Two articles written by brave university students caught my eye this past week: Ashton Katherine Carrick’s very emotional piece that appeared in the New York Times Drinking to Blackout and Arnan Beauti’s article for Student Printz, Students Reveal Truth About Addiction. Both of the articles talk in depth about the link between addictions and stress.
Both students emphasize loneliness, pressure, leading to addiction leading to depression that began with the desire to have friends and belong to a group. Both, like me experimented with drugs and alcohol to escape depression. For me, abusing alcohol was more comfortable than asking for help or even just admitting to another human being that I was in a dark place.
As a teenager, I didn’t know that help, even anonymous help was always close by.
In my book, Where the Water Meets the Sand, I wrote, “By the end of junior year, I was drinking alone. I failed most of my classes. I even kept the amount I drank a secret from the few friends I had left. Every chance I could, I drove to the drive-in liquor store at the New Mexico state line thirty miles away.”
As early as middle school, the use of alcohol and other addictive substances are a threat to students as they continue on their path through high school, college and adulthood.
At an early age I knew my drinking was out of control. As a teenager I didn’t know what to do about it, nor did I understand the impact drinking would have throughout my life.
Student Health Services at universities often offer a Collegiate Recovery Community program for students who are in recovery from alcohol and drugs or eating disorders.
Most communities offer anonymous support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings to help those who struggle from addictions to maintain sobriety. NAMI the National Alliance on Mental Illness has local chapters that can point teenagers and young adults in the right direction finding them valuable resources.
Thankfully, anonymous and open meetings are available for those who struggle with eating disorders as well, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. In my book, I explain further that my addictions and compulsions were not just alcohol or drug related.
Walking into a meeting of strangers seeking help for an addiction can be daunting. I’ve been there. I found people in those meetings to be sensitive, and supportive, and honest helping me find the way forward.
I owe my life and these past 35 years of sobriety to the men and women who welcomed me to that first support group. (July 1, 1981 – 2016.)