Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

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.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The article below was sent to the Catholic Standard for possible use, probably in their
18 January paper.

Archbishop Emeritus Dominic Andoh Opens Meeting on Recovery from Alcoholism

Prepared for the Standard Newspaper by Hopeful Way Foundation 12 Jan, 2009

On December 16, 2008, a meeting on addiction and recovery was held at The Hopeful Way House located in Oyarifa, Accra . Among the 25 participants was Most Reverend Archbishop Emeritus Dominic Andoh. In his opening address, the Archbishop stated that an increasing number of Ghanaian families are suffering from the consequences of alcohol and addiction. He emphasized that religious bodies are not exempt from the epidemic of addiction. He shared the example of alcoholic priests who went to European and other countries in order to seek treatment. On their return to such countries as Nigeria and Kenya , they set up recovery facilities similar to Hopeful Way House.

The participants in the meeting examined the fact that the consumption of alcohol and drugs in Ghana has increased over the last few decades. Although hospitals and clinics have done their utmost to cater to the growing number of patients, their resources have become overwhelmed. Upon receiving treatment patients return to their communities where they most often relapse due to the lack of an adequate support system. It is against this backdrop that the Hopeful Way Foundation in partnership with other professionals, nongovernmental and religious organisations and interested individuals in the field of addiction and recovery held the meeting. The purpose of the event was in part to encourage more collaboration among the participants and to encourage them to complement each other’s work. Hopeful Way House is a home (half-way house) for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts who seek a protective environment in order to remain sober. The House runs on three main principles: a) democracy, b) financial self-sufficiency and c) expulsion for use of alcohol or drugs. The House will soon begin taking in residents, up to a maximum of twelve.

During the meeting each organisation presented an overview of their efforts in the field of alcohol and recovery and proposed initiatives for 2009. During his address The Archbishop gave participants and Hopeful Way House encouragement in their efforts. He noted that in order to live a healthy life, there needs to be a balance among the body, mind and spirit. However, among addicts all three aspects are unbalanced. The Archbishop emphasized the need to unify and coordinate efforts. He mentioned that it could prove beneficial if the Catholic Bishop’s Conference worked closely with other religious bodies to deal with addiction and recovery efforts in Ghana . He believed that Hopeful Way House could be successful in encouraging the establishment of additional half-way houses in Ghana . Regarding Alcoholics Anonymous the Archbishop not only expressed his pleasure in seeing the number AA groups increase, but also emphasized the importance of supporting this growing fellowship. He was also pleased to see that the Hopeful Way Foundation is planning to conduct a five-day training course on addiction, recovery and counseling from 20-25 April. For more information on the training in April, on Hopeful Way House and on Alcoholics Anonymous call 0243 558 412 or visit Hopeful Way House’s blog at:
For more information on AA visit AA Ghana’s website at:

Training in Addiction & Recovery - Counseling

Hopeful Way Foundation is planning to conduct a training course from 20-24 April for persons who want to upgrade their skills on counseling alcoholics and drug addicts. The letter below is being sent to a number of organisations in Accra. If there is a demand for one, a shorter course may be offered to those in a particular sector such as religious organisations, schools or the private sector.

Please share the information with anyone who may be interested. Your comments on the proposed training are also welcome. The letter is as follows:

Hopeful Way Foundation
c/o Social Advance Institute
P.O. Box AN 5547
Tel: 024-355-8412
16 January, 2009

Training Course in Addiction and Recovery – Counseling

In conjunction with the Addictive Diseases Unit of Korlebu Hospital, the Hopeful Way Foundation proposes to conduct the above course from 20-24 April, 2009 on substance dependence management and counseling. If you or your organisation is interested in sending one or more participants to the training, please inform Mr. Christopher Darkinson (Tel: 024-653-3866) E-mail

The overall purpose of the course is to improve the knowledge and skills of persons who are called upon to provide counseling in the area of alcoholism or drug addiction. The detailed content of the course will depend upon the needs of the participants but is expected to include:

1) The scientific basis of addiction;
2) Perceptions and attitudes towards addiction;
3) The situation in Ghana;
4) Identification and management of addicts;
5) Dealing with addiction – Family, school, workplace & religious organisations.

The course will take place at the National Museum in Adabraka-Accra, and will be limited to 25-30 participants. The main resource persons will be Mr. Logosu Amegashie, Head of the Addictive Diseases Unit and Dr. Eugene Dordoye, plus other prominent persons, including Dr. Joseph Asare. The training will begin with theoretical training on addiction, to be followed by a practical exercises to improve counseling skills.

A participant fee of GHC200.00 will be charged to cover expenses of the course and to help disseminate recovery skills. Please contact Mr. Darkinson with your suggestions about the course content and the interest your organisation may have in participating in the training.


Dr. Eugene Dordoye
For Hopeful Way Foundation

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hopeful Way House - Construction Nearing Completion

We have been saying for some weeks now that construction on the House is nearing completion. It seems that the walls and the roof were somewhat quick to go up but the finishing touches, including plumbing, wiring and floors took a longer time. In any case, King David is residing at the House and we expect to begin accepting a few other residents by the end of January. We want to go slow so we can keep on top of developments and set up the House on a sound basis. We are sending out the word to hospitals, clinics and NGOs that we will be looking for additional residents in the coming weeks. We don't have beds and other furniture yet, nor is electricity in place but King David doesn't seem to mind. Progress is being made on getting both beds and electricity. Oxford House International is also trying to find an experienced person to come to Ghana for a few monts to help us get the House going on a sound basis. We will keep you informed on developments.

Dan O'Laughlin

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Report on trip to Addictive Diseases Unit, Wa Regional Hospital, Upper West Region on behalf of Hopeful Way Foundation, December, 2008

The Upper West Region is believed to have the highest incidence of alcohol and drug abuse in Ghana. It is against this backdrop that Mrs. Mary Bapuuroh, a Nurse, established an Addictive Diseases Unit at the Wa Regional Hospital after undertaking a course on addiction and recovery at the Korle-Bu Hospital in Accra. On December 1st, Chris Darkinson and Theresa O’Laughlin traveled to Wa for three days on behalf of The Hopeful Way Foundation. Despite the bus trip taking 23 hours and having to spend the night on the main road because the fan belt broke, both of us were enthusiastic upon reaching our destination. The purpose of our trip was to provide Mrs. Bapuuroh support in her efforts to deal with the scourge of addiction and to aid in the promotion of recovery and sobriety through attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.

While in Wa, we participated in open AA meetings, spoke at a local District Assembly meeting and met with the Regional Director of the Ghana Health Services in the Upper West Region and the Director of the Hospital. Members of the local District Assembly recognised that alcoholism is a problem in their area and welcomed the idea of establishing AA meetings as a tool of recovery. The Regional Director pledged his support for Mrs. Bapuuroh’s efforts. Although Mrs. Bapuuroh is doing her utmost to set up AA meetings, she needs support. Currently, the one-year-old Unit has 22 patients and the AA meetings take place under a tree. Additionally, addicts need to be informed that the meetings are taking place. When they do come and see the meeting location they often do not return. She and members of the AA group confirmed that our visit was a great encouragement to them. They hoped for future visits and continued collaboration and emotional support from Hopeful Way Foundation and others.