Campus, News

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings offered at CSULB

Long Beach State’s long-running AA program provides struggling students with a safe space to seek help.

Students can start attending meetings during the second or third week of every semester. There is no need to sign-up or make an appointment. If anybody is seeking help, they can walk in.

Linda Pena is a psychotherapist at CSULB and the facilitator of the AA meetings.

In 2002, the university started to address the program Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs. She wrote to the program director and suggested the AA program idea, ever since the university has provided the program for every semester except in summer.

Studies have shown that alcohol usage is high among young adults, especially college students. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states, “In 2019, 53 percent of full-time college students drank alcohol in the past month. Of those, 33 percent reported binge drinking and 8 percent reported heavy drinking in the past month.”

SAMHSA also explains that certain students are more exposed to the risk of alcoholism. Especially those in sororities, fraternities and student athletes, “Among student-athletes, 42 percent reported binge drinking in 2018.”

Alcohol Rehab Guide provides common signs of addiction to look out for.

Some signs are when drinking comes in between your daily responsibilities and obligations. This also includes having blackouts, short-term memory loss, mood swings and self-isolation.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides other signs such as cravings, participating in dangerous activities and ignoring feelings of anxiety and depression after drinking. Additionally, taking the initiative to stop but not being able to do so and having to drink more to feel the effect of alcohol.

Beginning the process of recovery can be difficult for many, as admittance to the problem is the first step. “In a semester, I may have anywhere from two to five people,” Pena said.

The AA program allows those struggling with alcoholism to gather with peers and discuss the 12 steps of the program.

In an article from the New York Times, Dr. John F. Kelly, associate director of the Center for Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, stated that “a third of 16 to 25-year-olds who seek help [either from the AA or NA program] will improve substantially.”

According to Stanford Medicine, “Most of the studies that measured abstinence found AA was significantly better than other interventions or no intervention. One study found it to be 60% more effective.”

The meetings are not a space to judge others. Instead, they allow students to find people they can connect with. The program’s purpose is to make it easier for students to recover because they do it with others instead of alone.

Pena shared that when students join the program, financial stability, career, beliefs or popularity are not seen or highlighted as important. Pena said that in meetings, students “are all equal.”

The Student Health Services are funded by the student health fee, with no association with political or religious organizations.

Students are not forced or required to attend meetings regularly.

Long Beach State Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are held every Wednesday from 12-1 p.m. in room 268 at the Student Health Services building.

The meetings are confidential and any student from CSULB who might want help in their recovery may attend.

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