Alcoholics Anonymous Observation
September 22, 2013
One location of Alcoholics Anonymous meets on Tuesday; the one I attended was on September 19, 2013. The meeting begins at the fixed time of eight in the evening for an hour. Walking into the meeting, there were fifteen people in attendance. Most of the members were older, African American men. There were three women, two white and one African American.
Walking into the meeting, I decided to go for it, and sit near the front of the room. At the beginning of the meeting, the facilitator, Marvin, welcomed all that came. He was sitting in the front of the room, and made the crowd feel comfortable. He provided the members with snacks and coffee, which helped to lighten the mood. Throughout most of the meeting he sat, seeming relaxed, listening to the speaker attentively. Soon after the meeting started, he asked other members of the meeting to start the discussion.
After the facilitator asked members to read materials, and it seemed that the meeting was structured in a ritual way. The meeting was laid back and welcoming, but construction to how it functions was clear. The meeting was in a quiet area of the hospital. Almost immediately after the meeting started, the “chairperson” went to the podium to welcome the members. The chairperson was assumingly in her twenties, African American, and introduced herself as an alcoholic. Being the only new person at the meeting, she then asked me to introduce myself. After my introduction, the rest of the members said hello and clapped for my attendance. Following, the chairperson read aloud the “preamble.” The basis of the preamble was to introduce the idea that anyone is welcome to the meeting, and that the only requirement is the common desire to stop drinking. The preamble also states that it is not affiliated with any religious groups and that the group is self-supported through member contributions. The chairperson then passed the microphone off to another member that she had asked to share before the meeting started. This member, also assumingly in his twenties came to the podium and introduced himself as an alcoholic. He read the script of “How It Works.” The script explains how the program works, and that it is necessary for the member to recognize that they have a problem bigger than themselves. The “How It Works” script explains that members have admitted that they are powerless to alcohol and that the lives of the members have become unmanageable. However, the script then goes on to explain how a member can manage and overcome the power of alcohol with the help of other members, god and themselves. After the member finished reading the script, the chairperson then returned to the podium to give the member a hug for sharing. The rest of the members applauded the man and said “thank-you.” Next, the chairperson asked another member to come up to the podium and read the “12 Traditions.” The member approached the podium and introduced himself as an alcoholic and was welcomed by the group. The “12 Traditions” list the principles of the Alcoholics Anonymous groups as a whole, with the main goal to support anyone who is suffering from alcohol and to not loose sight of that. The members then applauded him for sharing. Following, the chairperson returned to the podium again and gave the member a hug for sharing. The chairperson then reviewed the guidelines before any members began to share. These guidelines include confidentiality, the ability to share experiences (using “I”) as well as the idea of not “Fixing” or “Giving Advice” to another member, but to support them.
Succeeding the readings that Alcoholics Anonymous is built on, the chairperson then asked the night’s first speaker to take the podium. The first speaker, to my surprise, was the group leader. Marvin took the podium and the members applauded and greeted him before he started to speak. As Marvin began to speak, he warned the...
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