EVER SEE those irritating public service announcements on NBC called "The More You Know"? Specifically the one where Kurt Cameron stood in front of a fluorescent pink backdrop, earnestly telling you, "If you think you have a drinking problem--you do." Well, Kurt was right. You do have a drinking problem! You're tired of waking up five states from where you started drinking two days earlier, and you're ready to do something about it. But finding that first meeting is like finding the right dentist: It sucks, no matter what, but if you find a nice one, it can be a hell of a lot less painful.
But which AA meeting is right for you? There are bunches to choose from, scattered all over the city, catering to every lifestyle. Though it may be initially confusing, remember the following maxim: alcoholism crosses all boundaries. AA is one of the only organizations that doesn't attract a certain type of attendant. There are crusty hippies, yuppies, house moms, gutter punks, doctors, businessmen, etc. The only consistency is that everyone has been to hell and back, and is still alive to talk about it.
After you find your "home group" (everyone has a home group they attend once a week), and made it through those first hundred tear-inducing meetings, you'll finally realize that AA is pretty fucking cool: Aside from getting sober, you might just find some friends.
Hell, I recommend practicing the 12 steps even if you're not an alcoholic. Who doesn't stand to benefit from the "Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves [the fourth step]"?
So clear your social schedule for the next week, and attend the following meetings. Before you know it, you'll be sober as a judge, and living "one day at a time" with the best of them!
* Monday: "Guy or Gal?"
Feeling gender specific? There are meetings exclusively for both men and women. These two are generally well-attended, but be prepared to encounter problems which are normal whenever you get a large gathering of the same sex together. (Men: gratuitous machismo. Women: excessive emotional breakdowns.)
BOYS-"Visions of Acceptance," 2318 NE MLK Blvd, 8pm
GIRLS-"Step Sisters," YWCA, 1111 SW 10, 5:30 pm
* Tuesday: "PSU Nooner"
The noontime meeting at PSU is kind of hit or miss as far as attendance (prepare to find yourself painfully discussing your mother with just one other person), but it's perfect for boosting moral stamina in order to finish off the rest of the day. Full of brainiacs and downtown professionals.
PSU Smith Hall Room 230, Daily, noon
* Wednesday: "AS BILL SEES IT"
Smoking meetings are few and far between, thus the meetings that are for smokers smell uncannily similar to the crustiest bar you've ever been in.
12 X 12 Club, 7035 NE Glisan, Mon-Thurs, 8:30 pm
* Thursday: "Midnight Hour"
Believe it or not, there are gay alcoholics too! In fact, some meetings are only for gay people: A good starter is the midnight meeting, but the L&LL (Live and Let Live) club is generally the gay club. Pretty much all the meetings are chock full of homos, though most are welcoming of breeders as well.
L&LL, 2940 SE Belmont St, Daily, Midnight
* Friday "Fri Night Young Peoples"
If you're new to AA, here's a fun fact you probably didn't know: AA is a singles club. People go, in part, to check you out and meet you. And if you're a young person, seeking to do the same, this meeting is for you. Usually, a pack of multicolored-coiffed punks head directly to Coffee People afterwards to continue the hobnob.
909 NW 24 Ave, Fri, 7:30 pm
* Saturday: "New Alternatives"
This is a good meeting for first-timers (i.e., those of you who are terrified to set foot in AA, but are even more terrified to find out what'll happen if you keep drinking.) The Alano house is one of the four main clubs in Portland, full of every single brochure you ever wanted on disorders, and tons of understanding people. It's a big meeting too, so you can slink into the back and hide pretty easily.
909 NW 24 Ave, Daily, 5:30 pm
* Sunday: "Here and Now"
This is by far the most interesting meeting in Portland. It's in this little house in SE, a center for NARA (Native American Resources Agency) and everyone meets in a crusty basement where the pipes drip on you. But the best part is that they burn this herbal stuff, which smells exactly like weed.
For More Information about Portland AA chapters, call 223-8659