Substance Abuse and Addiction
I attended two different meetings in my area that addressed alcoholism and compulsive gambling. Initially, it was easy to see the similarities. The overall culture was similar. People introduced themselves as either alcoholics or compulsive gamblers. There was no cross talk. Certain literature was used to guide the meeting and help it flow. It seemed as if Gamblers Anonymous was simply an offshoot of Alcoholics Anonymous or any other 12-step program.
I have learned in the past that each group has its own culture as a result of the personalities and differences of its members. I began to learn this as a young adult when I entered the rooms of Al-anon and Nar-anon. Certain groups just felt more comfortable than others.
I attended an AA group with a friend of mine who considered this group to be her home group. It was a closed group but I had permission to come to one of their Big Book meetings. There were introductions at the beginning of the meeting where people stated their names and some people made mention of a significant anniversary. Many congratulations were given for milestones. The room was filled with almost twenty people and they ranged in age from early twenties to sixties.
After reading a chapter from the Big Book, the meeting was opened up for sharing. There was no cross talk and I did not hear any gruesome war stories of what happened when people hit rock bottom. Instead, I heard stories of how grateful people were to have the rooms and meetings in their lives. They realized that their lives had become unmanageable and AA had saved them. The Big Book was used as a source of inspiration and guidance and is not meant to shame anyone. There was a break in the middle of the meeting and my friend’s sponsor was sitting in a nearby seat. There were many hugs shared in that part of the room. Many of the people in the room had been coming for several years. A few were there for the first time. The...