I park my car, pay the car guard and nervously walk in. The hall is large and musty. There are twelve chairs in the middle of the room, set out in a semi circle. Odd. I’d expected more.
Up front is a skinny, slightly fidgety woman. She smiles exhaustedly and welcomes me, gestures at me to join the group. Everyone seated around her looks sad.
I help myself to a cup of coffee, greet a few of the other pale faced people, think that the rings under my own eyes are not so bad, and pluck up the courage to introduce myself.
‘Hi.’ I say. ‘My name is Violet and I’m an addict.’
Group: Hi Violet.
They all look up expectantly. I shift nervously, not sure if I should sit or stand. I sit, swinging my legs, my hands under my thighs to keep them from fiddling.
I take a deep breath and continue.
‘I’ve been an addict for about four years. It started slowly, once or twice a day, for fun you know. With my friends, a good way to connect. Then a few more hits. Then all day. Then all night. It’s become really hard to stop.’
Group Leader: Keep going Violet. You’re with friends. People recover from their addictions every day. We understand you, honey. We’re with you. We’re here to help you quit, guide you through the process. This is the first step.
I look even more uncomfortable. My palms are sweaty and my skin feels prickly. I wish I could run, go back to my addiction.
‘I really want to recover’, I say. ‘I’m ruining my life. I know I need to stop. I just don’t know how. It always feels so damn good, so damn good’.
Tears start trickling down my pale cheeks.
Everyone nods in agreement. Sympathetic glances. The guy with the dark rings even gets up and gives me a hug.
Group Leader: You can beat this Violet. When did you first start using? You can live a full life without drugs, you know. Heroin is a disease, it hooks you in, holds you hostage.
There’s a long pause.
‘Heroin? Heroin? I don’t use heroin.’
There’s an even longer pause.
Group Leader: Then… why exactly are you here, Violet?
I feel more desperate than ever. For my computer.
‘I told you, I’m an addict. Is this… is this not the Facebook addiction group?
The Group roll their eyes. ‘Ugh, not another one.’ Room 217. Down the hall, on your right.’
I gasp. Grab my bag and dash down the corridor. This room immediately feels more familiar. Everyone has a laptop.
‘Hi. My name is Violet. I’m an addict. A Facebook addict.’
A million eyes look back at me. The hall is full. There’s a great buzz.
And brilliant Internet connection.
Group: Hi Violet.
I feel at home immediately. I’m among friends. I open my laptop. Type in my password.