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History of the Tri-State Regional Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous

Map of Tri-State Area to WSO Nov. 29, 1983
Map from Tri-State Region to WSO Nov. 29, 1983

Tristate Regional History Project Is Under Way

Narcotics Anonymous in the Tristate Region has grown from one meeting in 1978 to over 600 today. How did this happen? Who planted the seeds? How did we grow? What were the challenges and lessons along the way?

The Tristate Regional History Project will gather information about these and other questions for the benefit of the fellowship. These stories promise to be interesting, and even fun! In gathering this information, we also show gratitude for the service of our earliest members, and those who helped us grow along the way, to carry the message of recovery.

In the fall of 2006, the Areas approved a regional motion to compile a Tristate Regional History. Since then, a small but dedicated committee has been created under the TRSCNA Literature Subcommittee. We meet the third Sunday of every month at 10:00 a.m. at the TSRSO in Homestead, and welcome new members with any amount of clean time.

Start to Live 1 Flyer, October 21-23, 1983
Start to Live! TSRSCNA I, October 21-23, 1983

How We Are Working…

Oral Histories:

The History Project, so far, has gathered information in taped panel discussions held at the South Hills Retreat, the Multi-Region Learning Day held in Oakland in Autumn, 2006, and most recently at the Butler Area Spiritual Retreat in July, 2007.

Panel members shared their memories in round-table discussions, remembering facts, background, and opinions about what was happening in NA at the time. These memories live with the members; the History Project wants to get them on paper while the members are still with us. As more than one panelist has said, “I’m getting old!” Without the history project, these memories could die with the members, at a great loss to our fellowship.

Written Histories:

We have a written document of the Butler Area history created by Timothy H. and the BASCNA home groups in 1987, revised and edited a few years ago. We would like to work with other Areas to collect similar histories as part of our project.

Archival Documents:

We have begun to collect and scan archival documents like meeting lists, Miracles Happen newsletters, and TRSCNA meeting minutes made available by members who saved these things in dusty attics and basements. Did you know that some of the early meeting lists were one page, hand-written and Xeroxed?!

Time Line:

As we gather information, the Committee will be creating a time line of events, large and small. We’ll begin with a simple “roll of paper on the wall” at the office, and let the story evolve from there. This will become an outline for us to write more detailed history in prose form.

TSSR I flyer, Aug. 19-21, 1983
TSSR I, Aug 19-21, 1983

Our Goals and How to Get There

Continue to Gather Information:

We welcome feedback from all members who were “there” in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Any member can contact the committee to arrange this feedback. We’ll continue to do panels, and arrange one-on-one visits with members when it’s more practical. We might even look into online chat sessions with members who have moved out of the country … or other options that technology can provide.

Scanning Documents:

We want to make a digital image of every piece of paper possible – meeting lists, publications, committee minutes, regional and area newsletters, etc. These documents are snapshots of our fellowship at the time they were created.

Use the TRSCNA Website:

The website is a valuable tool and we’ll be using it fully. We’re working on a feedback form, input form, interest form, and volunteer form that you can access from www.tristate-na.org (“Regional History” tab).

Our final work product:

We don’t know yet! History never ends, but there will come a time when we have enough information to draft a document for the fellowship’s review. It might be online or on paper, formal history or informal story format … it will ultimately be what our members ask for and what our members are willing to make it. For now, we’re going to sop up information like sponges, and our group conscience will decide when it’s time to take the next step.

A Sample of What’s Possible…

A sample of how our history might begin … just “a taste” of what our project can create.

Before there was NA in our region, addicts seeking recovery went to Alcoholics Anonymous. Early members like Ron and Dennis H. recall a loving, caring welcome in AA, yet they also agree that AA wasn’t the perfect place. Addict Dennis H. recalls, “We were the bad boys. We were stepping all over their traditions. They didn’t know what to do with us.”

An alcoholic named Bill helped NA along when, on a trip to Southern California, he stopped by the NA World Service Office (Jimmy K’s garage) and picked up the few pieces of NA literature which existed at the time, including the NA White Booklet which had our readings. He brought those back to Pittsburgh and passed them along.

In May, 1978, the “Double Bubble” group of NA met for the first time at the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Aliquippa, PA. This was the first NA group to form between Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

In January, 1979, “Sobriety First” (now called “Just for Today”) opened its doors in Butler. By the end of 1979, there were four groups in Pittsburgh, plus the Tuesday Night AA meeting downtown which everyone knew catered to addicts.

As meetings were started in surrounding cities, members would travel miles to support them. In those early years, Cleveland, Youngstown, Sharon, Wheeling, Erie, as well as Butler and Beaver Counties, were all part of the Pittsburgh Area.

Already, we know SO much more than this short sample. But it’s up to our committee to take the steps to pull it all together.

Ways to Get Involved

  • Attend a committee meeting (4th Saturday, 11:00 am, TSRSO in Homestead)
  • Send an email of interest to history@tsrscna.org We can just talk about your areas of interest and talents and see what could work.
  • Let us know if you have experience, information or memorabilia you want to share with the fellowship.
  • If you have secretarial or computer skills, you could serve at home by transcribing tapes, scanning documents, writing or editing drafts, and so on.
  • Maybe you have ideas we haven’t thought of yet. Share your creativity!

Knowing where we come from is valuable information in recovery. Too often, we think that what we are going through is unique, yet we find when we draw upon the experience, strength and hope of the members who came before us, we gain valuable perspective on where we are today.

We’re excited about the possibilities, and we’re looking forward to serving with your input and support!

In loving service,

Regional History Project Coordinator

Please contact us at: history@tsrscna.org