There is a place in Lihu’e for those celebrating without alcohol

LIHU’E — Those in Alcoholics Anonymous live by the saying “One day at a time.”

The biggest one of those days for recovering alcoholics may just be tomorrow, Sunday, Jan. 1, New Year’s Day.

“For a lot of people (in the AA program), it is an unhappy time,” said Lihu’e member Chuck T. (Last names are left out to maintain anonymity).

Being away from family, or being in a dysfunctional family setting, or remembering problems from the past, can really test the resolve of addicts, said Chuck T. The holiday period is a time when people think about those things more, he says.

Couple melancholy with the New Year’s holiday’s emphasis on parties and alcohol consumption and it becomes obvious where the recovering alcoholic or anyone who believes they have a drinking problem, might be tested.

“It sucks. It’s really hard,” said TRI, an AA member who has been clean and sober for 15 days.

TRI spent last New Year’s in a rehabilitation program trying to get off of alcohol and drugs. She has since relapsed, but looks forward to this one with a clear head. “I’ll be hanging out at the Intergroup office (Alcoholics Anonymous’s Lihu’e headquarters at 3018 Aukele St. in the second phase of the Lihue Industrial Park). If it wasn’t for that place, I’d probably be drunk,” TRI said.

The Kauai Intergroup office in Lihu’e will be open for a 26-hour period beginning today, Saturday, Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve, at 6 p.m. It will remain open through 8 p.m. New Year’s Day. “It is a place to be around other non-drinkers or alcoholics. It is an open house, a place where people can go instead of the bars,” said Chuck T.

Anyone is welcome, he says.

Pat has been in the AA program for 15 years, and has been clean and sober for 17 years. She plans on dropping in at the Intergroup office, but prefers to spend her holiday with family. She offers suggestions for those non-drinkers who still want to enjoy the holiday. “You need to always have a backup plan,” she said. “Supply your own transportation, drive your own car, that way you can leave when you want to. Arrive at parties early, and leave early,” said Pat. “It’s very simple.”

The most common message is to stay away from situations where alcohol is involved. “For alcoholics, this is a very real time of year,” said Kat, who has been clean and sober for 23 years.

Kat plans on a swim in the ocean for her celebration.

For Jannene, who will be clean and sober for two years come Friday, Jan. 6, this will be her second consecutive sober New Year’s. Last year she spent it at the Lihu’e Intergroup office as well. “The hardest part about quitting is I don’t know how to function sober,” said Jannene. “So I will be at the Intergroup office because I feel like I am with people I know who are in similar situations. It is a fellowship.”

TRI says that fellowship makes her feel “really good. It feels really good to be connected to people like me, and if I can help somebody else, that would be great,” she said.

Alcoholics Anonymous exists all over the island. Chuck T. said there are 65 meetings a week from Princeville to Waimea. A schedule can be found at www.hconv.org/kauai/kauaiaa.html.

He says the Lihu’e meetings are regularly attended by 40 to 50 people, all with varying backgrounds.

“We see a 10-percent spike in people coming to our meetings around the holidays,” said Chuck T. “And we offer a little extra effort around that time of the year to help them get past it.”

One of those extra efforts will be the 26-hour support system available to all over the weekend. At the Intergroup office there will be meetings, fellowship, games like Scrabble, and maybe some football on the television. The seven-day-a-week, 24-hour number for AA is 245-6677.

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