The Narcotics Anonymous Step Working GuidePrefaceThe idea for this piece of literature came from the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship itself. Beginning in the early 1980s, we began receivingTwelve Step guides and step worksheets along with requests that we develop a standard set of guides for the NA Fellowship to use in workingthrough the Twelve Steps. Fellowship demand propelled this project up the NA World Service Conference Literature Committee's prioritywordlists, and finally resulted in the World Service Conference directing the WSCLC to go ahead with the project at WSC'95.The working title for this project for many years was the "Step Writing Guides." However, we recognized that the word "writing" imposed alimitation on members who may be unable to write or may choose not to use writing as the means for working the Twelve Steps. Therefore,the title became the Step Working Guides.Each chapter includes both narrative and questions. The narrative is meant to provoke thought about the questions, but is not meant to becomprehensive. There is a difference in "voice" between the narrative and the questions. The narrative is written in the "we" voice in order topromote unity about what we all have in common: our addiction and recovery. The questions are written in the individual "I" voice so that eachmember using these guides can personalize the work. The Step Working Guides is a companion piece to It Works: How and Why. Thoroughdiscussion of each of the Twelve Steps is contained in that work. Additional information about NA recovery can be found in other NA literature.If we find that any of the terms used in this book are unfamiliar, we should feel free to make use of a dictionary.These guides are meant to be used by NA members at any stage of recovery, whether it's our first time through the steps or we've been livingwith the steps as our guiding force for many years. This book is intentionally written to be relevant to newcomers and to help moreexperienced members develop a deeper understanding of the Twelve Steps. As NA grows in numbers, in diversity, and in strength and longevityof clean time, we need literature that will continue to serve the needs of the fellowship, literature that "grows" along with the fellowship.However, as open and inclusive as we tried to be when writing these guides, we realized that we would never be able to write something thatcaptured every member's experience with the steps. In fact, we wouldn't have tried to do that, even if we thought it were possible. This bookcontains guides to working the Twelve Steps toward recovery; it does not contain recovery itself. Recovery is ultimately found in eachmember's personal experience with working the steps. You can add to these guides, delete from them, or use them as they are. It's your choice.There's probably only one inappropriate way to use these guides: alone. We can't overemphasize the importance of working with a sponsor inworking the steps. In fact, in our fellowship, a sponsor is considered, first and foremost, a guide through the Twelve Steps. If you haven't yetasked someone to sponsor you, please do so before beginning these guides.Merely reading all the available information about any of the Twelve Steps will never be sufficient to bring about a true change in our lives andfreedom from our disease. It's our goal to make the steps part of who we are. To do that, we have to work them. Hence, the Step WorkingGuides.Like every piece of NA literature, this was written by addicts for addicts. We hope that every member who uses this book will be encouragedand inspired. We are grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in this project. Thank you for allowing us to be of service.Step One2-7Step Two8-13Step Three14-19Step Four20-27Step Five28-32Step Six33-36Step Seven37-40Step Eight41-45Step Nine46-53Step Ten54-57Step Eleven58-62Step Twelve63-68This is NA Fellowship-approved literature 1 998 World Service Office, Inc. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Hope gives us something positive to look for and move towards. We can admit our need for help as we begin to share in our commonwelfare.Step One"We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable."A "first" of anything is a beginning, and so it is with the steps: The First Step is the beginning of the recoveryprocess. The healing starts here; we can't go any further until we've worked this step. Some NA members "feel"their way through the First Step by intuition; others choose to work Step One in a more systematic fashion. Ourreasons for formally working Step One will vary from member to member. It may be that we're new to recovery,and we've just fought-and lost-an exhausting battle with drugs. It may be that we've been around awhile,abstinent from drugs, but we've discovered that our disease has become active in some other area of our lives,forcing us to face our powerlessness and the unmanageability of our lives once again. Not every act of growth ismotivated by pain; it may just be time to cycle through the steps again thus beginning the next stage of ournever-ending journey of recovery. Some of us find a measure of comfort in realizing that a disease, not a moralfailing, has caused us to reach this bottom. Others don't really care what the cause has been-we just want out!Whatever the case, it's time to do some step work: to engage in some concrete activity that will help us findmore freedom from our addiction, whatever shape it is currently taking. Our hope is to internalize the principlesof Step One, to deepen our surrender, to make the principles of acceptance, humility, willingness, honesty, andopen-mindedness a fundamental part of who we are. First, we must arrive at a point of surrender. There aremany different ways to do this. For some of us, the road we traveled getting to the First Step was more thanenough to convince us that unconditional surrender was our only option. Others start this process even thoughwe're not entirely convinced that we're addicts or that we've really hit bottom. Only in working the First Step dowe truly come to realize that we are addicts, that we have hit bottom, and that we must surrender. Before webegin working the First Step, we must become abstinent-whatever it takes. If we're new in Narcotics Anonymousand our First Step is primarily about looking at the effects of drug addiction in our lives, we need to get clean. Ifwe've been clean awhile and our First Step is about our powerlessness over some other behavior that's made ourlives unmanageable, we need to find a way to stop the behavior so that our surrender isn't clouded by continuedacting out.The disease of addictionWhat makes us addicts is the disease of addiction-not the drugs, not our behavior, but our disease. There issomething within us that makes us unable to control our use of drugs. This same "something" also makes usprone to obsession and compulsion in other areas of our lives. How can we tell when our disease is active? Whenwe become trapped in obsessive, compulsive, self-centered routines, endless loops that lead nowhere but tophysical, mental, spiritual, and emotional decay. What does "the disease of addiction" mean to me? Has mydisease been active recently? In what way?1) What is it like when I'm obsessed with something? Does my thinking follow a pattern? Describe.2) When a thought occurs to me, do I immediately act on it without considering the consequences? In whatother ways do I behave compulsively?3) How does the self-centered part of my disease affect my life and the lives of those around me?4) How has my disease affected me physically? Mentally? Spiritually? Emotionally?Our addiction can manifest itself in a variety of ways. When we first come to Narcotics Anonymous, our problemwill, of course, be drugs. Later on, we may find out that addiction is wreaking havoc in our lives in any number ofways.More will be revealed at: nwpana.org/swg 2
5) What is the specific way in which my addiction has been manifesting itself most recently?6) Have I been obsessed with a person, place, or thing? If so, how has that gotten in the way of myrelationships with others?7) How else have I been affected mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally by this obsession?DenialDenial is the part of our disease that tells us we don't have a disease. When we are in denial, we are unable tosee the reality of our addiction. We minimize its effect. We blame others, citing the too-high expectations offamilies, friends, and employers. We compare ourselves with other addicts whose addiction seems "worse" thanour own. We may blame one particular drug. If we have been abstinent from drugs for some time, we mightcompare the current manifestation of our addiction with our drug use, rationalizing that nothing we do todaycould possibly be as bad as that was! One of the easiest ways to tell that we are in denial is when we findourselves giving plausible but untrue reasons for our behavior.8) Have I given plausible but untrue reasons for my behavior? What have they been?9) Have I compulsively acted on an obsession, and then acted as if I had actually planned to act that way?When were those times? How have I blamed other people for my behavior?10) How have I compared my addiction with others' addiction? Is my addiction "bad enough" if I don'tcompare it to anyone else's?11) Am I comparing a current manifestation of my addiction to the way my life was before I got clean? Am Iplagued by the idea that I should know better?12) Have I been thinking that I have enough information about addiction and recovery to get my behaviorunder control before it gets out of hand?13) Am I avoiding action because I'm afraid I will be ashamed when I face the results of my addiction? Am Iavoiding action because I'm worried about what others will think?Hitting bottom: despair and isolationOur addiction finally brings us to a place where we can no longer deny the nature of our problem. All the lies, allthe rationalizations, all the illusions fall away as we stand face-to-face with what our lives have become. Werealize we've been living without hope. We find we've become friendless or so completely disconnected that ourrelationships are a sham, a parody of love and intimacy. Though it may seem that all is lost when we findourselves in this state, the truth is that we must pass through this place before we can embark upon our journeyof recovery.14) What crisis brought me to recovery?15) What situation led me to formally work Step One?16) When did I first recognize my addiction as a problem? Did I try to correct it? If so, how? If not, why not?PowerlessnessAs addicts, we react to the word "powerless" in a variety of ways. Some of us recognize that a more accuratedescription of our situation simply could not exist, and admit our powerlessness with a sense of relief. Othersrecoil at the word, connecting it with weakness or believing it to indicate some kind of character deficiency.Understanding powerlessness - and how admitting our own powerlessness is essential to our recovery - will helpus get over any negative feelings we may have about the concept. We are powerless when the driving force inour life is beyond our control. Our addiction certainly qualifies as such an uncontrollable, driving force. Wecannot moderate or control our drug use or other compulsive behaviors, even when they are causing us to losethe things that matter most to us. We cannot stop, even when to continue will surely result in irreparableMore will be revealed at: nwpana.org/swg 3
physical damage. We find ourselves doing things that we would never do if it weren't for our addiction; thingsthat make us shudder with shame when we think of them. We may even decide that we don't want to use, thatwe aren't going to use, and realize we are simply unable to stop when the opportunity presents itself.We may have tried to abstain from drug use or other compulsive behaviors - perhaps with some success - for aperiod of time without a program, only to find that our untreated addiction eventually takes us right back towhere we were before. In order to work the First Step, we need to prove our own individual powerlessness toourselves on a deep level.17) Over what, exactly, am I powerless?18) I've done things while acting out on my addiction that I would never do when focusing on recovery. Whatwere they?19) What things have I done to maintain my addiction that went completely against all my beliefs and values?20) How does my personality change when I'm acting out on my addiction? (For example: Do I becomearrogant? Self-centered? Mean-tempered? Passive to the point where I can't protect myself? Manipulative?Whiny?)21) Do I manipulate other people to maintain my addiction? How?22) Have I tried to quit using and found that I couldn't? Have I quit using on my own and found that my life wasso painful without drugs that my abstinence didn't last very long? What were these times like?23) How has my addiction caused me to hurt myself or others?UnmanageabilityThe First Step asks us to admit two things: one, that we are powerless over our addiction; and two, that our liveshave become unmanageable. Actually, we would be hard pressed to admit one and not the other. Ourunmanageability is the outward evidence of our powerlessness. There are two general types of unmanageability:outward unmanageability, the kind that can be seen by others; and inner, or personal, unmanageability. Outwardunmanageability is often identified by such things as arrests, job losses, and family problems. Some of ourmembers have been incarcerated. Some have never been able to sustain any kind of relationship for more than afew months. Some of us have been cut off from our families, asked never again to contact them. Inner orpersonal unmanageability is often identified by unhealthy or untrue belief Systems about ourselves, the world welive in, and the people in our