September is National Recovery month in the United States, which is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This year’s theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger. It’s no secret that many people rely on the support of others to help them deal with or overcome certain trials and tribulations of life. Whether it be through family, friends or coworkers, people often need to feel as though they have someone they can talk to – they need to feel supported, to feel like they belong – they need to feel like they are a part of something. This got me thinking about the importance of fellowship. So, what exactly is a fellowship? Well, simply put, a fellowship can be described as a group/community of people who share the same/similar interests, feelings or associations.
When it comes to fellowship and recovery, as it says in the AA Preamble, Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other, that they may solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism. It is also said that the newcomer is the most important person in the room. Although many may be feeling a sense of isolation and loneliness, this is especially true for them. I’m not saying that this is the case for every newcomer. Of course not – many of them have a support system outside of the rooms. Nevertheless, I’ve heard many newcomers express the joys of finding a group of people that can relate to them and their journey. They’ve also expressed seemingly sincere hope that they too may be able to be successful on their road to recovery. Before finding the fellowship, they’ve often felt as though no one in their life had been able to understand their struggles – they’ve felt like they were speaking a foreign language. That was until they entered the rooms. There, they’ve found a sense of unity, a sense of belonging.
The fellowship offers alcoholics and addicts a multitude of things: friendship, guidance, encouragement, accountability and identification; the list goes on and on. The support that’s found in the rooms, more often than not, helps them maneuver through the trials and tribulations of life; it helps them navigate through the rocky terrains of recovery. If an alcoholic is reverting back to old behaviors, they’re held accountable. If an addict is having a pity party, they’re challenged. No judgments, no strings, just a simple reminder that this too shall pass – a reminder to keep coming back.
It’s no secret that recovery is made up of highs and lows. One of the worst things that one can do is begin to isolate for any reason at all. That’s why the fellowship is so important. Your peers are able to give you the support you need, reminding you of how far you’ve come or encourage you to keep going – to Grow through what you Go through. Everyone’s journey is different – the fellowship is there to make sure you don’t have to walk it alone. In the words of Helene Keller – Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.
Alcoholics Anonymous.The AA Preamble: Background Information. Service Material from the General Service Office, 2013. Retrieved from
National Recovery Month. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2019. US Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.recoverymonth.gov/