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decided on the following: Everyone in this group is struggling with AIDS and early recovery from some form of substance abuse. Most of you currently are or may have in the past attended 12-step groups suchas AA or NA, at which you are able to share your experiences coping with addiction and recovery. In addition, you are currently or may have in the past attended groups at AIDS Action that address the particular struggles you face dealing with whatever phase of the disease you are experiencing. You can talk about recovery at your AA and NA groups, but most likely you don’t feel comfortable discussing your AIDS. In turn, AIDS is on the agenda for your AIDS groups, but it may be more difficult to discuss addiction and recovery. This group is a place where you can discuss both— AIDS and substance abuse recovery— as well as how the two interact and affect each other. Heads were shaking affirmatively as I spoke, so I continued to describe our roles and clarify the issue of confidentiality as follows: John and I will be the co-leaders of this group. We don’t see ourselves as experts, here to give you advice. Our job isessentially to help each of you help each other. We think you are the experts on your own lives and that you have a lot you can give to each other, having experienced similar problems and challenges, so we willtry to help you do that. I pointed out that the discussion in the group would be kept confidential and that we would only be required to share information if they disclosed there was a danger to themselves, a danger to others, or criminal activity taking place in the residence. John and I could assure them of confidentiality as the coleaders, and I hoped they would agree to respect confidentiality as well. Heads were once again shaking affirmatively. My next effort was to encourage more specifics in this problem-swapping process. I wanted to help them develop an agenda, one with which they could all connect. Also,it is only in the specifics that real help can be given. I asked them if they could take some time to share some of the specific issues they faced and that we could talk about in the group. I pointed out we did not need to solve all of these problems in one night, but it might help to identify issues for group discussion. The issues they shared were mainly related to the problems they faced in early substance abuse recovery. Since the group started just before Thanksgiving, many members, including Tina, described the temptations they experienced going to parties where drugs were plentiful or attending family events (Jake) with significant consumption of liquor or drugs. One member, John, described the problem of
wanting to see his friends at the local pool hall, but that was the place where drugs were sold. In an example of the members drawing on their AA and NA experiences, one member said to John: “If you hangaround a barbershop long enough,” and as he hesitated, the other group members said in chorus: “You are going to get a haircut.” We all laughed at this AA saying. Another member, Theresa, told group