In the Canary Island’s Narcotics Anonymous community, our “growing pains” have brought us a profound lesson which we consider of great value to our fellow communities across the EDM. This is the “hard-earned” experience of a small community in Spain, made up of seven NA groups spread out on 4 different islands.
NA recovery in this area started more than a decade ago thanks to addicts bringing the program over from Sweden. Slowly the program began growing on the Island of Gran Canaria, groups started springing up, and spread to neighboring islands too. An area committee spawned, reached out to the Spanish region, and a really proper structure service arose within a fellowship that counted about 120 addicts recovering in 8 different groups. This area structure became a model for growth within the Spanish region, especially keeping in mind the challenges faced in a community made up of seven different islands with two hours flying time to the next NA community.
Eventually, the area service structure grew increasingly complex, becoming more and more attractive for the trusted servants available. Before we could notice, the service commitments in the ASC, which included very successful H&I work and challenging FD endeavors to other Islands, ended up keeping the experienced service people so busy that the service structure of the groups started to suffer. We began forgetting to “keep it simple!” Eventually, the atmosphere of recovery declined, small conflicts were bypassed in the hurry to carry the message, and personalities ended up going before principles. Traditions were invoked to support the carrying of a message which was blurred at times by the urge to carry it.
Eventually the area structure broke up, since it became unsustainable for the decreasing number of addicts in the community. Eventually, we reached our collective rock bottom and could no longer deny reality: the area structure we formed to support the groups had grown so big that it ended up overshadowing the recovery in our groups. Our service structure had become like a huge tree which didn ́t let us see the light of love shine through.
Right now we are working hard and have managed to bring back a loving atmosphere of recovery to all the groups in the community. Inventories have been taken, help has been used, and resentments left behind. Slowly the number of addicts in recovery is growing again, and we are working hard to keep it simple. We have learned that the l love that flows from one addict to the other in our meetings is worth more than an advertisement campaign on national TV. This is for the simple reason, as our traditions remind us, that PR is only useful if we have an atmosphere of recovery to offer the addict we are bringing in. We have learned that the right size for our service structure is the one that keeps that structure at our service. Our advice to other fledgling communities is: keep it simple, put the atmosphere of recovery before anything else and let love lead the way!
Sebastian, Canary Island