Although I am personally not addicted to alcohol or narcotic drugs, I participated in the Alcoholics Anonymous program in my locality. The purpose is to glean important key insights through first hand observation and direct interaction. Although most of the participants in the 12 step program were adults, there were some who were adolescents as well. It is saddening to see teenagers fall into the vicious trap of alcohol addiction. However, it is also consoling to know that they can get cured through participation in the program. I must say that, though at the beginning I was uneasy with the whole idea, by the end of the exercise I found it enriching and rewarding.
Addiction to alcohol poses serious problems for both the addict as well as his/her family. In a culture that associates drinking with festive occasions and celebrations, over-indulgence in alcohol is to be expected. In the case of teenagers, alcohol addiction is often the result of a dysfunctional relationship with parents. Those who’ve had difficult early childhood experiences are most prone to substance addiction in later life. For some this is manifest as early as their adolescence. The ill effects of alcohol addiction reach beyond the individual who is addicted. The close family members of the addict usually suffer a lot. Psychologists have termed this relationship ‘co-dependency’, whereby the supportive family members adapt and adjust their attitudes and behaviours that complement that of the addict. Although this is counter-intuitive at first the idea sounds more plausible when we consider the root of addiction problems. Many people fall into the trap of alcoholism and substance abuse due to one or more dysfunctional relations with close family members. (Stakal, 1999)
Based upon my observation and assessment of the AA program I would strongly recommend it for those needing it. This includes adolescents as well. For those who are apprehensive about taking up the program, I would like to demystify a few things about AA. On the surface, AAs have an “overtly spiritual language, and its concepts, and its purported mechanism of behaviour change (a ‘spiritual awakening’) would seem to place it beyond the reach of science-based research efforts to understand how and why it works.” (Kelly & Yeterian, 2010) But when we place this perception against practical outcomes and empirical results, the merit of the program becomes clear. For, even today, “AA is the most commonly sought source of help for an alcohol problem and that there is growing empirical support for AA-related benefits, and how AA facilitates recovery”. (Kelly & Yeterian, 2010) Another nice thing about the AA program is the atmosphere of camaraderie and solidarity that it creates. The people whom I’ve observed first hand were not judgmental of others. To my surprise there was not even any blatant expression of racism, sexism or ageism within the group. That’s when I realized that a common cause can unite the most diverse group of people. Even empirical evidence points to the the efficacy of AA programs. For example, there are studies that have found that