November 2,1994 Campus Opinion 3 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 holic tendencies. 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 both scenarios. 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 and allergy. In the past fewyears, I have tried to quit drinking on my own several times and have been successful—for a couple of months. '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 drinking patterns. 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 passed out. 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 impossible. 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 own. 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 sobriety. 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 mous. 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 mourning. 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 their death. 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 unison. 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 colleges. 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.

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