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McArthur Alcoholics Anonymous keeps doors open, celebrates 35 years

August 19, 2013

Thirty five years ago in July 1978, a notice of the first AA meeting in McArthur appeared in the Vinton County Courier. Today, there are three meetings a week in the basement meeting room of the Presbyterian Church, located at the corner of High Street and Boundary Avenue. Since 1978, the meetings have changed locations a few times, but are now back in the same location where they were in the early 1980’s at the Presbyterian Church.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other, that they might solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism.

AA is an international fellowship of recovering alcoholics which originated in Akron, Ohio in the late 1930’s. Once numbering less than a hundred people, it has grown over the decades to consist of many thousands of meetings a week and about two million people attending meetings throughout the world.

Recovery is based on twelve steps. Anyone who has a desire to stop drinking can join. AA is located in many communities, including McArthur, where it is now in its 35th year. Though each group is autonomous and self-supporting, there are guidelines for the groups, which are called the twelve traditions.

Weekly meetings are the heart of the program. Meetings last about an hour. They can consist of open and closed discussion meetings and lead meetings in which a recovering alcoholic tells their story. There are no dues or fees for participation. A basket is passed at the meeting for donations, which go to purchasing literature, coffee and snacks.

There are open meetings, which anyone can attend, and there are closed meetings for the alcoholic only. All the McArthur meetings are open meetings.

Every Tuesday at 7 p.m. there is a Big Book Study Group. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous was written in 1939 and it is the fellowship’s basic text, which has updated stories in the back. The current book is the fourth edition. At each meeting, part of the text or stories are read and discussed by those in attendance.

On Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m., there is a meeting using the book “As Bill Sees It,” which was written by one of the two co-founders of AA. Pages are selected for reading aloud and then discussed, relating to topics on alcoholism and recovery, which were written by the co-founder.

On Sundays at 5:30 p.m., there is an open discussion meeting called Sober On Sunday (SOS). Three topics, introduced by those attending, are discussed. In all sessions there can be no discussion of anything that might cause a member to drink. Topics all relate to alcoholism and how to stay sober by working the steps.

AA regards alcoholism as an illness that is treatable by working the steps and adopting a sober way of life. The program focuses on complete abstinence from alcohol on a day to day basis. Meetings often become an important part of maintaining sobriety.

McArthur AA also sponsors special events throughout the year, such as a Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Dinner, Anniversary Dinner and Annual Picnic. These are social events that bring recovering alcoholics, family and their friends together for fun and fellowship to celebrate sobriety.

AA is not affiliated with any other group, organization or institution. Its sole purpose is to help alcoholics to get sober. Free pamphlets and literature are available at meetings for the newcomer. There are no requirements for membership, only the desire to stop drinking.

AA, as an international fellowship, is a self-help organization that has helped millions of people attain sobriety over the many decades that it has been in existence. Attendance at local meetings can range from a few people to many dozens. In McArthur, the group is small but very active, and can be seen by the many special events that it sponsors each year.

The doors of AA in McArthur have been kept open for the past 35 years in order to help people in the community who are experiencing problems due to their drinking. More can be learned about AA by attending a meeting locally. Available literature also includes directories of the times and places where AA meets in surrounding communities and counties.

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