Saturday, February 12, 2011

Written by an N.A. World Service Trustee. This appeared in our GrapeVine back in the nineties:

Some thoughts regarding our
relationship to Alcoholics Anonymous
This article was generated by the World Service Board of Trustees in November 1985 in
response to the needs of the fellowship. This bulletin was revised during the 1995-1996
conference year.
The question of just how Narcotics Anonymous relates to all other fellowships and organizations
is one which may generate controversy within our fellowship. In spite of the fact that we have a
stated policy of "cooperation, not affiliation" with outside organizations confusion remains. One
such sensitive issue involves our relationship to the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Letters
have been received by the World Service Board of Trustees asking a variety of questions about
this relationship.
Narcotics Anonymous is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. Nearly every NA community in
existence has leaned to some degree on AA in its formative stages. Our relationship with that
fellowship over the years has been very real and dynamic. Our fellowship itself sprang from the
turmoil within AA over what to do with the addicts knocking on its doors. We will look at our roots
for some perspective on our current relationship to AA.
Bill W, one of AA's co-founders, often said that one of AA's greatest strengths is its single-minded
focus on one thing and one thing only. By limiting its primary purpose to carrying the message to
alcoholics, and avoiding all other activities, AA is able to do that one thing supremely well. The
atmosphere of identification is preserved by that purity of focus, and alcoholics get help.
From very early on, AA was confronted by a perplexing problem: "What do we do with drug
addicts? We want to keep our focus on alcohol so the alcoholic hears the message, but these
addicts come in here talking about drugs, inadvertently weakening our atmosphere of
identification." The steps were written, the Big Book was written—what were they supposed to
do, rewrite it all? Allow the atmosphere of identification to get blurry so that no one got a clear
sense of belonging? Kick these dying people back out into the streets? The problem must have
been a tremendous one for them.
When they finally studied the problem carefully and took a stand in their literature, the solution
they outlined possessed their characteristic common sense and wisdom. They pledged their
support in a spirit of "cooperation, not affiliation." This farsighted solution to a difficult concern
paved the way for the development of the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship.
But still, the problem that they wished to avoid would have to be addressed by any group that
tried to adapt AA’s program of recovery to drug addicts. How do you achieve the atmosphere of
identification so necessary for surrender and recovery if you let all different kinds of addicts in?
Can someone with a heroin problem relate to someone with an alcohol or marijuana or Valium
problem? How will you ever achieve the unity that the First Tradition says is necessary for
recovery? Our fellowship inherited a tough dilemma.
For some perspective on how we handled that dilemma, one more look at AA history is helpful.
Another thing Bill W. frequently wrote and spoke about was what he called the "tenstrike" of AA—
the wording of the Third and Eleventh Steps. The whole area of spirituality versus religion was
as perplexing for them as unity was for us. Bill liked to recount that the simple addition of the
words "as we understood Him" after the word "God" killed that controversy in one chop. An issue
that had the potential to divide and destroy AA was converted into the cornerstone of the program
by that simple turn of phrase.

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