Alcoholics’ anonymous meetings comprise of a group of ladies and gentlemen who share their experiences and encourage each other to keep away from alcohol. The meetings are sometimes open for anyone to attend but in some cases, it is a closed meeting only for people recovering from alcoholism. I attended an open one that was taking place in our local church. The initials of the participants of the meeting were as follows:
- J. Cole
- Eric M.
- Emily K.
- Jack Woods
- Kelly W.
- Benson M.
- Edwin K.
- Nelson T.
- Clinton A.
This was my first time to attend such a meeting and I had no idea of what to expect that I was not an alcoholic. On arrival, I found people outside the meeting room chatting as they took a cup of coffee. I was made to understand that the meetings started and ended at the designated time. When the community called a chairperson, all other conversations stopped. As announced beforehand, the meeting was supposed to start with a moment of silence followed by members reciting the serenity prayer. The members who attended the meeting for the first, second and third time were then recognized as well those who were visitors in our locality. Each of the members who was willing to contribute was given about five minutes to talk about alcoholism and the reform journey. At some point, the regular members contributed some money to sustain the group while the new members were left out first to learn about the group. Each of the given testimony was very touching and seemed to give hope to keep pushing on despite the challenges. I also felt quite challenged about life in general and many of my preconceived ideas changed despite me being a non-alcoholic.
Initially, I used to think that alcoholic people are just immoral people who are not willing to change their ways. After that meeting, I discovered the kind of agony the participants went through as they tried to quit once they got addicted. Most of them actually lack the kind of support required in that journey. For instance, a new member Edwin had narrated about his ordeals before he met that group and they were very touching. He used to live in regrets whenever he became sober after drinking and really wanted to change but could not. Alcoholism is actually a mental disorder that requires both psychological therapy and in some cases medicine.
I used to underestimate the power of consistency in what I do but such views changed altogether after attending that meeting. The former alcoholics were very resilient in their mission to stop drinking. Even their own friends would not derail those who had succeeded in quitting. Emily said that her former colleagues who she used to drink with would even offer to buy alcohol for her and she had to fight the temptations hard.
From the meeting, the importance of service to others was clearly instilled in me, as the members believed that the best way to quit alcohol was by helping others. They would share their personal encounters without the fear of being judged to help their colleagues. Besides that, the meeting starting with the serenity prayer was a clear indication that those people who might be considered by the community as non-believers actually adored God. The AA meetings have achieved a lot in helping alcohol addicts, and for this reason, membership has grown to over two million around the world. It is a good way of solving a problem by sharing experience and involving the members directly.