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Sunday, September 25, 2016

I'd like to attend a meeting please

Attending Meetings

Let's go back to the very beginning for a moment shall we? Because just about anyone in today's world has a preconceived image in their mind about Alcoholics Anonymous – the parent of 12 step programs. In other words, they immediately compare us with their image of what AA is now.

However, Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 in the USA. Contrast this with the fact Prohibition was repealed in 1933. So for two years, alcohol was a legally purchased and consumed product in much of the United States. Of course there were some local municipalities who wanted to keep Sunday a “dry” day, as well as others who wanted to shut the bars down from serving alcohol after certain hours. If a store wanted to sell alcohol – they had to obtain special licensing, just as restaurants did who also wanted to serve alcohol to the public. Every state also adopted a minimum drinking age. But overall alcohol was no longer considered “illegal” two years before AA was created.

Even so, the reason the program adopted a policy of “anonymity” especially at the level of “press, radio and films” was because the world at large did not consider them as having a “disease” yet. If you look back at popular media back before 1933, you'll see horrific images not only demonizing someone with this disease, but also media making this an almost exclusively “male vs. female” problem. Many comedians even used to create characters poking fun at alcoholics such as W.C. Field's film persona represented.

There were countless stories in churches across this country about men who were drinking up their paychecks on a Friday evening, then coming home to beat up and abuse their helpless wife and kids, who now couldn't pay the rent or buy food because all the money was gone. Politicians used to base their whole platform of Prohibition. Churches everywhere were blaming the “devil” for this. Alcoholics were painted therefore as “demonically possessed”, or in the least as “having no will power” to “stick to the pledges” or “stay on the wagon”. In other words, it wasn't something people could just “own up to” without risking family shunning them, being fired, even being denied housing.

Alcoholics Anonymous was also started by Bill Wilson in Akron, Ohio. For years, AA was developed by people either making a pilgrimage to Ohio to work their steps with Bill in the basement, or by those taking the “Big Book” and working the program as best as they could on their own where they were anywhere in the world. Many went off to WWI with only a “Big Book” in their kit bag. Not easy to stay sober in some towns which lacked refrigeration, proper water sanitation, and where even children were served alcohol with their meals.

When Narcotics Anonymous was created in 1956, addicts used to be arrested when attending meetings because it was illegal for felons on parole to congregate with each other. Stories abounded about addicts coming out of meetings to get carted off to prison on a probation violation. For this reason, NA tried having “rabbit meetings” where you'd call in to a phone number to find out where the meeting was held on that night in that town. No wonder why the man I called my “grandsponsor” for many years had a chapter in the “Basic Text” entitled “I Found The Only Meeting in the World”.

Which was the case for the longest time in NA. Before the Basic Text was published, there was only 150 meetings in the whole world. In one year after this book was published, they had over 1500 meetings. But for NA to grow into the program it is today, laws had to be passed to make that happen. Not just to meet freely either. Greg P. told me a story once of how it used to be against the law for them to even advertise their program's hotline in the phone book. They had to literally file a lawsuit from what he told me just to simply post their phone number in the information directory.

So I want you to understand that whatever you think of a 12 step program in today's terms, please understand every group has gone through a growth process. That said, we were first launched in 1987. By that I mean designed as a 12 step fellowship, not as just one meeting in Los Angeles. If you don't know what I mean by that, then you have to understand the difference between a “program” and a “meeting” of that program.
When I was first getting out of the sex industry myself, I turned to my uncle. My uncle belonged to a group founded by a man named Clancy. Clancy created “Pacific Group” in Los Angeles, California. This group held an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every night of the week. Each member of this home group was required to attend a mandatory Wednesday night meeting in Santa Monica.

On Thursday nights, we were to attend a meeting where the focus was our finances, and working on making our “amends”. Sundays were reserved for a volleyball BBQ at Clancy's house which was “mandatory”. There was a jar on each picnic table where you'd put a quarter for each time used a swear word. I lost a lot of money on those Sundays to those jars!

Women had to wear dresses, heels and hose to meetings. Men were to be clean shaven. Clancy also had a job working at the skid row mission. So Pacific Group was a place where one could meet a Hollywood celebrity, a homeless wino, and all inbetween at any given meeting.

One night, my uncle was taking a cake for five years sobriety. I came to the meeting from work wearing pants because I had to work late that day. He had asked me to present his cake so I raced through traffic to be there on time for the meeting – not caring at all what I was wearing for clothing to celebrate such an honor with him. A group of women rushed me to the back of the room and informed me I would not be “allowed” to present him a cake until I had changed clothes.

The next thing I know I'm being rushed into the bathroom where I'm given a five minute “make-over” complete with being handed a dress they wanted me to put on so I'd be “presentable” enough to give my own uncle his cake and medallion. These women wouldn't even let me leave the bathroom until I had on hose, heels, and full make-up even.

I left that meeting with an overwhelming urge to go out and “turn a trick”. I'd gained enough recovery by that point in time to sit down and ask myself “why am I feeling this way?” I realized that all of the Pacific Group's emphasis on my appearance was triggering into my prostitution issues. My feelings I wasn't “good enough” unless I was wearing expensive clothing, driving a late model car, and walking around with a huge wad of cash in my designer purse. Not to mention the sense of “power” being in sex work gave me of never having to worry about being “broke” again. We all know that the demand for our services is an ever constant flow. We stand on a corner or call up a regular and “bam” - we got money. To people out looking for “jobs” - this is a tremendous feeling of security for us.

I became angry. So angry I decided to go complain to Clancy directly. I went and made an appointment to come spend the day with him down at the skid row mission and talk over my feelings Pacific Group was making it impossible for women like myself to get, and stay out, as well as clean and sober. To say he was gruff with me was an understatement. Clancy bragged to me Pacific Group regularly donated the largest amount of money to the AA General Office every year, and that they had the highest rate of sobriety in the country and how “dare” I challenge what he was doing as “wrong”.

I explained I wasn't saying he was “wrong” for the “alcoholic” there at the skid row mission clearly. He showed me by taking me on a tour of the facility these were people who needed to learn things such as personal hygiene, dressing properly, being clean-shaven, how to work a job, handle finances, and all of the skills I was seeing being taught through Pacific Group. The celebrities attracted into the group were clearly providing the resources needed such as the jobs, housing, and the opportunities for the lowest members of the group who had hit the hardest “bottoms” to work their way back up.

At this point, Clancy said to me “maybe you need to start your own group” where we would invite only those seeking to leave sex work. Of course pointing out how easy it is to criticize another person than it is to create something yourself. I got his point and reached out to contact the AA General Office in New York to do this.

They sent me a “new meeting kit” along with a listing of their meetings worldwide. What I found was shocking because I couldn't find the Pacific Group even listed in their World Meeting Directory. This didn't make sense. How could their largest, most successful, and even most prosperous group, not be listed in their directory?

I then called the AA General Office to ask if I had somehow gotten a misprinted directory. I was informed flatly “Pacific Group is not a recognized meeting of AA and therefore that's why they're not listed in our World Meeting Directory”. I was speechless. What were they saying? Was this some kind of “scam” meeting? I was walking into the Wednesday night meeting with so many people at this meeting they had to meet in the school cafeteria in order to hold all the coffee pots they had going. There was easily 500 people at any time in these meetings.

The AA General Office informed me that an AA meeting is one where there is only “one requirement for membership” which is a “desire to stay sober”. They told me that since Pacific Group did put so many restrictions, conditions, and even a dress code on those attending, that this was not an “official” AA meeting. I still was having trouble wrapping my head around what they were saying. Especially since this group was clearly pulling in a lot of cash just in the basket on anniversary's. They had a “tradition” if someone was celebrating say five years of sobriety, you were to contribute five dollars into the basket to show your appreciation to the program for that sobriety. To not do so was considered “ungrateful” by the group at large. I was seeing Treasury Reports coming out of these groups in the five digits. Clearly they were making money.

It was then the AA General Office told me “each group is autonomous” and they can basically do whatever they want as long as they honor certain legal guidelines. Meaning they have a current version of the Big Book for sale on the table, along with currently approved literature also. That any surplus donations above and beyond their “reasonable reserve” was sent on to the General Office to pay for their operating expenses.

But that said, if AA felt this group was “affecting AA as a whole” or not complying with their traditions, or service structure, they also had the right also to not “recognize” that meeting as one of their “official” meetings carrying their message. I asked them pretty flat out then “well why don't you get a lawyer and shut them down them if you don't approve of how they're representing AA to be?”

At that point I was informed AA did not believe in “entering into public controversy” and further to sue Clancy would possibly risk the “anonymity” of “real” members of AA through the courts, especially since some of the “trusted servants” working there were also members of AA entitled to “anonymity”. I also got a lecture in how they are but “trusted servants” and they “do not govern” and thus they didn't feel it was their job to “go around stomping out rogue meetings”.

So I clarified with them this – that any meeting which was not listed in their official “World Meeting Directory” was not therefore an “officially recognized meeting of AA”. Considering the number of celebrities, media, attorney's and politicians I saw attending these “Pacific Group” meetings, I could understand why they might not want to tangle with them legally. I also understand that if I wanted a “true official AA meeting” then I needed to only attend meetings listed in their World Meeting Directory.

I was so confused frankly by this conversation, I decided maybe I needed to just go start an NA meeting subgroup for us, not an AA group. Maybe things would be “simpler” in NA so I reached out to their main office for a starter kit. They were located right in Van Nuys where I was living then so they were even closer for me to reach out than Pacific Group. When I said why I was calling, I got transferred to Bob Stone. Bob Stone was the Executive Director of the Narcotics Anonymous “World Service Office”.

Bob then clarified to me they were the “World Service Office” NOT the “Narcotics Anonymous World Service Office” when we first spoke. I asked him to please explain why this corporate office perceived by the world to be the center of power for NA was not called by their name Narcotics Anonymous. In the phone directory they were listed only as “World Service Office” back in 1987. I did not understand the distinctions.

I really got a shock when I learned Bob Stone was NOT even an “addict in recovery” but a “normie”. At that point I said I needed time to understand this more and could I set up a time to come in and talk to him more about this whole thing. I mean how could a non-addict be running Narcotics Anonymous?

When I showed up to meet Bob, he first took me on a tour of the office. We started in the warehouse filled with literature, books, and key tags. He then explained the “World Service Office” was nothing more than a “subcommittee directly responsible to those they serve” to fill literature, book and product orders.

I was like “What are you saying?” Bob then explained the “World Service Office” was nothing more than an office designed only, and solely, to fill literature orders for the fellowship of NA, who “may”, or “may not” hire members of that fellowship as a “special worker”. That as a “special worker” in the position of Executive Director – the NA fellowship had agreed to hire a non-addict to run the office because of his experience running a nonprofit before he took this job elsewhere.

I again repeated “You mean they hired a non-addict to run the fellowship?” He said “Look Jimmy was your founder of the program. However, Jimmy didn't know how to run the office. Jimmy wasn't taken out of position as founder, but he was removed as Executive Director of the office. He knew how to work with addicts to get them clean but he did not know how to run a corporation with a $15 million dollar budget. I was hired to take over that job.

So you're confused. The office is NOT the fellowship. That's where you're not being clear. If you look at our service manual every addict is responsible for the direction of this program. Their voices are carried into the World Service Convention every year by group conscience through their home group - who then hands us over the money and the power to carry out their wishes for them.

But that said, we still have to operate within the law. We need business licenses, leases, property needs to be owned, deeds have to be registered, and taxes need to be paid. Things have to be done which can't be done by an “anonymous” member in order to conduct the business of NA. That's where I come in.” By this point, I was so confused I thought I was going to faint. I must have looked like it because Bob invited me to come back into his office and sit down to continue talking more.

So I walked past the receptionist, past all the offices where the NA newsletter was written, and into Bob Stone's office. Bob then handed me a stapler. “Okay what do you want me to do with this?” I asked him. “Do you know who owns that stapler?” I responded “Well Narcotics Anonymous does don't they?” This is when Bob countered “That's where you're wrong. NA doesn't “own” anything. We do however own that stapler. That belongs to the World Service Office of which I'm the Executive Director meaning I can do with that stapler whatever I want WITHOUT asking the fellowship what they think of it.”

Then he walked over to a filing cabinet and pulled out a stack of copyright papers, business licenses, utility bills, even a copy of the income tax return for the “World Service Office” sans the Narcotics Anonymous name. He then showed me things like how the power bill for the office was in the name of the “World Service Office” NOT Narcotics Anonymous or individual members listed off in roll call.

“Now your Traditions state that NA can not accept 'outside donations' right?” he asked me. I nodded affirmatively. “Okay then how do you sell your Basic Text in the local book store or treatment center? Does someone stand there and ask every single customer before they pay 'are you a member of NA?” I nodded negatively this time. “Of course not. To 'carry your message' as far as AA does, or any message for that matter, you've got to be able to sell your book anywhere a book sells. This means that money has to come into this office that's outside the parameters of the 12 step fellowship. We are nothing more than a corporate entity created in order to conduct business and comply with the law in such a way as to also protect the individual members' “anonymity” also” he went on.

Then he handed me a service guide to the fellowship. It seems the seat of power in Narcotics Anonymous is with the individual addict. That each addict is to pick a “home group” where they go to register their votes on group conscience matters affecting not just their group, but other groups, and NA as a whole. Money is taken at each meeting as donations, along with the sales of literature. This money, and the group conscience, is then taken to the next level up of the service structure by the group service representative.

This GSR then attends either an area, a regional, or even a state meeting once a month in order to buy more literature, books and chips, turn in any surplus money after the rent is paid, coffee is bought, and the literature is paid for. At this meeting, the GSR also brings with them any concerns or wishes brought by the group, or the area, or region, they represent, as well as reports on how each group is doing, news of any new meetings, and a treasury report.

Then the higher levels of service from each state, or large region, attends the yearly World Service Convention. At this WSC, the money collected is then turned over to the “World Service Office” along with any instructions on how to spend that money, the yearly budget is approved, and group conscience votes are turned in, as well as requests are made for the fellowship at large to also consider. So basically the true seat of power is with the individual addict whose voice is carried all the way up to the world level at this convention, and then handed to the office Bob runs to carry out their wishes.

This was how Bob went about explaining the copyrights NA currently held for the Basic Text. He showed me pamphlets Jimmy Kinnon, or even Greg P., had written when NA was first created. These copyrights were held by a company called Carina. Bob explained this was Jimmy's copyright. But then he asked me to look carefully at the wording of the copyrights on one of these pamphlets vs. the copyright for the “Basic Text”. The wording on the Basic Text said clearly “to be held in a fiduciary duty for the fellowship”. I asked him what this meant. He then explained this meant the book could not be rewritten, or altered, in any way without the fellowship at large agreeing it it through the service structure he showed me which had been originally called “The Tree”.

Then he showed me the yearly operating budget for the office. This includes things like salaries, the utility bills, cleaning bills, printing costs, the basic things one needs to operate a business. Bob explained “Each year this budget is approved by the fellowship at large. The money they give us is then transferred into our account so that we can pay out these expenses without also risking any liability or exposure of any individual members so as to protect their anonymity also.”

“What do you think would happen if someone was injured in this office or while attending the World Service Convention? Who do you think they would sue? Would they sue Narcotics Anonymous? How could they sue NA without this then meaning every single member of NA would have to be named as a defendant? This is why we even have a separate corporation we form for the World Service Convention just to protect the fellowship from any potential liability or exposure of the names of any individual members” he explained further.

I was still very unclear. I was attending meetings where I doubted they had any of this legal infrastructure. Most meetings I attended didn't even have half of their service positions filled, and it was a challenge just to get coffee made in time for the meeting. This is where Bob explained in more detail “no the NA groups 'ought never be organized but should remain forever nonprofessional” but if a group decided they want to hold a fund raiser or a convention, then they would file papers to create a special corporation in order to conduct business, and reduce liability for members, but that this was what they were talking about when they said “service boards or committee's formed directly responsible to those they served”. Like janitors for the World Service Office.

Bob asked me “Do you think it's feasible for me to hire carpet cleaners, truck drivers, receptionists, secretaries, etc. who are all addicts? What about attorney's to give us legal advice? Are we limited to only hiring addicts to provide us with expert legal advice or accountants to do our tax returns and bookkeeping?”

This was how he explained to me NA also had two boards – the Board of Trustees and the Board of Directors. The BOT was truly elder members of NA who were there to advise on matters from a fellowship and addict perspective. However, those on the Board of Directors were advisers who were experts in their field such as the doctors, attorney's, and accountants they had on the BOD. That between them the larger decisions were made with the BOT having the final say in a tie.

He could see I had absolutely no idea how a 12 step program was structured as far as the “real world” was concerned during this meeting. I was completely out of my depth. This is when he offered to take me under his wing as a mentor and “show me how it's all done”. This way I would have a clear understanding of what the differences were between a meeting, a group, the fellowship itself, and the corporate legal entities created to carry out the business of the fellowship or group.

Which led to a long friendship between Bob Stone and myself for a few years until we parted ways over philosophical differences in the way I disagreed with how he was leading the program once I did fully understand what was going on. *

Now why am I talking about all of this when all you want to know is “How do I find a meeting of Sex Workers Anonymous to attend?” Let me first preface this by saying our members consist of anyone working in any part of the sex industry. This includes strippers, and porn performers but also prostitutes, pimps and madams.

However, working as a prostitute, pimp or madam isn't exactly legal everywhere in the world. For that matter, there are places which employ strippers who don't exactly comply with all the local laws, as well as porn shoots that aren't exactly “legal” either such as seen in “snuff film” productions considered a part of the porn industry or simply some films produced in cities where it's not legal to shoot porn or distribute it. Out of those who may be working in perfectly legal jobs in the sex industry, many of those might be engaged in other illegal activities such as drug sales, child pornography, gun dealing, etc.

In other words, many of our members are engaged in activities which may be less than legal. Some of them might even be under investigation with every move they're making being monitored by a police or federal agency. In the United States, after the passing of the Patriot Act, it became a “conspiracy” to actually have two “criminals” meet to discuss that “crime”.

Technically, it means if someone in law enforcement wanted to – they could come in and raid a meeting by saying the members were there as part of the operation of a “conspiracy”. This is why we say in our meeting formats “we don't care what you did, how much you made, or who you ran with”. Also, I'd like to know how we're supposed to “guarantee” complete and utter “anonymity” to our members when someone attending a regularly scheduled meeting like AA and NA currently hold might be either under investigation, or even an undercover police officer, or worse an “informant”.

I bring this up because I started seeing “faux” groups being set up inviting members of the sex industry to attend to come get support to exit their profession. Some called themselves “trafficking groups”. Others represented themselves to be “sex worker advocacy groups”. They were quite hostile to us when I made contact which didn't make sense at first.

When I pressed further, I was told “off the record” by organizers of these events they were being set up to gather information in a public place where the laws allowed them to not only record the participants, but further use this information in a court of law against them, and that's why they didn't want our involvement in any way with those attending their groups. Modern technology now means anyone can smuggle in a recording device to a meeting, even past a metal detector. I mean what are we going to do? Strip and body cavity search every person wanting to attend a meeting to make sure they're not wired with a recording device? How can we as a fellowship truly offer now absolute and complete “anonymity” and “confidentiality” in today's world like we used to back in the 1980's? Or how can AA or NA even for that matter to be perfectly honest. There has been more than one lawsuit for violating just that already served upon AA in fact in recent years.

Understand it like this. There is such a thing as a “meeting”. This is defined as a regularly scheduled meeting in the same location each week, or even month, where those wanting to be a part of this program come together for the purposes of “carrying the message to those who still suffer”. There are laws grandfathered in by Alcoholics Anonymous which guarantee anything said at this meeting is considered as “confidential” as anything said to a doctor, lawyer or priest.

Anyone can attend this meeting that is allowed to do so by the decision of the group's trusted servants. Meaning they can decide if only “members” can attend, or outsiders such as family members and friends can attend also. The difference between this is called an “open” or “closed” meeting. The servants to this meeting also decide upon the location of the meeting, as well as what security measures, if any, they want to take with respect to those attending. Therefore, each meeting will be different depending upon who is organizing the meeting. Meetings can call themselves anything they want like the “Meditation Meeting of Sex Workers Anonymous”. It's their choice.

In order to attend this meeting, one needs to call our “World Service Office” in order to be directed to the closest meeting to their geographic location, or to an online/phone or mail meeting. No “official” meeting of SWA is allowed to share their contact information or location publicly at this time. All calls need to come through the WSO first for screening. The phone at the WSO doubles as both their office phone and the hotline for the fellowship at this time to conserve money and also to ensure the phone is answered by another member in recovery at all times who is not paid for that work on the hotline. The current contact information for the WSO is listed in this book and can be found at

To start a meeting, one needs to order a “starter kit” from the WSO, where they will be supplied with basic supplies along with a copy of our “service structure” to explain how to get these meetings started, how to operate them, and forms to use in order to conduct the meeting and send in monthly reports required to be sent to the WSO. The use of our current name “Sex Workers Anonymous” as well as our past name of “Prostitutes Anonymous”, and any version close to this like “Prostitution Anonymous”, are protected by copyright, trademark, common law trademarking, and all intellectual property to this program all belong to the founder personally, and individually, who is J. Williams. This is to ensure there isn't another repeat of what happened to the NA Basic Text in what's been known as the “controversy over the Baby Blue”. * It's also to prevent “faux” meetings of our program.

Therefore, any meeting using the name of, literature, products, or any intellectual property, of this program is legally the property of J. Williams, who shares the permission to adapt the 12 Steps and Traditions with Alcoholics Anonymous, who has granted her their consent to use their property under certain conditions and restrictions she has agreed to and honors. While J. Williams is the sole holder of the rights to all property and literature created by her at the time of this writing, the original 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, are only granted for our use by Alcoholics Anonymous' General Office in NY. They granted us consent to use their concepts for Prostitutes Anonymous in 1987, and again for Sex Workers Anonymous in 1995 when our name was changed.

Think back to what AA was like in 1937. It wasn't the program it is today, nor were there meetings on practically every corner of the world like today either. They didn't become what they are today alone either. They are supported by many other “connected” groups. One of the first women to get sober in AA, Marty Mann, rose up in her sobriety and founded the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism which is better known today as the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

Note that while alcoholism has been proven by medical science to in fact be a “disease”, the concept of “addiction” as a separate disease has not. Hence one of the reasons why the wording here is “drug dependence” and not “the disease of addiction” nor is it written as the “disease of addiction of which alcohol is a drug”. But clearly Marty felt the need for “something more” than just AA in the world to do this. This program was designed to support not only alcoholics, but alcoholics who had a “drug dependence”. It's well noted in history AA has not been very “welcoming” of “addicts” in their program. Many early groups in fact used to confine them to a separate room where the “animals” could listen in on their meetings.

There are also Alano Clubs scattered throughout the USA. If you look at their incorporation papers and by-laws, you'll read that their primary purpose is to foster the development of groups and meetings in AA – of which there is a difference. This allows them to take “outside donations” to do things like buy the property and land as well as fixtures for the Alano Club to provide a stable place to foster holding meetings. Our program has no other programs, or “clubs”, offering our members such support as AA offers the alcoholic at this time either.

A meeting again is just a “regularly scheduled meeting”. However, a “group” is a group of members who have “time”, who can set up any number of meetings anywhere they want. Again, “each group is autonomous except in matters affecting other groups, or (blank) as a whole”. So a group may set up meetings all over one city, or they might decide to set up meetings all over the world. They're only limited by their own ideas, resources, group conscience, and of course our service structure and the laws of the land. But yes two members of SWA can form a “group” which then sets about creating a meeting, or meetings, anywhere, and any way, they like, again as long as they abide by our basic service structure and the laws of the land. While meetings have to be registered with the WSO, groups do not register themselves.

Now when you saw you want to “attend a meeting” what you're really saying is you'd like to “start working a program”. In groups like AA or NA, to start “working a program”, you're directed to a local meeting. Once you arrive at a meeting, you're then provided their literature for sale, you meet other members, and you get the program explained to you there. That's the way it works in other programs however. Not ours. Our program has undergone a dramatic shift which started in 1996, and became an outright attack upon us starting in 2007. It's a long story, but let's just say there are very well funded, very large, and powerful, groups of people right now in the USA who do not want our program to continue in it's present form. To try and shut us down, or get us to conform to their ideas of what we should be about, they're made numerous threats upon the founder, and anyone starting a meeting of SWA in the USA. This has caused us to dramatically restructure our program, as well as our procedures for starting new meetings, as well as our outreach methods.

We can not conduct “outreach” in the way we used to pre-1996 when TV, radio and press no longer offer free public service announcements as they once had offered us. Nor can we organize groups when we have faith based charities trying to identify our new members like poachers in a jungle so they can parade them around their “fund raisers for trafficking victims”? Which most of the time make no distinction between a “prostitute” and a “trafficking victim” when warranted. I say that because sometimes a distinction exists, and sometimes not. However, trafficking groups don't believe there is such a distinction and how are we supposed to compete with wealthy socialites, politicians and churches offering free room, board, and press, while all we're offering is a 12 step program and talking about things like the 7th Tradition of being “self-supporting”?

Many of our outreach teams have been stalked by traffickers. Some threatened by lawyers with restraining orders. Others with police threatening to file for “trespassing” and even dragging outreach members off on 5150 charges. These 5150 charges have extended beyond outreach, to even be given to our program's members trying to make contact with public officials in order to simply discuss with them how they can work with those “still suffering”? Therefore, we can't even guarantee the safety, confidentiality and anonymity of even our group members trying to get a meeting off the ground in the USA at this point in time. Our hotline which covers both England and Ireland since we launched in 1987 – we now have other groups, and the press, acting like we don't even exist. Without acknowledgment, there's certainly not cooperation. Cooperation without which groups like AA and NA depend upon for their existence.

Meaning if you call our hotline, or WSO, and ask to be connected to a “local meeting' you will be referred to a local meeting after you've been screened to ensure you're not a reporter, not an undercover police officer, an informant, a pimp, a trafficker, or anything else other than simply someone seeking recovery personally. This is to protect the other members, the groups, and also yourself.

However, this does not mean you can't “work a program”. We have Step Working Guides, the “Recovery Guide” which is our “Big Book”, and we have phone numbers of members with recovery willing to work with you. If you speak to the operator answering the phone, you'll be paired off with a “sponsor” or someone who can walk you through the 12 step process like a guide, at no charge or obligation.

If you are in a facility such as a jail, prison, treatment center, detox, or mental health hospital, special “presentation” meetings can be arranged, as well as individuals can also be sent a “mail order step study” program to work while they're kept out of open society. There are ways “study groups” can connect within facilities to work on their recovery, and their steps, and you can find out all about that by talking to whoever answers the phone or email at the WSO. While there is no charge to help you on your path to recovery, there are charges for the products we sell. If you can't afford them, just ask. We usually have a way we can provide you with free materials thanks to modern technology.

One last thing, please keep in mind whoever answers our hotline, or the office phone, which is usually the same line and person currently, they are NOT the “whole membership”. At this time, we have a database of over 190,000 individual “members” worldwide. Within this range of members, we try and connect up new members with “sponsors” or where we do have local meetings in a way where we feel we're protecting our members from the police, press and pimps or the “three P's” as well call them around the office. There is no such thing as a meeting of any other fellowship where you're going to “get along” or even “like” every other person at that meeting. However, this doesn't prevent them from “working a program”. Meaning your feelings about the hotline volunteer have NOTHING to do with you starting work on your Steps, getting a sponsor, and either getting to, or even forming, a meeting. They're just a trusted servant and can be replaced any time one is found willing to do the job. Something you're able to offer to do yourself once you get some “time” together in SWA.

Hopefully, this answers your questions about “finding a meeting”. If not, then please feel free to reach out for more help to our main office or international hotline.

  • In the 1990's, the power structure in Narcotics Anonymous dramatically changed. The service guide “The Tree” where the seat of power resided in each individual member of NA, and their voice was carried in a “group conscience” up to the WSC to carry out their directives each year, was changed dramatically. NA adopted the service structure of AA which included “The Concepts”. This transferred power from the individual member to that of “trusted representatives” who instead became the voting members of NA instead of servants carrying the vote of each member as a form of service. This is a very simplified explanation from my view only, but it changed the seat of power dramatically within their program to that of being more like AA (instead of the “opposite” Jimmy Kinnon, their founder, along with early founding members, were spiritually inspired to create). Further, the Basic Text was altered from the “group conscience version” on the way to the printer. Words were changed in the 7th and 9th Traditions so new members did not learn the “world service office” was not NA itself, and anything but a trusted printing distribution outlet essentially meant to only operate at the directive of the fellowship at large. The office refused to repair the book to the “approved” version of the fellowship and a lawsuit erupted. The defendant, Dave Moorhead, died before the lawsuit could be completed. At the time of his death, the World Service Office was in contempt of the judge's order to repair the book back to the “group conscience version” originally authorized for printing. A new version of the Basic Text was written, then copyrights transferred to the fellowship, no longer being held in a “fiduciary duty” to individual members collectively. A series of motions were approved which altered the name of the “world service office” to now be the “Narcotics Anonymous World Service Office” which technically then transferred copyrights, trademarks, and also the money and power, then to the office away from the fellowship. The fellowship was TOLD this was to “save money” without the caveat we hear in the program “if the money isn't there then God's will isn't either”. Bob Stone, along with other men such as Chuck Skinner, confessed to starting what is essentially the “abduction of NA” away from the members in his book “My Life by Bob Stone” available at We however at this time in SWA are instead operating by a version of “The Tree” adapted to our needs as we're still small in number.  

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