As an assignment for our Psychiatric Rotation we had to go to an AA meeting and write about our experience, our thoughts. I had never been to anything like this before so I guess what I was expecting was all from movies. I expected a circle with 5 or 6 people sitting around drinking coffee and sharing their stories. I was surprised to walk into a crowded room with probably 75 people sitting in rows that faced forward like a church or assembly meeting. The meeting was standing room only, and there was piping hot coffee, the smell filled the room. The meeting started and someone got up to share her story. The whole meeting was one lady sharing her testimony of what she called "what her life was like then, what happened and how it is now." The meeting really reminded me of church, except without the Hymns. It was a group of people who shared a common goal: Sobriety. They were relying on each other for strength and being very real about their struggles. I felt like on outsider. But I guess that was because I did not share their same struggle.
After going to an AA meeting, I worked my shifts at the Psych ER and there I met a patient whose life had been torn apart by alcohol. He was 49, but he looked twenty years older. His wife had left him and he had two grandchildren he could not see. He was trying to quit and presented to us after suffering from horrible withdrawal symptoms. He had been drinking 15 beers a day since he was 13. His kidneys were failing, too. He so badly wanted help and rehabilitation. I have frequently heard the statement but it was this patient that made me realize that alcoholism is a disease. I think resources like AA would obviously be a long way in this man's future but I hope he gets there. I hope one day he is at an AA meeting standing up celebrating his sobriety day, with his family and friends around him.
There are so many resources like social worker, drug and alcohol therapists, and abuse counselors that I was introduced to on my rotation in Psychiatry. I was so amazing to see them all in action working to help rehabilitate patients. I had this idea that most of the time when someone walked into the ER they must be having the worst day of their lives but most people I encountered in the Psych ER where just living another day. Some didn't have family, friends, or even an emergency contact. I am glad that I got a glimpse of all the resources that are out there in the fields of social work and drug and alcohol counseling so that I can make it available to my patients. There is so little time in one appointment or one ER visit to do things like keep someone accountable for their alcoholism and these tools are necessary to give people as they start to rebuild their lives.