Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings

“The newcomer” at Alcoholics Anonymous

The newcomer is the most important person in the room. I have heard this said at many a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. I firmly believe it to be true for a number of reasons.

In any fellowship of people it is very important to have new life blood. If there is none the existing membership will eventually decline as people leave, move away from the area, stop coming or even die.

Another reason the newcomer is so important is that he or she needs help and in many cases it has taken a long journey. It also takes a very painful recognition in order for that person to arrive at that meeting. We need to make him or her feel welcomed and that they have found the right place to get help.

A reminder for the recovering addicts

Also, and perhaps most importantly, that newcomer was once us. He or she reminds us what it was like to be in the full despair and suffering of addiction. If we are constantly reminded of what it is like, it makes it more likely that we will never be tempted to go back there.

In recovery, it is easy to forget how miserable our lives had become. We may only remember the good times when drinking or using. In any situation it is easy to look back through rose tinted spectacles. The newcomer reminds us that for us, drinking was not like this and would never be like it.

“Drunks should be welcomed”

I have recently heard of a subset of meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous at which, if you turn up having had a drink, you are not welcome. I think this is scandalous, outrageous and dangerous. Alcoholics Anonymous is the one fellowship at which drunks should be welcomed. The only condition for membership at AA is a desire to stop drinking – nowhere does it say you have to have stopped. If we turn people away when they have possibly taken all their courage to show up, need help, want to stop drinking and are then rebuffed. We are almost certainly turning them away to drink more. It’s possible they’ll never to return, and quite likely to die. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Although less serious, I am also personally not in favour of meetings at which you have to announce how clean and sober you are. Therefore, Some of us who have managed to get successfully into recovery can proudly announce the years we have clocked up. But, what purpose does that achieve?

You could say it gives hope to those struggling to see those of us who can do it. However, I think it is more damaging that those of us struggling who keep drinking might be put off by going along each week and having to say we are still not sober – or to admit that last week we were 6 days sober, this week we have gone backwards and are only 3 days off the booze. However, I used to avoid meetings like this and I know others who do too.

The Haynes Clinic is an alcohol and drug rehab clinic which offers detox and counselling for people with addictions.

Call 01462 851414 for free and confidential advice.

Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings