By Lizz Vensas
Collegiate Staff Writer
The Alcoholics Anonymous group located at GRCC reaches their one-year anniversary this month.
“GRCC was very open to idea of hosting an AA meeting on campus last fall,” said Whitney Harper, group administrator. “They recognized the need and understood that addiction affects everyone” and as the saying goes “it doesn’t matter if you are a prince or a pauper.
The meetings at GRCC are located on the on the first floor of the Student Community Center in the Farside Room and is referred to as the Farside Group. They meet on Thursdays at 12 p.m. for one hour. The meetings are open to anyone. Alcoholics Anonymous is not a membership, you can come as often as you like or you could try it for a short period of time.
Sarah (her name has been changed) has chaired the Farside Group Meetings for the past year and had her story told last November in an article in the Collegiate. Coming from a rough past of drinking and drugs, Sarah is happy to have more than a year of sobriety.
“This has been the best year of my life,” she said. “That doesn‘t mean it’s been cake, I have had ups and downs, but the program helps me get through it.”
Both Harper and Sarah hope to expand the number of people coming to the group and add more meeting times on more days.
“Hopefully the program will speak for itself,” Harper said. “We have members who are living sober, happy productive lives. That is the only P.R. campaign we need.”
“Involvement in AA is a journey,” said Harper. “Finding who you are is a process not an event.”
Although finding a higher power is a key part of AA, it is up to the person to decide what that higher power is. It could be God, the group, your family, or even a rock. Another key part of the group is the ‘Big Book;’ it is AA literature with advice, explanation of the 12 steps, and lots of sayings for addicts.
“For addicts, sobriety is a different way of thinking,” Harper said. “The ‘Big Book’ tells you how to live sober.”
Connecting to people going through similar situations is an important part of the equation.
“You go through a rough time, and you attend a meeting,” Sarah said. “At that meeting you will probably hear someone talking about the same things you are, and about how they got through it sober and you can to. AA at its core is hope for a better way of dealing with life.”
Sarah firmly believes that getting a sponsor is also the best chance to stay sober in Alcoholics Anonymous. A sponsor is someone to hold you accountable and help walk you through the steps.
For many young people drinking has become part of their weekend culture.
“Between the ages of 18 and 30 it is almost like you’re expected to party,” Sarah said. “The peer pressure can be tough. Drinking has become glamorized on TV, in music videos, and you hear about it on the radio.”
With as hard as it is for young people to not buckle under peer pressure, Sarah thinks that nowadays young people have a better chance of getting and staying sober. “If you walked into a meeting 30 years ago it was mostly an older crowd.” She said, “But now a younger crowd is getting more involved.”
“Alcoholism is a disease,” said Harper. “It is not about how much or how often you drink, it’s about what happens when you do.” Harper also warns that if you are addicted to one substance than you are most likely addicted to another. Cross-addiction is common among addicts.
If you think you have an addiction to alcohol or any other substance you can receive help through the GRCC Student Support Services and Alcoholics Anonymous, which are both free.