Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings Starting Here
November 3, 2009
A MEMBER of the international self-help group Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is visiting the Solomon Islands from November 9 to 16 to help set up regular meetings of AA here.
The AA member who, in keeping with AA's tradition of anonymity is here simply called Ian C., lives in West Australia and serves as one of AA Australia's two World Service delegates.
"AA is an extraordinary organisation," Ian says.
"It is entirely funded by its own members and never seeks money from outside sources such as governments or charities.
"Despite this, since it started in 1935 it has grown to more than two million members meeting in 114,000 groups in more than 180 countries.
"AA has the most extraordinary effect on people's lives. I have seen many hundreds of alcoholics come to AA meetings sick, shaking and their lives destroyed.
'Simply by listening to the experiences of recovered alcoholics and following the program of AA, they are transformed.
“They recover their health, restore their family connections and become valuable members of society again."
The first meetings will be held at the Holy Cross Church in Point Cruz and with Hope Church in the Zion area.
AA has no formal affiliation with either church and is grateful for their support.
There are no fees for AA membership. Anyone who thinks they have a drinking problem is welcome to attend.
Ian will also be holding meetings in other areas including Malaita.
Ian first visited the Solomon Islands in February 2007.
Some AA meetings were organised at this time but failed to reach sufficient momentum to keep going.
"We find it usually takes some years for people to work out how to make the meetings take hold," Ian says.
"AA in Australia is willing to supply literature and other support to help the Solomon Islands get AA going.
“However, there is a strong principle that AA groups need to be self-supporting."
Alcoholism is a serious problem in the Solomon Islands being responsible for crime, family breakdowns health and economic problems, according to Ruth Maetala, Director, Research Planning Policy and Information Division (RPPID) at the Ministry of Women, Youth and Children Affairs.
“Alcohol is a major contributor to the increase in domestic and family violence,” Ms Maetala said.
“It is rife among youth drop outs and it has recently received severe penalties in the recent change in legislations guiding its use.
“However, legislation alone cannot solve the problem we have with substance and alcohol abuse in this country," Ms Maetala said.
"With organisations or programs like AA intervening, individual people’s lives can be changed.
“Faith based organisations and programs coupled with AA methods could work together to end this plague that is infecting our communities and families.
“We must stop the violence by stopping the abuse of alcohol.”