Due to widespread closures from COVID-19, in-person NA meetings moved online in March. The online meetings follow the same format as a face-to-face NA meeting and have become a vital resource to many. But for others, virtual meetings are sometimes just not enough.
Over these past few months, the number of reported overdoses within the Western New York region has skyrocketed. Erie County announced an 82% increase in overdose deaths. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, James P. Kennedy, stated that as of mid-May, overdose deaths were up by 305% from the first two months of 2020.
NA member Tracy D., whose last name will remain anonymous, attended her first virtual meeting on March 14. She said the most notable difference was the lack of physical connection between members. Tracy explained that NA meetings include a lot of hugging, hand-holding and coffee drinking mixed in with many laughs and some tears. Tracy admitted that in the virtual meetings, “you don’t have that actual connection.”
“That in-person contact and discussion, and in a sense shared misery, is mystifyingly powerful,” he said. “COVID has tyrannically forced us onto the internet and deprived us of that person-to-person contact, that fortifying sense of community that is essential to our survival.”
High-level opioid use in and of itself is lethal. For active drug users, being alone while using opioids further increases the risk of fatal overdose. NA strives to spread its meeting information so that those who struggle with addiction know that they are not alone, there is a place to go and people who will help. Those who are struggling can also call the Buffalo Area NA Helpline, 878-2316. A continually updated list of online meetings is available at docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/14bJJlTKH2p1uPzC3rgHMsk6yH6y2KtI2TVUI-6qcRnI/edit?ts=5f0321d1#gid=1959708713.