The Impact of Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings on Recovery from Alcoholism
Attending an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting
The self-help group that I decided to go to was an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I decided to go to this type of meeting because I have people in my extended family who struggle with alcoholism, and I wanted to learn more about this disease. I went to a meeting called “Living Sober on Remsen Street,” which was held at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. This was an open meeting from 6-7 p.m., and it was meant for beginners. At the meeting, seven people were present, not including me, so it was a smaller meeting.
Insights from the Meeting
This was my first time going to a meeting like this, so I did not know what to expect. The meeting began with reading out of a book called “Living Sober,” and everyone went around and read a few paragraphs. Then, everyone started going around and telling their stories. This was the moment that I felt very empathetic towards all of these people because listening to each individual person tell their story was very powerful, and I started to realize how damaging alcoholism is. I have seen AA meetings on TV shows and in movies, but experiencing one up close is something that I will never forget.
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In the meeting, there were many things that people shared that really stuck with me. The first one was how one woman grew up in a family of alcoholics, and she never realized until she was older that blacking out from drinking and throwing up is not a “normal” drinking behavior. Another thing that stuck with me was how a lot of these people did not realize that alcoholism is an actual disease until later in life and not just something that they did to themselves or did wrong. A lot of people say that realizing that it is a disease helps them recover because they can stop blaming themselves. Something else that helps them stay sober is comparing their condition to an allergy. They realize that some people are allergic to peanuts because it is detrimental to their health and that the same is true with alcohol. I learned so much about alcoholism by listening to all of their stories and struggles.
Occupational Therapy’s Role in Addressing Alcoholism
After the meeting, I started to think about how occupational therapy could help a person struggling with alcoholism. At first thought, I recognized that alcoholics were taking part in a damaging routine that was ruining their life identity. After thinking of this, I realized that occupational therapists could help people struggling with alcoholism by helping them recreate their identity and help them engage in meaningful activities that would help fill the void of living without alcohol. Since occupational therapy takes a holistic approach to rehabilitation, looking at the whole person and trying to find activities that would benefit them would ultimately be the way that occupational therapists can help this group of people.
Recommendations for Occupational Therapists
Two ways that I would recommend occupational therapists to help prevent relapse and promote well-being would be to first have weekly or monthly checkups with a client to go over their routines and help them find out what is damaging to their health and second, help them find meaningful occupations to help them fill the void of not drinking. Ginny Stoffel states that “we want people to find the activities that are meaningful to them and at just the right level of challenge so that, as they redesign their lifestyle, they tap into those things that allow them to move into a state of well-being.
This is where occupational therapy can really make a difference in helping people stay in long-term recovery” (Opp, n.d.). An example of this from the meeting is how one woman stated that she started to find a love for yoga in her free time, which she did not do when she was drinking. This shows how finding productive and meaningful occupations can help fill the void of alcohol abuse. Occupational therapists can help a person with alcoholism find activities that they have always wanted to do or had to stop because of drinking. This will help them reclaim their identity and find new important roles in their life.