Mental Health Professionals blog

AA Conference an eye-opening experience

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Stairways Behavioral Health residential program recently took part in what was, from all accounts, a meaningful field trip.

Residents of Gage House, a structured setting for people with substance and mental health issues, attended the Alcoholics Anonymous Erie Spring Conference at the Ambassador Center April 15-17.

Each year, the conference offers those in attendance the opportunity to hear renowned speakers, attend meetings and social events and share experiences with other attendees. Consumers were also able to exchange information for sponsors and support contacts.

Gage House residents were effusive in their praise of the event, citing the "sober dance" on Saturday night and the speakers as the most valuable parts of the conference.

Below are reflection excerpts by Gage House residents who attended the conference:

… I never laughed so hard when sober, then cried at the same time. I felt the same exact feelings, I’ve been in the same exact positions, lost the same things, lost family’s trust and broke promises to my daughter! I realized that I need to mature in so many ways, I need to not be selfish, I need to look at all angles, inside and outside the box, look at other people’s sides, put myself in their shoes and look through their eyes.

… I learned that addiction transcends age, race, nationality, sexual orientation and class. I also learned that I have been feeling sorry for myself. I have been justifying my drug use with the excuse of pain and anxiety. I see now that I am blessed in many ways.

… I do believe the program works! The speakers all had the same feelings, defects and struggles (to one extent or another) as me!

The stories confirmed my faith and gave me motivation. Let me know I’m on the right path. I’m so thankful I got to go with the Gage House. I loved every second.

… It is so awesome that you can meet people from all over and you can relate to their stories. The last day of the conference, I feel like I had the biggest breakthrough in my recovery process yet when I heard the second speaker. It was like she was telling my story. I am so blessed that I got to go to the conference, because I felt like I needed to be there to hear these speakers that touched my heart tremendously.

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