Her first Narcotics Anonymous meeting was on the Lower East Side in Manhattan in what she called “a vaguely scary, sad and disturbing neighborhood.” As she was searching for the entrance to the building, she found herself down in a little, secluded basement area off the street. She heard someone behind her and looked up to see a large, disheveled man coming down the steps toward her. She thought, “Oh, God, I’m going to die doing research for this book.” Then he spoke, she said, and his voice was gentle and friendly.
Inside the meetings, she found herself in an environment that felt safe: courageous people struggling hard with their demons. The least frightening people in the world, she said. “I felt enormously moved and humbled.” she said. “You have never seen such courage.” She began to understand so much more of what it’s like to be haunted by an irresistible and shaming passion, she said.