Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a self-help group which is the most renowned and largest in the world. It was founded in 1935 and since then, many programs based on 12-Step have been modeled. These self-help groups are free of cost and open for anyone who wants to attend and participate in them. Its meetings are usually held in different places like public buildings and churches. The 12-Step self-help group programs deal with the causes or factors which are related to, or responsible for, substance abuse by assisting people to understand and grab the concept of change.
I had no idea regarding what it is like to be an attendee of an AA meeting. I have seen and heard people about these meetings for alcoholics in movies and Television shows. I used to perceive these meetings as a circle conference comprising of strangers who are just telling deliberating stories regarding their events of life and the everlasting variations they experienced due to this disease. Therefore, I did not know exactly that what to expect from the surroundings and so a sensation of nervousness ran from my head to toe. At first I thought to take my friend along since I was extremely afraid to face the people but then upon requesting, my friend suggested me to visit alone and take the lead to carry out my research.
Upon walking inside, I gave my complete introduction to the men sitting in there and then elucidated the purpose of my presence there. The attendees of the meeting belonged to all age groups, male or female gender, and black or white. Some of them were retired Navy contractors and chiefs, socially dejected individuals and teen agers. However, the majority of the members were males. We had a small chit-chat session before the meeting formally started, and were offered a cup of coffee. A guest speaker named Albert sat with us and discussed a few general experiences and his words was a source of real relaxation for me at that time while some of the members were yet to come. Albert was in his late 20s but to my extreme astonishment, he was way more mature than the individuals of his age. There were two ladies, after speaking with them, I came to know that those were the wives of two men. Both of them were there in order to support their husbands. I realized that they were happy to be accompanying their husbands in their sobriety.
Johnson, who was the eldest among the group members, started off the meeting, talked to every person and asked about the first timers and new comers in the meeting. I mustered up all the courage I had when it came to my turn and stood up. I explained my detailed background that I am a 27-year-old African American male who is accustomed to have 1-4 drinks occasionally and as being a student, attending this AA meeting as a part of my class related to Alcohol Addiction. I did not state my prior experiences as I was there only to observe the proceedings and for which Johnson thanked me. Some of the newcomers were shy while some seemed quite rugged and hesitated to provide their proper introduction.
One after another, all the members shared their stories but one story that actually inspired and overwhelmed me was of a woman, who was six months sober and she was an alcoholic since long. She reported to lose her child due to her alcoholic addiction and told that while she was sobering up, her child stayed at a foster home. She was heartbroken and torn inside when she was away from her son and that journey was devastating. However, she was strongly determined to stay sober and her will of staying the best mother made her choose the right path. I could notice a motivational sensation among all the attendees after listening to her distressing life happenings. This woman was a part of this group for almost eight months now and this support group was the only thing holding her together. Hence, I realize that such recovery and support groups play a significant role in helping someone get through tough situations.
I never happened to see the horrible side of alcoholism until I became a part of this support group. I believe there is a difference between being an alcoholic and being a part of alcoholics anonymous. After listening to the distressful life stories and struggles of all the members, I realized that addiction is to be taken quite seriously because it does not only brings damages to the person physically but also hurts one socially and mentally. One of the attendees symbolized it as a web where a man gets caught and no matter what they do to untangle themselves from that web the struggle in unreal.
I am grateful that I experienced this AA meeting owing to my latest semester’s project because it helped me at realizing the struggles and hardships of people to become sober which is a real achievement. AA meetings offer people with a constant source of cooperation and support at every stage of the recovery process. It is an accommodating platform where people interact, learn and involve in mutual support and assistance with others who are under pressure and harassed at the hands of alcoholism. Lastly, I believe every person who goes through this struggle deserves all the appreciation.