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The Meeting That Saved My Life

By: Dawn Sachleben

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Meeting at a church on a Friday night at 10pm is not usual for me, this was usually the time I spent in the bar downtown on Main Street. Today was different though I was going to attend my first Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting in support of one of my best friends because he asked me to and that’s what friends do. As we entered and went down to the basement there was a square room with four couches, and an odd assortment of chairs, the space is the home for a vast array of women and men who meet weekly to discuss their addiction journey, as well as to both provide and receive support for their decision to remain sober. At this point I was not ready to admit that I was an alcoholic and I definitely was not an addict. So I sat there drunk out of my mind watching the room continue to fill up. I noticed how friendly everyone was even to complete strangers like me, you could feel the warmth in the room.

The meeting opened with the leader welcoming everyone to the meeting and I observed as each member of the meeting introduced themselves to the group. When they got to me I had no idea what to stay I stumbled over my words, I wanted to blurt out that I was an alcoholic too but how could I? I was only there to support my friend remember. I don’t know what it was about this meeting but I listened and I related to the stories and a few weeks later I attended this meeting sober and that was the beginning of my recovery. My sobriety date is June 5, 2012.

AA is based upon a number of tenets, including the twelve steps and the twelve traditions. The steps include the idea that AA founders “made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” and “when we were wrong promptly admitted it,” amongst ideas of meditation, making amends, and seeking support through a higher power (Alcoholics Anonymous, 2007, pp. 60-61). The traditions state that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking, that AA is focused solely on promoting sobriety within an autonomous group, and that anonymity is of upmost importance (Alcoholics Anonymous, 2007). Members read aloud these steps and traditions, as well as an anonymity pledge. In addition to the readings and the open discussion, there is an achievement portion of the meeting where members receive a chip for deferent increments of sobriety. This reward system allows the members of the group to share their accomplishments with the others in the group. AA also has a mentor program in which other members of the group called “sponsors” with a year or more of sobriety guide the newer counterparts toward these goals. They open their arms to alcoholics in all stages of change they do not discriminate. At the end of each meeting we stand, hold hands, and recite the Lord’s Prayer while holding hands. I have found it essential to have support when I was struggling with addiction, as with any lifestyle change. AA is a prime example of how groups support sobriety in individuals if they are willing to follow a program and commit to changing their habits.

AA and NA saved my life, if you need help with substance abuse do not be afraid to look for help in these types of groups they will welcome you with open arms.

 My name is Dawn and this is Where I Stand.