– Written by Jenn, TND Alumna
Each time the majority of my Narcotics Anonymous (NA) group at The Next Door is new girls, I like to drive home the point that they are not alone. The disease of addiction tricks us into thinking we are worthless and the things that we have done make us so. The 12th tradition that ends with principles before personalities is very important. We are not all going to get along and be best friends; however, we cannot do this alone. I find that showing commonality brings the group together much faster. More importantly, it allows the girls to see that the things they have done run rampant in this community. They are not freaks. They are not worthless.
I always begin by making sure they understand that they do not have to raise their hand if they are not comfortable. I also make sure they pay attention because by the time I am done, every single girl will have have answered at least one question with “yes.” The truth is, most girls could answer “yes” to almost half of the questions. Lastly, I remind them that the fact that they have survived all of these things makes them a bad a** mamma jamma and that they have the strength in them to not only survive and be successful in their recovery but also to help pull their sisters through.
- How many of you have chosen your drug of choice (DOC) over a meal?
- How many have chosen not to eat for a day or more?
- How many have not paid a bill?
- All the bills?
- Court costs?
- Probation costs?
- How many have been arrested?
- Spent more than 1 night in jail?
- More than a week?
- More than a month?
- How many have missed important family/friend events?
- Lost a job?
- Been beaten?
- Been robbed?
- Been raped?
- Sold their belongings?
- Sold their bodies?
- Had a gun pointed at them?
- Had more than 1 gun pointed at them?
- How many have lost a loved one to this disease?
- More than 3?
- More than 10?
- How many of you have overdosed?
- More than once?
- How many have died?
- More than once?*
- How many felonies above and beyond purchasing and possession of your DOC (which is a felony in and of itself) have you committed in the service of your DOC?*
I don’t ask every question in every group, I usually hit between 10 and 15. The ones in bold seem to have the biggest emotional response. The questions only work on the group level; if asked individually, girls would feel singled out, and it would be counterproductive to the point.
I run the meetings differently than what they will experience in an outside meeting It’s a conversation, and as long as they don’t run each other over or be rude, I will let it run its course. Doing it this way invites a lot more sharing, especially after those questions. It really opens them up, and I typically have to make a list of who wants to go next because they are tripping over each other wanting to share. It is powerful to watch and even more powerful to be a part of.
Towards the end of the meeting, I acknowledge that we have gone over some pretty tough stuff and might be feeling things we either haven’t felt in a long time or have never felt. As addicts, our instinct is to run and get high, which is just about the only thing that is not helpful. So, I make a request of the girls. I ask that if they start to feel that way just to wait. They have a safe warm bed, a shower, and breakfast waiting for them. I promise them that the doors to the outside will be in the same place tomorrow, but their feelings won’t be. I encourage them to talk to each other about it, and if they don’t want to do that, to find someone on staff to talk to or ask someone on staff to call me, I will talk to them on the phone or come up there. I ask them to not be the girl that gets outside the door and regrets it for the rest of her life. I remind them that they are not alone and to remember how many girls answered yes to the same questions they did. By the grace of God we are all still alive, and that’s because there is more for us to do.
Published March 12, 2020