This essay is a reflection on my observations and findings from an Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) 12-step meeting that I attended, with the group’s focus on attitude improvement. The goal of this study was to go to an open 12-step meeting, observe, interview drug addiction victims, and then write a reflection paper about the whole experience.
I couldn’t help but peer into the eyes of those who were present. Others were students, parents, business owners, instructors, and college professors. There were people of all ages there, from teens to young adults to the elderly and retirees. Some were nervous, some were embarrassed, but the majority were at ease since they all had one thing in common: they were all drug addicts, alcoholics, or both.
It was humbling to witness and hear individuals open up and share their troubles and nakedness in a public and judgment-free setting. Though some of them were a bit embarrassed and uneasy about some aspects of their tales, the most of them were proud of their sobriety and the fact that they had been given a second shot at life. Others spoke their experiences, which were tinged with tears, hardship, grief, and defeat. This community, on the other hand, was devoted to accepting its members and without questioning or judging their mistakes. It was a test that everyone had to face. As a result, to them, this was a therapy and healing session, not a platform for passing judgment and questioning the intentions of its members.
A young father of three came up, told his tale, and expressed gratitude for a second opportunity at life. He stated that he was thought to be dead around seven months ago. Fortunately, his wife supported him during his six-month reintegration into society. His pupils were dilated, and his heart was hardly beating. He recalls lying on his kitchen floor and hearing his children cry, and imagining how stunned and horrified they must have been. He had not seen his children in six months, but when he graduated from a rigorous recovery program, he was overjoyed to be reunited with his family in sobriety.
Then there was Joe, a young man who had been sober for over four months. His sobriety, on the other hand, carried with it loneliness. He missed going to bars and socializing with his old acquaintances. To replace this need, Joe met a girl through one of the dating apps, and after conversing for a bit, they decided to meet. When they first met, the mistress recommended they smoke. Joe couldn’t afford to lose his new company since he was starving for companionship. His sobriety had gone out the window, and he had fallen back into the hole from which he had emerged. He did not wallow in grief, despite being plagued by powerful waves of guilt and humiliation, as well as dread of failure in his road to recovery. He stood up and discussed his difficulties with the group in the hopes that someone would benefit from his experience and that he would receive enough support and confidence to begin the trip again.
What astonished me was how this community reacted to one another’s fight. The community was ready and prepared to provide a listening ear to anybody of them and provide the necessary assistance for them to get back on track, no matter how far they had strayed. It was unusual to hear individuals discussing their personal life difficulties at such length. Regardless of how strange these progressions appeared, there was some truth to them. At the conclusion of every humiliating incident, there was always an expression of gratitude.
A woman who had been clean for more than 15 years was also present at the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. She described how growing up as a preacher’s daughter came with a lot of expectations. Her village put a lot of pressure on her to live a clean life, but she had been battling with significant social drinking since her divorce. She claims that she grew so miserable that she began using nerve pills months after her divorce. Despite her difficulties at the time, she was still supposed to be the spotless daughter of a preacher in her village. This deteriorated to the point that she was engaged in a terrible car accident. She struggled for many years before embarking on her sober path. She was a prisoner to drunkenness and other drugs for a long period.
The major focus of this AA meeting was the significance of being spiritually healthy and following the steps outlined in this program. Alcoholism was recognized to be a neurological disorder that needed a spiritual solution (Alcoholics Anonymous, 2022). The remedy, however, is not one that can be consumed and left to do its work. To avoid relapse, it is a trip that takes both physical and psychological endurance. At the conclusion of the meeting, the meeting’s leader spent a few minutes to introduce and recognize some of the members who were enjoying their sobriety.
That’s when I understood I had learned something important. Celebrating one’s accomplishments and appreciating one’s efforts, no matter how small or large, should be done. For example, one person in the group was celebrating 15 years of recovery, while another was enjoying a five-day sober journey.
Although I am not in recovery from alcoholism, I can attest to how beneficial this meeting was and continues to be for those who are battling with alcohol. It is thus reasonable to see other people’s hardships and obstacles as learning opportunities for others. It is also vital to recognize and applaud each small step toward recovery.
Alcoholics Anonymous. (2022). Have a problem with alcohol? there is a solution. Alcoholics Anonymous. Retrieved February 15, 2022, from https://www.aa.org/