Why I Do Service Work
What is service work? Why is it necessary? How does it help? Why do I need to do it?
These are questions many addicts ask. First of all, service work in the most general sense
can include being of service in any capacity and can include serving in civic, social, or religious
capacities. But for our purposes here, we will focus on service to Narcotics Anonymous. Even
this covers a broad spectrum of activities including opening the doors and setting up for a home
group meeting, sponsorship, serving the group as GSR or other trusted servant, any position of
area, regional, or world service, and much, much more. Each of these opportunities to serve is
valuable, none more important than another, and all of these are always needed and desired.
Service work by members of NA is necessary because we as a fellowship do not have
paid officers to conduct our business for us we have to do it ourselves. Yes, there are paid
special workers at NAWS and several regional service offices who perform administrative tasks
but, ideally, they do not conduct the business of the NA fellowship itself. NA members do that,
and it is done on a volunteer basis. Without NA members acting as trusted servants, groups
would not have literature, meetings would not be opened or closed, there would be no NA
functions or activities, just to name a few.
So service is the backbone of NA functioning to help the still suffering addict. Yes, I
know sometimes we tire of the perceived bureaucracy of some levels of service. If that’s the case
with you, simply don’t participate at those levels right now, but please don’t give up on service
altogether. You are needed, you ALL are needed. Could NA exist without an area or regional
service committee? Probably, but could it carry the message of recovery as effectively? I’m
There are many opportunities to serve our fellowship in so many different ways. It is
generally true that a small percentage of addicts continually do a large percentage of the service
that needs to be done. It’s also generally true that those willing to serve are among those who
tend to stick around the longest. And it doesn’t have to be the case that so few are of service.
Sure, world or regional service may not be for everyone, but there are ways to serve that any
addict in the fellowship can participate in. There are service opportunities that don’t require any
clean time, and many others that only require minimal time. There are opportunities to serve that
don’t require any special skills. One of the most rewarding service opportunities for me has been
doing H & I. All it takes is 6 months clean and the willingness to talk for 10 or 15 minutes about
what recovery has done for me. I always leave an H & I meeting feeling I got much more out of
it than I gave.
Why do I participate in service? The answer is not an altruistic one at all. I continue to
serve because of how it helps me, how it boosts my recovery. The saying that we can’t keep
what we have unless we give it away is true, and it is very applicable to service work. I can’t
speak for anyone else, but Narcotics Anonymous saved my life. I have absolutely no doubt that I
wouldn’t be breathing without it. I feels really good to give back just a little of what was so
freely given to me. I had been a taker all my life, never giving back. I didn’t want to continue to
be a taker in recovery. Being of service enhances my recovery. It allows me to get more out of
recovery and to grow in ways I couldn’t otherwise. So I challenge the reader: Find a way to be
of service today. Don’t be a taker. Service will enhance your recovery too!