Alcoholics Anonymous is not a ‘secret society’ – anyone with a desire to stop drinking is welcome to attend.
That’s the message from alcoholic in recovery, Patricia and recovered alcoholic Dereck, who are urging people to receive support from Hastings and Rother Alcoholics Anonymous.
With Alcohol Awareness week just around the corner, running from November 16 to 22, the group wants to highlight the Alcoholics Anonymous – a ‘fellowship’ whose primary purpose is to ‘stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety’.
“An alcoholic only has to have a desire to stop drinking,” said Patricia.
“That is the first step. People are welcome to any one of these meetings. You never stop going to meetings.
“When they come to a meeting they are greeted and welcomed.
“You can be sitting there for months and feel you can’t share. But one day you will open your mouth and share. It is surprising.”
People are helped to achieve sobriety through the 12-step recovery programme, receiving help and support from sponsors and sharing experiences with other people.
“It aways takes a while to reach that admission that you are an alcoholic,” said Dereck.
“Alcoholism is not the amount you drink but how your life is affected by it.
“We often say your life is affected if drinking is costing more than money – it is how it affects you as an individual.”
As well as the 16 meetings across the area, the group also holds free talks in schools – speaking to 14 and 15 year olds about alcoholism and how to deal with the illness and answering any questions.
Patricia said: “We want to make people aware of what an alcoholic is, what alcoholism is and how we can help.”
Dereck added: “We have reached about 3,000 children at school talks, but we haven’t even touched the surface yet.”
Patricia said the majority of people who currently attend meetings in Hastings and Rother are ‘middle aged’, but AA is open to anyone wanting to make changes in their lives – such as returning to work.
Anyone can attend AA’s open meetings, which consist of talks from people who discuss their illness and recovery in a bid to inform the non-alcoholic public about the group. Closed discussion meetings are for alcoholics only.
Patricia and Dereck said the Hastings and Rother AA group has been a ‘success story’, with an increasing number of people attending meetings and achieving sobriety.
Dereck said: “The 12 steps are based on a spiritual recovery. It is common sense.
“It’s very simple, but it’s not easy. You just have to take each day at a time.”
In Hastings and Rother there are meetings every day of the week and the group’s public information service is happy to speak to any organisation or business.
Visit www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk for a list of meetings in Hastings and Rother or call 0845 7697555.