I'm an NA member in the Devon Fellowship.
I just read your article about NA and DAA in Plymouth and thought you might value an update.
As your article accurately states, up until about 9 years ago 'Roads to Recovery' AA was trying to infiltrate NA with the same agenda and tactics of aggressive recruitment and controlling sponsorship they still use in AA.
They set up NA groups titled 'Into Action' (chapter from AA's Big Book), and no one was allowed to sponsor using NA literature, and everyone had to be part of the same sponsorship chain that was rooted in Roads to Recovery in Plymouth.
As you might imagine, this caused huge disunity in NA in what I assume is a similar way to what AA is still experiencing, and also caused a lot of harm to the reputation of NA in all the services that engage it.
Fortunately, In 2009, these groups finally accepted that the Devon NA fellowship was never going to accept their processes, and they shut down their 'rogue meetings', and immediately reopened them as 'DAA' meetings.
They continued to be being sponsored in chains rooted in the Roads to Recovery AA group, and continued to aggressively recruit sponsees. NA members never attend their meetings so they have enjoyed unity in their own culture, though strangely, with regular splits where groups form factions.
Over the last few years, NA in Devon has been free from these people and has grown much stronger. Its meetings have trebled in size and healthy, gentle, non-controlling sponsorship chains have flourished.
Devon NA's service structure has become very strong and enjoys a peaceful and loving group conscience, strongly committed to NA's spiritual principles, and a unity in service that seemed impossible a few years ago.
The DAA meetings split into two factions, and more recently some of their members have left and started a CA group.
NA has recently had some DAA members again seeking to promote their fellowship by recruiting newcomers from NA, but NA quickly put a stop to this. NA has written clarity statements and developed practices that make very clear that whilst NA respects that there are many pathways to recovery, its meetings exist only for those people wishing to recover through its processes.
My personal favourite intervention is to ask the occasional DAA member I see two simple questions:
1. Are you here to receive the Narcotics Anonymous message of recovery for application in your own recovery process?
2. Are you here to share the experience, strength and hope you've gained through NA meetings, NA sponsorship, and NA literature?
This makes no judgment of them and honours the 3rd Tradition, but also leaves them having to make a choice about facing their own motives and communicating honesty.
It's never failed yet. They either leave immediately or don't return.
Just to be 100% clear; If any one of these people wanted my help, I would very willingly be there for them. My experience is that they never attend seeking help for themselves. They only attend seeking recruits.
Local drug services are now pretty much up to speed on these dynamics. I'm not so sure about probation etc.
I speculate that there are some very distorted religious beliefs behind these people's 'fundamentalist' behaviour that actually stem from the same religion I am part of, just, from my perspective, from a completely deluded misinterpretation of what the text of this religion names.
What ever my religious beliefs, I trust in NA's group conscience and am coming up to 19 years complete abstinence clean time thanks to NA's literature and culture of recovery, and am still very grateful for this.
I have written this post to be of service to the AA fellowship. In NA we call it 'The Mother Fellowship'. NA is not affiliated with AA and has developed its own distinct recovery message and culture, but it is also hugely grateful for what AA created and allowed it to benefit from. In rural areas many NA members seek sponsorship from AA, and attend both fellowships to maintain enough meeting attendance to support their recoveries.”
Comment: The description above mirrors fairly accurately what is happening in AA in those parts of the country contaminated by the Road to Recovery 'strong sponsorship' ethos (ie. bullying). The fellowship has factionalised splitting between what we would term real AA and its sick counterpart – the cult. It's a pity that AA seems less able to deal with this phenomenon than its sister fellowship. Maybe there are lessons to be learnt here. But on past performance it seems unlikely that any effective action will be taken and this process will continue accelerating the already established decline of AA until yet another 'temperance' group is consigned to the dustbin of history. For a fellowship that places such emphasis on the value of experience we seem to be quite unwilling to learn from either our past or our mistakes! The Traditions exist neither by accident nor as a mere afterthought. They are crucial for our survival. The cult may be entirely ready to pervert their meaning but we simply cannot afford that luxury.
The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)
PS Thanks to our correspondent