General Service Committee (GSC)
Crystal Meth Anonymous, Inc.
4470 W Sunset Blvd Ste. 107 PMB 555
Los Angeles CA 90027-6302
Dear General Service Representative (GSR) or other Trusted Servants,
This packet is being sent to each CMA group at the request of the General Service Conference of Crystal Meth Anonymous. It is important that you and your group understand that both the Conference and the GSC present these items without opinion on the merits of the arguments or a recommendation on the proposals included. In accordance with our Conference Charter, we felt it was both necessary and important to solicit input from each group on this important topic.
As a GSR or other trusted servant, you represent a vital link within our service structure and we thank you for your service to your group and the Fellowship of Crystal Meth Anonymous. It is through your service that your group is able to communicate with our Fellowship and express the collective group conscience of CMA members on matters affecting our Fellowship as a whole. Our hope is that we can count on you to provide that communication on the issues contained within this packet.
The information contained in this packet is the result of over five years of work by the General Service Committee (GSC) and the CMA General Service Conferences. The origin of this work started with the First CMA Conference held in Park City, Utah in 2008. Prior to that Conference, when the GSC was developing our foundational documents, (Bylaws, Charter, Service Manual) we realized that it would be important for the future of our Fellowship to protect our Steps, Traditions and Concepts from being easily changed without the broadest possible input from the Fellowship as a whole. In order to ensure this, we put in place several requirements, including a requirement that before the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions or Twelve Concepts could be changed, the GSC would have to conduct a polling of all of the registered groups in CMA.
At that Conference, one of our Delegates attempted to bring forth a motion to request that CMA change the Twelve Steps to the wording used in the AA Twelve Steps, with the exception of substituting the words “Addict” for “Alcoholic” and “Crystal Meth” for “Alcohol.” Before the Conference was given the opportunity to vote on the merits of these motions, the members of the GSC realized that it was very likely we would not be able to comply with the process required to change the Twelve Steps even if the Conference voted to do so and asked the Conference to table the motions.
While the members of the GSC had taken great care in developing a process to protect the Twelve Steps, we needed to develop a way of communicating with the groups through their GSRs. We needed to know who the GSRs were and if we had current contact information for most of them. We needed to determine what information to provide to the group contact so that they could properly inform their groups and receive an informed group conscience from the group. These were just some of the challenges we faced.
A great deal of discussion, debate and hard work followed at each of the following Conferences in New York, Phoenix, Atlanta and most recently in Minneapolis. In between Conferences, the GSC continued to work on how to follow the process we had outlined. While no process is perfect, the delegates at the Conference in Minneapolis agreed that enough had been done to allow the process of polling the groups to proceed. It is our hope that with your help, we can gather an accurate reflection of how our Fellowship feels about this very important issue, and that the collective input from all our GSR’s can guide the Conference on how to proceed with these motions.
This packet contains a ballot for your group, suggested instructions for conducting a group conscience on this topic, a brief history of this debate, as well as both a pro and con argument regarding the proposed changes to the Twelve Steps. The Conference and the GSC present these items to your group without opinion or recommendation. Please make sure to share this information with your group and gather information about your group’s collective group conscience on the topic. Because there is much work still to be done once the decision is made by your group, we have requested that all GSRs and group contacts have the ballot back to us as soon as possible, but not later than December 23, 2013.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Once again, we greatly appreciate your continued service to our Fellowship.
General Service Committee
The following information is the packet that would have been transmitted to the GSR or contact person for your group. If you are the GSR or other trusted servant for your group and did not receive this communication and you wish to obtain a ballot to be filled out by your group, please email email@example.com
SUGGESTED INSTRUCTIONS FOR GSRs
The GSC is not recommending the group vote one way or another, each group’s members should feel free to vote as they see fit and come to their own collective group conscience. Because of the sensitivity and importance of this issue to Crystal Meth Anonymous as a whole we present these suggestions to you for holding a business meeting to vote on this topic.
Before the vote
- Be aware that each group has six months from the date of this correspondence to return the ballot.
- Regardless of whether you call a special meeting or discuss this topic at a regularly scheduled business meeting, we recommend you announce this meeting well in advance and let group members know that this topic is on the agenda.
- Make copies of the “Explanation of the Motions” document and addenda so members have time to read and digest the information in advance of the meeting.
- When distributing the documents for review, let your group know that the GSC is not recommending you vote one way or another, each member is free to vote as they see fit and each group should come to its own collective group conscience.
During the voting meeting
Remind the group that:
- The Conference and GSC are not recommending the group vote one way or another, each group is free to vote their conscience.
- There are motions to change five individual Steps, but each group is voting on these motions as a slate. The vote at the group level is to either allow all changes or none.
- We encourage you to allow substantial time for discussion before a vote is taken.
- Please remember our Traditions and allow and encourage that the minority opinion is heard.
- Each group is free to decide the threshold for voting, but we do encourage that you try to reach a decision based on substantial unanimity (for example, substantial unanimity at the General Service Conference requires a two-thirds vote).
Completing the ballot
Completely fill out and return only one ballot per registered group (as registered at www.crystalmeth.org)
Return it in one of two ways:
- By mail to: 4470 W Sunset Blvd Ste. 107 PMB 555, Los Angeles CA 90027-6302
- Scan or take a clear photo of the ballot and email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The GSC is here as a resource for you. If you or any member of your group has questions about this process, we encourage you to submit questions to: email@example.com
EXPLANATION OF THE MOTIONS TO CHANGE THE TWELVE STEPS OF CRYSTAL METH ANONYMOUS
The following is a result of five motions made at our conference in Park City, Utah, in 2008. The motions ask that the fellowship change Steps 1, 3, 7, 11, and 12. Each of the motions is presented with a brief history, the precise language of the proposed change, and summary arguments for and against the proposed change.
There are 3 addenda that contain further history of the Twelve Steps of Crystal Meth Anonymous as well as comprehensive arguments for and against the proposed changes.
History: The current version of this Step was adapted in 1998 because of potential copyright problems with NA. The one word change was thought to have the least possible impact upon meaning.
“We admitted that we were powerless over crystal meth and our lives had become unmanageable.”
“We admitted we were powerless over crystal meth – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
The change would be from “and” to “ - that” and to remove the word “that” from earlier in the sentence.
ARGUMENT FOR MOTION: This change would align the CMA steps with those of AA, as some members believe that CMA should change the Steps back to reflect AA’s Steps exactly. AA got it right the first time.
ARGUMENT AGAINST MOTION: The change is unnecessary; “and” is an acceptable word to join the ideas of powerlessness and unmanageability and doesn’t change the fundamental spiritual principle of the Step. To change the Step for one word that does not alter meaning is expensive, time consuming, and unnecessary.
STEPS 3, 7 AND 11:
The issues are identical so the arguments for all 3 steps are listed here.
History: Around 1998, a motion was made to replace “God” with “Higher Power” in all CMA Steps but was voted down by the GSC. Instead, the decision was made to remove the gender-specific pronouns for two reasons: The first was so each member of the fellowship would discover his or her own understanding of their higher power. The second was that defining God as a male figure would alienate a large part of our fellowship. Removing the gender-specific pronouns was felt to be more inclusive.
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a God of our understanding.”
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
The change would be from “...a God of our understanding...” to “...God as we understood him...”
“Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.”
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
The change would be from “God” to “Him.”
“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with a God of our understanding, praying only for the knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.”
“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.
The change would be from “...a God of our understanding, praying only for the knowledge of God’s...” to “...God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His...”
ARGUMENT FOR THESE MOTIONS (Steps 3, 7 & 11): The Twelve Steps as originally published in the Big Book have helped millions of people to recover worldwide through many generations and stay sober the rest of their lives. The authors of the Twelve Steps went to exhaustive lengths to allow everyone to have their own conception of God. The CMA Steps, as currently written, alienate a portion of the fellowship who consider God to be male. Also, the AA Steps are proven to work. To move away from that would be to allow current political outside issues to control our most cherished words.
“If what we have learned felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try” (p. 28, Alcoholics Anonymous).
ARGUMENT AGAINST THESE MOTIONS (Steps 3, 7 & 11): Removal of gender-specific pronouns was specifically intended to make the Steps as accessible as possible to a wide variety of addicts, regardless of their specific spiritual or religious background or belief. While the concept of God as a male figure may be comfortable for people of some belief systems, for many others it is alienating.
“To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek” (p. 46, Alcoholics Anonymous).
The literal interpretation of those words demands CMA include all beliefs. Because of that, the idea of a gender neutral God is more in keeping with the ideals of the original author of AA’s steps.
History: The changes in 1998 were made because of potential copyright problems with Narcotics Anonymous. The changes were thought to have the least possible impact upon meaning.
“Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to crystal meth addicts, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”
“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to crystal meth addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
The changes would be from “...as a result” to “...as the result” and from “in all of our affairs” to “in all our affairs.”
ARGUMENT FOR THIS MOTION: These changes would align the CMA steps with those of AA, as some members believe that CMA should change the Steps back to reflect AA’s Steps exactly. AA got it right the first time.
ARGUMENT AGAINST THIS MOTION: There are many changes that occur within that are a result of working the steps, not just one. Also, to change the Step for two words that do not alter meaning is expensive, time consuming, and unnecessary.
ADDENDUM 1: History of changes to the CMA steps
While many people in the fellowship of CMA believe that the fellowship and our steps were based on Alcoholics Anonymous, this is only partially true. When the first meeting of CMA was started, Bill Coffey requested permission to adapt the steps of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) from a member of NA’s Board. This permission was given verbally, but not put in writing. At this time Bill and several of the other founders of CMA adapted CMA’s original version of the steps from the NA steps.
Several years later, when CMA had grown larger and developed a web presence, (approximately in 1998) NA contacted CMA General Services, and stated that our website infringed on their copyright. Specifically, they objected to the adaptation of the 12 steps, and several of CMA’s readings, which were nearly identical to NA’s except for changing the word “drugs” to read “crystal meth.” At this time the NA based readings were re-written by the literature committee. In reference to the steps, the committee proposed changing the word “- that” to read “and” in Step One, and discussed changing the word “a” (in “a result” to “the” as in “a result” in Step 12. NA Says “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps” while AA says “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps” The change to Step One was felt to have the least possible impact on the meaning of the steps of any possible changes that could be made. The GSC authorized those changes by vote, and also requested that CMA approach AA to request permission (in writing) to adapt the steps. At the time there was one vote against the changes, and the rest of the elected GSR’s from currently known meetings approved the change.
While this was occurring, Bill Coffey, the founder of CMA, proposed changing the word “God” to “Higher Power” in the steps and all of CMA literature. This was discussed extensively, and ultimately rejected by a vote of the GSC. The Literature Committee instead recommended changing steps 3 and 7 to read “God of our understanding” and “humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.” The reasoning for this change was that it is more consistent with the principle that each member of the fellowship may discover his or her own understanding of a higher power. Defining “God” as a male figure was restrictive and instructive; as well as specifically aligned with certain religious conceptions of the nature of God, in that it was telling members of the fellowship that “your understanding of God is to be male.” As the fellowship has members of all faiths, and of no faith, monotheists and polytheists, as well as Atheists, Agnostics and Pagans, this wording is accessible to a greater cross section of the fellowship, and a more inclusive and open-ended description. This change was approved, again with a single “no” vote. (It is worth noting that the GSR who cast the “no” vote was invited to make a minority report on the topic, but declined to do so.)
The current CMA steps as approved by the GSC were placed in the new meeting packet, on the Web, and in meeting formats. Those were also the steps that were submitted in 2003 to AA World Services for adaptation permission, which was formally granted to the fellowship of CMA by AA in 2004.
ADDENDUM 2: Comprehensive argument in favor of changing the Twelve Steps of Crystal Meth Anonymous
It is with great respect to our fellowship and for our elders that the following statements are made.
The changes to the wording of our steps were made with deep thought, debate and a mind to be helpful to all. This desire to “update” the wording from the original Twelve Steps may have considered outside issues. In an effort NOT to alienate anyone. It may in fact reflect some of our current social and spiritual belief systems. Using this practice however has alienated others.
The Twelve Steps as originally published in the Big Book have helped millions of people worldwide through generations recover, and stay sober for the rest of their lives. The authors of the Twelve Steps went to exhaustive lengths to allow everyone their own conception of God. When we alter this principle for our specific beliefs especially when considering outside issues whether we think so or not, we are moving in Gods way. If we consider race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, class, economics, politics or any issue outside of our primary purpose, we have altered the time tested proven program of recovery. We have also assumed that our current or future fellowship will agree. Imagine if you will that our founders had been Christian, and therefore removed the reference to God as we understood him, and simply put Jesus Christ. Consider if they had been atheist and removed God altogether. Many may think this an extreme example extreme but would they not honestly believe they were helping the fellowship? Those of us with strong beliefs may not be able to consider those whose beliefs contradict our own. This is human nature, to believe I know what’s best for you. We have no idea where our fellowship will be in a hundred years if we are blessed enough to be around then. I am sure their social and spiritual beliefs may differ greatly from some of ours. The best we may be able to do for our current and a future member of Crystal Meth Anonymous is to humbly defer to God as we understand him and to the Twelve Steps as written in the Big Book. Can we leave our personal feelings and beliefs out of it? Can we give homage and respect to the foundation of all recovery? To allow all who follow in our footsteps the same respect and freedom we were given. Let our fellowship pass on the steps as written in the Big Book with only the word crystal meth in place of alcohol. Let the individual decide for themselves who and what God is. “If what we have learned felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.” (pg 28 Alcoholics Anonymous). The hope is that all who read this will not find conflict with their personal beliefs. That you will see only a humble desire to return to what worked for millions of others and for so many of us.
God Bless you, may God bless Crystal Meth Anonymous. Thank you.
ADDENDUM 3: Comprehensive argument to keep the Twelve Steps of Crystal Meth Anonymous as they are
Remembering our fellow crystal meth addicts, our elders who came before us, and the newcomers who will come after us, we respectfully submit the following discussion:
The Twelve Steps are a set of spiritual principles. We borrowed them from NA, who in turn borrowed them from AA. Furthermore, AA borrowed these same principles from the Oxford Groups, dramatically changing the wording in the process. Although controversial at the time, AA’s changes were eventually felt to be appropriate, allowing alcoholics to better access the spiritual solution provided by the Steps. We, in turn, adapted AA’s Steps, changing the wording to be more accessible to our Fellowship. None of these changes have altered the underlying Spiritual principles. They have only made the spiritual principles more inclusive and accessible.
We have a very diverse fellowship. We have members of all sexes and races. We have members of many beliefs, including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Atheists. We have members of different sexual orientations. Our purpose is to help the newcomer achieve recovery by introducing them to a spiritual solution that will solve their problem, not to impose on them a particular concept of God.
The Big Book is very clear in that it says that we should find a God of our own understanding. We take that idea to heart. The decision to refer to God as “God” in our steps was made on purpose to be as inclusive as possible. We have had feedback from all parts our fellowship that confirms what we thought in 1998: that referring to God as “God” is more inclusive and loving than attempting to define the nature of God. Furthermore, the idea of God specifically as male is offensive to many in our fellowship. Many have explained that the use of gender-neutral terminology has allowed them to access the Steps of CMA when they felt excluded from other fellowships.
So why exclude anyone? Referring to God as “God” allows all addicts to choose their own concept of God, whatever that concept may be. On the other hand, referring to God as “Him” suggests a particular concept and excludes others. By referring to God as “God,” we exclude no one and invite everyone.
Haven’t we all felt excluded at times? Haven’t our drug lives excluded us from living the life we so desperately wanted? So why would we exclude others who earnestly seek help? Aren’t we all brothers and sisters suffering from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body? Shouldn’t we leave the door open for future generations to walk in the sunlight of the spirit as we have?
Given all we know about the kindness of AA’s founder, Bill W., and his demand that no one define for another what their concept of God should be, are we not honoring that memory by making the Steps as broad and inclusive as possible? And are we not honoring the memory of our own founder, Bill C., who organized the first meeting of CMA because we were being excluded from other fellowships?
We believe the steps as currently written are already clear and effective. To make any changes to the Steps would force the fellowship to expend a great deal of time and money, as books, pamphlets, banners, etc. will be needlessly reprinted. We believe that our energy and limited funds are better spent carrying the message to suffering addicts.
Finally, the Twelve Steps of Crystal Meth Anonymous have been in their present form for the past fourteen years. To anyone who recovered in CMA since 1998, these are the Steps. Many of these individuals embrace this specific form of the Steps. Were these motions to pass, these individuals might suddenly feel alienated from the Fellowship of CMA.
The Steps work just fine. Just visit a meeting where there is a recovered crystal meth addict and you will find a success story that owes itself to the CMA Steps as currently written.
So we have to ask ourselves, what is to be gained by the proposed changes to the Steps? Do the two grammatical changes alter Steps 1 and 12 so that the meaning is lost? Obviously not. Do Steps 3, 7, and 11, as currently written, deliver the message of recovery by referring to God as “God?” Obviously yes. Are the steps effective? Are people recovering using the CMA steps as written? We believe the answers are very clear.