|Perfect Number of Pages to Order||5-10 Pages|
Alcoholics Anonymous and Other 12-Step Programs
Alcoholic Anonymous Discussion
According to a recent meta-analysis research study, Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs are at least as efficacious, if not more so, for addictions than other well-known treatments such as cognitive-behavioral theory or motivational enhancement theory (Kelly, Humphreys & Ferri, 2020). The research indicates that the 12-step program resulted in continuous improvement over 9, 12, and 36 months and produced lower healthcare costs. From this perspective, I entered each discussion thread with a curiosity about what makes the 12-step program so successful and how, if at all, the programs differ.
After observing the assigned online rooms, one thing stands out clearly – all participants who shared their experiences expressed the sense that they are not where they need to be, they are not where they used to be, but they are making progress – one day at a time – and that gives them a sense of peace individually and strengthens their sense of community. Throughout my three discussion threads I will refer to this research study and the participants contributions.
I found the in the room’s website an incredibly easy website to use.
It was easy to find the schedule of sessions and to click on the sessions and observe. It is equally as easy to access blogs, research articles, and other resources. I was surprised by the number of people participating, the order of the sessions, the professionalism of the meeting leaders, candor of the participants and the genuine emotional support and connection between the members. I was so captivated by the connection between participants that I found myself watching more and more group meetings to see if it was a one-off great session or if each session, in fact, produced the same environment.
I watched at least four Alcoholics Anonymous to compare and contrast my own experience – and each one exceeded my expectation.
Technically, it was easy to use the platform. There was no installing of software, no downloading specific executable files. There is a button to fix the feed if the video stalls or a button to refresh the entire screen – both of which actually worked. While there was at times a delay between participants, it was easy to follow the discussion. For some reason, not all meeting leaders had the same technical issues. With some leaders, I watched the entire hour without interruption.
However, with some leaders, I found it bothersome to have to hit the fix the feed button in between participants. In the scheme of things, hitting one button was hardly a show stopper. The content and discussion was so riveting that I found it did not bother me enough to not continue observing.
In terms of participants, I was surprised at the number of people attending. In four sessions on two different days, the following participants attended: 12 midnight – 198 participants; 6am – 205 participants; 2pm – 265 participants; 10am CST – 319 participants. It is a global organization so it is not a surprise that there are consistently participants, however, the number of people on these sessions, is surprising. I enjoyed listening to the recovery stories and the different perspectives. The technology facilitated participant interaction by allowing the group leader to determine an amount of time each participant would be able to speak.
The more people in the meeting and the more people who wanted to participate the less time each person had. Nonetheless, this time restriction did not impact the quality of the sharing. People were raw, vulnerable and honest. Everyone participating was respectful of others. While some swore and said the F word, which was surprising to me, I recognized the importance of allowing people to be themselves free from judgement and hearing the message between the words.
The meetings all had the same structure: the meeting opened with the group leader managing administrative issues such as welcoming the group, reading the ground rules of the meeting, and would have different people read critical components of the meeting: the preamble, the daily reading, and a daily devotional.
Two of the leaders had someone read the twelve steps because there were three or more new participants. Then the leader would cover the meeting topic, announce the amount of time each person could speak and set the stage by sharing themselves for one minute.
The AA meeting topics I observed are: serenity of the soul, road to a happy recovery, spirituality, miracles of recovery. There were many traumatic stories where a tsunami of emotions overcame me while listening to the participants. I gained an immense respect for what these people go through.
In AA, it was not a story that stood out to me, it was one specific topic point. In the serenity of the soul meeting the leader posed the statement: I now have the freedom to… the answers people gave were grounding and humbling. Answers included but were not limited to “the freedom to not hurt another human being; the freedom to control my behaviors; the freedom to have fellowship and belong to a group; the freedom to do whatever it is that I want to do without reaching for alcohol or any kind of mind-altering substance; the freedom to be me – the real me – I forgot who that was with alcohol; the freedom to see my kids and be a part of their lives”.
These responses highlight Boisvert et al. findings that peer community groups are critical to the success of AA and other types of 12-step programs (2018).
Attending the video meetings for AA helped me understand how they are so powerful. It is not just a meeting. It is fellowship, trust, respect, faith, a belief in a higher power, and the learning of new tools such as meditation, homework assignments of yoga and daily readings, and a sponsor.
Thank you for this experience. Great assignment.