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My Reflection of Substance Abuse

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In my Substance Abuse class, the instructor requested that we attend a self help group meeting either Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotic Anonymous. At first I was asking myself "Why on earth have I been asked to do this?" then it was "I do not belong invading these individuals lives by attend these meetings" and last "what would I possibly learn". Only addicts attend these groups and I was not an addict and did not want people to get that impression. What if I met someone I knew, how would I handle that situation? If I was to tell the participants that I was attending as a school assignment, would they believe me or find it ridiculous. I could not have been more wrong. I discovered more about myself and more importantly I learned how to really listen and that it can help a person reach its inner self.

Today I attended an AA meeting @ 7:30 am at the Hope House in Bangor. I had many meetings to choose from, but I felt that this meeting would be a small number of people and no one would know me so I could fade into the background and be unnoticed.

When I was getting ready to attend this meeting my worries about how to introduce myself got heightened? The entire trip to the meeting, my thoughts were going over how I would react to things asked of me. This meeting was open to the public so it was okay for me and my husband to attend. I had never been to the Hope House before and as I got out of my car and approached the entrance, I did not notice any signs that directed me from outside where to enter the meeting. Instead I walked through a crowd of homeless men standing around the front door talking and smoking. I was shaking with nerves when I got inside approaching the front desk. This is when the arrogance part of my temperament took over to get me through without showing fear or anxiety. I approached the desk and asked to be directed to the AA meeting. One of the two men behind the counter came around the desk and said that he would show me, but next time I could enter from the back entrance because it offered more privacy. As I walked the hallway leading to the room, I could see that this place was utilized by a large number of men on a daily basis. I began losing my arrogance and the feeling of compassion came over me. These individuals were at a very low point in their lives and need whatever support they could get to rise each day and feel they could go on to the next step. Then it hit me would I be the only women at this meeting?

I became intimidated as I entered the room all of the seats near the door were taken. My decision to be part of the wall was now not possible. I had to cross the entire room to get a seat in the far back table. There were approximately 15-20 people seated at tables and they all were staring at me as I entered and walked to the far table to take a seat. At first I did not noticed that some were women, only after I sat at the table was I able to breathe and look around the room. I gathered the papers that were passed to me by the man sitting at the next table beside me. As I sat trying to gather my composure, I heard a person snoring and then realized that a man was lying on the floor behind me. He was either sleeping or passed out I am not sure which was true. The meeting began with readings, I heard what they said but honestly do not remember what it was in reference too. When it came to the introductions they went around the room and every one announced their first name and identified that they were an alcoholics or addicts. When it came to me I made the decision to only give my first name and my husband's only comment was that he was with me. My anxiety seemed to leave after the introductions were done given that I had made it through without exploding. Many of the participants began reading from the article that was handed out. It was titled "Get a Cat" by Bernie S. of Nova Scotia which was printed in the July 2003 of the AA Grapevine. As the article was being read, I found myself visioning everything the author was saying.

It then came time for everyone that wanted to speak to do so about anything that they felt important. Everyone was given 3-5 minutes to speak to save time for everyone to have ample time. This was a very considerate gesture towards the individuals attending the meeting. I listened with fascination to each story or observation. Most talked about needing to find themselves and learning to be depend on themselves and their love for their



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