area.


The "Designated Region" is a broader geographic unit made up of one or more areas. Normally we consider a region to be any state within the United States or any foreign country. Again, the definition of a region is ultimately one of need, any N.A. areas which can show this need can be considered a designated region. A good example of this, as it exists today, are the Northern and Southern regions of N.A. in California. In the future, it may be necessary to break this down even further. A definition of a region might then be any geographic unit comprising a single telephone area code. We feel it necessary to stress that for the purpose of N.A. the designations of area and region should always be based on specific need rather than resentments, insanity, or personalities.




An Area Service Committee (ASC) is a committee made up of representatives (GSR's) from all Groups within a designated Area (provided that it is duly listed with N.A.'s World Service Office) which meets monthly for the purpose of serving the specific needs of its member groups.


Our experience has shown that from time to time our groups have problems which they can't handle on their own. In the spirit of our fellowship, we, as individuals seek help from one another to deal with our living problems; just so, groups can find help from other groups. For this reason General Service Committees have been established. However, most of the problems a group faces are of such a nature that another group located many miles away can be of little assistance. Only a nearby group can help and for this reason our General Service structure is made up of both Regional and Area Committees. The Area Service Committees are made up of representatives from all the groups in an area and are designed to support their members groups.


Isolated groups often have a hard time of it because there is no one nearby to whom they can turn. For this reason it is to the groups' benefit to put forth as much effort as possible towards starting other groups in their Area; and, once this is accomplished, establishing a new ASC as soon as possible. Often isolated groups have had to temporarily sit in with another Area's Committee of even act on its own in order to provide the necessary services. Experience has shown us hat this can sometimes be a very rough road. If your group is of this isolated type, it is of the utmost importance that you keep in especially close contact with your World Service Office and other groups even though they are located elsewhere.


Because groups, just like individuals, find it hard to survive alone, one of the most important functions of the ASC is to encourage new membership. This can, of course, be most successfully accomplished by active 12 Step work. For this reason, each ASC should maintain an accurate 12 Step and Sponsor list, put together a notice of its meetings and post this notice in places where people can see it, provide for periodic public service announcements, keep in contact with local authorities and referral agencies, and perhaps arrange for an answering service to take calls which can then be referred to members on the 12th Step list. In our Areas this type of service is provided on a personal basis and our primary aim is to being the newcomer into our fellowship in the hope that he too can benefit from our program.


Another major function of our ASC's is in providing activities which may make cleanliness more attractive to the newcomer, give the member an opportunity to learn how to function drug-free on a social level, and which gives us a chance to gather together to celebrate living. These local activities could include dances, picnics, parties, dinners, breakfasts, round robin meetings, and any other functions which the committee feel would benefit its groups.


The third and most important service which the ASC provided is that of Group support. Whenever a group has specific problem or need which it has not been able to handle on its own, it can come to its Area Committee for help. These problems are almost limitless in scope. However, we have learned that we can get much accomplished when we work together.


The ASC often performs other functions which are of help to the groups. This committee helps new groups get started or gives aid to floundering groups. It might scout as area for potential meeting places; might help a group which is short of funds set up a "work party" system in lieu of rent; might encourage members of other groups to attend meetings which need support; our might keep a stock of literature which the groups can purchase without waiting for mail to get to and from the WSO. The point is that the ASC handles whatever functions are necessary or helpful to its groups.


In order to provide these services the ASC needs the support of its groups, the active participation of its GSR's, certain facilities, and qualified leaders. The group supports its Area Service Committee both financially and emotionally. It takes money to provide the services we have described. It is the groups responsibility to offer this support. When as ASC is formed this need for funds may be minimal. Just enough to pay for a post office box, the rent of a hall once-a-month, and to serve coffee. However, as an Area grows so the financial needs of the committee also grow. In order to provide a full line of services it requires a steady, reliable input of money. Some Areas have tried to provide these funds through their activities or by holding "round-robin" types of special meetings, or by any number of fund raising methods. All these alternate courses of financial support are helpful, however, the bulk of the responsibility still falls on each group.


The active participation of each group representative is essential for a successful ASC. Each GSR must keep his group informed and must represent his group's spiritual conscience in all committee decisions. In addition to this a GSR participates in helping to carry out the ASC's other specific functions. The planning and implementation of activities, the attracting of new members, and the aid given to groups with special problems are services which require much more effort than a monthly meeting. Most Area Service Committees have found that a subcommittee system is necessary to provide these services. A subcommittee service, such as 12 Step work, and may meet or do work as needed during the month between regular ASC meetings. It is the GSR's who make up these subcommittees and do the work.


There are certain facilities which are necessary to the services provided by the ASC. In the beginning the may simply be a permanent mailing address (usually a post office box), a bank account, and a place to hold meetings (often a private house). As the membership and number of groups within an Area increases, or when the groups decide that they need a broader spectrum of services, more facilities are needed. These might include a telephone answering/referral service, a ditto machine, a typewriter and adding machine, and a place to store literature, among others. As an Area grows still more the members may decide to consolidate and improve these facilities by opening and staffing a local office. At all times, however, these facilities must reflect the needs of the Area if they are to be an asset to the groups rather than a burden.


In order to coordinate these services, each ASC elects officers. These officers include a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer. The Chairman conducts the monthly meetings and is responsible for correspondence; the Vice-Chairman coordinates subcommittee functions; the Secretary keeps an accurate record of what occurs at each meeting; and the Treasurer keeps track of the finances. Their functions and responsibilities are very similar to those of the group officers. These officers are elected yearly from among the active General Service Representatives. They do not normally represent any group and have no vote in the committee.




The General Service Representative also attends the quarterly meetings of the Regional Service Committee. The Regional Service Committee (RSC) is made up of the GSR's from all the groups within a designated Region. This service committee is also designed to provide service to its member groups; and must be duly registered with the World Service Office. The ASC and RSC are similar in nature and purpose, however, their functions are slightly different. While the ASC serves the specific needs of the individual groups; the RSC serves the common needs of many groups. One of the primary aims of the RSC is to unify the groups within its jurisdiction. Another aim is to carry our message to addicts who cannot attend our meetings. A third basic function of this committee is to contribute to the growth of N.A. as a whole; both by helping to support our World Services and by initiating much of the work to be finalized at our World Service Conference. Ingrained in these basic functions is, of course, our primary purpose of carrying the message of recovery to the addict who still suffers. The desire to more effectively achieve this purpose is the reason that our Service System, including the RSC, exists.


Just as the ASC often deals with problems that the groups cannot resolve on their own; so the RSC tries to solve problems which the groups and their area cannot deal with. This is especially true when these problems involve several groups or an entire area. This is one way in which the RSC strives for unity. Another unifying function of the RSC is that of communication. The RSC provides a meeting place for groups and areas and a stepping stone to other Regions and N.A. as a whole. Most RSC meetings are held on a Saturday or a Sunday and either in a location central to the region or rotationally in the areas within the region. Sometimes the meeting will be scheduled for an afternoon preceded by a luncheon get-together. This provides an ideal setting for the representatives of various groups who might not normally get to know one another, to meet and develop valuable lines of communications.


The RSC is also responsible for major activities such as conventions, retreats, and round-ups. These also can be considered functions to stimulate N.A. unity. Most of us have, at some time, attended an activity of this type; and we are aware of the unity, creative action, and fellowship they can create. We encourage each region to hold at least one major activity each year. These can be as simple as a camping trip or an involved as a convention; it doesn't really matter, they all provide the same stimulus. Usually the planning and implementation of an event such as these is left to a Regional subcommittee specifically established for this purpose. We have found that a subcommittee system is even more important at the Regional level than it is in our Areas. This is because the region covers a greater number of meetings and only meets every few months. By necessity most of the work (excluding major decisions and matters of conscience) must be done by subcommittees. Only the initiation and finalization of a project actually takes place in the general RSC meeting.


Our traditions say that our primary purpose is to carry the message to the addict who still suffers. This is just as true for the RSC as it is for any group. All RSC functions have this purpose as a goal, however, some functions relate directly to carrying the message. As we have noted, the Areas basically work to being the addict to the fellowship, through public relations, public service announcements and advertising. The RSC's basic means of attracting addicts is to take the program to the addict. Institutional work is the responsibility of the RSC. This work is usually handled by one or more subcommittees. This type of "out of the fellowship" work is very important, but often very touchy. Most of the violations of our Sixth Tradition inadvertently occur during this type of work. Drug Programs, Mental Health Groups, hospitals, criminal diversion courses, drug and alcoholism schools, and other organizations who have requested N.A. speakers or panels for the benefit of their patients, residents, or members have at times used the N.A. name as part of their publicity. This type of misuse should, at all times, be avoided. It doesn't do their program any good and can easily become a threat to N.A.


Another important part of the RSC's function is to contribute to our World Services. Regional support in the nature of funds, ideas, and confidence is essential to the work of our World Services. Any excess funds which accumulate at the Regional Level should be contributed directly to our World Service Office. The RSC, itself has little need of monies; since it does not have any stationary facilities. Areas normally sponsor RSC meetings and arrange for securing a hall, preparing a luncheon, and providing coffee. Even when our RSC chooses to arrange these things themselves there should be no great expense since each GSR pays his own way, and these meetings only occur quarterly. Monies are needed for major activities, however these are ideally self-sustaining; with enough left over from one activity to secure the next. The RSC does, however, need money to operate; there are expenses. Large quantities of literature are often supplied to institutions and hospitals; most RSC's normally publish quarterly meeting directories; most Regions sponsor their delegates to the World Service Conference; and groups of any kind require miscellaneous funds for postage, stationary, supplies, and the like . Your RSC needs your support and the support of your group.


Most of the suggestions, ideas, and literature presented at the World Service Conference are initiated at the regional level. These are submitted in writing prior to the conference in order to be placed on the agenda.


Like the ASC, the RSC elects officers each year. They include a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer. Their functions and responsibilities are identical with those of Area officers. The RSC also elects a Regional Service Delegate who speaks for his region at the World Service Conference. He is the counterpart of the GSR, and will be discussed more fully in the next section of this pamphlet.


Both the Area and Regional Service Committees are autonomous just as the groups they serve. The first thing a group of any kind must have, if it is to establish its identity, is a mailing address. Once they have this, the next thing to be done is the register with our World Service Office. A group or committee must be registered in order to be listed in our World Directory and in order to receive the information and support available from the WSO. The final thing that must be done when forming a group or committee is to set down some kind of framework within which to function. For our groups, this is usually a simple format which describes the type of meeting to be held and how to proceed in holding it. Our committees also need a format in order to keep their meetings orderly, however, in addition they need some kind of guidelines in order to maintain their service functions.


Meeting formats vary widely from group to group however, meetings usually consist of a statement defining the group, readings from our pamphlet, the body of the meeting, announcements, a collection to support the meeting, and a closing prayer. As ASC meeting might consist of a definitive statement; the reading of our Traditions, old business (including work in progress and subcommittee reports), new business (including a report from each group), announcements, a collection, and a closing prayer. ASC meetings are generally fairly flexible in their formats in order to deal with the wide variety of problems which might come up. RSC meetings, on the other hand are usually pretty well structured. The format of an RSC meeting is virtually identical to that of an Area committee meeting. However, because the RSC deals primarily with common problems, individual groups do not usually report their specific needs. Some Regions have found it valuable to conduct their meetings by a prearranged agenda. During the time since their last meeting, the officers of these meetings have been in touch with Area Officer and collected topics for discussion and problems to be considered at upcoming meetings. In this way group and Area problems can be dealt with on a priority basis, and similar problems can be combined to prevent duplication of effort.


As we have said, each service committee should have some king of guidelines to ensure that its services continue to be provided regardless of changes of officers or representatives. Some committees have by-laws to fulfill this purpose. We feel, however, that the locked-in rigidity implied by the term "by- laws" doesn't represent the function of these committees accurately. We must always remain flexible enough to handle whatever comes up. For this reason, we suggest that the term "guidelines" be used instead. These guidelines should include a description of the committee, its purpose, the scope of its service, and should define the functions and responsibilities of its members, officers, and subcommittees.


The General Service Committees are the real working body of N.A. It is these committees which can contribute more to the growth of N.A. than any other parts of our service structure. However, in order to function they need active support; your support. Choose your representatives carefully; participate in group functions; get involved in N.A.; seek to serve where and when you can. The work's hard and often there seems to be little getting accomplished. However, you personal return will be a thousand-fold.




The General Service Delegate (GSD) is to the Region what the GSR is to the group. The GSD, as a representative of his Region, speaks for the members and groups within his region. The primary responsibility of the GSD is work for the good of N.A. as a whole by providing two-way communication between his Region and the rest of N.A. The GSD attends the annual World Service Conference and takes part in any decisions which affect N.A. as a whole. The responsibilities of this servant don't begin or end with the conference, being a GSD is a year 'round job. He attends all RSC meetings and as many ASC meetings as possible; serves on one or more conference committees; receives conference information and requests from the WSO; works closely with Regional Officers and subcommittees; and is a source of information or guidance in matters concerning the Traditions or N.A. as a whole.


The GSD is elected at the group level. The representatives of each group, gathered together in committee, nominate potential delegates from among their number. Each GSR then takes these names to his group for a group conscience vote. The results of this vote are reported back to the RSC and the nominee who receives support from the most groups becomes a Delegate for the following year. A GSD normally serves for a period of two years; the first as Alternate Delegate, and the second as a voting Delegate.


We feel that in order for GSD's to do a good job, each nominee should have the following qualifications:


1. A commitment to service.

2. Service experience.

3. The willingness to give the time and resources necessary for his job.

4. A minimum of five years of continuous abstinence from drugs.

5. A good working knowledge of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of our fellowship.


Our General Service Delegate should be selected from among our best informed, most trusted, and most active members in order that they may best serve our needs and the needs of N.A. as a whole.




The final type of service which N.A. offers is World Service. These are the services which deal with the problems and needs of N.A. as a whole and which N.A. as a whole offers to its members, its groups, and to society. The basic purposes of our World Services are communication, coordination, information, and guidance. We provide these services so that our groups and members can more successfully carry the message of recovery, and so that our program of recovery can be made more available to addicts everywhere.


Our World Services include three specific service bodies: the World Service Office, the World Service Board and the World Service Conference. These three branches of service are interrelated and work together to benefit N.A. as a whole. The World Service Office is the "heart" of our World Services; the World Service Board, the "soul," and the World Service Conference, the "mind."


Within our World Services we again find new service concepts developing. First, our World Services work for the good of N.A. as a whole, only at this level do we find service bodies designed to deal with problems which involve our entire fellowship. A second new concept found at this level is that of the non-addict servant. These individuals have valuable skills from which our fellowship can benefit; and they can often give us viewpoints which are not clouded by the disease of drug addiction.


Our descriptions of the arms of N.A. World Service will be necessarily brief. At this date our World Service System is in a developmental stage, and we feel that any attempt at a full description of these services could, perhaps, limit their potential effectiveness. Each branch of World Service functions within its own framework; and these guidelines, as they develop, will specifically define the nature of our services. For the purpose of this pamphlet we are presenting a brief overview of the major functions and inter-relationships of our branches of World Service.




Probably the single busiest part of our service tree is the World Service Office (WSO). WSO functions as the "heart" of N.A., circulating our lifeblood to and from all groups and members within our fellowship. WSO is the contact point and the distribution point.


One of the most important functions of the WSO is to link our wide spread groups and members into a single cohesive fellowship. The WSO stays in close contact with our Groups, Areas, and Regions. This contact is maintained through correspondence, our quarterly newsletter, and through the delegates and representatives of our service structure. WSO offers considerable aid to new groups, existing groups with special problems, institutional groups, groups outside the United States, members who travel extensively, and loners. This aid is in the nature of sharing the experience which other groups and members have reported to the WSO and by putting those who seek aid in touch with other groups or members within our fellowship.


Another major function of WSO is the publication and distribution of literature. This office publishes yearly a World Directory, quarterly Newsletters, all World Service Conference material, and new literature in both English and other languages. In order to provide these publications, WSO needs both financial support and the input of literature drafts from our members, groups and committees. WSO is also responsible for the printing, warehousing, and distribution of all existing literature. Additionally, a number of information kits such as our starter kit are available. As a sideline to its literature, the WSO also offers reel-to-reel and cassette tape recordings of important N.A. functions, personal "pitches," typical meetings, and discussions on various topics.


Another very important function of our World Service Office is to coordinate our World Service Conference. WSO is responsible for the planning of the Conference itself, selecting a suitable site, locating lodging, arranging for meals, establishing the agenda, notifying the delegates, and administrating all the details necessary for the Conference to take place. If and when N.A. has a truly international convention, the administration and coordination of this event will also be the responsibility of the World Service Office.


In order to provide communication, coordination, information, and guidance services, the WSO must keep extensive files of correspondence and other records. These files include letters to and from those who have contacted WSO; a file of all correspondence with each N.A. group; a record of all starter kits sent out; the name, address, and telephone number of all GSR's and GSD's; and the address of all General Service Committees and their officers. Along with these files and records, WSO keeps the archives of N.A.'s history. These archives contain relevant documents, newspaper articles, photos of original meeting places, etc. Records such as these are necessary so that we may learn from our past mistakes, stay in contact with all of N.A., and serve our fellowship.


One of the most difficult jobs of the World Service Office is dealing with public anonymity breaks. Due to the nature of our fellowship no part of our service structure should ever function as a disciplinarian. This would not be in keeping with our basic principles. When public anonymity breaks do occur, the WSO does function in an educational role. We try to explain to the individual or group and the media involved that actions of this type are in violation of our Traditions; and that this type of publicity can potentially cause grave problems which could threaten the survival of our fellowship. It is never our place to attempt to punish, we can only try to prevent the reoccurrence of this type of problem.


The final WSO function we shall discuss is that of public relations. Much of our mail consists of requests for information from individuals, agencies, and other drug programs. It is our policy to answer each inquiry; however, we stress that our function is not informational or referral. Our program is principles and people. Our relationship with those outside our fellowship is cooperative and our Traditions make it clear that we must stay unattached if we are to survive.


All these functions make it necessary for our World Service Office to be more of a "business" than a part of the fellowship. WSO is separate from N.A. but works with N.A. WSO functions as a non-profit corporation; with managers, departments, administrators, paid employees, subsidiaries, and the like. Our office is administered by our World Service Board and acts upon the directives of our World Service Conference. WSO is truly a business; its raw material is the program; its product is sobriety [recovery]; and its function is service.




The World Service Board (WSB) of Narcotics Anonymous has the broadest scope of any branch of our service structure. The responsibility of this board is to help deal with anything that affects N.A. as a whole; both internally and externally. All things which may endanger the existence of our fellowship or limit our growth are of concern to the WSB. This board does not, however, govern. Its nature is that of a custodian; providing guidance. The members of the World Service Board are known as Trustees and consist of both addicts and non-addicts. Their only purpose is to serve the best interests of our fellowship; and through the World Service Conference we give them the authority to do this.


Like the World Service Office, our World Service Board functions as a corporation apart from our program per se. All the actions of the Board are guided by our Traditions. Although the primary aim of the Board is to ensure the maintenance of the Twelve Traditions, they also serve in many other capacities and have other responsibilities.


The WSB is responsible for the administration of our World Service Office. In this capacity they strive to increase the effectiveness of its many functions and coordinate its activities. In order to perform this function and others the WSB utilized a subcommittee system similar to that used by our ASC and RSC; the main difference is that the Trustee committees are permanent while the General Service subcommittees are usually set up to deal with specific needs and disbanded when their job is done. The standing committees of the World Service Board indicate the major functions of the Board and include: public relations, finance, literature, institutions, policy, planning and nominations.


These committees meet throughout the year and are composed of Trustees, members and an occasional non-addict. Committee members are selected on a "What they have to offer" basis, and each brings special skills or experience relevant to the committee function.


The internal structure of the World Service Board is different from the rest of our service branches. The Trustees do not represent; they serve. This service is for an indefinite term; however, each trusteeship is reaffirmed yearly to ensure the continuation and quality of service. The WSB works closely with the World Service Conference and conference committees, but functions within its own guidelines. Its day to day activities are its own province. We, as members, have given the Board the right to act on our behalf, so long as its actions are within the framework of our Traditions. The Trustees do not, however, have the authority to control N.A. or change the nature of our fellowship. Our Second Tradition ensures that major policy decisions can only be made according to the spiritual conscience of our entire fellowship. This means that each of us, through our service structure, maintains the right to have a say in what happens in N.A.




The final part of our service structure is the World Service Conference (WSC). It is the nerve center, the brain, of our fellowship. Our conference is the one time each year, when all our service branches come together forming the complete N.A. tree. Unlike all other branches of N.A. service, the Conference is not an entity; it is an event, the coming together. In the spring of each year the Regional Service Delegates, the Trustees of the World Service Board and the manager and directors of the World Service Office meet to discuss questions of significance to the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous as a whole.


The conference itself can last up to a week; however, the planning and implementation associated with the conference is a year-round proposition. The WSO is responsible for the administration associated with the conference itself. The Trustees and directors who attend the WSC must spend time in preparation studying problems to be discussed and gathering information upon which decisions can be based. Each delegate must be knowledgeable about the needs and feelings of his region, and be prepared to contribute to the conference.


The conference usually begins with an opening meeting which includes opening ceremonies, an overview of topics to be presented, and a review of the meaning and effect of the Twelve Traditions.


From this general meeting the conference splits up into eight committees at which all suggestions, questions, and problems which have been submitted are discussed. These topics can include anything of major importance to N.A. as a whole.


These committees include: the literature committee, finance committee, World Service Office Committee, World Service Board Committee, public relations committee, institutions committee, conference report committee, and the Conference Planning Committee. Each delegate serves on one committee; each committee contains at least one trustee; and those committees which have equivalents in the WSO or WSB meet in conjunction with them. the purposes of the committees are to discuss all input within their scope; resolve items which do not require major policy decisions, and prepare resolutions for policy items. These resolutions are designed to occupy as little general meeting time as possible and include a simple statement of the resolution, arguments for and against, and the facts which support these arguments.


After the agenda for the general meeting has been prepared from resolutions gathered from the committees, all conference members get together as a body once again. At this general meeting each resolution is presented and considered. Some resolutions can be acted upon by the conference and some must be taken back to each Region, Area, and Group for group conscience decisions.

The World Service Conference does not speak for N.A. as a whole. The voice of N.A. as a whole can only come from fellowship-wide group conscience. However, the conference can, because of our service structure, initiate action which will benefit all members.

Once the conference has considered all resolutions and decided which required group conscience votes and which were within the realm of conference action, the committees meet once again to plan for the implementation of the conference resolutions. The committees decide which branch, the WSO, the WSB or the RSC's can take the most effective action. Based on these decisions, directives are drafted and submitted for final approval.

Then, finally, all conference members meet together once again for the closing meeting. At this time the directives are approved and the closing ceremonies take place.

It sounds like the World Service Conference has a lot of power...this isn't true. All conference matters are dealt with in strict accordance with our Traditions and the Traditions clearly define the powers of the Conference; each Conference member is a trusted servant and has shown an understanding of our traditions; and all items discussed in conference originate within the fellowship. Due to its very nature, the Conference is the servant of the fellowship.

* * * * * * * * *

Everything that occurs in the course of N.A. service must be motivated by the desire to more successfully carry the message of recovery to the addict who still suffers. It was for this reason that we began this work. We must always remember that as individual members, groups and service committees we are not, and should never be, in competition with each other. We work separately and together to help the newcomer and for our common good. We have learned, painfully, that internal strife cripples our fellowship; it prevents us from providing the services necessary for growth.

It is probably obvious to you that many of the responsibilities and functions, which we have mentioned, just aren't getting done today. It has not been our intent to condemn the good work which has been done and is being done. Rather, we hope to clarify what needs to be done as that we can provide better service. The service structure of Narcotics Anonymous, as we have described it, does not exist in N.A. today. It is an ideal towards which we can strive, and in so doing, make recovery available to a greater number of addicts.

[Editor's Note: the paragraphs above state clearly that this structure did not exist except in outline form. Greg Pierce felt till the day he died that the service structure described in the NA Tree had never been fully implemented. ]




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Reprinted from the 
Traditions War: a pathway to peace
2003 Form

Copyright © December 2001
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.

Last update January 12, 2006