By Liza Bennett, Transcript Reporter
Hal looked like a regular sixty-something white male, but underneath this average looking façade was a lifetime of not-so-average experiences. He was an alcoholic until he was 50. One of the biggest regrets of Hal’s life was that he did not sober up young enough to enjoy all of the mental and physical health benefits that come with sobriety. He now works to help ensure no young people dealing with addiction will wait until they’re 50, like Hal did, to get clean. Hal is the main person responsible for bringing Never Too Young To Be Sober, a branch of Alcoholics Anonymous, to Ohio Wesleyan to help students suffering from addiction and alcoholism find help and relief. AA is a national program for those who struggle with alcoholism and addiction. According to AA’s website, the program is based on a fellowship of men and women working together to solve their common problems and help others recover from alcoholism as well. AA is anonymous because it disciplines the fellowship to govern itself by principles rather than personalities. AA strives to be a safe haven for those to receive treatment without fear of being judged or called out. Never Too Young To Be Sober is designed specifically for young adults, typically between the ages of 14 and 35 who struggle with addiction. The program started at OWU on account of troubled student Nate, who was sent to court on a charge that involved alcohol. While awaiting the court appearance at the Delaware Police Department, Hal who was Nate’s AA sponsor at the time, met Chaplain Jon Powers. The two men talked and decided that a Never Too Young To Be Sober meeting on campus could help provide students with addiction issues information about how to get clean and sober. Never Too Young To Be Sober at OWU helped students like Nate find relief on their own campus. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction, 31 percent of college students meet the criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6 percent for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence; Nate was part of the 6 percent. Nate was a typical student athlete at OWU. He played lacrosse for OWU all four years and hung out with his friends daily. Nate was extremely social and known throughout OWU’s campus for being a hard partier on the weekends, but most people were unaware of the serious addiction to alcohol Nate was developing. Even Nate himself struggled to truly grasp the idea that he was becoming a habitual drinker. Nate said drinking made him feel like he was on top of the world and without a care or worry. “I thought I had it all made when I drank; I thought I was the coolest thing ever,” Nate said. Part of Nate’s punishment for his offense was mandatory AA meetings, specifically the Never Too Young To Be Sober meeting at OWU. The program became a safe haven for Nate to help him fight his addiction. “AA saved my life,” Nate said.
Never Too Young To Be Sober currently meet in the Hamilton-Williams Center on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. The meeting typically has around 20 participants and the ages of the attendees range from 20 to 52. Some of the people attending the meeting bring their children along, and others bring friends who they know could use the wisdom and strength the program provides.
Sherri was a 52 year-old women at the meeting. She is a binge drinker and will drink for three or four days straight, stopping only when she passes out. She has been in and out of the AA program since she was 17; she is now in her late 50s and still fights every day to stay sober.
Sherri attends a meeting every day of the week and attends the Never Too Young To Be Sober meeting to support a young friend of hers who also struggles with addiction. She describes AA as if it were a gift given to her by a higher power.
“AA truly is the only thing that works,” Sherri said.
After having been in therapy and rehab multiple times, she believes the only way to stay sober is through AA. She believes it is crucial to attend meetings, read the literature and give your burdens to a higher power in order to become sober.
Sherri isn’t certain that she won’t relapse, but she is certain that if she does, AA will be there to help her pick up the pieces and move forward on the path to sobriety.
The Never Too Young To Be Sober meeting at OWU was full of peace, hope, and community. All are welcome to participate freely or simply just listen to whatever insights others may provide.
The meetings are on campus to provide students with the ability to seek help without having to go far. Students at OWU do not have to struggle down the path of sobriety alone, The Never Too Young To Be Sober meetings can provide a safe haven to help those who struggle with issues associated with addiction.