Lifestyle / Opinion

Alcoholics Anonymous: A personal story

Seeing Kevin sitting in front of me (on Zoom, of course) with a big smile on his face, full of energy, I couldn’t believe the alcoholism experiences he’s sharing are part of his history. He is excited to share how Alcoholic Anonymous assisted him in his recovery from alcoholism.

I met Kevin through volunteering at CandleX, a non-profit organization that provides mental health support for English-speaking populations in China. 

On September 19, 2020, Kevin celebrated 14 years of sobriety. Originally from Cape Cod, he moved to China in early 2017.  Kevin started drinking when he was 12, and alcohol followed him through his dark teenage years. Alcohol abuse damaged his relationship with his family members and friends, and his father and stepmother even divorced because of his drinking. 

On an emotional level, his shame surrounding alcohol abuse was more torturing. “The shame and guilt were so much that I thought I couldn’t live with it. I tried to commit suicide three times, and thankfully I failed,” said Kevin.

On his 21st birthday, he sought help for his alcoholism at a treatment facility affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous. With the support of people he met there, Kevin eventually recovered from alcoholism, and overcame a struggle that had been  with him throughout his teenage years. 

He says it was at that point that “I could start becoming a real friend. I could start becoming a brother who showed up on time for my two sisters’ weddings. I could be there when my nephews were born.” His relationships and life as a human being came back.

Throughout our interview, Kevin emphasized the importance of reaching out for help and taking shame out of the equation. For many teenagers, and even adults, admitting weaknesses and struggles can seem embarrassing, but it can be powerful. When Kevin’s peers from the support group were brave enough to share how they dealt with secretive drinking and relapses, they showed Kevin that he was not the only one who felt shameful about having a mental illness. His peers inspired him to open up, build relationships, and eventually recover. 

Kevin smiled as he said, “Now, I couldn’t care less how other people view me when I acknowledge that I’m struggling with something because I’m not here to live my life for them to judge if I’m okay.”

His recovery process deeply resonated with me. During my first two years at Dana Hall, I also struggled with mental health, but I was too ashamed to knock on the counselors’ door. As years passed, I gradually opened myself up to others for support. I learned that vulnerability doesn’t lead to rejection and weird looks, but instead leads to closer bonds with friends and their appreciation for my honesty.

The support of Dana Hall counselors can be invaluable during challenging times, and I hope that more students can take advantage of these fantastic resources. As Kevin advised, “Don’t worry about what other people think. If you’re struggling, reach out. There’s always a person who is willing to listen, as long as you open up to the right kind of people.”

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