In April 2019, Mackenzie lost her long-term boyfriend to a drug overdose. He had his license revoked in March 2019, but in the weeks prior to his death, he knew he needed help-- fast. He recognized his addiction and wanted to attend Narcotics Anonymous. But because his license was revoked, he did not have reliable transportation to attend the meetings. Our team wants to ensure something like this doesn't have to happen again. When and if an addict is ready to accept his or her addiction and is ready for recovery, something minute like transportation logistics should not be a defining factor in whether someone recovers or suffers from-- and ultimately dies from-- their addiction. We want to facilitate the ability to seek help.
What it does
We created a platform for users to safely and anonymously chat in their respective NA groups. We provide the ability for users to attend meetings with other recovering addicts to strengthen and support each other through their own recovery.
How we built it
We first created the ability for users to anonymously chat with one another. We then created a way for users to login via Facebook and still maintain their anonymity. Users are then able to "unveil" their identity when and if they are ready, which displays the user's Facebook profile.
Challenges we ran into
We had a hard time getting into the initial swing of things. Since we never worked together, it's natural to need time to adjust some. Incorporating WebSockets with Express and React was tough, but we managed to pull through and we were excited to get it working. Combining express with SQL for the first time was also difficult for us.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We also are proud that we're working to save lives.
What we learned
We learned how to use Express with Postgresql, and although it was challenging, it was exciting to get right. Another thing we learned was how to use WebSockets.
What's next for virtuNA
We want to be able to allow users to look at a list of meetings and find the group that fits their schedules best. We want to implement video call capabilities. We want to protect users' anonymity by distorting their video and voice and blocking screenshots. Users can then "re-veil" their identity if they no longer wish to display their identity. We also want to allow users to pair with a Sponsor (someone who has been a part of NA for at least a year with a strong understanding of the Program; an accountability partner). We want for users to be able to create their own meetings as a GTS (Group Trusted Servant), as someone who runs their group in a way that promotes the values and traditions for Narcotics Anonymous.
Because by nature Narcotics Anonymous is a program for addicts by addicts, we want to make the platform as autonomous as possible.
We have so much more that we want to accomplish, and we're so excited to stick with this. There is a lot we can do with this, and we're all excited to see how far we can take it.
For working only about 8 hours on this, we are all extremely proud with how this came out. Look out for updates even beyond the event!