BY JACOB OKETCH
Today is a Sunday and I have been thinking about the essence of service in our community. I have been thinking about the centrality of service to a recovering alcoholic. Indeed, it is humbling to see how a sense of service transforms an alcoholic into a servant whose personal interest is subservient to their vision.
When you are drinking, everything you do revolve around you. You don’t care about others and every effort is geared towards achieving your one and most important goal, having fun. This, in most cases, alienates one from those close to them and a situation arises where an alcoholic is shunned. In a family set up, it is easy for a father to have fun out there while his children are going hungry or miss school.
When an alcoholic is recovering, it provides a good opportunity to look back at the harms they have caused. There is that rush of guilt that sweeps one when they think of acts of negligence that they engaged in. Therefore, an alcoholic tends to try and start making amends by way of serving others. In fact, it is not only by personally approaching those you have wronged that you make amends. You can make amends by doing a good thing to a totally different person in totally different circumstances.
So, when we see members of the alcoholic anonymous assisting a recovering alcoholic to reintegrate into the society, it is a way of restituting themselves as well into an ordered society. Service comes in varied forms. You can take up any kind of duty in a group. Some volunteer to make tea and other refreshments during meetings. Others keep the register of attendants. And others even volunteer to conduct the meetings. There are many other forms of service than a recovering alcoholic can undertake independent of what they do in an Alcoholic Anonymous group. Service can even take a philanthropic dimension where for example a member can take to rehabilitating street people and such like engagements.
There is a special group of individuals who take up the role of inviting, welcoming and grooming alcoholics who have decided to join the group. This is a very demanding obligation. Sometimes, somebody has to abandon what he or she does for a living to dedicate themselves to this cause. Unlike in churches where somebody is paid some money to do such things, members of Alcoholic Anonymous end up even using their own resources to further this mission.
Alcoholic Anonymous is one of the few organizations in the world that commands global following yet it is voluntary and does not accrue monetary benefits to the members. The fact that the only requirement to be part of an AA group is the desire to stop drinking is a major pull and has ensured that it is embraced by many people across the world. When you are a member of an AA group, you don’t have to worry about publicity because it is an anonymous entity and its aim is not to advertise but to occasion change.
If you look at the profile of the original founders of AA, you realize that they are people who were in various professions and it is their desire to transform things that drove them to congregate and come up with the idea. The fact that they were victims of the challenge is the glue that held them together. It is quite interesting to note AA groups are formed by former alcoholics. There is no holier than thou attitude since everybody is sick and they help one another to recover. This, probably, is why AA groups have succeeded where denominations have failed. There is a sense in which alcoholic anonymous groups promote inclusivity thereby attracting an impressive following.
When you serve in an Alcoholic Anonymous group, you offer yourself some kind of therapy. The incentive to stay sober is a powerful driver in one’s commitment to serve in whatever position in an Alcoholic Anonymous group. This symbiotic relationship fuels the degree of service in a group. More importantly, to serve in a group is to humble oneself to the principles of recovery of an alcoholic. We can only show concern for others by serving them and this is clearly exemplified by the principle of service in an Alcoholic Anonymous group.
Leadership is all about service. Most alcoholics are above average people who have been ravaged by alcohol. In fact, some of them are very brilliant people who went off course. The principle of service in AA unearths very brilliant leaders in treatment centres. Indeed, these centres are some sort of incubation for leadership. It is apparent then that alcoholic treatment centres are not just places for seeking sobriety. They are places where people’s potential is rejuvenated by giving them a chance to serve.
When you are in a treatment centre, the focus should not be entirely on the process of working the steps to attain sobriety. One ought to be keen to identify areas in which they can be of service to the community. We are gifted in all sorts of ways and we tend to be blinded by alcoholism to the point that some of our talents are buried deep within us. There are people who have discovered that they had certain capabilities when they were receiving treatment.
There are also people who are driven by frustration to sink deep into alcoholism. Part of the problem may be emanating from the fact that they were not appreciated at their places of work. Thus, their capabilities were suppressed by people who did not want them to prosper. When you are in a treatment centre, it is like starting on a clean slate. There are no inhibiting factors to one unleashing their potential. The act of volunteering gives one the opportunity to showcase what they can achieve without bothering that somebody may be hell bent on curtailing their progress.
It is also this spirit of service that enables one to effectively rejuvenate their careers. Alcoholics lose the drive to excel and no matter how brilliant they are, they cannot excel while are still heavily drinking. When you offer yourself to serve while sober, you unleash a very powerful energy that leads to productivity of the highest proportion. The steps to recovery are the cornerstone of an alcoholic’s rehabilitation. Thus, the idea of service is very essential to an alcoholic’s holistic recovery. Inotherwords, the twelve steps enable you to revert to sobriety and it is the ability and spirit to serve that ensures that you guard and maintain your hard earned sobriety.