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A Personal Account of Attending an Alcoholic Anonymous Program Gathering

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Comfort Zone

The comfort zone is the living, working, and social environments that people are comfortable in because it contains an area of thinking that is simply easy. In order to get out of the comfort zone, a person must put himself or herself out there and open their mind to a new experience. For my comfort zone experience, I attended an open Alcoholic’s Anonymous meeting. On February 11th, 2016 I went to the “No One Left Behind” meeting at the Veteran’s Hospital.

Before attending the meeting, I really had no idea what to expect. Therefore, I went into the meeting with a completely open mind and heart. When I arrived, I told the small group that I was a student and that I was here to listen to their stories. Although I felt uncomfortable at first, they all made an effort to make me feel comfortable and that they wanted to share with me their personal experiences. In the one hour I spent with the people who were plagued with this horrible disease, I learned so much about how they are perceived in society as well as how society influences their alcoholism. After the meeting, I stayed for a little while and talked to some of the individuals. They were so open and they wanted me to learn a lesson from this experience, one that shows there are other parts of college besides alcohol. While I went into the meeting feeling very uncomfortable and out of place, they accepted me as a listener and allowed me to listen to very personal stories, and by the end I felt comfortable asking questions and learning from the 12 individuals who were suffering from alcoholism.

This experience affected my perceptions of vulnerable populations by opening my eyes to how people with alcoholism deal with having to live with a disease in today’s society. It is very easy to overlook how an “alcoholic” is actually a person, someone with real thoughts and feelings. People suffering with alcoholism are apart of the vulnerable population because they are usually in a constant state of altered mind, and they do not have control of their own life. Attending an Alcoholics Anonymous made me realize that there is so much more to someone’s story then just being addicted to alcohol, and that I can become an ally just by showing them that I want to be there for them and that I am not judging them for their addiction.

I am a white, female college student that grew up with a solid familial structure and has had opportunities that many people will not have simply because of certain characteristics. I have privilege in my life, and while it is not something I can control, it is something that I can use to help other populations that do not have the same privilege. This being said, I do not have privilege in every part of my life. I grew up in a family plagued with alcoholism, and it is also a part of who I am and my process of thought. These social identities both are apart of my intersectionality, which had a huge impact on my experience. I was able to look at this situation from two perspectives; one where I realized that my privilege has somewhat protected me from being vulnerable to alcoholism and the other where I see that privilege does not completely protect someone from being addicted to drugs or alcohol. I am privileged to not be addicted to alcohol, and this affected my experience because I was the only one in the room that was not in a state of alcoholism. This privilege put a barrier in between us, and while I can listen and learn from their stories, I will never know exactly how they feel. People with alcoholism have to deal with their disease each and every day of their life, which puts them at many disadvantages and in the bottom tier of society.

The primary thing that I experienced that will make a difference in how I perceive myself in the future is my level of empathy towards this population. It is easy to be angry with people suffering from alcoholism because their lives are controlled by alcohol, causing them to do things outside of societal norms. However, this experience showed me that I cannot be angry with them for something they can not control. I do not want to just feel sorry for this population; I want to feel with them. I want to help them get to a place where they can free their mind, spirit, and body. My empathy level increased dramatically while I was at the meeting because I realized that these people want or need help. In the future, I want to be able to have a different perception of people suffering with alcoholism and I think that attending an AA meeting is a step towards better empathy skills for all vulnerable populations.

This experience has completely affected my future actions and behaviors by showing me how to better interact with vulnerable populations. Before attending the AA meeting, it was very easy for me to look at people with alcoholism and pity them, but now I know they do not want pity, they just want help and for someone to listen to their story. can validate their feelings and act as a guide in the right direction. The people that I talked to have stories plagued with disparity, but they want to share their stories because they wanted me to learn from their experiences. I want to be a social worker when I am older, preferably working in the medical setting. It is imperative for a social worker to understand how a person’s privilege and intersectionality can influence who they are in that moment, and this experience has helped me to develop a new outlook on vulnerable populations. By going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I learned vital tools that I will need to be a successful social worker. In the future, I will not look down on these people, but rather look with them towards a new beginning.

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A Personal Account of Attending an Alcoholic Anonymous Program Gathering. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from
“A Personal Account of Attending an Alcoholic Anonymous Program Gathering.” GradesFixer, 26 Apr. 2019,
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