Paul McNutt relied on Narcotics Anonymous meetings to stay sober — but then the coronavirus canceled them

Spokane resident Paul McNutt remembers what it was like to break free from meth.

"I called up my best friend," McNutt says. "He helped me detox on my mom's living room floor for a week."

It was brutal. At first, all the pain that he'd been self-medicating away came back tenfold. But eventually, his mind began to clear. He knew that he needed to figure out a way to maintain that sobriety. But when every cell in your body is crying out for a chemical, avoiding it takes constant, persistent vigilance. That's where Narcotics Anonymous came in. Three times a week, McNutt would go to meetings with a group of other people.

"I've been going to NA for two months now," McNutt says. Two weeks ago, he officially got his 60-day Narcotics Anonymous key tag.

But then two things happened, roughly at the same time: First, his grandma died, the sort of psychological blow that made relapsing almost feel inevitable. And then, most of the Narcotics Anonymous meetings that he'd been relying on had been canceled, due to the coronavirus.

"It was extremely disruptive to lose that whole community," McNutt says. "I was so completely lost. My parents went over to meet with all the other siblings, so I had the house to myself. I was just walking in circles around the house. I didn't know what to do."

But one thing saved him: A Narcotics Anonymous pamphlet with numbers of other people in the group he could call for help. He reached out to one of the guys who chairs the meetings, who led McNutt through the Serenity Prayer — the one about changing the things you can, but accepting the things you can't.

"I was able to work through it, without a relapse," McNutt says.

Today, McNutt is happy to report, several Narcotics Anonymous groups are still meeting, though with either a limited number of attendees or by video-chat.

"If things get bad, I got people to catch me," McNutt says.

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, staff writer Daniel Walters is the Inlander's City Hall reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...