Saturday, September 15, 2007

I Went to an AA Meeting

I'm taking the required Health class in my first semester back to college. My assignment this week in that class was to go to an open Alcoholics Anonymous meeting as an observer and write about my observations and thoughts on the meeting and it's structure. I really didn't want to do it. I was going to try to get out of the assignment because I was so uncomfortable about it. As uncomfortable as I was, I'm really glad I went. It was an enlightening experience. I thought it was worth posting so here is the paper I wrote:

I have never been in a room with so many desperate people. There were people desperate to stay sober because they have just begun their path to sobriety. There were people who were desperate to keep the life that they are living because AA meetings have shown them that life is worth living and they are just starting to feel that they are worthy of that new life. There were also people that have been sober for a very long time (25 years) and still attending meetings. They seemed desperate to lead others to this life that they say is so much more today than it was yesterday.

There were people young and old, male and female and black and white in the room. They were students, business people, retired people and blue collar workers with one thing in common -- addiction to a substance. Most were alcoholics, some were addicts and some even introduced themselves as an alcoholic and an addict.

I was welcomed as an observer. They did ask me to introduce myself as an observer in case anyone had issue with a nonalcoholic being in the meeting. I was also asked to read a card which had the tradition stating anonymity on it. I did promise the group that I would abide by that when writing this paper. The “Serenity Prayer” was prayed. The 12 steps were read. The 12 traditions were read. There was a reading from “the Big Book” as they called it. It was a hardcover book that said Alcoholics Anonymous on it. Each meeting has a “topic” and then the floor is opened for everyone to speak. Each person who speaks starts by saying “My name is -------- and I’m an alcoholic. Everyone else then says “Hi ---------.” I heard stories that were heart wrenching. They were stories of drinking themselves into comas, the pain that they put family members through, the pain that they caused themselves, everything that was lost due to drinking and the long lasting effects, physical and emotional, of the disease on their lives. At the end of the meeting everyone stands in a circle and holds hands to say the Lord’s Prayer.

Everyone leaves with hope and renewed faith that they can get through the next 24 hours without taking a drink or doing their drug of choice. They know and understand that everyone in that room faces the same demons that they do every single day. I heard several people say “I come here and know that I’m not alone.” One person said, “I’m 21 yrs old. I have a rap sheet 4 pages long. When I come here, I can leave that at the door because I’m just like everyone else when I come into this room.”

Alcoholics Anonymous is a non-judgmental program for an alcoholic. It’s not a healing drug or a bandage to cover the pain. It is a program to get to the root of the problem. It helps people recognize who they are and what they have done and how to overcome that. At the beginning of the meeting the leader asks, “Is there anyone coming back today?” I did not understand this question until some one explained it to me at the end of the meeting. It is asking “Did anyone go out drinking last night and come back to the meeting today?” If anyone raises their hand they stick to steps 1 - 3 for that meeting. Why? Because bringing that person back is worth it. They are worth it.

I asked the woman who had told me she just received her 2 year chip if she could have done it with out the AA program. She said not a chance. She tried. It did not work.

1 comment:

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