Sobering thoughts

A member of Alcoholics Anonymous writes about how the group has helped her avoid drinking

Alcoholics Anonymous

An Alcoholics Anonymous meeting

Is alcohol costing you more than money? This is a question posed on a new poster by support group Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which appears in public information spaces across Walthamstow.

An AA meeting is held every day of the week in Waltham Forest and is always free and open to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking. AA is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other in order to solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism.

My move to Walthamstow in 1997 coincided with living on my own for the first time. I had been drinking for 17 years at that point and was desperate to stop. Although I was successful in my career and had a mortgage, I drank every lunchtime and evening, and despite my best efforts, could not manage to stop for any length of time.

I know today through attending AA meetings, that once I had the first drink, I was unable to control how much I drank, and I invariably got drunk. I attended my first AA meeting in Leytonstone in January 1998. I have not had a drink since and am useful and productive in my local community, in my work, and in my relationship with my family.

While it is not true that only an alcoholic can help an alcoholic, my own experience is that after years of visits to GPs and psychiatrists, I found a solution through the twelve-step programme of AA. This programme has enabled me to live a sober, happy life, and one which enhances my sobriety when I pass it on to others.

Most AA meetings follow a similar pattern. A typical meeting in Waltham Forest is 90 minutes. There are closed meetings for members only and open meetings which anyone can attend. A speaker is usually invited to share his or her experiences as an active and recovering alcoholic or talk about a recovery-related topic. Then the meeting opens for anybody to share. Self-diagnosis is left to the individual after he or she has heard others sharing their experiences.

Meetings take place in church halls, hospitals, and treatment centres across the borough.

For more information about Alcoholics Anonymous:

Call 0800 917 7650