Last week I have been on my first A. A. meeting that was held at Tulane Reily Center. Because I have not been exposed to the issue of substance abuse before, I did not know what to expect and, frankly, was a little scared. I did not know how people who have real issue would react to me, what questions they might have, and whether they will be welcoming to the newcomers- observers or not.
Watching television, I had some idea of what it would be like – chairs placed in a circle, middle-aged group of people, mostly males, depressed facial expression and stories, full of pain. Arriving there, I was surprised, shock and overwhelmed by the experience at the same time.
First, I have noticed how young all of the participants are, most of them barely reaching the age of 21. There were roughly 15 people, 2/3 were females. I could not believe when I first arrived that they were there because they were having an addiction. Moreover, the atmosphere of the group was welcoming, and half of the group seemed cheerful and healthy, the other half seemed melancholic and attentive.
The meeting started with the welcoming greetings from the facilitator, and she read some rules for the meeting from a “12 Traditions” book: keep confidentiality, stay in the “here and now”; make “I” statements, share feelings, no crosstalk or advice giving. There was some tension when it was time for someone to share the story, so we all sat patiently and waited when someone would finally have enough courage to talk