“Lack of power. That was our dilemma.”
Fourth edition (2001) of the Big Book, basic text of C.A. Since the first edition appeared, in 1939, it has helped millions of men and women recover from alcoholism and addiction.
Hope, Faith & Courage Volumes
Stories from the Fellowship of Cocaine Anonymous. As its title suggests, this powerful collection of stories delivers the message of recovery as it has been experienced by members of our fellowship, in their own words.
A Quiet Peace - Daily Meditations
Cocaine Anonymous presents a daily meditation book, written by its own members. Inspirational thoughts, words of introspection and useful guidance for living life serenely have been assembled into one helpful reference tool.
“Alcohol and drugs were but a symptom.”
WHAT IS COCAINE ANONYMOUS?
The best way to reach someone is to speak to them on a common level The members of C.A. are all recovering addicts who maintain their individual sobriety by working with others. We come from various social, ethnic, economic and religious backgrounds, but what we have in common is addiction.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using cocaine and all other mind-altering substances.
Anyone who wants to stop using cocaine and all other mind-altering substances (including alcohol and other drugs) is welcome.
There are no dues or fees for membership; we are fully self supporting through our own contributions.
We do ask for voluntary contributions at meetings to cover expenses such as coffee, rent, literature and services to help those who are still suffering. However, newcomers need not feel obligated to contribute. We do not accept donations from organizations or individuals outside the fellowship.
We are not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution.
In order to maintain our integrity and avoid any possible complications, we are not affiliated with any outside organization. Although C. A. is a spiritual program, we do not align ourselves with any religion. Our members are free to define their spirituality as they see fit. Our individual members may have opinions of their own, but C. A. as a whole has no opinion on outside issues. We are not affiliated with any rehabs, recovery houses or hospitals, but many do refer their patients to Cocaine Anonymous to maintain their sobriety.
Our primary purpose is to stay free from cocaine and all other mind-altering substances and to help others achieve the same freedom.
The only purpose of Cocaine Anonymous is to offer recovery to individuals who are suffering from addiction. Our experience has shown that the most effective way to attain and maintain sobriety is to work with others suffering from the same malady.
We use the twelve step recovery program because it has already been proven that the twelve step recovery program works.
The Steps of C.A. are adapted from the original Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The steps of Cocaine Anonymous read:
- We admitted we were powerless over cocaine and all other mind-altering substances – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Cocaine Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other, that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from their addiction. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using cocaine and all other mind-altering substances. There are no dues or fees for membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. We are not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution. We do not wish to engage in any controversy, and we neither endorse nor oppose any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay free from cocaine and all other mind-altering substances, and to help others achieve the same freedom.
We use the Twelve Steps of Recovery because it has already been proven that the Twelve Step Recovery Program works.
Approved Literature. Copyright 2007 Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.
…AND ALL OTHER MIND-ALTERING SUBSTANCES
TRADITION THREE: The only requirement for C.A. membership is a desire to stop using cocaine and all other mind-altering substances.
Many people come to Cocaine Anonymous thinking one of two things: “I rarely (or never) even used cocaine. I don’t think I belong here,” or “What exactly does the ‘and all other mind-altering substances’ part mean? I came to Cocaine Anonymous becausecocaine had become a problem in my life.”
Those of us who have been C.A. members for a while have heard questions and statements like this before; perhaps the words were even our own. Over time, virtually every single one of us has realized that our real problem is not cocaine or any specific drug, it is the disease of addiction.
Some of us never even used cocaine. Some of us used a variety of drugs, and for others it was combining cocaine with alcohol and/or other drugs that got us into trouble and made our lives miserable. Many of us rode drug roller coasters; there were drugs to come down with, drugs to go up with, and drugs to mellow out with.
During those times we attempted to regain control we found that any substitution or new combination inevitably created the same result. It was hard to stop and easy to get started. Experience after experience revealed that substitution was no cure. If our bodies were not absolutely free of drugs and alcohol, the obsession to use more of something was always lurking.
For example, imagine that you have just run out of one drug and cannot get any more. What would you use for a substitute? Alcohol for heroin, methamphetamine for cocaine, prescriptions for whatever, vice-versa – the list could go on and on and it really wouldn’t matter. The point is that addicts like us soon find ourselves unable to stop using the substitute. Whatever drug we use, the problem of not being able to stop resurfaces, often bigger than before.
At some point we finally realize that we cannot control our use ofany mind-altering substances. The problem isn’t the drug of choice; the problem is the disease of addiction. With its Third Tradition and all-inclusive First Step, Cocaine Anonymous welcomes anyone with a drug or alcohol problem and offers a solution.
ALCOHOL AND MARIJUANA
Marijuana is a potent drug, and alcohol is a mind-altering chemical in liquid form. Many people don’t realize that these are no different from any other drugs regarding the potential to get us into trouble. One drink is never enough; just as one puff, hit, fix, bump, pill or snort is never enough. We are masters at combining and substituting one drug with another to get high.
Has getting drunk or loaded ever been the unintentional result of “just” one drink or “just” a beer? Have you ever experienced the consequences of impaired judgment or decision-making ability as a direct result of smoking “just” a little pot? Did one of anything ever lead to two or three or more of something harder or stronger?
Many of us never thought that alcohol and/or marijuana were part of our problem, but upon honest examination and working the Steps, we usually find a need to re-evaluate that notion.
The use of prescription drugs may be medically necessary at times. However, old patterns of thinking influenced by the presence of a mind-altering substance in our system can soon have us convinced that we need to take it more frequently than prescribed. An informed prescribing physician, placing our medication in control of someone we can trust, and honest communication with a sponsor or another recovering addict can be helpful in preventing abuse.
Our bodies and minds don’t know the difference between drugs used for legitimate reasons and drugs used for recreational pleasure. It’s a sound practice to enlist the support of all of our physicians and/or mental health care professionals in continuing on the path to recovery. Abruptly stopping the use of tranquilizers, antidepressants or other prescription drugs can be dangerous and even deadly, and should only be done under the guidance of an informed physician.
OVER-THE-COUNTER AND COMMONLY USED LEGAL DRUGS
Over-the-counter and other legal drugs (such as cough syrups or pain relievers that contain alcohol and/or codeine, diet pills that act as stimulants, and antihistamines that act as depressants) can be just as big of a problem for us as street drugs. We suggest that you become a label reader. There are many products on the market that can be dangerous to an addict who has the potential to abuse just about any mind-altering chemical.
Uninformed addicts can be a hazard to themselves and others. We encourage you to ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions regarding medications. Be honest with your sponsor about what drugs you take or are prescribed to you.
Remember, we’re powerless over cocaine and all other mind-altering substances. Step One is a beginning, but be sure to move forward. A spiritual awakening as the result of working all Twelve Steps is the solution to the problem of addiction.
SO WHAT DOES “AND ALL OTHER MIND-ALTERING SUBSTANCES” MEAN?
It means that it is the collective experience of the members of Cocaine Anonymous that addiction is a problem not limited to any one substance. It means that C.A.’s Twelve Steps are not drug-specific, and that Cocaine Anonymous is not a drug-specific fellowship. It means that it doesn’t matter to us if you drank or what type of drugs you used; if you have a desire to stop, you are welcome here!
Approved Literature. Copyright 2007, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.
TO THE NEWCOMER
- Who Is a Cocaine Addict?
- What Brought Us to Cocaine Anonymous?
- What is Cocaine Anonymous?
- What is the First Thing?
Who is a Cocaine Addict?
Some of us can answer without hesitation, “I am!” Others aren’t so sure. Cocaine Anonymous believes that no one can decide for another whether he or she is addicted. One thing is sure, though: every single one of us has denied being an addict. For months, for years, we who now freely admit that we are cocaine addicts thought that we could control cocaine when in fact it was controlling us.
“I only use on weekends,” or
“It hardly ever interferes with work,” or
“I can quit, it’s only psychologically addicting, right?” or
“I only snort, I don’t base or shoot,” or
“It’s this relationship that’s messing me up.”
Many of us are still perplexed to realize how long we went on, never getting the same high we got at the beginning, yet still insisting, and believing—so distorted was our reality—that we were getting from cocaine what actually always eluded us. We went to any lengths to get away from being just ourselves. The lines got fatter; the grams went faster; the week’s stash was all used up today. We found ourselves sc raping envelopes and baggies with razor blades, scratching the last flakes from the corners of brown bottles, snorting or smoking any white speck from the floor when we ran out. We, who prided ourselves on our fine-tuned state of mind! Nothing mattered more to us than the straw, the pipe, the needle. Even if it made us feel miserable, we had to have it.
Some of us mixed cocaine with alcohol or other drugs, and found temporary relief in the change, but in the end, it only compounded our problems. We tried quitting by ourselves, finally, and managed to do so for periods of time. After a month, we imagined we were in control. We thought our system was cleaned out and we could get the old high again, using half as much. This time, we’d be careful not to go overboard. But we only found ourselves back where we were before, and worse.
We never left the house without using first. We didn’t make love without using. We didn’t talk on the phone without coke. We couldn’t fall asleep; sometimes it seemed we couldn’t even breathe without cocaine. We tried changing jobs, apartments, cities, lovers—believing that our lives were being screwed up by circumstances, places, people. Perhaps we saw a cocaine friend die of respiratory arrest, and still we went on using! But eventually we had to face facts. We had to admit that cocaine was a serious problem in our lives, that we were addicts.
What Brought Us to Cocaine Anonymous?
Some of us hit a physical bottom. It may have been anything from a nosebleed which frightened us, to sexual impotence, to loss of sensation in or temporary paralysis of a limb, to a loss of consciousness and a trip to an emergency room, to a cocaine-induced stroke that left us disabled. Maybe it was finally our gaunt reflection in the mirror.
Others of us hit an emotional or spiritual bottom. The good times were gone, the coke life was over. No matter how much we used, we never again achieved elation, only a temporary release from the depression of coming down, and often, not even that. We suffered violent mood swings. Perhaps we awoke to our predicament after threatening or actually harming a loved one, desperately demanding imagined hidden money. We were overcome by feelings of alienation from friends, loved ones, parents, children, society, from the sky, from everything wholesome. Even the dealer we thought was our friend turned into a stranger when we went to him without money. Perhaps we awoke in dread of the isolation we had created for ourselves—using alone, suffocated by our self-centered fear and our paranoia. We were spiritually and emotionally deadened. Perhaps we thought of suicide, or tried it.
Still others of us reached a different sort of bottom when our spending and lying cost us our jobs, credit, and possessions. Some of us reached the point where we couldn’t even deal; we consumed everything we touched before we could sell it. We simply could no longer afford to use. Sometimes the law intervened.
Most of us were brought down by a medley of financial, physical, social, and spiritual problems.
When we found Cocaine Anonymous, we learned that cocaine addiction is a progressive disease, chronic and potentially fatal. It fit our own experience when we heard that, contrary to popular myths about cocaine, it is possibly the most addictive substance known to man. We were relieved to be told that addiction is not simply a moral problem, that it is a true disease over which the will alone is usually powerless. All the same, each of us must take responsibility for our own recovery. There is no secret, no magic. We each have to quit and stay sober; but we don’t have to do it alone!
What is Cocaine Anonymous?
We are a Fellowship of addicts who meet together to share our experience, strength, and hope for the purpose of staying sober and helping others achieve the same freedom. Everything heard at our meetings is to be treated as confidential. There are no dues or fees of any kind. To be a member, you only have to want to quit, and show up. We also exchange phone numbers, and give and seek support from one another between meetings.
We are all on equal footing here. There are no professional therapists offering treatment, and no one “runs” the group. Everyone in these rooms is here because he or she has a desire to stop using cocaine and all other mind-altering substances. We are men and women of all ages, races, and social backgrounds, with the common bond of affliction. Our program, called the Twelve Steps of recovery, is gratefully borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous, whose more than 50 years of experience with substance abuse teaches us that the best human help an addict can receive is from another addict. Some of us may first come to C.A. while in a treatment program or seeking individual psychotherapy. We say, “Fine, do whatever works for you.” We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but experience has taught us that a recovering addict will almost certainly relapse without the ongoing support of fellow addicts.
We welcome newcomers to C.A. with more genuine warmth and acceptance in our hearts than you can probably now imagine—for you are the lifeblood of our program. In great part, it is by carrying the message of recovery to others like ourselves that we keep our own sobriety. We are all helping ourselves by helping each other.
What is the First Thing?
To the newcomer who wonders about the first thing he or she must do to achieve sobriety, we say that you have already done the first thing: you have admitted to yourself, and now to others, that you need help by the very act of coming to a meeting or seeking information about the C.A. program.
You are also, at this very moment, doing the next thing to stay straight; you are not taking the next hit. Ours is a one-day-at-a-time program. We suggest that you not dwell on wanting to stay sober for the rest of your life, or for a year, or even a week. Once you have decided you want to quit, let tomorrow take care of itself. Just for today, you don’t have to use. But sometimes it is too much for us to project even one whole day drug-free. That’s okay. Just for the next ten minutes, you don’t have to use. It’s okay to want it, but you don’t have to use it, just for ten minutes. After ten minutes, see where you are. You can repeat this simple process as often as necessary, using whatever span of time feels comfortable. Just for today, you don’t have to use!
In the C.A. Fellowship, you are among recovering cocaine abusers who are living without drugs. Make use of us! Take phone numbers. Between meetings, you may not be able to avoid contact with drugs and druggies. Some of us had no sober friends at all when we first came in. You have sober friends now! When you begin to feel squirrelly, don’t wait. Give one of us a call; and don’t be surprised if one of us calls you when we need help!
It may surprise you that we discourage the use of any mind-altering substances, including alcohol and marijuana. It is the common experience of addicts in this and other programs that any drug use leads to relapse or substitute addiction. If you’re addicted to another substance, you’d better take care of it. If you’re not, then you don’t need it, so why mess with it? We urge you to heed this sound advice drawn from the bitter experience of other addicts. Is it likely you’re different?
We thought we were happiest with our cocaine, but we were not. In C.A., we learn to live a new way of life. We say that it is a spiritual but not a religious program—our spiritual values are accessible to the atheist as well as to the devout theist.
We who are grateful recovering cocaine addicts ask you to listen closely to our stories. That is the main thing—listen! We know where you’re coming from, because we’ve been there ourselves. Yet we are now living drug-free, not only that, but living happily; many of us, happier than we have ever been before. Few of us would trade all our years of addiction for the last six months or year of living the C.A. program of sobriety.
No one says that it is easy to arrest addiction. We had to give up old ways of thinking and behaving. We had to be willing to change. But we are doing it, gratefully, one day at a time.
C.A. Conference-Approved Literature, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc., Copyright 2007-2011. All rights reserved.
THE FIRST 30 DAYS
The problem, as we see it, consists of an obsession of the mind and a compulsion of the body. The obsession is a continued and irresistible thought of cocaine and the next high. Once we have given in to this thought, our bodies take over. Our compulsion consists of an absolute inability to stop using once we begin. Thus, our recovery begins with complete abstinence from cocaine and all other mind-altering substances. This allows us to begin living in the solution.
We wish to assure you that there is a solution and that recovery is possible. It begins with abstinence and continues with practicing the Twelve Steps of recovery one day at a time. Take it easy. Addiction is not a moral issue. Addiction is a disease—a disease that kills. Here are some suggestions to help you stay clean and sober for your first 30 days:
Do not use any mind-altering substances! Experience has shown us that the use of any mind-altering substance will ultimately lead us back to addiction in another form or to our drug of choice, cocaine.
A Meeting a Day
Attend at least one meeting a day–or more. Meetings are where we go to share our experience, strength, and hope with each other.
Get a Sponsor
It is a good idea to get a sponsor during your early days, when C.A. seems unfamiliar. A sponsor is simply a sober addict who can give you more time and attention than is available at meetings.
Use the Telephone
Get phone numbers from C.A. members and use them. A vital part of our recovery process is reaching out to others. If no one is available, call Cocaine Anonymous.
One Day at a Time
We stay clean and sober one day at a time, and, when necessary, one hour or even one minute at a time; not one week, or one month, or one year, just one day at a time. As we get clean and sober, our feelings begin to surface. Cocaine helped us escape from ourselves; it altered our reality. It helped us cover up, avoid, and deaden our feelings. Getting clean and sober can be painful, but with help, we find our lives get better one day at a time.
When we attended our first C.A. meeting, we knew deep down inside that cocaine had become a problem in our lives. Seeing this was just the beginning. This is where the program of Cocaine Anonymous comes into play. We begin by surrendering and working the Twelve Steps of recovery.
We admitted we were powerless over cocaine and all other mind-altering substances—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Most of us disliked the idea of being powerless over anything. We thought that cocaine made us invincible and powerful, when in actuality, it wiped us out financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. We were out of control and had reached the depths of despair. The extent to which our lives had become unmanageable, of course, was different for each of us. The fact remained that our lives had become unmanageable. Not until we got honest with ourselves and surrendered, did we begin to know peace.
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step Two involves open-mindedness. Having admitted we were powerless over cocaine and all other mind-altering substances, we became open -minded enough to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could remove our obsession to use and restore us to sanity. The obsession to use will be removed. This Power may be, but does not have to be God. Many of us use the Fellowship of C.A. as our Higher Power. After all, what we had failed to do alone, we are succeeding in doing together.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Cocaine Anonymous is a spiritual program, not a religious one. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. Some of us arrived with a God, while others used the group until they found a Higher Power of their own understanding. A key phrase in this Step is “as we understood Him.” In Cocaine Anonymous, each individual can choose a God of his or her own understanding. As we worked the Twelve Steps of recovery, we began to see some of the Promises coming true in our lives:
“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”*
*This excerpt from Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 83-84, is reprinted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (“AAWS”). Permission to use this excerpt does not mean that AAWS has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, or that AAWS necessarily agrees with the views expressed therein. A.A. is a program of recovery from alcoholism only—use of this material in connection with programs and activities which are patterned after A.A., but which address other problems or concerns, or in any other non-A.A. context, does not imply otherwise.
C.A. Conference-Approved Literature, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc., Copyright 1992. All rights reserved.
A GUIDE TO THE 12 STEPS
To help us work the Twelve Steps, Cocaine Anonymous uses a text entitled Alcoholics Anonymous, commonly referred to as “the Big Book.” When studying this text, some of us find it useful to substitute the word “cocaine” for “alcohol” and the word “using” for “drinking,” although in the process, some of us discovered that we are alcoholics as well as addicts.
Because some of our members believe there are ways to take the steps other than the method described in the Big Book, we suggest that the reader seek gu idance from a sponsor, an experienced C.A. member, or their Higher Power, to help them decide on the method that is right for them.
This pamphlet is not a substitute for using the Big Book and a sponsor. Its purpose is to shed light on the twelve-step program in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, as it relates to our addiction.
Taking the Twelve Steps prepares us to have a “spiritual awakening” or a “spiritual experience” (page 569 in Alcoholics Anonymous). These phrases refer to the change in our thinking, attitudes, and outlook that occurs after taking the steps. This change frees us from active addiction.
Applying the steps in our daily lives enables us to establish and improve our conscious contact with God or our Higher Power. Many in our fellowship believe that the greatest safeguard in preventing relapse lies in consistent application of the Twelve Steps.
Newcomers often ask, “When should I take the steps?” Page 34 of the Big Book states, “Some of them will be drunk [high] the day after making their resolutions [not to use again], most of them within a few weeks.” The choice, ultimately, is up to the reader of this pamphlet, but a full understanding of Step One can often provide the willingness necessary to take the other eleven steps.
We admitted we were powerless over cocaine and all other mind-altering substances- that our lives had become unmanageable.
Our powerlessness operates on three levels: (1) A physical allergy to cocaine, which makes it virtually impossible for us to stop using once we start; (2) A mental obsession, which makes it impossible to stay sober permanently on our own (pages 24 and 34); and (3) A spiritual malady, which separates us from our Higher Power’s ability to get and keep us sober
Many of us assumed that Step One meant we couldn’t get high anymore because we couldn’t handle using at all. In fact, it really means that barring divine intervention, we are unable to stay away from that first hit, line, or whatever (pages 24 and 34) and that we will use again and again, no matter how much we want to stay sober.
The second part of Step One refers to how we are unable to manage our lives, even when we are sober. One example of this unmanageability is being “restless, irritable, and discontented” (page xxvi; other examples are found in the second paragraph of page 52).
Step One is the foundation of the entire twelve-step process. Without a full understanding of what this step means to us personally, we can’t expect to make much progress on the other eleven steps. For more information, study Dr. Bob’s experience on pages xvi and 155. (Dr. Bob was one of A.A.’s co-founders.)
Two useful questions for deciding whether we are really addicts are, “Can I stop permanently if and when I want to?” and, “Can I control the amount I use once I start?” If the answer is “No” to either question, we probably are addicts, according to the Big Book.
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
When we understand Step One and are convinced that we are addicts (page 30), we are ready for Step Two. Coming to believe in a Higher Power’s ability to restore us to sanity does not require that we believe in God. All we need is an open mind and a willingness to believe that there is a power greater than ourselves (pages 46 and 47).
Many of us come to Cocaine Anonymous without any religious or spiritual experience, yet are able to make a start towards what the concept of a Higher Power might mean to us. Some of us use the C.A. group as a Higher Power until we can develop a concept of our own. Any concept, no matter how inadequate we believe it to be at the time, is enough to make a start with Step Two (page 46).
The insanity referred to in Step Two is the part of our thinking that allows us to convince ourselves that we can successfully use again. Once this “mental obsession” takes hold, we are compelled to use over and over again, regardless of the consequences that we know will follow. It is this vicious cycle that helps us become willing to believe that perhaps a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity (page 48). Being convinced of the “three pertinent ideas” (the A,B,C’s on page 60) brings us to Step Three.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
In Step Three, we make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of our concept of God at the time. The first requirement is becoming convinced that “any life run on self will could hardly be a success” (page 60). That text illustrates the meaning of a life run on self will by describing the behavior of an actor who wants to run the whole show. Many of us find it useful to substitute our own names in this passage and to ask ourselves honestly whether this scenario doesn’t sound similar to the way we are running our own lives (pages 60-62). The text further suggests that this kind of self-centeredness is “the root of our troubles” (page 62). After we understand what running our lives based on self-will means and acknowledge its futility, we are asked to do the “Third Step Prayer” (or its equivalent) on page 63, before going on to Step Four.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
In Step Four, we examine the wreckage that is accumulating from our attempts to run the show and the things that have been blocking us from our Higher Power. By completing and analyzing our inventory (page 70), we are able to see where our natural instincts for money, sex, power, and prestige have gone out of control, as we attempt to satisfy them in selfish and self-centered ways (page 62). The inventory involves looking at the people we resent (page 64-67), the things we are afraid of (pages 67-68), and the people we have harmed through our misconduct. Step Four enables us to discover, own, and begin to be freed from the “bondage of self” described in the Third Step Prayer.
Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
In Step Five, we share our fourth-step inventory with the person of our choice (usually our sponsor) and continue to discover “the exact nature of our wrongs.” By taking this step, we are able to identify areas where we have allowed our selfishness, our instincts, and our fears to control us. Sharing our inventory allows another human being to help us examine problems that we are unable to understand by ourselves (page 72). After completing Step Five, it is suggested that we go home and review the first five steps of the program and our inventory to see whether we need to add any resentments, fears, or persons we have harmed (page 75). We ask ourselves whether we have withheld anything in our inventory. Have we illuminated “every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past” (page 75)? If so, we are ready for Step Six.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
In reviewing our “shortcomings,” we ask ourselves whether we find these defects of character undesirable and whether we believe God can remove them all. If we feel there are defects we’re not willing to let go of, the Big Book suggests that we pray for the willingness to have them removed (page 76).
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
When Step Six is complete, we say the Seventh Step Prayer to have our shortcomings removed by God as we understand God (page 76).
Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
In Step Eight, we list all the people we have harmed, and we pray for the willingness to make amends to them all. Most of the amends we need to make are disclosed in the resentment inventory (page 67) and our sexual inventory (pages 68-70). We also include anyone else we have harmed who isn’t listed in our fourth-step inventory.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
In Step Nine, we make amends to the people we have harmed. The Big Book gives us examples for how to go about making these actual amends (pages 76-83). Counsel from one’s sponsor, as well as from others who’ve had experience applying this step, is also helpful in showing us how to repair the damage we’ve caused in the past. It is through Step Nine that we’re freed from the guilt, fear, shame, and remorse that results from the harm we’ve done others. Taking this step helps us “to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us” (page 77).
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Having taken the first eight steps and made a beginning on Step Nine, we find ourselves at Steps Ten, Eleven, and Twelve. Although the Twelve Steps are designed to be taken in order, it is suggested that we take Steps Ten, Eleven, and Twelve on a daily basis, while making our ninth-step amends.
The last three steps encompass much of the first nine steps in their structure and application. Step Ten involves continuing to take personal inventory and setting right any new wrongs as we go along. The Big Book teaches us that when our shortcomings “crop up,” we deal with them by using Step Ten (page 84). The main purpose of Step Ten is to prevent us from being blocked off again from God, whose power ultimately keeps us sober (page 64).
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
There are many definitions of prayer and meditation, and a detailed discussion is not practical within the confines of this pamphlet. Some basic suggestions, on pages 86-88 of the text, outline a daily and nightly routine we can apply to allow God to monitor and direct our thinking.
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Having taken the first eleven steps, we are now at Step Twelve and are ready to carry the message to other addicts (pages 89 and 103). Every time we work with another addict we are reminded just how bad it was when we first came into the program. In the newcomer, we recognize the same trembling hands, weight loss, and look of desperation and sheer terror that we had. We hear the unmanageability in terms of depression, misery, and unhappiness, whether openly expressed or feebly concealed. We are reminded of our own past troubles with personal relationships, as we see newcomers struggle with theirs. Finally, our faith in God’s ability to restore us to sanity is reinforced, as we see God transform the life of a newcomer, right before our eyes.
In addition to carrying the message to other addicts, Step Twelve involves practicing these principles in all areas of our lives. If addicts who relapse are fortunate enough to return to the program and analyze what happened, they may find they had stopped practicing these principles in all their affairs. That they were no longer examining their motives, reviewing their days, praying, or carrying the message (pages 15 and 89).
If there were one watchword to describe how these steps should be practiced, it would be “continuously,” for it is only through God and constant application of these principles that we can be assured of the recovery offered by Cocaine Anonymous.
The Twelve Steps are reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous does not mean that A.A. is affiliated with this program. A.A. is a program of recovery from alcoholism. Use of the Steps in connection with programs and activities which are patterned after A.A. but which address other problems does not imply otherwise.
Approved Literature. Copyright 2003, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.
A HIGHER POWER
It is easy enough to confuse the word spirituality with religion. As it relates to God, Cocaine Anonymous is a spiritual program, not a religious one. In C.A., we believe each individual can choose a Higher Power of his or her own. In short, a God of his or her own understanding.
If you are like many of us, you came to C.A. without a conscious belief in a Higher Power. Or, perhaps you chose to avoid a Higher Power because you were taught about a punishing God. It doesn’t matter. All that is necessary to start is that you are open-minded to the idea that some Power greater than yourself may be able to restore you to sanity.
The first step in solving any problem is recognizing it. The same holds true in solving a problem with cocaine.
The second step in solving a problem is believing that there might be a solution. The fact that you’ve come to a C.A. meeting shows that you believe that there is a Power of some kind, greater than yourself, that can help you get your life back in order. You have proven, just by showing up, that you believe that there must be some information, somewhere, you can use to get rid of your obsessions with cocaine, drugs, and/or alcohol. You have already started!
The third step in solving a problem, after having found evidence of a solution, is putting faith in that solution and trying it. The solution for us meant admitting that our management of the problem wasn’t working. Cocaine Anonymous introduced us to a Power greater than ourselves that could manage our problem. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the God that we heard of in the past. It can mean trusting in a Power of our own understanding. This is the beginning of our Higher Power, God, as we understand Him.
Some of us adopt, or come back to, a traditional God. Others see our Higher Power as some kind of force. Some define it as the force of the group, while others don’t define it at all.
At first, it is sufficient for God, as you understand Him, to be the power that the group obviously has to help get rid of the obsession to use.
No one comes into Cocaine Anonymous to find God. We come to these rooms to get rid of a terrifying drug habit. Look around in a meeting. You are surrounded by people who came as a last resort. We came into these rooms emotionally, financially, and spiritually bankrupt. We have experienced all sorts of tragedies as a result of cocaine, drugs, and/or alcohol. We have lived many of the same horrors you have, yet today we are happy. We are free from the misery, terror, and pain of d rug addiction.
As long as you are willing, your belief will grow. You will learn through your own experience and the experiences of others how a Higher Power can help you with your cocaine problem.
Maybe some of us were worse off than you; maybe some of us didn’t hit as low a bottom as you. Still, the fact remains, that those of us who are recovering have come to believe that the power of the group or of a Higher Power of our own understanding can restore us to sanity.
After you are around the Program for a few weeks and months, you will begin to see changes in your thinking. You will begin to feel better. You will see changes in the other newcomers that came in with you. We call those changes miracles. If you are having trouble with the talk about God, remember:
- Be open-minded.
- C.A. is a spiritual program, not a religious one.
- All you have to do is be willing to believe.
- You start with belief, your experience will come.
- Don’t leave before the miracle happens!
Approved Literature. Copyright 2003 Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.
One definition of “anonymous” is “nameless.” Anonymity is vital to the continued growth and existence of Cocaine Anonymous, and the Fellowship’s name contains an implicit promise of privacy. By treating who we see and what we hear at our meetings as confidential, C.A. remains a safe place to share our experience, strength and hope.
Privacy is of the utmost importance when we first enter the Fellowship. We are terrified at the thought that family, friends or work colleagues might find out about our addiction. As we grow in our sobriety, anonymity takes on a greater spiritual emphasis. It calls on us to act with humility; that is, to be right-sized in our opinions of ourselves and our relationship with others.
AS EXPRESSED IN OUR TRADITIONS
C.A.’s Eleventh Tradition states, “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, television and films.”
This Tradition suggests that no one among us act as spokesperson for our Fellowship. If we do carry out service work at the public level, we do so without making our name known. This helps protect both the Fellowship and us. It protects the Fellowship from being tarnished by behavior we may engage in and protects us from grandiosity, which would harm our own recovery.
We are not a secret society. On a personal level, we share our experience with those who may benefit from what we have found. Rather than promoting our solution to drug and alcohol addiction, it is our aim that when prospective fellows see how our lives have turned around, they will be attracted and inspired to join us.
Within our Fellowship, it is the choice of each individual whether to disclose his or her last name or share contact information. If we recognize other C.A. members outside of our meetings, care should be taken to avoid inadvertently breaking their anonymity in front of any non-members present.
The Twelfth Tradition of Cocaine Anonymous states: “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
The spiritual principle of anonymity is humility. As we practice the 12 Steps of Cocaine Anonymous, self-esteem grows and we become comfortable with ourselves. We are no longer overly concerned about how others view us. We are able to apply the principles of honesty, unselfishness, purity of motive and love in our dealings with others, irrespective of who they are. The application of humility affords us balanced judgment and leads us to a better future.
AS DISCUSSED IN THE C.A. WORLD SERVICE MANUAL
Traditionally, C.A. members have always taken care to preserve their anonymity at the public level: press, radio, television and films. We know from experience that many people with drug problems might hesitate to turn to C.A. for help if they thought their problems might be discussed publicly, even inadvertently, by others. Newcomers should be able to seek help with complete assurance that their identities will not be disclosed to anyone outside the Fellowship.
We believe that the concept of personal anonymity has a spiritual significance for us: it discourages the drives for personal recognition, power, prestige or profit that have caused difficulties in some societies. Much of our relative effectiveness in working with other addicts might be impaired if we sought or accepted public recognition.
While each member of C.A. is free to make his or her own interpretation of C.A. Traditions, no individual is ever recognized as a spokesperson for the Fellowship locally, nationally or internationally. Each member speaks only for themselves.
Cocaine Anonymous is grateful to all media for their assistance in strengthening and observing our Tradition of anonymity. Periodically, the C.A. World Service Office sends to all major media a letter describing the Tradition and asking their support in observing it.
A C.A. member may, for various reasons, “break anonymity” deliberately at the public level. Since that is a matter of individual choice and conscience, the Fellowship as a whole has no control over such deviations from Tradition. It is clear, however, that they do not have the approval of the group conscience of C.A. members.
Additional guidance regarding anonymity in social networking may be found in the C.A. World Service Conference Information Technology Committee Workbook and Guidelines, which are available at www.ca.org.
Approved Literature. Copyright 2012 Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.
CHOOSING YOUR SPONSOR
By this time you may have gone to meetings and heard lots of talk about working the Steps, a power greater than ourselves and getting a sponsor. You may also have become aware that Cocaine Anonymous is based on the Twelve Steps of Recovery. But, if you’re like many of us were, you’re not sure what is meant by working the Steps, finding a Higher Power or getting a sponsor.
Many of us would not have been able to stay clean and sober were it not for the special one-to-one relationships with our sponsors.
C.A. may at first seem unfamiliar. During the early days of sobriety, it’s a good idea to get a sponsor. At first, you might have a lot of questions and concerns, and a sponsor can devote more time to your individual questions than regular meetings allow. Sponsors can introduce you to other people at meetings. It might help you feel more comfortable at meetings to be with someone who knows his or her way around.
Although people at meetings respond to our questions willingly, that alone isn’t enough. Many other questions occur to us between meetings; many of us find that we need constant, close support as we begin learning how to live sober.
What Is A Sponsor?
A sponsor is a clean and sober addict who shares with you how they maintain their sobriety by working the Twelve Steps. The sponsor’s primary tools are his or her experience, strength and hope.
There are no specific rules, but a sponsor should probably be sober for a year or more and be enjoying his or her new life as a result of the Twelve Steps.
< i>A sponsor was once a newcomer too, and has used the C.A. program to deal with problems similar to those the newcomer is now facing.
Sharing the lessons of what he or she has learned staying sober is what a sponsor is all about. On a one-to-one basis, a sponsor can share his or her experience, strength and hope in living a happy, joyous and free life.
Sponsors are not professional counselors and are not certified to offer legal, psychiatric or medical advice. Nor is a sponsor someone upon whom we can rely to get us jobs, clothing or food. Sponsors have been down the rocky road before and often can suggest where you can obtain the professional help you might need. Do not hesitate to call your sponsor. It may be hard at first to pick up the phone — we do not find it easy to ask for help. But remember, a sponsor has been there and knows how you feel.
Finding A Sponsor
Some of the ways we have gotten to know people and found a sponsor are:
- Listening to the feelings being shared at meetings.
- Asking members of the fellowship for their phone numbers, then actually calling and talking to them.
- Going to coffee after meetings with other sober addicts.
- Sharing at meetings.
- Asking others to recommend someone as a sponsor.
When choosing a sponsor, remember that this does not have to be a life-long relationship. Many of us have had different sponsors at different times in our sobriety. Others have had the same sponsor since early sobriety. The point is that YOU must take the initiative and reach out.
A Discussion of Sponsorship
In C.A., experience has shown that it’s best for men to sponsor men and women to sponsor women. This custom promotes quick understanding and reduces the likelihood of emotional distractions, which might take the newcomer’s mind off the purpose of Cocaine Anonymous.
At times, we may feel uncomfortable with what our sponsor suggests. But remember sponsors have traveled the road before and are sharing their experience with us to help us through difficult times.
Which sponsor is best for you? No one but you can answer that question. Sponsors may share interests similar to yours, but may also be totally different. It’s best to attend meetings and listen to what experienced individuals have to say about living the steps with strength and hope. Again, a sponsor only shares his or her experience, strength and hope. By sharing our difficulties with our sponsor on a one-to-one basis, it makes day-to-day living a lot easier and our struggle less lonely.
Remember, sponsors have lives outside C.A. They have families, jobs and other responsibilities. Although a sponsor will do whatever he or she can to help you maintain your sobriety, there will be times when a sponsor is truly unavailable. So what are we to do? Check listings for the next C.A. meeting, read the steps and literature, contact the local C.A. office, or pull out those telephone numbers of other recovering addicts and call. Keep an active telephone list of recovering addicts with you and above all CALL. Your call will be helping the other person as much as it helps you. Other recovering addicts know what you are experiencing and will sincerely help you through the rough times. But before you can get help, you have to reach out and ask for it. It’s there, ready and willing to be shared.
A person may have more than one sponsor. Someone with two or more sponsors has a wider range of experience available to him or her. Others, however, feel that having only one sponsor promotes a more focused approach to the C.A. program.
It is never too late to get a sponsor. Whether you are a newcomer hesitant about “bothering” someone, or a member who has been around for some time trying to go it alone, sponsorship is yours for the asking. We urge you: DO NOT DELAY. We in C.A. want to share what we have learned with other addicts because experience has taught us that we keep what we have by giving it away.
Most members of Cocaine Anonymous owe their sobriety to the fact that someone else took a special interest in them and was willing to share a great gift with them. A C.A. member often finds that getting a good sponsor, talking frankly and listening can make the whole program open up as it never did before.
Approved Literature. Copyright 2000, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.
BEING OF SERVICE
We came into the program with big egos but little or no self-esteem. We thought we were better than other people yet, at the same time, felt “less than.” We were people who took from others and abused friendships all of our lives. We had no concept of doing anything for anyone without the thought of some kind of reward. By the sheer grace of our Higher Powers, we have found several ways of unlearning such behavior in the program. One way is to be of service to the fellowship of Cocaine Anonymous. We discovered that the best way to serve God was to serve our fellow humans, and we found humility in the process. Our self-centered behavior was gradually replaced with the “attitude of service.” We learned that service is about gratitude and learning how to contribute to our lives and the lives of others.
Why Be of Service?
- To give back what was so freely given to us
- To take on a commitment as a symbolic way of making amends
- To meet other recovering addicts
- To learn how to be part of a team
- To learn humility by doing something selfless for someone else
- To learn skills or teach others what we know
- To learn responsibility
Ways To Be of Service
Service Opportunities at the Meeting and Area Level
Meeting Setup – Arrive early to set up chairs, make coffee, and greet newcomers.
Hotline – Did you find CA through a hotline? Answer the phones for your area’s hotline and be on the “frontline” of helping others find CA and recovery.
Treasurer – Pass the 7th Tradition basket and keep track of funds for a meeting – it’s a great way to learn responsibility.
GSR/DSR (Group/District Service Representative) – Get involved in the business aspects of CA by representing one of your meetings or districts at your District/Area business meeting.
Secretary – Ensure that a meeting will always be there for those who need it by choosing speakers, paying the rent, and keeping it running smoothly and consistently. You might even consider helping the fellowship grow by starting a new meeting.
Committees at the Area and/or World Service Level
Convention – Help plan big sober parties and carry the message of recovery at the same time.
Literature – If you have writing skills or ideas that could reach out in print to people who are still suffering, express those ideas on this World Service committee.
Finance – Put your accounting, business, or money management skills to good use in CA’s financial matters.
Public Information – Reach out through the media to those who have never heard of CA.
Hospitals & Institutions – Help develop ne w ways to reach out to people who are unable to reach out for themselves.
Unity – Enhance communication and outreach among the diverse elements within our fellowship.
Structure & Bylaws – Formulate bylaws, guidelines, and structures by which CA can operate.
Conference – Help organize the World Service Conference each year, where delegates from all over the world meet to conduct CA business.
Area & World Service Office Boards of Directors – Serve as a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, or Director at Large. Conduct the day-to-day business operations of CA to ensure that it is there for newcomers the way it was there for you.
Ask your GSR who you can contact for more information about how to be of service.
Share a commitment, such as a hotline slot, if your schedule doesn’t allow you to have one of your own. Find a place where you can be of service and then give 100%.
Volunteer at a meeting when help is asked for or better yet, before it is asked for.
Encourage the people you sponsor to take on commitments and then help them to keep those commitments.
Ask your sponsor what type of service commitment you could take on that would best serve the fellowship.
Adopt the attitude of service without reward.
Time spent working on a commitment
is time not spent getting loaded.
Approved Literature. Copyright 2003, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.
A NEW HIGH FROM H&I
One way we do this is by holding meetings in hospitals and institutions for people who are not able to attend outside meetings. Institutions served may include, but not be limited to, correctional facilities, sanitariums, detox units, juvenile detention centers, half-way houses and shelters, either governmental or private. Confinement may be voluntary or involuntary.
Through working with others in H&Is, members of Cocaine Anonymous share their experience, strength and hope. Below are some of our feelings about out H&I experiences.
Remembering Where We Came From
“My first experience with doing H&I work was when I had 90 days sober and went to speak on a panel at a hospital. I was sure I had nothing to offer, nothing to say. I sat there listening to the speakers before me and knew they had said everything I wanted to say. When it was my turn, I just opened my mouth and let the words pour out. I not only said what someone in the room needed to hear, but things that I needed to hear.”
“When the meeting was over, I spent some time talking to the patients and shared some more of my hope, faith and courage. I left that meeting feeling a sense of happiness and joy I never felt before. I still feel that high whenever I speak on a panel, especially to a group of adolescents.”
“H&I helps me to remember where I came from. It also allows me to watch the miracle of recovery change others and in doing so, it allows me to change myself. There are no words that can describe the feeling inside when someone I first met at an H&I panel gets his/her first year token.”
“Being a recovering addict, the most dangerous thing for me is to forget that I am an addict or to think that I can use successfully, but that is exactly what my addiction tries to get me to believe. Whenever I go into a detox meeting, I am always reminded of the simple truth of addiction and its consequences. This helps me to stay sober and to be grateful for my recovery. It was passed through this method to me, and I feel blessed to be able to carry on the tradition.”
“Leaving the correctional facility, I feel ecstatic; grateful for the privilege of being a vehicle of my Higher Power and hopeful that a seed may have been planted in the mind of even one still- suffering addict. I share the miracle of my recovery and how Cocaine Anonymous has changed my life; H&I service work helps me to stay clean and sober today. This is one of the ways it works for me. Through service in H&I, my gratitude is multiplied.”
“As a parent, when I leave a youth lockdown facility, I thank God that it wasn’t one of my children listening to the panel. Most of all, I feel grateful that I am sober and carrying the message of C.A. to those who are not so fortunate.”
“My reason for H&I is a selfish one: to stay clean and remain grateful for what I have. It offers me a feeling of usefulness to God and to mankind.”
“The look in the patients’ eyes, the sweat on their foreheads and on the palms of their hands; they’re not sure if they can stay sober another day. That makes you feel grateful because when the meeting is over, you’re going home. That’s the only difference between you and them.”
Doors opening instead of closing,
being able to give it away
the hunger for recovery
The newcomer in a hospital or institution … gives me humility and constant realization of hope.”
“It is my belief that sharing my experience, strength and hope through H&Is, I hope that I may in some small way help another suffering addict see a glimmer of hope and a better way of life. But for the grace of God … there go I.”
“When I speak on an H&I panel, the feeling that something special is going on is immediate. The patients’ or inmates’ eyes light up as I’m telling my story. They’ve been where I’ve been and have felt what I’ve felt … hopelessness. Now they’re sitting in a hospital or jail, wondering ‘Where do I go from here?’ As I share the path my recovery has taken, I see at times the look of hope re-enter their faces as they think ‘Maybe this will work for me, too.’ I feel great sharing my hope, faith and courage with the addicts who need it most.”
A New High from H&I
“What do I get out of H&I? Being affiliated with H&I has given me a broader outlook on who I am as a person, because I have to give it away to keep it. Just being able to walk in and out of institutions is a blessing.”
“During my 26 years that I used on a daily basis, I never experienced the euphoria that I enjoyed last month. While attending a C.A. panel two years ago in a center for the Department of Corrections, I observed a new inmate in complete denial of his disease. During the next year and a half, I received the gift of watching this man grow through the Twelve Steps. He was released to a half-way house where C.A. holds another panel, and both of us participated on that panel. Last month, he attended the H&I Committee meeting and was placed on a panel that is going back to the same jail in which we met. That same night, he picked up his 18-month chip.”
“When people look at me today, laughing and cheerful, many ask me what I’m up to. My response is consistently, ‘I’m working with others.’”
If you like what you’ve read here, identify with the feelings being shared, and want to feel similar feelings, you can attend your local H&I committee meeting and participate in your own recovery by helping others.
Cocaine Anonymous “We’re Here and We’re Free”™
C.A. Conference-Approved Literature, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc., Copyright 1994-2004. All rights reserved.
DOS & DONT’S FOR 12TH-STEP CALLS FOR ADDICTS
keeping in mind the hopelessness and despair of active addiction. Provided we are spiritually fit, we can offer help to a still-suffering addict at any place
and at any time.
Since helping others is paramount to our program of recovery, please keep in mind these suggestions of what to do:
Always take at least one other person on a Twelfth-Step call and whenever possible, meet the prospect in a public place or at a meeting.
Be certain that you can remain safe from physical harm.
It is suggested that men make Twelfth-Step calls on men and women make Twelfth-Step calls on women. For purposes of this pamphlet, we refer to the prospect with masculine pronouns, but the suggestions are intended to apply to both men and women.
Bring a phone and be ready to call for emergency medical assistance if necessary.
Bring Hope, Faith & Courage Volume I and/or Volume II, C.A. pamphlets, a Big Book, and a list of local C.A. meetings with you.
Ask your prospect if he wants to stop using and is willing to go to any length to quit. Start the conversation in a general way to establish a rapport, and then turn the discussion to some aspect of using.
Encourage your prospect to tell you about himself. Assure him that you will maintain his anonymity. If he won’t talk, discuss your using career until the point where you quit. Emphasize the troubles using has caused you.
Talk to the prospect about the disease of addiction. Focus on your personal experience and the hopelessness of this fatal illness. Make it clear that he does not have to agree with your concept of a Higher Power.
Describe C.A.’s Twelve-Step program of recovery and explain how it is working for you.
Offer your friendship and make it clear that if he has a desire to stop using you will do whatever you can to help.
Let your prospect know that this process benefits you because helping others is a vital part of your recovery. It gets you out of yourself and helps you stay sober.
Remember that you are there to offer assistance and guidance. Let your prospect know that he owes you nothing; your only hope is that he will help others when he has gained and maintained sobriety.
Here are a few serious suggestions we hope you’ll remember regarding what we don’t do:
Never go alone to make a Twelfth-Step call.
Never jeopardize your own safety or sobriety.
If you have been convicted of a felony or are currently on probation or parole, you may not want to perform a Twelfth-Step call. (Most felony convictions don’t allow felons to consort with active drug users. You may want to consult an attorney.)
Don’t bring any weapons.
Never meet your prospect at a dope house or in a bar.
Don’t deal with the prospect when he is high unless there is a danger of overdose or the family needs your help. You would be wasting your time trying to persuade him to stop using.
Don’t loan your prospect money or move him into your home. There are other resources available to help newcomers transition successfully into the community.
Don’t give him other drugs (to postpone withdrawal and/or counteract the ones he may be using). Remember that we are not doctors, so the diagnosis is not up to you—only the help.
It is unwise to approach a prospect unless you have some background from either his family or close friends—but don’t call his employer, spouse, family or the police as a way of leveraging him into recovery.
At this point, most addicts who are using do not want to listen to evangelism or criticism, so be careful not to use religious verbiage or theological terms, no matter what your convictions may be.
Never force yourself on the prospect. If you are asked not to come back, don’t go back. It will not be helpful to contradict your prospect if he shows resistance to working the Steps. There is no need to pressure him into making a decision right there.
Don’t spend too many hours on a single Twelfth-Step call. If the prospect does not have a desire to get sober, seek out another who does want your help.
Remember, if our motives are correct, and we are making the Twelfth-Step call to help bring a suffering addict into recovery, we don’t have to be afraid. We can rely on our Higher Power to keep us safe and protected.
Approved Literature. Copyright 2012 Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.
THE 7TH TRADITION
Where does the money in the basket go?
You’re probably like many of us when we first came into the rooms of Cocaine Anonymous—we put our money into the basket and then we saw that one person who we thought was the boss or president of C.A. take the money and put it into an envelope or into his or her pocket or pocketbook. At first, this did not seem to be a big deal; then, we came to a point at which we wondered what happened to the money in the basket:
- Does the speaker or chairperson get paid?
- Does the treasurer keep the money?
- Who makes the coffee?
- Does the coffee-maker buy the coffee with his or her own money?
- What’s this business about rent?
- Isn’t C.A. part of this church or hospital?
Many of us asked these questions as well. To explain all of these questions, and many others, let’s follow “the money in the basket.”
The coffee-maker is usually the first person to show up. He or she buys the coffee, sugar, milk, and snacks prior to the meeting and sets up before everyone arrives. The meeting begins and, usually before the break, the basket is passed and donations are collected. The treasurer takes the donations and reimburses the coffee-maker for the costs of the coffee, sugar, milk, and snacks. Then, usually after the break, the treasurer gives a report on the total donations collected and the expenses paid out. If there is money left over, the treasurer keeps a record of it, and is accountable to the group.
What happens to the leftover money?
Cocaine Anonymous is not affiliated with the hospitals, churches, or halls where our meetings are held; we pay rent and/or make a donation to these institutions for the use of their space. This arrangement is mandated by our preamble, which states that we are not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution.
Rent money comes from the donations put into the basket. The meeting’s treasurer is responsible for paying the rent on time and reporting this to the group.
So is that it? Are rent an d coffee our only expenses? Where do the key chains, coins, and literature come from?
After the break we usually hear the secretary read some announcements, point out the literature table, and then give out key chains and coins.
Meetings purchase literature, coins, and key chains from the C.A. World Service Office, usually through their local District or Area. Your meeting’s secretary is responsible for keeping track of these items. When the supply of any of them gets low, he or she puts together an order and gives it to the treasurer. The treasurer then takes money from the donations in the basket and gives the order form and money to your meeting’s Group Service Representative (GSR). The GSR takes the order form and the money to the monthly District or Area meeting and gets the literature, coins, and key chains to bring back to your meeting. Methods vary, but this is the way in which many meetings operate.
Let’s now review a meeting’s typical expenses:
- Coffee, milk, sugar, snacks, etc.
- Key chains, chips and literature
fter all these expenses are paid, it is suggested that your group keep enough of the leftover donations to cover two months’ worth of expenses. This is called a prudent reserve.
What is a prudent reserve?
A prudent reserve is a “savings” to be used when donations to the basket are scarce.
How much of a reserve is prudent?
We’ve found that two months’ worth of expenses is enough to cover the lean times. The following table is provided to help figure your meeting’s prudent reserve:
Coffee and supplies per week
Coffee and supplies per month (weekly X 4)
Literature, keychains, coins per month
Add lines 1, 2 and 3 above together
Multiply line 4 by two
So what happens to the rest of the money?
This is where the 70/30 plan comes in. With the 70/30 plan, 70% of your meeting’s remaining funds are donated to your District or Area meeting and 30% are donated to the C.A. World Service Office.
Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the addict who still suffers. We’ve found that nothing diverts us from our primary purpose like problems of money, property, and prestige.
What do the Districts/Areas do with this money?
Your District and/or Area exists to serve you and is responsible to your meeting. Your District and/or Area also has expenses that can include a hotline’s telephone bill or answering service and the publishing of meeting schedules. It also purchases literature, coins, and key chains and keeps enough of them on hand for the groups it serves. Districts and Areas must also keep a prudent reserve.
So what does the C.A. World Service Office (CAWSO) do with this money?
The CAWSO is responsible for public relations, the distribution and publication of all literature, world directories, newsletters, world conference material, and meeting starter kits. These are just a few of the many responsibilities of the CAWSO. The CAWSO is there to serve you as well as your Group, District, and Area.
Cocaine Anonymous features limited terms at all levels of service. According to Tradition Two, “Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.” Once our term of commitment has expired, we step down and a replacement is elected. Even our Trustees step down after serving for 4 years. There are no leaders in C.A.; we are all trusted servants. Our service boards and committees have been created to help the addict who is still suffering; to give back what we have freely received.
So, the next time you put your money into the basket, think of all the things that are being accomplished and how YOU are helping the addict who is still suffering.
Donations = Twelve Step Work
C.A. Conference-Approved Literature, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc., Copyright 1994-2004. All rights reserved.
REACHING OUT TO THE DEAF & HARD OF HEARING
- Currently, six to ten percent of the United States’ general population are deaf or hard of hearing. Of that number, ten percent are addicts and/or alcoholics (approximately 2 million).
- Without access to a program of recovery, this very large group of people are again, left to die or fend for themselves.
Cocaine Anonymous’ preamble states that “our primary purpose is to stay free from cocaine and all other mind-altering substances, and to help others achieve the same freedom.” C.A.’s 12th Step tells us that we, as a Fellowship, have a responsibility to reach out to carry this message to addicts. The 1st and 5th Traditions remind us that “our common welfare comes first, that personal recovery DEPENDS upon C.A. unity” and that “each group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the addicts who still suffers.”
So just how does one reach out to the deaf or hard of hearing?
There are many ways! Like everything else, reaching out to the deaf or hard of hearing addict requires willingness and open-mindedness. In this pamphlet, we present some ways to help you get started.
A. Bring the message of C.A. recovery to the hard of hearing
- Start a meeting at a local school for the Deaf. These schools can be located in your local phone book and/or by contacting your State Commission on Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
- Bring literature and leave extra copies behind.
- Welcome those present with hugs or handshakes.
- Be willing to stay after the meeting and talk with those present (with the help of an interpreter).
- Bring writing pads and pens to aid communication.
- Invite members and interpreters out to coffee, if school rules allow. Remember! We are guests!
- Their rules must be respected.
B. Establish at least one meeting per month at which an interpreter is present
- Include this information in meeting schedules.
- Advise Helpline(s), local newspapers, concerned agenci es and schools, and clergy of meeting.
- Confirm interpreter one week prior to meeting.
- Have special seating reserved in front of the room.
- Welcome newcomers with hugs or handshakes.
- Speak slowly to allow for lip-reading.
- Ask newcomers and interpreters out to coffee.
- Ensure meeting budget can afford interpreter (approximately $50-$75) and include this in Prudent Reserve.
- If transportation is a problem, have members of the meeting volunteer to pick up and drive new members home.
- Arrange for an interpreter to be present well in advance. Confirm the date with him/her one week prior to event/convention.
- Distribute flyers announcing the event/convention to local schools, agencies and social clubs for the deaf.
- Arrange reserved seating in the front row.
- Have all C.A. literature available.
- Remember our 1st Tradition!
D. General Ways to Reach Out and Touch Deaf Addicts
- Send all current C.A. literature to schools for the deaf, social agencies that help this community (via Public Information andHospitals & Institutions Committees), and treatment centers in your area.
- Establish contact with local interpreters (via State Commission on Deaf and Hard of Hearing). Answer any questions they may have on recovery and C. A. Invite interpreters to open meetings (advise them of our anonymity statements).
- Be WILLING to reach out your hand in C.A. service and/or on 12th Step calls to deaf/hard of hearing addicts still suffering. (Remember, never go on a 12th Step call alone!)
- Find out if your state has a telephone relay service (this is often a free service) to enable communication — computer modem, fax, TDY.
IDENTIFY … DON’T COMPARE!
Share your EXPERIENCE, STRENGTH & HOPE.
That’s why we all come to Cocaine Anonymous.
Communicate the message of Faith, Hope and Courage.
|With the right open hand near the right side of your forehead and the left open hand forward of the left side of your forehead, palms facing each other, bend the fingers down on both hands towards each other twice.|
|Move the extended right index finger from your forehead smoothly down, changing into an “S” hand (closed fist), meeting the left “S” hand in front of the chest, both palms facing your body.|
|Bring the fingers of both loose “claw” hands from in front of the shoulders, palms toward body, outward, changing into “S” hands a few inches from the chest.|
Approved Literature. Copyright 2003, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.
CA IS ALSO FOR THE GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL OR TRANSGENDER ADDICT
Many of us have lived our lives in a world of prejudice, bigotry and hatred just because we were gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender — different from mainstream society. Some of us started using cocaine or other drugs out of a simple desire to feel accepted in a world that seemingly had no place for us. Perhaps it was as simple as finding ourselves swept up in the fast and decadent world of all-night clubs and circuit parties that we had discovered while we explored our sexual orientation. Others sought escape from the harsh judgment and rejection we felt from our families and friends every time we got drunk or high. For many of us, the only way we could deal with our feelings of being different was to numb ourselves with drugs and alcohol.
Often we were shunned or rejected by our families. We were sometimes pushed aside or judged by religion, being told that God hated us and that our lifestyle would take us to Hell. Perhaps we even felt that God did hate us; that He had abandoned us. We believed that no one could possibly relate to our struggles or our lifestyles. We asked ourselves, “Can God help me, even though I’m not like everybody else? How can I possibly get sober?” It wasn’t enough that we had a disease which made us dependent upon mind-altering chemicals and made our lives unmanageable; we believed our social interaction — our entire style of life — was being judged by the rest of the world. Even worse, we often experienced self-loathing and judging of ourselves.
Then we discovered Cocaine Anonymous and learned that the only requirement for membership was a desire to stop using cocaine and all other mind-altering substances. This was reassuring, yet many of us still felt separate from the rest of the group. We worried that our sexual orientation was so big a barrier that it would keep us from truly relating with our fellows in Cocaine Anonymous. Then we heard some of the other members share their experiences. As we listened, we related to the similarities; we realized we weren’t the only ones who feared we were “different.” We heard hope, faith and courage and began to believe that maybe we, too, could recover.
When we first made it to a meeting of Cocaine Anonymous, we were offered a helping hand. Those who reached out didn’t care if we were male, female, rich, poor, what drugs we used, what religion we were, or what color our skin was. The fact that some of us were gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender was not an obstacle; those carrying the message of recovery to us were far more focused on our need for sobriety than our sexual orientation. Their unconditional love and acceptance made us feel comfortable and welcomed.
“When I first went to C.A., I was deeply in the closet, but I knew I couldn’t keep it a secret from everyone. So I chose a person in the rooms I thought I could trust. It still took me a couple weeks to open up, but when I did, I felt as if a giant load had been lifted off of my shoulders. My sponsor didn’t judge me or withdraw from me at all. In fact, my sponsor became one of my best friends and closest advisors.”
For many of us, admitting an addiction is similar to coming out as GLBT: it can be scary to be open about something we have hidden or denied for so long. Like coming out, getting honest about addiction ultimately improves our lives and opens up possibilities we never knew existed. Being part of the GLBT community, we can often feel that we are much different from others. What we find in C.A. is that many people, from all walks of life, share these feelings of being different, not fitting in, and that these feelings play a role in our addiction. By seeing our similarities to others, even those whose experiences, lifestyles or choices are unlike our own, we can find a place where our sexual and/or gender identities become a part of who we are, and not all we are … and not all we can be. We can see that our struggles with sex issues are not so different from anyone else’s.
We worked the Twelve Steps and discovered the many joys of sobriety. We found the gift of feeling comfortable in our own skin and the courage to be ourselves. We discovered that it didn’t matter whether we were in or out of the closet. All that was necessary was to show up with a desire to be clean and sober. We can join in harmonious action with other addicts to stay in the solution.
We cherish the feeling of belonging we’ve found in Cocaine Anonymous, so it is important — imperative — that we continue this cycle. We know how important it is to feel “a part of.” Our Fifth Tradition tells us that our primary purpose is to carry the message of recovery to the addict who still suffers and this is what we endeavor to do. No one should ever feel ostracized or judged in Cocaine Anonymous. We understand the pain and fear caused by the disease of addiction; we empathize with the new member’s reluctance and confusion because we have “been there.” We have felt “apart from” and we understand. We can honestly say, “We know who you are, and we know Cocaine Anonymous is the place for you, because it is the place for us.”
Approved Literature. Copyright 2010, Cocaine Anonymous World Services, Inc.