Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Life after the Party

Chris Saksa
This past Monday our school hosted an information session on alcohol abuse, the effects it has on the individual, and also those around them. The school brought four Loyola Alums to come to speak about how alcohol has taken them to rock bottom, and how, through programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, they ascended back to normalcy. The heartfelt stories revealed the dangers and consequences of drunken late night escapades and the realization of a problem. The informational session was successful in that it allowed the audience to connect (All once Loyola students) and understand what the costs of alcohol abuse are.
After a short introduction by Jan Williams, head of Loyola’s Alcohol and Drug Education
and Support Services, the first speaker was given the microphone. He briefly discussed his background and how as an eleven year old boy he began to develop a problem. The man’s parents were philosophy professors who each had their PHDs and he lived in a sound family environment. Although his parents provided a safe and caring environment, they still occasionally threw parties were heavy drinking was involved. As an eleven year old kid, he explained, his curiosity began to grow to what was his missing out. Soon enough he found himself fumbling through his parent’s liquor cabinet to give it a try. Immediately he thought he found a cure for all of his life’s problems. This was where, as he discussed, his life spun out of control. After years of alcohol and drug abuse, at eighteen he realized he had a problem. Through the program AA he found God and a world that did not involve alcohol abuse. The meetings, similar to this one, keep him from drinking and allow him to deliver his message through his story. Now a happily married Loyola alum his story, while being unique, had many common themes that connect with youths and provided an example that should help students avoid following his same path . He concluded with a few closing thoughts on how to not end up in the same situation and then the second speaker took center stage.
The second speaker, also a man, told a similar story of how alcohol once controlled his life. He discussed how he moved to a new area and how alcohol was his way to “fit in”. His alcohol and drug use allowed him to “become the guy he wanted himself to see”. Now popular with all his friends he began to use drugs and drink even more heavily. This downward spiral led to imprisonment where he found his “vision of clarity”. This was the moment in his life where he realized he needed change. This realization led him to fourteen years of sobriety, and a new lease on life. His story shares many similarities to the final speaker, who also found herself at rock bottom and used AA to reach sobriety. After being imprisoned and struggling with relationships in her life she decided to seek help. These stories all showed how they overcame this life-changing disease and how they now lead lives of normalcy. However, the third speaker shared a much different story.
The third speaker was a current Loyola student who was still struggling with a drinking problem and had only been sober for about a week after multiple relapses. His story seemed so genuine because he was currently living through the struggle as he addressed the audience. He spoke just as one of any of the room would have so his story really hit home for me. It seemed so easy to connect with his story that his message was that much stronger. Overall the lecture for me was a great learning experience and allowed me to realize the true struggle of alcoholism.
This lecture can easily be branched into our class discussion about Ernest Hemingway’s Hills Like White Elephants. Hemingway’s story depicts a man pressuring a woman into getting a procedure that she does not want. The struggle of peer pressure links directly to the pressure that is involved with consumption of alcohol by those on a college campus. This is presented in all the speakers’ stories on how they were pressured to drink because they could not handle stress or needed to fit in. In addition, the man depicted in the short story constantly tries to convince the woman to go through with the undesired procedure. The theme of both Hemingway’s story and the stories told at the lecture Life after the Party sends the message to not forego your moral decisions as a result of outside pressure, because the decisions you make can alter your life.

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