The meetings held with Alcoholics Anonymous proved to be productive and beneficial. I was able to learn a lot about the problem and the people who are dealing and coping with it. More importantly, I learned something new about my self and my capabilities.
I am a wife of an alcoholic. Somehow, I think that this had made me stronger and more mature. I learned how to deal with things that not all average wives go through. I learned how to stand up for myself. Because of these reasons, I hope to be a good group leader, as I feel that I understand alcoholics more and what their families go through everyday.
I attended my husband’s Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with him as an observer to understand the dynamics of these meetings. There are two types of meetings including the “open meetings” where members are allowed to bring their relatives or friends and the “closed meetings,” which are exclusively held for alcoholics only (Alcoholics Anonymous). I believe that the best way to be a good leader is to observe first and take note of the surroundings and the people consisting of the whole group. It would make it easier to understand their behavior and to listen to what they have to say.
I have dealt with alcoholism throughout my life. I grew up in a household where both of my parents, as well as my brother, had drinking problems. As indicated earlier, my husband also has the same problem. These experiences allowed me to be comfortable with feelings of shame, guilt, fear, anxiety, and denial. I have seen these emotions too many times and I like to believe that I have gotten used to them. I believe that I am capable of handling situations where I might encounter these emotions. With regard to those emotions that I feel uncomfortable with, I think that I am still not used to anger and displacement. These two feelings are hard to deal with no matter how long a person has been living with alcoholics. It hits hard every time especially when harsh words are being exchanged even if you are aware that the other person did not mean what he or she has said.
In group dynamics, I have learned that we are all interconnected. We learn from each other’s pain and experiences and realize that we are not alone in dealing with this problem. There is always someone out there that has something to relate and connect with. The dynamics with the group kept people tight and close. It creates trust and an accountability.
With these meetings, I have learned that group leadership is not easy. A leader has to stay neutral and focused on every person’s story and situation. A leader also should have the ability to draw out, cut off, keep track, and deal with the different types of the group’s members because each member is unique and has his or her own story to tell.
“All groups go through the three stages, regardless of the type of group or style of leadership: the beginning stage, the middle, or working stage, and the ending, or closing stage” (Jacobs, Masson, & Harvill, 2006, p. 29). I have learned that to become a good leader, I should always be present in group meetings because this is the only way that I can further understand the members and the things that are going through their minds. The major stages of a group can help members be more at ease with each other especially when sharing their feelings and experiences. If there are no stages of group meetings, members would most likely be confused and will have problems expressing their thoughts and ideas with the other group members. Group meetings, even if it is the first time or the last session, can contribute to the full recovery of the members. It is essential that the members are supervised in this meetings with regard to what to do and what to expect with the program so that they can fully take advantage of what the program has to offer.
“The Twelve-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Cocaine Anonymous, are among the most widely used services used in addiction treatment and recovery” (Landry, 1996, p.66). These twelve steps greatly help those who have serious drinking problems recover because it teaches them a gradual change in their way of life. It does not involve sudden changes, which can more likely produce failure than success in recovering.
Alcoholics Anonymous. A Brief Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous. Retrieved April 18, 2008, from www.aa.org/en_pdfs/p-42_abriefguidetoaa.pdf
Jacobs, E. E., Masson, R. L., & Harvill, R. L. (2006). Group Counseling Strategies and Skills. California: Thomson/Brooks/Cole.
Landry, M. (1996). Overview of Addiction Treatment Effectiveness. Pennsylvania: DIANE Publishing.