For The Newcomer

Past experience has shown that most newcomers, upon arriving at the fellowship of Chemically Dependent Anonymous, are unsure about the many areas of the recovery process. Certain questions seem to arise most frequently. We hereby attempt to answer these questions to the best of our ability.

1) "What do these people want from me?"

We've been there – we know the pain and suffering caused by this disease. We have found a way out, a new freedom. We no longer feel the desperate "need" to use drugs. Our lives are more our own today than ever before.

In order to keep growing, we have come to understand and believe that we must give of that which we have received. We want nothing from you other than the chance to share with you our experience, strength, and hope.

2) "What is a 'bottom'?"

A "bottom" is the place we reach when, because of the amount of pain caused by our use of chemicals, it becomes necessary for us to ask for help and get honest about our addiction.

You do not have to lose your house, driver's license, family, or years of your life in jails or institutions, although some or all of these things have happened to many of us. We have found, through our own experiences and those of others, that if we continue to use, these things will happen. It is up to you whether or not you become progressively better or continue the downhill slide.

3) "What is 'anonymity'?"

"Anonymity" means that what you hear or who you see at meetings is not discussed outside the meetings themselves. We respect each other's privacy. Whether or not you want someone outside these meetings to know about your presence here is a decision left up to you.

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of our program. For the purpose of unity, we do not ever associate our names on the public level (i.e. newspapers, radio, film, etc.) with C.D.A.

4) "Do I have to stay 'straight' forever?"

Each one of us began by staying "straight" for just one day. We break "forever" down into "one day at a time." The choice of whether or not to use will always be there. We have found, after staying straight over several 24-hour periods, that we choose not to use rather than return to the misery which brought us here.

5) "Can I take prescribed medication?"

We realize that some conditions require the use of prescribed medication; on the other hand, a great deal of medication is abused. Our disease tries hard to get us to use again, and often the use of prescribe drugs can provide the "excuse" we need to get high. Honesty with your physician, and yourself, about your chemical dependency is of the utmost importance.

6) "What is a 'compulsion'?"

When the only thing you can think about is the next fix, pill, or drink, you are suffering from a "compulsion." Compulsion is what ruled our lives while we were using, and what proved so overpowering whenever we tried to stop on our own. Willpower alone cannot overcome our compulsions. From our own experiences, we can assure you that the compulsion to use will lessen greatly, within C.D.A., over a period of time.

7) "How many meetings should I go to?"

In the beginning, we suggest that all newcomers aim at going to 90 meetings in 90 days. It's very difficult to stop using at first, and most of us have found that we needed all the help we could get. Most often, the compulsion to use is especially strong during our early stage of recovery. We have found that if we can just put off using until we get to a meeting, we can usually find the support we need to stay clean for one more day.

8) "What is a 'slippery place'?"

There is a saying you might hear, if you keep coming back, that goes: "If you hang around the barbershop long enough, eventually you'll get a haircut." This means that if you hang around people, places , or things associated with the use of chemicals, you are setting yourself up of a fall.

All too often, we have seen newcomers who could not say no when offered a drink or a drug in these "slippery" surroundings. We have found it wise and advisable, therefore, to question our motives for coming in contact with people who are using chemicals.

9) "What is a sponsor and why do I need one?"

A sponsor is someone who is willing to share his or her own experience, strength, and hope with you on a personal level. Having been clean and sober himself, for a while, a sponsor will help you to understand the program. From what we've learned so far, it seems best if men find male sponsors and women find female sponsors. In choosing a sponsor, it is important to look for someone to whom you can talk comfortably. We also believe, based upon experience, that it is best to find a suitable sponsor as soon as possible.

10) "What is a 'Higher Power'?"

When people talk about finding a "Higher Power," it means finding something greater than ourselves in which to believe. Some people use the group, some the God of their religion, and some use nature. Many people use the work "God" to describe their Higher Power. Many of us, as newcomers, were either turned off completely by, or had a great deal of difficulty with, this idea. We found it necessary to keep an open mind and, at least, to listen to the ideas of others.

In time, we came to understand, each in our own way, that a Higher Power is anything you choose it to be.

11) "What is a Home Group?"

A Home Group is the name of a member's favorite meeting, which he makes a commitment to attend every week. The member does everything in his power to make this the very best meeting in all C.D.A., and he also usually celebrates his yearly anniversary at this meeting.

12) "What is an anniversary?"

A member's annual celebration of his sobriety is called his anniversary. On this day, he either leads the meeting or has someone he really respects lead it for him. The member also receives a birthday cake on his anniversary, with the candles indication the number of years since his last drink or drug.

13) "What are 'chips'?"

"Chips" are tokens used as a symbol to remind a member how long he has been chemical-free. The C.D.A. member cherishes these chips and carries them in his pocket to remind him that staying free of chemicals is his Number One priority.

The following are mailing addresses for C.D.A.:

General Services Office
P.O. Box 423
Severna Park MD 21146-0423

15) "What should I read to help me learn how to grow in this program?"

Currently available C.D.A. literature, in addition to this volume, includes: Where and When directories, Twenty Questions, and the C.D.A. for the Newcomer pamphlet. We also recommend the reading and study of the Big Book of A.A., Alcoholics Anonymous.

It is unlikely that each and every issue and question that a newcomer might have could be fully answered or satisfied in this space. All we can say is that almost every question seems to answer itself in time. Just "Keep Coming Back!"