Area Service Committee
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"Workhorse" of the service structure–maybe that's the best way to describe the area service committee. Most of the hands-on work of delivering NA services to the groups and the community occurs at the area level.
- NA groups support meetings where addicts can share their recovery with one another. Only minimal organization is necessary to hold those meetings. But there are lots more that can be done to further the aims of Narcotics Anonymous:
- NA panel presentations at addiction treatment centers and correctional facilities can reach addicts particularly in need of what we have to offer.
- Public information presentations to schools and community groups, mailings to addiction treatment professionals, meeting notices in newspapers, and public service announcements on local radio and television stations can help direct people to NA.
- Directories showing where and when NA groups in the area hold their recovery meetings can help addicts and others find nearby meetings being conducted at times convenient to them.
- A phoneline service can help addicts seeking recovery find a meeting in their area. It can also provide information about NA to interested community members.
- A ready supply of NA books and pamphlets can make it easier for groups to stock their literature tables.
- Social activities can help addicts feel more comfortable in their local NA community and increase unity and camaraderie among area members.
All of these services require a certain degree of organization, the complexity of which could easily divert NA groups from the week-in, week-out task of conducting Narcotics Anonymous meetings for their members. Most of these services also require more money and manpower than any single group could possibly muster. How do groups stay focused on their primary purpose and still see that these other services are developed and maintained? In the words of NA's Ninth Tradition, they "create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve." And the service committee closest to home, the committee best situated to provide the most direct service to the groups and the community, is the area service committee.
A newly formed area committee will not be able to provide the same level of service as a longer-established committee. That's only natural. A new area service committee should not expect to hit the ground running at full speed. The development of the full range of area services described in this chapter often takes a few years. Be patient and keep plugging; it's worth the effort.
Just as individual members of NA rely upon one another for support, so do area committees. New committees in particular can draw upon the experience of their neighbors in charting a course for local services, whether those neighbors are in the next county or the next country. New ASCs can also draw encouragement from their neighbors' assurance that, given time, effort, and the application of principles, "it works." None of us has to do it alone, not in personal recovery and not in service, not anymore.
What is an Area Service Committee?
The Narcotics Anonymous Gold Coast Area Service Committee is an exciting and dynamic group consisting of trusted servants and Group Service Representatives (GSRs) who have joined together in service to develop, coordinate, and maintain the service of Narcotics Anonymous as a whole. The GCASC performs a wide variety of functions today. Without the ASC, NA in the Gold Coast Area would lack unity, and operate on a sporadic and dysfunctional basis.
The Purpose of the Area Service Committee
The primary purpose of the ASC is to support and serve the individual autonomous NA area groups, group activities, and common group needs. Our fellowship's service boards and committees exist to help groups share their experience with one another, provide tools which help groups function better, attract new members to groups recovery meetings, and carry the NA message to the addict who still suffers.
The Area Committee and Other NA Services
Area service committees are ultimately responsible to the groups they serve. Narcotics Anonymous groups send group service representatives (GSRs) to serve on the area committee. While still maintaining final responsibility and authority for area services, they invest enough delegated authority in their GSRs–and through them, in the area committee–for the necessary work to get done.
NA groups also send money to the area committee, money needed to coordinate panels, maintain phonelines, and conduct public information activities. Through their contributions of money and manpower, the groups exercise both their responsibility and their authority for NA services.
How does the area service committee relate in turn to NA's regional and world services? In much the same way as the group relates to the area committee: through carefully selected representatives who are delegated the authority necessary for effective service.
Area Committee Participants
There are three groups of participants in most area service committees: GSRs and their alternates, administrative officers, and subcommittee chairpersons. The Seventh Concept for NA Service says that, "All members of a service body bear substantial responsibility for that body's decisions and should be allowed to fully participate in its decision-making processes." Group service representatives provide a "grass roots" perspective to the area decision-making process, helping ensure that the committee's feet are planted firmly on the ground. Administrative officers and subcommittee chairpersons also bear substantial responsibility for the fulfillment of area services. Their ongoing growth and experience in carrying out their duties is an invaluable resource to the area as it develops and expresses its group conscience. We ought never allow a base of valuable experience to be created without utilizing it to the fullest. Each area is responsible to create its own decision-making plan. In doing so, area committees should carefully consider the Seventh Concept.
NA groups are local, informal associations of recovering addicts. They are the foundation of the NA service structure. Groups are formed for the primary purpose of carrying the NA message of recovery, and all their activities should reflect that purpose. Conducting Narcotics Anonymous meetings is the primary activity of an NA group. The group may conduct its own affairs in whatever way seems fit to its members, provided the group's actions are consistent with NA's Twelve Traditions, and do not adversely affect other groups or the entire NA Fellowship. In the conduct of the affairs of NA as a whole, the groups delegate to the rest of the service structure the responsibility for the fulfillment of NA services. Group service representatives (GSRs) are elected to participate on behalf of the groups in the area committee and the regional assembly.