Why are Singapore AA meetings mostly attended by expats?

Published:  1 Feb at 6 PM
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Why do AA meetings in Singapore mostly consist of expat alcoholics?

One of the major risks for expats who enjoy more than a few drinks on a daily basis is the slippery slope towards alcoholism, as demonstrated by the vast number of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings taking place in all popular expatriate destinations. Singapore is no exception to the rule, with AA meetings across the city state taking place on a daily basis. However, there’s one difference in these supportive get-togethers – Singaporean nationals are rarely seen.

AA meetings the world over follow the same pattern and include the same supportive vibes, the same 12 steps and the same encouraging comments from those who’ve broken the addiction but still come to the meetings. Given that alcoholism isn’t just a Western expat addiction, why are there so few locals in attendance? It’s something of a statistical anomaly as there are far more locals in the city-state than there are expatriates. According to one recovering expat alcoholic who’s been dry for over two years, it’s a cultural thing in that Singaporeans don’t want to admit their drinking has got out of hand.

There’s no medical reason why Asian races should have less propensity towards addiction than any other race, but the numbers of Singaporeans who actively seek help for their habit is far lower when compared with more open societies. Admitting their drinking has become a serious issue simply isn’t the thing to do. Another reason may be that there’s a stigma against alcoholics, who’re usually portrayed as falling-down, homeless drunks lurking on the sidewalks, making it difficult for those in employment and with social standing to admit they’ve the same problem. Also, sharing your deepest, darkest secrets during the recovery process is very intimidating to Asians in general. Coupled with the conservatively-inclined Asian culture, it’s sad but no surprise that Singaporeans don’t feel comfortable at AA meetings.
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