Saturday, February 12, 2011

N.A. Article, part Two:

As the founders of Narcotics Anonymous adapted our steps, they came up with a "tenstrike" of
perhaps equal importance. Rather than converting the First Step in a natural, logical way ("we
admitted that we were powerless over drugs..."), they made a radical change in that step. They
wrote, "We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction..." Drugs are a varied group of
substances, the use of any of which is but a symptom of our disease. When addicts gather and
focus on drugs, they are usually focusing on their differences, because each of us used a
different drug or combination of drugs. The one thing that we all share is the disease of
addiction. With that single turn of a phrase, the foundation of the Narcotics Anonymous
Fellowship was laid.
Our First Step gives us one focus: our addiction. The wording of Step One also takes the focus
of our powerlessness off the symptom and places it on the disease itself. The phrase "powerless
over a drug" does not go far enough for most of us in recovery—the desire to use has been
removed—but "powerless over our addiction" is as relevant to the oldtimer as it is to the
newcomer. Our addiction begins to resurface and cause unmanageability in our thoughts and
feelings whenever we become complacent in our program of recovery. This process has nothing
to do with "drug of choice." We guard against the recurrence of our drug use by applying our
spiritual principles, before a relapse. Our First Step applies regardless of drug of choice and
length of clean time. With this "tenstrike" as its foundation, NA has begun to flourish as a major
worldwide organization, clearly focusing on addiction..
As any NA community matures in its understanding of its own principles (particularly Step One),
an interesting fact emerges. The AA perspective, with its alcohol-oriented language, and the NA
approach, with its clear need to shift the focus away from specific drugs, don’t mix well. When we
try to mix them, we find that we have the same problem as AA had with us all along! When our
members identify as "addicts and alcoholics" or talk about "sobriety" and living "clean and sober,"
the clarity of the NA message is blurred. The implication in this language is that there are two
diseases, that one drug is separate from another, so a separate set of terms is needed when
discussing addiction. At first glance this seems minor, but our experience clearly shows that the
full impact of the NA message is crippled by this subtle semantic confusion.

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