Opiates Anonymous World Services
*Although OPA is based on the program of recovery outlined in the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous, OPA is not affiliated with AA.
In December of 2012, a group of members of a twelve step fellowship in Nassau County, NY had been discussing
the idea of creating a new fellowship to attract opiate addicts. On Thursday January 24, 2013 members of the
other twelve step fellowship met after a meeting and agreed on the name Opiates Anonymous for the new fellowship.
The group then approached AA World Services to seek approval to use the twelve steps and twelve traditions of AA.
AA accepted the request to adopt AA's twelve steps for the new fellowship.
Members of the group then searched for places to start a new meeting. St. Frances de Chantal in Wantagh was
willing to host a meeting of the new fellowship. The first meeting for Opiates Anonymous was held on Wednesday
March 6, 2013 at 8 PM. The room was full and then meetings began to start in other locations.
Shortly after the first meeting of Opiates Anonymous, members of other fellowships began discussing the
idea of taking a vote through their group conscience to change the fellowship to Opiates Anonymous. Members
quickly realized that the overwhelming majority of the members were opiate addicts. The groups realized
that Tradition Eleven could work to the newcomers advantage to attract them and get them in the door to hear
the twelve step message of recovery based on the BB of AA. Group conscience votes were taken and two more
meetings were added in April of 2013. Since then meetings have sprung up in several southern NY counties:
Nassau, Suffolk, Brooklyn, Queens, and Weschester. Inquiries from people in a number of states started to come
in and Opiates Anonymous now has meetings in Texas and Michigan. At the time of its two year anniversary
in March of 2015, Opiates Anonymous has doubled in size from March of 2014.
Why use the book Alcoholics Anonymous as the guide for Opiates Anonymous?
In Opiates Anonymous, we prefer the original twelve step program which was outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. Besides differences in Step One, differences in twelve step literature makes it apparent that not all twelve step programs are in fundamental agreement with the original program. We recognize that others may have found that a different approach with Twelve Steps, other than the original program, may work for them.
In Opiates Anonymous our Step One is: “We admitted we were powerless over opiates and all mind altering substances – that our lives had become unmanageable”. We are of the belief that Step One means that addicts of the hopeless variety will use no matter what. We refer to an addict of the hopeless variety as one who is not able to stop and stay stopped no matter what potential solution they have tried to stop using drugs. For this reason, we recognize that addicts need to tap into a power greater than themselves to prevent them from using as soon as they are willing to take action. For us, keeping the program as simple as possible makes it more practical. This is just our preference.
The book Alcoholics Anonymous (also known as the “Big Book”) is the original text from which all other twelve step programs were formed. We prefer its clear-cut and simple approach. The book Alcoholics Anonymous contains a written set of instructions to recover that has proven itself over time. Written in 1939 by the experience of the first one hundred alcoholics to get sober in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the program of recovery described in the Big Book has not changed. In 1955 at the writing of the Second Edition of the Big Book, many alcoholics who contributed to the writing of the Second Edition had twenty years of experience at that point. So what did they find needed to be changed in the program of recovery from the countless experiences of the first 100 alcoholics from 1939? Nothing. It was not broken, so they did not need to fix it. In 1939, they humbly wrote “we realize we only know a little.” However, in 1955 they did not know any more than in 1939. The countless experiences with the human condition in the 1930’s proved to be right on point. They had enough humility to show restraint not to change anything just because they could in 1955. It was working as thousands and thousands were getting sober, books were selling, and AA groups were forming all over the US and worldwide. There were great challenges to handle their tremendous growth and the fellowship was trial and error until the traditions helped create unity and a primary purpose.
In Opiates Anonymous, we heard the stories and we witnessed the miracles for those who fully embraced this twelve step design for living. We witnessed and experienced the same blessings that those in AA had witnessed and experienced. So how could a solution from the 1930’s work for the addict today? Three key factors have not changed. The idea of choosing one’s own conception of a higher power has not changed since 1939, neither has human nature nor mankind’s addiction to chemical fixes. Furthermore, founders of other twelve- step programs got clean and sober in AA before helping to start new fellowships. We are grateful to them for leading by example and showing the world that addicts could recover through the twelve step process outlined in the Big Book. In Opiates Anonymous, we prefer to use the same book as our guide that countless addicts have used as their guide for years.
Opiates Anonymous is a 12 step fellowship whose members have a desire to stop using opiates and all other mind altering substances. Our members share their experience on how they have recovered from a hopeless state so that they may help others to recover. We do not endorse nor oppose any outside causes. We wish to stay free from any controversy. We are not affiliated with any political organizations, religions, sects, or denominations. Our Seventh Tradition states that we are fully self-supporting declining outside contributions. The only membership requirement is a desire to stop using opiates and all other mind-altering substances. Our Fifth Tradition states that our primary purpose is to carry the message to the addict who still suffers. Our 12 Step Recovery Program is based on the instructions in the first 164 pages of the book Alcoholics Anonymous because our experience has shown us that it is simple and that it works.
Why is Opiates Anonymous - "opiates and all mind-altering substances?"
Step One is all inclusive because as addicts we cannot have any mind-altering substance. It has been our
experience that if we ingest any mind altering substance that we are feeding the problem since
addiction centers in the mind. Based on our experience, if we have one of any mind-altering substance
our mind is tainted. While under the influence of some “milder” substance, we are more likely to
believe the lie that we are going to control our opiate or other drug use. We think it is important to
address this. Hence, Opiates Anonymous’ Step One includes “opiates and all mind-altering substances”.
We model our twelve step program after AA with the exception of switching alcohol to opiates but
including all mind-altering substances because of the aforementioned reasons. AA is any drug under the
classification of alcohol – i.e vodka, beer, wine, whiskey etc. In Opiates Anonymous, we emphasize any
drug under the opiate/opiod classification i.e, Vicodin, morphine, heroin, oxycodone, Percocet etc.
We recognize that there is a technical difference between opiates and opiods. Nevertheless, we try
to keep our program simple and recognize the common effects that opiates and opioids have on an addict.
However, all who think they may have a drug problem are welcome. At our meetings, about 95% of the members
are there for opiates so the identification is largely skewed to the opiate addict. It has been our experience
that the approximate 5% who sought help as the result of the inability to stop drugs other than those in the opiate/opiod
classification do not detract from the opiate addict’s identification.
We have found through our twelve step work in rehabs, detoxes and other institutions that we can
reach more people if we do not single out a particular substance. The identification is largely with the
opiate classification. We have found that many addicts have started with opiate pills and then their addiction
progresses. If we can get the hopeless and willing addict in to a twelve step program before their addiction
progresses, that may saves lives if they can get a connection with Power to stop sooner rather
than later. We have to attract them though. Hence, the names Opiates Anonymous.
How We Recover
Staying free from opiates after we have detoxed is our dilemma. All of us are familiar with the battle that we face in our minds, the excuses we tell ourselves. The pain is too great. I can’t handle life’s troubles. We all have given in to the delusion that it will be different this time or we will handle it this time. We of Opiates Anonymous understand. We have all been there. So how is it that we have recovered you must be asking? The first step towards recovery is admitting we are powerless over opiates and all other mind altering substances; that we are unable to not start the terrible cycle of addiction all over again. Opiates Anonymous is a Spiritual program not a religious one. Each of us gets to choose our own idea of a Power greater than our selves.
Here are the steps we took to recover from addiction.
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.
Opiates Anonymous World Services, Inc. approved literature, 2013