Serenity Interrupted: When an Addict Comes to a Meeting High

This post is kind of a bummer. There have been two times in the past few months where drunk men came into our women's AA meeting that I attend during the week. Each time it was handled with calmness and grace. It was clear that even as a women's meeting, we would never turn away an alcoholic in need of a meeting. Both times I felt a bit awkward, but not uncomfortable and overall I felt that the men enjoyed the meetings. One of them even wrote us a letter that a member read out loud the following week. He thanked us for our kindness and he said he was getting help. No harm, no foul.

This week was a little different. This week there was a girl at our meeting who I had seen once before. Only this week she acted a lot different. Her behavior was erratic and her eyes were darting all over the place. My first thought was drugs, but trying not to judge, I thought oh, maybe she is just tired. She sat near me in the meeting and she began nodding off. She couldn't keep her eyes open, she was scratchy, and had slurred speech. This pretty much confirmed to me that she was high on something.

I can't remember the last time I was in the presence of someone seriously high on drugs. Images and memories came flooding back to my mind when I saw this girl. I started sweating and got really anxious. I had never run into something like this before at a meeting and so close by me. Should I shake her? Wake her? Ask her if she's ok? Let her know that she is nodding off in the middle of an AA meeting? I didn't know if it was my responsibility or not. Instead of saying anything I remained silent as other women around the room started to realize there was something wrong with her.

No one did anything. No one seemed to be too bothered by it. But I was. I couldn't enjoy the meeting. I couldn't listen to the wisdom the group was giving me. I couldn't concentrate on my own recovery while someone sitting next to me was clearly having a relapse. Or maybe she never stop using in the first place, I have no idea. It's none of my business I guess.

As soon as the meeting was over I brought it up to some of the old timers and asked them what they do in this situation? They confirmed my fears, "yes she is definitely high on something." But they didn't seem surprised or overly worried. They said they just make sure she isn't driving under that condition and they make sure she knows where she can get help. She is in the right place because she is at an AA meeting and that is where addicts and alcoholics are supposed to go if they want to stop drinking and using.

After I left and went home I couldn't stop thinking about this girl. Why was I so apprehensive? Why had I let her state of being affect my serenity? Why did I feel weird and icky? I think there were several things at play. First, this was the first time I was in such a situation apart from the drunk men, who for some reason didn't bother me. Second, I think it brought back some flashbacks. Hard drugs were not my thing, but losing control, not knowing what I was doing, and being out of my mind, were common during my drinking days. Third, I just felt a responsibility to help her and didn't know how, or even if I should.

I talked it over with my mom and my sponsor. They assured me it wasn't weird that I felt emotional and that this girl struck a chord with me. They also said it was not my responsibility to get this girl help and that she had already taken the first step by getting herself to a meeting.

I beat myself up a little for letting this girl's path affect my serenity in that moment. I know that she has her own struggles and her own life and it should not affect my recovery and my ability to participate in a meeting. I couldn't help but see a little of my old self in her. I decided I could only wish the best for her and that one day she will find peace.

My sponsor left me with the best advice that I'll share with you all here:

"I think the biggest help we can ever offer is to be the the highest good you want for others...believe me when I tell you, that is the best you can ever do for anyone."

I believe her and so I will.