Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Life After the Party

Alcoholism can be a fatal disease, and unfortunately, some students become addicted in college. I attended the lecture, Life After the Party. There were four guest speakers who are battling alcoholism. Each person’s story revolves around a struggle they will face for their entire life. They are all truly inspiring.

Four Loyola Alumni, three men and one woman, openly spoke about their addiction to alcohol. The first speaker is thirty-four years old and has been sober for seventeen years. He began drinking when he was eleven years old with a couple of friends. As time passed, he drank more frequently throughout the week and began doing drugs. He was no longer cool, not even to his friends; he became known as the kid who was out of control. At the end of his senior year, after failing his courses, he had a moment of clarity and admitted he needed help. He attended a rehab facility for two years, and then attended community college for one year. For the next three years, he went to Loyola, and of course, was nervous about the peer pressure of drinking. To avoid a relapse, he lived off-campus with other students trying to maintain sobriety. Today, he is happily married with children. He still attends AA meetings two times a week, to help remember the hardships of his past, to stop him from having another drink.

One of the other speakers has a very similar story, and they even helped each other stay sober, by living together in the off-campus house. He began drinking once he moved to a new town to fit in, but eventually his drinking habits were no longer for fun but to fill a void in his soul. When he was a senior in high school, he was arrested for intoxication, and while in jail he had his moment of clarity. He was extremely unhappy and drinking did not solve his problems. Through AA meetings and the help of Loyola, he has been sober for fourteen years.

The third speaker decided to be sober the summer before her freshman year at Loyola. She decided she wanted to change, live in new environment, and set new morals. In her first couple of days all she heard about was how to get fake-ids and which bars to go to. She did not want to partake in drinking activities, which caused socializing to be very difficult. She had only been sober for a couple weeks, but with the help of the Loyola Alcohol and Drug Education and Support Services, she has maintained her sobriety for twelve years.

The last speaker is a current student at Loyola, and he has been sober for one week. He had already been through every form of punishment Loyola had to offer, for drinking. It wasn’t until he had no one to talk to when his mind became clear, drinking has made him into a person he doesn’t want to be. He attended AA meetings but after two years he thought he did not need to go anymore, then last week, someone handed him a drink and he relapsed. He was peer pressured into something he knew was wrong, but he couldn’t resist.

Peer pressure affects everyone, everyday. In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” the American is asking his girlfriend, Jig, to have an abortion. They talk about the situation over drinks. The use of alcohol is to help relieve some of the awkwardness of the situation. He views this unborn child as an inconvenience and cost, while the baby could be an extraordinary addition to her life. Jig does not want to have an abortion because she is scared how it will affect her after. The American tells her not to do something she doesn’t want to do; however, his tone shows he does not want a baby. He uses peer pressure to get what he wants, instead to truly caring about Jig’s feelings. Jig says “Then I’ll do it. Because I don’t care about me.”(358) She has been extremely pressured which causes her to forget what she wants and only think about pleasing the American.

Peer pressure in evident in many life situations, especially alcohol. The use to alcohol should not be to make a person feel better, look cool, or make time pass. The four speakers used alcohol to make friends or fill a void, while Jig and the American use it to avoid their situation. To stop being dependent on alcohol, a moment of clarity is necessary, willing to accept help and realizing alcohol is not the answer. Today, the four speakers are still battling their addiction, but their experiences have made them into the person they are today. To me, they are all inspiring.

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