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Alcoholic Anonymous Meeting - Inside The Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting

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Being addicted to alcohol is like being enslaved. The alcoholic is always at the mercy of his or her master, bound hopelessly by addiction with little to no margin of real happiness as time goes on and things get worse. However, for those of strong enough resolve and optimism, the pervasive power of freedom is always but a whisper away from flourishing and breaking the bond of addiction. As many have seen historically and on an individual basis, freedom wouldn’t be possible without the selfless assistance of kindhearted bystanders. Many, many alcoholics have worked for and earned their freedom from addiction through the mutual support of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Although many people have at least an inkling of what today’s Alcoholics Annymous group is about, almost none are familiar with the history of the support group. Alcoholics Anonymous actually started out as an offshoot of Christianity (it was called “The Oxford Group” then) with no direct intention to treat or cure alcoholism. However, many members of the group found that the religiously centered teachings of self-improvement resonated in other areas of their lives as well, such as alcoholism. After being persecuted within their own priesthood, The Oxford Group decided to branch off from their Christian roots and focus on alcoholism therapy. The founders of this group, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, named the newly formed fellowship Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are often informal in style, employing a loose structure aimed at providing all members ample opportunity to share their stories. The operating premise in this form of therapy is a powerful one: alcoholics support each other in an open environment. The relationships among members are strengthened through empathy and understanding. Although AA programs have since been refined, there was originally a 12-step plan to success as formulated by the founders. These steps encouraged repentant behavior on behalf of the alcoholic; an understanding that they alone aren’t strong enough to handle the problem, encouragement of positive thinking, fellowship among all members, belief in a higher power, and praying for strength.

Alcoholics Anonymous employs the use of peer counseling to provide members with truly effective healing environments. As this more communal style of teaching gains ground, more alcoholics are able to testify about the positive power of friendship and it’s effect on recovery. This once avant-garde approach is revolutionary in that it closes the impersonal gap between well-established therapist and struggling alcoholic. Essentially, the closeness of friendship, even in the absence of counseling expertise, makes a critical difference.

The fact that Alcoholics Anonymous meetings now supplement court decisions is an accurate testament to the power and prestige of the group. For many who are faced with either jail or large amounts of community service, both of which extending no real rehabilitative possibilities, AA counseling seems like a most merciful alternative. The rigor of the program, however, can sometimes be of surprise to the reluctantly involved. For this reason, about one third of people successfully complete AA counseling. Still, that means thousands of people are being rehabilitated. What is it, though, that defines the experience of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting?

A typical AA meeting involves ample speaking time for all who participate. This necessitates a higher level of engagement than the archaic one-on-one style of therapy, where the patient can often slip in and out of attention. The members file into the gathering area; usually modest enough, and most often sit in a circle or square arrangement that is suitable for discussion. The appointed counselor is able to stimulate the discussion with certain prompts that encourage fresh perspectives, or he or she may just let the discussion proceed organically. Given the aforementioned peer counseling style, the desired effect of this open environment is to create a network of support for everyone involved.

Humans are inherently imperfect. Similarly, adversity is a part of everyone’s life, at some time or another. The difference between those who conquer adversity and those who fail is a simple action; a choice. Because of initiatives like Alcoholics Anonymous, those who choose to work towards their own well-being can do so in good company.

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