Local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups are opening up their meetings as part of Alcohol Concern’s Alcohol Awareness week which runs between November 19th-25th.
To mark the event AA in Hastings, St Leonards, Battle, Bexhill, Rye and Ticehurst is opening up meetings that are normally only for those who are trying to stop drinking or need support to stay sober.
“The myth that AA meetings are full of old men in grubby raincoats with bottles hidden in brown paper bags has almost entirely disappeared,” says a local spokesman for the organisation, “Today AA holds meetings all over the world attended by men and women of all ages and faiths, or not, and from all walks of life.” she says.
AA was founded by Bill Wilson and Dr Bob Smith in 1935 and four years later the first edition of AA’s famous Big Book was published. In 2005 the 25 millionth copy rolled of the presses and around a million are still printed and sold each year. The book shows how early members applied the simple but profound program that helps alcoholics get sober today and shares personal stories and experiences too.
One of the stories recounted in The Big Book is that of co-founder Bill Wilson, a young officer sent from America to fight in the trenches. He survived the war and 100 years ago visited Winchester Cathedral and saw a gravestone and read an inscription which remained with him. He recounts the story of his wartime visit to the cathedral and today people from all over the world make the trip to see the grave of Thomas Thetcher which so inspired him.
Bill published that inscription as part of his story on the first page of The Big Book he recalled: “My attention was caught by a doggerel on an old tombstone, ‘Here lies a Hampshire Grenadier, Who caught his death, Drinking cold small beer, A good soldier is ne’er forgot, Whether he dies by musket, Or by pot.’
This year an anniversary meeting of AA was held in Winchester Cathedral attended by around 700 people.
Catherine Ogle The Dean of Winchester Cathedral wrote afterwards: “We listened to people talking about their lives with the kind of honesty that is rare but necessary for recovery.”
Alcoholics Anonymous Hastings and Rother is opening meetings for professionals who work with alcoholics, for relatives of people with a dependence on alcohol and for those who have an interest in recovery and want to see how meetings work.
Public Health England recommends going to 12 step groups as a support for long term recovery. AA offers that support for as long as it is necessary and stress there is no funding and therefore no possibility of cuts.
“AA is untouched by the current concern for profit, data and targets. AA meetings are free and available in most cities around the UK and the world. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking,” says the local spokesman.
“AA is about living a happy and fulfilling life, sober – not just stopping drinking,” she says.
If you are interested in attending a meeting and would like a list of open meetings then please contact Patricia W on firstname.lastname@example.org
Copies of one of the world’s biggest selling books, AA’s The Big Book which outlines the 12 step programme to sobriety.