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Title: AA meeting is an emotional refuge for the newly sober alcoholic.
Author: Fraser Trevor
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 AA meeting is an emotional refuge for the newly sober alcoholic. Whether a binge drinker, a covert and solitary drinker, or a common...
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 AA meeting is an emotional refuge for the newly sober alcoholic. Whether a binge drinker, a covert and solitary drinker, or a common barroom drinker, the alcoholic has developed a pattern of activities, relationships and values associated with the consumption of alcohol. As long as these work, the person has no desire to stop drinking and therefore is not, in AA terms, an alcoholic. When the activities and relationships built around alcohol cease to work, usually by making other social goods such as regular employment and financial stability inordinately difficult, the individual, often spurred by some dramatic turn of events, decides to stop drinking.

Stopping drinking, however, entails much more than simply not lifting the glass. It involves abandoning a set of behaviours, personal relationships and activities that have been at the root of the person's experience for many years. Cut off from these behavioural and social roots, the alcoholic is lonely and afraid. Alcohol, is more than a drug that he physically craves. It is a crucial element of the way he has experienced the world. The loss of familiar behavioural patterns and comfortable stable relationships is akin to the loss one feels at the death of a spouse or loved one. Despite the damage alcohol may have caused, the newly recovering alcoholic must grieve.

The grieving aspect of AA meeting makes most nonalcoholics uncomfortable and generally hesitant to attend such meetings even for educational purposes. They feel embarrassed, in the same way that one might feel uncomfortable being present when a family reminisced, remembered and condemned a lost but abusive parent. To nonalcoholics, the meetings are "spooky." To the alcoholic, they are a safe haven where one is not alone. The hole left by removing alcohol from a person's life must be filled, but unlike the deceased love one, alcohol is not dead. It is as near as the local bar. Filling the void with new relationships, new activities and new ways of responding to the world is what AA attempts to do.
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