"Life after the party" doesn't sound all that much fun. However, those recovering from alcoholism or drug use may tell you that it is. This is the message the 4 alumni and students at the "Life after the party" panel were trying to get across. Each had struggled with an addiction to alcohol or drugs. One has been sober for half his life, while another only a week. They explained that fighting these addictions is a daily battle, but with the help of the friends, families, and support groups, they are able to stay sober. They all talked about going to AA meetings and how these meetings truly help them to say away from drugs and alcohol. Even the one who has been sober for half his life still goes to AA two or three times a week because he gets so much support there. It was really great that they were able to share their stories with us.
It was interesting to Will talk, because not only is he still a Loyola student, but also because he has only been sober one week. It must have been really hard for him talk to us after relapsing only a short while ago. But I am glad he did because he showed that alcoholism is an ongoing battle that you fight for life. When he doesn't attend AA, this is when he relapses. This displays the power of the support groups that addicts join, and how they put a person on the right road to recovery.
Two of the speakers on the panel spoke of a "moment of clarity" when they realized they needed help. For one, it was when he was a teenager at a behavioral school that was in "the middle of nowhere." He said the staff there would deprive the kids of sleep and food and basically try to break them down. He remembered getting up one morning at 5 a.m and looked outside and saw the sun rising. He realized that he was so miserable, that he was just going to do what the staff told him so he could get out of there as quick as possible. He told himself he could always go back to drinking and drugs if he wanted to when he left. But he didn't want to. Carl, another alumni from Loyola, recalled a night he spent sleeping on the floor or a jail cell next to an inmate who was urinating himself. This was his moment of clarity, and he immediately called his mother and told her he had a problem. For each of these men, they realized that they were not only hurting themselves, but they were hurting their loved ones as well. The decision to get help is not an easy one they explained. Ultimately, it has to be you who makes it.
This brings up the connection between the panel discussion and the short story "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemingway. In the story, a woman, Jig, is headed to an unidentified place. It seems she is going there to get better because she is not in perfect health. She seems hesitant and a little frightened about going there, and her loved one is trying to reassure her that everything will be better afterwards. She wants to be happy and she wants her loved one to be happy. She doesn't think he loves her now, and he won't love her until she gets better. This is similar to when the alumni were speaking about how they got help. They could see how they were hurting the families, and how disappointed they were. Carl said that he didn't have a relationship with his mother while he was using. They wanted to deserve the love of the families, just as Jig wants the love of her man.