The issues associated with alcoholism and mental health are among the ones that are the most difficult to cope with, partially due to the social stigma (Noronha, Cui, & Harris, 2014). Experiencing a problem associated with alcoholism and the ensuing mental health problems may become not only exhausting but also embarrassing for many people (Stimmel, 2014). Herein lies the significance of mental health self-support groups, which allow embracing the problem and addressing it accordingly. The mental health self-support group in question became the tool for helping around 100 people manage their alcoholism issues by changing their perception of the issue.
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Named Long Beach Early Risers, the group was scheduled to meet every Saturday at 6.30 a.m. on Long Island Beach, in St. John’s Lutheran Church basement. The reason for choosing the identified group was based on the convenience principle – the meetings were held in the vicinity of my house (particularly, it took a 10-minute walk to get to the venue). Furthermore, the accessibility of the group should be mentioned among the primary reasons for me to attend its meetings. Discussing the topic of gratefulness, the participants shed a lot of light on the issue of alcoholism and the associated mental health problems that they either have been suffering from or may develop in the future.
The group was rather big, with a total of 100 participants. Although the attendance rates never actually reached 100%, there were still a lot of people to provide support and share their emotional experiences. Furthermore, there was a notable prevalence of male participants (approximately 70% of the total population). Therefore, there was a threat that the needs of women, who were in the minority (30%), might be overlooked. Nevertheless, all issues were addressed during the group meetings, with every category of the target population experiencing a gradual improvement in their attitude toward the problem. The age also varied greatly among the group members, 25 being the youngest group members and 70 being the oldest ones. Only 10% had a diploma, whereas 80% barely managed to graduate from school. All group members were white Caucasians.
The members of the group seemed to have succeeded in forming a bond with one another. There was a threat that, with the population so big and diverse, creating strong ties will not be a possibility. However, as implausible as the connection was, it, nevertheless, occurred. Sharing their stories and experiences, the participants managed to establish a strong emotional connection with one another.
The leadership issue played an important role in helping the people create a bond. With the active use of transformational and visionary leadership styles, the person in charge of the meetings created an environment in which change was viewed as not only a necessity but also an inevitable process. Thus, the recognition of the problem was the purpose of the group. The function thereof, in its turn, concerned the development of a coping strategy (Stimmel, 2014). Consequently, the 12-steps program meeting can be viewed as an efficient way of promoting change among the target population (Noronha et al., 2014).
Therefore, it can be assumed that the group managed to meet the set goals rather successfully. Every person attending the meeting recognized the significance of changing their lifestyle and attitude toward drinking. Furthermore, the importance of maintaining positive relationships with the family members was addressed successfully.
The identified experience was essential for me as a nurse. It helped gain a better insight into the needs of a person struggling with substance abuse issues. Furthermore, the detrimental effects that alcoholism has on mental health have been explored.
Helping the participants define their alcoholism-related issue and develop the framework that would help them suppress the craving, change their lifestyles, and rebuild relationships with their family members, the 12-step program served as the foundation for changing these people’s lives. Therefore, it can be assumed that the mental health self-support group helped the participants not only recognize their issues but also develop a responsible attitude toward the problem and adders it accordingly.
Noronha, A., Cui, C., & Harris, R. A. (2014). Neurobiology of alcohol dependence. New York, NY: Elsevier.
Stimmel, B. (2014). Cultural and sociological aspects of alcoholism and substance abuse. New York, NY: Routledge.