I remember the first thing I saw when I walked into my first Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting. There was a sign that read on the door upon entering, "Those who enter do not do so by accident." That's something that resonated with me on a deeper level because with everything I was going through at the time in my personal life, it just made sense for me to keep on entering again. I plan on continuing to take part in AA or NA meetings whenever I get the chance because there's nothing more empowering than seeing people give up their power to a higher power. This means so much to me, because I once did the same thing. Sure I never was an alcoholic or drug addict, but I too had reached a low point in my life when I had made the choice to surrender and give myself to the Higher Power and that not only saved my life, but also changed my life, for the better. My point is, the process of healing is the same even though the cause of the pain may appear to take different forms. In reality, if you prick me with a needle or cut the person next to me with a knife, we all bleed the same blood. We're all human. We are all vulnerable as long as we're alive.
I decided to journal this personal experience not only because it was part of my assignment to do so, but also because as a person who never touched an illegal drug in my life, I wanted to write it down so I could look back on this years from now and remember what this experience was like. Up until now, I've been surrounded by both strangers and loved ones who are dealing with addiction but never sought help. I used to resent such people. This experience truly opened up my eyes about alcoholics and drug addicts and developed my understanding of the difficult journey it takes for them to get to a full recovery. I was able to bring this experience back into my personal life and sympathize with the people I used to despise.
By attending both the Alcoholics Anonymous and the Narcotics Anonymous meetings, I learned that I have a tendency to jump to false conclusions about people in our society by labeling or stereotyping them. I was amazed by the highly intelligent, faithful, and kind-hearted members at these self-help meetings and I have learned to never judge anyone by any title or label ever again. After witnessing to the incredible strength of each and every member I feel I have gained an incredible amount of strength as well. To watch them sit there, acknowledge that they have a problem, and then work their way to resolve it through perseverance and dedication is one of the most beautiful things any person can witness to in this sometimes devastating and painful, fallible world.
In their own way, each member gives you faith that life will be okay. They have gone through so much pain, struggle and torment. They have felt so weak, yet they still see within themselves, a stronger higher power. They are so thankful and I find that amazing because I actually see their gratitude in action just through their simple tears of joy, gentle sighs of relief, and victorious smiles of having the chance to live another day sober than ever. These people are no longer recovering drug addicts to me. They started out as strangers, who later became my friends and family.
Disclaimer: None of the pictures represent any of the real people mentioned below. Although, I remember the names of everybody perfectly, the names have been changed due to confidential matters and simply because trustworthiness is a virtue I highly value. For whatever you think it's worth, hope it means something to you~
Narcotics Anonymous Meeting
George, the group’s courageous facilitator, introduced himself to me and then introduced me to the group as a student observing the meeting. I was given the opportunity to open the session by reading the definition of what it meant to be a drug addict. Everyone listened to me as I read aloud the book’s scholarly, well-defined description of what a drug addict actually is. I could not quote it word for word even if I tried, but this is what I got out of it: It is those who have lost control over themselves entirely. Those who are so disillusioned by the drug they have yet to see the reality. Those who have given up all that they are for something that eventually gives up on them. Those that are blindly addicted to the effects of a drug without realizing the drug’s destructive effects on themselves… George then led the group into a book reading session and the chapters covered telephone therapy and emphasized the first step in the healing process: Admit we are powerless over (whatever drug) and that our lives are unmanageable...
At one point the question was raised, “what do you do to help a drug addict? How do you make them stop?” and they answered, “Absolutely nothing.” You don’t do anything at all because there is nothing one can do. The drug addict herself has to awaken from her own nightmare that she has conjured up in her sleep. The drug addict himself has to realize he holds the keys to a dark and gloomy prison he willingly threw himself in not too long ago.
I sat there in silence while everyone was crying and it broke my heart to know that they felt they were “weird” and that it was this feeling of weirdness that prevented them from engaging in the enjoyable social situations of their everyday life. It truly startled me to know that it was this feeling of weirdness that causes them to close themselves in and keep their pain inside. I found it incredibly painful to know that it was this weirdness that motivates them and encourages them to abuse the drug just because they feel their drug is the only thing that cannot judge them.
I told them we all have our own story. Society judges a book by its cover and if we cover ourselves because we feel like an outcast then it is allowing society to identify us as an outcast as well. I finished my part in the discussion by reminding them that it is not the disastrous effects of the drug that causes the person to be in pain. Instead, it is the pain someone was originally in that causes he or she to abuse the drug in the first place. One must first overcome the obstacles that led to the original pain in order for one to actually let go of their addiction and thus, allow themselves to be healthier than ever before and grow to reach their fullest potential.
God, grant us the
Serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.