Don't Use Today: I Go To Narcotics Anonymous Meetings

A life 2023
Don't Use Today: I Go To Narcotics Anonymous Meetings
Don't Use Today: I Go To Narcotics Anonymous Meetings
Video: Don't Use Today: I Go To Narcotics Anonymous Meetings
Video: Narcotics Anonymous Meetings: What to Expect 2023, February

This year, the community of "Narcotics Anonymous" Russia will be thirty years old, but the history of AN in the world is much longer: the first meeting was held in 1953. Today, the importance of anonymous meetings for recovering drug users can hardly be overestimated, many thanks to them were saved from death or prison. We talked with Moscow resident Evgenia (name changed at the request of the heroine) about how she came to Narcotics Anonymous, how she copes with addiction and how the experience of these meetings brings her back to a drug-free life.

TEXT saved the author's vocabulary and the self-name of the organization "Narcotics Anonymous" is used. Nevertheless, today the term “drug user” is considered the most correct. The organization itself is modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, which has existed in the United States since the 1930s. Research data show that the effectiveness of the latter is approximately equal to the effectiveness of other groups in combating alcohol dependence.


Anton Danilov


I started using drugs eight years ago. It seemed to me that then all this was cool and fun: parties in "Solyanka", paths. In the rhythm of "hanging out - going to the university - hanging out" I lived for two and a half years and, in general, did not know any problems. Then I had a young man who said that I would never cross the threshold of Solyanka again, and literally carried me out of there. After a few months, the club closed. For five years I disappeared from the world of parties and substances. Then I did not need them, I was calm.

I broke up with that guy. I changed jobs, and my workload increased greatly - I could not even sleep normally. I started hanging out again, all my old friends returned, and with them the drugs. At some point, I realized that a disaster had come. I realized that I could not work, although I love it very much. The world has turned gray, but inside is empty. Then it seemed to me that drugs were saving me. That is, as it were, they are saving. I used to not be bad, but when I stopped, it became even worse. It seemed to me that I was in control of drugs, but then I realized: it is drugs that control me. And I was ready to do anything for them.

Last summer I was at home alone with a gram of cocaine. I feel bad, I feel sick, I drink water and vomit, but I can't stop. All this was at two o'clock in the afternoon, at which time I should have already been at work - I had to lie that I had poisoned myself with oysters at the festival. I won't stop until the powder runs out, and I don't care what happens next. I felt so bad that I could die. I thought: yes, and don't care. In addition, in the summer I grew depressed, and I seized it with this shit. I hoped it would get easier, but it didn’t get any easier.

At that time, it seemed to people from the outside that everything was fine with me, but inside I wanted everything to disappear. So that there will be silence, because everything annoys and enrages you. It seemed to me that I had forgotten how to love, rejoice, enjoy. At the end of the summer, I was sitting with a friend at Kitay-Gorod. Then I thought that I wanted to try heroin, it gives silence to the brain. Before that, she took only stimulants: cocaine and mephedrone. With the latter, I quickly got off, because he very quickly destroyed me: then my memory deteriorated, it became hard for me to remember what I did even the day before yesterday. At some point I said to myself: "Hello, what heroin, where is it taking you?" Then the first bell rang.

Last October, my friends and I went to St. Petersburg. We sat at a party, drank. At some point, I started to pound. In St. Petersburg, I did not know anyone, I had no extra money. At three o'clock in the morning I began to call my Moscow friends and asked them to send me money. Then they ordered me a coke from Moscow to St. Petersburg. The friends said: "Zhenya, what are you doing, stop." I told them that they did not understand, and I started to get angry - although I was angry with myself.At night I go for a bookmark, put it in my pocket - and that's it. When I came home with the rest of the powder, my friend was just going to bed. I go to the balcony, sit down and start hammering this shit further until it ends. I couldn't stop myself, I didn't care what time it was. Your normal social life at such moments disappears: you have only you and your drugs. When I woke up, I felt worse than just a piece of shit. I, like a small child, wanted to be in my mother's arms. I wanted to admit that you are all about *** la, that you are finished. You are insignificant, broken, lost - and you do not know what to do now.

When I woke up, I felt worse than just a piece of shit. To me, like a little child, I wanted my mother

on hands

It can be difficult to ask anyone for help, and it is doubly difficult for us. Back in Moscow, I called a friend and asked to find a narcologist. He took me to the doctor, and she told me then: "We can now put you on an IV, but you need rehabilitation for six months." I thought, “What kind of rehabilitation? I have a job! " I could not leave and disappear for six months. I asked: "What other options are there?" They offered to come and spend the night at the drug dispensary on weekends so that I could not leave it anywhere. At the end of the conversation, she suggested: "And also go to the groups." I didn't immediately understand: what groups? What is it all about? “Narcotics Anonymous,” she said. "Nobody knows how it works, but it works."

After that, I cried for a long time. It was scary that life would never be the same again. I always joked that I was a drug addict. And then I had to admit it seriously: yes, I'm a drug addict. There are special tests that show the degree of addiction. I passed alone and thought: probably he will now show some kind of average result. It turned out that I was in the last stage. Then I first opened the site of "Narcotics Anonymous" and was stunned by the number of groups in Moscow. I thought that I needed to go, but I scored and continued to live my usual life, continued to use. Then I wrote to another friend and asked for another doctor contact. So I got to a psychologist, and she also advised me on Narcotics Anonymous. “This is the best thing that can happen to you,” she told me then. "But it won't be easy."

At the end of November, I studied the site and went to my first group. I was intimidated because I had to end up in an unknown place and meet people I knew nothing about. It is not clear what will happen there, how it will be. I was a little late, although I was in a hurry, like to a lesson at school. I went in and saw absolutely different people: elderly, young, women, men. They told different stories, but they were all related to addiction. They talked about what worries, what they are worried about. In some places it was funny, in some places - sad, somewhere the blood in the veins froze. At the end, I went up to the presenter and said: "You know, this is your first time with me." And suddenly I realize that other people in the group also heard. It was like having my second birthday. The people whom I saw for the first time in my life were sincerely happy with me. They supported me and told me to come again. So I started going to Narcotics Anonymous.

We begin each meeting with a minute of silence in memory of those who died from this addiction, those who are in disarray, and those who are looking for a way to us. If we are talking, then only about ourselves. You listen and isolate what you need. You can come at any time and leave. You can speak, or you can be silent. You don't owe anyone anything. It was so with me: at first in groups I only introduced myself and sat in silence for an hour and a half.

When you come to "Anonymous", you introduce yourself: "Hi, I'm Zhenya, I'm a drug addict." Someone uses the word "addict", and someone - "addicted" or "addicted". The meeting usually lasts an hour and a half. There is a presenter: he watches the time so that everyone can speak. Meetings are held every day every half hour across the city - you can check their schedule on the website.You walk when it is convenient for you, but there is a recommendation for beginners: ninety groups in ninety days.

The word "god" can be replaced with anything; the way each of us understands it. It is something that you give yourself strength or energy. This is some kind of higher power

sometimes it's you

Each group supports itself, no one sponsors it, no one makes donations from outside. Those attending the meetings are free to leave money as much as I wish: this is called The Seventh Tradition. These funds are spent on buying tea, coffee, glasses, literature. There is also such a thing as a home group - one in which you take on some kind of service. For example, for some time I poured tea for everyone, and someone removed the glasses at the end of the meeting.

There are groups focused on dependent women - and I go to this. There is also one that accepts LGBT people, it is called "Rainbow". There are groups where young girls and boys come - from sixteen to twenty years old. There are speaker groups where a person with extensive experience in cleanliness speaks. The only requirement for membership in Narcotics Anonymous is that you want to stop using. Groups can and should be talked about, because many do not know about them. You can go to Narcotics Anonymous even overseas. There is a special application for a smartphone, in which meeting places are marked on a map. If you open New York or London, you will be very surprised at the number of groups there. Now, however, no one is going in person. All meetings were moved to zoom, although there were such meetings before. Many drug addicts complain that it is harder for them now. Of course, it's more pleasant to walk with your feet - this way you can see the guys, hug them, neigh. In groups we generally laugh a lot.

Before I got into my first group, I was afraid that this was some kind of sect. God is often mentioned on the site, and that confused me. But the word "god" can be replaced with anything; the way each of us understands it. It is something that you give yourself strength or energy. This is some kind of higher power, sometimes it is yourself. There, no one will advise "to go to church and light a candle." People who do not believe in God also go to meetings - it's just that this higher power is different for them. We also say at the end of the group: "God, give me reason and peace of mind to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to separate one from the other." And I do not endow these words with any sacred meaning.

The first ten days without cocaine, I lived "on my teeth", constantly endured. There was no physical breakdown, but there was a psychological one. An acquaintance came to visit me, took out a bag of powder - and I no longer thought about anything. Sticking, morning, I sniffed in the trash. It takes a lot of time to deal with cravings. I tried to prove to myself that I can live the same life, that I can continue to hang out and not use. No, It is Immpossible. To figure this out, I had to break three times. In the penultimate breakdown, I left for a month, and there are people who leave for years. Now, if you shake a bag of cocaine in front of me, then I will most likely rip off.

It is easier to live with such states with groups. I can have a terrible craving, I can be very bad - but when I see the guys, it seems as if I didn’t want to die in a taxi five minutes ago. You leave the meeting in a different state, all worries disappear. It's like going to a psychotherapist: you spoke out and relieved the tension. After the group, they may come up to you and say: "Dude, I understand you." And you realize that you are not alone. You are not any special, twenty people like you are sitting with you. It's just that someone has more experience, someone less. They may tell you how to deal with something - you can follow the advice or you may not. The main thing is that there are no addicts there. You don't need to explain what you are going through. You all have the same dick and it makes you equal. I met there both very famous and very poor people - but everyone treats each other well.In Moscow, you get used to the idea that no one cares about each other. But it's not like that in a group - simply because people understand what you are going through right now. They know what addiction is and what it leads to.


At the first meeting I was presented with a book. It was about the Twelve Steps, a basic program that teaches you to live anew. This text arose from a similar text for Alcoholics Anonymous, given our specificity: now all drugs are for us. We do not drink, and very many find it difficult to get used to this idea. You may not have a problem with alcohol, but when you drink, you get weaker, your alertness drops. I know it myself: the fourth glass - and I call the huckster. And I cannot be dissuaded at this moment, because I have courage, I do not care about everything. But then I realized: today you drink a glass, tomorrow - two, the day after tomorrow - you use drugs again. This is always the case, with addicted people it does not happen otherwise.

Under this program, people are treated everywhere, even in drug addicts. “Twelve Steps” is such a psychology, mixed with the normal rules of life, taking into account our peculiarities. For example, we are told how to think about someone else besides ourselves. Drug addicts are the most terrible egoists in the world, they do not care about others. When I used drugs, I didn't care what, for example, my parents would say when they found out. Or how to be restrained and not spray your “want” on others - sometimes you don’t need everything to be the way you want it. Now I do not want to use drugs, but when cravings occur, then I understand that this is just an uncontrolled desire. Imagine a small child standing in a store, stamping his foot and saying: "Give, give, give." And when the craving comes, you are the same.

We are also told that pain must be experienced, not anesthetized. What to pay attention to and what not to. They advise how not to choke on your anger and let go. How to be honest, not to lie. These are basic things. What is easy for an ordinary person is difficult for me. When you stop wanting drugs, you start to act impulsively. Someone wakes up jealousy. And here it is important to be able to tell yourself "stop". Unfortunately, if we do not control these conditions, then we will return to drugs. We are told how to work with all this.

The first step looks like this: you must accept your powerlessness in the face of the disease. No matter how clean you are - month, year, thirty years - one second can break everything. There is no pill, there is no medicine that you take and heal. You have to accept the fact that your brain is your main enemy. For me, the thought that I couldn't trust myself was terrible. It is difficult to understand that your own head will constantly try to deceive you - and will do it enchantingly. I am still very impressed. For example, I can drive to work in good sunny weather. I don't need drugs, I don't even think about them. I am driving, looking at something, and in my head flashes: "You cannot live a clean life." As if there is a second person in your head and he is talking to you. It sounds like crazy, but it is. "And if a pure life is not interesting?" And you wonder: what if it's true? What if a pure life is not for me?

It is important to understand not only that this is an incurable disease, but also that you are not to blame for it. When I started working with a psychologist, I realized that my “drug addiction” behavior was always in my life, even in childhood. I manipulated people, I lied when I needed something. For example, I somehow got a deuce in a quarter on the eve of a vacation with my parents. I did everything I could so that they would not know about her, because otherwise I would not have gotten good on the trip. And I lied, first to my parents, and then at school, so that teachers would not call them to school. Such manipulative behavior, as the psychologist explained to me, is formed due to many reasons: to some extent, it is influenced by the family, to some extent - by the fear of loneliness.

What is easy for an ordinary person is difficult for me.When you stop wanting drugs, you start to act impulsively. And here it is important to be able to tell yourself "stop"

Many people start using drugs because of the fear of loneliness. Drugs are anesthesia for your problems, your pain. But they should not be drowned out, but lived - and I did not know how to do it the way other people can. For example, you broke up with a boyfriend or girlfriend - it hurts, but after a while this pain disappears. So you have lived it. And I do not know how. Any pain and emptiness, I will use drugs. I was not taught or I have such a psyche. You so badly want the pain to disappear right this second - and you don't care what you have to do for that. “Twelve Steps” give you the only promise: you will stop wanting drugs, but addiction as such will not disappear, it goes with you all your life with a brisk step next to you. The program won't work if I'm not honest with myself.

Fears are destructive for us, addiction loves them very much. But the program tells how you can deal with them. One day I decided to tell my father. My mom then already knew that I go to meetings, but dad did not. My head drew me all the options for what he would do to me. All the worst. On that day, I had to walk fifteen minutes from the group to the house, but I walked for two hours. In my imagination, I was kicked out, handcuffed, beaten, killed - whatever. The thought never flashed in my head that when dad hears he will just hug and say: “Everything is fine. Tell me how we can help you."

The same can be said for feelings of shame. After the first ten days of cleanliness, I lost my temper for one night. In the morning, when I stood at the window, I was ashamed in front of the people who are now walking down the street. After that, I was scared to come to the group and tell about it: it seemed to me that I did not live up to expectations. But when I told the guys, they answered: “We are the same. Do you think we weren't frustrated? Didn't you lie? We did the same. " Nobody judges you there for anything. There are no god's dandelions. People there say things that make you shocked. But at the same time you accept and do not judge, because you know what drugs can do to you.

Those who go to groups may have a sponsor. This word is a tracing-paper from English, but in essence it is your mentor. You go to meetings, look at people and talk to them, after which you can go up to anyone and say: "Would you like to become my sponsor?" My first sponsor was a twenty-one-year-old girl who has been clean for the past three years. But in general, this story is about a constant search, I now have a second sponsor. For some, this person remains a mentor, for someone he becomes a friend. The sponsor is the same addict you can call at any time. Two drug addicts are already a group, so it's easier for you together. When I call my sponsor and say that I was blocked, she replies: "I know, I have already been through this." And talks about his life as your own. My mentor knows everything about me.

As you work through the Twelve Steps, you gradually hand them over to your sponsor. For this, there is a dedicated guide with questions. For example, there is this: "What is addiction for you?" And I write five examples: three of them - how she looked in a past life, two more - how she looks now when I'm sober. I write the answers on paper and then tell the sponsor about them. She advises what to look for, what else to think about. But this is not a guide to action, but a form of mentoring - after all, there is no universal formula.

In order not to die under this burden, you wake up and say: "Today I am clean." You live for today and don't think what will happen tomorrow

I have a sobriety counter. Other drug addicts have it too: people celebrate a month, two, a year, ten years of cleanliness. Everyone counts them. When you see these days, you begin to value them. When you break down, then you reset this counter - and this is p *** t. I cried because I understood: you have to start all over again.And sometimes I think: what is it like for a person to break loose after thirty years of cleanliness?

We also have this rule: you are clean only today. Imagine being told that you are forever addicted and you will never be able to recover. You can never live the way you used to live, and you are always in danger of breaking down. It is very difficult to endure. Therefore, in order not to die under this burden, you wake up and say: "Today I am clean." You live for today and do not think what will happen tomorrow. Some said that when they started craving, they said to themselves: "Today I do not use, and tomorrow I will call the huckster." The next day you wake up and say again: "Today I am sober, tomorrow I will call." You do not set yourself a deadline for cleanliness, except for today. You cannot say, "I will be clean for three months." So your brain tells you: "Well, I was clean for three months, now you can." True, this thing does not work with everyone, it will not work for me.

For everyone who goes to groups, recovery comes first. My boyfriend from Narcotics Anonymous, he pulled me out of my breakdown in January - even though he couldn't do that because we'd better not be in contact with users. Then we broke up because of this: he said that because of everything that happens to me, he is pulled back into addiction. Love is not love - it doesn't matter. Then I was not even offended by him and thought: "Wow, this is willpower." Then the sponsor told him that drug addicts were fleeing from problems, and other people were living in troubles.

Now all my friends and colleagues know that I go to groups. But this is true for me: many others hide, because our society loves to judge. Fortunately, everyone reacted well to me. For many, Narcotics Anonymous is becoming a new home, and the people there are your new friends. Now I internally protect the "Anonymous", because they helped me so many times. The narcologist told me that she doesn't know how it works - but it works. It saves people, their lives. Earlier it seemed to me that I was free to use, but without it - no. But that's how my brain tricked me. I realized that I was free right now. That it is not the drug that makes the decision, but myself. I had a choice. With drugs it is not.

Photos: haylee ong / EyeEm -, alexkich -


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