AA on campus just might be the way

[David Perez] 

It’s no secret that college students are drinking alcohol. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 40 percent of drinkers are underage. What is worse is that college students under the legal age of 21 often drink in excess.

Only too often, extreme drinking leads to alcoholism. In fact, more than 15 million Americans are dependent on alcohol. That is why Citrus College should offer Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on campus.

Alcoholics Anonymous was created in 1935 to emphasize spiritual values and awareness by Dr. Bob Smith and former alcoholic Bill Wilson. These meetings are not just about getting and staying sober. They are about understanding the underlying mental and emotional distress of the disease. Alcoholism is not the problem; it’s the symptom of a problem poorly handled.

Most people know one of the 15 million. One of our family members received a DUI in 2011 that forced that person to face the facts and ask for help. The court mandated them to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and the result has proved to be a blessing for our relative and our family.

But asking for help can be a difficult task, especially for students who are used to doing everything on their own.

On-campus AA meetings would benefit all students who feel overwhelmed by the pressures of daily life as well as those who are required to attend. Also, these meetings are helpful for those who have family members or loved ones who are alcoholics. Students, professors, and the local community members could help make attendees feel less lonely, more comfortable and at home.

The highest percentage of heavy drinkers is found among unemployed adults between the ages of 26 to 34. If we offer student drinkers support now, then we can possibly prevent early alcoholism in students, which in turn could help lower the unemployment rate.

At AA meetings, participants learn from, and interact with, other alcoholics and engage in mutual care. People share stories, events, and personal experiences to help enlighten others. Starting AA meetings on campus could give students the opportunity to meet others with similar situations. Friendships are developed and support groups are formed.

In addition, having meetings on campus would benefit the students because they could attend meetings with their peers. Off-campus AA meetings attract a wide range of attendees according to age, years of sobriety and personal experience. There is nothing wrong with diversity, but on campus meetings could mean fewer first-time jitters for students that would allow them to easily connect with their classmates.

Everyone has his or her personal reasons for attending, and judgment is left outside. The atmosphere of unconditional acceptance that Alcoholics Anonymous promotes is conducive to both teaching and learning life skills that would be most helpful at a college campus.


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