This Month In NA History

In Indiana the month of March means crocuses and daffodils, setting clocks forward, basketball championships . . . and Mad Hatter’s! This event has always been associated with Bloomington, but did you know that it originated in CIASCNA? Until the 1988/1989 development of the South Central area, Bloomington groups belonged to Central. Mad Hatter’s was Central’s first function to be held in Bloomington. This writer was lucky enough to be part of planning that event and to chair it’s meeting. We Bloomingtonians were so excited to host recovering folks from Indy, Anderson, Columbus, Terre Haute, and even out of state (people from Illinois crashed on my living room floor!). We were also pretty nervous about pulling it off, but a grand time was had by all. So grand that when Bloomington groups helped create South Central, and later Limestone, we did it again, and again, and . . .

The event has seen changes throughout the decades, one being its name. We were March Madness and Mad Hatter’s Dance until the NCAA copyrighted that first part; thus, we decided to err far to the side of caution. Sometimes there was live music, courtesy of the recovery band IOU, but now we play, well, digital media something or other?—go ask an under-50! Some added features are now common, such as a chili contest, T-shirts emblazoned with the Hatter from Alice, and a kids’ play area. We’ve booked various venues: the Fountain Square Ballroom, IBEW Hall, Twin Lakes, Karst Farm Park, Harmony School (at least 12 challenging steps up to its gym–yipes!), and Buddy Bill’s Bait Barn, to name a few. The 2019 function saw us back where it all began, First United Church.

Some aspects are always the same: costumes and hats enthusiastically encouraged, a pitch-in supper, at least one speaker, an auction, and a dance at the end for the bravest among us. And of course fun. And fellowship. And recovery!

—Lisa W., Limestone Area, with thanks to Jon F, Bob S, and Jerry B

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The Decision

“Yet another way we can practice our Third Step decision is to continue with our recovery by working the remainder of the steps.”

I had to give up the idea, and surrender to the fact, that nothing I do in life will be perfect. My only option, having made in to the rooms, was to not use, and keep my feet moving in the solution.

It is the living in recovery that got me. Every decision caused grief due to me trying to over analyze and manipulate outcomes. I would spend hours upon hours mentally exhausting myself with scenarios of what could be, what might be, and want wouldn’t be. When I shared these things with my sponsor, or in the rooms, a quiet chuckle was an obvious sign that I was not alone. Even with that quiet acknowledgement there was something in me that made me felt less than. I believed that I should just operate like a “normal” person and that seemingly insignificant events in my life should not have such huge impacts on my emotional and spiritual wellbeing. The lies I was telling myself had to stop. That I had to be perfect, or that I had to be “normal”.

I had a hard time understanding why my sponsor kept asking me where I was in my steps, how many meetings I was hitting, what service work was I was doing, and how my prayer and meditation were. I realize now that a big part of the Third Step surrender was just forward progress. I had to separate my idea that the surrender was not only to my HP, but understand that it was also to my Higher Power’s care. That care had set me in the rooms of NA. As I nurtured that system, showed that it was valuable and necessary, my relationship with my HP grew as a result. The more I focused on my actions in the rooms, and my work in the program, the greater my faith in a loving Higher Power became.

Following the simple suggestions, participating in the institution where I found hope, and having faith that my Higher Power will guide me, was the care I so desperately needed. That care came about in many ways. Honest sharing, getting rides, and people showing concern for me. Other people practicing their Twelfth Step was the care of my God, and by making a decision to allow them in my life, it greatly improved.

The actions I take today in the rooms of NA are a reflection of my surrender to my Higher Power’s will for me. The way I care for others is an important part of me giving back that same concern that was shown to me. I care for this institution because it is my direct line to my Higher Power. The simple act of continuing the footwork of this program has given me a relationship that I cannot show my gratitude for enough.

Tony R. Indianapolis, IN

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The Newsletter Needs Help

The Area is in need of people willing to step up and help with writing articles for the newsletter. We’re in need of both a newsletter chair and members with experience writing to help reinvigorate your newsletter.

We’re asking groups that if they have anything they feel is newsworthy for the area to please submit articles to the Area. For example, group celebrations, member anniversaries ect…

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Helping the Poor (Humor)

One afternoon a lawyer was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the roadside eating grass. Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and he got out to investigate.

He asked one man, “Why are you eating grass?” “We don’t have money for food,” the poor man replied. “We have to eat grass.”

“Well, then, you can come with me to my house and I’ll feed you,” the lawyer said. “But, sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree.” “Bring them along,” the lawyer replied.

Turning to the other poor man he stated, “You come with us, also.” The second man, in a pitiful voice then said, “But sir, I also have a wife and six children with me!” “Bring them all, as well,” the lawyer answered. They all entered the car, which was no easy task, even for a car as large as the limousine was.

Once underway, one of the poor fellows turned to the lawyer and said, “Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking all of us with you.” The lawyer replied, “Glad to do it. You’ll really love my place. The grass is almost a foot high.”


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A Vision of Hope Concerning Special Interest Groups (Reprint with Commentary)

We would like to give a brief history of special interest meetings and discuss how they relate to our Steps, Traditions and Concepts.

“The WSC Ad Hoc Committee on Special Interest Meetings was formed by vote of the 1988 World Service Conference (World Service Board of Trustees Bulletin (WSBoTB) 1988 #18).  The intent of this motion, as stated in the WSC minutes, was ‘to help us as a fellowship come to grips with and perhaps [come to] a solution to the issue of special interest meetings’…” (WSBoTB 1988 #18)

“Sometimes specialized NA groups form to provide additional identification for addicts with particular needs in common.  For example, many Men’s, Women’s, Gay, and Lesbian Groups exist today.  But the focus of any NA meeting—even if it’s conducted by a specialized group—is on recovery from addiction, and any addict is welcome to attend.”  (Group Booklet Revised, p.4)

“Some addicts will hear the message of recovery better in one type of meeting, while others prefer another format.  An NA community that offers a variety of meetings is more likely to reach a broad cross-section of addicts.” (It Works How & Why, p.153)  “We find that the stronger our individual members are, the more strongly united our fellowship becomes.”  (It Works… p.216)

We printed this article (in part) in our newsletter on November of 2003.  At that time we were meeting on Thursday at 7:00 pm.  Today, we are meeting on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at 1424 North Central Avenue.  The name of our group is Oasis of Hope and we are a Men’s Group.  We were the 1st Special Interest Group in this Area.  We had our first meeting on September 11, 2003 and aside from a brief five (5) month stint, we have been meeting for over 14 years.  We study the Steps and Traditions out of the Basic Text & It Works How & Why, the 12 Concepts out of the Concepts booklet, and a section out of the Living Clean book each week in rotation.

Some of our members agree with Special Interest Groups and some do not.  Some of our members will have “Sponsorship” or informal meetings to discuss NA’s steps, traditions and concepts, but those same members will not support a Men’s Group that has been on the NA Meeting Directory doing the exact same thing.

We believe firmly in the principles embodied in the NA’s Steps, Traditions, Concepts and the teachings in the Living Clean; The Journey Continues Book.  We believe fully in the Narcotics Anonymous Program.  If you’re not busy on a Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. please come to 1424 North Central Avenue (In the Basement) and support the only Narcotics Anonymous Men’s Group in Indianapolis.  Thank you…….Oasis of Hope

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Breaking Point

So now what? I’ve been in the hospital for close to two hours. The doctors, nurses, interns, and other random people in generic blue scrubs have been kind enough. Still, I can almost hear their thoughts settling over me like some kind of malevolent fog. I’m just another overdose. I’m a dope fiend they have squandered resources on. They have given me another chance to live, but they recognize that it is really only a brief reprieve. They know, with a certainty born of too much experience with too many others just like me, exactly how my story will end. I know too. They will see me again if I’m lucky. Sooner or later, they will get to me too late.

The youngish doc standing over me is polite, but disengaged. It’s more than professional detachment. I understand why. It’s much harder to watch me self-destruct if I have a personality and identity beyond a name and date of birth on a chart. I recognize him. He has saved my life before. There’s a dreadful resignation in his bright green eyes when he looks at me. Also pity. Some have looked at me with disgust, and now I wonder which is worse. I pretend to rearrange the myriad wires tethering me to the hospital bed so I don’t have to make eye contact. In a few minutes they will release me. Which leads me back to the question at hand: So now what?

What I have chronicled is a rough sketch of a brief moment in time. It’s a recap of the internal monologue of an addict at his breaking point. That was the last time I got high. The people I found in Narcotics Anonymous told me I never had to use drugs again. I had nothing at all to offer when I came into the rooms of NA. Fortunately, no one seemed to expect me to. They were ok with my brokenness. They encouraged me to surrender. Since I had nothing left to lose, I took their suggestions. With the admission of powerlessness, my spiritual journey began in earnest. It’s early in the process of recovery. There is so much every day to learn if I only stay open minded. I feel pain, sadness, exhilaration, pleasure, and a plethora of other emotions I can’t even identify. Sometimes they threaten to overwhelm me. I’m just so used to feeling numb. There are rare moments of real joy and I hold on to those moments like my life depends on them. More than anything, I never forget that last time.  And just for today, I don’t have to get high.

– Christopher B.     6/22/18

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Have Speaker Jams Become Passé

After nearly 20yrs of them, I would have to say yes.  Speaker Jams much like conventions themselves have been overused as financial generators for the fellowship.  Speaker Jams once such an exciting new concept has become about as exciting as getting a new cassette tape!  There is a market for them, but it is an ever shrinking market.  This is written in hopes to stimulate the creative juices that I know exist in the fellowship and not a commentary on any individual.  I encourage the whole fellowship to tap into it’s creativity and present new ideas to our trusted servants.  Here are a few ideas I have floated around; a fishing tournament,  golf outing, target shooting tournaments, etc….

Submitted by James H.

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One Word Theme to Live by in 2016

I have meditated at length on what my word to live by in 2016 would be.  After talking to James H., I have decided on Surrender.  I was going to choose Healthy but James twisted my arm and mind (jk) however, he pointed out if I Surrender, the byproduct will be Healthy.  Imagine that!!

I’ve done my work.  Now members,  let’s get those “one word theme for 2016” submitted.


Jada J.


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Should Our Area Split?

The following is submitted by the Oasis of Hope home group.

~ NaNewsIndy

Motion: To research the feasibility of splitting up the Central Indiana Area of Narcotics Anonymous.
Intent: There is clear disunity within our Area. By splitting up, we will become more unified.
But Why Divide???

“Our common welfare should come first. Personal recovery depends on NA Unity.” 1st Tradition. “The unity underlying our common welfare requires personal commitment and responsible action.” IWH&W, Pg. 93.

• At this writing our Regional Convention ISNAC is lost to Merrillville for at least the next five (5) years. The largest area in the region can no longer host a convention that started right here in Indianapolis. A clear sign of complacency, indignance and lack of unity.
• The Area is too large. We have 109 groups on the current meeting directory. 10 groups go over the Steps, Traditions, or concepts. 47 groups read some type of our literature, and the remaining 52 groups are Open Topic/Discussion. We resemble more of a social club than a 12-step fellowship. We have great recovery in Indianapolis, but the members that have substantial clean time got their recovery a lot different than what we currently have today. Typically, 65-90 GSR’s show up at Area, but when it’s time to conduct the “business” aspect of the meeting there are normally less than 20 GSR’s left. This is not a true Group Conscience. If the Groups are OK with this type of behavior, let’s just open a Service Office where GSR’s can purchase literature 5-6 days a week. Basically, Area Service needs a major restructuring. This restructuring can be purpose driven, group focused, defined by geographical boundaries, collaborative, and flexible. A new service structure has been created through our World Services that I have attached to the end of this document. Some of the language has changed. The GSU (Group Service Unit) has now become the GSF (Group Service Forum), but the essence is the same.
• CIACNA was formed 12 years ago. This is our Area Convention. There was a lot of dissension amongst members initially, but there was more Unity. The first three conventions were very successful. CIACNA contributed a major sum of money to the Area (paying back the $500 we asked for initially for CIACNA I and much more). CIACNA was actually the major contributor that rescued the Area from financial hardship at that time. Members would rather drive 200 miles away and support a convention that gives absolutely nothing back to our Area, than support the Area Convention in their own back yard. Out of the 12 years in existence, there has been a motion to change or dissolve the convention in 7 of those years. Over the years, when there was a threat that CIACNA may need some money to help pay for the convention, Area donations were mysteriously at a record low. Coincidence? Yes, members have a choice about what they choose to support, but we ask you, “Is this a sign of unity?” If there is an issue with Trusted Servants, Finances, Music, Speakers, or Events at the Area Convention that turn you off, let’s discuss it. Again, this is our Area Convention, not some separate entity like ISNAC.
• To say we are not divided by race is absurd. I believe as members, we are naturally drawn to people that look like we do, but one of the disease’s greatest strengths is division. What’s sad is most of the division is not from without our particular race, but from within. There’s a Narcotics Anonymous Men’s Group that meets right here in Indianapolis, but members are more apt to have their “Men’s meetings” at someone’s house, than to support a NA Men’s group in their own Area. Some of these same members don’t believe in a NA Men’s Meeting, but they’ll share at a Men’s Rap at a Convention or Speaker Jam… The contradiction is mind-boggling, but “It’s difficult to see the picture when you’re in the frame”. Women’s meetings start and die within a year. Our female members within 5-8 years clean mostly leave the fellowship. In some circles, CIACNA is known as BLACKNA. “Sponsorship families” put on specific events to undermine other events that are going on in the Area. Just look around you at the next Area and observe how we are seated…Why is so much emphasis put on the “Personality and not the Principle”? The program of NA does not teach that. Maybe we are just romantics, but it’s my understanding, “we are a spiritual fellowship, with high ideals”.
• An Area Office was created in 2005 complete with a copier, mail machine and storage facility (it was very small, but at least it was ours). This was the precursor to Area purchasing its own building. A place to hold meetings, Area Service, functions and events. A place to house our Service Office where members could purchase literature. A place for members to fellowship. Currently we are scrambling to find a place for this function, or find a place for that event. We’re content to send every penny over the prudent reserve to Region & World instead of building up and cultivating our own Area first. We’d just as soon pay some outside facility $150 per month for three (3) hours of service than to create a legacy for our Area. Why? “Because that’s the way it’s always been.” The Area Office is gone and with it the dream of bigger and better things for our members and the addicts yet to come. Are we fully self-supporting through our own contributions? What’s holding us back? Fear? Control? Lack of trust in the process? Lack of Unity?

Lastly, like it or not, we are divided. If we can’t do anything to address our fear, lack of knowledge, disunity and cumbersome Area processes, a division will bring us closer together. Some believe that this is not possible. Divided, we will still be left with the same people, with the same belief systems. We disagree, we believe we won’t be controlled by mindsets that want things to remain as “they have always been”. “Recovery is an ACTIVE change in our ideas and attitudes”, but two of the basic aspects of the disease is fear of change and fear of the unknown. “This fear, based in part on past failures and disappointments in solving life’s difficulties, prevents us from making meaningful choices; choices which, if acted upon, would remove the very fear which blocks us.” IP #5.

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Let All Hear Our Message

I am personally concerned with a practice that seems to be prevalent at many meetings that I attend. It is the issue of talking during our readings and over the person who is trying to read. This (our readings) is a critical aspect of our recovery and it would seem that it should be granted the highest respect by all of us.

“Unity Is A Must” and our readings at the meetings set the pace for such to occur for all of us, especially for the new member. “As long as the ties that bind us together are stronger than those that would tear us apart, all will be well.” “Our common welfare should come first. Personal recovery depends on NA unity.” “Our primary purpose is to carry the message to the addict who still suffers.”  All of these phrases are from our literature and directly deal with such disruptions as stated above during our readings.

We can get and use numbers to catch up with other members. We can get with other members after or before the meeting. We can utilize the burning desires portion of the meeting if appropriate and within our spiritual principles. We can allow the newcomer to be able to hear from the literature Who Is An Addict, What Is The Narcotics Anonymous Program, Why Are We Here, How It Works, and The Twelve Traditions of NA. For this addict, it is what I take in that will come out in some way. When the solution comes out, that works the miracle for me. Can we please respect the meetings, the message and those of us who attend?

Thank you. WE DO RECOVER!!!!!

Ken C.

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