When it is founded in 1953, Narcotics Anonymous adopts the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions from AA with minor changes. The founding of NA sets a precedent for other fellowships to adopt the Steps and organize around problems other than alcoholism. NA’s literature shows that it has a social style of Stepwork, reminiscent of the interpretation of the Steps found in AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
NA’s first piece of literature, the Little White Booklet, suggests that each NA member must work out his or her own interpretation of the Twelve Steps.
|Begin your own program by taking Step One…Go onto Step Two, and so forth, and you go on you will come to an understanding of the program for yourself.
Little White Booklet
The White Booklet is not so concerned about forwarding a particular interpretation of the Steps as it is about emphasizing the importance of social interaction and accountability with other recovering addicts. An often quoted phrase from the White Booklet suggests that each individual addict derives his or her wellbeing from the NA fellowship as a whole:
|As long as the ties that bind us together are stronger than those that would tear us apart, all will be well.
Little White Booklet
This is a clear expression of a Re-Socialization view of recovery. The statement suggests that addicts get better primarily through interacting with and depending upon other addicts.
The White Booklet has relatively low expectations for addicts who stick with the NA program; addicts are expected to struggle every day to stay clean.
|[At times] freedom can only be achieved by a grim and obstinate willfulness to hang on to abstinence, come hell or high water, until a crisis passes.
Many times in our recovery, the old bugaboos will haunt us. Life may again become meaningless, monotonous, and boring. We may tire mentally in repeating our new ideas and tire physically in our new activities, yet we know that if we fail to repeat them we will surely take up our old practices.
Both Quotes from
When NA publishes Narcotics Anonymous, commonly called the Basic Text, it offers the program’s first fleshing out of the Twelve Step program. Some important concepts in the Basic Text are borrowed from AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, including the non-spiritual interpretation of Higher Power, and a psychological style of moral inventory.
NA’s Basic Text says this about the addict’s choice of Higher Power:
|Our understanding of a Higher Power is up to us…We can call it the group, the program, or we can call it God…Many of us understand God to be simply whatever force keeps us clean.
NA Basic Text
In its instructions for the Fourth Step, the NA Basic Text suggests a style of moral inventory that is an open-ended process of introspection and reflection upon the addict’s liabilities and assets.
|In Step Four, we begin to get in touch with ourselves. We write about our liabilities such as guilt, shame, remorse, self-pity…Assets must also be considered…such as being clean, open-mindedness…kindness and generosity…If the word moral bothers us, we may call it a positive/negative inventory.
NA Basic Text
NA’s interpretation of the Twelve Steps is social in nature. It is open to non-spiritual understandings of Higher Power, a psychologically oriented inventory, and an emphasis upon the importance of social interaction with other recovering addicts. The social style of Stepwork in NA sets the stage for the Twelve Step Boom, when many new Twelve Step fellowships will adopt social and psychological versions of the Twelve Steps.
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