A core principle behind the Sixth Tradition is that we stay away from those things that could tear us apart or divert our attention from our primary purpose. As DRA Groups or otherwise under the banner of DRA, we carry only the DRA message of hope and recovery.
I think the short version of this Tradition could be stated as "keep it simple and keep it clean".
At first, the treatment center where we hold our meetings ask us to name our Group the "(Name of treatment center) DRA Group". We had to remind the administrator that though we would work with them in the spirit of cooperation, we could not use their name in conjunction with the DRA name or crest as it would imply an affiliation or possible endorsement. DRA is an independent organization and we wouldn't want people to think that our meeting was part of the treatment facility. Our relationship works out really good though as inpatients get to come to our meetings and learn about DRA and dual recovery, and the treatment center doesn't charge us any rent.
We found out the hard way that it's best if Group members don't loan the Group money or support the Group substantially out of proportion to the rest of its members. If the Group can't afford to carry the message beyond our regular sharing in meetings , then so be it. We will grow and be able to do more Service Work latter. We found that money issues could quickly lead to resentments within the Group. Our recoveries depend upon unity and harmony and we could not afford the distractions money issues lead to. From now on our Group Service Work Committee will hold a Group Conscience of our whole Group before we approve outreach projects and our Treasurer will give a full treasurer's report at every business meeting.
A few members from our Group wanted us to sponsor a softball team for a local league and supply them with tee-shirts that would have the DRA Crest and our Group name on them. Several members of the team were from our Group or were friends and family members. When we discussed it in depth, several of us felt that sponsoring a softball team really didn't have much if anything to do with carrying the message of DRA. Some Group members had no interests in sports at all. Some members were concerned that wearing the DRA Crest might publicly identify individuals as probable members of the Fellowship and compromise their anonymity. In our business meeting we also discussed the "lending the DRA name" issue. Since the team was a separate entity than our Group, most thought it was an outside organization. Our treasurer was concerned that the costs associated with sponsoring the team might not be the best use of our limited Seventh Traditions funds. One member suggested that sponsoring teams was too much like a commercial promotion. In the end, we decided that the team could be viewed as an outside distraction and probably was not really DRA or Group business. Our Group's conscience was that sponsoring a softball team simply raised to many issues that might compromise various aspects of DRA's Twelve Traditions. We came to the conclusion that our Seventh Tradition funds were to be used only to support our Group and carry the message. When we spent those funds it should be on things that are not controversial.
I love the idea of issue advocacy. I've been into some social cause or another since I was a kid marching for civil rights with my parents. After I got into DRA and dual recovery I felt like I was both blessed and gifted with several new issues to crusade for such as getting more public funding for integrated services for people with co-occurring disorders, insurance parity for mental health, the anti-stigma campaign, and educating substance abuse and mental health treatment centers about the need to treat those of us with dual disorders in an integrated way. I thought that this would combine wonderfully with my efforts to spread the word about DRA. I was fortunate enough to have my enthusiasm for this new endeavor tempered by my sponsor. She suggested that I start slow and that I make sure --very sure-- that everything I was planning on doing in my personal advocacy work didn't violate DRA's Traditions. She pointed out to me that I could not do any issue advocacy even for these worthy related issues under the name of DRA or as a spokesperson for or service representative of DRA. As a DRA member or Group Service Representative I could only carry the message of DRA. No political, medical, or social issue advocacy. Of course, as a private citizen I could advocate for anything I wished to.o.
We decided that I would be good at letting the community know about DRA and our meetings, but that I should only offer DRA World Service approved literature and meeting schedule information when I was wearing my DRA hat. When I was doing other advocacy work, I would do it strictly separate from my DRA service work.
Our group's meetings aren't really big. Usually 5 to 10 members show up and that's fine. We've been blessed with excellent 7th Tradition support and every few months we end up with a couple hundred extra dollars sitting around. Trying to figure out what to do with this extra money tended to become a point of contention at business meetings. We don't really have enough people in our Group Service Work Committee to do much outreach work beyond what we we're already doing and we don't have a Group bank account. What we finally decided to do twice a year was to send anything over three months running expenses to the DRA World Service Central Office. We know that it will be used to carry the message of hope and recovery that way and everyone agreed that it was being spent on our primary purpose.