Alcoholics from across New Zealand are getting together to share their stories of recovery this weekend, to help each other get through the difficult month of January.

Three days of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and workshops are being held at Te Papa over Wellington anniversary weekend, including an open invitation public meeting on Saturday night.

Public information co-ordinator Lucy D, who doesn't use her surname publicly in accordance with AA traditions, said about 400 people were expected to attend.

Many would be alcoholics in various stages of recovery, as well as some spouses and children affected by alcoholism.

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"If you're worried about your drinking, and you've tried to control your drinking but you can't, then the best place to be is around other people who know exactly how that feels.

"It a terrible place, to want to stop drinking, and not be able to.

"That's what Alcoholics Anonymous offers. People who really know what that's like, who really know how it feels, and who won't judge you for that.

"Because all of us who are alcoholics have done things that we are deeply ashamed of, and that we wouldn't do as sober people. It can be very hard to get over that shame and let it go."

Lucy is speaking from experience.

She joined AA three decades ago, as she describes it, "as a helpless, hopeless drunk in my late twenties".

"I simply could not stop drinking. I had reached a desperation point.

"I had tried a lot of things to stop drinking, and I couldn't. I was told that my liver would collapse in six months.

"Finally I went to AA, and at first I didn't like what I saw. But I listened, and I learned, and I saw people who had been worse drinkers than me, who had been able to stop."

She said stereotypes around alcoholism were common, and could stop people getting the help they needed.

But in reality it was an "equal opportunity disease" which could affect people from all walks of life; all ages, any gender, and any profession.

This weekend is AA's 55th national convention.

Lucy said it was the perfect opportunity for someone who was worried about their drinking to find out more.

"When you get someone on stage who's been sober for more than 40 years, that's rather impressive.

"If you can get 10 of them, there's a lot of wisdom, a lot of experience. It's good for some of our younger people to connect with that."

SIDEBAR
Key information

The convention is being held at Te Papa, Wellington, from January 19-21.

The public meeting is Saturday, January 20, from 7.30-9pm. It's open to anyone, including those who are not alcoholics themselves but have been affected by alcoholism.

AA Aotearoa currently has 4500 members, and does not require any "dues" or fees to join.