Fighting addiction one step at a time

Alcoholism. Alcoholics can seek help. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • AA has over the last 83 years reached out to alcoholics around the world.

A starry-eyed man walked towards an empty chair in the hall, where about 50 other people were seated in a semicircle, waiting for a meeting to start.

He sat down, the soft light in the room shining on his clean-shaven head, and began to speak.

“My name is Chris. I’m an alcoholic,” he said. With the rather odd introduction, the meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) had started.

It was Chris’ turn to be a trusted servant. A trusted servant is a volunteer of the Serenity Group of AA, and part of the job involves leading meetings Members usually take turns to be trusted servants.

“I drank heavily for 20 years, within which time I lost many good jobs. Then I started to develop serious health problems. The worst came when my wife of 12 years left with our children. From this time on, I drunk so I could die,” Chris said matter-of-factly.

Doctors advised him to stop, but he just could not. “I needed it although I no longer enjoyed it,” he revealed.

One day, 10 years ago, he learnt about AA through a former schoolmate. And that was when he stopped drinking. He has never looked back.

Chris — AA members identify themselves by one name only — is one of the hundreds of Kenyans, and millions of people around the world, who have recovered from alcoholism through AA.

His health has been restored, his family reassembled and he now has a steady job.


He is now committed to helping other alcoholics find sobriety.

Before he joined AA, Chris had no idea that his drinking was a symptom of a disease called alcoholism.

Although they initially blamed him for his drinking, Chris’s family now realises that he was a sick person.

“They now know that I was not doing it deliberately. I was sick and a sick person needs help,” he said.

That is why he and other members have been trying to reach out to other addicts with the help of mainly churches and rehabilitation centres.

Founded in 1935 in Akron, Ohio, US, by a brilliant but alcoholic New York stockbroker called Bill W and a disgraced physician called Bob, AA has over the last 83 years reached out to alcoholics around the world.

And today, it will be celebrating its 83 anniversary.

To mark the day, AA Kenya will be celebrating at Hekima College, off Ngong Road in Nairobi. The public is invited to listen to the talks.


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