Sunday, November 1, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
21 July, Tuesday –
8:30 a.m. Arrival at Kotoka International Airport
11:00 To Hopeful Way House, tentatively with Dr. Dzadey, Pantang Hospital
22 July, Wednesday –
8:00 a.m. Greet Dr. Asare (if possible)
Greet Dr. Osei and Dr. Dordoye, Psychiatric Hospital (if possible)
11:00 a.m. AA Meeting Psychiatric Hospital
Meet potential residents of Hopeful Way House
1:30 p.m. Valley View Clinic, greet Dr. Lamptey
23 July, Thursday –
Visit rental house in Adabraka
1:00 p.m. Lunch at Edvy Restaurant, National Museum
3:00 Depart for Mercy Centre, Cape Coast
Meet Mercy Centre staff and residents
24 July, Friday –
Meet Mercy Centre staff and residents
Return to Accra
25 July, Saturday –
11:00 a.m. AA meeting Valley View Clinic
Meet potential residents of HWH
26 July, Sunday –
To be arranged
27 July, Monday –
8:00 a.m. Addictive Diseases Unit Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital,
Mr. Logosu Amegashie
9:00 NA Meeting at ADU
Meet potential residents at HWH
28 July, Tuesday –
10:00 a.m. Pantang Hospital Workshop for Staff
Meet potential residents of HWH
29 July, Wednesday –
10:00 a.m. Accra Psychiatric Hospital Workshop for Staff
Meet potential residents of HWH
30 July, Thursday –
To be arranged
Meet potential residents of HWH
31 July, Friday –
10:30 a.m. Al-Anon meeting at Social Advance Institute, Dan’s office
11:30 AA meeting at Social Advance Institute
Meet potential residents of HWH
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
An AA Member Shares: My name is Betty, and I am an alcoholic. I'm a bi-product of AA Online twelve years ago yesterday. We were at a different site, and many of the facilitators here today were there. I had been drinking for thirty years and was indeed powerless. One night I found the site and listened to what you all had to say. Soon, I was asking questions and was amazed and awed by you people. Coming into the rooms of AA, I couldn't think, I couldn't breathe -- couldn't do anything. My mind was gone. I even went to a shrink and my doctor for help. You all told me to get to face-to-face meetings, and I did. It took two weeks to get enough courage to do so, but I went. I found a wonderful woman to help me. She guided me and slowed me down. She said, "First Things First." I wanted everything right away...It didn't happen. It got worse before it got better. Newcomers, be prepared for the ride of your life! This is truly an awesome program, and if you work it, it works! It saved me and it was a miracle. God Bless you all.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Hopeful Way Foundation is also making plans to conduct a three-day consultation on Employee Assistance Programmes which are aimed at assisting employers and employees deal with problems related to alcohol, drugs and other issues. Much interest was shown in EAPs by the participants in a training conducted in April by Hopeful Way Foundation. If the training on EAPs is held, a resource person would come to Ghana to assist in the effort. We will provide more information in the coming weeks on the proposed training.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Addictive Diseases Unit – Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital
23 June, 2009
Meeting in Honour of International Day Against Illicit Drugs: 29 June, 2009
In order to raise awareness regarding the Twelve-Step Programmes aimed at assisting recovering addicts, the Hopeful Way Foundation, in conjunction with the Addictive Diseases Unit of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, invites you to an awareness creation meeting from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the Addictive Diseases Unit on 29 June, 2009.
The first half of the meeting will consist of an open Twelve-Step meeting, with members of AA, NA and other interested persons reflecting on how we could possibly better carry the AA/NA message in Ghana.
The second half of the meeting will consist of remarks by a panel of distinguished personalities in the field of recovery. A general discussion will be held on measures that could be taken to help overcome addiction in Ghana.
Addictive Diseases Unit, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Professionals and other friends of alcoholics are showing a growing interest in setting up appropriate types of support systems which could benefit Ghanaians who have gone through detoxification, medical treatment and counseling. One such friend is Father Kofi Appiah, Director of the Diocesan Formation and Counseling Centre in Jasikan. After visiting an AA meeting of the Black Star Group in Accra , Fr. Kofi invited two of its members to come to Jasikan-Nsuta to start an AA group.
Without hesitation, the Black Star Group quickly dispatched two of its long-serving, recovering alcoholics, with much experience under their sleeves, to go and share their experiences, strengths and hopes with their still suffering brothers in Jasikan District. Chris D. and Sammy A. packed bag and baggage on 28 May, 2009 and headed toward Jasikan. The journey started just a day after Sammy A. had landed in Accra after spending four days in Johannesburg , South Africa attending an AA conference.
A tiring but interesting journey took us across the acclaimed Adomi Bridge , one of the legacies of the first President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. After enjoying mountainous greenery, we arrived in a beautiful and serene Jasikan where our host, Fr. Kofi Appiah, met us on arrival at the main lorry park. He drove us straight to the Diocesan Formation and Counseling Centre, the place purported to taste the first AA meeting held in the upper part of the Volta Region. The meeting took place the following day with nine alcoholics and two wives present.
Because it was the first AA meeting held in Jasikan-Nsuta, we divided the session it into two: an introductory, formation meeting followed by a sharing meeting. The Big Book readings were interpreted by Sammy A. into the Ewe language spoken in the Volta Region. Chris D. then took the group through some of the medical tenets of alcoholism, and described it as a disease with no known cure. A brief background of AA was given, including the experiences of Bill W. and Dr. Bob. Mention was made of the various types of AA meetings before Sammy A. painstakingly interpreted the AA Preamble, How it Works and the Promises into a down-to-earth Ewe that brought about smiles and the nodding of heads by the participants. Beginning with Sammy D., the participants then took turns sharing their experiences with alcohol. The participants were full of life and hope and immediately began to discuss among themselves about organising the next AA meeting.
An interesting development took place during the meeting. After hearing the participants share their stories, a visiting Catholic priest promptly confirmed that he was probably an alcoholic. He shared his experiences and was in full appreciation of the AA programme. He wondered why such an important and greatly needed organisation such as AA was not better known in Ghana . He promised to take steps to help establish an AA meeting in his town, and wanted assistance from us in getting started.
Fr. Kofi Appiah, who is also a counselor in alcohol and drug addiction was full of appreciation for our coming to Jasikan-Nsuta. He believed that our presence would motivate the group to start an AA meeting and to return to productive lives while enjoying “The Promises” as found in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Wives at the meeting seemed to appreciate the fact that their husbands were suffering from a disease and had not chosen “to destroy themselves”. The wife of a professional teacher said that she was relieved to learn that her husband was suffering from a disease that could be arrested. She could not hide her happiness when she realized that there was still hope of bringing her husband back to sanity and sobriety. She pledged to renew her commitment and support for her husband.
It was thought that it may be useful to introduce Al-Anon to the family members of alcoholics in Jasikan.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The young person staggering home, evidently drunk and struggling to avoid the gutter near the “drinking spot”, couldn’t have been older than 20. That it was a woman, well-dressed with hair beautifully coiffed, was even more shocking.
She was followed by a group of young men who taunted her. One even tried to grab her breasts, but she clumsily brushed him off, raining slurred insults on them as she zigzagged away.
From the drinking spot, her male drinking partners, seemingly weighed down by their own drunken stupor, tried to call her back but she would have none of that. She hurled some insults at them and then continued on her tortured and tortuous journey away from them.
This spectacle, which I witnessed during a recent visit to the Eastern Region, is indicative of the moral quagmire that the nation finds itself in today and the disproportionate effect that it is having on our youth, the putative future leaders of Ghana. By extension, it is also a foreshadowing of the social crisis that awaits us in the next 10 to 15 years as these young men and women become parents and heads of households wrecked by alcoholism and its associated social ills.
Already, doctors are reporting a steady rise in cases of fetal alcohol syndrome, where children are born already drunk because their mothers drank heavily during pregnancy. Such children will require a great deal of medical care, which will tax an already-overburdened and under-resourced health system. Those who do not get this care – and there will be many – would end up being at once a burden and a loss to society, from alcoholics to criminals to loafers who live off the sweat of others. They will be the architects and carpenters and masons and accounts whom we would need for national development but would not have because they were sick and uneducable.
Among men, liver diseases, often associated with alcoholism, are also reported to be on the increase. The economic and social implications – now and in the future – are many. Extended absenteeism from work by these victims of excessive alcohol consumption means loss of family income and a step towards poverty, or further into poverty.
Those unable to afford the expensive treatment for kidney diseases may eventually die, leaving behind single-parent families to fend for themselves. To the degree that single- parent families are more likely to be poor, this too undermines any national efforts at “poverty reduction”.
If these trends continue, a significant proportion of Ghanaian families in the not-too-distant future would look something like the following: An alcoholic child living with two alcoholic parents. There will be the inevitable drain on the family budget, as both father and mother spend scarce family resources on what they do best – boozing. There will be the usual loud arguments and physical fights characteristic of alcoholics, in full glare of helpless and terrified children, leading to emotional and psychological harm to these children. Where the police and other legal institutions, such as the courts and Department of Social Welfare, are involved, there would be still further drain on society’s scarce resources, depriving other sectors – such as education – of those resources.
There are no current statistics on the extent to which alcoholism may be a problem in Ghana, but the Fourth Ghana Living Standards Survey (2000) gave some indication of the nature of the problem then. We can extrapolate from that. According to the survey, 10.3% of household expenditures went into “alcohol and tobacco”, second only to “food and beverage”, which commanded 45.6%. (“Household goods, operation and services” accounted for 6.0%, with “medical care and health expenses” taking up 4.6%).
These statistics were generated long before alcohol consumption became chic among Ghana’s youth and alcohol commercials, featuring young and popular artistes and obviously aimed at the young and impressionable, became ubiquitous on our airwaves. Things are likely to have worsened since then.
InterventionSome time in 2007, after some complaints from the public about the indiscriminate promotion of alcoholism in the media, government began some half-hearted efforts at reining in alcohol advertisements. Such advertisements were not to be aired on television before 10:00 PM, but somehow the profit motive trumped the collective public interest and the alcohol lobby got its way. The variety of alcoholic products and the frequency of their advertising - any time of the day and anywhere in the country - have increased dramatically since then; they continue to expand, with producers adopting more brazen and certainly dangerous methods of marketing.
At Darkoman in Accra recently, I spotted two men on a motorcycle freely casting off small sachets of gin onto the pavements; some of the people who picked them up were children, not even teenagers. Others organize elaborate floats and distribute “free” liquor to the public, including children. What these children do or become after they have had their first taste of alcohol is anybody’s guess.
The problem is compounded by the emergence of alcohol-based concoctions that are peddled as appetizers and aphrodisiacs. The Korle Bu Teaching Hospital recently “played host” to 10 young men who had consumed some of these concoctions and were suffering from “prolonged erection”, a painful condition that may last for days, even weeks. It is likely hospitals around the country have handled such cases and continue to do so.
It is clear that as a society we are heading down a dangerous path to collective self-destruction, yet no one seems to care. We must remember that elegant statistics about “GDP” and “macroeconomic stability” by themselves mean nothing if the quality of life of our people deteriorates even as those statistics improve. There have been many examples of countries that gained the (economic) world but lost their (social) souls. Let us learn from them and act now.
There is hope yet.
posted by Alcoholics Anonymous UK at Sunday, November 23, 2008
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Because addiction to alcohol is a big and growing problem in Upper West Region, the Wa General Hospital sent Mary for on the job training in Accra in 2007. After spending six months at the Addictive Diseases Unit at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, she returned and opened a similar unit in Wa in October, 2007.
In the Daily Graphic of 26 May, 2009 an article by Folley Quaye and Chris Nunoo revealed that “only six doctors are manning all the health facilities in nine districts and the Wa Regional Hospital”. The Regional Hospital should have 12 medical doctors but currently has only one with the medical director, Dr. K. Abebrese, doubling as a general medical practitioner, added the Graphic article. The Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, Dr. Alexis Nang-Beifubah, was also interviewed and spoke about the “excessive alcohol intake among people in the region” and two foreign researchers who were currently studying the situation. He added that the excessive use of alcohol was both a social and medical issue, which required a thorough examination.
Mary appeals to any individuals or organisations that may be able to assist in realizing her dream of eliminating the suffering caused by addiction to alcohol and drugs in Wa.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The new attempt to is expected to be a permanent one and was encouraged by Logosu A., the current Head of the Addictive Diseases Unit of the Department of Medicine of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. The idea was enthusiastically accepted by seven recovering addicts who have come to the Unit for treatment and counseling. The recovering addicts admitted that what makes some of them go back to using (relapse) is the lack of maintenance programme.
The first meeting was held under a blackberry tree close to the clinic on Monday, 4 May, 2009. It was an open meeting and was attended by the nurses and a security man who incidentally was an addict. Though it was a topic discussion meeting, the group booklet was read and the content of the text was explained to newcomers. Both old and new members shared their experiences, strengths and hopes.
At the end of the meeting, members were grateful for the initiative by Logosu A. for the formation of the local group. Though Logosu A. proposed the name “Crucial Group”, the group finally settled on “The New Man” as the name of the “home group” after it was proposed by a newcomer, Isaac A who did not know the history of the clinic. The name miraculously coincided with the founder of the Addictive Diseases Unit, Dr. Isaac Newman, a physician specialist who was sponsored to study about addiction and substance dependency disorders in February, 1991.
International NA members visiting Ghana and addicts with the desire to stop using can now have a sigh of relief as they can have a place to fellowship by attending the Monday morning meetings at the Addictive Diseases Unit at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra . We are expecting Maurice G. and his group to visit Accra in June, 2009.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence in the U.S. defines alcoholism this way:
"Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychological, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortion in thinking, most notably denial."
Alcohol is the single most used and abused drug in America. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 14 million Americans (1 in every 13 adults) abuse alcohol or are alcoholics. Several million more adults engage in risky drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems. The costs to society in terms of lost productivity, health care costs, traffic accidents, and personal tragedies are staggering. Numerous studies and reports have been issued on the workplace costs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse, and they report costs that range from $33 billion to $68 billion per year. Alcohol is a major factor in injuries, both at home, at work, and on the road. Nearly half of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol.
In the workplace, the costs of alcoholism and alcohol abuse manifest themselves in many different ways. Absenteeism is estimated to be 4 to 8 times greater among alcoholics and alcohol abusers. Other family members of alcoholics also have greater rates of absenteeism. Accidents and on-the-job injuries are far more prevalent among alcoholics and alcohol abusers.
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) in the U.S. deal with all kinds of problems and provide short-term counseling, assessment, and referral of employees with alcohol and drug abuse problems, emotional and mental health problems, marital and family problems, financial problems, dependent care concerns, and other personal problems that can affect the employee’s work. This service is confidential. These programs are usually staffed by professional counselors and may be operated in-house with agency personnel, under a contract with other agencies or EAP providers, or a combination of the two.
The EAP counselor will meet with the employee, assess or diagnose the problem, and, if necessary, refer the employee to a treatment program or resource. With permission of the client, the EAP counselor will keep the client informed as to the nature of the problem, what type of treatment may be needed, and the progress of the employee in treatment. Before releasing this information to the client, or anyone else, the counselor would need a signed written release of information from the client which would state what information may be released and to whom it may be released. The EAP counselor will also monitor the employee’s progress and will provide follow-up counseling if needed.
Sometimes, the employee will contact the EAP on his or her own. However, in some cases, the employee will be referred by you because you have noted a decline in the employee’s conduct, attendance, or performance and/or seen actual evidence of alcohol use or impairment at work.
If you or your organisation are interested in attending a workshop on EAPs, please contact Hopeful Way Foundation.
If you or your organisation is interested in participating in a workshop on EAPs, please contact Hopeful Way Foundation at 024-355-8412 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
He went on to say that “One of the most disturbing things about alcoholism in Afria is that most communities do not even consider it a serious social problem. So many are trapped in its asphyxiating grip, and whole lives are lost forever or simply swept down the drain into oblivion without many people seriously questioning why. The ‘drunkard’ is simply considered a societal clown if he drinks and remains ridiculously friendly, or someone to avoid if he becomes agitated or violent after consuming more than his brain can reasonably handle.”
Chia went on to describe how he took up a responsibility at the funeral of his brother’s wife. He received money from the family to pay the morticians and others, and took a drink “to steady my strained nerves and that was when all hell broke lose. I spent the night on a bench in a market stall, and stayed away from the ceremony. I continued drinking heavily days after the funeral and finally left my village to go back to my station. I had become a nuisance not only to my family but also to the entire village.”
In his post-booze despair, Chia turned to the only anonymous source he knew, the website of Alcoholics Anonymous (http://www.aa.org/), and sent out his first SOS signal. “Therein started my fellowship with online members of Alcoholics Anonymous. The literature and e-mails I constantly receive from the members of this group are the reason I have not tasted a drop of alcohol in the past eight months. The benefits of sobriety are innumerable.”
Summary of the "Out of Afria" story in the May, 2009 Grapevine
Sunday, May 3, 2009
The article below appeared in the Santa Rosa, California Press Democrat newspaper on May 3, 2009. Bill and Suzanne Moore visited Ghana in November, 2007 for about ten days and contributed much to the effort to further recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. Bill was not only an expert in addiction but full of the life of recovery which inspired many of us in Ghana.
Wallace B. Moore Jr., a 68-year-old Santa Rosa man, was killed Friday, May 1, 2009, in a motorcycle crash on a Nevada state highway east of the Sierra Nevada .
Moore, who went by the first name Bill, was riding with a group of motorcyclists belonging to the Gold Wing Road Riders Association bound for Death Valley , said his wife, Suzanne Moore.
Nevada state trooper Chuck Allen said the motorcyclists were on State Route 338 about 20 miles south of Smith, Nev. , when Moore failed to negotiate a curve at about 11:25 a.m.
He hit a rock and a metal sign and was pronounced dead at the scene. The highway connects Smith to Bridgeport , in Alpine County.
Moore was riding a 1994 blue-colored Honda Gold Wing motorcycle, Allen said.
A Santa Rosa resident since 1988, Moore was a self-employed addictions counselor who was dedicated to assisting alcoholics, his wife said.
"That was the driving force in his life," Suzanne Moore said.
The couple had been married 14 years and had traveled widely, visiting Japan, China, Thailand, Australia, Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Ghana, Peru and the Galapagos islands. "He had friends around the world," his wife said.
Moore owned a business named Aery, the term for an eagle's nest, that provided structured living for recovering alcoholics. He was a 33-year member of a 12-step program, his wife said.
A friend of Bill Moore wrote:
"Many times i hated hearing what Bill was trying to show/teach me, but in the end he was right. he was right cause it didn't come from his ego or was trying to show off.....he was right because he was coming from love. was doing it out of love. love for the alcoholic that still suffers. the ones that have reached "the moment of surrender" . the ones willing to go to any lengths. the ones in action. so we to can continue to help others and give what was so freely given to us as it was given to him. Bill Moore was the man that showed me how to love myself so i could love others. life will go on without him. because of him my life and the lives of countless people he helped out of the alcoholic hell......life will go on happy joyious and free."
Bill & Suzanne in Ghana
Bill and Suzanne Moore visited Ghana in November, 2007 for about ten days in order to share their messages of recovery with us. Their visit was an inspiration to hundreds of professionals and others in Ghana who are trying to find ways of overcoming addiction to alcohol and drugs. Bill brought a wealth of experience to Ghana in overcoming addiction but his love and enthusiasm for life in recovery impressed us most. Recovering alcoholics and their families were given a new hope. We received the message that there is not only hope but also dignity aplenty in recovery. While in Ghana Bill conducted numerous workshops, went on radio, attended 12-step meetings and carried the message of recovery to Wa. Bill was particularly helpful in developing our thinking on the establishment of a house for recovering alcoholics. Construction of the “Hopeful Way House” in Accra has been completed and is ready to take in up to twelve residents. Bill inspired us with his description of The Aery, a recovery house which he ran in Santa Rosa. Bill and Suzanne will be long remembered for their brief but inspirational visit to Ghana.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
EAPs consist of policies and procedures aimed at assisting employees with their personal problems and enhancing their performance at work. Participants in the training were drawn from Customs, Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Ghana Health Services, churches, councellors and other interested organisations. Participants confirmed that alcohol and drug problems have overwhelmed many organisations and have become the major cause of lowered productivity levels .
In his address Dr. Akwasi Osei, Acting Head of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, reaffirmed his view that addiction to drugs or alcohol should be seen as a clinical disease which calls for treatment and management rather than condemnation due to moral failure or criminal offense. He added that research has proven that there are genes in some people which make them prone to become addicts. Dr. Osei informed the participants that 10% of the world’s population falls within this category. It means that when such people first take their drug of choice they are likely to continue until they become addicted. He therefore debunked the idea of stigmatization of addicts by families, communities and especially by employers. Dr. Osei advised that EAPs be established at workplaces to assist staff with problems related to drug and alcohol use. EAPs would affsord employees the opportunity to seek intervention, treatment and management of their disease. The result would be improved productivity and performance at work.
Friday, April 24, 2009
The final day of the training began with a question related to EAPs. Participants were asked to answer the question: “If you recognized that a coworker was drinking too much, would you initiate a conversation with him/her and suggest that they seek professional counseling? Why or why not?”
Participants had numerous answers. Except for those already involved in counseling, most of the participants said that they had not had such a conversation with drinkers in the past but will do so now armed with the knowledge that alcoholism and addiction to drugs is a disease. Two participants used their new information and skills this week. One picked two pregnant women at the tro tro stop and took them to the clinic. He asked them, “Do you drink?”, and they both replied “Yes”. Based on his knowledge learned about FAS, he advised them about the dangers of consuming alcohol during pregnancy. Using skills learned in the role plays, another participant had a conversation with two drinking friends about alcohol and addiction. One participant replied to the question by saying, “I am a crocodile coming out of the river” meaning that he is a recovering alcoholic. He went on to say that he regularly discusses drinking with his friends and colleagues. The GNAT participants said they would return to their stations and spread information about addiction and organizing EAPs.
Mr. Amegashie then spoke about the many attitudes which lead to relapse including the following:
DENIAL – AM I REALLY AN ALCOHOLIC?
I CAN MOVE WITH MY OLD FRIENDS AGAIN BUT WON’T DRINK
I CAN STAY SOBER ON MY OWN
AA MEETINGS ARE NOT SO IMPORTANT FOR ME
SOBRIETY IS BORING
I’LL NEVER DRINK/USE AGAIN
I CAN DO IT MYSELF
I’M NOT AS BAD AS …..
I OWE THIS ONE TO ME
MY PROBLEMS CAN’T BE SOLVED
DON’T CAREIF NOBODY ELSE CARES, WHY SHOULD I?
THINGS HAVE CHANGED
THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT
THERE’S GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY
I CAN DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY
NOBODY NEEDS TO KNOW HOW I FEEL
I’M DEPRESSEDI FEEL HOPELESS
I CAN HANDLE IT
I CAN’T DO IT, WHY TRY?
Mr. Amegashie ended his presentation talking about the use of the Twelve Steps of AA & NA, saying, “People in AA use the 12 Step programme like a survival ship or lifeboat, to save their lives”.
Pastor August then spoke on pastoral counseling which is generally regarded as a form of therapy or counseling in which a pastoral counselor, as a representative of a religious tradition or community, uses the insights and principles of religion, theology and behavioral sciences in working with addicts. An important ingredient which makes pastoral counseling different from other forms of counseling is the conviction that life’s problems are best met by both wisdom of religious teachings and the knowledge and skills of the human behavioral sciences such as psychiatry and psychology.
Pastor Auguset made reference to numerous Bible passages, including those from Proverbs reminding us that addiction is nothing new. “How wine is sweet . . . at last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper . . . your heart will lead to perverse things.” “Where there are no counselors the people fall.”
Pastor Augustt then led a discussion on the “addictive cycle” which goes from the addictive activity to dissatisfaction, to moral resolve to stop the addiction, to the return of pain and then back to the addictive activity. A participant referred to the Liberian proverb that says, “Those of you who drown your souls in alcohol, know that your souls can swim”.
A session evaluating the training and “the way forward” brought numerous comments including: “I was amazed about alcohol and what I learned from Dr. Osei; we cook our brains”. “We need to network, keep in touch regarding EAPs and efforts to deal with addiction.” “Our first step is to meet with the general secretary to discuss this alcohol problem and the idea of setting up an EAP”. “On Mondays, people come to the clinic at the refugee camp, and I will be there to inform them about alcohol and drugs and AA.” “My people need to know that alcohol is a dangerous drug and that alcoholism is a disease.” “We will intensify our public relations work in Wa, even if it is done under a tree.”
The week ended by reviewing the expectations of the training and the handing out of certificates. Participants were assured that the papers presented during the week will be available on the Hopeful Way web site. Participants will write reports on the training and send them to their sponsoring organization.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Today’s sessions covered employee assistance programmes (EAPs), motivational interviewing and the addictive disease nature of addiction. Mr. Dan O’Laughlin said that EAPs are employee benefit programs offered by employers, typically in conjunction with a health insurance plan. EAPs are intended to help employees deal with personal problems, including addiction, that might adversely impact their work performance, health and well-being. EAPs generally include assessment, short-term counseling and referral services for employees. The programmes can be very simple or very complex. The simple EAPs require only a policy, a person responsible and place to do business. Issues covered during the presentation and discussion included confidentiality, referrals, cost and cost savings, involvement of workers’ organisations, self-referrals and the percentage of the workforce who may need help, particularly with addiction. In the afternoon a role play was done on EAPs, and discussions were held on the delegations returning to their places of work with strategies for possibly setting up of EAPs.
Mr. Nortey Dua conducted a session on motivational interviewing (MI), a client-centered, semi-directive method of engaging internal motivation to change behavior by exploring and resolving ambivalence within the client. Motivational interviewing recognizes and accepts the fact that clients who need to make changes in their lives approach counseling at different levels of readiness to change their behavior. Clients may never have thought of changing the behavior in question. Some may have thought about it but have not taken steps to change it. Others, especially those voluntarily seeking counseling, may be actively trying to change their behavior and may have been doing so unsuccessfully for years.
Motivational interviewing is non-judgmental, non-confrontational and non-adversarial. The approach attempts to increase the client's awareness of the potential problems caused, consequences experienced, and risks faced as a result of the behavior in question. Alternately, therapists help clients envisage a better future, and become increasingly motivated to achieve it. Either way, the strategy seeks to help clients think differently about their behavior and ultimately to consider what might be gained through change.
Dr. Akwasi Osei led a session on the disease nature of alcoholism and told the participants that alcoholism is a disease. Not everyone who drinks alcohol is or will become an alcoholic. It is similar to the fact that not everyone who is bitten by mosquitoes will get malaria. It is also important to note that one doesn’t always have to drink excessively to be an alcoholic. If all you can think about is how and when you’ll get your next drink - even if it’s only one - and getting that drink rules your life, then it’s likely that you suffer from alcoholism.It is also widely believed that alcoholism is the fault of the alcoholic; that such persons are responsible for their own condition because they suffer from weak moral character. The fact of the matter is that alcoholics don’t choose to be alcoholics - they just are. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to know if someone is an alcoholic until they start drinking. There is no “magic pill” to cure alcoholism. Dr. Osei made a number of other points, saying that people who drink excessively over a long period of time are like people who are cooking their brains, like frying an egg. The brain will shrink and eventually die if enough alcohol is drunk. We sometimes drink alcohol to gain courage. A Ghanaian saying says that “If I want to insult my mother-in-law, I take some gin and go do it.” In Ghana traditional herbalists are being examined with interest for their successes in overcoming alcoholism.
In the afternoon, short presentations were made by GNAT and CEPS. Dr. Howard K Gershenfeld of the U.S. Embassy also made remarks about motivational interviewing and efforts to overcome alcoholism and addiction to drugs.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
20 April, 2009 – Summary of first day –
It has been confirmed that children as young as fourteen are being recruited to “push” hard drugs in the country, especially at vantage points in the Central Business District of Accra. Teenage peddlers are not likely to be suspected of selling drugs and less likely of being arrested by the authorities. This was said at the opening of the five-day training which was opened by Dr. Joseph Asare, Chairman of Hopeful Way Foundation and retired Director of Psychiatric Hospital in Accra.
The course has as its theme “Addiction, Recovery and Counseling and is designed to impart knowledge to counselors, trainers and those who are interested in establishing employee assistance programmes to deal with problems of employees, including the abuse of alcohol and drugs. The twenty participants in the course come from such places as the Ghana National Association of Teachers, Customs, Narcotics Control Board and the Buduburam Refugee Camp.
Dr. Asare lamented the fact that little attention had been given to demand reduction of illegal drugs, while more efforts have gone into supply reduction. He mentioned school dropouts, street violence, unruly behaviour and the difficulty of providing rehabilitation facilities. He praised the effort by the British Council called “Ghana Against Drugs”. He gave Mexico as an example to be avoided by Ghana. Mexico once considered itself to have only a small problem with drugs but has developed into a huge problem, including drug wars and contract killings.
Dr. Asare made a presentation on the drug abuse in Ghana, followed by Dr. Eugene Dordoye and Mr. Logosu Amegeshie who spoke about the “Change Cycle” in overcoming addiction and the “Comprehensive social data Questionnaire” used with patients. Numerous discussions and questions were entertained before an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous was held to better inform the participants about AA.
21 April, 2009 – Summary of second day –
Speakers on the second day included Dr. Araba Sefa-Dedeh, Dr. Sammy Ohene, Dr. Dordoye and Mr. Amegashie. Various aspects of addiction and recovery were covered by the resource persons who were enthusiastically received by the participants. Participants and resource persons shared examples of recovery efforts in numerous places from Wa to Obuasi, Tema and Accra. In Wa some patients walk several kilometers for counseling and AA meetings are often held under a tree. Dr. Ohene emphasized that more attention needs to be given to “primary prevention” in order to protect our children from alcohol and drugs. Brief presentations were also made by participants representing the Ghana Organisation of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the Ghana Mental Health Association. Regarding FAS, it was reported that a survey recently conducted with 500 women in Accra, Cape Coast and Takoradi showed that 436 women drank alcohol before becoming pregnant and 365 during pregnancy. The day was ended with three role plays by participants who played the roles of counselors and persons with drug and alcohol problems. In addition to practicing and learning good counseling skills, a good time was had by the performers and the evaluators of the role plays.
22 April, 2009 - Summary/Remarks on Third Day -
Day Three of the training began with a case study where Mr. G came for counselling because of numerous problems, including his drinking one to two bottles of wine per day, complaints from his wife, hangovers and increased drinking to maintain the desired effect. The participants examined the case, made diagnosis of early-late stage of alcoholism which included denial, depression and mood disorder. Mr. G was probably someone who goes "to clear the ghost" or someone who takes "an eye-opener" in the morning said a participant. It was agreed that the best way to help Mr. G was to have him admit that he has a probem with alcohol and to get him to professional help.
Mr. Amegashie then spoke about the AA Twelve Step Counselling Paradigm and responded to numerous questions, including a participant's question about the difference between a drunkard and an alcoholic. Another comment was that "we often hear from alcoholics that there is a spirit behaind the drink, therefore the only way I can stop drinking is to have someone take the spirit away". "The problem is not me but the spirit."
Dr. Araba Sefa Dedeh later spoke on Cognative Behavior Therapy which is a therapeutic approach to helping drug-dependent people overcome their addiction. Cognitive behavior therapy is based on the idea that feelings and behaviors are caused by a person's thoughts, not on outside stimuli like people, situations and events. People may not be able to change their circumstances, but they can change how they think about them and therefore change how they feel and behave. The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to teach the person to recognize situations in which they are most likely to drink or use drugs, avoid these circumstances if possible, and cope with other problems and behaviors which may lead to their substance abuse. The therapist's job is to help the patient understand what is going on in their minds and to help develop new coping skills. Dr. Sefa-Dedeh ended her session by sharing numerous ways of helping patients overcome their addiction.
Monday, April 13, 2009
"Dear Friends in Accra, I have told everybody who would listen about my amazing experience with A.A. in Accra, Ghana. When I walked into the meeting on Friday March 20 at 11:30am and saw the Big Books lying on the table, I had this overwhelming sense of comfort and good will. I thought, "I'm going to have a wonderful time in Ghana and I'll be safe!" All of which was true. Thank you so much for being there for me, so that I could attend not one BUT TWO meetings in Accra. I talked to Charles C. since I've returned and told him of my awesome experience.If you need anything at all - Big Books, Twelve and Twelve, anniversary coins, etc. - please let me know and I'll see that you get them.Thanks again for being there for me so that I could attend A.A. in Africa. Ghana is an amazing country - so rich in culture, history and heritage, which we hear very little about in the USA."
Your sister in sobriety,
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
PROGRAMME FOR TRAINING
At the end of the training, participants will have adequate/working knowledge of alcohol and drug abuse with its associated physical, psychological & social complications and will be able to:
1. Easily identify persons with alcohol and substance/drug use disorders in their organisations
2. Determine which persons with the disorders will need hospitalisation and refer appropriately
3. Adequately manage most cases of alcohol and drug abuse in their organisations to improve productivity
4. Put in place measures to maintain sobriety of addicts and prevent relapse
5. Adequately manage most cases of relapse
Monday, 20th April, 2009
9:00 – 10:00 am Introduction of Participants and Facilitators
10:00 – 11:00 am Overview of Drug Abuse in Ghana - Dr. J B Asare
11:30 – 1:00 pm Drugs, Brain & Behaviour - Dr E K Dordoye
2:00 – 4:00pm Comprehensive Social Data Construction - Mr L Amegashie
Tuesday 21st April 2009
9:00 – 10:00 am General Guidelines & Types of Psychotherapy - Dr A Sefa-Dede
10:00 – 11:00 am Identification of The Addict/Misuse &
Techniques to get Clients accept their misuse of drugs - Mr Amegashie
11:30 – 1:00 pm The Effects of drugs on the Brain,Body & Social Function – Dr Sammy Ohene
2:00 – 4:00pm Workshop on Identifying and Getting Clients to accept – Mr Amegashie
Management for Substance Misuse Disorders
Wednesday 22nd April 2009
9:00 – 10:00 am The Disease Nature of Addiction (& the 4 “P”s) – Dr Akwasi O Osei
10:00 – 11:00 am Laboratory Investigation of the Addict - Dr A Puklo-Dzadey
11:30 – 1:00 pm The 12 step Counselling Paradigm - Mr L Amegashie
2:00 – 4:00pm Workshop on the management of Addiction - Dr Dordoye
Synopsis on Hospital Management of Addiction
Thursday 23rd April 2009
9:00 – 10:00 am Introduction of EAP, AA, NA & Al-Anon - Mr Dan O’Laughlin
10:00 – 11:00 am Motivational Enhancement Therapy - Mr Nortey Dua Edwin
11:30 – 1:00 pm Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy - Dr Sefa-Dede
2:00 – 4:00pm Workshop on Formation of EAPs, AA, NA & Al-anon
Friday 24th April 2009
9:00 – 10:00 am Causes of Relapse, Prevention & Management – Mr L Amegashie
10:00 – 11:00 am Pastoral Counselling of alcohol & Drug Misuse Pastor H P N Augustt
11:30 – 1:00 pm Assessment & Feedback
Friday, April 3, 2009
WHEREAS, 12.1 million U.S. citizens have one or more symptoms of alcoholism; and
WHEREAS, Oxford Houses are self-run, self-supporting, nonsubsidized shared-residence programs utilizing ordinary rental housing in order to provide effective peer support (rather than governmentally, or institutionally, or staff-dependent support) for persons in recovery; and
WHEREAS, a 1988 poll of some 1,200 persons who had lived in Oxford Houses for some period during the previous twelve years showed that some 80 percent had maintained sobriety (as contrasted with the 20 percent rate of the abuse-free maintenance that is customarily reported for those who have completed rehabilitation programs without subsequent residence in Oxford House); and
WHEREAS, a 1991 survey of forty-five residents of six newly formed Oxford Houses by Dr. William Spillane of the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., indicated a relapse rate of only 9.3 percent;
Therefore, be it resolved, that General Conference hereby encourages each of its member congregations to become knowledgeable about the Oxford House model so that these congregations might provide all feasible support and assistance in the creation and maintenance of such recovery houses in their respective local communities.
Be it further resolved, that the General Conference direct the Health and Welfare Department of the General Board of Global Ministries to provide appropriate informational assistance in this effort, within the constraints of the current budgetary allotments.
Copyright © 2000 The United Methodist Publishing House.
Friday, March 27, 2009
A member of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and Chairman of Hopeful Way Foundation, Dr. Joseph B. Asare, said that drug trafficking poses a serious threat to Ghana’s stability. He was speaking at the Government of Ghana-United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) conference on “Ghana Against Drugs and Crimes”. Speaking on the topic “Ghana: From Trafficking to Consumption”, Dr. Asare warned that the growing drug trade was a threat to Ghana’s national security. He added that bribery and corruption associated with the drug trade could undermine the rule of law, threaten national security and make the country ungovernable.
Dr. Asare warned that gang warfare, money laundering and organised crime would escalate “if we do not put our heads together to stop or reduce this menace”. He asked that additional resources and the political will to be made available to combat the growing abuse of illegal drugs in Ghana.
Dr. Asare recently chaired a one-day gathering on Addiction and Recovery at Hopeful Way House in Oyarifa. At the meeting he said that “I commend Hopeful Way for organising this very important meeting with the main objective of introducing workers in the field of alcohol and substance abuse to their House, to get to know ourselves better and to facilitate the exchange of practical experiences. It has to be recognized and appreciated that strategies and interventions addressing alcohol misuse must be considered and implemented in ways that are sensitive to our cultural systems.”
In addition to the establishment of Hopeful Way House to provide a drug and alcohol free environment for recovering addicts, the Hopeful Way Foundation is also planning to develop outreach programmes to reach the youth on the dangers of drug and alcohol.
Dr. Asare will be a key resource person at a training course to be held from 20-24 April, 2009 sponsored by Hopeful Way Foundation and the Addictive Diseases Unit of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. The course will be on addiction, recovery and counseling, and will place emphasis on reaching workers and young Ghanaians.
My Lord, you know how hard I tried to break free from this habit that controls me. You know how hard I tried to resist this temptation, this momentary pleasure whose price I cannot afford to pay. I tried so hard my Lord, but I have failed you over and over and over again. Because every time my loneliness haunts me, every time my fears arouses panic within me, every time I’m hurt and confused and I don’t know what to do, every time I’m miserable deep inside and I need real help, I run to the bottle that has long been my sole friend and savior. I run to the bottle instead of running unto you.
How I wanted to run to you, but it seemed so much easier to reach for the bottle than to reach out my hand to you. It seemed so much easier to escape, to numb my senses as though I were already dead. It seemed so easier to pretend nothing’s wrong, to act out courage at times when I have so much fear within me. I thought that by trying to run away, I can forget my troubles. I thought that by numbing my senses, I can completely escape from the pain.
But O, how wrong was I indeed! For in exchange for brief moments of forgetfulness, my troubles return with twice the problems I already had. In exchange for brief moments of relief, I end up hurting myself more and those that I love so much. How can I even take back the curses I gave my children? The violence I’ve allowed my wife to suffer? How can I ever respect the man who has allowed himself to be enslaved for a few moments of illusion and relief? There is no real relief except that which comes from courageously facing one’s problems. There is no real salvation except that which come from a true change of heart.
Help me O Lord, that I may break free from this habit that enslaves me. Let me not exchange my royal heritage for a mere glass of wine. Save me from the monster I become whenever I fail to recognize the child of God that lives in me. Indeed, you have not given me a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power to overcome my troubles, of love to be responsible for the lives of those whom I touch, and of a sound mind filled with wisdom, capable of choosing the things of eternal worth over the things that will not last. It will not be an easy task, and I know that I will die for every cup of wine I will refuse with my thirsty flesh. But I dare to reclaim my soul O God. I dare to drink from the well of salvation from which I shall never thirst again.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Questions and Answers
Q. What is an Oxford House?
Oxford House is a self-run, self-supported recovery house concept and system of operation for individuals recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction. Oxford Houses assure an alcohol and drug-free living environment. The first Oxford House was started in Silver Spring, Maryland in 1975.
Q. Who manages an Oxford House?
Oxford Houses are democratically self-run by the residents who elect officers to serve for terms of six months. In this respect, they are similar to a college fraternity or sorority. However, if a majority of residents believe that any member has relapsed into using alcohol or drugs, that person is immediately expelled. There are no resident counselors in an Oxford House.
Q. How long can anyone live in an Oxford House?
A recovering individual can live in an Oxford House for as long as he or she does not drink alcohol, does not use drugs, and pays an equal share of the house expenses. The average stay is about a year, but many residents stay three, four, or more years. There is no pressure on anyone in good standing to leave.
Q. Why is Oxford House self-run?
Oxford Houses are self-run because (1) this permits individuals in recovery to learn responsibility, and (2) the lower cost associated with self-run housing permits extensive replication of houses. Each House is fully responsible for its own expenses and debts which will not and cannot be assumed by the National Organization of Oxford Houses.
Q. How can one get into an Oxford House?
Any recovering alcoholic or drug addict can apply to get into any Oxford House by filling out an application and being interviewed by the existing members of the House. The application is then considered by the membership of the House and if there is a vacancy and if 80% of the members approve, the applicant is accepted and moves in.
Q. What if there is not an Oxford House in the area or there are no vacancies in any Oxford House in the region?
Any Group of recovering individuals can start a new Oxford House. All they need to do is to find a house to rent in the name of the Group, and apply to Oxford House, Inc., for a charter. The house must be able to accomodate at least six residents.
Q. Is there any financial aid available to start a new Oxford House?
Yes, some states have in place a revolving loan fund that can make loans to cover the first month's rent and security deposit (up to $4000) to rent a house in a good neighborhood. If a state has a revolving recovery home start-up loan fund, the group must repay the loan within two years in 24 installments. Check the Single State Director list to get a telephone number or an email address for your state's substance abuse office and ask them if a loan fund is available. If it is not available groups can pool resources to come up with the first month’s rent on a house and security deposit or find a local source such as a church, foundation, business or treatment provider for a start-up loan. Historically, all kinds of funding sources have help to start new Oxford Houses. The first Oxford House was started because a member of AA loaned the men $750 for the first month’s rent. Repayment of the first loans in an area makes loans to start future houses possible. A good reputation builds confidence.
Q. Can the new house become affiliated with Oxford House?
Yes, by simply writing or calling Oxford House to ask for a Charter application. Once that application is completed and received by Oxford House, Inc., a "Conditional Charter" will be granted to the house at no cost. A “Permanent Charter” is granted once the group demonstrates that it understands and is following the Oxford House system of operation. It is also granted free of charge.
Q. Can an Oxford House be started without a loan from the state?
Yes, the prospective residents of the House can find a suitable house, rent it, put up the security deposit and pay the first month's rent themselves. Oxford House, Inc. will consider favorably a Charter application whether or not a loan is received from the State or some other outside source.
Q. Can both men and women live in the same Oxford House?
No. Experience has shown that Oxford Houses work for both men and women, but not in the same house.
Q. What is the "ideal" number of individuals to make a self-run, self-supported recovery house work well?
Experience of Oxford House has shown that from 8 to 15 members works very well. Oxford House will not charter a house with fewer than six individuals because experience has shown that it takes at least six individuals to form an effective group.
Q. How much sobriety or clean time is needed before an individual can be accepted into an Oxford House?
There is no time limit. Generally an individual comes into an Oxford House following a 28-day rehabilitation program or at least 10-day detoxification program.
Q. What is Oxford House Inc.?
Oxford House Inc., is a non-profit, tax exempt, publicly supported corporation which acts as a umbrella organization for the national network of Oxford Houses. It provides quality control by organizing regional Houses into Chapters and by relying heavily upon the national network of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups. While Oxford House is not affiliated with AA or NA, its members realize that recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction can only be assured by the changing of their lifestyle through full participation in AA and NA. In most communities, the members of those organizations help Oxford Houses get started and report any charter compliance problems to the national office of Oxford House World Services with respect to a particular house. As soon as Oxford House Inc., hears of such problems, it takes corrective action because the good name of Oxford House is an important factor in the recovery of thousands of individuals.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Letters are going out to hospitals, clinics, medical personnel and to others that Hopeful Way House will begin taking in residents on 1st March or possibly sooner. By 7th February, the House had water from its well, beds with mattresses, a gas cooker, a fridge and even a few chairs and other odds and ends. Gutters now ring the roof to catch rain water and to store it in two large underground cisterns/reservoirs. James Ashiley expects that the rains are likely to begin in Oyarifa in April. By the way, James is our enthusiastic contractor responsible for the construction of the very beautiful Hopeful Way House. He lives a ten minute walk from the house and makes daily visits to see that all is in order. James has been a dedicated contractor and says that he wants to continue to be involved with the House to see that it is successfully used to rehabilitate alcoholics and drug addicts.
If you are living in Ghana, please keep in mind that we will be taking in residents who have successfully gone through detox and rehabilitation. The minimum stay at the House will be three months, and it will be only for those who we believe have a sincere desire to remain clean or sober. Before being accepted into the House, an applicant must be approved by 80% of the existing residents in the House and by Hopeful Way Foundation. The current monthly charges will be GHC75.00 (about USD60.00), residents must work at a paid or volunteer job and residents must take care of the household tasks and chores at the house. No food or counseling will be provided by the House but the residents and Hopeful Way Foundation will assist in organising AA and NA meetings, educational and cultural activities and the growing of vegetables, including mushrooms and snails, on the half acre plot. Thirty moringa trees are bearing leaves and “drumsticks”. If residents are interested in acquiring specific skills while in the House, the Foundation will try to help with this where possible.
At three thirty in the afternoon the public forum began with King David, a speaker from the Accra AA groups, giving background information on the disease of alcoholism. Over thirty five men and women attended, with a slight majority of the attendees being women. After King David’s talk the floor was opened for questions, and a number of attendees asked pertinent questions about alcoholism and drug addiction.
Next, some of the Koo Tufoo AA group members shared their struggles with alcoholism and their current sobriety. Pamphlets about alcoholism were distributed as well as two humorous and informative pieces of literature written by a local recovering alcoholic.
The forum lasted for an hour and a half. Several members of the audience expressed the desire during and after the forum to attend the Koo Tufoo AA meeting so as to receive help with their addiction.
Koo Tufoo AA Meeting
As we begin the new year of 2009 we are beginning to see the realization of a vision to help men and women of Ghana who are struggling to achieve sobriety in their addiction to alcohol. It became apparent to a number of people several years ago that an effective and thorough treatment of alcoholism in Ghana required the development of halfway houses for people in the initial stages of recovery from alcoholism. Presently there are very few facilities at which alcoholics can be treated medically, and none which allow long term treatment of alcoholism. This is now changing with the construction of Hopeful Way House in Oyarifa, Accra. In March of this year this facility will be open to accept alcoholics who require living arrangements which support their sobriety.
A Second Halfway House
Four years ago a house was constructed in Kukurantumi in the Eastern Region which also had the same goal as Hopeful Way House. This house was unable to be opened however due to lack of a reliable water source for the facility and the absence of a operational structure for the facility. Things have now changed. In December of 2008 this facility received a for a bore hole which is now completed and in operation. Secondly, as the operational model of Oxford Homes is enacted and adopted at Hopeful Way House, it is our plan to use this to open the Kukurantumi house as a halfway house in 2010.
The Broader Vision
Many men and women who are concerned about expanding the benefits of sobriety throughout Ghanaian society have a hope. Our hope is that as men and women achieve a stable sobriety in their recovery they will become effective catalysts in attracting other men and women to a sober life. Just as the proverb says, actions speak louder than words, so we believe that sober men and women practicing a sober life as taught in AA, and meeting regularly to share the journey, will show Ghanaian society the way to a sober life. The treatment centers and halfway houses are key ingredients in this expansion. To be sober, men and women have to be deadly serious about living with their disease. Without a commitment to sobriety, maintained by continual study and meetings, men and women will slip in their recovery and ultimately fail to inspire others to a sober life. Nothing succeeds like success. Sobriety will attract people. One often hears the following phrase at the close of AA meetings in the US, “Keep coming back, it works.” As the number of sober men and women in recovery increases, so will the attraction to a life in AA increase.
Koo Tufoo AA Meeting
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Hello! My name is Theresa and I’m an alcoholic.
As I write this entry, the climate is chilly, in the 20s (Fahrenheit), however the atmosphere is warm with excitement. The nation inaugurated its first Hawaiian president, who happens to be of both African and American heritage! As people celebrate this historic occasion, undoubtedly alcohol will be an accompaniment to the merry making. For those of us, such as myself, who have chosen the AA way we will avoid our favorite haunts where we were on a first name basis with the bartenders and liquor sellers. Instead, I and others who are brave enough to face the influx of thousands of people will catch the train/metro to a different location where everyone knows our name.
Today marks my 112th day of sobriety. Taking each day at a time, I am grateful to my higher power for being alive, sober and able to attend meetings at any time of the day. Over the last couple of weeks since I returned to Washington D.C. from Accra, Ghana, I have attended several AA meetings. Persons in the U.S. do not realize how fortunate they are to have meetings from 6:45 am to 12am every day. I attained my sobriety in Accra, Ghana. Newcomers are encouraged to attend 90 meetings in 90 days. However, I was not able to do that. I attended at most three meetings a week. There are fewer meetings in Accra. Unlike the meetings I have thus far attended in D.C. and Bethesda, Maryland, those in Accra are smaller and more intimate. The number of persons ranged from three to ten, while in D.C. and Bethesda meetings have up to fifty or more people. In accordance with AA’s fourth tradition, meetings are unique/autonomous. Meetings in Accra begin with the preamble, as do those in D.C. and Bethesda, however they go further in that they include “How It Works” from chapter 5 of the Big Book and the “Promises.” Accra AA meetings include Step Meetings, Big Book meetings and open meetings. Meetings are held at locations ranging from hospitals to the library of the Divine Word Missionaries. In northern Ghana I attended a meeting which was held under a tree. In the U.S., the meetings I have attended ranged from a Step Meeting focusing on the first three steps to an acceptance/chip meeting where I received my green three month chip and listened to the inspiring story of a lady who has been sober for 37 years. I braved -4 degrees Fahrenheit to attend a 6:45am meeting in Bethesda, a ‘fashionable’ meeting where the people who attend this meeting have achieved long term sobriety.
At AA meetings, I have met people who have been sober over a quarter of a century or more to people struggling to make it beyond twenty-four hours. I have chaired meetings and recently was asked to lead a meeting in Bethesda. I have sat in meetings with refugees, homeless persons, doctors, teachers, other professionals, students, and persons ranging from 18 to 80 years old or more. Some of the stories are harrowing, with near death experiences, jail and institutions, while others are less so, but poignant nevertheless. We may not be equal, but we all share one aspect in common - that we are powerless over alcohol, are alcoholics and have a desire to stay sober. I continue to mark off my days of sobriety on my calendar, one evening at a time. I keep my chips close and try to pray to my higher power each morning and evening. Each day is struggle, but the weight of the ball and chain of alcoholism is alleviated by coming back to a place called AA where everyone knows my name. Thank you for letting me share.