Friday, January 1, 2010

Shot of Hope

Last week I attended my first NA meeting.

It was an open meeting, a 25th anniversary celebration of this particular Home Group; they call themselves Shot of Hope. A core group of about 12 people started this—one of the first NA groups in Richmond—and for two and a half decades they have stuck together, meeting in various places as their needs for space grew and changed.

It was amazing.

Close to 200 people were there and I don’t think I’ve ever felt the kind of warmth that radiated from a group of gathered people. Having been raised in a strong Christian, church going tradition, I have experienced untold moving moments driven by real faith, joy and celebration. This Shot of Hope meeting contained similar elements, but was so imbued with humility and non-judgment, it felt unique.

This is a meeting where they read the Steps and the Traditions each time. For this special event an invited speaker from the DC area told his story.

I hear my patients talk about speaker meetings, so I was familiar with the concept, but sitting, listening to Rico tell his story was profound. How could a tragic life that included being a bum on the streets (his words) be so real and so funny? As he turned himself over again and again, his life moved from despair to –incredibly—a nationally recognized position working with gang members. This guy has come to LOVE himself and, like a magnet, attracts this love in every life situation he encounters.

So many times my patients tell me they don’t ‘get anything’ out of going to meetings. Clearly, these people who can look back on 25 years of taking one moment at a time to break free of their opiate or crack or benzo addiction have found something that works. And as Rico stated, where else can an addict go and have people clap for him when he’s been clean for 20 years, then clap with equal enthusiasm for someone who’s been clean for 20 minutes?

Joan Shepherd

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