I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on 7/11 in Elizabeth NJ at the immaculate Conception School on Prince Street. It was an open-discussion meeting. It reminded me of any therapeutic group; although it did seam more structured and ritualistic, almost like a religious group. Before the meeting, everyone was socializing gathered around coffee and cookies. Most people seemed to be very close to each other. There was a stand with many pamphlets containing information about alcoholism, the program, their beliefs and values, statistics regarding alcoholism and the movement of Alcoholics anonymous. According to their data, 64% of participants drop out in their first year, but many alcoholics achieve and maintain sobriety. Currently, the American Psychiatric Association recommends sustained treatment in conjunction with AA’s program for chronic alcoholics. The overall tone in the church was friendly and inviting. I introduced myself to a friendly looking man, who I will call S.T., and explained to him who I was and why I was there. He was very helpful to me throughout the meeting, explaining to me the various intricacies of their “traditions.” I asked S.T. whose responsibility it was to bring the refreshments. He explained to me that people volunteer for the job. During every meeting, money is collected (but not required) for this purpose and to pay the rent for the facility being used. Generally, newcomers are expected to take this responsibility to show commitment to their sobriety and the program.
The meeting commenced exactly on time. The meeting was called into order by a chairperson. This person read the “AA Preamble” which explained what AA is and what is their purpose. According to the preamble, the only requirement for membership to AA is to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA; they are self supporting through their own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, political party, organization or institution; A.A. does...
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