The AA Experience From an Outsiders Viewpoint

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

On Monday, July 27th I attended the two o’clock meeting for the Friends in Recovery over zoom. The style of this meeting was democratic. It was well structured, yet very laid back. There were two co- hosts who structured the meeting so that they fit in the reading of the twelve traditions and twelve steps, prayer, new member introductions, an individual’s journey to sobriety, comments and questions for the speaker, and then some last words to wrap everything up. The origin of this group is in South Africa and welcomes those from all over the world. They meet every single day, three times a day on zoom. Everyone that was in attendance has a home group in their respective areas. There were a good portion from Florida, England, and South Africa. This group was very diverse as you can see. There were all kinds of genders, races, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds. Thus, this shows that addiction does not discriminate and even with such diversity, all one hundred members in the group could relate to one another’s struggle. Erik is the leader of the group, but he may also be the founder. JP was the co- host. All of which were recovering addicts. I do not believe that there is an agency in charge of this group. They seem to have begun when quarantine had taken affect. Therefore, I am not sure if they have a premise that they are founded upon. The main goal and purpose of this meeting is to give recovering alcoholics an opportunity to meet with a group every day during the pandemic. They also wanted everyone to have an opportunity to tell their story.

First, we went around the room and introduced ourselves. Then, they had the co- hosts go through the 12 steps and traditions of sobriety and they said a prayer. After that, they introduced a man and he began to tell his story to sobriety. After this, everyone that wanted to comment on this man’s story had the opportunity to and they also shared some things about themselves. Lastly, the co- hosts shared where to find the book for those who did not already have one and shortly wrapped up the meeting. There were two co-hosts, but a man named Erik seemed to be the leader. His style of leadership was Democratic and Delegative mostly. He went through attendance and called on individuals who raised their hand to speak. He also directed others on when to speak and when to stop. He also wrapped up the meeting when everyone was finished.

The five curative factors I think represent this support group are, Installation of Hope, Interpersonal Learning, Catharsis, Existential Factors, and Group Cohesiveness. Specifically, Installation of Hope means that by observing others, the client can build the confidence that he can resolve his problem too. Interpersonal Learning is through interaction with others, the client can gain insight into their own problem. Catharsis is when a client can express their emotions safely and potentially make the necessary changes. Existential Factors means that a group aids an individual in taking direction of their own life and accepting responsibility for their own existence. Group Cohesiveness is the sense of belonging and purpose.

Clients should be informed that this is a group of about one hundred people that welcomes all with open arms. There are those from all over the world looking to get better. You do not have to share your story. If you do share, it is up to you as to how much you decide to share with the group. In summary, Alcohol Anonymous was a group of people looking to get sober by meeting everyday by utilizing the 12 steps and traditions. Along with this, everyone joined in a few moments of prayer. If you do not believe, you do not have to follow along nor practice. Personally, I really enjoyed being able to attend this meeting. I got to see just how close and welcoming everyone was with one another. I was also honored to hear a recovering alcoholics story of his journey to sobriety. I hope to remember this experience in my practice. It really does show you how critical our decisions are when we are in tough situations. With support, screenings, and resources, one may be able to prevent or shorten the amount of time they are struggling. It is easy to make assumptions about someone with an addiction, but there are several risk factors related to Alcoholism.

First, there are biological risk factors. Specifically, children who have parents who were alcoholics are at higher risk for developing alcoholism and drug dependence compared to children whose parents don’t suffer from alcoholism. Research scientists stated, “Adoption studies have shown higher rates of alcoholism in sons of biologic fathers with alcoholism than in those of nonalcoholic biologic fathers. These studies led theorists to describe the genetic component of alcoholism as a genetic vulnerability that is then influenced by various social and environmental factors. About 60% of the variation in causes of alcoholism was the result of genetics, with the remainder caused by environmental influences,” (NIAAA, 2017). Some theorists believe that inconsistency in the parent’s behavior, poor role modeling, and lack of nurturing contribute to poor coping, bad relationships, and substance abuse. Alcohol, for example, can be used as a way for these individuals to cope.

There are also neurochemical influences on substance use patterns that have been studied. The mood-altering substances stimulate dopamine pathways, which produce good feelings or in other word, a “high” (Cooper, Robison, & Mazei-Robison, 2017). Lastly, environmental and social factors play a role in whether or not someone will continue to use substances. Alcohol consumption increases in areas where availability increases, and it decreases in areas where the cost of alcohol are higher because of how high the taxes are.

Older adults and college age adults are two populations that are identified for prevention programs. Alcoholism in older adults is typically milder and they are more compliant to treatment, yet health care professionals frequently overlook this population. It has been suggested that using a screening tool would promote early identification alcoholism. The NIAAA states, “The College Drinking Prevention Program, which is government sponsored, is a response to some of the following statistics about college students between the ages of 18 and 24. This prevention program was designed to help college students avoid the “predictable” or expected binge drinking common in U.S. colleges and universities,” (NIAAA, 2015).

Nursing interventions while caring for a patient with substance abuse are nurturing and supportive living environments, help with fundamental life changes, such as finding job, abstinent friends, connections with other recovering people, treatment of comorbid conditions, health teaching for client, family, addressing family issues, and promoting coping skills. We can teach them about the various resources, like support groups, as well as good coping mechanisms, for example breathing exercises.

What can nurses do to prevent and treat these patients? The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has found that it is imperative that nurses identify problems related to alcoholism, when they appear along with other health problems, so that they can have the can care for these patients. They also said, “Substance misuse can begin at any age. Therefore, it is important to focus on prevention of substance misuse across the lifespan as well as the prevention of substance use disorders,” (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). In the article that I chose, screenings and brief interventions were key in reducing the amount of alcohol consumed. “Effective intervention components were personalized feedback, protective strategies to moderate drinking, setting alcohol- related goals, and challenging alcohol expectancies. Interventions with four or more components were most effective,” (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services). They included family members as well to educate them about when it is appropriate to intervene and how.

CITATIONS

Alcohol Alert #60. (n.d.). Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa60.htm

Facing Addiction in American: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health (Internet). Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424857/pdf/Bookshelf_NBK424857.pdf

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). (n.d.). THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF SUBSTANCE USE, MISUSE, AND ADDICTION. Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424849/

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