Writing Steps for Recovery

The purpose of WSR is to provide written correspondence with addicts that are incarcerated so that they have the opportunity to begin working the steps of Narcotics Anonymous.

“We Can Only Keep What We Have by Giving it Away”

Writing Steps for Recovery
P.O. Box 1541
Middletown, CT. 06457-1541

The closest thing to sponsorship we can offer within our guidelines and traditions, until the incarcerated addict is able to go to regular open meetings and find a regular sponsor.

Below are three letters from the “inside” written anonymously when inmate step writers were invited to share what they would like addicts on the “outside” to know about their experience with NA – WSR (Fall ’96)

“…When I write to my WSR sponsor and she writes to me, it is like being at a meeting when I read. All the time when I write to her, I look forward to knowing I will have some mail that is positive, This is the best thing that ever happened to me, especially since my addiction has burnt all my bridges now. The only thing I have left is my life and if I use, that will be gone…”

“… I am very grateful to NA each time I receive a letter from my WSR step guide with step work and I read it, it makes me get honest with myself which is very important so I don’t use again. I feel I would not be as involved or serious in my recovery as I am now if it weren’t for Writing Steps for Recovery. Prison saved my life but my step guide is helping me to learn how to live and stay clean. I hope this letter will help another addict like my step guide has helped me.”

“…It lets me know that there is help out there…

I have a little more than 6 years to go… I want to start now, but I will wait for you to write me back. Please do not forget me! … All I want is help for me to battle this addiction and break this chain before my kids pick up; I never want my kids to go through what I did… Thank you for your time…”

(from a recent letter of gratitude from a inmate)

Get Involved With WSR

See Subcommittee times and locations on the service committee page
There is a new commitment available with a 1 year clean time requirement!

Download the WSR Flyer

Need more information? Contact a WSR Committee member by e-mail!

A Short History

In June 1993 the following letter to Connecticut Region NA was received from an addict serving time in a state prison requesting help in finding a sponsor:

My name is C_____.

I’m currently a resident of _____ Correctional Institution. I’ve been involved in (their) Drug and Alcohol program for 2 months now. It is a 6-month program. I’m looking for a sponsor. I really need one. I’m serious about my recovery. If you could help me, which I hope you could, please write back to me. I really appreciate it.

Thank you very much.”

This letter was passed on to the Connecticut Regional Hospitals & Institutions (H&I) Committee and read at its July meeting. It was apparent to all that we didn’t have a place in our service structure to help incarcerated addicts in this situation, and most of us were aware that this letter was one of many received over the years. Our H&I World guidelines tell us that sponsorship is not a function of an H&I presentation panel, and since many incarcerated addicts have no opportunity to meet any other recovering addicts until they are released, an ad hoc work committee within the Connecticut Regional H&I Committee was formed and met for a year to propose an answer within our service structure.

The Connecticut Regional H&I Committee, and then, through the usual group conscience process, the Connecticut Region approved the policy with few changes. At first, this new subcommittee was called “Sponsorship Behind the Walls” and started functioning as a subcommittee of the Connecticut Regional H&I Committee in the fall of 1994. Letters from incarcerated addicts have been coming in at 5 to 15 per month ever since.

The committee name changed in accordance with input from WSO Board of Trustees in December, 1995. They pointed out that since we used pen names, and were offering step direction through NA service that this was not traditional sponsorship as we who are free to go to regular meetings know it. We, and the groups in our region agreed, and the name was changed to “Writing Steps for Recovery.” Also, at that time, the “Writing Steps for Recovery” became a standing subcommittee of the Connecticut Region, rather than a subcommittee of the Regional H&I Committee because the work of “Writing Steps for Recovery” is quite different from that of bringing presentations into institutions. These two changes were approved by the groups represented at Connecticut Regional Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous through group conscience.

During the past couple of years, we’ve had about 25 to 30 inmate “Step Writers” writing at any given time. Each “Step Writer” is assigned a personal, anonymous “Step Guide.” Before assigning a “Step Guide” to a “Step Writer”, the first letter may be read anonymously to the committee. All future correspondences are confidential between the “Step Writer” and their “Step Guide.”

Again, it is the closest thing to written sponsorship we can offer within our guidelines and traditions, and it seems to be working very well.


Policy and Guidelines

I. Dedication and purpose. The primary purpose of this committee is to provide written Narcotics Anonymous step guidance to any incarcerated addict desiring recovery within Narcotics Anonymous.

II. Guidelines for function

  1. All letters are sent via the NA WSR PO Box with no personal last names, addresses, or phone numbers of step guides, committee members, or any one else given to step writers. Step guides use pen names. Correspondence Only agreements with these signatures are filed with the WSR committee, the CT DOC volunteer office, and the inmate step writer’s facility.
  2. Step guides from the WSR Committee have an individual addict assigned in the order that the step guides have qualified and that addicts of the same sex become available. The coordinating secretary notifies the new step guide if they are not present at the meeting when their “turn” comes up. The step guides agree to have no prior knowledge of their assigned inmate step writer, and to respect the confidentiality of their assigned addict.
  3. After the initial letter is read (anonymously) to the committee, all correspondence between step guide and step writer is confidential.
  4. All incoming and outgoing letters are logged by date with name, facility, and DOC identification number of the inmate step writer, and name, pen name, and phone number of the step guide by the coordinating secretary.
  5. No arrangements for rides, visits, loans, phone calls, materials for corresponding, photos, books*, drawings, tapes, contacting family members or friends will be made between step guide and step writer. *The step writer may request The Introductory Guide to Narcotics Anonymous and upon notification of the request this guide will be sent by the Corresponding Secretary.
  6. The 12 Traditions of Narcotics Anonymous will be strictly upheld.
  7. All rules and regulations of the institution will be strictly upheld.
  8. Only women write to women, and only men write to men.
  9. At H&I commitments, the availability of WSR can be announced, including information that the committee meets monthly, and that informational cards will be available upon request of the addicts behind the walls.
  10. Informational cards will also be available for the prison addictions and volunteer services staff so that inmates who are unable to attend the H&I presentations can have equal access to WSR.
  11. Any addict behind the walls or anyone who thinks they may have a problem may write the WSR Committee as a whole with any questions or concerns at any time.
  12. Presentations to the fellowship and to facilities will include the WSR statement of dedication and purpose, as well as these guidelines for function. WSR will be offered to addicts at institutions only after the institution has received a presentation and has confirmed this in writing.

III. Voting Procedure

NA members present at WSR Committee meetings have a vote.

IV. How to Become A WSR Step Guide

Addicts will qualify and become an oriented CT DOC volunteer at the committee. They will discuss and be able to answer affirmatively all of the following questions. Step guides will be assigned an inmate step writer in the order that they have qualified, and that addicts of the same sex become available. The coordinating secretary will notify the new step guide if they are not present at the meeting when their “turn” comes up.

  1. Is your recovery based in Narcotics Anonymous?
  2. Have you done a 4th and 5th step?
  3. Do you work the steps in writing with an NA sponsor?
  4. Do you have at least 2 years clean time?
  5. Do you attend NA step meetings regularly?
  6. Do you have a working knowledge of the 12 steps and 12 traditions of NA?
  7. Do you have experience as an NA sponsor?
  8. Do you have the means to provide stationery and stamps for regular correspondence?
  9. Do you have the willingness and availability to reply to any letter you receive within 2 weeks, and to notify the coordinating secretary each time?
  10. Are you willing to sign and follow the NA WSR Correspondence Only agreement?
  11. Are you willing to attend at least one WSR Committee meeting or one WSR workshop per year?

V. Clean time Guidelines

  1. WSR step guide- 2 years
  2. Chair- 2 years
  3. Vice Chair- 2 years
  4. Coordinating Secretary- 2 years
  5. Assistant Coordinating Secretary- 18 months
  6. Postal Facilitator – 2 years
  7. Committee member- one day

VI. Responsibilities of Trusted Servants


  1. Minimum clean time requirement is 2 years
  2. Keeps order in the meeting
  3. Keeps discussion on the topic
  4. Prepares an agenda for each meeting
  5. Ensures that the Traditions are upheld in all matters
  6. Maintains a link of communication between the WSR and CT Regional NA Service Committee, including giving a monthly report at that meeting
  7. Attends each meeting of CT Regional Service Committee
  8. Keeps accurate record of funds received and spent
  9. Obtains check from CTRSC in March for PO Box 1541 (yearly payment due April 1)
  10. Makes sure committee has a monthly meeting place

Vice Chair

  1. Minimum clean time is 2 years
  2. Helps chairperson keep proceedings orderly
  3. Acts as chairperson in the case of chairperson’s absence. Fills in for any other trusted servant position as necessary
  4. If the office of chairperson becomes vacant, serves as chair until confirmed by the CT Region Service Committee or until a new chair is elected
  5. Attends all WSR and CT Region Service Committee meetings
  6. May have other responsibilities depending on the needs of WSR

Coordinating Secretary

  1. Minimum clean time is 2 years
  2. Attends monthly WSR meeting
  3. In the absence of an Assistant Coordinating Secretary takes an accurate set of minutes at each meeting and distributes them to subcommittee members prior to next meeting
  4. Maintains an ongoing file of all WSR minutes
  5. Is responsible for the extra Post Office Box Key
  6. To assure accountability, keeps a complete log of all WSR step guide/step writer communications (as described in Guidelines for Function # 4.) Keeps in phone contact with step guides if needed.
  7. Mails Correspondence Only agreements to DOC Volunteer Office and to inmate’s facility each time the step guide is assigned a new inmate step writer
  8. May have other responsibilities depending on the needs of WSR

Assistant Coordinating Secretary

  1. Minimum clean time is 18 months
  2. Goal of the position is to assist the coordinating secretary and to learn the duties of the coordinating secretary so that the assistant can function in the absence of the coordinating secretary.
  3. Takes an accurate set of minutes at each meeting and distributes them to subcommittee members prior to next meeting.
  4. May have other responsibilities depending on the needs of WSR

Postal Facilitator

  1. Minimum clean time is 2 years
  2. Attends monthly WSR Meeting
  3. Is responsible for one of the Post Office Box Keys
  4. Picks up WSR mail on a weekly basis and within 48 hours forwards all mail to the corresponding secretary.
  5. Notifies/Reminds WSR Chair upon receipt of P.O. Box renewal to assure that P.O. Box 1541 is renewed on or before every Apr 1
  6. May have other responsibilities depending on the needs of WSR

VII. Terms of Commitment

All trusted servant positions are for 1 year, with a 2 year limit on consecutive terms in the same position.

Regional Writing Steps for Recovery meets the 2nd Monday of the month at 7:00pm on Zoom

The meeting link for WSR is: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88990900869?pwd=VDQ5YkwvVVlUR09va2YxL2VnSnlrUT09

(Zoom Meeting ID: 889 9090 0869 – Passcode: 061985)

Email: wsr@ctna.org