Written By: Fiona Stockard
The Basic Text Broken Down – Part Three
Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other recover from drug and alcohol addiction. It was founded in July of 1953, just celebrated its sixty-first anniversary, and boasts over 60,000 meetings worldwide.
NA’s central literature is the Basic Text. With a sponsor, the Basic Text, and a workbook, NA members work the twelve steps. Through working these steps, NA members learn that “Just for today, you never have to use again!” (xxiii)
Today, we’re going to examine Chapter Three of the Basic Text, “Why Are We Here?” This chapter explains why we need Narcotics Anonymous!
Why Are We Here?
This chapter opens with italicized text. Like in the previous chapter, What Is The Narcotics Anonymous Program?, this text is read at the start of most NA meetings. This italicized text reads, “We seemed incapable of facing life on its own terms” (13).
That’s an important point! I don’t just suffer from addiction. I suffer from escapism, which often wears the mask of addiction. Before drugs and booze though? I’d read, or play games, or do anything else to avoid facing real life. By that logic, a solution to my addiction must address more than drugs. The solution that’ll work for me needs to address life itself!
The chapter goes on to list some ways addicts try to manage their use. We tried things like “…substituting one drug for another…limiting our usage to social amounts…” (14).
There are about ten million other examples, but let’s focus on these two. They’re the ways I have the most experience with! I can’t count how many times I swapped drugs. I was convinced I could smoke crack like a lady! I mean, I only really had a problem with opiates, right? I’d drink all night because, hey, at least I’m not doing drugs, right?
On the flip side, I’d only do as much coke as my friends were doing. We weren’t cokeheads, just girls having a good time! I’d smoke a blunt because everyone else was smoking. I tried, desperately, to make my addiction into something social. Do I even need to tell you this didn’t work? Well, guess what? It didn’t work!
The chapter soon echoes this idea. “Regardless of what we tried, we could not escape from out disease” (14). Ain’t that the truth! I couldn’t outrun myself, or my addiction. No matter how high I got, I ALWAYS had to face myself afterwards. No matter how long I refused to look in the mirror, I’d ALWAYS catch myself looking from the corner of my eye.
“Failure had become our way of life and self-esteem was non-existent” (15). That was the result of my addiction. I destroyed myself. I hated myself. I couldn’t do anything positive. The few desperate times I tried, I failed. This wasn’t on purpose (though I was an excellent self-sabotager), but because I was 100% selfish and self-centered.
The chapter goes on to make it clear that addiction is a disease, not a moral issue. “We find that we suffer from a disease, not a moral dilemma. We were critically ill, not hopelessly bad” (16). You mean, I’m a failure and have no self-esteem because I’m sick? I’m not a bad person? That realization was huge for me! After all, sickness can be cured. There’s medicine for it. I found my medicine lives in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous!
Probably the most important part of Why Are We Here?, comes in the form of three realizations addicts often have:
“1. We are powerless over addiction and our lives are unmanageable;
2. Although we are not responsible for our disease, we are responsible for our recovery;
3. We can no longer blame people, places and things for our addiction. We must face our problems and our feelings” (15).
Coming to terms with the idea I’m powerless and my life is unmanageable was easy. I mean, one look at my track record proves that. I also knew I wasn’t responsible for my disease. In fact, after learning I had a disease I was super relieved! Taking responsibility for my recovery sounds hard though. I mean, who likes responsibility? For that matter, what addict likes anything even resembling responsibility?
The final idea, number three, scared the s**t out of me. It was the hardest to wrap my mind around, the hardest to accept. I had to stop blaming other people and other things? I had to face my problems? I had to face my feelings? I had to face life?
F**k! I started getting high in the first place to escape other people, problems, and feelings! I started getting high to escape life! Besides, how the hell do you deal with that stuff, anyway?
Find out in the next installment of Faith Facts Friday With Fiona – NA Edition!