The first Narcotics Anonymous meeting in the Richmond Metropolitan Area occurred in either April or May 1979 in the city of Richmond. The addicts who formed the area’s first NA group received NA-approved literature for their initial recovery meeting from another addict traveling through town. The traveling addict’s goal was to start an NA meeting in Virginia Beach. This founding group of addicts believed their survival depended on meeting regularly to share with one another their experience, strength and hope. Their primary purpose was to stay clean. Thus, the need to start a Narcotics Anonymous meeting became their goal. They named that meeting the “Survivors Group” to reflect its importance. This meeting continues today.
In the early days of the NA fellowship in Richmond, addicts had to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings if they wished to make “30 in 30” or “90 in 90.” There were not enough NA meetings to make one each day of the week. But NA members were a tight-knit group and went to the same AA meetings together. Members identified themselves as “addicts” and sought fellowship together by making the “meeting after the meeting.” These addicts recognized how important fellowship with one another was. Old timers recollect that the routine included going to Aunt Sarah’s on West Broad Street after the meeting.
By 1982, there were four NA meetings in Richmond — at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center (Monday), Survivors (Wednesday), Candlelight at the Parish House (Friday) and the Holiday Inn at 301 W. Franklin St. (Sunday). The first Tri-Cities meeting started that year — Feelings in Petersburg.
The Richmond Area Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous reformed in 1983 after an initial start in 1982.
The Tri-Cities ASC formed in December 1983. It included several home groups and H&I meetings. The format at one Tri-Cities meeting including giving concerns to a higher power, by writing them on paper. At the end of the meeting the recovering addicts burned the papers in the middle of the room. Often, early meetings would last two or more hours to provide support for addicts seeking recovery.
The second Annual Virginias Convention of Narcotics Anonymous was held in January 1984 in Hampton. Addicts from the Richmond area attended and learned more about the world service structure. The local fellowship started to review the service structure to help promote the NA Traditions and carry the message to the addict who still suffers. Service work began to flourish as an important part of our recovery.
The third AVCNA was held in 1985 at the Richmond Marriott and it greatly contributed to a surge of new meetings in the city, including New Beginning, which began meeting Sunday night after the convention at Chippenham Hospital and still meets there to this day.I
In 1985, NA World Services, with the approval of the fellowship, published the third edition of the Basic Text.
Nearly a dozen NA groups were carrying the message in the Richmond Area by the close of 1985 and the area’s H&I subcommittee had begun delivering NA services to several treatment facilities. The fellowship in RVA was growing. Addicts began to open meetings in Chesterfield and Henrico counties.
The New Dominion Area Service Committee formed in May 1996. Hope Fiends, Keep Coming Back, South of the James and Staying Alive were the first four meetings formed in that area. All four of those groups met in Midlothian. Having three distinct service structures — Richmond, Tri-Cities and New Dominion — contributed greatly to the creation of many new meetings.
The areas came together in 1997 to form a unified Public Relations Subcommittee. Through successful collaboration, addicts in our three areas now have a single meeting schedule and phone help line. This unified subcommittee is still functioning today and is supported by all three areas.
In 2020, the world was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Addicts in our three areas jumped into service. Some home groups started electronic meetings, others maintained face-to-face meetings with proper safety precautions, and trusted servants kept the schedule updated so addicts seeking recovery knew where to go for experience, strength and hope.
As a new decade began, the N.A. fellowship has grown exponentially. We have meetings per weeks in the greater Richmond area. We continue to carry our life-saving message kept shining through: That no addict seeking recovery need ever die. Our gratitude speaks when we care and when we share with others, the NA way.