At a meeting today, a young woman who was at her first meeting with her mother by her side admitted she wasn't sure she had "hit bottom," but was hoping that NA would work for her. As often happens when we speak honestly in meetings, we get our most perplexing questions or concerns answered.
Toward the end of the meeting, another young woman with six months clean spoke up. "I heard what you said about not being sure you hit bottom," the young woman said. "I know this: If I had used just one more day, I would have lost custody of my children. I got to choose my own bottom."
How powerful is that message, that we choose our own bottom? When I came to Narcotics Anonymous almost 30 years ago at the age of 27, most of our members were hardcore junkies who had hit a pretty horrific bottom. Some were old bikers who had done time in prison; some had detoxed in Lexington; others had lost everything. I knew when I got here and finally took that first step completely that there was nothing left for me out on the streets. Many of today's addicts are much different.
Many NA members today come to us through treatment programs or through the court system. Many are still in their teens, even their early teens. The old saying I heard when I got here, "I spilled more dope than you used," just doesn't ring true anymore. We all know it's the emotional bottom that finally gets us to seek help.
It's amazing to me to look around the rooms of NA today and see all the young faces, the teens, those in their early twenties, and those who used only a few years before they realized they needed help.
In a sense, I suppose I chose my own bottom, as well. There are times when things are tough, like they are right now as I work through post-traumatic stress issues, that using may be a remote possibility. I know, though, if I choose to use, what awaits me. There is no way I have the ability to survive long using the way I used when I arrived in NA. But using is always still an option, so I continue to attend meetings regularly and rely on my support system for help.
Thank God I had the bottom that I continue to choose.