Several weeks ago I was invited to attend an open Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting in which dozens of people came together to support and help each other. They were of all ages and places in our community, but all shared this in common: a devotion to each other and to the truth they lived. They lived proudly but humbly in the knowledge that their salvation depended on absolute honesty, unselfishness and love of each other. They understood that, alone, they were helpless to overcome their addiction.

I left the meeting feeling the power of this community of people with a common purpose. I strongly believe that all of us will benefit from attending meetings such as these as inspiration to make ourselves better human beings. For your own growth and education, seek to attend an “open” AA meeting in your community. *

This same approach has much to offer communities such as ours to overcome problems we can’t resolve alone.

With apologies to AA, I have paraphrased their “Twelve Steps” which outlines the path to healing and recovery, making it relevant to community healing:

• We admit we are powerless over addiction in our community. 

• We believe that a power greater than ourselves is needed to restore our community to health (this “greater” power is our community working together as one).

• We make a decision to turn our community over to the care of the higher power as we understand it, working with our friends, family and neighbors.

• We make a searching and fearless moral inventory of our community.

• We admit to a higher power, to ourselves and other people in our community the exact nature of our community’s problems.

• We are entirely ready to have a higher power (our common purpose) remove the defects harming our community.

• We humbly asked our higher power (our common purpose) to remove our community’s shortcomings.

• We make a list of all persons harmed in our community and are willing to make amends to them all.

• We make direct amends to such people wherever possible.

• We continue to take inventory of our community’s dysfunction and promptly address it.

• We seek through community prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our higher power as we understand it, praying only for knowledge and the power to carry that out.

• Having had healing and spiritual awakening as the results of these steps, we try to carry this message to other people in our community and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Just as AA members come together in regular meetings to share their stories, wisdom and fellowship, the path to recovery for communities is in joining together to help one another.

Knox County Recovery Coalition hosts an ongoing series of “Community Conversations” every two months in seven communities in Knox County to respond to the opiate addiction epidemic. The goals of the meetings are to unite neighbors in a common purpose. It truly takes a village to heal the effects of drug addiction and to insulate more youth from becoming further statistics.

We all need to be part of the solution to this problem. Attending at least one open AA meeting and attending as many KCRC Community Conversations as you can in your area will help save us all. I will see you there. Announcements are made about Community Conversations meetings in The Free Press and on the KCRC website ( Call 619-1415 for more information. 

* To find an “open” AA meeting in your community, call AA Central Service Office at 774-4335 for details.