The ninth concept states that “All elements of our service structure have the responsibility to carefully consider all viewpoints in their decision-making processes.” Where do these different viewpoints come from? They may come from addicts who are part of the service group, or they may come from addicts who are not part of the service group. For example, at a home group business meeting, viewpoints may come from those who are part of the home group, as well as addicts who are not part of the home group. Although we may attend business meetings of more than one group, it is important that we only cast votes at one group. It is important that all viewpoints be considered.
It is particularly important to hear the viewpoints of those who may disagree with what seems to be the consensus. It may be easier to hear the viewpoints of those who agree, but it is important to seek out opposing points of view. Sometimes everyone will agree on a course of action except for a single addict. It is still important to hear that 1 addict’s point of view even though the overwhelming majority are going to win the vote.
It is important to hear the viewpoints of those who have varying amounts of clean time. Sometimes an addict without a lot of clean time may have personal experience with an issue we are considering. We should not just seek out the opinions of those with substantial clean time.
Concept 9 is not only about our obligation to listen to all viewpoints, but also about how we are all encouraged to speak up and not keep our views to ourselves. It can be intimidating to have a different viewpoint than everyone else, or to have a different viewpoint than a popular addict with substantial clean time, but we help form the best group conscience possible when we have the courage to express our viewpoints and not hold them in. It is important to have this courage, while remaining respectful to everyone.
By blocking out an individual’s contribution to group conscience, we are blocking out the guidance of a loving God who expresses himself through everyone. It is important that we not be so self-centered to think that the way we see something, is the way everyone else sees it.
Surrendering To The Program
Many recovering addicts in Narcotics Anonymous have stumbled blindly forward with very faulty belief systems based upon misinformation and misconceptions. The results can sometimes be deadly.
I have also suffered from these chronic faulty beliefs, by ignoring the fact that using drugs is my most obvious symptom without thoroughly investigating the other symptoms. This was due to the fact that I suffer from denial and irrational thinking. These two symptoms have rendered me incapable of recognizing other symptoms and me to accept unmanageability as normal and functional. The fact of the matter is, that I found it just as painful sometimes living clean as living dirty. This emotional pan would start me to obsess and euphorically recall pleasurable experiences that had always worked as a temporary fix. The key word is FIX. In the moment I had forgotten that there is no fix. This is a spiritual program, not a program that teaches one how to use outside things to fix the inside.
In my experience, it has been necessary to treat the not so obvious symptoms, in order that I may experience freedom and not find it necessary to return to drugs to numb the emotional, spiritual, and mental pain. This has been my experience. It is important to understand that I’m not writing this to tell others what to do or how to do it. Some addicts can identify with other specific patterns of behavior or the experiences of others.
In our Basic Text addicts are described on page three as people whose use of any mood changing, mind altering substance causes problems in any area of life. The word use is of importance here. Although I found coping skills early on to surrender to the drugs, other symptoms continued to cause problems. I found myself mood altered and my mind changing in all sorts of ways. I can use food, escape fantasy, money or lack of money, sex as well as, many other poor coping mechanisms. Surrendering meant that I had to learn to live a thorough first step so that I may experience recovery and not just simple abstinence. I had to grow up of I would die. Maturity is necessary to survive. I must be willing to practice rigorous honesty to take full advantage of the self-help program. I had been and can still be immature. Compulsive pleasure seeking coupled with anorexia is not a way of life that I can accept anymore. The pamphlet, [Another Look] helped me to see what I was doing to myself and has helped me to surrender to a clearer purpose.
I now know that the first step encompasses two parts, powerless and unmanageability. Powerlessness comes in many forms for me. I haven’t quite figured out all the ways that I am affected yet. Some are obvious and some are more subtle. Most obvious is when a thought, especially a pleasurable thought comes into my mind. That does not necessarily mean that it is a healthy thought. Most of the time it is pleasure seeking or pain avoidance thought. It seems rational at first, yet when I have acted solely on thoughts or feelings I have experienced unmanageability. This awareness has helped me to understand that I need help. I cannot remain self-contained and rely solely on my will. Disclosing what I’m really thinking and feeling without embarrassment has helped me to avoid self-loathing, self-pity and the need to medicate. With experience I can learn to challenge my thoughts or reach out for help so others can help me surrender.
Surrender, acceptance, rigorous and self-honesty are my keys to open the door to solution orientated living. Some problems seem huge and some are small it seems. I have found that living in any form of the eleven results of my disease as described in our first step is unnecessary. When I apply the principles behind this step it can provide immediate relief in the moment and minimize unmanageability. Then I can move on and apply the remaining steps to eliminate poor coping skills. Was taught that when I treat the other symptoms of the disease of addiction, that I gain a firewall that helps me become a stable, healthy, person instead of a sadistic, irresponsible, pleasure seeker, or a deleterious maniac. One example of this process happened about ten years ago. It seemed small.
I have a serious weight problem. I can’t wait to eat. It is one of my earliest symptoms, even before drugs. I have dogs and have found that they are easy to control with doggie treats. I hate using a leash so I would carry treats with me as I walked them. If they would become distracted or seem to be too aggressive, I would whistle, present a snack and quickly leash them. Worked like a charm, right? Well, at first it did. Then, I had a bright idea and did not check it because it seemed harmless. I thought that if I gave them more snacks that they would act better and that I should eat a snack too. Uh oh. I started eating more and more snacks. I started eating at midnight and three a.m., Sunday through Monday. They loved me and they showered me with attention every time I came home or got up to fix us a snack. I got hooked on the attention and the snacks. The thought now became an obsession and was now a constant craving. I know that this sounds silly but after gaining thirty pounds it was serious. I had to surrender. Then I was restored to sanity and returned to God’s will. I took an inventory and identified character defects and faulty thinking patterns which had caused unmanageability and then I experienced growth.
I thank the people in NA who are in recovery for showing me how to live. Left up to my own devices, I would have only tried to continue treating my most obvious symptom while ignoring the rest. I have an incredible amount of freedom when I apply the steps in all areas of my life.