Alcoholism's effects: from denial to surrender
For years, the fields of psychiatry
and psychology have claimed depres
sion is the most common mental disor
der in America.
Recently, a National Institute of
Mental Health study revealed that alco
hol abuse and dependence is the most
common disojder, affecting 13.6 per
cent of the population.
This estimate is probably low, con
sidering that many people who drink
to excess do not admit to their alco
Some people, like myself, who rec
ognize that they have a problem with
alcohol try various ways to either con
trol or quit drinking.
The two most common choices are
to try to stop drinking on one’s own or
to join the 12-Step Program of Alcohol
ics’ Anonymous (AA).
The differences between these two
choices are quite apparent—the re
sults are either success or failure in
Many people, 1 am sure, can effec
tively stop drinking by relying on their
own will power, but for many alcohol
ics, AA is the only successful way to
stop from picking up the first drink.
The struggle to not take the first
drink is an extremely exhausting effort
for an alcoholic.
The decision to stay sober has to be
made on a daily basis. Alcoholism is
In the past fewyears, I have tried to
quit drinking on my own several times
and have been successful—for a couple
'Typically, these periods of respite
only acted as confirmation that I did
not have a drinking problem.
As soon as the next stressful situa
tion arose, I would be back to my old
Sometimes I could control myself
and have only one or two drinks.
But as an alcoholic, every time I
picked up the first drink, I was in
jeopardy of triggering the allergy that
would not allow me to stop until I
The mind of an alcoholic has a
baffling way of denying the actuality of
the disease with little effort. There
fore, stopping on our own is often
The program of AA provides daily
meeting for the alcoholic to attend.
'These meetings act as a constant re
minder that I am an alcoholic, and it
makes it much more difficult to accept
any form of denial that is so easily
found when I have tried to stay sober
on my own.
Other alcoholics in AA act as re
minders when they share their past
experiences in meetings, but just as
important, they are a support that I did
not have when I quit drinking on my
I, like many alcoholics, have felt
alone most of my life. The fear that I
was the only person that was experi
encing the isolation, the anger and the
guilt that is so common in this disease
was overwhelming at times, so I woxild
just drink more.
With the support available in AA, I
came to realize that I was not alone.
There are millions of people who share
these same feelings. And with the pro
gram I do not have to be alone in my
struggle to stay sober.
The problem that I faced in trying
to quit drinking relying solely on my
own will power, was that there was no
one to talk to that understood what I
was going through. The loneliness I
felt cut through me with icy precision.
The pain of loneliness would become
so unbearable that 1 wotild give into
my disease because at least when I
drank 1 had a friend—alcohol.
Unlike staying sober on one’s own,
the AA program gives people support,
friendship and love that a loner does
not have. Through the 12-Step Pro
gram, 1 have found a higher power to
fill my emptiness and to give me the
courage to pursue my life’s dreams.
When I quit on my own, I experi
enced what the program calls a dry
drunk. I was not drinking, but I contin
ued to convulse with pain and guilt. I
had no idea that there was any other
way to deal with these feelings except
to drown them with alcohol.
The program allows me to grow
and overcome character defects that
have had a hold on me since I began to
drink. As a dry drunk I was stagnating
in my own misery. The drinking alco
holic is in constant anguish even if he
or she is not able to admit it.
The first step I had to take as an
alcoholic was to acknowledge that I
was poweriess over alcohol and real
ize that the alcohol made my life un
manageable. The drinks were no longer
numbing the pain, so taking this step
and finding the help offered by AA has
enabled me to achieve eight months of
These eight months have been the
happiest time of my entire life. I have
tried both ways of quitting drinking,
and by far, the happiest, healthiest way
is with the help of Alcoholics’ Anony
Alcohol awareness week opens students' eyes to reality
by Keri VanDoren
Alcohol Awareness Week, an SGA
sponsored event, began lastweek. On
'iTiursday after fall break, the festivi
ties kicked off with SGA serving
mocktails in the cafeteria. During the
duration of the week, students and
faculty could be seen wearing buttons
that simply read "AWARE."
There were no activities on Friday,
Saturday or Sunday. However, on
Monday the message continued.
'Throughout Alcohol Awareness Week
resident students received informa
tion concerning the consequences of
drinking, either imder their door or in
their mailbox. Students also received
the phone numbers of three local cab
companies, in hopes of reducing drink
ing and driving.
On both Monday and Tuesday, SGA
sponsored their own version of Jeop^
ardy with a quiz about alcohol and its
related factors. If a student answered
two out of three questions correctiy
she received a “boo pop” with a “boo-
ware of alcohol” message on it. In
addition to the quiz, students were
encouraged to sign a pledge not to
drink and drive. Students could re
ceive a “boo pop” for this also.
SGA reported there are over ten
million alcoholics in the United States,
and alcohol-related deaths are the num
ber two killer, secondary to cancer.
Meredith students were not the only
ones recognizing those whose lives
had been altered by alcohol—people
nationally observed this week of
Wednesday was dead day. People
all over the country, including Meredith
students pretended tobedead to mourn
those that had died as a result of alco
hol. Meredith students dressed in black,
didn’t talk all day, and wore a tag
saying “Alcohol did this to me. . .”
followed by a made up explanation of
That night at 7 p.m., people gath
ered at the gate house on campus for a
candle-lit march. About 25 to 30 people
participated. The procession was very
solemn as the participants walked up
to the fountain in front of Johnson Hall
with their candles. SGA President Kelly
Formy-DuvaU said a few words to wrap
up the week of events. In conclusion.
everyone blew out their candles in
Formy-Duvall said, “I thought it
went pretty well.”
On Thursday, Formy-Duval and
other members of SGA attended a con
ference called “Co-operating Raleigh
Colleges Contortion” or CRCC. Repre
sentatives from NC. State, Shaw, St.
Mary’s, Peace, and Meredith attended.
It was said that Meredith College had
the best participation out of all of the
According to Formy-Duval, “SGA
wanted to focus on education.”
The organization wanted students
to be aware, even if they don’t drink,
because non-drinkers are victims, too.