The 12 steps of ‘Woodstock’ without drugsby Mariangela D'Ambrosio - 2015.07.22
There is a 'Woodstock' without drugs which is unknown to most people. It has been organised every other year since 1953 by Narcotics Anonymous (NA), a non-profit making American branch of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is made up of “men and women for whom drugs have been a big problem”, as the statute says.
The 36th World Convention of NA, which took place last June in Rio de Janeiro, was attended by over 4,000 former drug addicts from all over the world who were celebrating quitting drugs. Their goal was achieved thanks to the 12 steps (honesty, humility, integrity, etc.), a mantra which group members repeat and discuss in 63,000 meetings which NA branches hold each week in 132 countries. They are based on a ritual that we have seen alcoholics perform a thousand times in many movies: “Hello, my name is James and I'm an addict.” “Hello James,” chorus the others, usually a dozen people gathered in a circle, who then continue with the most intimate and personal confessions.
How do you join the group? There are no dues or fees to pay, commitments to sign or promises to make. The only requirement is "a desire to stop using." With the aim of finding a new way of life, they are encouraged to cultivate new interests, self-esteem and respect for others. The periods of time when one is clean are celebrated with a great fanfare and members get a different coloured key ring, depending on the achievement, ranging from the first 24 hours up to 20 years and beyond.
How is this Mecca of anti-addiction funded? With the contributions of those who belong to it. They don't accept contributions from outside the community and especially from the sale of books and documents about the NA method, which are translated into 77 languages. Each branch is independent but the headquarters in Los Angeles receives 90% of revenue from publications and 10% from donations. The turnover in 2014 exceeded €6.3 million.
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