Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday chapter from my life. Today’s piece of gratitude is dedicated to the alcohol and drug addiction education speaking opportunities I continue to have with Greek life at the University of Toledo (UT).

People often ask me what I find most rewarding in my recovery from alcohol and drug addiction after almost 26 years of sobriety from both. My answer is always the same. It’s the speaking opportunities I get to share about my journey from addiction to recovery, especially with those who may not have succumbed to the disease yet, like with students from colleges and universities, and more importantly, those that are in Greek organizations there, where alcohol and drugs tend to become quite rampant.

Personally, my alcohol and drug dependency took off during my university days at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), mainly after I joined the Greek life with Phi Kappa Psi where I became surrounded on a regular basis with people partying more than not on any given night. Because of that, one of the things I always wanted to do once I found recovery from alcohol and drugs was to speak about it with those active in fraternities and sororities. It was a hope that maybe I might be able to help prevent some of what I went through by simply sharing a real story of addiction.

Sadly, alcohol and drug education at colleges and universities is often limited to presentations that just share statistics about the disease. Policeman, fireman, and EMT’s are normally the ones who do these types of presentations, but it’s hard for people to really connect to this type of education for alcohol and drug addiction. While Greek life has mandatory presentations like this on many college campuses, it often isn’t enough and more is never done until a problem actually happens, rather than long before.

I spent my entire college life getting drunk and high, never hearing any personal stories of alcohol and drug addiction from anyone, and only ever learning a few simple statistics about the disease through those undergrad years. The fact is, it’s also very easy to hide out in Greek life partying all the time, because there are so many always looking for some type of a release from the stressors and pressures of college life, where alcohol and drug use become the number one sought venue to achieve that. That’s why telling my story to many in the Greek life at UT has been so critical and brought me plenty of gratitude.

What initially began with me speaking to the Kappa Delta sorority when they got in trouble on the UT campus a few years ago for a drinking relating incident, turned into further opportunities for me to work with them and others in Greek life, specifically pledges who often feel pressured to drink and drug solely to impress their brothers and sisters, just like I once did.

Presently, the Phi Kappa Psi chapter at UT is doing it right by having me come in each semester and work with each batch of new pledges before they even become brothers, providing them some much-needed personal education surrounding the horrors of alcohol and drug addiction. I have continued to see the benefits of providing this type of education to them, including seeing several brothers turn away from behaviors that were leaning towards addiction.

In the grand scheme of things, people often don’t seek help for alcohol and drug addiction until long after they have a big problem with either. But maybe many of those problems can be prevented by providing a real-life story of addiction to both before their addiction ever gets a chance to take root? This is why I’m so grateful to my present connection and speaking opportunities I continue to get at UT surrounding my recovery from alcohol and drugs, especially with Greek life there. I look forward to each of these speaking engagements, as they not only help others in the prevention of this deadly disease, they also helps me remain clean and sober from a life I hope to never go back to again.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson