‘My advice to you - use AA if you’d like to stop’

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The Springtown group of Alcoholics Anonymous will hold a open public information meeting next week to make people aware of its services.

The meeting will be held in Holy Family Primary School on Wednesday at 8pm and will be attended by two members of Alcoholics Anonymous, an Al-Anon member, and a medical professional, all of whom will share their own experiences.

The meeting is open to everyone and one Alcoholics Anonymous member from Derry has encouraged anyone who wants to seek help with their drinking to come along.

The AA member, who wished to remain anonymous, gave the following account of their experience of making the decision to attend a meeting.

“The decision to attend an AA meeting for the first time can be, I suspect for many people, a difficult and sometimes lengthy process, evoking challenging and ambivalent feelings. Having personally been attending a number of different AA groups in Derry for a short time now, I can say that it will be quite a while before the duration of my attendance at AA catches up with the length of time that I spent procrastinating and thinking of reasons not to go to my first meeting.

“AA is a well-known organisation; it includes some of my friends and relatives, and it had been clear in my mind for some time that I wanted to stop drinking, yet until recently I had never been to a meeting.

“The benefit of hindsight makes the position I took appear highly illogical; essentially knowing that help was available but opting not to accept it. As illogical as it may seem, I would suggest there are many other people in a similar position, people who could benefit from attending that first meeting, as I did.

“As such, I offer a short description of my early experiences in AA, and remain confident that any other newcomer’s experiences would be something of stark similarity.

“At my first meeting, and at each subsequent meeting, warm and friendly people, keen to introduce themselves, welcomed me. This made the period of time that I felt like a newcomer very brief.

“Members always encouraged me to attend further meetings, but never pressurised me to do so.

People within AA offered me the necessary contact details of experienced members who may be able to offer me further help, if and when the need arises, and should I choose to contact them. I was never asked for any of my personal information - simply the necessary details were made available should I opt to take things further myself.

“I have been welcomed to fully participate in every meeting I attended, but also fully respected at those meetings where I simply wished to remain silent and listen.

“In essence, AA has provided me with a widely and frequently available, non-pressurised environment, where help is always at hand while I pursue my goal of a lifestyle without alcohol.

“My message based on experience as an AA newcomer, and it is a positive one.

“Attendance at your first AA meeting is not an admission of failure, but rather an opportunity that may lead to a better lifestyle.

“Neither is it confirmation that you have any specific problem or condition. Any person walking through the door of an AA meeting for the first time has simply entered a forum with readily available information and further help if necessary.

“AA is an inclusive organisation and holds regular ‘open’ meetings to welcome the family or friends of those who may benefit from what it has to offer.

“I conclude by briefly quoting from AA’s own ‘Tradition 3’ which states - ‘The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.’