"Please note that ideas and comments that are presented in this paper are based on a member's personal experience. Therefore, they are not representing NA's official point of view. "
The First Tradition
"Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on NA unity".
The first tradition is the foundation of all other traditions. Therefore,when it comes to making decisions and functioning of NA groups it is critical to understand and execute this tradition with precision. In this paper I have attempted to share my own experience by looking at the most basic issues that we should pay attention to in our meetings. Some examples are: "What is our common welfare? And why should it come first?", "What does unity mean?" and "Why is our personal recovery dependent on NA unity?" Two of the NA literature that have been used as reference in this paper are "Basic Text" and "How it works?"
"Just as we shared some similarities in our addiction, we now realize that we also share many aspects of our recovery. Desire to staying clean is our mutual request. We have learned to depend and rely on a higher power and our goal is carrying the message of recovery to an addict who is still suffering"
By referring to the above phrase that has been depicted from NA literature "Basic Text", we learned the following points:
1. We all share a common disease called addiction and by looking at our stories it becomes evident that we all have experienced the lowest levels of our emotional and spiritual states at some point of our lives.
In order to get rid of such pain and out of helplessness we refuged to one another in Narcotics Anonymous. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the focus of recovery sessions on recovering from our common disease; addiction. Some of us may be dealing with other problems and issues. Consequently, weseek to find solutions for them. Some examples of these issues are sexual problems and/or how to face our financial difficulties or how to deal with our families. Addiction may have had serious impacts on these parts of our lives. But this this may be limited to a certain number of us only. So we should remind ourselves that these type of issues is not common among us all. By focusing the aim of recovery sessions on these types of problems, we'll be focusing only on something that is inclusive to some of us and this may be very confusing for newcomers. I still remember one incident related to this matter; a new comer who left the session and never came back due to the fact that almost all participations of that session were related to sexual issues. So in our meetings we should always remember to avoid focusing on issues that are related to some of us only.
2. One of our mutual desires is the tendency to stay clean.
In our fellowship, no one declares that they like and accept you regardless of who you are. We are all accepted and liked because of what we truly are. No one can refuse our membership or can force us into doing something that we are not willing to do so. Therefore, we shouldn't let our personal way of thinking to be the judge of who can or who cannot attend the meeting. We welcome all new comers based on the fact that everyone is welcomed and liked because of who they are.Our job is to fire the flame of enthusiasm and desire of addicts toward cessation of use.
Generous sympathy towards the suffering addict is more healing than judging him/her. So, we should be cautious to not give anyone an excuse for continuing to use or to promote any feelings frustration and disappointment about recovery in an addict.
3. Our common solution is to rely on a higher power.
Recovery meetings and the 12 steps of NA give us the opportunity to freely choose the relationship with our higher power. Just as we are free in understanding and perceiving our God, we also have the right and freedom to choose our own way of connection and communication with it. One example of neglecting the true message of the first tradition is using the phrase, God of fellowship and/or God of NA, during our participations. By using such terms we are limiting our ways of connection and communication with the higher power. NA fellowship neither suggests nor rejects any particular approach in communication with the higher power. Instead, it is suggested to relate to the higher power with our own means. By promoting and describing a certain way of communication with the higher power that works for us, we are disrespecting our common welfare and damaging NA's unity.
4 .One of our common goals is delivering NA's message to an addict who is still suffering.
Discussion about this issue is covered where it is supposed to; the fifth tradition. From the first tradition's perspective, we as a group, have no other common goal than delivering the message to an addict who is still suffering. Therefore, we should avoid paying attention to other issues such as constructing recovery homes and/or physical cessation or fundraising money for these matters. I'd like to share a story regarding this matter. At a meeting with a of a landlord'srepresentative of one of our NA meeting locations, we learned that the representative was employed at a government organization. He made a very tempting offer to us and his intention was clearly positive and nothing wrong with such offer. He proposed that we make a list of members who have been more successful than others in recovery so they could be awarded with receiving loans and/or receive medical coverage.
This offer could be beneficial to some members. However, by taking the first tradition into account we realized that this offer could cause chaos within our group and it would depart us from the group's common welfare and goal by focusing on certain member's need rather than paying attention to our group's unity.
In conclusion, the first tradition does not only encourage members to maintain the common welfare but it requests from the groups to put the common welfare as their first priority. One way to achieve this goal is to say that we are all equally responsible in taking care of what's the best for NA and its members. It is By attending in meetings and taking different forms of responsibilities in administrative group meetings and/ by paying attention to not just our own group but other groups in different cities and areas of the world that we learn the value of NA's mutual welfare. Through this approach we learn the importance of unity and respecting our mutual goals and its priority to our individual case.By taking this point into consideration, each group will receive energy, support and other services from other groups. And this will help groups to have more precise and accessible information for new comers (e.g.: detailed meeting info., diverse recovery literature material and easier access to workshop and meeting's information).
Narcotics Anonymous is truly united once we recognize the therapeutic value of one
addict helping another. Power that is obtained through our collective commitment to give service in NA results in making a uniting factor that despite our personal differences gathers us together as a whole. Our personal and individual differences in culture, ideas and talents results in finding new and creative ways for achieving our mutual goal. Whether by becoming a guide or accepting other responsibilities that supports NA fellowship, it is the commitment of every single one of us that empowers our meetings and aids us in improving our abilities of carrying NA's massage to others who are still suffering. Our mutual interest in recovery and other mutual welfares gives us the insight that continuing the NA program is beneficial for us. Our relationship with other addicts is a source of power that feeds our personal recovery. And we eventually learn that we can receive the support that we need by relying on each other, the spiritual principles and of course the higher power that we have found as our source light and freedom.